The PCB Design Magazine

PCBD-Aug2017

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36 The PCB Design Magazine • August 2017 ily lore. But most of the time, being blamed for something that wasn't your fault is not nearly so funny, and in the work realm it can be down- right disastrous. Back when I designed boards for a com- puter manufacturer, I once received verbal in- structions from an engineer who directed me to make a certain change. I completed this change and didn't think another thing of it. Many months later, this same engineer told me in a se- rious conversation that there were troubles with the board and all its successive versions because of the change that I had made. I told him that this was the change that he had requested, and I figured that would end the discussion because my word is my bond. But he stood his ground and even suggested that my job was on the line because of all the scrap boards that had resulted from this error. I sweated bullets on this issue. I reviewed it in my mind and went back and forth trying to remember as many details that I could to bolster my defense. I looked in vain for any kind of evi- dence to back up my actions, but since it was a verbal request there wasn't anything available. I kept expecting the hammer to drop on me any day, and a couple of months went by without me knowing what my fate would be. Finally, I went back to the engineer and asked him what- ever had become of this problem. He told me not to worry, that he had gone back through his records and found the original data that had driven his verbal request and that I had been off the hook now for quite some time. I meekly thanked him and left his office without giving him a piece of my mind for keeping me in sus- pense for so long. So, in hindsight, what could I have done to save myself a couple of months of suspense and worry? The truth is that misunderstandings are always going to happen, and unfortunately bad things do seem to happen to good people. But here are some ideas for things we can do to help reduce these conflicts. First, do your best to build trust into your work relationships. In my experience people are the least communicative when they feel that they have to protect themselves. Those who feel a need to protect themselves usually keep im- portant data and information close to the vest so that they can either prove their value if they feel threatened or keep ammunition in their pocket for a rainy day. If this sounds completely alien to you, then congratulations; you must be working in an environment where trust is thriv- ing. But sadly, there are many dysfunctional organizations out there where workers have learned the hard way that in order to survive, they need to arm themselves with anything they can, including relevant data that should be general knowledge. On the other hand, when people trust those that they work with, those are the relation- ships that enjoy the best communication and information is openly shared. So, if you are in an environment where trust is minimal, take a risk and start investing trust in your fellow em- ployees. When you show people that they can rely on you, they will often reciprocate and a healthier work relationship based on trust will begin to grow. Second, stick to the established design pro- cess. If you don't have a regular design process in place, then work with your managers and co- workers to create one. Every design department that I have worked in has had some sort of con- trol change process. In the story that I related earlier, there was a control change process in place—I just didn't use it. In fact, I completely ignored it. I got a verbal request from the engi- neer in charge and instead of following the pro- cess, I just did what he asked without thinking about it. I realize that this is a very touchy point. You need to be flexible enough to handle changes IT REALLY WASN'T MY FAULT! " I sweated bullets on this issue. I reviewed it in my mind and went back and forth trying to remember as many details that I could to bolster my defense. "

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