February 18, 2010

The Way Employment Should Be

Buona sera. Yours truly is a little bit steamed today. I have heard and written about things that go on where my friend Neil works. He told me some things, and I feel the need to rant. Maybe a manager with some sense will take the advice that I offer and make his or her company a better place. Some teams don't have to fake it with a forced smile. You take care of them, they take care of you, show mutual respect, everyone does what needs to be done and is happy.

There are several things wrong with the organization where Neil works:
  • Untrained managers. People will be hired to boss a department that have no knowledge of the job; workers know the job inside out and managers have the skill level needed to be a Wal-Mart greeter.
  • Too many managers. There are managers, CEOs, COOs, Corporate Officers, Team Leads, Managers, Supervisors — plenty of management, but most of them are not leaders. Capice?
  • Managers are off-site. This company is very large, but does not pay to hire managers for departments in each location. Many people have never set eyes on their supervisors.
  • Raises are scarce. Yes, I know that it's a tough economy. But too often, "the economy" is an excuse for being cheap. It's a crisis for this company when the quarterly reports show that they are not making as many tens of millions of dollars as they want. They tell the employees to work harder and to be happy that they have jobs in the first place, yet they are making very handsome profits. Taking advantage of the people that are making you rich is bad management. Merit raises are a good thing, but should be used in addition to cost of living increases for loyal employees. Bosses, don't come crying to me because of employee performance; you get what you pay for, and if you paid a decent amount, you'd get better work.
  • Criteria are negative.  These off-site managers do not know, really know, the performance of their employees. They use numbers ("More production! Move it!") and recorded data of errors. This is negative thinking. Worse, they have no way of knowing how well their employees succeed on other things that are not measured.
  • Little respect for employees. Think about the term "human resources". What is a "resource"? Something that you use up, discard and replace. Places like this give capitalism a bad name. I hate to see this because my crew and I respect each other, and we know it can be done.
We all know that there are companies that are struggling, and the employees should be glad just to be working. I repeat, the place I'm talking about has big money coming in and can afford to give its employees some sign of appreciation.

The place where Neil works is a Fortune 500 company, but they certainly do not have a good showing in the "best places to work" surveys. That should come as no surprise. Perhaps the size of the company has a part in this. Perhaps not. What matters for any company is to get its management out of the Industrial Revolution mindset ("More! Faster!") and realize that they are dealing with people. And if the company takes care of its employees (not that stuff that they look at on paper and tell themselves that they are treating their employees well, but really wants to make them happy), then they will make the employer happy as well. It's all quite simple, really.

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