August 20, 2010

Work Harder, Not Smarter

Start with good people,
lay out the rules,
communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them.
If you do all those things effectively,
you can't miss. 
— Lee Iacocca

Tweaked for clarity 3-26-2011.

Buona sera. I have an attitude with thunder and lightning heading your way.

You may have noticed that the title of this missive is the opposite of true intelligence. It constantly amazes me that so many companies seem to think that if their employees are not in a minor panic, sweating and frantic, that work is not getting done.

Brace yourselves, this is Bluntness Day: They are too cheap to supply their employees with the proper tools to get the job done. Remember my buddy Neil? He works for a cheapskate Fortune 100 company. They are certainly not in the "100 Best Places to Work" list, but they cannot determine the cause. Spurious surveys to make themselves feel good, with faked results and continually contemptuous workers are the result.

Neil still needs the job, so he won't let me name his workplace. If the details of their incompetence and cheapness got out, they would be bankrupt. Not that they don't deserve it, but there are good people in this huge company that have nowhere better that they can go.

"What's happening at El Cheapo Corp., Cowboy Bob?"

I'm glad you asked:
  • Instead of promoting people who know the job, they hire others. And then, the ones who wanted the promotion have to train their new supervisors.
  • Existing managers do not know the details of the jobs that they are managing. They make arbitrary demands ("More! More! More! Faster! Faster! Faster!") for quotas. Then, when the workload is exhausted with three hours left in the day, they look for volunteers to use vacation time to go home. Also, productivity reporting forms do not take into account things like software problems and system issues; since you didn't make your quota, so you suck.
  • Pretending to care about what the employees think, seeking their input, setting up a plan of operation — and then dropping it on the pavement like a wet turd.
  • Seeking credentialing with major agencies so they can say, "We're good. We're secure. Trust us with important information." Amazingly, they pass these audits. I suspect bribery. If the auditors knew what really went on, there would be disqualifications, fines and probably more multi-million-dollar lawsuits. That's OK, as long as they don't have to pay the workers that they rely on.
  • All kinds of talk and education about information security, and yet they still use Internet Explorer 6. Neil is embarrassed that some sites announce, "Your browser is too old and is unsupported. Please upgrade." Naturally, I'd like to see them use Firefox, but even IE8, the current model, is better than unsafe IE6. And yes, the Internet is very important to The Company.
  • Outdated, dinosaur patchwork software. Something I say say to my crew, give the employees the proper tools to do the job. And then I do it. These cafones do not properly equip their employees.
  • They do not know about people. Instead, people are a resource to be used up, or capital to be spent. Sure, there are rewards and benefits, but only to those who sell their souls to The Company. Personally, I work to live, I do not live to work. Neil's company demands the opposite.
  • After the Obama election, The Company promptly announced that there would be no raises due to "economic uncertainties". Then they rewarded a select few with raises anyway. Instead of token "cost of living" raises, they implemented "merit only" raises, and then would find every excuse in the book to avoid giving anything.
Listen up, people. I warned you back at the end of 2008 that companies have to be intelligent, and provide good customer service. Treat your employees well, and they'll give it back to you. Kick the ones in the keester that you depend on to make you get richer, and you'll be going down, capice?


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