All they know how to do

Journalist Fred Clark objects to being forced to play a “musical chairs” game with his coworkers:

The core of my ethical dilemma here, rather is this: I am being asked to participate in, and to facilitate, harm to others.

This “track your time” assignment is designed to facilitate layoffs. It is designed, in other words, to harm two groups of people I am obliged not to harm: My co-workers and our readers.

Now, it’s important not to overdramatize this. “Track your time” isn’t in the same league as “inform on your neighbors to the secret police.” But it does belong to the same general category of participating in harm toward others in the hopes of reducing potential harm to oneself. And while the Two Bobs aren’t going to disappear anyone or have them locked away in a gulag to be tortured, they are planning to lay people off. The harm of that is real, tangible and substantial. Lives and livelihoods will be turned upside-down. Families will lose their homes. Marriages will be strained to the breaking point. That is the program and I am being asked to get with the program. I am being asked to cooperate with this.

Well, not asked, but told. Ordered, actually, to cooperate with this.

What would you do? Just how much would you be prepared to risk to stand up against corporate bullies justifying their paypackets by attacking the workers who actually produce their company’s products?

Given that it won’t make a lick of difference and they’re impervious to harm.

Advertisements

31 responses to “All they know how to do

  1. narcoticmusing

    “Given that it won’t make a lick of difference and they’re impervious to harm”

    Well that is the reality isn’t it? We could all be idealists and talk about right vs wrong…

    I suppose the counter argument comes from areas that struggle to move dead weight due to the working arrangements (government for example). If we accept for a moment that there had to be some lay offs (just for arguments sake) I would prefer a system that meant you got the sack if you were incompetent or not working vs a system that rewards you just coming in each day and taking up space. The latter system still lays people off, it just uses the ‘attrition’ method – which means that it doesn’t take into account demand, work loads or competency. It just says that we won’t replace people when they leave. This means the rest of the organisation is placed under strain. All those families are still stressed until breaking point due to excessive working hours and demands. It is pot luck if you have the understaffed, high demand area which can’t recruit due to the attrition policy so it then sheds more staff due to stress (rinse and repeat). Oh, but you still have that dude eeking out his life until retirement that can’t be disciplined because he’s at the top of his pay scale and doesn’t give a rats ass what you do/say/need. At least the empty chair of the latest person who left doesn’t take up your time like he does.

    If downsizing is a reality which we have to accept (an arguable premise in and of itself); which method would you prefer?

  2. Splatterbottom

    What a tool. He thinks he should not have to account for the time he is paid for. If he doesn’t like it he should leave. He might even save someone else’s job by doing so.

    Employers who ensure that they have the best and most committed employees are doing their employees a favour. This necessarily involves removing the dross, whether you are downsizing or not. Failure to do this means that everyone’s job is at risk because the employer will be inefficient and deserves to go bust.

    It is much better to work in a place where the workers are all committed to doing their jobs well. There is nothing worse than working with time-servers or people with an attitude. Incompetent bludgers are the ones who are causing harm to their fellow workers. Employers, and everyone else in the workplace, are better off getting rid of the lazy and disruptive. And that goes double for incompetent managers. Also, the higher up the chain you are the more scrutiny you should attract.

  3. jordanrastrick

    Time tracking can be done very well, or very poorly, or anything in between.

    My aunty experienced the latter in a job run by an overzeaolus engineering type who lacked the interpersonal skills to get his staff on board with the idea, didn’t appreciate it as just one of a range of tools for helping productivity, and just added massively to everyone’s stress levels. She now has another job she likes with a much better boss. Problem solved.

    On the other hand, if its done well it can be a positive effect. Eg I am a big fan of RescueTime, so much so that I’ve installed it on my own computer at home for personal use, and also given it as a gift to a friend. If I ran a sufficiently large company, everyone would be using it. They give good explanations about how the tranparency be a positive force for everyone if done well.

    Of course, they started out with high ideals of having only an open, collabrative approach to the issue, but eventually found that the market demand from a lot of managers is for a secretive setup that’s fundamentally suspicious of employees.

    Of course whether its done well or badly is a function of management, and the levels of trust they have in their relationships with employees. This is true of nearly all these kinds of workplace issues, and shouldn’t be news to anyone.

    Getting to the article itself. The author’s argument on the whole is completely bogus, incoherent and self-indulgent – even assuming he has managment from the dodgy end of the spectrum. The ultimate takeaway moral imperative must surely be to go live in a cave considering how much evil he’s doing by not actively opposing all sorts of incidental harms to his poor oppressed fellow middle class professional peers. Never mind all the people in the world with, you know, real problems. Did he type this on a computer? It was probably made at FoxConn! Where are is shoes from? His food? What’ s his carbon footprint like? How many dictators has he risked his life to report about this year? Why is he still a journalist when with 20 years of study he might be good enough at biology to help cure cancer? Hell, Jeremy, by providing a free blog with better content than many of the newspapers going around, you’re directly contributing to the pressures on the employment of journalists throughout the world. Etc Etc Etc Etc Etc.

  4. jordanrastrick

    PS narcotic, downsizing is clearly a reality we have to accept. Even under communism, the economy changes over time.

    Governments can and should take steps to ensure people able to work have opportunities to get rewarding employment. But the idea anyone has the right to work the same job their entire life come what may is ludicrous.

    Take coal miners and power plant workers. In an ideal world, I’m sure most here would agree, these jobs need to cease to exist, sooner rather than later.

    Should we get upset if people lose these jobs, and demand they be paid to keep doing them, or should we train them to work in nuclear or solar instead?

  5. SB, in your perfect little world where the dross are picked off and new, improved, efficient employees are employed in their stead, and it’s the high-end managers who must account for their time the most, Fred might be a tool.

    In reality, these studies are used to downsize front-end and middle rung employees, and the employees who aren’t as efficient as they should be are not replaced. They’re put in place so you can cut the bottom line at the bottom end so that the managers cushy little salary isn’t in danger. So the work they ARE doing has to be picked up by those who are already operating efficiently. And then the benchmark is set higher. Then the next round of cutbacks comes, and the new bottom-rung people – who might be working efficiently but aren’t as efficient as those at the very top – are canned without replacement, and another layer of work is put on those who were already working at capacity.

    That continues until you see three things:- unnatural attrition rates, an increase in workplace injuries and stress and mental health leaves, and a slip in quality. Then you have a reshuffle, and finally – when the brand has suffered and it starts to effect the bottom line and shareholders start asking questions – new management is brought in, who may or may not understand that engagement of your staff (Finding out why your employees hate their job and try anything to get out of doing it and fixing it) is actually the key to a happy workplace and happy customers.

    These studies are only ever levelled at low-to-medium rung employees. You will never see these things levelled at a CEO. A CEO never has to justify to some bean-counter – and they’re always bloody bean counters by training – what he does in a day for his Eight Squillion Dollars. You never see one of these studies say “You know what? CEO Smith is probably not earning that Eight Squillion. Re-shuffle and cut the pay, or restructure the job” because that’s not where the bean-counters are told to focuss. Whilst the fat cats get ever bigger pay-cheques for doing increasingly less hands-on jobs, your average Joe is made to justify every single second of his day. The dude who pisses off for Golf Days whenever he feels like is not questioned, whilst the guy who is already sometimes accounting for every minute of his day is examined minutely.

    These kind of measures are never brought in by effective, long-sighted, innovative managers or companies. THOSE companies and managers already know exactly how efficient their staff is, and rather than can someone who could be helped to increase their productivity, they find out the reason behind any lapses, and improve them. If not, THEN they get the arse, but if you get to the stage where you have to audit your entire workforce, yours should be the first head on a plate. A good manager who is earning their money should never, ever need someone else to tell them what their own staff are doing during the day.

    These kinds of “studies” are a direct and clear failure of management, not of staff. If you haven’t already gotten rid of the chaff and improved the staff you want to retain so they’re working efficiently, what the hell are you doing with your day as a manager? That’s your job.

    The fact that managers ever feel the need to employ outsiders to tell them what their own staff are doing should be a clear indication of exactly where the problem lies. But people lap it up because it’s numbers they can shuffle around and a way of re-assigning guilt. It’s not the managers fault that their staff aren’t performing and they didn’t know it and didn’t know why! Not at all! It’s just the figures.

    It’s bullshit. Pure and simple.

  6. jordanrastrick

    Keri, you’re right that management is often terrible in reality and that crappy time tracking schemes are one common symptom of this.

    These studies are only ever levelled at low-to-medium rung employees. You will never see these things levelled at a CEO.

    I probably won’t get far trying to argue from the authority of the likes of Robin Hanson in this place, but he makes what I think is an incredibly convincing argument about this point:

    http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/01/enable-raiders.html

    The tl;dr version is that for upper management, the bean-counting bosses are in theory supposed to be shareholders, and that CEOs are overpaid and bad at their jobs in large part because its far too hard for corporate raiders to take over a badly managed company and clean out the dead wood. Not “give low-rung employees more protection” but “give high-rung employees less”.

    I certainly don’t think that’s all there is to making workplaces better, but I do think its a clearly good idea.

  7. I’ve experienced a lot of QA systems. Most of them are designed to take the human element out of management. Generally, they’re designed for higher-level manageers who are under the delusion that if they have more data they can control all the variables, and if they tell their managers to adjust that variable then through the magic and creativity of incentivisation the business will operate more efficiently.

    What it generally means is that middle-management either become arseholes and implement bad practices that are a medium or even long-term drain on actual productivity, or run themselves ragged trying to be effective, empathetic leaders as well as satisfying the unrealistic expectations of their superiors about “Driving Best practice” and “streamlining operations”. I’m sure there are circumstances where they’re implemented well, I just haven’t come across them professionally.

  8. narcoticmusing

    jordanrastrick – agreed, we need to accept downsizing or at the very least, refreshing the workforce of any organisation. My concern related to how this is done. In some industries, the workers are so protected they’d need to have sex on the steps of parliament with an animal to get fired, and even then they could probably plead unfair dismissel if it wasn’t during work hours…

  9. narcoticmusing, “refreshing” is a really loaded term. If you want to look at it the other way, we need to accept some form of tenure to ensure that long-term problems and barriers to productivity can be addressed with the benefit of experience, rather than reinventing each time the same ineffective solutions to ongoing challenges.

  10. These sort of things are more often employed by retarded little wannabe fascists with no interpersonal skills.

    Fuck downsizing and fuck the economy, I’m well over it.

    Ever worked an a managed investment farm? (Shakes head and rants about stupid people from north Sydney for half an hour.)

    Yeah anyway … “we have to accept downsizing” yeah fine, with proper redundancy and full payment of all owed benefits sure. (Oh wait do those things exist any more?)

    “In some industries, the workers are so protected they’d need to have sex on the steps of parliament with an animal to get fired, and even then they could probably plead unfair dismissel if it wasn’t during work hours…”

    Yeah, good.

    Fuck bosses, and fuck an economy that turns humans into little robotic units of production. (And yes I have employed, and been employed by people.) people don’t just sell their labour/time to bosses, when they are at “work” or a regular workplace they form bonds, invest their emotional energy and indentify with their workplace.

    This requires more respect from employers for workers

    BTW If you give me a job, I’m a worker, not a fucking employee. I work. For you. And I expect to be treated with the respect and dignity due all people – after all thats how I did it if/when the roles are/were reversed. And if that means redundancies are necessary you are up front about it and maintain human respect.

    I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a big corporation tho. No definitely not. Every job I’ve had has involved face to face contact with the business owner, or one or two of them, and usually that means we have a good working relationship. I’ve been sacked by some people cos they couldn’t afford to employ anyone any more, and they were gutted about it. They’ll always ring back tho when they need someone and can afford it.

    Its alot easier to wear something like that than some jerk in a suit making you account for your day minute by minute. If I worked in that place I guess I’d be leaving soon and wreaking as much havoc as I could on the way.

  11. Jeremy wrote:
    What would you do? Just how much would you be prepared to risk to stand up against corporate bullies justifying their paypackets by attacking the workers who actually produce their company’s products?

    Um! Don’t trade unions exist to protect workers interests?

    John Howard successfully set about reducing the power and influence of trade unions by a combination of misinformation and scare tactics. The result is that so many unions have been successfully neutered and these type of bullying tactics can now be employed largely with impunity. The law not-withstanding.

    Collectivism is the answer to this type of bullying. Individuals stand little chance.

    Any employee who isn’t a trade union member is dumb!

  12. “Any employee who isn’t a trade union member is dumb!”

    Thats not always true, tho I think its a pretty safe general rule.

  13. “I’m sure there are circumstances where they’re implemented well, I just haven’t come across them professionally.”

    Workforce efficiency measures need to be rolled out across the whole company, and they need to be in place before shit starts hitting the fan. The best companies I have worked for (And I’m working for one now) have already got a comprehensive workforce management system in place, which you review fortnightly and then you’re not trying to overhaul your entire job, you’re tweaking as you go.

    The issue you get is that front line and middle-rung employees are quite used to justifying their time or accounting it minute-by-minute, but upper-level management is not. And who decides who does what? Upper-level management.

    “the bean-counting bosses are in theory supposed to be shareholders, and that CEOs are overpaid and bad at their jobs in large part because its far too hard for corporate raiders to take over a badly managed company and clean out the dead wood. Not “give low-rung employees more protection” but “give high-rung employees less”.”

    Spot on. Shareholders of companies tend to be other companies, and super funds, who are directed how to vote by CEOs. A bad CEO doesn’t get shifted until there’s bad publicity surrounding his position. Imagine if that’s what it took to shift a front-end worker?

  14. Splatterbottom

    Keri, have a look at Nokia, once the premier mobile phone. It has not been able to keep up with Apple or the Android phones. Now it doesn’t have a decent high-end smartphone. It makes good hardware and then cripples it with crap software.

    Now, first to go was the CEO. There will be a cleanout of senior management in the coming weeks. As it is there may need to be changes lower down the changes, but if they don’t react like this then the lower level workforce will suffer most as business shrinks.

    Each business must decide how they react to changes in the business environment. If they react by dealing only with lower level employees and ignoring management failure, then the enterprise is doomed. That is how the market should work. Successful business models are replicated, and failed models are abandoned. What is necessary is sufficient freedom from regulation to allow different models to be tried.

    Studies are interesting and sometimes useful. A smart CEO will have a healthy scepticism about them as they are usually get rich quick schemes for second-rate academics. Given that CEOs generally have a short time to get things right before they are shown the door, they have a great incentive to think things through and get it right.

    The worst businesses are those hamstrung by regulation and union greed. That is why the US car manufacturers are in such trouble. They hit the perfect storm of stupidity – incompetent management, failure to provide consumers with compelling choices and a ridiculous cost structure imposed by avaricious unions and a complacent management.

    This sort of idiocy is rife in the public service, but sadly there is no market discipline their to correct the faults. The ordinary workers foot the bill for this munificent merry-go-round of stultifying sinecure. At least until a country gets to the stage of Greece.

    An even worse consequence of this is the new career path for the aspiring graduate. The new way to a comfortable lifestyle is through the public service – great conditions, limited hours competitive salaries, extravagant super, and then retirement and lucrative consultancies. All of this creates a highly educated and well remunerated cohort who has contributed much less to society than if they had been engaged in private enterprise. This continues until massive debt and high unemployment signal the start of a national death spiral.

    Performance at work in an environment where this is encouraged and recognised is much more fulfilling than in a place that tolerates the drudgery bludgers. A workplace is not a social welfare club, and any that is won’t last long, unless of course it is publicly funded. This is merely a form of theft. The irony is that a well run enterprise with a culture of achievement is a much more fulfilling place to work. In fact that is not an irony, just a proper understanding of human nature, something the left has absolutely no clue about. They specialise in destroying wealth but have not a clue how to create it.

  15. narcoticmusing

    redravens – yes, ‘refreshing’ may be loaded but I was talking about it in the context of the extreme scenario where you cannot fire a person even if they have no intention of performing because they simply cannot be fired. All the ‘good management’ in the world won’t fix the situation we see in industries where jobs are ‘too protected’. I whole heartedly support security of tenure, it benefits both the organisation and the staff. But, just as things can be too extreme on the side of bosses with too much authority to sack people on a whim, there is the other extreme too.

    The issue with the latter extreme is that it hurts the rest of the workers. The organisation is forced to make cuts for whatever reason and rather than offering packages so people who want to go can, or simply evaluating who they need and who they don’t, they just allow people to shed naturally and don’t replace them. This is very destructive and creates massive skill and knowledge holes, not to mention huge pressures on those left behind who lost a staff member not because they weren’t needed, but because they weren’t going to be replaced.

    Don’t get me wrong, I support concepts of worker protection and security of tenure. I just don’t support the attritian model for workplace reduction. I also think there are many industries who would benefit from getting rid of the people ebbing out their days until retirement and getting fresh blood – that doesn’t mean young people per se, just new minds, new outlooks. It also doesn’t mean completely replacing the entire workforce. But if you have no interest in your organisation or in your job – why are you there?

  16. Keri, have a look at Nokia, once the premier mobile phone

    A completely invalid comparison SB – the discussion is apples and you’re throwing oranges. Nokia’s failure has been due to a lack of strategic vision and not an inefficient or disengaged workforce. Downsizing, firing employees, forcing redundancies etc (you know – the topic of discussion here) has absolutely zero impact on the success or otherwise of a company’s strategic vision. At least your strictly inside the box tirade at the start of the thread was on topic.

    If all you know how to do is cut costs, then you will fail in the long term. If you treat your workforce as an army of insects who are culled if they perform outside a rigid set of rules then you will fail in the long term.

    The new marketplace, the marketplace of NPS and customer loyalty, requires a motivated, engaged and enabled workforce. Management cost-cutting and SS-like informing on fellow employees won’t deliver you a superior product or service – it will do the opposite. It will preserve an annual 20% dividened for your shareholders in the short term but the days of treating this as the be-all and end-all of corporate success have gone the way of the dinosaur.

    Your workers are human beings, and are capable of the full gamut of human performance: from disengaged narcissism to passionate enthusiasm. Of course the occasional one needs to get a bullet if they’re a lost cause but this management-by-numbers approach you seem to be advocating is a first-class ticket to nowhere.

    (Apologies for channeling Ed Rooney at the end there).

  17. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, obviously we agree that cost-cutting alone will not solve all problems, and obviously we agree that a work environment where performance is encouraged and rewarded is better than one driven by fear and loathing, and we agree that the incompetent and lazy should go.

    Nevertheless you still managed to get a few things wrong.

    ” Downsizing, firing employees, forcing redundancies etc (you know – the topic of discussion here) has absolutely zero impact on the success or otherwise of a company’s strategic vision. “

    You’ve got it arse up as usual. Lack of the latter will lead to the former. As will a complacent management that tolerates workers who are lazy, incompetent or have a negative attitude.

    There is nothing wrong with management gaining information by measuring productivity. How they choose to do this is up to them. If they are stupid about this they will not survive long.

    In the present case, the first thing I would do is fire the waste of space tool who wrote the article on the basis that he is clearly stupid and probably a whiner.

  18. Mondo, obviously we agree that cost-cutting alone will not solve all problems

    It will exacerbate them, I cite Telstra as an example, spent all that time concentrating on the bottom line (by cutting costs), worrying about the share holders whilst neglecting their customers. My advice to the Telstra Execs, look after your business and the bottom line will look after itself.

    As it stands Telstra has failed its customers and share holders. How much did we pay Sol Trujilo to basically rape the company?

  19. Lack of the latter will lead to the former.

    So lack of a strategic vision will cause a business to fail regardless of worker engagement and productivity? In other words exactly the point I was making?

    In the present case, the first thing I would do is fire the waste of space tool who wrote the article on the basis that he is clearly stupid and probably a whiner.

    He’s also clearly creative, well spoken and a talented networker who is capable of generating media interest in his point of view. Qualities that one would think are relativelye valuable in a journalist.

    Qualities that you would be throwing away in your heavy-handed determination to manage-by-numbers.

  20. narcoticmusing

    RobJ – I’m not sure that cost cutting in and of itself is some evil that should be avoided. There are many benefits to more efficient business modes. So if the cost cutting is about gaining true efficiencies, then it is generally a good thing. The problem comes when the requirment for areas to make savings within the organisation is just “cut$x million” rather than a more strategic approach. So instead of investing some money to find a more efficient way to do your business, they just find a few quick cuts that can immediately show up on the books.

    It leads to lazy savings gains that cannot be duplicated or improved upon – mainly because lazy savings gains are often inefficient. For example, fire the admin person and get the technical person you need to do their own admin. Now, considering what you pay that technical person, what a waste of money to get them to do admin. No efficient. But it looks good on paper because it is one less FTE.

    It is a foolish & lazy mentality that says less FTE = more efficient, and yet we see this sort of thinking all over the place because it is lazy. It is a quick fix. But it has negative long term consequences.

    All that being said, there are good reasons to fire people and there are good reasons not to. Finding savings/cost cutting isn’t a good reason to lay people off, it is lazy.

  21. Splatterbottom

    Rob J, I agree with you completely about Telstra. They spent to much time pursuing a crooked strategy of maximising their monopoly position instead of competing on price. Sadly they were incompetent monopolists, so the usual remedy of owning shares in them didn’t help. They represent an epic fail, although they will receive $11bn for their copper network which will then be shut down. This is funded by the taxpayers and made available by our epic fail of a government. The sooner we criminalise anti-competitive behaviour the better off Australian consumers will be.

    Mondo, in my view, wankers with attitude should be shown the door no matter how competent. some of the best management decisions are to turf high achievers because they are otherwise destructive of the work culture. They seem not to get that a work place is about cooperation not about them. This guy seems completely self-obsessed, even though he couches his grievances as concern for others. You really don’t want some tool trying to create a revolution poisoning the workplace.

  22. “Sadly they were incompetent monopolists,”

    well, the Execs were, there’s no doubt to me that there are plenty of talented people at Telstra. But yeah, we’re in agreement.

    “This is funded by the taxpayers and made available by our epic fail of a government.”

    That would be the Govt who sold them and fucked it up monumentality, the should have split it before selling it.

  23. Splatterbottom

    Certainly the Telstra sell-off was an epic fail as well. The government wanted more money from the sale of Telstra shares to the public s. Instead of separating the out the the infrastructure and either keeping it or floating it in a separate wholesale vehicle, they left it as monopoly so investors would pay more, expecting monopoly profits. That meant more money for the Government and higher prices for consumers.

    The sad thing is that with competent management Telstra could have profited by being competitive instead of losing money by trying to rip off the public.

  24. The worst businesses are those hamstrung by regulation and union greed. That is why the US car manufacturers are in such trouble. They hit the perfect storm of stupidity – incompetent management, failure to provide consumers with compelling choices and a ridiculous cost structure imposed by avaricious unions and a complacent management.

    Or those controlled by avaricious institutional shareholders whose boards are staffed by visionless drones whose focus on the shareholders dwarfs their knowledge of how the business actually operates, in an environment where the race to the bottom is exacerbated by sharemarket movements rooted in formulae and increasingly abstract reportables rather than focusing on how well the business actually does what it does.

    Entrepeneurialism can be stifled by the market just as easily as by governments and workforces.

  25. Dammit… missed an ““

  26. Splatterbottom

    Redravens: “Entrepeneurialism can be stifled by the market just as easily as by governments and workforces.”

    Stifled by market failure, more like.

  27. jordanrastrick

    I just wanted to repeat for emphasis that while downsizing and cost cutting can often be shortsighted, the idea that its never the right plan is clearly silly. If no one ever lost jobs due to structural change, we’d all still be working soul-crushing subsistence agriculture.

    Likewise, people need the protection and advocacy of unions in typical asymetric bargaining positions; but equally its sometimes really really hard to sack someone who really needs to be sacked.

    Also, Sol was a dick in amny ways, and Telstra have definitely tried hard to coast on their government-created monopolist status. But Sol did get one thing right – to be competitive in the future he spent a shitload on network infrastructure. NextG beats the pants of the other mobile networks, and thanks to all the competition the ludicrous prices have now fallen into the realms of sanity. Plus the new guy seems keen to fix all the things that Sol got most wrong. So I’ve now become a very satisfied Telstra customer of my own volition, which is an idea I’d have ridiculed as recently as a year or two ago.

    Entrepeneurialism can be stifled by the market just as easily as by governments and workforces.

    This is an awesome quote. Classical economic theory doesn’t really account for Entrepeneurs at all, actually – growth is exogenous.

    Over time, innovation and competition wear away stupid old ways of doing things. Just as over time, rain and snow will reduce a mountain to dust.

    At any given moment, though, well there’s still a pretty big damn mountain in our way.

  28. Stifled by market failure, more like.

    Yeah, but the differnece between the two is a cigarette paper, at best. Just as Communism works really well in its perfect form, so does Capitalism, as long as you keep human beings away from it. Behavioural Economics is a really fascinating field, SB, and it really claws the eyes out of a lot of the rational use maximiser precepts that neoliberalism requires in order to be a feasible system.

  29. “Keri, have a look at Nokia”

    The CEO was not actually the first to go. The first to go (or the first publicly verifiable exits) were a stream of Mid level employees primarily involved with development and design. Again, when you have a short-sighted management team the first sign of trouble is not the negative publicity and bottom-line issues needed to shift a CEO, but an unnatural attrition rate. The second is lack of engagement (Which you won’t see if you’re a shit manager until you get the unnatural attrition rate), the third will be effect to brand.

    By the time you get to the point where the CEO goes, your company is in deep trouble. By the time you get to the point of “efficiency studies” you’re in deep trouble. No decent, forward-looking company interested in maintaining brand integrity ever needs to employ outsiders to “study” their company. If you have an engaged, invested, pro-active workforce (And those attributes are driven primarily by management attitude – both in their day-to-day dealings with staff, their own example and by the manner in which they hire and train staff) your workforce does the efficiency management for you. If they’re engaged, they go to their manager with issues, or suggestions. If they’re invested, they specifically will think of ways to improve both their own jobs and the consumer experience. If they’re pro-active, they’ll be putting things in place without even thinking about it that mean they’re doing the best job they can. If you’re a half-way decent manager, someone who is “bringing others down” gets either retrained and retained or let go early on. They don’t sit there for years making everyone elses lives miserable unless you’ve got an inefficient, uninvolved manager. If you can’t tell in the first three to six months whether someone is a right fit for your team, your should be the first pink slip you fill out.

    In a decent, forward looking company, employees efficiency, engagement and outcomes are reviewed both by the employee and their manager on a six-monthly basis. Better companies will have meetings with front-end and mid-level employees on a fortnightly basis, and best-practice companies will have company-wide measures on a daily basis that assess the effectiveness of divisions, teams, individuals and the company as a whole.

    Efficiency studies are a great little way of keeping bean-counters in work, but they should never be necessary. Any CEO that disengaged from his workforce should be looking at himself and his management team to identify where the dead wood in their companies are.

    Personally, if any company I worked for engaged in that kind of thing, I’d already be shopping for a new company. I moved from my previous employer because of a negative change in management and sales environment, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same again. If a company is so short-sighted that they think putting the skin of an apple under a microscope will help them cure the rotton core, they’re not a company I would feel comfortable representing.

  30. Splatterbottom

    Redravens: “Just as Communism works really well in its perfect form, so does Capitalism, as long as you keep human beings away from it. “

    The difference being that market based economies have generally produced much better living conditions than communist systems, which have generally produced an avalanche of poverty, misery and death.

    Keri, I’m not disagreeing with your analysis. You make many good points. The most important thing is that employers have sufficient freedom to try different styles of management. That is how management is improved – by trial and error where successful techniques are copied and failed techniques are discarded. This process is convoluted and necessarily involves failure and repetition of mistakes, but is better than any other.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s