Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Do I Want To Do Better?

What Makes You Want to Do Better?

Many organizations are quick to assume that extrinsic rewards (oftentimes, money) are the only way to get people to take initiative (a form of “Theory X” thinking). Followers of Dr. Deming (and now fans of Daniel Pink and his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) realize that people have incredible intrinsic motivation if you don’t squash it, as an organization and leaders.

The biggest thing is that I dislike wasting my time. I want to eliminate the things that waste my time. And that also means I want my time to be as beneficial as possible. Therefore I want to find ways to create more good consistently. It is great to improve the system because then I get to have my effort not just let me be more effective (which lets me create benefits in the future more effectively) but I get to have the benefit I spent my time on multiplied by lots of people being more effective.

The only amount I care about other people noticing is when it helps me do more. Sometimes, it is helpful to get some new idea adopted if those responsible realize that they are benefiting from past improvements (otherwise people often just don't want to change). The incentives others give me for doing better don't matter to me. The one that matters most is letting me broaden the scope at which I work (so I can multiply the benefits I see from my effort).

I also do care about being able to work from home several days a week - and avoid the commute and focus without the distractions at the office.

I strongly believe a manager should focus on eliminating demotivation.

If you create an environment where you are removing the de-motivators and letting people improve the processes you will find people become more satisfied and less frustrated at work.

Are you working harder?

And the VIBCO employee responded:

"It doesn't feel like I'm working harder. I'm not stressed out. I'm getting more done and there’s a sense of accomplishment."

Related: Stop Demotivating Me! - Stop De-motivating employees - Understanding Psychology: Slogans are Risky Tools

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Should Employees Do? Focus on the Purpose and Improve

What should your employees be doing? by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

Employees all have four common requirements to guide them:

- keep each customer (loyalty is critical)
- find new customers
-get as much money as possible from each customer (as long as it is moral, legal and ethical) - you are in business to earn money
- look for efficiencies (not based just on cost-cutting, unless it comes from elimination of waste). Cost-cutting alone leads to cutting services that customers or employees value.

If point 3 is causing concern for public benefit organizations, reword it to "maximize return on investment from each customer (keeping it moral, ethical, and legal)".

I don't agree with number 3. I think Jeff Bezos says it well: "There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less." I would rather be a customer AND invest in those organizations working to charge me less instead of an airline, for example, following point number 3, as stated.

Also that lists seems to have nothing about "respect for people" one of the 2 pillars of lean manufacturing. The two underlying principle of the Toyota Production System are continuous improvement (kaizen, genchi genbutsu, challenge [don't accept that things can't be better]...) and respect for people (respect and teamwork). And missing much of what Dr. Deming said about purpose.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pay Doesn't Fix Overwork

The FLSA OT Exemption No Longer Computes!

When the DOL enacted the FLSA back in 1938 there were a couple of things that could not have been taken into account. The whole basis for the overtime exemption was that certain employees were educated, trained, and responsible at a level that afforded a certain flexibility in how they get their job done. Generally the argument was that sometimes those professionals would work 40 hours a week, sometimes they would work 45, and sometimes they would work 35. Whatever it was, though, the expectation was that their annual salary should take into account the level of effort – and the time on task – required by the role.

I would say that those that many employees in such situations are paid a salary and are not paid for exact hours of work. Work has changed. I am a bit surprised we haven't seen more people appreciate the huge salaries many in the USA get given the current economy but I guess that is a bit foolish. We tend to compare our situation to anyone that has it better than us and say it is unfair we don't have it better. People would be a lot better off looking at all those that have it worse of than they do for no good reason and be thankful for what they have.

At the same time I agree many organizations have reduced staff and piled too many responsibilities on those that are left. That is an issue to manage. But I don't see it as a pay issue but as a well being issue. The agile software development community has a great view "The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely." That is a key to better managed organizations.

Pay is important but it is separate from effective managing of overwork. It isn't good to overwork and then just pay more money and think you solved the problem. There does seem to be a problem of people having jobs that are too much. Part of which is due to always being on call. I think more than that though is the issue of policies and management that just makes the workplace much more annoying that it has to be. We need to improve systems so work is more enjoyable and sustainable.

Also I think the FSLA assumed many would be working well over 40 hours a week on average. I think that is fine. what is a sustainable pace will vary and depend on the work.