Tie Compensation to Productivity

It occurred to me this week that many of the folks I talk with daily are out of excuses for not getting things accomplished.  Not only are they running out of new excuses, the old ones are getting, well, old.

I mean how many times can you say in a year, “I was out of the office on vacation last week, so I have all these emails to answer this week.”  Or my personal favorite, “we are so busy right now we have no time to get [insert project] completed.”

As a contractor that is only paid when I am actually producing something tangible, I got to thinking about how easy it would be for corporations to increase productivity while at the same time reduce compensation.  Simply put, compensation would be tied to actual productivity, not just being busy.

Instead of being paid all week and getting very little accomplished, corporations would only pay employees if they get things done.  Goals are accomplished on time, within budget and if not then the company does not have the expense of payroll.  Unfair you say?  Isn’t this how commission sales people are compensated?  Isn’t this why corporations like to hire contractors and consultants because they only pay for work being performed?

It might sound like a far fetched idea to tie compensation to productivity, but it is really only far fetched if you aren’t very productive yourself.  If you are the kind of person that prides themselves on getting things done, this new “pay for performance” plan should be quite appealing.  Think how much faster things would get done if people didn’t get paid until the work was completed?

All managers would need to do each week is to set agreed production tasks into place for the following week, and if they are completed then they get paid, and if not then maybe only half-pay.

While this idea is something no one is ever going to implement, from a motivational tool, what do you think would happen to productivity if employees thought it could be an option?

Generic Interviewing

Have you ever been interviewed for a role and the questions could have been for any job at the company?  Sometimes this occurs when companies are more focused on your ability to fit into their culture than your ability to function in the role.  I call these generic interviews and a total waste of everyone’s time.

While I thought this animal was long extinct, I experienced this type of interview recently myself, and was completely dumbfounded as the questions kept coming with zero connection to the job responsibilities, or my capacity to execute deliverables.  While the hypothetical situations where fun to answer, it took a lot of unnecessary creativity to insert applicable answers to demonstrate experience.

When this interview was completed though, it became clear that the real reason they were unable to conduct a situational interview for this position is they had no clue what the role should be able to do!  Oh my, it was a new role and I was describing the possibilities and while they were enthralled at the vision at the same time they didn’t know how to react or whether they should.  When I asked the inevitable budget questions there were no answers because they had not funded the department yet, even though they were actively hiring a manager.

I’ve got to wonder how you get approval to recruit for a job, with no budget other than salary, and then not have a clear understanding of what the goals and objectives are for the position. Not only does it make the recruiting process challenging, but what happens once the person begins work?

While to some a free rein to do “whatever you think is needed” without any budget allotted may sound like a utopian opportunity, to me it would be one long vacation into insanity!  Since I was unable to logically convince them to step back, think this through and set some goals, I got their attention by “withdrawing my application” during the interview.  There are days I wish my glasses had a built-in camera, because the reactions on those three faces were precious.

In any case I caused them to at least pause a little, and think through to their next step.  I believe they will slow down a little in the recruiting process and realize that not everyone out there is so desperate to work they will do and say whatever it takes to get an offer.  If I had done that I believe I would have done them little service.  Then of course I practice “Servant Leadership” and not “Self-Serving Leadership.”

Friends AT Work

In this current age of LinkedIn, Facebook and a dozen other social environments have you noticed that it doesn’t take much more to be a friend than breathing?  It used to be that counting someone as a friend meant more than it does today.

Most of the people who I count as friends began as associations with people at work.  In some cases they were supervisors, peers and staff in the beginning, but over time and long after we no longer worked together we became friends. 

Now I define someone as a friend if they know more about me than what is publicly known online, in print or by mutual association.  In other words I have chosen to include them in my inner circle of confidants and trusted people.  These folks know when I am happy, sad, angry or depressed by just looking or talking to me because they know what I am usually like most days.

Today it is popular to link up with everyone that will link up with you online.  And of course whether it is Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, post your every thought and movement to your list of “friends”.  I don’t do this for a variety of reason, not the least of which it is an unproductive use of time that impedes getting “real work” done.  I also don’t need to know what everyone else is doing all the time, so I figure they don’t need to know my every move either.

I won’t take up this space to elaborate or repeat all the do’s and don’ts that exist around working relationships, but I will tell you that some of my very best friends where strangers until we worked together.  Something about sharing so many hours a day in the same trenches creates common interests and shared experiences that are still relative years after you stopped working for the same company.

So cultivate friendships, and grow professional relationships, but also be real with yourself that not everybody breathing is “your friend” either.  Even some of the people I have worked with in the past I thought were friends, dropped that false relationship as soon as one of us left the company.  If that is not proof everyone is not a friend I don’t know what is.

When in Doubt – Over Communicate Your Message

Have you ever wondered what is going on?  Have you ever wondered what someone is thinking?  Have you ever wondered what comes next?

Lately there seems to be an epidemic of wondering because people are not communicating well or often enough to be heard.  They either “don’t have time” or assume their thought are being conveyed supernaturally.

Last week I pointed to the issue with Email, and how hard it is for people to use the “reply” button.  I honestly heard someone tell me this week they didn’t have the time to reply to my email.  I ran a test of how long it takes to hit reply, and type “really swamped, got your message, will be in touch soon.”  All of 15 seconds!

Yet when people don’t get the message, they panic!  They begin to move from wondering to imagining.  In today’s crazy world and economic uncertainty panic and imagination don’t blend well together.

My solution is simple.  Always respond to people, and over communicate to make sure your message is being received.  Check for concerns often, and adjust you process as necessary.

What ideas do you have?