The Value of a Good Day’s Work

While people will say that there are many other factors that make a job valuable to the employee, like commute time, vacation, recognition, a great boss and engaging work, compensation is still the glue.  Don’t believe me?  Try not paying people to work and see how long they stick around!

Yet, what is the value of a good day’s work for your job?  What should your employer pay you for a good day’s work so both of you feel like you are in a fair deal?  What should your employer pay you if you don’t get much done, or become a slacker?  Ah, you still want the same amount, don’t you?

It is funny how employers would never say out loud that they would not want to pay an employee to underperform, but they do it all the time!  They set goals for employees and work doesn’t happen.  They set tasks and objectives that never get done and just grip about it.  So what message is this sending to the employee?  Clearly it means you will get paid until we just get tired of the situation.  But for months or years, work and compensation are not coexisting with each other.

I see this when I consult, or at least try to obtain new clients.  They will often tell me all the stuff they need to accomplish in the next 12 months, and 12 months later, the list is still the same.  I’d feel sorry for them if they had not been paid either, but that is never the case.  They accomplished none of their business objectives and still earned their salary.  This is the fault, 100%, of the employer.  The value of a “Good Day’s Work” was established on the date of hire when the job and the compensation was agreed upon.  When an employee is allowed to do less than a good day’s work, and the employer continues to pay the same value, new terms are being created.

This is why years can go by before an employee loses their job.  Even the most ethical employee will slide on performance over time if allowed, and so it really lands up being the person paying compensation to get their money’s worth.

Dealing with Millennial Parents

I got caught up in a LinkedIn discussion last week over an article that was asking when we would stop bashing millennial workers and focus on management’s part in performance.  There are two sides to the challenge of working with any generational group, and I was trying to remind my fellow commenters that we should really focus on the single manager-employee relationship and not group everyone into one pot.

Then someone said something that opened my eyes to what a lot of millennial employees have been dealing with since childhood; that many of them have protective, hovering “helicopter” parents watching everything that happens to their child, even in the workplace.

So what happens when you take a manager, who lacks basic management communication skills and pair them with a millennial employee?  If the employee does everything perfect, the world spins just fine.  But if like most employees we make mistakes when we are learning, and our manager doesn’t know how to give feedback, or avoids it all together, things crash quickly.  Now add a human resource factor that only sees performance issues from management’s point of view and things can get toxic.

Everyone reading this has known of a manager that has screwed up and blames a staff member to take the heat off themselves.  If the employee that gets blamed realizes that they are being setup or treated unfairly, this usually gets cleared up quickly and the manager learns not to try that again.  But when the employee is newer to the workforce, like so many of the millennial generation, they often don’t realize they are being treated unfairly.  But their parents do!

Let me repeat this, millennial employees might not realize that they are being treated unfairly at work, but their parents do!  Now you are dealing with a millennial parent, a mother grizzly, and you are about to get eaten for lunch.

See millennial parents have experienced poor management and can see the signs.  They are well aware of employment laws, and what companies can and cannot do.  They are also the people who know who to call, where to report the violations to, and have the money to hire attorneys.  Ouch, why would you want to deal with all that?

Parental involvement doesn’t stop with school.  It is always there, and ever-present.  So if you are going to play games with a millennial employee with the assumption they are too naïve to fight back, I say beware.  Because even though the employee may not initially know they should fight back, once Mom & Dad find out, the fight is on.

My Favorite Part of LinkedIn

There are days I think I live on LinkedIn, looking for business opportunities and hoping to reconnect with associates from the past.  If I wasn’t so challenged at remembering names it might make the process easier, but over all I believe it to be a great professional online environment.

Now while I love learning about new concepts, or news in different industries from the many articles posted, my favorite part of LinkedIn comes from sharing in the success of my contacts.  It becomes so easy to congratulate someone on a work anniversary, a recent promotion or finding a better job.  Bam!  Everyday someone has good news to share, and it allows me the chance to quickly click a comment and tell them how happy I am for them.

Without LinkedIn, I would not learn about 90% of what is going on.  To begin with, LinkedIn is the one sharing the good news.  Sure you can post an update, but most of the time the announcement is because of an update to the profile itself.  If this feature was not part of the environment, then we would never learn of most of these events because most would never post an update.

Now while it is an honor to write a recommendation for someone I have had the opportunity to work with, that is a smaller group of people compared to the total contacts.  But often, I can endorse a skill or two for many of my contacts from the time we have spoken and interacted with each other.  Again, for me this is the chance to pat someone on the back, and I am one of those people who sees the value in recognition.

However, I also love the opportunity to not endorse certain skills that folks believe they have.  Without announcing to the world that they lack a particular skill, I can just overlook it.  I can then focus on the positive, and avoid the negative.

If you need a pick me up, browse the updates in your LinkedIn profile, and pass on a few compliments.  One a day, can make you feel, not to mention others feel, like the world is better than it is.

Leading with a Purpose

My first career before training development was in banking, and for most of my training career I have supported the financial services industry.  My history goes back to the infamous savings and loan crisis in the late 80’s when too many were going out of business because leadership had a different purpose for the company than traditional banking services.

I had a conversation recently with an associate in the banking industry about a particular bank.  They are a mid-sized community bank that is being staffed with an interesting group of leaders with a very light background in of all things, banking.  Most are from the investor industry and we discussed how they are making decisions that are short-term in scope.  Bankers make short-term decisions, but most are long-term thinkers and planners.

Bankers want customers to stay with them for life, and the life of their children and grandchildren.  Most go out of their way to create programs and products that make this relationship last and create referral business.  Banking often makes every decision based on this purpose with outcomes that keep customers.

So what happens if a bank is being led with a different purpose?  If the purpose is for stock holders to make money, then this is a great purpose to lead with if you are a stock holder.  But if you are not a stock holder and only a customer, while management is leading with a purpose it is not one that will benefit your interests.

I’m always a little leery of any bank that incentivizes employees with stock, because the decisions being made are company focused not customer focused.  I personally would not bank with any bank that is not focused on my needs as a customer.  But that decision is mine to make for my needs.

While most companies lead with a purpose, we all must decide if that purpose meets our needs.  In this particular bank, the leaders are investors by nature not bankers.  Which means their purpose is to make money for themselves and the stock holder.  They are leading with a purpose.  But if I am a customer, I will not be well served to bank at this institution and should choose a bank that is leading with a purpose that aligns with my needs as a customer instead.