Monday, April 09, 2007

Observation at work

One thing I wanted to comment on was the lack of patience in people in general, but especially in my young coworkers. I am under 30 as well, but a difference in my background is that I previously worked at a company that did not promote people with any regularity. Promotions depended on berating your manager, if you had a pushover manager, or waiting around for your time in job to become long enough that it looked silly keeping you down. Promotions are handled at my current employer much more liberally, and it has created an attitude of entitlement amongst employees. Some of it is caused by the individuals themselves, and some of it comes from handling everyone.

There are a couple of problems with rapid promotions:
1. Creates a glass ceiling of sorts on people who get pumped up much faster than they should. There will be requirements for the next promotion that cannot be altered, which will force an employee to stay at that job title for a long time without a promotion.
2. Frustration of new and future employees who see the rapid progression and will expect the same for them. If it does not happen, they get angry and might leave.
3. Department expenses. Rapidly promoting employees, even if you can keep them near the bottom of their new pay scale, increases your unit costs significantly. What can happen is that head counts will not be increased, forcing employees to handle more and more work. Oddly enough, the total output of the unit must match expected pay, forcing rapidly promoted employees to now really produce.
4. For the promoted employees themselves, it creates golden handcuffs. It can become incredibly hard for an employee to find an adequate income replacement elsewhere.
5. What do you do about people who have been appropriately placed at the levelt hey are in? New entrants to that job title who are no doubt inferior can create tension.
6. What if you narrow the scope of benefits, pay and perks between top level employees and others? How do your top employees handle having greener folks only one level under them, with nowhere for the top employees to go?

Part of the problem comes from managers who do not do an effective job of managing expectations of newer employees. Managers also have to give "not positive" (workspeak for negative) feedback to these employees. Managers also have to do a good job of keeping things secret. When employees start to learn what other employees make for salary, any problems other employees have, or other perks they get, it might create tension between the different employees. It's one of the difficult parts to managing, but it is why management is paid the big bucks.

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