Friday, December 24, 2004

Encourage a win-win relationship with your employer

Two way, honest and close relationships

I am one of the believers in close and honest two way relationships. This are in my view the best relations even when it comes to work and being professional. This kind of relationships must be kept between you, the employee and the employer - the company.

What is a good job in my opinion?

My opinion is that a good job is a good balance between 3 factors: material benefits,
working environement, career opportunities. I believe that to be able to evaluate how good your job is, means from time to time to give a grade for each of these factors, then sum them and divide by three. You can subdivide the three factors and make the same for each of them to obtain that factor's grade:
- material benefits - money and other material benefits
- working environement - conditions of work, relationships with
colleagues, management, your team, company policy etc -
- career opportunities

The 3 factors applied

Because, one very dear friend told me that in a blog I must come up with more of my experiences, and not only ideas, advices, todos. Following this observation, I must tell you how I came up with this way of thinking about a job. Some time ago, I realised I wasn't happy at the job I had, so like any conscius employee I started to look for the reasons of why this happens. I didn't leave instantly, but only after realising that maybe there was nothing that could be done to improve my, and my colleagues, situations.
Was this courage or cowerdness? Do I feel better now? Do they feel better now? For the last two questions the answers are yes.

What do others say?

Recently, I read a very interesting small article called "Keeping your employees happy"
. The most interesting fact about this article is that is written by an employer. They have a list of things that an employer must do that I tried to divide from my "3 factors" point of view:
- Give your employees autonomy. - working environement - motivation
- Involve your employees in decisions. - working environement - motivation
- Help your employees to grow - career opportunities
- Actively support long term career growth. - career opportunities
- Promote your best employees. - all three
- Get out of your office. - working environement
- Recognize and reward the behavior you want to see repeated. -
working environement - motivation
- Say no when you mean no. - working environement - honesty
- Pay well - material benefits

I must congratulate her for encouriging employees to honestly tell their employers about the problems they have early and honestly. About encouriging feedback. About encouraging win-win situations between employee and employer.

Two way, honest and close relationships applied

Going back to my situation I must congratulate my employer for being the way he is. Should I congratulate myself and my colleagues also for contributing to maintaining this way of relationship, of working environement? Should we rest now, that everythiing is ok. By no means, no. A good relasionship is earned hard and is it based on trust. Maintaining it requires a big effort but it is deffinately worth it.

What to do?

When you are working in a company, the company has different means of showing you what their expetations are from you, what you need to do in order for them to be happy with you. So, if your company constantly tells you or hints you what to do to make them happy, maybe it is time to remind them how to make you happy. Show them honestly your grades. Show them at least the article mentioned above, and where you feel something could be done. Don't demand, speak openly and honestly,incourage a better two way relationship with your employer.

If communication is the main factor in a project's success or failure, and it must constanly be improved. Not in quantity but in quality. One aspect of this is your relationship with your employer. Most time, you need the courage to go forward and improve this communication, not just wait for the other side to make the first step.

Help your employer have a win-win situation with you. It is not always possible, but try first, keep trying , then maybe it is time to say goodbye, if the "3 factors" test fails. Courage is a great tool, just use it right.


Dan Bunea

3 comments:

somalezu said...

I hate my employer. Sure, I didn’t see him for a couple of years (it’s not as ideal as it seems).
I work in the IT department of a non-IT company.
My job is to make software for this company – and good software is one client don’t notice. It’s just a tool you use daily, like the pen you never ever notice in your hand.
So my work goes almost unnoticed. There are days when I think these guys forgot all about me…
No career opportunities. I’m sure, the day they notice me, they’ll start counting the costs. So I “keep a low profile” for now.
I don’t believe in money. Sure, I hate to be late paying my bills, but I’m not for big money. Programming get you a decent life – but I think Bill is a hell of a marketing guy (or manager, don’t know the difference  ) – not a programmer. So I’m just a programmer, not a software tycoon. Probably I don’t love money enough.
So why I am still working here?
I really like what I do. I’m a junky for writing software. Maybe I just like making things and this is the only one thing I am capable of. I just love seeing something done by me and my team.
And fear. Did I mention fear? I’m afraid that, if I’ll leave this place, I’ll have to write somebody else’s software. In a way I don’t like. I just hate dancing on music that doesn’t make me move. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a good composer, but I’m afraid of real bad music.
So Mr Employer .. If you want me ... Hm .. Just make me proud of what we would do together.

Dan Bunea said...

First I must thank you for your reply.

Software - a tool

Then I must say that you added a very good observation: software is a tool, and if it good, people that use it do not notice it. Does the carpenter notice what a good job the hammer does? I would say yes, only in two situations:
- when is no longer there. If the carpenter or user suddenly cannot use the software anymore and realises that he is addicted to using it then, he will notice
- by comparison - the new software is much better than the old one, than the one my sister uses etc...

These only apply to good software, because if the tool is bad everyone will notice it.

On this aspect I would conclude that software must be build as a tool for the client to help him achieve his goal.

Working environement

If they do not notice you, you must be doing a good job and allow the non programmers (in your case the client) to do their job using your software. This must make you feel good and probably motivated. This might also, be improving your grade for "working environement", just like the possibility to choose your own technologies and be your own chief.

Money

As I mentioned in my blog entry, money is not even one out of three, reasons a job is good. I called one factor material benefits, because you might have other material benefits as well (car, phone, laptop, house etc - not in IT, especially car:)). I think money are in a bussiness, when it comes to the relationship with the employees like an antibiotic. It can cure infections fast and clean. If te employee has any problem (infection), a raise can very fast get him back on track. However, just like antibiotics, overusing this has the same effect. The employee becomes imune. I read a study that the no one cause in one man (with higher education) leaving a job , is the working environement, followed by money.

Bill, in my opinion, he is the greatest bussiness man ever in history. The software is only the domain of bussiness he chose, but I am sure that he would have been very successful in other domains also. He's not a programmer, he's a visionary bussiness man, a great manager and marketing guy, who knew how to surround himself with the right people just like any great man in history did. The "knows it all " manager is not for 21st century.

Career

Opportunities for career are not only in the company you're working at a certain time (the possibility to go up in the company), but working there you gain experience that will certainly be helpful in the future, and will most definately help you in your career. You gain experience in communicating, in working with hostile/non hostile clients, on managing a team, on being a disciplined citizen of a small community (or a colleague). This will all help in the future.

Bottom line

My conclusion is that, in your case, your job is good, because you managed to find the good in it. Examining all factors, I don't see any of them being really bad, but this is only from what I read from your response. It is not ideal, but improve where you can.

Thanks again for your reply, and sorry if my reply seems a little like a "father's advice" :)

Mircea said...

Hi Dan.

I agree with you regarding those 3 factors. I think it's hard for a manager to know the balance of those 3 factors for it's employees. Every employee is different than other. So he cannot apply the same balance to every employee. If the manager has discussions with honest employees, he can see the balance for every one. Honesty implies motivation, which implies a good relationship between members of the organization (management and employees). Also that kind of discussion must be taken on a regular basis, because the employee balance could change. A thing I observed during the army: some prefered to have a good meal (material benefits), others prefered to have ranks (career opportunities) and others prefered to be able to go home more often (working envinronment). But in the army there are no discussions of that kind.

Anyway being a manager in many ways is like being a priest, a shrink and a ruler.