Posts Tagged ‘worker obligations’

Blocking

28/April/2009

I am back. Maybe not for a long time, but I would like to share what I learn every day. And, again, my trigger was a driving experience.

I was driving along a very wide avenue. It was not new for me, but I started to note that some drivers were going not in between the lines that delimit the lanes, but exactly over the lines. What was their intention? After some blocks following their movements (with my eyes, not with the car), the behavior was obvious: they were “reserving” lanes. I mean, they were blocking the traffic from two lanes at the same time, waiting for a hole in the traffic that allows them to advance faster than the rest of the cars. And they succeeded and, really, they went faster. If this is really a method to accelerate traffic without modifying the max speeds, why not to use it broadly? Why not to erase the lines off the streets?

I am not such innocent. The answer is simple: they were faster than the rest just because they were only a few percentage of the drivers. They can go faster because almost all respect the rules and go along the lanes.

We see every day people at the enterprises that outstands over the rest of the employees. There are categories, but some of them belong to the one that break the rules and, because of that, achieve higher results, at least in some way. And they are seen almost as superheroes because of that attitudes.

If we analyze them in detail, we can spot some of the former drivers’ behaviors: they tend to “block” lanes, managing more than one matter at a time, waiting for one of them to become “high” in the top management’s mind, to fill the hole and advance faster than the rest. Probably they didn’t see it beforehand; they block the way to others so they can’t use the holes even if they saw it. But the “blockers” succeed. Is that a winning behavior?

Back to the driving example. Suppose all the street lines are erased so everybody can go wherever they want. I think that there will be a real mess and the whole traffic will become slower than before. Lot slower. The only reason to the success of the “blocking” strategy is that there is much more people that respect the rules than people that block lanes. In the enterprise example, what would happen if all of us do whatever we want, and do not follow the rules? That is, not to do our chores, our assigned tasks, just because we are doing a lot of things to block other’s lanes.

There will be always people that break the rules, people that prefer to excuse rather than asking for permission to do things. And sometimes it is a good strategy, not only for them but for the whole company; for example, when they “block” the way to someone that really prefer not to do his assigned task. But for the company, the best strategy is to have people assigned to every function that is needed, and to be the assigned person to do the assigned tasks. If everybody start to do what they want, the whole company will slow down.

Regards,

    Diego :D

Out for lunch

13/May/2008

Going home last night, the traffic was insanely congested. It was not very late, but it was not rush hour. After about 15 blocks, there is the reason: a public services company made a hole in the avenue, blocking more than half of it. I am sure the problem they have justify the hole, but there was nobody working, and it seemed that there would be no one working until the next day. And that, friends, pisses me off.

I know: everybody have the right to go to take lunch during work hours, and also have the right to rest, be it at night or when it was arranged with the employeer. And there would be no exceptions, but there is a phrase that characterizes the roman law principles: your rights are delimited by the rights of the others. This company, as a lot of others in the city, was causing a traffic congestion, very big traffic congestion, limiting my right to take rest. Should the workers of this company work all night? I think they should; not the same workers, but they shoud have shifts to work all night and all day to reduce the time to solve the problem, even during lunch hours.

Just picture in your mind a neural surgeon, in the middle of a surgery, saying all the people around ‘OK, i am going to take some lunch’ and leaving the surgical room. It is also wrong if that surgeon must work 10 or 12 hours without stopping. He must have a backup. It is very difficult to have that backup if you are the specialist, and that means that the situations where you are involved are not everyday. But the people that should fix the problem the public services company has at the beginning of this post are not specialist. They should have backup, or shifts, and that is a company responsability.

If you know the contribution you do to your company, I am sure you don’t regret working 12 or 14 hours in a row to solve a problem or an urgency. But it has to be an urgency. If everyday you have to work that much, there must be something else going on. We, the managers, have a responsability in that kind of situations. You ask one of your team leaders to prepare some kind of document and give him 3 days to do it. Pretty long time, right?  But that person have to choose between doing it by himself or delegate to his team. If he chooses the second, he must meet his team, give them the assignment and deadline, assure he will have time to review the resulting document before giving it to you, and even to have time to suggest changes. And, of course, to leave time to lunch and rest to his team. He will probably choose to solve it by himself. And he will probably do a wonderful work, surely delaying some other work he had planned. The next time you ask him for something you will think ‘Hey, he can do it in 3 days’. No, he can’t; at least, he can’t do it always.

So, the responsability of the manager is to really know how much time should take to solve the problem. And, if you have a deadline, to assign people to do it without hurting their rights, but also without missing the deadline. The public services company have a ‘deadline’: to disturb the citizens as few as possible. That means sizing their resources accordingly, so they can work, rest and go out for lunch, but without stopping the work.

There is another thing: the worker also has a very big responsability. He is paid for doing his best at the job. And that means that the “out for lunch” hour should be delayed if necessary, and he should not be so negligent to extend that time if he has work to do.

Do you want an open question? I like them, because they give me the opportunity to get feedback and to write another post. Does the government have a responsability in the traffic congestion caused by this company?

I am going out for lunch. See you in a couple of days.

Regards,

    Diego :D