Sunday, November 22, 2009

5 Ways Companies Breed Incompetence


Incompetence is a national epidemic. Kids leave high school not knowing how to spell, C-level executives think they can supercede macroeconomic laws, government executives practically sell incompetence wholesale.

Fortunately, incompetence has definable roots. Identifying these roots helps companies peg where they are breeding incompetence, then modify their shortcomings to benefit of both managers and employees.

If you’re concerned about incompetence in your company, check out the five tips below to see what might be causing it–and how to deal with it:

1. USING NUMBERS AS THE ONLY DEVICE TO MEASURE PERFORMANCE.

Remedy: Rate performance not by number, but by quality of conversations. Train staff in better technique and measure performance from there.

2. SPREADING WORKERS TOO THIN.

Cost-cutting is an essential component of survival, but it’s also a quick and dirty way to overburden competent employees, thus breeding incompetence. How many times have you heard the story of such-and-such a manager who, when all her other employees were laid off, was forced to run a department all by herself? Companies need to realize that even the most competent employee can’t, by herself, replace an entire team.

Remedy: If staff must be cut, companies need to make a bigger effort to help remaining employees stay competent. Is there room in the budget for contractors? How about telecommuting, which would take some of the travel burden off the employee? New types of collaboration that would spread the job between multiple people?

3. EXPECTING TOO MUCH, TOO SOON.

This is an onus both of employers and employees. Both parties expect instant performance; when it doesn’t happen, managers grow disappointed and employees grow disillusioned. I’ve seen many bright-eyed employees enter new jobs with gusto, then fizzle and drag after months of not seeing the results they’d hoped for.

Managers who expect employees to know everything from the outset grow impatient when they have to answer too many questions; those who sought miracles from their new employees become wary when progress is slow. It’s the beginning of communication breakdown, which often turns deadly.

Remedy: Unless it’s clear from the outset that the person has to hit the ground running, set scalable performance goals. Print out these goals and have the employee post them on his/her cube wall. Make expectations absolutely clear. Do the same with resources like training managers, helpful websites, etc.

If you’re an employee, clearly communicate your limitations at the very beginning. You can do this without making yourself sound incompetent. Promise a company only what you can deliver. Make it clear that you want to grow with the company, not fester inside of it.

4. PUTTING A BIGGER PREMIUM ON POLITICS THAN PERFORMANCE.

It’s a fact of life that schmoozing often gets you further than quality performance. Unfortunately, some company cultures overemphasize the social aspect, resulting in employees who feel their advancement hinges more profoundly on department happy hours than innovation or quality of service. The result? The aggregate quality of the company suffers, and employees grow overly political or bored.

Remedy: Put a premium on what the employee is doing for the company, not for his/her social network. Don’t mistake personal affinity for organizational benefit. Making performance standards clear from the outset and having an employee report his results on a regular basis are two ways to emphasize accountability.

5. REWARDING MEDIOCRITY.

Imagine you’re a gung-ho new hire employee at Franklin Widgets, Inc. You come into the job ready to make an impact–until you notice that everyone spends most of their time staring slack-jawed at Facebook. After you realize you’re safe from managerial scrutiny, you join them. Why should you work hard if nobody else is?

Remedy: The onus is on managers to create a sense of urgency and accountability. Describing how to do this is beyond the scope of this post, but John P. Kotter’s work is an excellent place to start.

Full article on businesspundit.com

Monday, November 16, 2009

Make My Day


A day after a hard day’s work.

Cyril and I went to get a massage at a known spa, which was having a promo too good to resist. Much to our chagrin, the massage wasn’t good at all. The masseuse was too hard on my beat-up body. Worse, she was using her hands as if she were kneading dough in a hurry. What would you expect from a hundred-peso service anyway? I am so not going back to that spa ever.

Then we headed to the nearest fastfood joint for dinner. Cyril wanted to have palabok but the cashier said it was not available. So he went for the batchoy instead. Still unavailable. I ordered light Coke to go with my meal but the cashier told me they already ran out of it. So I said I’d have a rootbeer. Still, there was none. I always have my meal there with ice cream, so I asked her if they had it. You figure it out. Yes, you got it right.

My blood pressure was starting to shoot up a hundred degrees. Doesn’t it suck when you’re starved as hell, run to the nearest fastfood diner only to find that they barely even have meals to serve? Up until now, and even if I may have once worked in a fastfood hub, I still don’t get why customers are made to wait for “15 minutes” to have their meal. Doesn’t that defeat the essence of “fastfood”? I’d rather they close and call it a day.

But yes, I remain that I have once worked in a fastfood hub. I have been in similar situations as this so even if I wanted to strangle the cashier for offering nothing, I chose to remain calm and collected. I then reached for the drinking straw box but found that it was empty. Oh, and not to mention that they ran out of condiments too. Sh*t.

I wanted to finish my drink, but felt the urge to go home when he showed a lack of sensitivity. Details withheld, if you may but I from that point I lost my cool. I honestly felt bad; up until now I still do. It’s just that I don’t want to call other people to do what he should do for me. Not that I can’t do it on my own, but was it ever too much to ask for something so little? Oh, need I tell you we were supposed to be celebrating what could have been a special day for us?

When I got home, I sat in front of the computer to upload random pictures I couldn’t wait to show to my friends. Two hours passed and I was still re-booting the computer many a time. I went up to my room, damn frustrated.

Before hitting the sack, I went to the bathroom to relieve myself. The fiber tabs I've been taking must be really working, thank God. Worst case scenario, the toilet bowl was clogged - again. So I had to spend another hour flushing the damn thing.

Sooo not my day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No load? No problem!


If you have run out of prepaid credits or want to enjoy free texting, check out Unlitxt.org. This is a new web-based service that allows you to send text messages to Globe or Smart users for FREE.

A good thing about this service is that it is easier to use. Simply select your recipient's network and area code, type in the 7-digit number and then your message. No more registration hassles. However, there is no way your recipient can identify or reply to you through this application, so make sure to identify yourself in the message box so your recipient will know how to get back to you.

To avail of its free text messaging service, simply go to the website. Go to the right portion of the page, where you will find Unlitxt Messenger, and start sending messages.

I tried this service for myself and it did work. I sent a message to my boyfriend and my own number, and the sender number was +639279531084. I suppose the sender number would also be different for Smart recipients.

Whoever said nothing comes for free these days?