I’m pretty sure that since the dawn of time employees have complained about being over worked – even Fred Flintstone complained about Mr. Slate. Back in the day abused workers formed unions to fight the man. And yet, employees still complain. Heck it’s kinda their duty in a sense.
The point of a company isn’t to just give everyone something to do between breakfast and dinner. The point of business is to make money – To make money for it’s owners, it’s shareholders and ultimately so the employees can make money.
Hopefully, during that process everyone (the boss, the employee, etc) all grow and make themselves better people. But, don’t forget, the purpose of business is to make money.
Part of the equation is that bosses have to constantly strive to get more out of their workers. It’s called productivity. If you can get more out of your workforce without increasing the size of the workforce you will increase productivity and hence better your chances for making more money.
But, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. This trend isn’t new no doubt. But, it still disturbs me. It’s what I’ll call the trend of – Unreasonable Productivity; Or, the trend of Math, I don’t get that shit.
Let’s examine this shall we.
Math. We’re all taught it at an early age.
“Oh look how cute you are little Johnny. How old are you?”
Johnny, desperately trying to hold up 3 fingers – “I’m twee!”
Unless your an oppressed female in some sand country, you go to school for years and years learning math. Algebra. Trigonometry. Geometry. Calculus. And, whatever comes after that for which I wasn’t smart enough to take.
Math can be brutally complex, but in all honesty it’s pretty straightforward. Math runs the world. Sometimes it takes the form of where two trains will meet if one leaves Cleveland heading West going 67 miles per hour while the other heads East having left Reno going 46 miles per hour. Other times, it’s trying to figure out why hot dogs come in packages of 8 yet buns come in packages of 6.
BTW, the answers are: 1) to get off either fucking train at the first possible stop else you’ll meet in a fiery death. And, 2) so you’ll buy more buns.
Math also plays a tremendous role in business.
How much should we charge for widget X?
What are our costs?
Are we making money?
CV’s bugging me for a raise. How can I get away with not giving him one while lining my pockets with more money so that when I ultimately get fired I will have a huge golden parachute?
Seeing as math plays a huge role in all of this, it scares the shit out of me that our fearless leaders cannot grasp a fundamental law of math.
That law? That it’s impossible for me to give 110%.
You see, I can give 100%. That’s the absolute maximum output for me. I can also give you the “I don’t give a shit I’m hanging out here until I get my paycheck 50%.”
But, what I, nor anyone else can do is give 110%. Cannot Happen.
Oh sure, they can ask me to give it my all. That’s fine and frankly expected of employees in my opinion. We should be trying our hardest. But, that too doesn’t mean giving 100% every single hour of every single day. Again, while that’s technically impossible, it’s highly unrealistic.
Let’s look at an example that people often use to help us illustrate this. This is a phrase I’ve heard just about every boss at every job say:
This is like a race. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.
If I had a dollar for every time one of our fearless leaders say that I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a fruity drink and not giving a shit if it was a marathon or a sprint.
But, here’s the deal. While they say it’s a marathon they continually ask us to run at a sprinters pace.
For some reason the boss man thinks – well CV you can run a 100 meter dash in about a 10 second pace (likely 20 for me, but they are “setting a goal” for me; never mind it’s at a world class sprint pace) so why can’t you run this marathon any faster?
Me – well Mr Math Wizard, how bouts we examine this:
Hmm, 26.2 miles equals about 42,195 meters. At a 10 meter per second pace, that would take me about 4,219 seconds. And, with 60 seconds in a minute, it should take me just over 70 minutes. Do you really think that’s possible?
Bossman thinking – Why are you so friggin slow?
We’re constantly being asked to do more with less. When people leave the company (voluntarily or otherwise) these day’s their jobs are often not back-filled. They’re often absorbed by schmucks like me and you. Why? Implied Productivity. That is, bossman thinks, if I can get CV to do 2 full time jobs, yet only pay him for one…Golden Fucking Parachute here I come!
Bosses of the world. I agree you should push your employees to be better today then they were yesterday. But, be realistic.
I can’t give 110%…mathematically impossible.
I can’t run a marathon at a sprinters pace…my heart will explode in my chest and you’ll be faced with a messy lawsuit from Mrs. CV.
I can’t do two people’s jobs extremely well. I can do 1 awesomely. I can do 1.5 probably half-decent. But, if I try to do 2, both will likely suck.
You can’t expect me to give it 100% every second of every day and then ask me to “turn it up a notch”. There are no more “notches” if I’m at 100%.
It’s kinda like this – you’ve no doubt heard of that nut job on Sunday who parachuted from 24 miles up to break all kinds of records (note while his parachute isn’t golden, it likely was after he pissed himself). Even with all his technology he’ll only be able to fall so fast. That’s the law of terminal velocity – basically everything can only fall so fast (don’t ask for specifics, I’ve just heard about it in some movie). Even he would require something to speed him up beyond terminal velocity as he screams toward a potential splat. He can’t do it on his own.
Bosses of the world, recognize that if you want the most out of your employees you can’t ask them to run at a sprinters pace for a marathon. They need to pace themselves. Then, when that time comes that something’s so urgent that you need them to add an extra gear, they’ll have it.
Pick your priorities. Communicate them to me. And, I’ll do my best.