Archive for the ‘Just a Job’ Category

Of Course We Trust You…..But

August 4, 2008

Remember the obnoxious manager who used to sneak up behind you in your cubicle to try to catch you checking your email or putting in that last minute bid on eBay?  Then you elected to take the company option to work from home.  Thank goodness, no longer do you have to worry about Mister Nosey watching your every move at your desk.  Guess what – he’s back!  Electronic monitoring of home workers is an exploding trend. 

Latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that America has 28.7 million telecommuters, or “distributed workers”-those people who work for traditional companies but aren’t confined to traditional offices. That number is up from 10.9 million in 2000. Thirty percent of managers and professionals now work at home at least part of the time.  At IBM, 40 percent of the workforce has no official office; at AT&T, a third of managers can work from anywhere they choose. Sun Microsystems calculates that it’s saved $400 million over six years in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of all employees to work anywhere they want.

But at oDesk.com, the system for linking 90,000 freelance programmers, network administrators, graphic designers and writers with 10,000 client companies includes taking random snapshots of workers’ computer screens six times an hour, recording keystrokes and mouse clicks and taking Web cam photos at any time.  Home office phone calls are monitored to instantaneously detect anger, raised voices or children or pets making noise in the background.  At call center Arise.com, they keep their 8,000 home agents so tightly scheduled to their phones that the agents have to scheduled unpaid time off to go to the bathroom.  (And just a sidenote:  Arise.com’s trademarked company slogan is:  Work. Freedom. Trust. Results.®

Now let me ask you this:  When do you do your best work?  When someone obviously trusts you and has given you the responsibility for completing an important job – or when you are being watched like a first-grader who gets his hand slapped if he colors outside the line?   It’s been shown clearly that “distributed workers” are more productive, not less.  They save the company real estate and utility expenses; less gasoline is burned and food and wardrobe costs drop.  Everyone wins! 

But without trust, the whole system breaks down.  If you don’t trust your workers, then keep them in cubicles, watch their every move, give them limited time to get up and move around, ration their food and water and decide when they can leave the premises.  But wait – doesn’t that sound remarkably like prison?

Futile Job Search Sparked Church Shooting

July 28, 2008

Todays’ USA Today shows this headline for the horrible shooting that took place at a church in Knoxville, TN yesterday.

“It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement,” Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV told reporters on Monday.

Authorities also discovered a letter from the state government telling Adkisson he was having his food stamps reduced or eliminated, police said.

“He did express that frustration, that the liberal movement was getting more jobs,” Owen said. “And he felt like he was being kept out of the loop because of his age.”  The gunman, Jim Adkisson, was 58.  He had been working as a truck driver but neighbors didn’t think he had been working steadily in the past six months. 

There are so many ways to respond around this dreadful incident.  Obviously I believe there are still opportunities for work in America.  They don’t look like the old jobs — but they are opportunities nonetheless if we can reframe our thinking and expectations.  I know owner-operators have been hit hard with the current gas prices – and it may be wise to move on to something else.  But trucking companies are simply raising their prices and are still paying their drivers well.  Yesterday, I drove a truck back from Indianapolis to Nashville and spent a lot of road time reading the back end of trucks where the companies are looking for more drivers – at $.49 a mile.  At 400 miles a day, that’s still $1000 a week. 

Landscapers and construction managers are telling me they can’t find enough people to keep up with their work commitments.  Many of them are working their available workers 12 hours a day in an attempt to keep up.  I have a construction project that we would love to have completed, and the contractors I have bidding on the job are saying they are 2-3 months out in work committed. 

Change can lead to frustration, anger and murder – or it can lead to seeing new options for different, but meaningful and profitable work. 

At the risk of sounding too simplistic, let me end with this:

“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.”  —Alexander Graham Bell

Who cares what the price of gas is – I’m working

July 8, 2008

With the cost of gas and real estate soaring, more companies are recognizing the value of embracing the “distributed worker.”  In Palo Alto, California they are seeing a 10 percent increase in office vacancies.  The reason is not a slowdown in business, but rather, a result of more companies encouraging their employees to telecommute.

Charlie Grantham, executive producer of the Work Design Collaborative, a Prescott, Arizona-based consortium that focuses on researching and defining the future of work says companies can reduce operating costs by 40 percent per person by letting them telecommute.  Yeah – I know you have the image of the slob sitting at home with no shirt, nursing a beer, and watching ESPN while pretending to work.  However, research coming in does not support that picture.

Cisco Systems, for instance, estimates a 25 percent increase in worker productivity among telecommuters.  IBM has saved millions on real estate costs; Sun Microsystems reports that they saved $67.8 million in real estate costs in fiscal 2006. More than 18,000 Sun employees participate in their telecommuting program.

Deloitte estimates a $40 million savings in reduced employee turnover costs; and Google has found that you can often hire higher-quality talent by taking the work to the talent.

And we haven’t even mentioned what it does for the worker.  With 50 mile commutes common, the teleworker would immediately get about a $250/month raise from the gas savings alone.  And what about wardrobe savings; and lunch at home rather than popping into the local restaurant where a Coke is $2.00?  To say nothing of the reduced stress.  This morning as am “working” I saw a deer in my front yard, stopped to fill my bird feeders and take a short walk, had my daughter and granddaughter stop in for a few minutes – but still am right on track with the deadlines I set for today.

The new “results-only work environment” (ROWE) seeks to demolish decades-old business expectations that equate physical presence with productivity. The new goal is to judge performance on output instead of hours.

Both companies and individuals had better be open to this option if they want to stay on the leading edge of innovation. Otherwise, they risk losing out to companies like Best Buy and IBM, who are already seeing the direct effect this new way of working is having on their bottom lines, and the happiness of their workers. Those high-rise office buildings can be leased to the government for prison cells or to farmers for veal-fattening pens.

Are you making money?

July 7, 2008

This morning I read in one of my business magazines that it costs the government 1.67 cents to make a penny.  Somehow that struck me as totally absurd.  How could they possibly justify making pennies when each one costs them 1.67 cents?  Now you and I are not the US government.  We have to make our businesses make sense.  We can’t just tax our customers more to cover our mistakes and inefficiencies.

(I might add here that even if you are an “employee,” you are in business for yourself.  You must provide a valuable service for your employer or you will not continue to be paid.  If it costs your employer to have you around, he should release you to go bring value somewhere else.)

Another way to “make” money is to use sophisticated copy machines to reproduce counterfeit money.  Of course, that’s illegal and will land you in prison.

Actually, we don’t “make” money – we “earn” money.  When you hold a dollar bill in your hand you should see it as a certificate of achievement.  You provided a service or product that someone valued more than that dollar.  There is nothing shameful about it.  You had to serve someone to receive that dollar. 

So it appears there are numerous ways to get money:

  • You can make money the way the government does – going in the hole on each penny you make.  Or just take it from someone who has gotten it honestly.
  • You can make counterfeit money – and risk going to jail.
  • You can beg for money or expect luck to bring it your way – expecting free money from the government, the lottery, good fortune, or the charity of those who earned it.
  • Or you can earn your money by providing a valuable product or service to someone else. 

Governments and churches re-distribute wealth; they don’t create it. Giving people money they did not earn only destroys their self-esteem and leads them to an unhealthy dependency.  The only real win-win solution is to teach people how to earn money.  Earning money creates wealth for all involved.  Earning money is a privilege – and in the process we have obviously provided a service for a boss, customer or client.

Don’t try to “make” money.  Just be clear on your unique value and people will gladly give you their money.  If you understand this principle you will understand that wanting wealth is not greed – it’s looking for more ways to be of service to those around you.

Abused Wife Syndrome

July 1, 2008

No, this is not really about abused wives.  But I had a client use that phrase recently in describing his repeated return to the work of his professional training (yes, one more dentist).  In his mind, there was a strikingly similar pattern.  He would break away for something more rewarding, experience a challenge or setback, and return to the work he despised yet knowing it was where he could make the most predictable income.

Last night Joanne and I went to see the new Steve Carell movie, Get Smart.  In one poignant scene Anne Hathaway is afraid she is going to get sent back to a desk job, rather than being a field agent.  She moans and says, “Yes, I can imagine that, just like I can imagine scraping a cheese grater across my forehead.” 

Do you do your work only because of the paycheck you get?  Do you long to leave for something more enjoyable?  Have you tried another path only to return to what is more familiar?  Unfortunately, wives, dogs, and children often get trapped in these patterns of going back to negative and abusive situations.  The emotions and self-esteem issues there may be complicated and confusing.  However, the stakes are dramatically lessened with a “job.”  A job should not be the definition of “who” or “what” you are.  You can leave today and not change the overall purpose or direction of your life.  Your “Calling” is a much larger concept than what you do daily to create income.  No divorce is needed to walk away and into a more fulfilling and rewarding type of work.  

And you can leave the cheese grater in the cupboard.

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“The tragedy of a man’s life is what dies inside of him while he lives.”  — Henry David Thoreau

Are You Losing Your Soul?

June 16, 2008

Goodbye, Nights and Weekends??  Most Americans believe the 9-to-5 workday no longer exists, according to a survey by Management Recruiter International.  Of the more than 3,500 executives polled, 61% said the traditional workday hours have disappeared.  Many people don’t even look forward to weekends because they no longer exist.  As more people gain more control over when and where they work, it seems neither the workday nor the workweek have a distinguishable beginning or end. 

This is another of those blessing/curse things.  We welcome the flexibility that technology allows but the breakneck speed many of you know in business is further blurring the line between work/home/family/leisure.

Already workers from the factory floor to the executive suite are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Many professionals like real estate agents have convinced themselves that to be competitive they must be available 24/7.  Many have cell phones, lap tops, and pagers within reach at all times.  I see people in church who are text-messaging and Twittering during the service.  I don’t really think they are absorbing the intended worship experience.

Watch this blurring of lines in your worklife.  The natural cycles of work and leisure and taking time for the weekly Sabbath will not disappear without leaving a devastating trail.  If you just exhale in your breathing, you will turn blue, pass out and die.  You must take time to inhale the clean, pure, wholesome air to continue living.  If you just work and never take time for leisure, you will pass out in some form:  there will be family, emotional or physical death.  The “company” may not create the boundaries; you will need to create your own.  Working on my own allows me to build in times of Sabbath rest during each day – not just once a week.  I often break to go for a walk – or take a nap if I’m feeling especially busy.  Yes, the busier I am the more likely I am to take breaks for the inhalation of physical and spiritual health and inspiration.

Don’t equate time with productivity or profitability.  The most successful people I know have plenty of leisure time – in addition to plenty of money.

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“If you are losing your leisure, look out.  You may be losing your soul.” – Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) U.S.-born British essayist, biographer, critic

 “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Mohandas Gandhi

“Only those who are able to relax can create, and then ideas reach the mind like lightning.” – Cicero

Why Morning Interviews are best

April 29, 2008

Research shows that 83% of executives are more likely to hire AM job seekers.  And 70% of all hiring decisions are made before 11:00 AM.  So obviously, if you can help suggest the time of an interview, make it before 11:00 AM.       

Avoid Mondays and Fridays.  On Monday, people tend to have too much to do and on Friday they are anticipating the weekend and ready to get out of the office.  So the very best times for interviews are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings between 8-10:00 AM.  The little things can tip the scale in your favor.

Am I gifted to be self-employed?

March 20, 2008

Each week I select some of the most interesting questions submitted and answer them in a 48-minute podcast.  Here are a few of this today’s edition.  You can listen immediately here on 48 Days Online Radio

1. Over the past few years I have lost over 200lbs through a self-developed regimen. I wrote a book that is for sale on my website, http://www.iweighedmorethanjared.com. I would like to become a personal trainer with the niche in helping people over 150lbs overweight. Do I need to be certified? What do you suggest as far as a certification approach?

2. I have children’s stories I would like to get published. I read that it could take up to 2 years for a story to get published going through a MEGA Publisher. Can you recommend a self publisher?

3. I’ve heard you talk about how your son works full-time for you as an independent contractor. How can he do this and still be classified as an independent contractor by the IRS? I thought you had to have a business that was open to other clients.

4. What is the best way for someone to determine if they are truly gifted to be self-employed? Is it true that some are better suited to be employees than to be self-employed?

5. You mention a lot of times about putting a business plan together, that having one is essential. What if you truly don’t have a clue how to do that? Do you have a step-by-step how-to on that?

6. Our church is fund raising parallel to the story of the servants who were given talents and returned double to the master. We were given $25 to invest for the Lord for 3 months. Ideas?

7. My husband’s miserable with his job. He’s focused on his passion and wants to transition to self-employment. We live paycheck to paycheck and don’t think we can afford this. We follow Dave Ramsey. Does he need to wait until we eliminate our debt in 3 years to transition or is there something he can do now?

Just Shoot Me

March 10, 2008

Police detectives in Franklin County, Washington say a man had his friend shoot him in the shoulder so he wouldn’t have to go to work.  Daniel Kuch initially told deputies he’d been the victim of a drive-by shooting.  But when his story details didn’t quite add up, he admitted that he had asked his friend to shoot him so he could avoid work and a scheduled drug test.  Now the friend has been arrested for investigation of reckless endangerment.  And Kuch is expected to be charged with false reporting. 

Somehow that doesn’t seem to be a very brilliant plan.  What ever happened to just pretending to be sick.  I know lots of people who call in when they really just plan to go fishing or need to take the car in for an oil change.  This dude is definitely over the edge. 

So he has the obvious pain of a gunshot wound, medical bills and charges of false reporting.  How do you suppose his employer is handling this information?  I suspect that an end result will be losing his job anyway.

Moral of the Story:  if you hate your job enough to take a bullet instead of having to show up for work, maybe it’s time to start a new job search.

See the story clip here:  shooting-friend.doc

Here’s a Bonus – a Free Day

February 28, 2008

Here we are, February 28th – and yes, tomorrow will not be March 1st, it will be February 29th.  That only happens once every four years, in years divisible by 4, such as 1988, 1996 and 2008.  That’s because a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours.  So every four years, we’ve accumulated an extra 24 hours that we have to get rid of to stay on track with the calendar.

Get rid of it – or see it as an incredible opportunity?  What do you do with an entire day that is out of the ordinary – and extra bonus?  This week Robert and Tonya Harris won $275 million in the Georgia lottery.  With the unexpected money, will they invest in something meaningful or simply spend it?  Okay, maybe you won’t win the lottery but you are definitely getting all 24 hours of an extra day on February 29th.  Are you going to invest it or spend it?  Here’s the time you’ve been looking for to read that great book.  Or that’s enough time to fully develop your business plan to take you to a new level of success.

Incidentally the first thing Robert did was quit his job so he could “live happily.”  Now there’s a hot topic for another day!