Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Staff Management: Is your employee a Porsche or a VW Beetle?

By Dr. Johan P.B. Prinsloo

The following article is a reworked version of a presentation I gave some years ago to one of the companies I consulted for:

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." - R. Buckminster Fuller
We often find companies descending into run-of-the-mill worker mentality with under-productive staff and we wonder why?

We are quite willing to pay R8500 to R9000 per month for a Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up, while we most often use it for no more than an hour to three hours per day travelling to and from the office. The Cruiser is nothing but a transport vehicle, which achieves the same as a municipal bus or taxi.

At the same time we have an employee that gives us his time and productivity for eight hours each day, plus he/she also spends the same amount of time travelling to and from the office. The Cruiser does not add anything to the company other than being a tax-deductible expense, while the employee adds to the company. Without the land Cruiser one could always get to the office by some other means, be it a bus, taxi or driving club.

We spend R9000 per month (or MUCH more) on a vehicle in which we spend only an hour to three hours each day, all to impress our friends, neighbours and family, yet we are not willing to pay R9000 once off for a bed on which we spend EIGHT hours per day?

While we are quite willing to pay R9000 each month for a transport medium like a Land Cruiser pick-up, we only pay the employee R5000 per month for his eight hours, time and effort dedicated to the company. The figures do not seem to add up.

Do we pay for value?
No one is stupid enough to pay a Porsche's monthly instalment on a 1964 VW Beetle and conversely we also cannot buy a Porsche at the price of a 1964 VW Beetle.

Strangely enough though, we so often find this happening in companies. They willingly pay a Porsche's instalment for someone worth no more than a 1964 VW Beetle, while on the other hand they very often pay a Porsche no more than the instalment on an old dilapidated VW Beetle.

Companies Pay the Job not the Person
It does not matter who fills a particular position in a company, because the salary remains the same. The person is not paid for his/her effort, dedication, hard work, loyalty and input, the salary is based on the position within the company. Positions are awarded salary scales, irrespective of whether a Porsche or Beetle is used for the task.

Companies lose good employees, because the person is not being paid based on his/her value to the company. Company input does not compare with employee output.

Employees are often deployed in the wrong positions and given the wrong tasks.

We often find a Porsche employee sitting in a VW Beetle position, either being paid in accordance with that position. Eventually this employee then starts dragging his/her feet, becoming the position, rather than being utilised as a Porsche.

Companies promote employees according to standard protocols. An employee cannot be promoted, because he/she has not been with the company long enough, or because he/she is too young? What kind of reasoning is that? If you have a Porsche are you going to drive it like a VW Beetle? Would you go off-road racing in your Porsche? Would you put a Land Cruiser on a race track expecting it to compete against a Porsche?

Porsche vs VW Beetle vs Toyota Land Cruiser

VW Beetle Employees has proven it self able to survive for many decades if taken care of and driven at no more than 110km/h downhill and 50km/h uphill. Never push the VW Beetle beyond it's limits, because it would break down and last no more than a few years.

The VW Beetle employee is a loyal, dependable, trust worthy employee that should be deployed in those positions applicable to a VW Beetle. Such an employee will always be on time, thankful for the job, respecting towards his employer and the job, but he/she should not be driven or challenged. They give steady output.

The VW Beetle is always on the job, but he is only on the job while at the job, not after-hours.

Toyota Land Cruiser Employees is tough and it loves challenges, difficult tasks. The tougher the terrain, the more difficult the obstacles and tasks the better. They love challenges and as long as the challenges are there and the salary comparable to the risks and challenges this is a super hard working employee that could drive a deadline to death. Tell him/her it cannot be done and watch him jump to the fore and make it happen. But PLEASE do not pay him a VW Beetle salary, make him realise his successes are appreciated and respected. Never pay him a Porsche salary, because he would squander it on a Porsche and see no sense in having to prove himself. He thrives on a good Land Cruiser salary with production bonuses. The position must be a challenge. Without challenges he gets bored and lands in trouble. He often does not belong to one single division within the company and needs to be shifted to other sectors when needed. The moment the challenges are gone in one division he/she needs to be challenged with a new venture in another division within the company. He loves accolades. Give him a pat on the back at a staff meeting and he is yours for the day.

The Land Cruiser does not perceive the VW Beetle as a threat and gets along with him quite easily. The Porsche is way to flashy and smart for the Land Cruiser. The Porsche is too bling-bling for the rugged Land Cruiser that does not mind getting himself dirty, while trying to achieve where no one else dares to tread. If he fails he takes it with a shrug, because at he knows he tried and now knows what works and what does not work. Sadly the Land Cruiser is the type of employee that often gets fired for having failed at a task no one else had the guts to attempt. You want this Land Cruiser in your company. He may cost you money once in a while, but he would most often get you where no one else could. He never says no to a challenge thrown at him by a Porsche.

The Land Cruiser does not care about working hours, he wants to get the job done and would stay until the job is done and make sure the job is delivered on time, but better you pay (reward) him for it. He could kill you with over-time claims, but you'll get your job done.

The Porsche Employee deserves the salary of a Porsche. The Porsche comes up with the ideas that the Land Cruiser has to make happen. The Porsche is a mover, a very fast mover. He sees opportunities where no one else does, never break his speed while he is moving, because eh does not like having to catch up. He loves being way out in-front, not with the VW Beetles. He challenges and uses the Land Cruiser to make his dreams a reality.

Do not neglect the Porsche, because he is a mover and would move to your opposition if offered the opportunity to excel. The Porsche moves at a fast pace, gets things done. He acts on the moment when the opportunity is available. Appoint a committee to investigate his proposal and he would be with your opposition before your committee exits the conference room. He would turn you opposition into your worst nightmare and eventually your opposition would buy your company.

He may not be at work, but his mind never leaves work. He could be a jet-setter and a party freak, but he will meet people you never knew existed. He would get deals and make deals you would never even have thought of. He comes up with new ideas and implements them without you even knowing. He often implements ideas that you only learn about by chance or long afterwards. He doesn't wait for approval he is a doer. He implements and you reap the benefits, do not put on the breaks while he is moving with new ideas. Always give his ideas a chance, it usually is worth it. He is a lateral thinker and his ideas may differ from your stagnant ways, but he is with it and is moving with the times.

Pay him/her what he/she is worth, before someone else does it. He is going places either in your company or with another company.

Vehicles Working As a Team
The Porsche is the driver controlling the fuel pedal, the clutch, the breaks the steering wheel. The Land Cruiser is the engine delivering the power and torque in response to the demands of the Porsche, while the VW Beetle is the chassis of the company. The Chassis has to be able to handle the torque and the rough terrain. The Porsche determines the growth and the pace at which the company operates and grows, while the Land Cruiser is the one ensuring it actually happens.

"The highest challenge inside organisations is to enable each person to contribute his or her unique talents and passion to accomplish the organization's purpose." - Stephen R. Covey

I would briefly like to say something about procrastination, which is a problem in most companies.
The word "procrastination" should be equated with the word "insecurity". Insecurity leads to procrastination. Procrastination is a symptom, not a disease, find the causality and remedy it.

Whenever an employee is found to be procrastinating on a particular task, or in a particular position, be certain it is often due to a sense of insecurity relating to the particular task or generally the position. Sit down with the employee and guide him through the task or provide him/her with appropriate training and the procrastination will disappear. Employing a VW Beetle in the position of either a Land Cruiser or a Porsche would certainly lead to procrastination due to insecurity.

Procrastination should not be confused with boredom or a lack of work. Often a lack of work would lead to procrastination, because the employee is so used to not having anything to do that when he/she actually does get some work they grown too lazy to work.

Another cause for general procrastination is employing a Porsche or Land Cruiser in the wrong position. The Porsche would be of the opinion that the task is so minor or inferior that it would only take him/her a minute or two to complete, with the consequence that he never gets to it. To the Land Cruiser the job may not seen as a challenge and something he could quickly fit in-between other more pressing / important work and never gets to doing it.

A challenging job would procrastinate the VW Beetle, a job without challenges would bore the Land Cruiser, while frustrating the Porsche who sees it as inferior or a waste of time.

Being "qualified for the job" does not mean holding academic qualifications in-line with the job description. Being qualified for the job means being able to do the job and giving the company value for money, with or without academic qualifications. "Natural ability without College education has more often attained to glory, success and virtue than College education without natural ability."

Being Qualified doesn't mean you're Educated: "A University Degree does not mean you are educated. Quite the contrary. It means that you have been opened up to a perpetual state of ignorance and thus a lifelong hunger for more -- more ideas, more knowledge, more good thoughts, more challenges, more of everything. Some of the dumbest people I know went to great, prestigious colleges and universities. They walked across the stage, took degree in hand, pronounced themselves well-educated and proceeded never to read another book, entertain another fresh idea or tax their minds in any way beyond the minimum limits required to make a living or make it socially or both." - Said by James Lehrer, host of US television news-analysis programme, in a commencement address to one of his shows.

A man walking down a street one evening comes across a man on his hands and knees under a street-lamp, obviously searching for something. He asks the man what he is searching for and if he can help. The man answers that he had lost his car keys. After many minutes of helping in the search he asks the man if he is sure that this is the place where he had lost his keys. The man says "No I don't think I lost it here, but this is the only place where the light is shining." This is not the person you want to employ in a position that should be filled by a Porsche.

There is no Law that forces you to pay everyone the same, irrespective of their performance. If someone within the VW Beetle group stands out above the rest and performs better than the rest, why would you want to lose that person by not paying him/her their true worth to your company? Is that person worth the same as everyone else in that group? Does that person not give you more value for your money?

There is no Law that prevents a company to redeploy its employees as it sees fit. If an employee is unfit for a particular position, redeploy him or her for optimum performance and value to the company.

It has always amazed me how a company would lose a particular person and then employ three other people in that person's position, who still do not give the company the same value as the person it had lost. If you are willing to pay three other people each a salary, while you could have paid that original employee double and retained him or her, you need psychiatric help.

Pay your employees in accordance with their value to your company, not in-line with some outdated company policy. A loyal employee retained is worth a 100 new employees.

For some reason companies tend to find it easier to spend huge sums of money on things like flashy cars that mean nothing to the company, than spending money on things that make money for the company, like staff.

Some employees will never fit into your company and that needs to be understood, accepted and respected. If he/she does not fit in with your company, allow them their freedom to move elsewhere. Find them a job with your competition and let your competition make them an offer.

In your entire decision making, always place the company at the centre and ensure that all decisions are to the advantage of the company. That way everyone will gain in the long-run.

If it is worth doing - it is worth doing it well. In the end though we also need to realise that a man who provides work and income to 500 people certainly does deserve his own luxury, don't you agree? It stands to reason that people go into business to make money and make a better living for themselves and it stands to reason that the owner / CEO would earn the best salary in the company by far, after all he is your bread and butter.

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Dr JPB Prinsloo is the oldest homoeopathic practice in South Africa.
The practice, situated in Pretoria, was established in 1956.
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