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Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I saw a farmer the other day who was carefully cleaning some tilling equipment and it made me stop and wonder for a moment. He was obviously cleaning the machinery so that it continued to operate to the best of its ability and I know I'm guessing here, but I think I'm on the money when I say that he initially chose this equipment for a number of reasons. Firstly, its ability to do the job he was going to use it for. Secondly, its cost when compared to alternative equipment on the market, and in line with his personal budget. Thirdly, its projected longevity, how long it could last if he treated it well.

Comparatively, I considered the way in which some companies use their workforce. Certainly they consider the ability of their personnel to do the job that they're going to be used for, but some companies are comfortable in using underqualified and inexperienced people to fill the roles. Usually in this case they offer comprehensive training to ensure that the employee has a thourough understanding of their responsibilities and then, through monitoring and ongoing training, they are able to build a successful worker. Other companies don't even do this, instead they employ people who are patently incapable of performing their duties, even with extensive training and hope against hope that they can do a facsimilie of the job.

So do companies consider the cost of their employees? Well they do in my experience where I was often told to make sure my wages were in line with budget as it was the biggest flexible cost to a business. Companies often have bandings to separate the salaries paid and these may be based on qualifications, suitability or skills etc. This ability to pull from a certain pool of resources can, with the addition of development strategies, lead to an enviable group of staff. But what happens when the intial salary is too low, or incremental increases are not in line with what the employee might expect? Well in the first case you're not going to have a lot of interest from the precise people you're hoping to attract. instead you'll have to interview large numbers of people who are exactly not what you're looking for. As for people feeling they are not able to see their salary increase in line with experience or qualifications, or even to keep up with the local inflation levels, they will just leave or they will stay and procrastinate over whether to leave or not.

And what of longevity? Do companies want to keep their employees? These people who have had time, effort and money ploughed into their development? Well many companies say that they do but their actions often contradict the words that they use. My experience has led me to believe that clear and uncontradictory communication of expectations, remuneration, and the person's part in the company's future are all significant factors in establishing loyalty.

The tilling machinery that the farmer was using is hardly sentient. It won't understand the principles of Carrot and Stick, or the taste of A Praise Sandwich, nor will it need to concern itself with the vagaries of Situational Leadership. But if you mistreat that equipment, if you fail to do what you need to do to keep it running at its optimum, then sure as eggs are eggs you're going to have a problem on your hands....