Re: Employees who hate their tools

Subject: Re: Employees who hate their tools
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 1995 16:24:43 EDT

Ray Bruman

<-- Chet, thanks for offering the manager perspective. I've always wanted
to ask managers if the following argument has any fallacies, mistakes, poor
assumptions, or whatever:

"Let's see, we're paying her $50,000 year salary and she also costs us
about $15,000 a year in overhead. She's a valuable worker and I know
there are other employers who would like to lure her away with perks
like state-of the art hardware and software to work with, learn, and
enjoy. Man, if we lost all her training and specialized knowledge about
our operations, and had to hire and train someone else to take over for
her, that would cost us another two month's costs to catch up, say about
$11,000 easily. Possibly a lot more, plus intangible losses.

On the other hand, she's asking us to add about $6,000 on our capital
budget. But, then, her old equipment would be freed up for other workers who
would actually appreciate the upgrade on their tools. Sounds like a
win-win-win decision; let's get her the new tools. Or, if we really
can't afford it, let's make sure she understands why we can't."

Am I missing something here?


No, you've got it about right, I'd say, at least from my perspective. Also
assuming that:

a) She *is* valuable to me and I want to keep her on my staff, and
b) the $6,000 is there in the budget and available.

And whatever the case, I as a manager owe her a straight answer to her request.
Whether or not that makes me a typical manager, I don't know. I've been pretty
lucky in the people I've worked with in the past, and I try to embody their
ideals in my own communications style.

I think that we often feel our situation is perfectly clear to the others we
work with. Usually, the people we work with are so busy grappling with their
own situations that they never take notice of ours until it causes a problem in
theirs. Then they bite our heads off for no good reason. That's as true for
managers as for anybody else.

I've taken to assuming that nobody knows my situation unless I educate them to
it. This is time consuming, somewhat frustrating (because you have to repeat
the lessons over and over and over... ) and apparently unproductive, but it has
had the beneficial effect of preventing misunderstandings and problems before
they happen instead of after. I work for a consulting company right now and a
lot of my time is spent on client education. It helps in the long run.

That's all I was suggesting in my previous messsage -- educate your manager as
to just what the impact of the hardware on your work means in time and dollars.
Don't assume that because you say "This PC is a pain in the ... " s/he knows
what that means.

Best regards,


Chet Ensign
Logical Design Solutions

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