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Friday, December 11, 2015

ARE WE GETTING LAZY?

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

- some interesting statistics describe a change is underfoot.

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According to a recent YouGov poll, American workers want a 35 hour work week and at least two weeks vacation (10/19/2015). The concept of a forty hour work week may already be a thing of the past. According to the statistics provided in the report, American workers on the average spent 1,836 hours of work in 2000, that comes to 35.3 hours per week (not including vacations). By 2014, this dropped to 1,789 hours for 34.4 hours per week (again, not including vacations). This is substantially different than the "go-go" years of the 1960's and 1970's when it was not unusual to work more than sixty hours a week. As an aside, office workers were normally dressed in suit and tie, drank a lot of black coffee, and smoked their brains out, but not so today.

In the survey, respondents claimed their European counterparts were already working much less than we are in America. This mindset always puzzled me. Why should we care what other countries do? Do we really want to keep "down" with the Jones'? Historically, American workers were considered the valued resources which propelled our economy, but I guess this doesn't matter anymore.

With workers less inclined to work additional hours, management is more inclined to seek new ways to speed up processes to maximize their efficiency. Normally, the need to improve speed in manufacturing has been met by improvements in technology on assembly lines, such as the use of robotics to expedite such tasks as welding. However, in the early part of this century, the "Agile" movement came to prominence in terms of how to quickly develop computer software. This movement was a departure from normal manufacturing methods and embraced an iterative process to develop software, e.g., write some code, than continue to modify it until the end-user accepts it. Some call this progress, I call it "quick and dirty" and certainly does not promote craftsmanship or quality work products. For example, documentation of the program is considered optional, thereby complicating the implementation of future changes (e.g., how can you change an office building without a set of blueprints; the same is true in programming).

In other words, the Agile people want to expedite the process by skipping steps, thereby adding risk in the form of defects. By doing so, I contend this approach drives the maintenance backlog to grow in size, not to reduce it.

The concept of "Agile" development has grown beyond programming and can now be found in project management, systems design, data base design, and influencing other processes beyond the Information Technology field. Regardless of its weaknesses, this is how youth today perceives how business should be conducted and why managers are worried about defects in workmanship. It also adds to the perception by management that workers are lazy; hence a Theory X form of management ensues (autocratic rule; aka, "micromanagement").

Nonetheless, it is this mindset that is causing people to re-think the work week. Today, workers primarily worry about the amount of time they put in at work, not the work products they are charged to produce. In other words, a blue collar mentality is flourishing throughout business.

Under a Theory X form of management, the manager spends more time supervising than managing. This greatly inhibits worker ambition and innovation, hence the interest in doing less. This is why I am a proponent of Theory Y where you manage from the bottom-up, meaning you delegate responsibility and get out of the way of the workers. The only time the manager should talk to the worker is to provide assignments, receive status reports, and help them overcome any problems they may face. In other words, managers should manage more and supervise less. By treating workers like professionals, they will respond accordingly, and you will have fewer clock watchers.

As an aside, Theory Y was the management philosophy of choice during the "go-go" years of the 1960's and 1970's.

"It's not the time you put in, it's the work product you put out." - Bryce's Law

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE DICHOTOMY OF OUR DRUG CULTURE - Why are we sending mixed signals to the American public?

LAST TIME:  THE GROWING POLITICAL POLARITY - File this under, "More Trouble Brewing."

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