A moral dilemma
A Grapevine reader got in touch recently with a tricky problem.
Like a lot of people, Tom (not his real name), has been through many company reorganisations. In the last round, he kept a job, but not his original one. He now finds himself on a grade well below his previous grade, in a job that he could do standing on his head.
The question arose when he was asked to write his objectives. Should he just fall in line
with the standards expected for this grade or should he write more stretching objectives commensurate with his considerable skill and experience?
Here’s the issue. Imagine Tom makes chairs. With his skill he could make 150. The actual grade he is now at requires just 50. Let’s say he then makes 100. What if he gets penalised for not achieving a standard that is well above what he is being paid for?
His manager (who has also been through the same process) cannot give him a pay rise or promotion as his hands are tied. He does not want to rock the boat for fear that he will lose his own job.
So what do you do in this situation?
On the one hand, why should you work your fingers to the bone for a company that refuses to pay you properly and demotes you (whilst still increasing the pay of senior executives)? On the other hand, morally, are you obliged to do your best whatever the circumstances? If you do are you just being a fool?
Consider your long-term goals
One way to come to a conclusion is to identify your long-term objectives. Think at least five years ahead if you can.
Then identify which course of action is most likely to get you there.
Identify what is important to you
Another way is to ask yourself what’s important to you about your work and your life. We all have different answers to this question.
You could say that if everyone in the whole company did their best all the time, no matter what, the company might not be in the position it is now in, laying people off and demoting them.
Of course you may also want to consider the moral side of things. Sadly it’s not always clear-cut.
You may feel on principal that you should always do your best, but what if it’s obvious others are taking advantage of your hard work? Would you feel differently if the directors had taken a pay cut themselves or had dealt with obvious performance issues?
Back to basics
Objectives are really there to make sure that everyone knows exactly what they need to achieve in order for your organisation to achieve its goals. SMART objectives and goals should do this.
So perhaps another option is that Tom should just find out from his manager what the cascaded objectives are and confine his more stretching objectives to personal development.
Sometimes producing 150 chairs when you have only been asked for 50 means that 100 Chairs end up unsold on the shelf (so to speak). There is nothing wrong with giving people exactly what they ask for.
One last point
I once interviewed a woman who had worked in a department that I had run many years previously. She was unaware of my background knowledge.
She told me she made CMAs and I asked her how many she made each day, in the full knowledge I’d be able to judge her skill on the answer to that question. However, she surprised even me with her answer (which I still remember, 25 years later): “I could do 12 but I only ever bother to do 10.”
I was completely astounded. If she had said “10”, and kept her mouth shut, she probably would have got the job, as this was a perfectly respectable output.
But this answer showed that her values were rather different from mine.
We were working in an environment where high output was valued and we were always looking for ways of improving it. Had she said: “They expect 10, but I usually manage to make 12.” She would have been hired on the spot.
So whilst it may not have done her any good in the previous company it would have stood her in very good stead in my then current department.
Next week we’ll look at this from the manager’s perspective.
How to Write Objectives That Work
Tips and techniques that will make it easy for you to write your objectives. Plenty of examples to use and learn from.Price: $7.82Price: $9.38