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Employees are nothing more than paid volunteers?

This is another perspective on how employees should be treated, and has some relevance to this recent thread on "Loyalty":

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=131434

Here is the article:
http://www.gamasutra.com/columns/fristrom/20040312/fristrom_01.shtml  (free registration required)
It even refers to one of Joel's articles.

Some interesting pieces:

************************
Fickle employees are a part of business. Loyalty is a forgotten concept--these days, if you have talent, you ask, "What can the company do for me?" first, and "What can I do for the company?" second. And there's nothing wrong with that--since the typical company's goal is to give their employees as little as possible, and get out of them as much as possible, it's not surprising that people have this attitude. If they didn't have this attitude, they'd be taken advantage of.

...

... management guru Peter Drucker says that you should treat your employees as if they were part of a volunteer organization. Which isn't as lax as it sounds: Drucker is talking about volunteer organizations like the Boy Scouts and the church--organizations where people set goals for themselves and if they fail to achieve those goals, are let go.

When a rock star tells us--or even just implies--that it's not our game, it's theirs, we look for some other place to go where we can make a game we can call ours. We go volunteer somewhere else.
************************

So, are we really nothing more than paid volunteers?

Mr Curiousity
Sunday, April 11, 2004

When it comes to loyalty, I don't believe developers owe their employers anything unless the employer has forked over a lot of cash to train them. Many developers leave an employer for more money because they understand that their opportunity to make a decent living developing software tends to be short lived.

One Programmer's Opinion
Sunday, April 11, 2004

Looks like someone's trying to create a meme.

Loyalty is alive and well. Just about anybody working at Microsoft could walk away and double their pay immediately. While the stock may hold long-term promise, it's not the millionaire maker it was ten years ago.

So why does Microsoft (which most people know pays below industry average) have 50k+ employees?

Because we're treated well and we believe in our employer. When I plug MS products on here, I don't plug products because I'm expected to, or because I'm a paid shill - it's because I honestly believe in the products and what they can do.

I feel loyal to Microsoft because I feel there's a true relationship. Sure, they pay me in exchange for work, but there's more to it than that.

A couple of people have said on here a couple of times - why is it so very hard for companies to follow the thought pattern of "we want to be a successful software development shop - maybe we should look at a very successful company and see what they do, then copy that"?

Treat your employees like people, not "human capital"
Give them the authority to do their jobs
Trust them
Treat them well

Those are some very basic ideas, but they work.

Philo

Philo
Sunday, April 11, 2004

"""Just about anybody working at Microsoft could walk away and double their pay immediately"""

You're so full of sh*t I can smell you from here. Unless you're talking about the consulting arm, which is where you work I believe, I don't know about the consulting side.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

"organizations like the Boy Scouts and the church--organizations where people set goals for themselves and if they fail to achieve those goals, are let go."

??? They kick you out of the boy scouts and churches if you don't meet your stated goals????

???

skeptic
Sunday, April 11, 2004

philo,

microsoft pays substandard wages? that made sense when you made a killing on the stocks and bonuses but those days are gone.

it doesn't make sens eto me that they respect their employees if they pay substandard wages. sounds like they are merely taking advantage of them.

skeptic
Sunday, April 11, 2004

Pay usually isn't the motivating factor at highly rated companies. It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't factor in as highly as other aspects of the job.

Generally speaking, you don't f*** other people just because you can.  Apparently this runs contrary to a lot of the disgruntled masses on this board, but some of you need to reassess and learn the lesson now.  Believe it or not, a lot of people and employers (yes employers are people too) follow that rule.

Richard Kuo
Sunday, April 11, 2004

"It also creates what Jim McCarthy calls "the guy in a room" phenomenon. You put all of your hopes on one guy, and then wait. And wait. And wait."

LOL. I am that guy. Sorry for making you wait. wait. wait. :-)

Dewd
Sunday, April 11, 2004

"Generally speaking, you don't f*** other people just because you can.  Apparently this runs contrary to a lot of the disgruntled masses on this board, but some of you need to reassess and learn the lesson now."

Amen to that. 

Perhaps it's because I don't live in cubicle-land, but in the circles I move (SMEs), employment is far more than a business transaction where $X buys you Y committment.  Here there's a whole world of give and take as people generally try to get along and get the job done.

Motown (AU)
Sunday, April 11, 2004

Pardon my ignorance, but SME=???

--
Sunday, April 11, 2004

SME = small / medium enterprise.

Back to the main discussion - *extra* money isn't usually a motivating factor but if pay is seen as unfairly low it can demotivate.  This is called a "hygiene factor".  Boring things like professional pride are the real motivators for most people.

a cynic writes...
Sunday, April 11, 2004

My (ex) boss offered $100 to the person who fixed the most bugs. Maybe for the Indian programmers making who knows what (did I hear $40 a day? thrown around?) this was a motivator, but I tend to lump salaries into 2 categories - won't change my lifestyle, will change my lifestyle.

I was actually insulted that he'd offer a monetary reward & think that that's what motivated us, and simultaneously taken aback by his stupidity.

I nearly fell out of my chair the next week when he used the term "Man-Month" in a sentance seriously. It was particularly funny since I'd just finished reading about the mythical kind.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, April 11, 2004

Now where is that thread on the Prisoner's Dilemma... Here it is:

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=125360

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, April 11, 2004

> employment is far more than a business transaction where $X buys you Y committment

Absolutely! When i am well paid, i am honest and loyal. When my pay is below average or I am forced to work too many hours, I steal everything I can. Last year I made $200,000 selling the companies proprietary source code to their competitor overseas. That'll teach them.

See, it all works out in the end.

anon
Sunday, April 11, 2004

where i work, "SME" = "Subject Matter Expert".

josheli
Monday, April 12, 2004

'maybe we should look at a very successful company and see what they do, then copy that"?'

Philo,

The next time an opportunity to build a completely unearned monopoly comes along, and then the opportunity continues to exploit it ruthlessly and unethically in violation of antitrust laws,

I plan on taking that opportunity to use your advice and treat my employees like Microsoft treats theirs. At that point, I'll have enough money to do it their way.

MD
Monday, April 12, 2004

"Generally speaking, you don't f*** other people just because you can.  Apparently this runs contrary to a lot of the disgruntled masses on this board, but some of you need to reassess and learn the lesson now.  Believe it or not, a lot of people and employers (yes employers are people too) follow that rule."

I will f*** my management all I can.  They get off on doing it to us.  We get several memos a week telling us to share in the corporation's excitement at things like the "Zero Developer Initiative", and the "Expertise and knowledge transition" to China.  We even get to train our replacements.  Woo-hoo!  Let the f***ing commence!!!

anon
Monday, April 12, 2004

Oh yeah, and there's my cousin who's older...  about 59.  His company just laid him off less than two years before he'd get his pension.  Loyalty baby!!!

anon
Monday, April 12, 2004

Anon - I hear that.

The same thing happened to my Dad.

WoodenTongue
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

MD,
I personally have heard this again and again about MS.  I hate to be the one to brake it to you but the US anti trust laws are rarely inforced at any level.  In fact the only time it is used is when less sucessful competiors push it through the political process.  Most of the pratices they are doing is actually common in other industrys

There is a practice in the retail market where the manufacture gives either a kick back or discount to the retailer for favorable displays on shelves or floor space.  This is expected in the retail market, and has been for nearly fifty years, but most legal experts believe it violates anti trust laws. This has cost consumers more in the long run then MS overpricing. Only very recently has the USDOJ has even looked into it.

I would say if Microsoft did not exist then we would be whining about IBM, Sun, Novell, Digital Research or some one else who would have gobbled up the consumer and small business OS market.  I am not saying that MS has been a corprate angel or that they are above the board.  I am saying if they had NOT come into being or domance we would still be in the same situation today with anonther name.

A Software Build Guy
Thursday, April 15, 2004

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