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You have the power. Should you use it?

Paul Glen | April 11, 2016
For decades, power has been accruing to employers at the expense of employees. But managers and companies that exploit this new imbalance need to consider the costs of doing so.

But when you’re exercising power in an ongoing employment relationship, you should care a great deal about how the terms you dictate and the tactics you use make people feel. Their attitude toward the organization and you, their manager, directly affects the value they deliver as their part of the bargain.

This is especially true when you’re dealing with geeks. The work they do requires engagement, creativity, dedication and commitment. It follows, then, that negative feelings can cost a great deal in productivity and quality. A developer who feels that she is being paid less than her equally capable peers is unlikely to think creatively day and night about how to better architect your system. A support technician who fears that his job may be converted to a contract position is thinking more about where to get a new job than about how to make a user feel good. A contract project manager who has had his hourly rate cut may quit or do something even worse: tell everyone who will listen about his resentment and rage, spreading discontent like a virus among the staff.

This is not to say that you need to pay people outrageous, above-market salaries to avoid offending them. But you do need to think carefully about the consequences of dictating significant or frequent changes to the employment relationship. The value you lose may far exceed the costs you cut.


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