What’s going on?
For the last 2 years I’ve been in a number of situations where management was pushing to hire extra FTE’s. The numbers on the personnel lists had to be met whether it made sense or not I guess. Sometimes they wanted to give someone a raise or do them a favor with a better contract.
Furthermore in their effort to reach the numbers there was pressure to drop our standards, to lower the bar so to speak. Well, not on my watch. My standards are in place for a reason. To make sure that the people on the job can actually handle that job under all circumstances. Look, when the shit hits the fan and things get tough you’ll need every bit of team spirit and camaraderie that you can get to make sure the team can withstand the stress and get the job done. If you put people in the teams that don’t cut it you’ll already have dysfunctional unit in “normal” times, what do you think will happen when things get tough? They’ll just cut the rope and let the dead weight fall.
People, those standards, the difficulty & complexity in selection, the so called “bar” are there for a reason. If you cannot meet those demands it is not those standards that are the problem. The only real issue is that you’re not capable to meet those standards. So stop complaining about them. Instead start working on yourself so you can meet them. If you can’t do that you’ll need to find job satisfaction somewhere else.
But why this pressure to hire people even if they don’t seize up? Why this obsession with more and more personnel?
Filling the numbers
On paper all is well, you’ve got plenty of warm bodies to fill the cubicles and to meet productivity demands. You can’t produce a baby in one month with 9 women, it doesn’t work that way. Perhaps methodologies are putting so much pressure on having all forms and numbers right that achieving just that is priority one. You might have the best functional team in the business but if those numbers don’t match up to the methodology documents that doesn’t matter. You get no bonus but lots of hassle. So what’s a poor weak manager who wants to climb the ladder to do? Sell out the team to comply. Go ahead. Kiss your team’s respect goodbye. You might as well have flushed their motivation down the toilet.
Other times people simply can’t manage. So when they have underperforming team members the easy way out is getting extra FTE’s. That’s way easier than dealing with the problem. So bloat your FTE needs to the needed numbers + the number of miss hires already in place. And then there is the danger of hiring good people, they are a treat to the peaceful little world management is in. Remember, “A people” hire “A people”, “B people” hire “B people” … and it goes downhill from there.
Sometimes you might need to have x amount of people to legitimize your management position so … bring on the FTE’s 🙂
There are lots of reasons why this happens. Managers, especially middle management often suck at management. It is really a very hard, demanding and crucial job. Management at least gets the perks. Middle management is caught between a rock and a hard place. But the dangling carrot and their ambition keeps them from walking out and the keep choosing the easy way to deal with. Perhaps they don’t even have a choice. That’s the best they can do.
Giving a raise / doing a favor
This is bad, very bad. You are inflicting real damage here. This is the equivalent of making me an NCO in the airborne rangers because I love to shoot guns and like to brag in the bar with a ranger patch on my sleeve. It’s pure madness. I’m overweight, I’m as myopic as a mole and I have several medical issues that would put me (and as a consequence my mates) in danger, even on an exercise. What do you think will happen? Everybody will lose and will be unhappy in this situation. Me, because I know I’m fooling myself, I know I’m a burden to my colleagues and endangers myself and them. I will never be accepted let alone be respected. Nope they’ll come to despise me. They have their job to do, plus now they need to do mine, correct my failures, drag me along and rescue me. So basically they’ll resent the hell out of me. They’ll be pissed off at the officers who passed me because they have devalued their skills and show no professional recognition of what they are capable of. The officers won’t be happy because they’ll have to command and work with a dysfunctional unit. It is madness. Is cannot work, it will not work.
If this metaphor doesn’t get the message across than perhaps this one will: imagine your brain surgeon was given the position because nagged long enough to hospital management for a raise
Managers, don’t lower the bar to fill the numbers, to give people a raise or do them a favor. You’ll just create frustration and dysfunctional teams. They won’t function as well as they could and when they need to stand tall to face serious issues you don’t have the number you fool yourself to have on paper. At best you have your good people who’ll need to work around the bad ones. In the worst case the team is so dysfunctional they won’t get the job done as well and fast as they should or they’ll fail all together. But in reality management is the real failure. They didn’t do their job. Unit operational efficiency might not be on your radar screen but it really should be.