Each fortnight an employee collects my their apportioned salary for performing contracted obligations. Usually an employment contract will identify a number of hours for which the employee is expected to work. In many cases it may also involve meeting minimum performance standards. Should I fulfil these obligations each fortnight I can expect that I will be paid all of my salary.
Each fortnight I authorise payroll for a number of employees. Some work hard, others less hard. Some have seem to have natural talent whilst others need coaching. Each person responds differently to their responsibilities, yet they all collect 100% of their salary each fortnight.
If 100% salary is collected then should 100% effort be expected? Have you ever known a person to contact payroll and make arrangements to pay back a portion of their weekly salary due to their own lack of performance? Alternatively, what about a situation where an employee can’t perform because of the action or inactions of the employer?
By signing a time sheet an employee is confirming that they have fulfilled their obligations in regard to attitude, effort and outcome. By authorising the time sheet the employer is confirming that they agree with the employee’s assessment of their efforts, and that the organisation has provided the resources, systems and support required to do the job well. Each signature represents an agreement that both parties have made, and remake every fortnight, to act in good faith and honour the employment relationship.
How quickly, subtly and easily can the balance be shifted?
I can avoid putting in full effort for the time I should. I can almost meet all of my targets and argue mitigating circumstances for the last 10% which remain unachieved. With the busyness of my supervisor I can slip under their radar with extra break time, late starts, early finishes, missing deadlines, internet searches and distracting conversations. I may even be able to behave in such a way that managing my performance becomes frustrating for my supervisor, who being ill-equipped with appropriate skills to manage non-performance, soon gives up and my recalcitrance becomes entrenched and part of the office culture and expectations. My non-performance is tolerated. Throughout this activity I put in less effort but collect 100% of my salary. And when finally my employer has enough and wants to correct my behaviour, the fact that it has been tolerated for so long with no action means that my employer’s sudden change in response toward me can be argued as unfair or unduly harsh.
I am committed to my role, motivated by my values, a desire to be recognised, or a fear of losing my job. I work hard. I perform well above the expectations of my contract and I eagerly take on more responsibility. Role creep brings me new opportunities, or I create them for myself, which in turn leads to work satisfaction and further motivates me. I start early or finish late, or both. I work harder and I even compensate for the unsatisfactory efforts of others. It looks to those a little removed from my situation that me or my team are managing sustainably, but if I left the role I would leave a gap equivalent to another half of myself again. I achieve more and at the end of the fortnight I collect 100% of my salary.
I attend work every day and strive to achieve that which is expected of me. The workload is relentless, either because of great demand (external) or unrealistic expectations (internal). To keep up I miss breaks, work longer hours, and even ensure that I keep on top of my emails by having them directed to me 24/7. I am compelled to donate a significant amount of extra time and effort above the expectations of my contract. Each fortnight I collect 100% of my wage.
How familiar are some of these statements, either as they have been part of your own thinking or you have heard them made by other employees or employers?
I am a graduate, and everyone understands in my field that I will need to work very long hours to secure my career.
It is only after applying the 100% principle to these variables that an employer is in a position to fairly respond to changes in an employee’s performance and determine if coaching for improvement or performance management is required. Similarly, the employee can apply the same principles before determining if their employer is being unfair.
Ultimately, in the non-profit sector I hope we go the extra mile to value our employees, but in doing so we cannot forget that respect and fairness requires us to manage non-performance and to address circumstances where our colleagues are either under-resourced or over-worked.
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