miércoles, 26 de julio de 2006

Peopleware (Parte III)

Continuando con lo mejor de Peopleware (IMHO, por supuesto), aquí esta lo correspondiente a la tercera parte del libro. Si no lo han hecho, les recomiendo que primero revisen los posts anteriores:


Management science is much more concerned with the boss's role as principal strategist and tactician of the work. You are taught to think of management as playing out one of those battle simulation board games. There are no personalities or individual talents to be reckoned with in such a game; you succeed or fail based on your decisions of when and where to deploy your faceless resources.

  • get the right people
  • make them happy so they don't want to leave
  • turn them loose

Anything that upsets the weak manager is almost by definition unprofessional. So popcorn is unprofessional. Long hair is unprofessional if it grows out of a male head, but perfectly okay if it grows out of a female head. Posters of any kind are unprofessional. Comfortable shoes are unprofessional. Dancing around your desk when something good happens is unprofessional. Giggling and laughing is unprofessional. (It's all right to smile, but not too often.)

Conversely, professional means unsurprising. You will be considered professional to the extent you look, act, and think like everyone else, a perfect drone. Of course, this perverted sense of professionalism is pathological. In a healthier organizational culture, people are thought professional to the extent they are knowledgeable and competent.

Circus Manager: How long have you been juggling?

Candidate: Oh, about six years.

Manager: Can you handle three balls, four balls, and five balls?

Candidate: Yes, yes, and yes.

Manager: Do you work with flaming objects?

Candidate: Sure.

Manager: ... knives, axes, open cigar boxes, floppy hats?

Candidate: I can juggle anything.

Manager: Do you have a line of funny patter that goes with your juggling?

Candidate: It's hilarious.

Manager: Well, that sounds fine. I guess you're hired.

Candidate: Umm ... Don't you want to see me juggle?

Manager: Gee, I never thought of that.

Aptitude tests are almost always oriented toward the tasks the person will perform immediately after being hired. They test whether he or she is likely to be good at statistical analysis or programming or whatever it is that's required in the position. You can buy aptitude tests in virtually any technical area, and they all tend to have fairly respectable track records at predicting how well the new hire will perform. But so what? A successful new hire might do those tasks for a few years and then move on to be team leader or a product manager or a project head. That person might end up doing the tasks that the test measured for two years and then do other things for twenty.

The idea is simple enough. You ask a candidate to prepare a ten- or fifteen-minute presentation on some aspect of past work. It could be about a new technology and the experience with first trying it out, or about a management lesson learned the hard way, or about a particularly interesting project. The candidate chooses the subject. The date is set and you assemble a small audience made up of those who will be the new hire's co-workers.

Of course the candidate will be nervous, perhaps even reluctant to undertake such an experience. You'll have to explain that all candidates are nervous about the audition and give your reasons for holding one: to see the various candidates' communication skills, and to give the future co-workers a part in the hiring process. At the end of the audition and after the candidate has left, you hold a debriefing of those present. Each one gets to comment on the person's suitability for the job and whether he or she seems likely to fit well into the team. Although it's ultimately your responsibility to decide whether to hire or not, the feedback from future co-workers can be invaluable. Even more important, any new person hired is more likely to be accepted smoothly into the group, since the other group members have had a voice in choosing the candidate.

In companies with high turnover, people tend toward a destructively short-term viewpoint, because they know they just aren't going to be there very long. So if you find yourself campaigning for better workspace for your staff, for example, don't be surprised to bump into someone up the hierarchy who counters with an argument like this:

"Hold on there, Buster. You're talking about big bucks. If we gave our engineers that much space and noise protection and even privacy, we might end up spending fifty dollars per person per month! Multiply that times all the engineers and you're into the tens of thousands of dollars. We can't spend that kind of money. I'm as much in favor of productivity as the next guy, but have you seen what a terrible third quarter we're having?"

Many of us have come to believe that companies that promote early are where the action is. That's natural, because as young workers we're eager to get ahead. But from the corporate perspective, late promotion is a sign of health. In companies with low turnover, promotion into the first-level management position comes only after as much as ten years with the company. (This has long been true of some of the strongest organizations within IBM, for example.) The people at the lowest level have on the average at least five years' experience. The hierarchy is low and flat.

The insidious effect here is that turnover engenders turnover. People leave quickly, so there's no use spending money on training. Since the company has invested nothing in the individual, the individual thinks nothing of moving on. New people are not hired for their extraordinary qualities, since replacing extraordinary qualities is too difficult. The feeling that the company sees nothing extraordinary in the worker makes the worker feel unappreciated as an individual. Other people are leaving all the time, so there's something wrong with you if you're still here next year.

Copyright © 1999, 1987 by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister.

No hay comentarios.: