Project update..

Before I get into the “meat” of today’s update.. I’ll give you guys some more background on this SAP implementation project.. basically, a “team” of people was sent from a closely “related” company in Southern California to come to this company here in Taiwan to implement SAP 4.7. The US team is composed of 1 project manager (aka Dickhead), 4 long term people who are contracted to stay for 2 years to provide support (aka the idiots, which includes me), and about 5 short term people who fly home every 2-4 weeks and then come back. The short term people are experienced SAP people. The reason they fly back and forth is because they support the “home” company and their SAP system. So I guess you could say they’re doing double duty. Anyhow, today my partner/mentor came over to my apartment after dinner.. we were just shootin’ the shit and talking about what we did today and how it sucks here, blah blah blah.. after a few minutes of that, he told me he had to tell me something and that I couldn’t repeat it to anyone..

Me: “sure, I can keep a secret”
Guy: “ok.. well, I’m resigning tomorrow..”
Me: “holy shit! we’re screwed!”

He got an offer he couldn’t refuse.. which is great.. I’m happy for him.. at the same time, it’ll be sad to see him go.. he, being a white, all-American guy, was one of the only people here that actually enjoyed going to McDonald’s or TGIFriday with me. He’s also the guy that was supposed to teach me everything about Sales and Distribution. And he is just a generally cool guy. Both of us “dislike” living in Taiwan and I knew he was fed up with travelling back and forth.. he’s really involved with his two kids and their extracirricular activities (sports) and its pretty tough on him not to be around to see his kid score 40 points in an 85 point basketball game. So naturally, I just figured he was fed up with the current situation and just wanted out.. but he said the story goes back a couple of years.. way before we even came out here.. he asked me..

Guy: “do you feel comfortable with your old boss back home?”
Me: “uh.. yeah, I guess.. what do you mean? I ain’t gay if that’s what you’re saying..”
Guy: “I mean.. like, you get a feeling that he’ll take care of you.. like he wouldn’t just hang you out to dry.. like he would care if you left..”
Me: “yeah, I think so..
Guy: “I haven’t felt that way for 2 years..”

And I think that is one of the biggest things about being a good manager of people.. lots of times I hear people say, “managers don’t know shit..” or “managers don’t do shit”.. and sure, I can probably name a bunch of managers that I know that don’t do shit and don’t know shit.. but.. what do we expect from a manager? we, being the “working class”.. do you expect your manager to always be in the trenches with you, getting his hands dirty with whatever you and your fellow employees are working on? Ok, maybe some do.. but this is MY blog.. so I’ll tell you what I expect.. I don’t expect a manager to get his hands dirty.. not unless the job or project requires that he do the work.. what I really expect from a manager is to be able to use his resources to get the job done.. keep his people busy.. but most of all, keep his people motivated and happy. Because, and I’m sure most people will agree, that a happy worker is a good worker. Here’s a scenario for you.. pretend we got a project due on Friday.. we were given the task on Monday.. there are 2 guys on the team and one manager. From past experience (just follow me, here), we know that if the workers are happy, they will put in 12 hours a day without revolt, death threats or bomb threats.. if they are unhappy, they’ll put in the minimum, which we will assume to be 8, but any good slacker will know that it’s really much less. Now lets say this project, due Friday, requires 100 person hours (politically correct). Here are your choices as the manager:

    a) Tell them that if they don’t have it done by Friday, heads will roll
    b) Get your hands dirty and help the 2 workers with the project
    c) Make them happy so that they will put in the extra effort to complete the job on time

If you chose ‘a’ or ‘b’, you’re an idiot.. not because I think you’d be a bad manager, but you already know that this is MY scenario and I gave you the damn answer above.. so yeah, ‘c’ is the correct answer. If you motivate your people, keep them happy, they will work for you. At that point, they’re not doing it for the company.. the company doesn’t exist for all they care, they only know that you are good to them, you motivate them, and they want to succeed for you. Sure, you can be a dick and tell them that heads will roll come Friday if the job’s not done.. but then, they’d only be doing it out of fear, which would eventually lead to some sort of hatred.. and eventually perhaps the worker would hate his boss so much, that’d he’d spend his own personal time on his ONLY DAY OF THE WEEK THAT HE HAS OFF to write about how his boss is a dick.. but I digress.. so, you keep your people happy.. they work hard, they like you, the job gets done.. everyone wins. Now, I bet some of you managerial types reading this are thinking.. “what a dumbass.. just how does he intend on making the employees happy? who’s going to pay for this happiness?”.. typical manager.. a typical manager is always thinking dollars and cents.. a typical manager has been a manager for so long that he’s forgotten what its like to be a regular employee.. not everyone is motivated soley by money.. some are happy with responsibility, some are happy with free lunches or dinners, some are happy with new PCs, new company-issued cell phones, or a laptop to take home when they need to VPN into work.. and yet, there are even some that are happy with just plain old recognition.. a simple pat on the back and an attempt at being sincere.. think about it, you know I’m right.. which brings me back to my story.. my partner has gone for 2 years without feeling like his manager even gave a shit that he was coming to work or that he would spend extra time supporting 2 systems or that he had to make a huge personal sacrifice of missing his kids play sports.. nothing, not even a pat on the back.. I wish I could be there when he tells them he’s resigning.. sad to say, I think it might improve the situation for the rest of us, especially the long term idiots.. its just sad that my partner had to be the “suicide bomber”, if you will, to show them that we’re fed up with all the bullshit..

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