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Greetings from the sweltering Mid West. During the heat of this obnoxious summer I realize I have promised you a rant on this topic and have not sat down to flesh out the details.
Revenue Generating: anyone responsible for committing acts of service that bring revenue into the company. Overly simplified it would be the people who actually do the work that out clients pay us for. This would be all of us out in the field that have to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Non-revenue Generating: Anyone responsible for completing task that are not billable to the client and do not generate revenue. Also know as support personnel. If your time is not billable and what you do is not billable to the client. This means you.
Now for the economics lesson, When non-revenue generating personnel make it difficult and complicate the process of generating revenue for the revenue generating side, everyone loses. The company, the client, the workers...etc. right on down the line. So if you find yourself on the non-revenue generating side of the business and decide that the guys, or gals, out in the field can fill out another form, or wait on approval for that $3.00 widget they need to keep a $450.00 an hour labor force moving, keep in mind that's what you said the last 30 times and why the supervisor now spends a majority of his day on paperwork, and not supervising their crew. And if for some reason, the proper version of the form doesn't get filled out, threatening to cut off our "Home Depot" or other credit cards, is never a good idea since all it does is cause strife between the office and the people out working to make sure your salary gets paid. To the best of my knowledge, and I didn't start yesterday, the threat of cutting off my necessary cards has never, ever,ever,ever,ever,ever,eeeeeeeeevvvvvvvveeeeeer prompted me to not make the same mistake again. In fact it has had the opposite effect and I heard a line that sums it up perfectly,"I'll take the 'or else'" In summation from this side of the argument, just help us so we can all win. Don't burden us with unnecessary crap that we don't care about and/or understand.
Now for the flip side. My dear brethren. When the office calls and asks you for the one piece of paper, of 400, that you didn't get done yesterday, remember that the person on the other end of the phone may not even know what the heck that thing is for but they were probably told by some one else to call you to find out where it is. So verbally destroying the person on the other end of the phone is probably not the best method to resolve this problem. Instead we all need to be professional and simply state that we did not get to it and will get to it the first chance we get. And then do just that. The second part of that equation is crucial to your credibility. I, unfortunately, am famous for not getting to it simply because i forgot.
I think that on both sides of the ledger in this scenario if we all apply some common sense we can eliminate the division between the office and the field.
Now for my "piece de le retirement". Which basically means if the wrong people read this I may be in early retirement. Here goes.... If you are in upper management and you have a significant division between "the office" and "the field" you have a culture problem that is your responsibility to correct. If your office staff and your supervision are constantly at odds you are going to have to take drastic measures to eliminate this division and create a culture where people can thrive in their respective sweet spots. This may be accomplished with a simple sit down with both sides, individually. (yes this is going to be a long process) I believe you need to sit down with both sides individually and hear their grievances process them with them and then maybe get a few individuals together and resolve the culture problem. Ideally I would think that we would all want a culture where everyone can make mistakes, because we all make mistakes, but we want to know about them before they make it back around through the rumor mill and have been completely been blown out of proportion. (Remember the telephone game when you were a kid?) I also believe we hired these people to manage some of these problems on their own. I'm not saying you should do nothing but sometimes when we call it is just to tell you what is going on and what we are doing about it. Other times it is to panic so you can help us. If you know your people you should be able to tell which type of call it is. If you don't maybe you should reflect a bit on why that person is in the position they are in or how they got there, or if they should remain there. Sometimes you have to just do what most people like to talk about and most don't like to do. YOU MAY HAVE TO FIRE SOMEONE. If you have one of those dark cloud type people that could find something negative in paradise, it may be time for them to darken someone else environment for awhile. There is a difference between the people who can cycle through all of the potential problems to find solutions and those who are just down right negative. I think you may have had someone just come to mind, i know i have (and from time to time its me). Some of these people just need to know they are doing it and that there will be consequences if it continues will make an effort to change and others will not. If they will not, I don't care what they bring with them they are dumbing down the rest of the people around them. You need to take a serious, and honest, look at the damage they are causing and see if their positive outweigh their negatives. If not kick them to the curb.
Take a look around and really listen to those people who call you when someone, either inside your organization, or outside it (like competitors) have a problem. Are the celebrating the mistake. Might be a culture problem.
If your employees call to let you know every rumor that goes around your industry, might be a culture problem. Really listen to what, and how, it is being said.
If you feel the need to resolve a problem by pointing the finger at someone, might be a culture problem.
While i realize i got a little off track from the original topic there at the end, I think we should all apply a filter to what we say and do to make sure we are not the ones that make whereever you may work a horrible place to work. A little empathy goes a long way especially when tempered with common sense.
Please feel free to post all of your angry responses below or send me an email at email@example.com. Hope this makes all of us think.