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  #101  
Old 10-10-2018, 07:49 PM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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Originally Posted by Textual Innuendo View Post
I'm not sure this makes your point, because I'd happily hire Employee A in this example. Most work is knowledge work these days, and an employee who can reach 120 even sporadically has the potential to drive WAY more value than an employee forever capped at 80, especially if solving more complex or larger problems relies on deeper insights.

Or to put it another way, you can choose between an employee who will solve a $20 million dollar problem for you once or twice in their career, but otherwise contribute at a $60k problem solving level annually, or you can choose an employee who reliably solves $100k problems every year - which employee do you want?
I run a company with annual revenue in the millions. I hire the $100k problem-solver, every time. Having a team of those usually means not having $20 million problems. The $20 million problem rarely starts out as a $20 million problem; it starts out as a $100k problem that the $20 million solver worked half-assed at and only provided a $60k solution.
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  #102  
Old 10-10-2018, 08:40 PM
monstro monstro is online now
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Originally Posted by DragonAsh View Post
Employee A: Baseline skill is 90. Sometimes puts in a 120, but sometimes puts in a 60, and you don't really know what you're going to get from performance to performance.
Employee B: Baseline skill is 80. Consistently gives you 80.

Which employee would you rather hire?

Hard work beats talent (if talent doesn't work hard).
Kind of think it depends on the occupation.

I wouldn't want a surgeon like Employee A. That's too risky.

But if Employee A is working on a creative team with a bunch of Employee B's, then I'd be fine taking a chance on him or her. They may be dead weight sometimes, but most of the time they are contributing almost or just as much as everyone else. And then sometimes they'll really kick it out of the park.
  #103  
Old 10-11-2018, 03:41 AM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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Kind of think it depends on the occupation.

I wouldn't want a surgeon like Employee A. That's too risky.

But if Employee A is working on a creative team with a bunch of Employee B's, then I'd be fine taking a chance on him or her. They may be dead weight sometimes, but most of the time they are contributing almost or just as much as everyone else. And then sometimes they'll really kick it out of the park.
That's not really how it works. Employee A, the guy with the bad work ethic, that's 'dead weight' some (or a lot) of the time? How happy do you think the team of Employee Bs are going to be having him around, when they need to carry his dead weight most of the time, fixing up his mistakes because he half-assed it on some project? You think they're really going to be happy to keep him around, waiting for that one time when you actually need to 'kick it out of the part' (nice mix of metaphors <g>), hoping he's actually motivated when that time comes around?

If he -does- hit it out of the park, it's going to be grumbles from the team - 'sits around the whole time, then shows up to get all the praise at the very end when we do 90% of the work'.

And - you don't know if he's going to give you that 120 result or that 60 result. That's the problem with Employee A - you don't know what you're going to get, because he has a bad work ethic.

And he's a cancer to have around a team of individuals always working hard.

Maybe some sort of creative endeavor where the Employee A can work alone or something. But no way do I want that person on any team I run.
Any project I run for a client, that's the equivalent to heart surgery as far as my company is concerned. We can't afford to screw a client over on a project.
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Last edited by DragonAsh; 10-11-2018 at 03:42 AM.
  #104  
Old 10-11-2018, 04:00 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by DragonAsh View Post
Employee A: Baseline skill is 90. Sometimes puts in a 120, but sometimes puts in a 60, and you don't really know what you're going to get from performance to performance.
Employee B: Baseline skill is 80. Consistently gives you 80.

Which employee would you rather hire?

Hard work beats talent (if talent doesn't work hard).
Is 60 enough? I've held jobs whose normal tasks needed as little as 1% of what I could give; some of them were in a cuture where this was accepted and for example it was perfectly fine to read or do your stretching at work so long as you didn't have an actual task, and in those I stayed happily and took any extra task which fell my way. Others expected people to look like we were giving 110% even though we were bored shitless; those, I left as quickly as I could.

As a supervisor, I've had people who performed better or worse depending on things such as their health or ambient noise: so long as they could say "having a bad day" when they were and the work ended up being done on schedule, I was perfectly happy to let them take it easy (which I guess you'd see as "slack") when they needed to.

And I've known people whose 100% didn't reach the needs of the job (sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently). Depending on what the job was, their supervisors would work on redefining it or let them go. Being a hard worker doesn't always equal being able to do the job.
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  #105  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:13 AM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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Is 60 enough?
Not if the client asked for, paid for and expected 100, no. It's not.

Health issues are one thing; certainly I help people that are going through health/family issues and such.
But that has nothing to with work ethic / effort.

And of course I work in 'slack' to the schedule so that there's an ebb and flow; I don't expect everyone to go pedal to the medal every day all day.

But when the ball's in play, you need to perform. 'Today's my slack day' is not what the client paid to hear.

Quote:
And I've known people whose 100% didn't reach the needs of the job
I don't hire those people.
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Last edited by DragonAsh; 10-11-2018 at 07:14 AM.
  #106  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:46 AM
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We always use the rare exception as "evidence" to validate that statement.

As examples, Nelson Mandela became president of the nation that had, from all appearances, buried him in a prison for what was going to be the rest of his life. Abe Lincoln grew up in a humble log cabin reading books by the light of a fireplace. The New England Patriots, down 28-3 to the team with the most potent offense in the NFL with only six minutes and change left and with a 99.8% statistical probability of losing the game, makes a miraculous comeback to win the Super Bowl, etc.
  #107  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:51 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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@DragonAsh

The people whose 100% isn't enough aren't always hired into such a situation; IME most aren't. The ones I've known included people who got hired when their already-existing deficiencies weren't (the things they could not do were not a requirement of the job, when they got hired); people who were barely and with lots of stress able to do the job despite horrid deficiencies nobody had understood as such (the collective work of their team improved once the deficiency was detected and work redistributed to dodge it, as did the individual's own stress levels); and people who were involved in a car accident or had a TIA.

You're not willing to work with those people. Others are. I'd rather work with these others.
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Last edited by Nava; 10-11-2018 at 07:54 AM.
  #108  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:55 AM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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@DragonAsh

The people whose 100% isn't enough aren't always hired into such a situation; IME most aren't. The ones I've known included people who got hired when their already-existing deficiencies weren't (the things they could not do were not a requirement of the job, when they got hired); people who were barely and with lots of stress able to do the job despite horrid deficiencies nobody had understood as such (the collective work of their team improved once the deficiency was detected and work redistributed to dodge it, as did the individual's own stress levels); and people who were involved in a car accident or had a TIA.

You're not willing to work with those people. Others are. I'd rather work with these others.
I think you misunderstood, or I wasn't clear. I don't hire people for jobs they can't do.
You probably shouldn't make assumptions about people I've hired or who I'm willing to work with.
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Last edited by DragonAsh; 10-11-2018 at 07:57 AM.
  #109  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:57 AM
monstro monstro is online now
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That's not really how it works. Employee A, the guy with the bad work ethic, that's 'dead weight' some (or a lot) of the time? How happy do you think the team of Employee Bs are going to be having him around, when they need to carry his dead weight most of the time, fixing up his mistakes because he half-assed it on some project? You think they're really going to be happy to keep him around, waiting for that one time when you actually need to 'kick it out of the part' (nice mix of metaphors <g>), hoping he's actually motivated when that time comes around?
I know the hypothetical said that Employee A was unpredictable, but let's say Mondays are when Employee A really isn't "on", when they are at 60. They come in a bit later than everyone else, they are a bit slower at responding to emails, they don't say much during staff meetings, and they leave a little earlier than everyone else.

Fridays is when they are at 120. That's when they catch the fatal flaws of various projects and that's when they produce most of the team's brilliant ideas--the ones that the Employee B's are too busy with minutia to develop. When everyone else is leaving at the end of the day, Employee A is still holding down the fort, churning out work that the team will have on their desks in time to review the following Monday.

Tuesday through Thursday, Employee A isn't that different from the other staff.


Yeah, the Employee B's might have a problem with this employee's ass-dragging on Monday. But they might also be so impressed with their stellar performance on Friday's that it doesn't matter to them. At any rate, how they feel isn't THAT important to me, as the boss. If they are truly good little worker bees, they will be that way regardless of whether someone else is a bit of a slacker sometimes. And perhaps they would appreciate learning that I would never reward Employee A with a promotion. Perhaps they would also appreciate that I pay them more than I pay Employee A.

Not all work requires "hard" work. A lot of work requires creativity--brilliant ideas. It turns out that hard workers don't always have brilliant ideas, and folks that tend to have brilliant ideas don't always do well with the "hard" part of "hard work". If I've got a team full of people who have passion for crossing T's and dotting I's, but the team only churns out "OK" ideas, I say let's throw an Employee A in there and see what they can do.
  #110  
Old 10-11-2018, 08:04 AM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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I'm sure you can invent any number of potential hypothetical situations that 'work'.

I'm talking about The Real World, where 99% of us live and work.

The question was 'talented but poor work ethic' vs 'not as talented but hard working'.

I take the 'not as talented but hard working' every time.
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  #111  
Old 10-11-2018, 08:13 AM
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I would argue that most people are more like Employee A than Employee B. Because we all have some degree of variable performance. Looking back on my own experience in my current workplace, there were some years where I received a mediocre performance evaluation and other years where I got the highest rating possible. Because life is shitty sometimes and life is grand sometimes. Some days I drag my ass into the office and don't want to be bothered by anything except the bare minimum. Other days, I'm working ten hours without any breaks. My performance is variable even over the course of the day. My highest productivity tends to occur during the 9:30 to 1:00 block. But after 4:00, I'm just phoning it in and trying to keep my brain cells from oozing out of my ears.

I would hate for someone to evaluate me based on the variability of my performance rather than its central tendency, especially since most days I do a good job.
  #112  
Old 10-11-2018, 08:30 AM
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Work ethic aside, I've certainly seen less smart grad students do much better than their smarter peers because at some point they were forced to be more organized, to learn how to learn, etc.
  #113  
Old 10-11-2018, 11:31 AM
Textual Innuendo Textual Innuendo is offline
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I run a company with annual revenue in the millions. I hire the $100k problem-solver, every time. Having a team of those usually means not having $20 million problems. The $20 million problem rarely starts out as a $20 million problem; it starts out as a $100k problem that the $20 million solver worked half-assed at and only provided a $60k solution.
My team's personnel budget alone is in the millions, and the decisions we make affect many hundreds of millions in revenue annually (yay Fortune 100 companies) - and I hire employee A's capable of pulling 120's rather than steady 80's, for the reasons I've brought up.

In my world, the $20M problem isn't a result of shoddy work, it's a result of existing market or operational inefficiencies or value opportunities not being addressed, but it requires someone with real flashes of brilliance to identify the opportunity and come up with a workable solution.

But to each their own! In this world, steady 80's need jobs, and less steady 60-120's need jobs, and I'm sure which you benefit most from varies widely based on your industry, core competencies, and goals.

But in most knowledge work fields, as I said before, I would be hiring the 120-capable as much as I can, because they are able to drive outsized value in fields where complex problems and opportunities rule the day.
  #114  
Old 10-11-2018, 12:25 PM
monstro monstro is online now
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Another way of looking it...

Would you rather have a highly variable income and earn 90 megabucks at the end of the year.

Or would you rather have a steady income and end up earning 80 megabucks.

If my lifestyle is expensive and risky and I Iack the ability to save, then the second scenario is more desirable.

But if I have a frugal household that doesn't take high-stakes risks, then a highly variable income isn't that big a deal. So what, this week we only earned 60 bucks. We still have the largess we accumulated from the previous weeks to live off of.

People may say they prefer a consistently good employee over the unpredictable rock star. But when employers discover they have an unpredictable rock star on their team, do they tend to fire them? Or do they tend to keep them around because whatever makes them a rock star also makes them hard to replace? It is my experience that a rock star has to screw up royally to be fired.

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  #115  
Old 10-11-2018, 06:04 PM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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Another way of looking it...

Would you rather have a highly variable income and earn 90 megabucks at the end of the year.

Or would you rather have a steady income and end up earning 80 megabucks.
I don't think that's the right analogy.

The right analogy is, would you want a highly variable income that gives you 60 megabucks most years and 120 megabucks on occasion, or would you want 80 megabucks every year.

(Not even sure that's the right analogy. For myself running a company, I'm looking at asymmetrical outcomes: 5% chance we go bust in any given year, 90% chance we make 80 megabucks each year, and 5% chance we make a gadzillion megabucks from a liquidity event after getting bought out by Google etc).

Quote:
It is my experience that a rock star has to screw up royally to be fired.
Well, a talented employee with a poor work ethic isn't a 'rock star', he's wasted potential that is setting a bad example for the rest of the team. Do you really think the majority of rank 'n' file employees are perfectly fine with a team member getting a pass all the time for not showing up? I don't care how talented management might think he is - it's a clear double standard that ultimately breeds resentment. Go read any forum thread talking about work gripes. This comes up all the time, 'I'm doing all the work my boss / team can't or won't do etc etc etc'.
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Last edited by DragonAsh; 10-11-2018 at 06:05 PM.
  #116  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:09 PM
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I don't think that's the right analogy.

The right analogy is, would you want a highly variable income that gives you 60 megabucks most years and 120 megabucks on occasion, or would you want 80 megabucks every year.
You're distorting the hypothetical: The baseline is 90 for Employee A. Sometimes they do 60 and sometimes they do 120.


So inserting these conditions into my scenario, you get a ten-year income that looks similar to this:

Year 1 120
Year 2 60
Year 3 80
Year 4 90
Year 5 90
Year 6 95
Year 7 95
Year 8 90
Year 9 60
Year 10 120
10-year ave 90

Notice how infrequently the "60s" are. If I earned 60 in "most" years, the central tendency could not be anywhere close to 90. Most years, I've got to earn 90 or more to end up with an average of 90.

Quote:
Well, a talented employee with a poor work ethic isn't a 'rock star', he's wasted potential that is setting a bad example for the rest of the team. Do you really think the majority of rank 'n' file employees are perfectly fine with a team member getting a pass all the time for not showing up? I don't care how talented management might think he is - it's a clear double standard that ultimately breeds resentment. Go read any forum thread talking about work gripes. This comes up all the time, 'I'm doing all the work my boss / team can't or won't do etc etc etc'.
But someone who has low performance 5% of the time, high performance 5% of the time, and good performance 90% of the time does not have poor work ethic. You seem to be fixated on their low performance, while ignoring that most of the time, this individual is meeting or exceeding the performance of the worker bees. If your organization will suffer just because one cog in the wheel occasionally has to take the day off (while more than compensating for their absence once they return), then you'd be better off hiring robots rather than human beings.

I work with worker bees and rock stars. Someone becomes a rock star when they excel in an area that either no one else can do or no one else WANTS to do. I do not think my coworkers harbor a whole lot of negativity when a coworker with a track record of being a rock star has a lull in his or her productivity, since they know eventually we will need the rock star to work his or her magic and they will likely rise to the challenge. Interestingly enough, I have detected negativity amongst the rank and file when someone consistently out-performs everyone else. The inconsistent rock star is more beloved than the stable genius. This irrationality just goes to show why the attitudes of employees shouldn't carry a whole lot of weight.
  #117  
Old 10-11-2018, 08:13 PM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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No, you're distorting the hypothetical.

> But someone who has low performance 5% of the time, high performance 5% of the time, and good performance 90% of the time does not have poor work ethic.

The talented guy with poor work ethic does not put in a good performance 90% of the time. Not even close - because they have a poor work ethic.

You clearly aren't getting this, and I'm not going to waste my time discussing it further.
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  #118  
Old 10-11-2018, 09:06 PM
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You clearly aren't getting this, and I'm not going to waste my time discussing it further.
I thank you for your silence on this issue. I hope it continues until the end of the thread.
  #119  
Old 10-13-2018, 12:48 AM
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After reading this thread "The TV Trope of Girls Beating Boys in Sports", there was some discussion about the validity of suggesting that anyone can be what they want to be, because of fundamental limitations related to physical ability, statistical likelihood, etc...

I'm not sure what to think; it does seem a bit jerkish to run around telling small children that they can't be/do anything they dream of, if only because at that point, it's mostly fantasy to them, and their potential isn't yet narrowed down much.

But by the same token, suggesting to a tone-deaf teenager with no sense of rhythm that their dream of musical super-stardom is something they should actively pursue also seems kind of irresponsible as well.

What do you think? I tend to fall on the side of teaching children as they get older to be able to rationally assess things for themselves. For example, I always wanted to be a pilot and astronaut. At some point during early high school, I realized that I didn't have the eyesight to be a pilot, and that none of the academic fields that the mission specialists tend to be experts in were what I wanted to do for my lifetime, so the prospect of getting a PhD in something just for the sake of being an astronaut seemed kind of insane, when I considered that there was every chance I wouldn't be chosen, and I'd be stuck working in that field forever. At no point were my parents anything but supportive- but they were always realistic with me about stuff like that.
[Posting having only read the OP.]

Small children should be encouraged IMHO- you never know which one is the next Bach or Napoleon or whatever.

Somewhere in the k-12 curriculum though, it should be presented that low born individuals have limited options compared to some of their "peers". Maybe prevent these people working themselves to death chasing an opportunity that doesn't exist for them. You can't be anything you want to be. Really.

It doesn't matter how hard a low born individual works. One simply can't deserve their way into certain positions; they're reserved.

In order to maximize their potential and avoid wasting their actual opportunities, plus saving themselves a boat load of anguish, low born individuals ought to plan and act taking into account that their options are limited. Tell ya what: get to the first rung of the ladder and then we'll take a look at the second, hmm?



tl/ dnr: Is life fair? Yes/no.
  #120  
Old 10-13-2018, 03:02 PM
Nava Nava is offline
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I think you misunderstood, or I wasn't clear. I don't hire people for jobs they can't do.
You probably shouldn't make assumptions about people I've hired or who I'm willing to work with.
And I think you missed the first sentence in the post you quoted.

Sometimes people are hired, they can do the job, and then shit happens. Sometimes the shit is medical, sometimes it's other kind of personal, sometimes the job description changes to the point where they cannot do it any more without adaptations; in the easiest cases these adaptations are just additional training on things management had taken for granted. Maybe you've never worked with someone long enough for that to happen, but it's something I've seen happen time and again with long-time workers.

I've only worked in one (1) place where the factory was moving from a model where not everybody needed to use a computer, to one where everybody was, and where "we must teach people how to use a computer before we expect them to use our specific programs" was actually taken into consideration. That's in over 30 projects. That example of "job requirements changed" situation where eventually the managers take their heads out of their own asses and get people trained (well, usually), I'm using it simply because it's so common and because it happens everywhere.
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Last edited by Nava; 10-13-2018 at 03:04 PM.
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