Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Who’s Business is My Business?

I work really hard to do the best I job I can. I like to put out high quality materials in any projects I do.

And it shows – I get lots of great feedback from my coworkers.

They are always interested in whether or not I’ll be coming on-board permanently, or taking on another contract.

I always find this interesting, as I myself do not know.

On one hand, it is nice to be wanted. On the other hand, I often wonder if they know more about what the higher-ups are thinking than me – and they are fishing around to see what I am thinking.

In all contract negotiations, there are two or more sides to the debate. There is always management, occasionally human resources, finance and then there is me. Each side has its own wants and needs.

Management if happy with my performance, will usually want me to come back, either on another contract, or on staff. They talk to finance which wants me to come in at the lowest possible price, to ensure they get good value for money. Human Resources is in the middle of the two, working on coming up with the best possible offer, given the budget. Then there is me.

I have to decide first if I want to come back. Just because a client offers me another contract or a more permanent position, doesn’t mean I’ll take jump at the chance and take it.

If there is a lot of mis-management, poor working conditions, duties and roles which are not those typically assigned to someone in my profession, or other negatives, they can convince me out of accepting any offers, no matter how lucrative.

Then there is the offer itself. I find offers for being brought on board to staff usually unappealing, because they actually offer less than I make on contract. They toss in medial, dental and life insurance, and company pension plans and other so-called “benefits,” as a justification for dropping down the salary.

Money isn’t the only thing – it is everything. It is nice to have benefits, but benefits don’t pay the bills. Benefits keep you alive so you can comfortably continue to work – they don’t pay for food, rent, or clothing.

Typically, after proving my worth, I like to increase my salary. If a company feels I am so much of an asset, they want me to continue working for them, then why shouldn’t I?

Most people on staff receive raises on a regular basis based on performance, why shouldn’t I?

Also, if you lock yourself into the same rate or a lesser amount of salary at the start of a permanent offer, chances are you will be stuck at that level until you either die or move on to another company.

Raises don’t usually grow by too much over the years, and company bonus plans are so flimsy, one never knows if the economy, the company’s management or both will cause the company to flounder, and so to the BIG bonus you were promises.

Case in point, the company I am working on contract now for has some pretty questionable fiscal management practices. The marketing executive blew their budget last year, and almost jeopardized everyone’s bonuses. This year, those very same people that blew the budget, over spent even more this year. Not only are all employee bonuses at risk, but the company may have to do some serious cost cutting to stay afloat.

Still, the other day I was asked by a coworker if I’d be staying on as an employee after my contract ends.

My contract doesn’t end for several months, but I guess I do think about these things too.

I enjoy working with most at the company. They are very nice, and for the most part very good at what they do.

However, there are lots of other things which makes me wonder whether or not I’d want to continue on past my contract. And then there is the offer too – I’d need to see the offer in writing before making any decisions.

One of the biggest reasons I am not sure is this whole budget blowing fiasco. It is one thing to have an executive team member of a company over spend. It is quite another to continue to allow those people responsible to go on about their work, with out any punishment or methods to prevent such fiscal mis-use of funds from occurring again and again.

One of the key projects I was initially hired for was put on hold, because although the company had the budget for it, after the marketing executive overspent AGAIN this year, they didn’t have the funds for my pet project. So, although I enjoy the work I am doing, it wasn’t the primary reason for me accepting my current contract.

That will come into play big time come negotiations. If the company can’t show me that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent the budget for my project to suddenly vanish due to some other team’s mis-management of funds, then I may just as quickly turn down any offers.

The fact that there is no accountability, or ownership at an executive level of such a major issue also will affect my decision. If the company’s executive can overlook someone putting the company into financial harm’s way, what is to stop them from looking the other way over other things which could easily cost the company it’s very existence?

I do enjoy what I do and for the most part the people I work with. However there are a number of issue which need to be addressed long before I sign on the dotted line to continue past my current contract.

So, from now on when a coworker asks me if I’ll be staying on, I tell him or her that I really don’t know. And that is the honest truth.

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