Friday, May 09, 2008

Time to Wait

I hate waiting for others, which I sadly do quite often, because I’m always on-time

It’s funny, I’m a contractor, and I have no company loyalty to live up too. I don’t have to kiss anyone’s butt to get a promotion, I don’t have to kill myself putting in overtime if I choose not too – I’m on a contract. I don’t get all those fancy benefits, stock options, and other “perks” of being on staff – so I don’t have any ties to those who use my services other than the contracted time for which I’ve been hired.

Yet, despite my lack of loyalty to any one client for my job security, I am usually the one that does go the extra distance to get things done the right way ‘round the first time. I’m always on time – if not early – for meetings, and I don’t mind putting in the occasional overtime.

But those on the company payroll seem to feel too comfortable in their staff positions. They are always the last to come into a meeting – even if they called it themselves -- usually wading in five or more minutes late. The staffers are always out of the office first, many come in late in the morning and leave well before the business day is done. And often they slack off, waiting until the last minute to get things done, so that mistakes are made and items have to be re-done.

Good thing for us contractors – otherwise the corporate world would fall apart at the seams. I take pride in my work, and although I may not be bound and gagged to my employer, I still believe in putting my best foot forward.

Corporate culture is an interesting thing. Most management consultants will tell you the best way to see what a company’s staff thinks of their bosses, is to watch how they behave when their bosses are away.

From my observations, I’d say almost everyone hates their boss, or at the very least, doesn’t respect their boss enough to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, when their boss is away.

Just about every office I’ve been in on contract – which is quite a lot because I have a lot of clients – is like this. When the managers and other higher ups are out of the office – say on lunch, out to meetings or just working from home – their staffs run around and gossip, hang out and chat about life with their colleagues, surf the net for another job (I have seen this with my own two eyes) even play cards – anything and everything but work.

The word “work” seems to disappear the second the boss does. Yet, whenever I’m sitting in on the numerous project meetings, and people are falling behind in their project deliverables, guaranteed the number one excuse is “we’ve just been so very busy.”

Yeah, you’ve been busy alright – goofing off! But of course, the boss doesn’t know this, because they weren’t around to see all of this card playing, chatting and the like.

I’m a big supporter of freedom of expression, and privacy, but maybe it’s time to install security cameras in more than just the entrances to offices. There usually are closed-circuit security cameras in lobbies, and elevator hallways, but maybe it is high time management video taped their staff while they were out doing work.

Granted, not everyone on staff goes off the deep end and starts to play, instead of work. But there are far more people goofing off when the boss is away, than there are those busy working on the things that need to be done.

As a contractor, it isn’t my place to tell management how to manage their staff. Although I have some say in how we manage the projects, and the resources allocated to those projects. But my hands are tied – if management is convinced that they have the right people on the project to get it done, than I can’t very well tell them otherwise. All I can do is advise them to place more people on the project to ensure we meet our deadlines.

But then, when the boss goes away, even those extra bodies we’ve added to the project decide to play. That is, unless management has the budget to bring on more contractors – we contractors generally don’t goof off.

Funny thing about corporate culture, even the non-managers sometimes think they can manage us contractors. Truth is they have no say whatsoever in our relationship with their workplace. All that legalize stuff goes through the contractor’s and the company’s lawyers – hence the term “contractor” because it is a legally binding contract by all sides.

Still, contractors have to always stay on the ball, because the staff is watching us. Though most of the time they watch us in fear – we’re not costing the company as much as the staff, yet we’re getting the work that they should be able to do, done.

Who needs to kiss ass, when the staffers are scared silly about losing their jobs? Though maybe if those staffers didn’t play like children every time their boss disappeared, they wouldn’t have to hire us contractors in the first place?

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