Monday, December 28, 2009

Weight loss and the workplace

It seems that every new year, people make a resolution to lose weight.  If they've been fat year after year, chances are that the new year is going to bring different results.  Fat people are lazy and unlikely to be motivated to take the necessary steps to decrease their weight.  But there is an easily implementable solution that will succeed: make weight management a requirement for the job.

Fat people have more medical problems.  Big bottoms are a drain on company bottom lines.  Companies need to pay more insurance medical costs with fat, unhealthy employees in addition to having to deal with the lower productivity of those lazy workers.  One solution is to just not provide insurance (my personal preferred solution and the one I use at my company), but this doesn't work so well with all companies.  In those cases, it's best to have the company institute policies requiring that employees submit the height, weight, and bloodwork tests to the management.  The company can institute a diet plan for the employees to follow to control their weight.

In my own company, this has worked spectacularly well.  All of my employees are required to work 12 hour days, and work through all of their meals.  When they are too busy working, they don't have time to stuff their faces.  All the while, they are burning calories being productive.  Consequently, my workforce is a lean productivity machine.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The PHB Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
The programmers were harried and clicking a mouse;
Their socks were half on, and disheveled their hair,
In fear that the boss would soon be there;
The legacy code was many messy testbeds,
Yet its failure to work would be on their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Craved nothing more than a long winter's nap;

When out of the speakers there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my seat and released abdominal matter.
To the Skype window I clicked with some fear,
For I knew the boss's wrath soon would be near.
With pointy hair as white as a new-fallen snow,
Were bushy eyebrows on the forehead below,
When what to my disappointment should I see,
It was the boss [again], checking up on me.
He was demanding, unreasonable, and a pesky old fool.
Everyone at work thinks he's a tool.
More rapid than eagles come his critiques,
Of everyone's habits and coding techniques.
"Now Smith, now Jones, now Howard and Dixon!
On Charles, on Carol, on Dan-o and Nixon!
To Visual Studio, to Windows, to DOS Prompt and all,
Keep writing more code, and fix my firewall!"

Assigned workload and expectations soared high,
But no feedback was accepted, not even a sigh;
With control of the paycheck and workers needing holiday dough,
The boss knew that everyone there was oh so his 'ho.
And there in the Skype window he was nagging,
About why the code wasn't done and my efforts were sagging.
As I opened my mouth to give a reply,
He assigned yet more work in the blink of an eye.

He piled on more tasks to be done A.S.A.P.,
Numerous jobs were there, all top priority.
First code fixes for the software to be done in the next hour,
Website changes next, after checking the server rack power,
Afterwards on to new features to the new product release,
Then maybe, just maybe, a brief moment of peace.
Work through Christmas dinner getting TPS reports done,
Then to debugging the software with a test run.

The list went on and scrolled out of sight,
With no way to finish, try as I might,
But complaint was no option with a job list this crazy,
For any suggestion of impossibility would just brand me lazy.
I laughed at the absurdity in spite of myself,
At the mission impossible given by the evil elf.
With a glare of this eye and twist of his head,
Soon gave me notice of coming announcement of dread;
He spoke not a word, but told me to get straight to work,
And shortened my deadlines, relishing being a jerk.

Pointing his finger at me as he turned up his nose,
The Skype open session he was beginning to close.
An eternity later, he ran out of things to say,
Maybe now, I can salvage part of my holiday,
But I heard him exclaim as he faded from sight,
"Bah humbug to all, and there's more work tomorrow night!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Office Party

I'm again hosting the annual company Christmas office party.  This year, I'll be making attendance mandatory in order to build company cohesion.  The festivities will begin promptly at 8 a.m. on December 24th and continue through the morning of the 25th.  I'm looking forward to the festivities.  Everyone will be there to code up some new features so we can get a head start on the competition, the web team can start fixing up the website, and some of the team can start learning and practicing Flash since we've lost our last Flash developer.  Of course, the company will be providing nourishment in the form of donuts and coffee to fuel the all night party session.  This year's office party will be even better than last year's!

Monday, December 14, 2009


I've never liked Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Several elements of the story rub me the wrong way. Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as a miserable, money grubbing human being, whereas the Bob Cratchit is shown as the honest and loyal employee. That situation would never exist in reality. Scrooge was a successful businessman. The fact that he was frugal with his hard earned wealth is something to be celebrated and not villainized. Paying a minimal salary to his employee is responsible corporate behavior; yet, Dickens portrays Scrooge as taking advantage of Bob Cratchit.

Then there's the issue of "poor" Bob Cratchit. If Cratchit were so poorly paid and treated, then how is it that he could support six children? Either he was already being paid plenty or he was living off of welfare handouts. If Cratchit wasn't earning enough money, it was his own fault, not that of Scrooge. God helps those who help themselves. If Cratchit really were poor and downtrodden, it's from his own laziness and sloth. Trying to pin the blame on the evil boss is irresponsible fantasy.

I always change the channel every time I see this drivel aired on television. Dickens was full of it in this story. If anyone gets scrooged in A Christmas Story, it would be Ebenezer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Control through training

You can train a dog to be obedient.  But can you train an employee to be equally under your control?  It is possible, but there are so many approaches to it, and each person requires a different tactic.  Some employees are best being brow-beaten into submission (my personal favorite), others require subtle psychological manipulation, some need to be treated like children, etc.  I don't always have time to figure out the appropriate training to keeping workers beholden to me.

So, what do I do?  One of my favorite tools is using very specific, niche on the job training.  This works particularly well in a software company.  Build obfuscated, proprietary, in-house software tools for use in the company and require that all workers use the proprietary tools.  That way, all workers receive specialized training that is only useful when working for your company.  There's no need to train people with skills that can carry over to other jobs outside of your company.  When their skillset is only usable under your company, it's much easier to keep employees working for you and under your control.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You can't handle the truth!

Is honesty really the best policy? It sounds nice in theory to always tell the complete and honest truth. Unfortunately, the real world doesn't work quite so nicely. In reality, little (or even big) white lies grease the gears that keep work getting done.

Do parents always tell their children the complete truth all the time? No, good parents will lie to their children to form positive, compliant behavior traits. This is true even for parents who believe ardently instilling honesty values in their children. Why would they do this? Because it simply provides a highly effective tool for controlling and training their children.

Companies lie all the time to their employees to ensure the continued success of the company. Employees don't need to have full knowledge; in fact, employees knowing too much could very well be detrimental to the company. Just look at Walmart. They have an undeservedly infamous reputation for lying to employees. Walmart is one of the nation's most successful companies. Lying to its employees allows Walmart to keep better control of its employees and wage costs low. That it turn allows the company to control costs and turn better profit margins. If Walmart had been hamstrung by out of control wage costs, they would not have been nearly as competitive. Ironically, this means that it would not have been as successful a company and would not be able to keep so many people employed.

The complete truth isn't all it's cracked up to be. Lying is actually a good thing. It serves as a useful tool for the PHB toolbox. Employees don't need to be in the know about everything, particularly when it comes to matters affecting company well-being. Little white lies keeps everyone in line, so work keeps getting done and the company keeps thriving.

Joseph M. Scandura, incompetent moron, idiot, pompous, stupid, failure, asshole, arrogant, bullshit, micromanager of the year, technologically clueless, ignorant, condescending, senile, dementia