Setting parameters at work

Ever feel like your employer keeps trying to get the more and more out of you? That they are piling more and more on? It could be argued this is part of business- increase efficiency and profit by getting employees to do more. Or perhaps... due to the economy, businesses have to cut back and employees need to rise to the occasion and work harder. And besides... "Employees should just be happy they have a job- right?"

These points may have some truth to them, however, I think they also create problems. First of all, many employees are already stretched and overwhelmed. Adding more to their work load may not increase their productivity.

Secondly and more importantly, after a while the employee starts feeling worked. There was a contractual agreement about the position. The employee does these tasks, and the employer pays this compensation. When more and more things get added without being addressed or renegotiated, the employee starts feeling exploited. The relationship becomes predatory.

I have been on both sides of this issue. If you are an employee. You owe it to yourself to set parameters with your employer. If they add significant things on top your contractual agreement without addressing it, it is up to you to address it. Otherwise, you will eventually become resentful. You might say, "I am already really behind with the tasks that I am doing and you are adding all this new stuff on- something has got to give."  Or... "I want to help your business through this tough time, but I am already working extra hours without being compensated- and now you are now adding more. I am starting to feel taken advantage of here." Pretty risky- what if they fire you? I don't think so. Not if you are a good employee and approach it correctly.

If you are the employer. I think it is essential to acknowledge that you are changing the contractual agreement. This is setting parameters with your employee. You do not necessarily need to compensate them more. Just address it. Something like, "I know you are already swamped, but I need a little extra help with this for a while. When we get to such and such place, I will be able to take something off your plate or compensate you more." When you approach an employee this way, they are usually willing to work with you. They feel appreciated and respected.

Then both sides can have a clear contractual relationship. It is mutually beneficial or win-win. Everyone feels better about it. Morale is high. And I would argue that more gets done.

3 comments (Add your own)

1. Dancing Hawk wrote:
it's true ... well said, Michael! thx for another great post!

Thu, June 17, 2010 @ 7:59 AM

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