Sunday, March 20, 2011

Get Ready to Have Your Rice Steamed

In my profession, there are many positions out there for contractors. Lots of people see customer support as an expenditure instead of a cost-savings (or profit producing) measure. I disagree with that idea based on the fact that no product is perfect. If you cannot create a perfect product with all that money that R and D teams get, you might as well cover it up with a lot of money to your marketing department. If that fails, then your customer must not know how to use your product.

My take on the whole thing is that once your customer runs into an issue, if you don't offer them information to fix the issue, they aren't going to buy from you again. Former customers should be future customers.

As a contractor, I am often told—either directly or indirectly—that there just isn't enough money in the budget to hire me on as a full-time employee. I was also told that the reason why I couldn't get hired on was out of the hands of my boss.

This article makes me wonder if the real reason why is because my boss' boss' boss' boss is spending their bonus in Maui.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of pay for performance. It gives you the opportunity to make a little bit of extra money on the side should you work hard. I believe I do work hard. I invest a lot of myself into a company when I work for them, even if I am just a contractor. But I don't delude myself that I am worth a one million dollar bonus, let along a four million dollar bonus.

If someone tried to hand me a check for four million dollars on top of the paycheck that I already received, I would have to laugh at them. Don't get me wrong, I could use four million to shove into my bank accounts. I don't think any work that anyone does is worth that much money in one year. Period. No matter how talented you are, no matter how much money you saved a company, I think there is something very conceited in the fact that you would accept that kind of money. It says that the work you do is 20,769 times more important than the rest of the people who actually take care of the everyday things that are too menial for you to acknowledge, like helping customers figure out how to fix their issue.

On the team I worked with, there were about 20 contractors who did various tasks to manage the day-to-day operations of the department. Their manager was also a contractor, and valued what they did. I was managed by a full-time employee of the company who didn't understand my value. He asked our team to fix a problem that we had, and I ended up doing the leg work for it. In a meeting about three months after our problem was fixed, we were meeting to talk about our plan for when I was gone. The other two contractors told our boss that we were not going to be able to have someone cover for one of my functions because they didn't have the time to investigate it (it took me six months). He told us that we could just ask one of his staff for help if we needed it.

What he didn't know was the fact that when his staff come to him with answers on this topic, they had first come to me for the answer to report to him.

I fear that this is the way business is going. People are getting credit for doing work that they don't do. Also, the people who are doing the work aren't getting credit in the eyes of the management. Because us contractors could see the writing on the wall, we tried to create a plan to help us become more visible, but since I have left the company, I am not sure if it is working or not. I guess I'll see if/when I return.

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