Situation: A company has an excellent bookkeeper. However, during slow seasons cash is tight and the bookkeeper is not occupied full time. The CEO contacted a friend at another company, and that company has hired the bookkeeper for 10 hours / week. This is working well for both for both companies. Are there downsides to doing this? Does it pay to share an employee?
Advice from the CEOs:
If you share an employee, share at your cost – your fully burdened cost per hour. For the company using a piece of your employee, this may be a significant hourly cost, but is much less expensive than a consultant and lower risk than bringing on an unknown individual.
Keep a short term perspective – once the economy improves you will want the individual back full-time. Make sure that this is well understood by the other company.
Make sure that this is not a burden on your bookkeeper. Ask whether the individual can handle two bosses. It helps to fully segregate the individual’s time with time rules – for example, by day or half-day with clean break points in time worked for Company A vs. Company B.
Overall, the apparent benefits of this situation outweigh the challenges.
Situation: A CEO notes that the company’s employees surf the Internet during work – some excessively so. The CEO has visited other companies and noted very different behavior around surfing. Does your company monitor or manage employee Internet use? How do you manage Internet use by employees?
Advice from the CEOs:
The first question to ask is whether your company culture allows or does not allow surfing during work.
Do you want it to or not?
Based on your desires for the company’s culture, set a policy that works for you.
If you want to more tightly control surfing, look at Surf Control software which allows you to create surfing rules, and allocate time allowed to surf.
Create and communicate your policy. It’s OK to let employees know that you’re not comfortable with what you’ve observed and that it’s time to set boundaries.
Act quickly, keep the message positive – for now – but make clear the consequences of inappropriate behavior in the future.
Don’t create double standards. Furthermore, a free-for-all atmosphere is corrosive.
Once you set your policy, if it is necessary to deal with a chronic and unresponsive offender, let everyone know what action you’ve taken and why.
Different companies around the table have created varying policies consistent with their cultures.
Company 1: Surfing during breaks and lunch is OK, as long as sites are appropriate.
Company 2: Surfing is OK – on your time and with our equipment – as long as you ask.
Company 3: As long as you are productive, we don’t monitor your surfing. Caveat: it is important to define and measure what is meant by “productive.”
Situation: A consulting company has an employee who is a perfectionist. They can bill clients for standard work to complete a project to client specifications; however, this employee wants to continue working unbillable time to perfect the work and considers this to be of research benefit to the company. The CEO wants to impress the individual that the company is a business, not a research organization, without discouraging the employee’s enthusiasm for the work. How have you handled perfectionists within your own organization?
Advice from the CEOs:
If the employee possesses skills which are important to the company’s strategic direction it makes sense to work with the individual. One option is to focus this employee on future development rather than current projects.
An increasing number of companies allow employees in development positions 10% to 20% of their time to pursue pure research. Both product and software companies leverage employee enthusiasm to build their products or services. At the same time, they create guidelines to assure that the remaining 80% to 90% of these individuals’ time is devoted to current business.
Why not allow the employee one day per week to focus on research, but limit the focus on pure research to this one day – as well as any evenings and weekends that they want to devote to this on their own time? This way the individual is encouraged to pursue their ambitions, but within a framework that clearly states that we want 80% of your work week to be devoted to billable work.