02 September, 2009

Who gets the goodies in your firm?

Need an extra PC? Time to replace the older clunkers in the company car fleet? An extra workstation because you’ve hired someone? Who gets the latest stuff? The best office or workstation? In many firms, seniority rules. Even avowedly egalitarian meritocracies often revert to pecking order when it comes to handing out the goodies. The boss gets first pick, and a team-wide shuffle passes everything down.

That may not be intentional. Staff often take it on themselves to equip the boss with the best stuff.

To understand what your staff have to put up with, maybe you should have the oldest PC, the worst car, the dingiest workstation. It may make you realise that you need to improve things, or give you the knowledge to resist unnecessary lily-gilding. Let the people with the greatest work requirement have the pick of the crop. If you believe in egalitarianism, it will show you stand by your avowed principles.

I’m not advocating equality of reward; I believe in rewards going to those who earn them, and that everyone with the ability and aptitude can have a shot at those opportunities. I just don’t believe in obvious displays of the baubles of office. I call it egalitarian elitism.

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