Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 22, 2007


The following is an excerpt from my new book, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life. The book offers considerable advice regarding how to manage our personal and professional lives. As a part of this, I found it necessary to discuss the legal ramifications of employment.

Do's and Don'ts in the Workpace (Part II)

Keeping Track of your Time

Whereas it is quite common for non-exempt workers to keep track of their time via time cards, exempt workers often do not. However, there is a growing trend for exempt workers to keep track of their time for Project Management purposes. Computer software is commonly used to record time, e.g., "Time Screens." Exempt personnel are often put off by this, and think it is below their dignity to record the use of their time. They should not be offended. After all, professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and physicians have been recording their use of time for many years and bill clients accordingly.

In addition to posting your time as spent on project assignments, you may also have to report time spent on indirect assignments; e.g., meetings, training, reading, breaks, and other personal time. This information helps management study the working environment and plot schedules. Also, you may be required to report "unavailable time" such as vacations, holidays, and maternity leave.

The only people who resist reporting time are the "time wasters" who do not want management to know what they are doing.

On a personal level, recording your time keeps you cognizant of what you accomplished during the day and reevaluate your priorities.


As an employee, you will be responsible for complying with all pertinent safety regulations on the job. Many of these will seem absurd or antiquated to you, but they were written for specific purposes and I encourage you to observe them. Failure to do so may result in penalties to you, fines to your company, or even worse, an accident that could seriously injure or kill a coworker or even yourself.


This is an old expression referring to an employee performing two or more jobs. Due to financial necessity, it may be necessary to moonlight, but make sure one job doesn't inhibit the other. Companies generally frown on employees who moonlight as they believe you may have a growing allegiance to the other company. If you are moonlighting, be careful, and check on company regulations as to whether you must report this or not.

Discussing Salaries

One of the quickest ways to get fired in a company is to discuss salaries with other employees. This is very much a "No-No" and is probably legislated in the company's Policy Manual. Companies may print salary levels which are based on seniority and job type, but other than this, discussions between employees is very much frowned upon.

Job Titles

Your job title is whatever the company says it is when you accepted employment and will be printed on your company business cards accordingly. In recent times, people have become overly concerned with getting a proper job title. For example, I know of an I.T. Director in Connecticut who was hiring new programmers for a major system they were preparing to develop. To attract the caliber of people they were looking for, the company offered generous wages and benefits. Interestingly, one person turned the job down, not because of the compensation package, but because he preferred the job title, "Software Engineer," as opposed to just "Programmer," which he considered rather mundane. The reason people want fancy job titles is because it looks good on a resume. If someone demands a certain type of job title, they are thinking more of their next job as opposed to long-term employment with a single company.

I believe we put too much emphasis on job titles which encourages individual recognition as opposed to teamwork. Companies are slowly recognizing this and are starting to de-emphasize job titles, using generic position titles instead.

Employment Contracts

When you accept a position with a company, you are establishing a contract with the company, be it oral or written. In other words, you are agreeing to work in a specific capacity, for specific compensation, according to the operating terms and conditions of the company. In most instances, the contract is represented by the company's Policy Manual. However, it is becoming more common to have formal documented employment contracts with companies which specifies wages and benefits among other things. If implementing such a contract, it is wise to seek legal advise before signing such a contract.

Within employment contracts, you should have provisions for:

  • Compensation - including wages, benefits, and any pertinent incentives; e.g., commissions, bonuses, profit-sharing, etc.

  • Escape hatch - specifying the terms and conditions for breaking the contract.

  • Non-compete clause - many companies may insist you not compete against them in the event your employment is terminated. You do not want to sign something that may affect your livelihood in perpetuity. Instead, specify a reasonable time frame for non-compete, such as six months or a year. And since this may affect your way of living, you may want to stipulate how the company will compensate you for not competing against them. For example, they may have to pay your salary for this period.

  • Intellectual Property - as part of your contract, the company may ask you to respect their intellectual property in perpetuity. This is actually a reasonable request and may require you to sign a non-disclosure to that effect. However, if you are going to be used to create the intellectual property, you may want to seek co-ownership.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is... "One of the quickest ways to get fired in a company is to discuss salaries with other employees."


Friends, as mentioned, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life. Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book." The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4

LIKE TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF MY NEW BOOK? Be the first one to e-mail me a message with your name and shipping address. In the SUBJECT or BODY of the e-mail, be sure to write "Morphing Book 102207". E-mail it to me at Only one free book per person. I'll announce the winner on next week's broadcast.

Last week's winner was: Martin Dimond of Athens, OH. Congratulations, a copy of the book is already in the mail to you.


One thing that really sets me off is when someone is late for an appointment (you'll probably remember me ranting about "Doctor's Offices" not long ago). And it really drives me bananas when the person is unapologetic for being late. To me, being late is a sign of disrespect to the person or persons you are to meet. I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said, "Being late is an act of violence, an act of terrorism, because you unnerve people." Consequently I make an effort to keep my appointments and try to arrive on time if not a bit earlier. My friends kid me that I operate on "Tim Time" as I show up earlier than just about everyone else.

Punctuality is a sign of discipline, something we try to ingrain in our youth through school bells. If you're late for a class, you are given a "Tardy Slip" which might carry a penalty of serving in "Detention" (the school's version of jail). Nonetheless, schools are trying to operate on a routine basis and have an agenda to follow in order to properly educate our youth. I cannot imagine a public or private school that doesn't operate according to such structure.

I understand President Bush is a stickler for punctuality, going so far as to lock the door to cabinet meetings when they start. I think it would be rather amusing to see the door handle jiggle from the outside by a Cabinet Secretary who arrived late for a meeting.

Back when I was managing a critical I.T. project, I would start the day with a status meeting with my team of programmers at 8:30am. Inevitably someone would show up a few minutes late thereby holding up the meeting. Being a baseball fan, I would admonish the programmers, "Do baseball players show up at game time? No, they arrive early to stretch, warm-up and practice a little." (In fact, baseball players are fined if they show up late). To overcome my problem, I changed the start of the meetings to 8:00am ("Tim Time") thereby forcing the programmers to show up earlier so we could properly accomplish our work. It's sad that we have to do such tricks to get people to show up on time.

We could also berate people for being late, fine them, or let them go, but more than anything, it bothers me that people simply lack the discipline and consideration for keeping an appointment. Maybe we need to institute some school bells in the work place and pass out some "Tardy Slips." That would be a hoot.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.


I received a few comments regarding my "Pet Peeve" on "On-Line Banking Systems":

An N.R. in Tampa, Florida wrote:

"I certainly know where you’re coming from. I’m no stranger to I.T. myself, though I AM pretty out of date with it. I quit writing software in the early ‘90s (and even then it was only as a hobby) though I first cut my teeth on an old TRS80/Model1 back in something like '81. In any case, about the most strenuous thing I do with a computer anymore is our families’ in-house network, so like I said, I’m pretty out of touch. But before I met my wife (we’ve only been married a few years) I did all of my banking the old fashioned way; I balanced my checkbook with a scrap of paper and a pencil to do the math, and kept my accounts in good order. I still wrote checks out to pay the bills, and would either mail them or just drop ‘em off manually. The wife does all of this now, and she uses the Net to do nearly all banking. I think only a handfull of checks get written each year now and those are for doctors’ visits (co-pays). Sure, it makes me a bit uncomfortable, but the alternative is to take the chore away from her, and I have no real good reason to do that."

A T.H. also in Tampa wrote:

""We are all on-line banking whether we take advantage of all of its features or not. Several years ago I envisioned the end of paper checks because when I traveled, nobody would take an out of town check. They wanted a credit card or check card. Now, there is instant check verification via online banking so you can use paper checks at more and more places (provided you have money in your account).

I hardly use paper checks anymore. I was surprised when I bought a new car last year and they wouldn’t take a credit card or check card. They must have to pay high fees for those because they wanted a check.

The credit card company that I use allows me to set up different accounts with different limits and expiration dates for on-line buying. I carry a couple of different limit cards to use that I can payoff online to reload them. If anyone tries to use the card number, they can’t get much money but I can access the full amount in minutes.

I sometimes have trouble making deposits to my account at out of town ATMs. Strange that they allow me to withdraw money but don’t allow deposits of checks or cash."

An A.B. in Florida wrote:

"I, too, am an 'old dog' with almost 40 years in the I.T. industry. I just retired January, 2007. But I’m not too old to learn new tricks. I LOVE on-line banking. Social Security, IRA withdrawals, pension checks—everything is direct deposit. And it is always there and always on time. I hate when someone sends me a paper check and I have to make a trip to the bank. Sometimes that paper check sits around for a few weeks before I remember to take it to the bank. I pay everything I possibly can by online bill pay. It is so easy and quick. Before on-line banking, I used to set aside an hour or two to write checks, fill out stubs, lick envelopes, apply postage and return labels, etc. Now I write just a few checks a month, like to lawn service. I love using a debit card in stores and not having to give my life history to some clerk in order to get them to take a check. Again—simple and quick. I still balance my checkbook the old-fashioned way and don’t download debits and credits from my bank into my personal bookkeeping system. I might try it once, and maybe I’ll like that also. Smile, I see no reason not to entrust my data to a major national bank. They have everything anyway."

And finally a J.W. of Hayward, California wrote:

"I have to say, on-line banking is the greatest thing since sliced bread. There is NO better use for a personal computer. I have been using this banking service since it was first offered about 15+ years ago. I have NO concept of balancing a check book anymore. All of my banking statements and even canceled checks are presented to me on-line. No muss, no fuss, no problems."

Thanks for your comments.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567.

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Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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Copyright © 2007 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."


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