Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 29, 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.

Over the last two weeks we discussed such things as terms of employment, working hours, Moonlighting, Salaries, Job Titles, and Employment Contracts. This week we will consider performance reviews, reprimands and firings, and handling stress.

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



An Employee Performance Evaluation (or "Review") is quite normal and routine, particularly for new employees in the first 90 days of their employment. The evaluation is normally prepared using a standard form and denotes their strengths and weaknesses. If there is a problem, the manager should warn the employee accordingly and give him/her sufficient time to correct the problem, such as 30 days. This also gives the boss an opportunity to offer advice to the employee on how to better him/herself. Do not be offended by the review, listen carefully, and take heed to what the reviewer is telling you. Whether the review is accurate or not, it represents how you are perceived for which you should take corrective action.

As part of the review you will be asked to sign it, thereby testifying you understand what was said. The review will then be filed in your employment jacket for future reference.

If you are struggling with a job, you may be put "on notice" (either improve or face termination), which should be written into the review as well. Now is the time to do some soul-searching; either improve yourself or start looking for a new job.


There is a big difference between firing a person and letting a person go. Whereas the latter could be the result of work stoppages, the former is due to the performance of the individual. As such, this tutorial is primarily concerned with firings. From the outset understand this, keeping a poor performer employed is a disservice to the company, the coworkers, as well as the individual. A poor performer causes coworkers and/or the boss to work overtime to cover for the employee. Consider this though, it hurts the individual who is either unskilled for the job or has risen above his level of competency. This type of person has hit a "dead-end" in his career and it is unfair to keep him in a position where you know he will undoubtedly fail. He should be allowed to get on with his life in another capacity where he might succeed.

If you are being fired, you may be inclined to get upset as you may not have seen it coming, but if you were warned during your last review, and made no effort to improve, do not be surprised and take it professionally.

More people are fired on late Friday afternoons than any other time or day of the week. Why? Simple; it is the end of the workweek and people are more interested in going home than listening to someone being fired. Psychologists might suggest Monday mornings are a better time for terminations as opposed to Fridays, simply because the employee won't have time to think about it over the weekend and become despondent or irrational. Regardless, a firing can occur at any time and can be performed either badly of professionally.

A professional firing will be conducted rather calmly and privately. You will be told you are being let go, and maybe you will be told the reason and maybe you will not. Nonetheless, keep calm and collected and pay attention to what is being told you. Endeavor to find out the cause of your firing but do not be surprised if it is not explained to you. You may be given the option to resign as opposed to being fired. If you resign, it will look better on your resume; but if you accept the firing, you will probably be entitled to unemployment compensation from the government (it is your call on this).

A witness may be present during the meeting who is there to monitor the proceedings, not to referee. If possible, take plenty of notes, particularly afterwards when you should write a report to yourself describing what transpired and what was said.

You will be asked to surrender any company keys, badges, or other materials in your possession. You may also be asked to sign paperwork relating to your termination; be sure to read it carefully before signing it if you are so inclined (and get a copy of it). Do not try to access your computer as the passwords have probably already been changed. You will likely be asked to clean out your desk promptly and be escorted off the premises. Avoid the temptation to openly complain to your coworkers as it may put their jobs in jeopardy and possibly be used against you in a court of law. Go out with your dignity intact, and do not look like a sore loser.

Handling Stress

There are several different variables for developing stress on the job, such as pressure to accomplish a specific task, frustration resulting from failure, job insecurities, or simply the tedium of the job itself. Further, personal problems may compound stress, such as debt, a pending divorce, a death of a loved one, etc. People handle stress differently, some just cope with it, others turn to food, alcohol or drugs to relieve it. But perhaps the best two ways are to either talk about it, or through physical exercise. If you need to talk to someone, obviously it must be someone you can trust, such as a family member or a close personal friend. I do not recommend you confide in a coworker as this may be misinterpreted and open you up to rumors and ridicule. Quite often, some basic physical exercise can distract you from your problems, be it a workout in the gym, jogging or walking, or perhaps a game of softball, golf or tennis. Group activities are probably better as it allows you to socialize on non-work related matters, thus allowing you to clear your head. However, if stress becomes too unbearable for you, seek professional advice. Perhaps it will be necessary for you to take a vacation or sabbatical from your work, or maybe a change in job altogether.

NEXT WEEK: I'll wrap up my "Do's and Don'ts" with discussions on Air Travel, Moving/Transfers, and Office Romances.

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... "Keeping a poor performer employed is a disservice to the company, the coworkers, as well as the individual."


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.

The Miami Hurricane recently reviewed it (10/22/2007) and said,

"the abundance of information the book provides is a good start for anyone about to take the first step into the real world. Though the concept of adulthood may seem intimidating, it's comforting to know that someone has at least written a guidebook for it."

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 102907". 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: Bernie DeMarco of Chicago, IL. Congratulations, a copy of the book is already in the mail to you.


I'm a big believer or reusing things, particularly if I know something has already proven itself to be a viable solution. As a small example, I maintain a library of templates for such things as word processing and desktop publishing documents, web pages, and simple data base designs. I select a template, and then fine tune it until I get what I want. I find this saves me a lot of time as opposed to developing something from scratch. If I find something else useful along the way, I add it to my library. In the systems world, I have always advocated the sharing and reusing of information resources, such as data and processing components, which I often refer to as "building blocks" for developing systems. It's just a smarter way of operating and, frankly, I don't like to reinvent the wheel with every project I'm working on. Instead, I want to get the job done. If that means reusing something, so be it, regardless of its age; if it works, it works.

I'm not much of a proponent of "throwing the baby out with the bath water," but I know a lot of people who are just the antithesis of this and are constantly reinventing the wheel. I don't know why this is, but I suspect it probably has something to do with human ego. It's kind of like someone saying, "Well, if I didn't think of it, it can't be any good and I'll go and invent one myself." We saw this for years when we sold our "PRIDE" methodologies for systems design. We met several people who thought our methodologies were nice, but thought they could do it better themselves and invested thousands of dollars trying to reinvent our wheel. Inevitably, such undertakings ended up as disasters and we sold them our product in the end. I always marveled at the amount of time and money these companies wasted in the process though; all because of ego.

Years ago General Motors took some heat for slipping a Pontiac engine into an Oldsmobile chassis. People thought they were getting gypped by getting a "cheap" engine. To me, I thought GM was brilliant. Here we had a company who designed products with interchangeable parts in mind. This allowed them to reduce inventory overhead, integrate their product lines, and still produce quality products less expensively. And I can tell you, there is nothing "cheap" about a Pontiac engine. Nonetheless, the public didn't see it this way.

In the systems world, I think you would be surprised to see how much computer software is thrown out with each release of a product. Instead of reusing program code, a lot of companies simply reinvent the wheel with each release. I find this rather strange and a huge waste of money. Maybe it's because people don't know how to share and reuse component parts; either that or they simply don't want to. Either way, the human tendency to avoid sharing and reusing anything, and reinventing the wheel each go around, leads to increased development costs, which, of course, is inflationary.

Another reason for not sharing is I believe we no longer have a sense of history anymore. We do not study what worked or what didn't years ago, we are only interested in the present. Consequently, this leads people into reinventing a wheel that was invented some time ago.

There have been plenty of tools introduced over the years for standardizing and sharing components; everything from Bill of Materials Processors (BOMP) in the manufacturing sector, to Repositories in the I.T. field. You can find such tools in just about every field of endeavor. The technology is certainly available to share and reuse components, but the desire and discipline to do so is not. I can tell you this, sharing and reusing things doesn't happen by itself. It requires a concerted management effort to make it happen. But if management is oblivious to the problem and doesn't care about the amount of money they waste year after year, then I guess we will be "reinventing the wheel" for a long time to come.

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 quite a few comments regarding my "Pet Peeve" on "The Passing of Punctuality":

A B.D. in Canada wrote...

"It's a sad joke at my corporation that if you're five minutes late for a meeting you're early. You're not on time until your ten mins late and you're not late until you're 15 minutes late.

However I do think it a bit much to request everyone to show up to an 8:30 am meeting. Have you ever heard of traffic, day care, weather...etc?"

A P.B. of Alabama wrote:

"Unfortunately, none of B.D.'s reasons apply when it comes to court. There is such a thing as contempt to which fines may be applied. I do understand and empathize with these things. I was a stay-at-home mom for all the years of our daughter's growing up except for four years. Those years were difficult. There was no federal mandate for family needs or personal matters, and I rarely got sympathy for the illnesses of our child that she acquired in day care. Therefore, I became a stay-at-home mother. At home, I kept our child and kept our house. Additionally, I became very immersed in civic organizations. I thought it was my duty to my community because I had the time and the talent. I did become flustered at times when women said, "You don't work, do you?" I led many of these organizations and would have been elected to lead more, if I had consented. My point is this: I am middle-aged today, and I do not work. My husband is retired; our daughter is grown; and I would like to work. I have not been told I was overqualified, even with a graduate degree. However, I never hear anyone say: "You do not work, do you?" Today I could be very, very focused on work. A title is not important at this stage. Maybe companies could have assistants-at-large or just a category of employees called "assistants"--not assistants to somebody. When employees or partners like B.D. cannot make it to a meeting on time, because of weather, or day care or traffic, an assistant could be his substitute. The assistant could get him up to speed. Or, that could just be a job category. For example, if an assistant suggests an idea that the team finds viable and profitable, then the assistant would be rewarded in some way. Maybe this could even be a perk for Bill? However, I do not think traffic or weather were ever on the table. Should companies or employers individualize? I think they always have. Do I think they should? Yes. I like the idea of substitutes better. What do you think?

BTW, I think Ghandi is extreme here and in other ideas. I do not mean to step on anybody's toes. It is just my opinion."

A C.W. of Charlotte, NC wrote:

"Being late is my biggest pet demonstrates the ultimate selfishness."

An S.T. of Iowa wrote:

"You and I would get along great...I am one of those people who is always early for appointments. It bothers me to think that I might keep someone waiting for me...."

A J.U. in Clearwater, Florida wrote:

"Tim you are so correct here. Unfortunately I am one who has a hard time being on time. Seems like I cannot say no to phone calls, etc. Your article was great; it gave me some food for thought!!"

An H.W. in Iowa wrote...

"When I know I have to be some place to be with certain friends that are known for being late I always tell them the time is half hour before it really is."

And finally, an F.D. of Edmonton, Alberta wrote:

"Punctuality is a thing with me as well... that is not to say that I have never been late, because I have been. If I am late, I offer no excuse because the only one could be that I should have left for the appointment earlier... I usually ask if it is considered "better late than never." Have you ever noticed that invariably the excuses are always the same?

My wife's Daughters of the Nile meetings operate on "George Bush Time" i.e. the door is locked... don't knock.

A friend of mine who sits on a board of directors recently recounted that the president of the board, who is on the arrogant and pushy side, was late for a stated meeting of the board... my friend started the meeting without him!... he has not been late since but is still complaining.

Many simple etiquette things have become passé for a huge "chunk" of society today... tardiness, dress codes, men wearing hats indoors (especially baseball caps and especially with them on backwards), exposing the feet on men (sandals... although socks and sandals are worse), women smoking on the street, etc. I think the now acceptable business casual (clean golf shirt and slacks... not blue jeans) is completely disgusting.

My Lodge put on a dressy gala for our 50th anniversary a couple of weeks ago... the dress code was formal or semiformal. A "hobo" wearing a baseball cap, blue jeans, a plaid shirt outside his belt and a beat up jacket stepped up to the bar... I asked him if I could help him with anything... He said he was here for the party and had a ticket! I told him that his manner of dress was completely unacceptable to which he responded he didn't know it was a dressy affair... I told him he didn't ask and that he should leave. I suggested he go home and change into something more appropriate... he did and came back, I acknowledged his endeavor... by the way, he won the main door prize for the evening which was a beautiful antique pocket watch worth over $700!... Go figure! LOL"

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.

Our corporate web page is at:

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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