Thursday, June 24, 2010

music pastor to everyone: just show up when i get a wild hair

as stated before, i play guitar for my church. the band is fairly large. we have at least 1 electric guitarist and 1 acoustic guitarist (sometimes 2 of each), 5 or 6 horn players, a keyboardist, a pianist, a bassist, and a drummer. if you add in the 'worship leaders', you get the music pastor + 4 people. that means on any given sunday, the "worship team" is made up of around 15-20 people (not including the sound guys).

i got a mass email from the music pastor, where he basically said [sic] "we are doing a night service in a few weeks, so i need all of you to show up at 3pm on Sunday to play."

what? am i the only one who thinks this is ludicrous? he has 15 volunteers who contribute their time and talent for 5-10 hours a week, and because he gets a wild hair, he wants to have a service where he expects everyone else to just show up.

no questions about "when can people play for a nightly service? when do people have plans this month? is anyone up to playing in an extra service?" no. he made plans, and he expects us to show up.

it's completely rude. am i right? i understand that in a group of 15 people, there are guaranteed to be conflicts, but he could at least be polite enough to ask.

i think i'm going to tell them that i don't want to play, unless we have some fun music (for once).

Friday, June 11, 2010

why americans dont watch soccer

the world cup is going on, and there is a lot being said about why soccer hasn't engrained itself into american culture. i disagree with all of the points being made.

"soccer is too slow for americans. there isn't enough action." - i don't buy this argument at all. golf is a huge sport in america, and is highly televised and highly watched. golf is a much slower sport than golf, yet the ratings and money invested in america are high.

"turnovers aren't important in soccer. americans love game that value possessions." - hockey does well here. basketball does well here. golf, tennis, and volleyball don't even have ball possession, and they do well here.

"soccer hooligans turn me off to a sport." - go to a game in philadelphia. go to an LSU football game as a supporter of the 'away team.' go to an OSU vs Michigan game.

the real reason soccer hasn't taken foothold here is: we already have too many sports. NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PBA, PGA, tennis, college football, college basketball (March Madness), lacrosse, little league... we have a lot of sports here that we are invested in. i would argue that college football is the american sport with the craziest fans, but some college basketball fans can get crazy too. there is simply no room for soccer in our lifestyle. where could they fit it in? MLB playoffs are in the fall, NFL playoffs are in the winter (combined with college football bowl games), the BCS games are in January, the Super Bowl in February, then college basketball in March, and NBA and NHL playoffs in April and May.

summer is usually reserved for baseball, but baseball is the only sport that can survive in the heat, because it doesn't subject it to the physical demands that the other sports do. soccer requires a lot of running, and for it to break into the big TV markets in the US (California, Florida, Texas...), there would have to be games in sub 100 degree weather. the soccer players would croak.

that is why there is no soccer here. there's just no room.

Friday, June 4, 2010

more work for the same money

i have a friend who is in a job where he has been told that he will not get a raise this year. he did not get a raise the last 2 years, but did get a 'one time bonus' the last 2 years (will not be getting a bonus this year). his department is actually facing budget cuts, but they can sustain current salaries as long as they don't give any raises. this means that there is no incentive for him to work harder than he did this past year. it also means that his next raise (annual salary) will be based upon a number that has not changed for 3 years.

after learning this, he basically told me that he is going to pull back the reigns on his work ethic, and do only a minimal amount of work. several people in his office show up late and leave early without taking PTO, and they commonly email in at 10-11am, telling their department that they are working from home (when everyone knows there is no work being done). there isn't a huge workload in the department, but the work being performed is minimal, and the parity among the amount of work done between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' is huge.

the question is: can i blame my friend? if you work the hardest and smartest in your office, and you are told you aren't getting a raise at all, should you pull back the reigns? should this be even more evident considering other people aren't getting raises either, and are doing 1/4 to 1/10 of the work you do?

i would say 'yes'. in this day-and-age, it is not enough to just let a person they are going to keep their job. if you tell someone they aren't getting a raise (and especially if they haven't in the past few years), don't expect retention. your workplace will become a revolving door to anyone with talent. anyone with talent is going to be motivated by both innovation, a great workplace, and money. people who are content with mediocrity in their job are going to engage in mediocre performance. without providing some sort of enticement and positive feedback to your staff, you will lose them. the only staff you will keep are the ones that are too scared to leave, and who only want safe decisions. these people are never star performers, and you'll never go far with them. it's better to have 3 amazing performers that 10 mediocre ones. the mediocre ones will get a little more done in the beginning, but they will eventually bring each other down, and will ruin each other's work environment.

i know you're thinking "but what are you supposed to do if you don't have any more money?" first of all, there is always more money. the difference between what management makes and what the normal workers make is huge. if you have to trim $10k across management to give your 5 best workers a $2k raise, then do it. management probably makes too much anyway, and they are much less important than your men in the field.

the second option is to actually analyze your workforce, and maybe get rid of unneeded workers. i have yet to work in an environment where at least 2 positions/workers were worthless. firstly, it is your fault for keeping such idiocy on your staff. second, you should trim the fat and use a small portion of the money saved to pay your workers that you cannot afford to lose. if you are in IT, and you have a manager who hasn't written a line of code in 6 months, he is worthless; i promise.

obviously, the point is moot with a bad employee. if you have someone who is invaluable, then don't give them a raise. if someone is just filling a slot (for budget), or if their job is remedial and can be taught to someone else in a day, then they are expendable. managers should know who is expendable, and if they don't, then it is the manager who needs to leave.

i told my friend to use his spare time at his job to search for a higher paying one. in the end, if he cannot find a better paying job, then his true worth is what he is getting paid. you're only worth your highest bidder. if he does leave, it will be sad, because his department will be losing a vital component.