Short Cuts

Aug 24, 1998

Here are some quick thoughts on a few issues: Pay or don’t buy. There have been a number of articles in the business press recently dealing with ethics issues. One that I read involved a case of an employer who found himself in a position of being unable to meet payroll. Another involved someone who could not pay a supplier that he had bought something from. Both articles solicited reactions from readers to the situations they described. I’ll tell you what my reaction was— no company should ever not pay its employees. And don’t buy something if you can’t afford to pay for it. There’s no excuse, period. It’s a real simple rule that you don’t violate. And if anyone isn’t paid, it should be the owners, not the employees or vendors. Beware the messy desk. My experience has been that the guy with the messy desk is also the one who gets the least done. I’ve said this before and it always elicits some sort of response from an angry reader who tells me he or she gets a lot done but lives like a pig. Sure— there may be exceptions. But most of the “Pig-Pens” I know are using their mess to hide behind. It (the mess) makes them look busy and important. But it also gets in the way of doing their job. Insist that a cleanliness standard be kept. Remind your people that leaving at the end of the day with a messy desk simply isn’t acceptable. And every so often have an office “clean-up” hour where everyone picks up, cleans up, and throws out unnecessary junk. Petty dishonesty. Regardless of your political orientation, I think most of our readers agree that if someone is dishonest in little ways, he or she is probably dishonest elsewhere. That’s why you need to pay particular attention to lies on resumes, expense reports, or timesheets, and have zero tolerance for misrepresentation. If I find that a job candidate lied on his or her resume or application, I wouldn’t waste another moment considering that person for a job. And as for those who lie on timesheets and expense reports, I’ll tell you what I’d do— get rid of them. But I would also take notice of other little things people do that are less than truthful and file them away in my memory bank. Cellular telephones. If you haven’t taken a look at your cellular phone bill recently, you ought to. When I picked up my New Beetle (yep, that’s the official name of the car) back in March, I also got a new cell phone. One of those digital jobbies that sounds fine when it works but also cuts you off with no warning. They asked me about what plan I was on and I told them I didn’t know. They took a look at my bill and gave me a new deal that probably cut about 40% off of my monthly bill because I use it when travelling so much. You might want to check with your cellular phone company to make sure that you are getting the best deal yourself based on your use pattern. Company parties. Once again it’s party-planning time. Now that the summer picnic is behind us we can look forward to the company Christmas/New Year’s party. My advice is this— do something different this year! Nothing is duller than the same old affair you always have. Why not have a costume contest? Or a talent show? Or a gag gift presentation? Or a comedian? Or a roast? Or some other sort of entertainment beyond your president or managing partner’s boring “1998 was a good year but 1999 will be better” speech? Hire a photographer (but make sure you get a good one; the guy we had at our party last year was using a Polaroid, I think!), or put disposable cameras at each table and let everyone take their own photos. Commemorate the occasion! Health insurance. Tired of the way the health insurance providers get you in with a low-ball quote the first year then nail you for a 36% increase at renewal time? Well there may actually be something that you can do about it. Instead of getting a one-year quote, why not ask for increases to be capped at 5% for the second year of insurance as well? The insurers will probably go for it and then you can rest easy knowing that your insurance shopping is going to take half as much time as it used to from now on. Originally published 8/24/1998

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