Monday, July 18, 2005

I don't quite know when the transition occured

From Anonymous:

I don't quite know when the transition occured. When
I came to Los Alamos in the late 70's, it was
acceptable to come at 8 (or even a little later) and
go at 5. We did exceptional creative, productive work,
and nobody did any timekeeping. Now, people are often
evaluated by how early they come and how late they
stay. No matter that they are too tired and
demoralized to do anything other than to spend all day
in meetings...

I refer you to an article on,8816,1083900,00.html

in Time magazine that shows how morale
improves when employees are evaluated on
accomplishments rather than on presence. This does
not require 9/80 - the "business case" is self

The problem is that it is very easy to measure the number of hours a person puts in on the job. It is much more difficult in an environment such as LANL to measure an individual's productivity. For instance, just toting up the number of papers in refereed journals does not tell the whole story. Theorists can do their research with limited resources while experimentalists need financial and personnel support must deal with safety and other issues. And, with too much emphasis on the quantity of papers, then there is motivation to not take on the more difficult research.

Is there a solution? I don't know. I certainly do not have it. The judgement of the supervisor is the best that we seem to presently have for this.
The easy way out for a manager is to embroil himself (herself) in the minutiae of time-clocks, publication lists, number of meetings attended, training courses completed, talks given, and on, and on. A really competent manager, on the other hand, will actually read the papers and try to understand what the worker has done, actually go to the talks and try to comprehend what the worker has said, and ultimately, will actually talk to the staff member and find out just what s/he knows. That kind of intimate involvement on the part of the manager is absolutely essential, whether it's group leaders managing group members, or division directors managing group leaders. It may be easy to describe, as I've just done, but judging from the complaints posted to this blog, it is not often achieved at Los Alamos.
Also, in eveluating the individual's performance, the Manager/Supervisor must understand the difficulty of the task, the availability of resources (including personnel), the amount of support that the person was given, etc. It just is not so easy to evaluate performance.
And because the scientists/engineers are using tax-money (and borrowed credit ) the manager needs to be able to after reading the papers and reports produce reports and spreadsheets that higher managers/accountants can understand and audit. This has to be in some sort of measurable version of productivity and usefulness to the core missions of the DOE.
Let me understand this,lab personnel are exhausted after working from 7:30 to 5:00? And because of this previous great freedom of coming in when they felt like it, they did wonderfully creative things.

Of course no normal taxpayer could ever see that wonderfully creative work. (As if figuring out new ways to vaporize 20 million people at a wack is somehow creative.)

These kinds of original posts show those of us who pay our taxes and work in the everyday world what kind of la la land LANL must be.

We know that our government is responsible for massive waste. It is just amazing, however, that there are people who feed at that trough of waste who would actually post for the world to see statements like the above.

I am sorry if you believe that it is a god given, tax payer funded right to come to work late and not be accountable for practical useful work.

The sums of money tossed about in the early days of this blog discussing shut down costs and other costs are mind boggling to those of us that don't spend our days dreaming of new ways of committing mass murder.

The sin of Cain was on your founders and that sin passed to you through the years has made you all mad.
To 7/21 10:36 - did it occur to you to read the Time article that was referenced before spewing venom? You can pay for people AT work, or you can pay for GOOD work. If you had a choice, what would you choose?
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