Category Archives: Thoughts
Every time the conversation turns to overwork, which is often these days, I think of Arthur (a pseudonym). When I met him, long ago, he was picking himself up after a tough year. A seasoned CFO with a sharp mind and an abrasive style, Arthur had lost his job over a disagreement with his company’s new CEO.
The short-term stuff is pretty easy to do well. Respond to incoming. Check it off your list. Next!
The long-term stuff, on the other hand, is so easy to postpone, because tomorrow always sounds promising. And so we might hesitate to define the next project, or look for a new job, or visualize something that breaks what we’re already used to.
a. Keep them separate. The best way to avoid long-term work is to be exposed to juicy short-term urgencies.
It’s long been a complaint in populist corners that chief executives receive huge stock-based payouts — even sometimes when their companies don’t perform that well. Well, researchers have now discovered an exception to both rules: women.
We already know that a) only a tiny minority of chief executives at large companies are female, and b) they earn less overall than their male counterparts. Now, new research by Stefania Albanesi, Claudia Olivetti, and María José Prados also looks at what happens when company performance changes, and examines stock-based pay in particular — often the biggest, but least-public, component of an executive’s compensation package. What they found is that female senior leaders were rewarded more weakly with stock-based pay when their companies improved, and are penalized more harshly when their companies stumble.
Looking at compensation data from S&P 500 companies between 1992 and 2005 — which, admittedly, feels light-years away in terms of the current executive pay debate, but disclosure rules changed in 2006 and affected the data-set — the researchers examined compensation for CEOs and chairs, vice chairs, COOs, CFOs, and company presidents. This gave them a sample of over 40,000 executives. Only 3.2% of these were women.
130 years ago, Frederick Taylor changed the world forever.
Scientific Management is the now-obvious idea that factories would measure precisely what their workers were doing. Use a stopwatch. Watch every movement. Adjust the movements until productivity goes up. Re-organize the assembly line for more efficiency. Pay people by the piece. Cull the workforce and get rid of the people who can’t keep up. Make the assembly line go faster.
Once Scientific Management goes beyond system setup and starts to focus on the individual, it amplifies the gulf between management and labor. No one wants to do their work under the stopwatch (except, perhaps, Usain Bolt).
And now, here comes SM2.0.