Saturday, February 11, 2006

Talk About the Boss from Hell...

You may have read about this elsewhere in the news or in the blogosphere: New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who's also a billionaire and an extremely successful former businessman, stopped by the city's legislative office in the state capital of Albany recently while he was in town to hear the governor's State of the State address. While wandering around the office, he stopped to greet a city worker, Edward Greenwood IX. A photo-op took place and all that. But Bloomberg took a quick glance at Greenwood's computer screen and noticed a game of solitaire in the background. He didn't say anything about it to Greenwood at the time, but later, he told an aide to fire him.

Was this an overreaction on Bloomberg's part? Shouldn't Greenwood have at least gotten a reprimand or a warning first?
"The workplace is not an appropriate place for games," Bloomberg said. "It's a place where you've got to do the job that you're getting paid for."
The mayor states his philosophy of the workplace in further detail:
"I expect all city workers, including myself, to work hard," the mayor said. "There's nothing wrong with taking a break, but during the business day, at your desk, that's not appropriate behavior."
For his part, Greenwood believes the punishment was too harsh for what he calls a first offense:
Greenwood, who earned $27,000 a year and had worked in the office for six years, said in a telephone interview that he limited his play time to his one-hour lunch or during quick breaks when he needed a moment of distraction.

"It wasn't like I spent hours and hours a day playing, because I had plenty to do," Greenwood said. "If I had been working at something exhaustively for two hours, I might get a cup of coffee and play for a minute but then go right back to my work."
There's a lot more on this subject over at Althouse, where one of the commenters notes that Bloomberg's method may not be the best way to deal with certain types of workers:
Knowledge workers need to be cut slack, because we spend a lot of time using our heads to solve problems. Sometimes you just need to turn your brain off for a few minutes and have some time to yourself. It's recharging, and lets you move onto the next problem fresh. Smart employers know this, and create flexible and comfortable environments. Small minded ones like to apply one size fits all solutions that tend to demoralize their employees by treating them like children or slackers...People should be accountable for results. If an employee is doing the work their employer expects of them, who gives a crap what they are doing at their workstations or how they are spending their time?
(Another commenter marvels at how Greenwood's name could be carried on through nine generations; that amazes me too.)

So did the mayor go overboard here? Speaking from personal experience, I'm never in a situation where that could happen, since I'm teaching individual lessons or small classes, but things like this remind my why I'm so happy that I work for myself most of the time.

...And a sitcom extra to be named later: You probably heard by now that ABC/ESPN's Al Michaels is going to NBC to join his fellow former Monday Night Football boothmate John Madden...but did you know that NBC had to trade away the rights to an obscure cartoon rabbit (as well as the next four Ryder Cups) in order to seal the deal?

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