Full Time Pay for Half Time Work?

by Steven M. Smith · 47 comments

Albert, without fail, has exceeded all of his production objectives for the past five years. He is a top performer who produces high-quality results. Colleagues like him. Clients adore him. But Albert never works more than 20 hours per week. That’s less than one-half the amount of time his colleague’s work.

Albert receives a compensation package equal or better than his colleagues. He has a single requirement for his manager and his organization, "Don’t waste my time." You now control the organization. Would you continue to employ Albert under the same arrangement?

This isn’t a trick question: Albert produces in less than 20 hours as much or more than his colleagues do in 40 to 60 hours.

I would continue this arrangement in a heartbeat.

But when I shared these facts with two development managers I respect and asked them whether they would continue the same employment arrangement, they both said, "No."


I was surprised by the development managers’ responses. I probed them about their answer. The vagueness of "production objectives" seemed to be a problem. They abhorred the idea of full time pay for what they considered half time work. They also were concerned about the demand that Albert’s time not be wasted.

I decided to ask a a different group of managers—sales managers—about hiring Albert to be a salesman, a job whose results can be described quantitatively. I shared these facts with 1 second-level sales manager and 2 first-level managers: If your hire Albert as a salesman, you are guaranteed that he will generate at least 105% of his quota but never more than 110% each reporting period; his colleagues will like him; his clients will adore him; but he will never work more than 20 hours per week and he demands that his time not be wasted.

I asked each of them "Would you hire Albert?"

I thought this was a no brainer question for a sales manager, but "No," was the verdict I heard from each of them.


I asked them, "What’s preventing you from hiring Albert?" A manager sneered as he said, "The notion of him only working 20 hours per week is insulting and his demand that his time not be wasted is absurd. He is being paid to do what he is told. And think of what he could produce if he worked a regular (40-60) hours. If I can’t motivate him to work hard, I don’t want him" The creases in my forehead became more pronounced as I said, "But isn’t the guarantee of him producing 105% of his quota worth something to you?" "Doesn’t matter. I might be able to hire someone who would work more hours and make 200% of his quota," countered a sales manager.


I didn’t expect this response. Perhaps I didn’t structure the inquiry well or I asked the wrong groups.

Both groups seemed to fixate on the number of hours worked and didn’t like Albert demanding that his time not be wasted. Unlike me, neither group was impressed about the guarantee of results.

I like the notion of paying for results that are certain. And Albert’s time management is superb so  I’ll support his demand that his time not be wasted. All other things being equal if Albert, or someone else, can consistently produce the desired results in one-half the amount of time as their colleagues, I am more than willing to pay him at least as much as their colleagues.

How about you?

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Lord July 23, 2007 at 12:51 am

I don’t have a problem with the hours.

But, perhaps the terms need rephrasing. Albert is a very productive worker so I choose to pay him more than others, in this case twice as much. But Albert chooses to work part-time, which is fine by me because his good time-management shows this will work. As a result, his take-home pay matches those of certain other staff who are working full-time.

In other words, if an employee is more than twice as productive as his colleagues, would you pay him twice as much as them?

My difficulty is with the “don’t waste my time” rule. Albert works for me. He may consider something a waste of time that I think is a very valuable use of his time. I have a view of the business at a higher, more strategic level. If Albert doesn’t trust my judgement when asking him to do something with the time that I am paying him for, then we may have some problems.


Mike Ramm July 23, 2007 at 1:32 am

Hi Steve,

Scary answers.

I definitely agree with you and I would hire Albert if I have the guarantee that he will produce the promised results. But the answers the people you asked gave you are frightening me. They confirm my fears that the middle managers nowadays don’t have the entrepreneurship spirit. They consider their employees not like partners (heading for the same goal) but more like property, resources, even like slaves. The most managers value the ability to obey orders the most.

I feel we are back in the 18th-19th century…



Marc July 23, 2007 at 5:52 am

In a hearbeat.

What none of them are thinking about is that his productivity might actually plateau or drop if he was forced to work 40 hrs/wk. Professionals should be worried about results, period.

Good luck to Albert! Unfortunately for him, pinheads like you talked to abound.


matt m July 23, 2007 at 7:34 pm


I run a services business, so I’d be billing him out per hour. It’s really hard to convince customers to pay double for someone- even if they are ten times better. I think it would be even harder to do if they were working half as much time- they’d probably just want to pay less for everyone else. However, most “Alberts” that I run into generally find something else to do with the other half of the time, like catch up on email, roll around the office chatting, run side companies, etc. If I was running a product company, I’d be glad to have him on board.

The things that worry me about people with prominent hours constraints are “availability” related, so that others can ask questions of them while they’re working and for off hours deployments etc. With having things like “office hours” I think that’s workable, but it does require that management be able to have a say in which 20 hours of the week the half-timer works. The other thing is that a little slack is a good thing, so that if people have some spare cycles the organization can reserve those for times when you have to be agile. If I have a guy who is always 100% utilized, he can easily become a bottleneck. Albert could become his own local optimization problem….


Mike Griffiths July 24, 2007 at 3:01 am

Within a typical corporate environment Albert’s strategy would be very clever. You would not have to be a brilliant developer to make it work – just cut out the “time wasting”. If you could skip all those endless meetings and just work at your nominal job – you could match anyone else’s performance in half the hours. Albert might just have come up with a strategy that allows him to offload the non-productive half of the day onto his manager.

Clever stuff – now if you could pull that off at two companies simultaneously…


Mike Seth July 24, 2007 at 5:38 am


This is why [i]my[/i] employer wouldn’t agree: they need me on location all the time. I’m the guy with all the answers and all the knowledge. If other staff needs high level technical assistance (not a prescribed part of my job), they have no one to turn to.


allen July 24, 2007 at 7:53 am


Unfortunately my experience has been that managers would rather see a person in the office working than anywhere else regardless of productivity results. They feel that if they see you, you are working, but if they don’t see you (because you are working from home or are just not there) then you are not working. I have found more success when I stay late at work (at least until the bosses leave) even if I am working on outside projects, checking emails or even playing a game than when I work from home or leave on time even though the extra hours do not mean extra productivity. It’s a thing of perception, maybe because employers do not trust their employees or because it is difficult to quantify value or productivity in a company, especially in IT jobs. Also, managers feel, like the sales managers you spoke with, that they can motivate anyone and if they can’t, then it’s a problem with the employee, not a problem with the system. It’s been mentioned several times that there is a noticeable drop off in productivity the longer a person is at work, but managers/employers do not see this (in my experience)


Matt July 24, 2007 at 8:17 am


I agree with this completely. This is more of an economics issue.

Employers know what they are getting and will unofficially tolerate this even when it is not accepted officially. Either they will pay a contractor 300% normal pay to work a few hours, or a manager will ignore their best developer working 11am to 4pm.

The one person working for two companies on salary is rare, but you will see a person working salary for one company and contract out labor to several others.


h July 24, 2007 at 9:08 am

What about George?

This is an interesting problem, and one most ppl have bumped into. While handling an Albert alone is (relatively) easy, your problem compounds when you get in a George. George works as efficiently (and smartly) as Albert, he finishes his work in 20 hours too, but then stays on for the other 20 hours way overshooting targets. In an environment not geared for individual reward systems, Albert now becomes a slacker since George happily produces more and raises the bar..


UncleOxidant July 24, 2007 at 10:17 am

As a developer myself, it seems to me that Albert’s request of his manager to “not waste his time” is quite reasonable. He’s talking about not wasting his time with useless meetings, ‘busy work’ that doesn’t really accomplish anything, silly paperwork issues, etc. He also is requesting that his manager shield him from all sorts of bullshit that can roll down from higher-level management. I once worked at a place where a higher-level, off-site manager required every employee in the department to write 10 memos (yes, paper memos and this was in 2001 when wikis existed and would have been a much better choice) documenting some aspect of their job. If that magic number 10 wasn’t met it would mean you would get a terrible review. Most people got to about 5 and then had to make up all sorts of BS for the next 5 just to meet the quota. Is it any wonder that developers thing most managers are on a power trip?

Basically, Albert wants to keep his productivity high – he doesn’t want to have to work 40 hours to acheive the same as what he’s already acheiving in 20.

A smart manager will work with Albert on this and overlook the fact that he only works 20 hours / week (so long as he maintains his high level of productivity). Doing so will ensure that when crunch-time comes, Albert will be willing to put in more than the usual 20 hours/week to get the project over the hump.


prof kienstra July 24, 2007 at 11:27 am


This is a very interesting case and discussion. It seems to me that the appearance of hard work is, sadly enough, sometimes better than really working hard. Why this is, I really don’t know. The same applies if you have a 40 hour contract and work the 40 hours. If you finish your work in that amount of time, i would applaud you for your productivity and timemanagement. However, it is sometimes taken as better if you work overtime, even though this means that maybe you spend your other hours less productively.

I think it all comes back to trust, and viewing the other as the professional he/she is. If you can trust them to do their work, and you pay for a certain amount of work to be done, that should be ok.

Maybe the problem is that if you have someone who can do it in 20 hours instead of 40.. a manager who is insecure may think that person will then be out for his/her job.. and therefore will not accept the less hours..

just my 2 cents


Ian Smith July 24, 2007 at 10:31 am

Turning it on the other end.

Chris is a hard worker, but he is not that fast. He often takes on large projects and spends 80 hours a week or more to keep up with his work load. He does a good job and customers are happy. He does the same amount of work as Bob does but Bob only works 40 hours a week. Would you hire Chris?

In my experience managers are more than happy to “allow” people to work overtime to keep up with their work (assuming the position is salaried) but are very uncomfortable letting someone leave “early” even if there work is completed. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen managers hand down “make work” projects to keep people busy even though the company doesn’t need more than 20 hours a week of the person’s core competency at that particular time. I think it is really a culture thing though, companies don’t think of workers as gateways to success so much as bricklayers that should be in the office from sun up to sundown no matter how quickly they work.


M July 24, 2007 at 11:11 am

People you asked work 40 hours.

Consider that the people you asked perhaps all worked 40 hours a week, and there’s some simple human psychology going on — a little defensive jealousy?

This reminds me of the many articles I’ve read about how humans are bad at economics because of their mental makeup.


Mark July 24, 2007 at 11:36 am

What about Bob?

Bob works very hard for 20 hours a week, too. Just like George and Albert. After those twenty hours have been logged, he then goes out and stalks his therapist, having one hilarious adventure after another. In an environment not geared for bat-shit insane individuals, Bob now becomes a source of amusement for all of the sane people in the office who like Bill Murray movies…


rob July 24, 2007 at 11:52 am

fun case study. this is not about economics or results primarily however. it is about pyschology in the aggregate: ie sociology / org behavior. people in organizations are very uncomfortable with peer-based inequality. its fine for the organization to “hire an incompetent vp or ceo” or for a middle manager to “reward idiots” but the pecking orders comp and benefits must be equivalent when looking horizontally on the (incompetent) vp of hr’s org chart. since time off is a benefit and salary must be equivalent at similar levels, such conversations will ALWAYS make the organization uncomfortable.

as a contractor essentially doing what Albert is doing (though i doubt my results are as good), the first questions i get from rank and file are: who am i reporting to and who’s paying me. the ceo knows so doesn’t bother to ask. but vps and mid-managers, their interest is never in results, always in “indications of unfairness or equivalence”.

which again, has taught me: we don’t mind hierarchy, just peer-to-peer inequality… and damn the results. effectiveness still has few places to stand in US organizations.


hash July 24, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Working smarter not harder.

As long as he’s working on what is being asked of him, of course I’d hire him. I’m guessing that the “don’t waste my time” requirement is referring to the way we tend to waste about 20 hours of a 40 hour work week in meaningless meetings and useless paperwork…


Dennis Wurster July 24, 2007 at 2:31 pm

You give up a lot of control when you’re “just an employee.”

A number of thoughts come to mind:

Shockingly, for the managers interviewed, time isn’t money. If you could have the same results by Wednesday afternoon instead of end-of-day Friday, wouldn’t you take it?


For management, it’s never really about results. Oh, they say it is, but it really isn’t. It’s about having someone to “manage”. In management’s mind, results are merely a by-product of successful management. It’s merely what you do in order to get what you want. If the employee isn’t around, it’s hard to justify the management layer.

In my experience, results are produced in [i]spite[/i] of management, not because of it.


Mr. Smith leaves a large assumption in the reader’s lap as to what “Albert” might mean by “don’t waste my time”. Any discussion of that portion of the post is speculation.

The obvious solution for “Albert” is that he needs to be in business for himself, and contract to the company. The provisions for what constitutes a “time wasting activity” would be spelled out in the contract, and a potential employer could either choose to accept, reject, or negotiate those terms.


The problem is that the position is salaried, and not merely a linear function of results. Clearly, if he were getting paid by the widget, the amount of time it takes to produce the widgets is an optimization exercise for Albert.

Management’s only concern should be how to find more “Alberts”.


george July 24, 2007 at 3:00 pm

They’re missing the point.

If you think about it, a salaried employee is being paid for output, not hours. He might be asked to work 60 hours one week and 40 the next but the point is that the company or organization is paying him to complete a given set of tasks, however long it happens to take.

So worrying about the number of hours is stupid, the output is what is important. The only exception would be if Albert’s absence from the office (since he only works 20 hour weeks) somehow adversely impacted other people’s work.

Just goes to show why there are so few “good” managers about


Richard Kulisz July 24, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Psychology 101.

Let’s analyze the managers’ responses:

> “What’s preventing you from hiring Albert?” A manager sneered as he said,

Sneering => a deeply emotional, gut-level reaction.

> “The notion of him only working 20 hours per week is insulting

to whom is it insulting? Obviously not the clients or coworkers. It’s insulting to the manager though because it’s an insult to his authority. Imagine here Eric Cartman screaming Respect my Authority!

> and his demand that his time not be wasted is absurd.

Absurd? Then this can only mean that productivity is irrelevant. That output is irrelevant. Otherwise it couldn’t be *absurd*.

> He is being paid to do what he is told.

Respect my authority! Domination / submission. Subjugation. POWER!

> And think of what he could produce if he worked a regular (40-60) hours.

Wishful thinking, as someone has already pointed out. In any rationalization, there must always be some pathetic veneer of justification. This is it.

It doesn’t actually make sense since the justification is Social Darwinism which *empirically* doesn’t work. They sure as hell didn’t work for Enron. But never mind facts, they’ve got nothing to do with rationalizations.

> If I can’t motivate him to work hard, I don’t want him”

Work hard => slave, labour, toil, SUFFER. Not just dominance & submission but sadism & masochism. We have here a full-fledged (though repressed) BDSM fetishist. Well, maybe not so repressed. There’s no telling what they get up to in their private time.


Jujo July 24, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Its in the companies best interest for the employees time to never be wasted. These managers are thinking about company efficiency the wrong way. In a machine, why apply extra pressure to one gear when doing so results in the complete system wearing down?


Scott Davidson July 24, 2007 at 4:17 pm

Albert’s better off as an entrepreneur.

These results are not surprising. Most companies are far more interested in appearances than results.

Alberts eventually find their way to companies that can handle high producers, or will found his own company.

After dealing with these sorts of issues for years, I left the corporate world and founded my own small software firm. My revenue is now in the mid-seven figures and my products get glowing reviews and are considered the best in a crowded field.

I work about 10 hours a week and I kick the butts of the guys who have whole teams of experts working 70 hours a week.


James Cole July 24, 2007 at 6:25 pm

I figure that he must have put in a lot of effort to be able to pull that off, and such skills should be rewarded somehow.

I think the manager’s answers exhibit an inability to fairly consider something outside of the norm, instead rejecting it out-of-hand, which seems to be an unfortuntately common trait.


NoName July 24, 2007 at 8:19 pm

real life example…

A friend of mine (no, really) used to work for a place part time. He was often high while working, and paid more than _all_ the other employees doing the same job (skilled manual labour with problem solving skills). His immediate boss _knew_ when he was high, but didn’t care for one reason: his work output was two to three times that of the other employees in the same position, even when under the influence. He was the most valued employee there (in that job), and this was an accepted fact. (He used to own the branch of the company that did that particular work until he sold it to a larger company – he knew everything there reasonably was to know about that job)

At least some managers get it.


J. Lin July 24, 2007 at 8:45 pm

The closest I have seen to “Albert”‘s arrangement was a co-worker who used to negotiate a certain salary for himself, then asks for 80% of that in exchange for a 4-day work week instead of 5. And the only company where he’s gotten it was a privately owned software dev house that, sadly, was bought by a large software company.

Even as cool and as hip as ex-Work was, teamwork is a crucial component. On some projects, he was a team lead. On some, just a senior developer. He was needed as a mentor which he was really good at. But he was needed as a part of the development team that he was on and that would really only work if he was present most of the time. Occasionally, it was a bit annoying that it seemed like he wasn’t around when you needed him, but for the most part, it was cool.

I’m guessing that having a co-worker like “Albert” would seriously undermine a teamwork atmosphere in the office. It doesn’t surprise me that no one wants that and I don’t think it’s such a terrible thing for a departmental unit to not want to hire someone like that.

I’m not surprised that there would be a lot of conditions to hiring someone like “Albert”. Set times when he was expected to show up every week. Clear definition of “wasting time”. Clear goals and expectations for quality of work.

I also guessing that in this day and age when we hire more for attitude and soft skills then train for hard skills, someone who “demands that you don’t waste his time” sounds like a eccentric brilliant employee that has to work alone and that you can’t put in a team. “Don’t waste my time” (at least verbatim) doesn’t sound like something you’d say if you had some people skills. That doesn’t sound like someone who could mentor my junior staff or work with project stakeholders.

— J.


ryan July 24, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Depends on what Albert is being paid for.

I agree that the wording, or perhaps the specifics of the people you asked are whats wrong here.

Depends on what Albert is being paid to do:

If Albert is being paid for his time, then no way he should be working 20hrs only. People who are paid for their time are tech support or maintenance programmer for example.

If Albert is being paid for results, then by all means I would continue to employ him. For example if he is a software architect or designer.

What the managers in the above are no doubt thinking is that if he is that productive at 20hr, he must be that productive at 40hrs, and his failure to work fro 40hr is a sign of laziness or arrogance. This is a failure on the part of the interviewed managers to be rational.

Where you might of fell down with the sales managers is in the 105% of quota. Most places I know of consider quota to be the absolute minimum required to remain working, and the best salesmen do well above that number. Greedy sales managers are probably thinking of waiting for the guy to come along who can do 200% above quota, even if he burns out soon, and the average income is no better than 105%.


Stephen July 24, 2007 at 9:28 pm

This man will start his own company. It’s almost a given. It’s what I’ve seen time and again with people who are competent; they get out of dead-end organizations. And if this man can do in twenty hours enough to get xx dollars, you can bet he’s sharp enough to find a business which will allow him to make at least as much and likely much more with the same amount of time involved. This man has something which most people do not have loads of — intelligence, drive, courage, inititive. His employer had best keep him happy or he’s good as gone and they are the losers.


Strelok July 24, 2007 at 10:53 pm


…company or organization is paying him to complete a given set of tasks, however long it happens to take.[/quote]

That’s absurd


Tom July 25, 2007 at 3:48 am

What do Albert’s colleagues think of this arrangement? What happens when Derek (who isn’t quite as bright) demands to do the same thing?

How do you know that Albert is actually twice as good as the others – maybe he just got lucky on getting easy objectives? Maybe he is very good at saying things like “That’s a DBA issue, you are wasting my time” and in fact the rest of the team are carrying him?

The reason the people are wary of Albert is that the perception of fairness is paramount in managing, and unless you are doing piecework then unfortunately hours worked is one of the fairest measures of effort.


Dwayne Phillips July 25, 2007 at 4:41 am

Fascinating questions about hiring Albert. To me, it seems a no brainer – of course hire Albert. He produces.

There is, however, something nagging me. It goes back to cases where almost all team members are working overtime to make a schedule. One person isn’t working overtime. That person has to care for a dying parent. This works for a while, but eventually the 60-hour-a-week people resent the 40-hour-a-week person with the dying parent.

I guess the 40-hour-a-week people will come to resent Albert, and the total team effort will drop.

I think Albert’s situation would work if he were an outside consultant. I have been in situations where we had an outside consultant who worked a few days a week, produced tons of work, and no body minded.

I am not sure why people don’t mind a consultant who works 20 hours but do mind a fellow employee who works 20 hours. Doesn’t make sense to me, but it seems to be that way.


John July 25, 2007 at 10:03 am

Equity among employees. One issue with an employee like Albert that I have yet to see mentioned is perceived equality among employees. Even if the other employees know that Albert produces great results in half the time that they do, there will inevitably be morale problems when other employees begin to feel that Albert is getting special treatment (i.e. coming into the office whenever they choose, getting more interesting and high profile projects). The Alberts of the world are probably best suited to consulting jobs or running their own business, IMO because the nature of corporations seem to value hours worked over actual results. Programmer productivity is a tough thing to measure, and many corporations still believe that hours worked equates with productivity. I worked with an Albert at my last job, and he eventually wound up consulting to get more freedom of schedule and a salary which more reflected his productivity.


WayneM August 2, 2007 at 10:04 am

Different Question: How Should You Use Albert?

My reaction to the situation would be, “How can we make better use of Albert’s skills and abilities?” If, after 5 years, Albert is still so unchallenged that he completes his work in half the time allocated, he deserves to get work more suited to his skill level. My biggest fear is that someone else would offer Albert more challenging work and he would leave.

Can Albert teach the rest of the staff how to complete their work more efficiently? Why settle for one Albert when he might be to train a lot of almost Alberts? What more difficult work could be channelled Albert’s way that would make better use of his skills.

It would make no sense to keep Albert Einstein working in a patent office for 20 efficient hours a week, if he could be working as a physicist instead. Find work better suited to Albert’s abilities and both you and Albert will appreciate it.


Dennis Wurster August 8, 2007 at 5:56 am

The only answer that would work.

Q: “But is it [i]possible?[/i]”

A: Not in a way that you’d want to be associated with.


An 'Alberta' August 8, 2007 at 11:44 am

I’ve felt like an ‘Alberta’ at work…particularly when I worked for a much larger organization than I’m working for now. Coming directly out of a competitive university with an accelerated program, I was used to cranking out a 20 page paper overnight. Suddenly, I was expected to have a rough draft of a technical report in a month. Could I have written a draft in a week? Of course. But when the expectations were established and everyone else was working at super slow speed, I found myself listless and distracted. TextTwist, Craigslist, and AOL Instant Messenger became my new best friends. Definitely not the way that an employee should be spending his or her time, but it was that or stare at the wall. It seems that the size of a company is inversely proportional to its speed of getting things done…though I’m sure there are exceptions.

I have yet to understand why more businesses don’t trust their employees more and allow them to work from home/other locations, or allow them to leave whenever they’re finished for the day. Of course there will always be more work to do the next day, but as far as daily productivity, there is only so long one can focus before distraction sets in.

By the time I leave at five, my eyes are aching and I feel tired and sluggish. If I were able to work in shorter bursts or to really buckle down for four straight hours and take off, not only would I be more efficient because of the shorter strain on my concentration, but I’d be motivated by the reward of going home earlier to enjoy the rest of my day.

People who can accomplish the goals set forth by their managers in a shorter amount of time should be paid as much as their less competent peers. It sounds harsh, but it happens everywhere. You buy a better video card for your computer and pay more because it’s faster and does the job better than your old one. You pay more for a gourmet meal than a hamburger because its quality is higher and more mastery was put into its preparation. I hope someday I won’t be stuck feeling obligated to stay as late as everyone else. I’m ready to go home now!


John Oakley August 8, 2007 at 4:21 pm

I have employed several Alberts…

I first met Albert 25 years ago when he was a mainframe software debugger. I’ll simplify the story to keep it short(-ish). He could take a 12 inch thick operating system core dump and skim through it and find any problem within minutes. That’s all he did. That’s all he wanted to do. All his previous managers had pulled out their hair trying to get him to do more. I offered to put him on permanent call out. Just come in when we have a problem and I’ll pay you per call. It worked. His co-workers were happy because he didn’t sit around refusing to do anything else, I was happy because we were clearing the really tough problems fast and he was happy because he made better money than a straight salary. After I left the group the incoming manager put him back on a regular regime … and he left.

I’ve had an Albert in most of my teams since then.. and happily managed them. I’ve also had the other extreme too and managed them too. People are people. If you treat them as individuals they deliver the best they can. Their methods vary.


AG Jones January 28, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Of course I’d hire him. I’m ABSOLUTELY baffled by those who think an Albert would undermine the motivation of others on the team. On the contrary–if I were on a team and saw that management was paying Albert for output and giving him the rest of his well-earned time off–just watch how fast I’d switch gears to gain 20 hours off per week. Management might find output considerably increased across the board. And if that happened, management might find everyone becoming so psyched toward company success that they all put that same hard work into 25 hours/week at the same high rate of output.

Instead, most managers unwittingly DEmotivate their employees by refusing to reward good, hard work. In fact, managers effectively slow their hard workers down. Why work hard for 40 hours straight when there are no benefits for doing so? When the Albert’s begin to realise they are pushing themselves for nothing (their mates are being paid the same wages and take it much easier), management will find the Alberts either becoming much more like Jane and John Doe, or leaving entirely as others have suggested for more entrepreneurial pursuits.


L Valcourt February 16, 2009 at 9:10 am

I agree with Steven’s assessment. In my opinion Albert is a very motivated, self-starter type of personality. Albert seems to value his time, so he evaluates why his company hires him. The company hires him to produce results, which is to; be productive, keeps customers happy and get along with staff.

So he thinks through the employer’s needs and designs a system that will meet or exceed the needs of his employer. He then implements this system successfully.

This personality type does not tolerate well the usual managing style where the manager firstly wants power over his/her staff and about fourthly? wants production. Albert is willing to sell his skills to his employer but is Not willing to sell his soul to be lorded over by someone who has bullying tendances. Needless to say, most organizations do not value the Alberts, even if they are the better performers.

I like some of the creative comments already made on this site for successfully managing the Albert’s. Everyone is different and managers who figure out what motivates different employees and do that, then the organization will also benefit greatly.


margaret October 24, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Convict days —

Back in the early days of the penal colony settlement in Australia, it was discovered that convicts would work harder and better if they could knock off when they had finished the day’s work. Those who finished by lunch time could do paid work for someone. Or they could just muck around or grow a vegetable garden.

This contravened (British) law. Convicts weren’t allowed to earn money! Convicts were suppposed to work from sun up to sun down and be miserable. So they stopped ‘task work’ and made them stay all day. Quality and quantity of work dropped off. Funny about that.

Humans need to have control of their day in order to feel that they are ‘creative individuals’ rather than ‘drones’ and ‘worker ants’.

If managers don’t understand this, they will never get the most out of their staff. Good managers appreciate – bad managers enslave people for their own amusement.

I think the higher up they go, the meaner and madder they get. Personally, I don’t fancy climbing that ladder. There’s nothing at the top.


Rich June 6, 2010 at 9:20 am

I think in asking the sales version there are a few key errors in framing the question. First, 105-110 percent of quota isn’t all that impressive to many organizations. Outstanding sales people are going to blow it out every now and then. Second, sales is quantifiable, but it’s also about service. If you aren’t available to others for much of the time, you aren’t going to create happy working relationships to the extent necessary. Quite frankly, there are very few ‘widget’ positions in the world where performance is measured exclusively by quantifiable output. People need to be available and interactive with others for a reasonable portion of the work week. This hypothetical situation simply abdicates responsibility for all the tangential aspects of work. And by the way, there are plenty of outstanding sales people who work far less than 40 hours a week and still get paid well above the 40 hour averages. Their skill in securing that arrangement is to not make awkward stipulations like ‘don’t waste my time’ and ‘I’m only going to work 20 hours a week’, which only serve to make the worker appear to be a Prima Donna. Give me 300% of goal and I’ll live with that. For 105-110% percent of goal you can go work for the competition.


Steven M. Smith June 8, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Hi Rich, Thank you for sharing your perspective. I agree that saying “don’t waste my time” and “I’m only going to work 20 hours a week” would come across poorly. I agree with that there are many sale people who work far less than 40 hours per week. I agree with you that service is critical. Albert is adored by his customers so his service is an asset to everyone involved.

I can see why you would want someone that makes 300% of their goal. Who wouldn’t? But if goals are set well, I’ll take the person who consistently does 105-110% of their objectives each year, especially when compared to someone whose obtainment over three years is 200%, 50% and 75%. I value consistency. I gather you see things differently. I respect your opinion. Again, thank you for sharing it.


Daniel Rose October 7, 2010 at 3:12 am

I’d hire Albert in an instant.

What needs to be addressed is the notion of “work hours”. Why do we hire people based on something that is, at best, indirectly related to performance?

Let’s look at better ways to do it.


Steven M. Smith October 7, 2010 at 10:54 am

I agree with you Daniel. Thank you for sharing your viewpoint.


Kimber Collins October 13, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I would happily hire Albert, just so I could model him! How can I become an “Albert!” It seems managers are hung up on “work for me” which sounds rather like slavish elitism. Perhaps if they further specified what Albert constitutes as a “waste of his time,” they would find that they agreed with him. You should try reframing it with a “Alan” who is great at kissing up, but doesn’t produce well.” Managers seem very willing to pay “Alan” hansomely. I guess that makes me a cynic; but, I’m just going on past experience.


Steven M. Smith October 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Thank for sharing your viewpoint, Kimber.


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