Friday, April 30, 2010

Fair and Logical ?

Here are some very non-Conservative ideas from Mr Gunyou. These comments were made to help us understand the significant amount of "out of the box" thinking that is needed to resolve this financial disaster. I am curious what the readers think?

Topic 1
Social security is not a savings account where you put your money and expect to get it back out. It is a system where the working people pay for those that are unable to work. Therefore, does it really makes sense the Richest Minnesotans receive the same social security payment as a poor citizen. How can this make sense?

Topic 2
College tuition is high, however shouldn't it be raised significantly? This way the 25% that can easily afford it will pay more. And the 75% that can't would get additional financial aid that would offset the increase. (ie wealthy pay more, non-wealthy pay the same..) How can this not make sense?

My Opinion

  • Everything he says makes perfect sense. Why are we spending tax dollars where they are not needed? On people that don't need them....
  • Everything he says makes absolutely no sense. Why would we punish people for having led a conservative life style and accumulating some degree of wealth? Where is the wealthy/non-wealthy line? Won't this incent people to not save? Wouldn't these be the equivalent of additional taxes?
  • Maybe he is a Closet Liberal after all...
Your Opinion
  • ????

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Performance and Compensation 3

Today I'm going to explain how some companies relate performance and compensation. It is actually very simple and straight forward. I have created this fictitious example to help you understand. Please review it and I'll make some notes below.

The goal of this system to get employees to the Target Wage relatively quickly and then keep them there. This is accomplished by giving higher raises to those below the Target Wage for the same level of performance as those above the Target Wage.

Once an employee has reached their Target Wage for their position/grade, they can only increase their salary by getting a new position/grade or consistently outperforming expectations.
You will also, note that this works well when demotions occur. The employee will simply not get a raise until their Compa Ratio goes under 1.0.
So what do you think? Is this too cold and analytical? Or does it make sense?

G2A Perf & Comp 2
G2A Perf & Comp 1

Thursday, April 22, 2010

MN Fiscal Challenges

Mark your calendars. This looks good, whatever your politics or schools affiliation. Besides I'll be there, how much better can it get !!!

"Facing Our Fiscal Challenges"
link to RAS LAC)
link to FOFC intro)

Tuesday, April 27, 6:30-8:00pm

Brookdale Library

Public invited to forum on the state budget

presented by John Gunyou

Minnesota's budget woes continue this year due to fewer jobs and lower wages. The state's revenues have dropped below previously forecasted levels, leaving a current deficit of $1.2 billion. These deficits are estimated to grow to $5.4 billion over the next biennium.

Thoughts on this topic?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Performance and Compensation 2

Now for story number 2.

There was a company where the relationship between raises and performance was a bit vague. It was clear that promotions generated good raises, however beyond that it seemed that folks got cost of living + a bit whether they had a great or terrible year.

So when the company mgmt conducted a survey, the employees responded that they wanted a Performance and Compensation system that clearly rewarded the good performers and punished the poor performers. The mgmt realized that they would have the same amount of money for raises, so it was just a case of distributing it differently. (ie a few get much more & a larger portion gets less) Due to this they would need to evaluate employees more rigidly and limit the number of larger raises. (ie high performers)

Therefore they created the following:
  • A = Super High Performer (~5% of employees) (10+% raise)
  • B = High Performer (~17% of employees)(~7% raise)
  • C = Normal Performer (~67% of employees) (~3% raise)
  • D = Needs Improvement Performer (~7% of employees) (0% raise)
  • F = Poor Performer (~3% of employees) (FIRE)
The company implemented the new process and the employees were pleased... They thought: Now things would be better.

Well at the end of the year, many of those that saw themselves as A's and B's were shocked to find that they were actually C's or D's in their Supervisor's opinion. So instead of getting a BIGGER reward for their hard work, they actually received less since the A's and B's got more.

Also, the softer Supervisors were crushed that they were forced to identify and deal with their poor and needs improvement performers. Firing people and dealing with conflict were hard for them. Besides wasn't it unfair to have to cut ~3% of the employees per year? Also, who will we get rid next year?

What should we learn from or discuss with regard to this story? Good or Bad Idea?

Monday, April 19, 2010

RTTT: Counterpoints

I was going to stick with the performance and compensation theme, but this was too good to pass up.

A woman named Karen Stout in the Star Tribune is stating that Obama is bullying the Educators to make them do things that will not work, while 281 Exposed is stating that Obama is caving to the Educational Mafia...

I just found the irony amusing... Maybe I am just tired... Thoughts ?

Star Tribune Bullies
281 Exposed Education Funding

Some Other Interesting Links
Star Tribune Strange Bed Fellows
Star Tribune Pawlenty RTTT
Star Tribune Dooher RTTT
Winona Good Ideas
TC Daily Planet Conservatives and Education
MinnPost Good Will

Friday, April 16, 2010

Performance and Compensation

All this talk of performance based compensation got me remembering and thinking....

The first story is about a previous co-worker/friend and myself. I'll call him Blake to protect the sometimes innocent. Blake was ~50 yrs old and stable in his job/career. He had just received his yearly raise and was complaining to me that it was too small. He commented that it was just barely above a cost of living increase, and that he deserved more. Since I had little empathy at the time and I saw his logic as flawed, I just couldn't help myself... I asked Blake:
  • What new skill, knowledge, capability, etc had he gained in the last year?
  • How was he able to do his job better, faster, more consistently, etc than a year ago?
  • What additional responsibilities had he taken on at the company within the last year?
  • What additional value, revenues, etc was he providing the company from year ago?
He answered that he had gained a little experience. However it turned out that otherwise, he was pretty much doing the same job in the same way as a year ago. So I asked:
  • How much more would you be willing to pay for the same service by a contractor this year as compared to last year? (ie mowing lawn, house cleaner) Assuming that they are doing the same job in the same way.
He answered that probably very little or somewhere in the area of a cost of living adjustment. So I asked:
  • Then why should our company give you a bigger raise???
He was very quiet, and very frustrated with me...

The upside is that though we now work in different companies... We are still good friends !!!

The moral of the story is that American's are willing to pay more for more value. And we are reluctant to pay more for the same or less value.

Also note that if you are not learning and increasing your value... You are actually providing less value and will likely be demoted, downsized, early retired, etc. (ie others are improving and changing)

With this in mind: keep learning, growing and adapting if you want a bigger paycheck and/or more job security !!! And expecting something for nothing rarely works out !!!


Ps. If you are a union member, you may be able to ignore this lesson. At least until you help make the company, system, etc so uncompetive that it implodes due to outside constraints that can not be controlled. (ie General Motors, USPS, USA Textile Industry, etc)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

RAS Board Meetings

Though the minutes are behind and I have not had time to look into the details, it looks like the Board is busy. Some interesting headings and details you will find include:
Check it out and reply with your thoughts. More details at:

RAS Board Agendas, Links, Minutes and Video

Probationary always reminds me of Animal House when the Frat House was on "Double Secret Probation" due to their antics.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Policing Our Own?

Star Trib: Weeding Out Poor Teachers
Speed Reality Checks

After reading the above, I posted the comments below on Speed's site and received limited feedback. So, let's try again here.

If the above are correct, it is truly sad if we can not qualify for "Race to the Top" funds in part because we choose processes that protect poor performers, therefore sacrificing our children's education. Thoughts? What should be done?

"After reading them, I am trying to evaluate intent and relative truth. Do the Union/Teacher reps that were quoted truly believe that they are adequately policing their ranks? Or is it what they "need to say" because of their position?

I once went for a psychological evaluation to learn more about what jobs would best fit me, and to determine if I was pretty self aware. (good news: right career & self aware) The gentleman I worked with told me that at one time he was a Manager in the practice. During that period of his career he had learned that Supervisory work was something he simply could not do. He was so sensitive, empathetic and disliked conflict so much that he just could not evaluate people's performance and implement corrective actions. Therefore he gave that role to one of his peers and moved back into the psychology side.

With this in mind, are Teachers and Union reps so caring, sensitive, nurturing, etc by their nature that they simply can not see the real number of poor performers in their ranks.

Look around your office and name the 5 to 10% of coworkers you would walk up to and fire given the opportunity. It takes a certain personality type to do this easily. See "Up In the Air" with George Clooney for more perspective on this.

Also, since all of us have a different perspective regarding what a "good teacher" is. This definitely makes it difficult. A small step I have mentioned before would be class evaluation forms filled in by the Parents.

I wonder how the Union got the good Teacher feedback they mentioned? I have never been asked..."

More Info:
Race to the Top
Race To The Top Applic'ns and Scores

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dorothy Had It Right

Both the Land of OZ and Hawaii are incredible, wonderful, breath taking, must see, mesmerizing, etc. However...

There is No Place Like Home !!!

After 3 flights and ~16 hrs, we arrived back in the Land of 10,000 Lakes at ~1 PM Monday. Though this morning, my body still thought that 7 AM was 2 AM. (ie its going to be a long day) Also, sleeping in those coach seats definitely is not an easy task, especially with 3 girls trying to curl up on or next to you.

Some final thoughts on Hawaii before getting back to other topics:
  • At 44 years old, I got to experience some incredible firsts for me. These included riding in a helicopter, riding in a submarine, snorkeling over a coral reef, riding a boogie board, walking through a lava tube, hiking through lava flow areas, touring Hawaii, etc. (ie my kids are "Lucky Kids")
  • Sea Urchin's are everywhere and incredibly intimidating when you are snorkeling in shallow water with no water shoes or flippers. (where to stand up ???)
  • A recession on the mainland causes a major recession on the Islands. Tourism is their primary source of revenue and it is way down. Spring break is their peak season and we ran into no lines or crowds.
  • Hawaii has education funding problems also. They instituted every other Friday as a school furlough day to save money. (not sure when they make up the hours)
  • Unions can ruin any business when left unchecked. (per van tour driver) The sugar cane and pine apple industries have totally shut down on Maui. The production costs are too high compared to other lower cost countries. Hopefully it can restart someday with a new owner and new employee/company contracts.
  • Their grapes and my grapes come from Chile.
  • US Navy is looking to promote biofuel creation on the Islands. (forum) Which makes sense since sugar cane is an excellent source for making biofuels, and those battle ships have big fuel tanks.
  • A perfect place for wind generation units... I am from the land of wind towers in SW MN and I was even getting tired of the trade winds that kicked up every afternoon.
  • Banyon trees are very interesting. (Picture)

Well, drop me an email if you have any other questions regarding Hawaii or travelling there. Back to typical topics tomorrow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

On Vacation (2)

We said goodbye to beautiful Maui yesterday. The diverse climates and topography were incredible. Everything from rock mountains to beautiful beaches to rain forests to near deserts to cane fields. All in a space that is smaller than the Twin Cities metro area.

We travelled to the Big Island (Hawaii). The interesting thing so far is that the Kona BI airport is in a lava rock field, therefore rock and desolation greet you as you arrive. However within 10 miles it begins to look like the tropical paradise again. Today is a day of rest and then tomorrow we will be touring again.

Outrigger Kanaloa
Volcano National Park
Blue Hawaiian Circle of Fire