Difficult conversations and raises: two sides of the same coin

Personnel decisions are never easy. Denying a raise, giving less than happy feedback at a mid-year review, or even letting somebody go are certainly among the toughest parts of my job. But I’ve realized that if I’m not willing to follow through with those difficult but necessary actions, then I’ll never be able to create a work environment that is highly successful, productive, and full of people that have many career choices but choose to be part of our team.

The easiest and most enjoyable parts of a boss’ job are congratulating a team on an accomplishment, giving well-deserved raises, and promoting from within. That guy who you need to stay on top of to get him to do his job, do you think you’ll be giving him a promotion? If you feel like half of your employees are just mediocre, are you going to be willing to provide the kind of benefits that would attract top talent?

Delivering the hard news when it’s needed sets you up to deliver good news to those who are growing and contributing to the growth of the company. Moreover, it’s not fair to under-performing employees to string them along while resentment grows in your mind until one day it becomes impossible to allow things to continue. Every employee deserves to know where they stand, and nobody should be shocked that they’re being let go.

As Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister put it in their classic Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, at some companies there is the shared belief that they are simply the best, and that only a fool would want to work elsewhere. That’s my goal, and I think it should be the goal of every manager. To reach this goal, every employee needs to be held in high esteem by his or her peers. Keeping a few under-performing employees around can crush that culture of excellence.


Ikea Bekant Sit/Stand Desk Review

I work from home, so when I kept hearing about studies showing I was slowly killing myself by sitting, I knew I had to do something about it. But I also have a hard time spending money on myself, so the $1,000 price of a GeekDesk (once you figure tax and shipping) kept me from getting one. Things changed when I realized I could buy an Ikea Bekant Sit/Stand desk for $500.

The base comes in two boxes that aren’t big but are on the heavy side, and the top is 63″ by 31 1/2″ which is a great size in my opinion. Setup was quite easy. Since I bought the top designed to work with the base, it had pre-made holes that lined up with the base. Plastic connectors snap in to secure the top to the base. I was concerned about these at first, but they seem to do the trick. You’ll need a second person to help you flip it over at the end, but other than that, it’s a one person job.

Bekant Sit/Stand Desk Raised Operation of the desk is very simple – so simple you might call it primitive. A small plastic box with up and down triangles mount to the edge of the desk. There’s no height readout or presets – just an up button and a down button. After using it for a few weeks, I have found that to be totally adequate. Not once have I wished I could get it right where it was before. A few times I’ve given it a slight adjustment.

The motors do make noise when it goes up and down. It seems similar to other sit/stand desks I’ve observed, but if you’re on a conference call, you’ll probably want to mute yourself before moving it.

Bekant Sit/Stand Desk Lowered One interesting fact about the desk is that it can go down to 22″, which is pretty low. It could work well as a desk for younger children who need it lower, but you can still raise it up for a full sized person when needed. Even for “normal” sized people, it makes a great regular sitting desk because you can adjust it to the exact height that feels right for you in whatever chair you happen to be in.