…This notion of incentive as a recruiter of Man’s god-like abilities is highly foreign to modern management and regulation, because the notion of Man as anything more than a pawn or cog in a machine is foreign to the modern mind. My manager would likely answer the above paragraph by saying “But, when you order a man around you get better results than if you left him to do as he pleased!” Which is of course perfectly true, in the sense that you don’t like what he does on his own as much as you like what he does when he obeys. I say the opposite; but then, I say filling out his TPS reports, serving with a smile, using the specified phone greeting, acting like the firm is a family (that doesn’t love each other), etc. is a bunch of horseshit. These things are the perks managers think they can get from employees for free after they have done their actual jobs and earned their actual wage. I have some suspicions as to why a manager prefers to have his employees do the best thing the manager knows how to do, rather than the best they know, which in almost every case is actually the better way. Some actually believe their “best practices” are superior to the skills honed by diligent, independent work. Some feel their superiority over their employees so natural that anything the manager’s will directs is perceived as superior to anything the employee’s will is capable of directing. Some actually demand inefficiency, to increase their own apparent necessity and importance. Some feel vaguely that the employee/employer relationship must not be allowed to approach a negotiation among equals; it must never have the quality of “I’ll give you $20 to turn these rotors and replace these brake pads,” but must instead always be “You do whatever I say for 8 hours and I’ll give you $96”. This type of manager feels the fact that he has the superior negotiating position, he perceives the possibility of pushing the amount of labor higher without increasing the wage. If wages were continually re-negotiated, the hourly wage would offer no benefit to employers (compared to piecework), but in our modern long-term fixed scheme of wages, he is able to lock in a set hourly rate for the level of labor the worker expects to provide, then continually direct his efforts towards increasing labor provided beyond that amount. And of course the amount of labor provided was in no way part of the negotiation, is no way contractually fixed. It may be increased indefinitely without altering compensation in the least. In short, the employer imagines he can get a better deal out of hourly work than he can out of piecework even if the cost and average productivity are initially identical. If an employee can produce exactly 4 widgets in an 8 hour day, it seems to make little difference whether he is paid $10/hour or $20/widget, yet the first formula is overwhelmingly the one preferred by employers. And why would that be? From an incentives standpoint, $20/widget will costlessly tend to increase productivity, as every effort the employee can make to increase his daily production will be naturally found out and exploited by the employee (or any employee I have ever known, anyhow) in order to increase his own compensation, resulting in increased productivity. Any improvement to production which is known to management and unknown to the employee will likewise be wholeheartedly adopted, rather than having to be enforced by oversight and discipline. Of course this advantage is totally foregone by the incompetent bumbling wasteful spineless worthless pile of steaming maggot-ridden parasite shit we call modern management. And why would that be? Because managers imagine that they will be more successful at uncovering ways to speed production and improve process than will all the specialists carefully working their own machines or workstations will be. They imagine that their own lofty intellect is so great that they will be able to capture all the advantages of incentivized efficiency-seeking without having to pay for incentives. They think that they, at their desk, will more quickly find out that you can detect a vacuum leak with a spray of carb cleaner, than the techs will find it out in the field with the can of carb cleaner at hand. They expect to invent every time-saving shortcut and reliable solution that will be found by a thousand intelligences working continually to find such things. And for this reason, they refuse to pay for piecework: the manager will do the innovating for free. Of course the opposite force is at work as well; fixed hourly wage is an incentive (to the employee) for maximizing hours per unit of production, a thing identical to minimizing production per hour. Thus, where this incentive gains a foothold, the workplace becomes a struggle between the manager’s efforts to drive the employees towards production without incentivizing them with pay proportional to productivity, and the workers’ efforts to evade the manager and minimize their labor while maximizing their time. This is what is known as the world deciding to waste effort, lives, and time, because it thinks it is so clever it need not extract its head from its asshole. In sum, managers are the last believers in Marx’s theory of exploitation, and they intend to make the most of it.
Management and incentive [explicit version]