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I work in a company that, like any other company, expects high quality and quantity of the product (service). I am a quality person who meets the production demands. However, many of my colleagues compromise quality for quantity. They produce more units of the product than me, but they clearly lack quality.

This gets unnoticed, as our client does not check the quality of the output regularly. We all, including our manager, know all these facts, and this was discussed in team meetings as well. In the meetings, my manager wants everyone to be 'me'.

Here comes my problem. Our individual performance bonus is calculated based on the quantity of output. My teammates get better bonus, as they do more production (the quality point vanishes here), but I get less. More than money, I feel like an under-performer.

How to cope with this situation? My family advises me to lower my quality and increase the output, but I could not! I love my work.

  • 6
    Could you be a bit more specific about whether that product is physical or software? Is the concept of pre-delivery acceptance tests applicable to that product? Do those quality issues have some observable effect that can be detected in the course of testing? (Like lower performance, unstable behavior, failure to process certain valid input, if we're talking about the software). Can this effect be used to reject those units which do nor meet the set quality criteria, so that those units do not count towards the quantity? – Igor G Oct 15 at 15:04
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    You mention that your manager is at least aware of the issue. What have you done, specifically, to point out your concerns? What part in the process does your manager have? – dwizum Oct 15 at 16:15
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    Did you talk to your manager? Something along the lines "hey boss, you always tell everyone that you like my work best, but still I get the lowest bonus. I would like to keep the high quality up, but I could really use some extra $$$, do you think there is a way to work that out?" Either you get a proper bonus or not; in the latter case I would (but that is only my personal opinion) work only for the bonus, i.e. go for quantity above everything else, while at the same time looking for a new job. – Dirk Oct 16 at 6:12
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    Probably a duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid? The only things you can do here is raise concerns about this (repeatedly), do a better job at explaining what you have contributed to the organisation (as per the linked post, but this may or may not have any effect), compromise on quality to improve quantity or find another job. We can't tell you which option would be best for you. – Dukeling Oct 16 at 6:33
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    Have you considered that your management prefer indeed quantity over quality? – Cris Oct 16 at 6:40
106

Based on your statements in the question, I'm going to write the answer(s)

How to cope with this situation?

  • If you want monetary benefits, shift your priority to produce quantity rather than quality. If you can manage to retain same quality as of now, without burning yourself out, that's added benefit - but focus should be on quantity.

    • Reason: You said the lack of quality aspect is known to the manager / superiors, the problems have been discussed in the wide open team meetings and still no observable changes are there in place. This is a clear indication that the priority of quantity is more over the quality to the company. You just do not "fit into" the criteria very well with your choice of quality over quantity, so you got to change your approach.
  • If you want job satisfaction, find a new job where your skills and efforts are actually valued.

    • Reason: Once again, the discussion and the observations made by you makes it pretty clear that the organization is not going to change anytime soon and in the long run, eventually you (or your like-minded engineers) are going to be overrun by the people having focus on quantity. Time to polish your CV and find another job / organization which holds same values / viewpoints as yours. Good luck.
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    +1 People often berate going directly to "quit", but I tend to agree that most of these kinds of questions must include that as a possible option. Companies rarely do anything with anything less than overwhelming feedback. And they fall into this falsehood of "measurable" being the primary test of value. In the end, no one will be able to quantify a very important part of the job so it will never be treated as important when rewarding. – John Spiegel Oct 15 at 14:59
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    Whoa there. That's quite the dichotomy: give up on your values or quit!?? ... How about, "get promoted and work on culture change." The OP's manager has already publicly acknowledged the OP's value as a bar raiser. This praise may not have be a direct hint to ask for a promotion, but it's at least good ammunition for that conversation ... ain't it? ... As an added bonus (pun intended), a more senior level team member (or team lead) would probably not be awarded bonuses on the same silly formula. Yeah? – svidgen Oct 16 at 2:56
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    @svidgen We don't know that.The mangers in India (That's where OP is, I assume), play many "tricks" to try to keep people "happy". If the manager / organization actually sees the value in the quality, why that does not reflect in the paycheck? – Sourav Ghosh Oct 16 at 5:04
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    @svidgen what you suggest is a possibility, indeed. But this answer errs on the side of being practical - either of these will definitely resolve the situation. While a long term strategy of changing the company culture could work, it might also not. In many ways. Perhaps OP is never promoted, or never promoted to where they can make a difference. Perhaps this takes too long and OP gets burned out, frustrated, and stressed in the mean time. Perhaps there cannot be a values shift at all - company oversold its production, so it cannot change focus without breaching contracts. – VLAZ Oct 16 at 14:10
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    @svidgen Your suggestion was literally "get promoted and work on culture change." There may very easily be no promotions available. And promotions come with new responsibilities even if they're not management (if they don't add/change responsibility, it's not a promotion). But changing metrics used to calculate bonuses isn't a culture thing, it's a policy change... which will come from management. You can try to change the company, but if the rest of the team doesn't care about quality and your teammates like the cash it brings for easy work... it's an exercise in futility. – Delioth Oct 16 at 15:08
67

"...in the meetings, my manager wants everyone to be 'me'..."

This is a vital detail that should be the lede in your question and not buried in a comment to an answer. This is the one thing that distinguishes your question from all the other complaints about unappreciated extra effort at work. It is also the one thing that you can use as leverage.

"Our individual performance bonus is calculated based on the quantity of output."

First, you need to find a way to say this in an undeniable way. What evidence do you have that quantity is primary and quality is not used in performance metrics? Compose an articulate argument proving that this is true. Then ask for a private 1-on-1 with your manager and present the conflict between the two positions (1. everyone should be you and 2. everyone is rewarded to not be you) as a problem the company needs to solve.

As always, when reporting a problem, be ready with some suggested solutions. (E.g. whenever someone is called out in a meeting as a paragon, that person automatically gets a 5% bonus. Or, the company should admit to its employees that anything beyond a certain level of quality is counterproductive.)

If your manager is obdurate on this subject, then the next time the manager says in a meeting that everyone should be you, respond by explaining, immediately, in that same meeting, how everyone is rewarded to not be you.

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    This attacks the root of the problem. Fix how the bonus is handled and all employees will get automatically incentivated to increase quality. – Enric Naval Oct 16 at 10:20
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    @EnricNaval indeed, the "backend" needs to adjust though, i.e. less quantity & more quality may imply a higher cost => higher prices. – CPHPython Oct 16 at 11:12
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    It's possible this will work, but in my experience it's more likely that the manager is not the one deciding bonuses. There are probably literal reports run on units produced minus complaints received = bonus. These reports are probably run by upper management/HR. Manager cares about the product, thus he has different goals. – bvoyelr Oct 16 at 18:38
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    @bvoyelr while I agree with your assessment of the likely situation, I would suggest that the solution here would be for the manager to inform HR/upper management that the bonus criteria need to be updated. – Stobor Oct 18 at 2:13
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Your employer has made clear where their priorities lie and gone so far as to set up incentives to make sure their directives are followed. It is admirable that you take pride in your work, but that isn't what your employer is paying you to do. They want more, not better. In the eyes of your employer, you are an under-performer.

Your choices, thus, are as follows:

  • Continue your current level of work, knowing that this is not what your employer wants you to do. It will go unappreciated and unrewarded, possibly to the point where you are put on a PIP or terminated.
  • Lower your standards to produce more and give your employer what they want. Be rewarded accordingly.
  • Find a different job where your values are more in alignment.

I do not know your industry or what the prospects are for you on any decision. That will be for you to decide.

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    @SouravGhosh, it's still a choice. Not one I recommend myself, but I don't presume to know OP's priorities. Perhaps pride in his work is more important to him than getting paid. – Seth R Oct 15 at 14:37
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    Plus, based on OP's description, nobody has said their work is unacceptable, just not as high on the metrics and hence not as high a bonus. – Kaz Oct 15 at 14:42
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    Thank you all. In fact, in the meetings, my manager wants everyone to be 'me', but somehow it doesn't translate into performance appraisal. I am paid well, and I am not a money man. But the rating of me being lower than others' bothers me. I am unwilling to trade quality for quantity for the fear of forgetting/losing my skills. I guess it's time to move on. – Arun Oct 15 at 14:51
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    @Arun It's not only about money, think of the case in long run, People who prefers quantity over quality will get promoted and eventually will be in a supervisor position, you then, have to abide by the choices made by them to produce quantity. Eventually, you'll end up on the losing side. – Sourav Ghosh Oct 15 at 14:52
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    @Arun if you manager is in a position to evaluate your performance based on the whole of your effort and not just quantity, then s/he is paying lipservice to an ideal that s/he doesn't actually support. Of course, your manager might not be in that position and is forced to use evaluation criteria handed down from above, and is sincere in his/her comments; I can't tell you which. Either way, it seems clear that your goals and your employer's are not aligned. – asgallant Oct 16 at 2:12
10

Might not apply, but I think an important aspect is that more "quality" is not inherently better: of course the deliverable will be better in some way if you spend more time on it, but perhaps it will take more time to be deliver, which is not what the client wants.

It depends very much on the product, but since your client doesn't seem too concerned about the quality it receives from the other employees, then maybe client and managers are content with that quality level and as much quantity as possible.

I think the saying "perfection is the enemy of good" applies here: it's good to set high standards for yourself, but in business there are other needs to consider, and it's ok to let the client and the KPIs set the bar.

  • Gold plating comes to mind. It would appear that the "usual" quality all the other colleagues are producing is sufficient to the client... and management is aware of that. – Ghanima Oct 16 at 17:57
  • It's like the difference between a Ford and a Ferrari. A Ferrari is a much higher-quality car, but takes a lot longer to make. Meanwhile, Ford's quality is perfectly acceptable for the market it serves, and they can churn out a thousand Fiestas in a day to meet demand. There's no point in applying Ferrari-level quality if your job is building Fiestas. – Seth R Oct 16 at 20:39
  • @SethR and the typical Fiesta owner wouldn't want a car that burns fuel as a Ferrari :) Taken in the software context, the extra features may actually affect the performance and reliability of the product – clabacchio Oct 17 at 7:52
  • But on the Ford/Ferrari analogy... someone on the production line has been producing Ferraris instead of Fords and management have expressed in the team meetings that they wish more of their people produced Ferraris. – seventyeightist Oct 18 at 18:08
  • @seventyeightist I can't say for sure what they prefer, but they are giving mixed feedbacks on the topic. Perhaps their target is somewhere in between, but if bonuses are the drivers of that workplace, quantity is what they are more likely to get. Actually, they may not want to ask explicitly to sacrifice quality for quantity. – clabacchio Oct 22 at 7:40
8

Seth R's answer is good. But there is a common industry name for this.

Gold Plating

"In the usual gold plating scenario, a programmer adds features ... because they’re “cool” or fun or seem like they’d be really useful. And sometimes they are — but more often, they’re just wasted effort, at least from the perspective of the person paying the programmer’s salary."

In your case, you're adding extra quality that your manager and the customer have not requested. So from their perspective, you're wasting time on things no one wants.

  • I am familiar with management pushing back against "gold plating". Sometimes they have a good point. However, in my experience, more often than not, they are trading long-term costs for short-term gains. I would not take it as given managers are making an informed choice when they do this. – eclipz905 Oct 17 at 19:01
0

There are lot's of good answers to this question, but I want to add a slightly different angle that you might want to consider if you intend to pursue this further.

How do you know the details of your coworkers bonuses / compensation? I see that you are in Chennai; I am not sure the custom for keeping this type of info secret in India, but assuming that such info is not openly disclosed by the employer, you may want to ask yourself how it is you've come to know of this pay disparity. If it's self-reported, do you trust what others are claiming? Is there some way to verify those claims? And if you do bring this up with management, how will you respond if your concern is dismissed?

A lot of the other answers are appeals to fairness, based on the presumption that managers are interested in such things. If you do bring this up, be prepared to respond if your boss denies the issue exists at all.

  • If the incentive scheme is public (bonus = $2 per 100 widgets produced) and the performance report is public (Bob produced 4200 widgets this month, Jane produced 5100 widgets), then it is possible to determine other's bonuses. – Stobor Oct 18 at 2:17
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    @Stobor sure, you are right and I agree. But that scenario is completely hypothetical, and it's not really the crux of this answer. My point is that OP should prepare for what is (in my mind) a very likely direction for this conversation to go: "What? No! That's not true, you are highly compensated! Don't believe such things!" If what you suggest is a viable way for OP to go in armed with facts, then great. If not, he needs to find some factual way to support this claim, because falling back on rumors and gossip will be a very weak position to argue from. – Z4-tier Oct 18 at 2:29
-2

That is typical for products which get traded around the globe through many hands before they land with an end user. It would be totally uneconomic to do quality control along the way, because whoever does it has to pay for it and increase the price, and looses customers.

To return a broken part from the end user all the way back to the producer is terribly uneconomic, so these losses, should a customer return an item, just get priced in along the trade route.

There is nothing you or your company can really do, that is the way our world is running in the 21st century. Its called "globalisation". Most people get a bit richer, many get stinkingly rich, and only they have a chance to really enjoy their riches, because they can still afford to buy quality products, while everybody else has to buy cheap shit.

Sorry for the rant. ;)

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