Friday, January 24, 2003

My coworker Elizabeth Rhodes reports that people are now using the name 'Kronos' as a verb.

"Hold on a second, I gotta kronos, and then I'll be right with you."

Yes, this is how important Kronos has become to everyday life around here. A new word has entered the vernacular. It has changed the very way we talk. It's changed the way we think and behave.

I've heard people say that I shouldn't object to Kronos because it is really a very trivial thing. But if it is so trivial, why does it have such a profound effect on us?

Thursday, January 23, 2003

My friend Mike Davis (not to be confused with the basketball coach of the same name) says that they use time clocks at the naval base where he works as a software engineer. "Everyone has to clock in/out. I think it has more to do with the blue collar union not wanting their folk to be treated differently than the engineers."

Interesting. Here at the university where I work, there is no union or anything like it. There's no voice for staff whatsoever. (More on that later.) Here, it's not the union. It's management that's forcing me to submit to the will of Kronos.

Nevertheless, Mike's comment gives me pause for reflection.

Time clocks, it must be admitted, are truly diabolical tools. They were probably invented by engineers.

It makes me sad to learn that the union has become so enamored of management's devices. But that organized labor would then demand their application to the very folks who invented them in the first place, seems to me like sweet and poetic justice.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

My friend Lynn Winebarger suggests that Kronos will not be used to measure underperformance. "it's to get a gauge on how long tasks take you so they can consistently give you more than 40 hours of work a week without specifically mandating it."

This could work. I don't believe that it's on anyone's agenda today, but who knows what tomorrow may bring, or next year, or the year after that?

Stockpiling the data now opens all kinds of possibilities for the future. Very few of those possibilities look good to me.

Note that Lynn's strategy could only be applied to exempt employees. This further reinforces my belief that the Kronos system, as it is currently being implemented at this university, eliminates many of the advantages of exempt status.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

More than once, I've heard people from Human Resources attempt to soothe the concerns of exempt employees. "Don't worry about Kronos," they say. "Nobody will be looking at this information."

Sure, that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? They don't want to look at this information. They just want to collect it and store it and not look at it.

In all fairness to the good folks in HR, I think what they meant is that no one will be scrutinizing individual performance. Perhaps they want to look at the aggregate information.

But the fact remains that, even if no one plans to look at individual information today, that could easily change tomorrow or the next day. By collecting the information now, the university is ennabling future use (or abuse) of this information in ways that even HR may not anticipate.

I think it's safe to go one step further: Building this database of information virtually guarantees that someone will use it to scrutinize individual performance at some point, simply because they can. That's just the way humans work. You can't make a mountain and not expect that someday, someone will climb it.