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  1. #1
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    Boss finds it cheaper to pay me by the project than by the hour

    I work for a company that used to pay me hourly like any other typical full-time employee. I do not work under a contract with them. My boss is telling me that he no longer feels confident in paying me by the hour and would rather pay me per project. He feels like I have been working more slowly and it's to his benefit that keep me there because despite my apparent slow speed, my technical abilities are solid. I may have been slowing a bit over the past couple of months, but it wouldn't be severe to the point that the company is losing any money over it keeping me full-time.

    Because of this, he has reduced my workload to one project at a time, and I'm on my first solo paid project right now. Leaving me with more idle time, (and since I'm no longer on hourly pay) I also decided to put in less hours a week to work while searching for another job.

    He estimated that it would take around 60 hours to complete the project...no chance now. I've already put in over 50 hours and it looks to be at least a 100 hour project. But he told me it's because I work very slowly. Since he thought I was taking three times as long to get the work done, I got paid 1/3 as much for the first two weeks of work (he multiplies the progress he sees by the project's total cost for paying me) which honestly comes to less than $5 an hour. That's a far cry from what I get paid on salary. Now I know you might say, if I still came in 40 hours a week I'd get more work done. To me it wouldn't change a whole lot because the matter is I'd be getting paid about the same when you divide it per hour.

    Do you think he just started putting me on low-budget projects to see how much work he could squeeze out of me? The strange thing is that despite him saying I am a slow worker, he's not rushing me to a deadline. It beats getting fired for incompetence, but getting paid like this is humiliating.

    If he knows I possess good technical skills, why doesn't he give me work that apply those skills more efficiently? Then he would feel more confident in me. My guess is he doesn't have such work for me.

  2. #2
    From Italy with love silver trophybronze trophy
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    Did you just want to get it of your chest, or is there actualy something you want to ask?

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    Quote Originally Posted by guido2004 View Post
    Did you just want to get it of your chest, or is there actualy something you want to ask?
    I want to know what would be the best way to approach my boss and tell him that I am not comfortable with this new payment structure he has me on, and to negotiate for something better, and I also want to know if he's undercutting me on purpose and just using slow performance as an excuse to pay me less.

    I have been working for him for a little over a year and he thinks my performance for the most part has been stalling.

  4. #4
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Sounds like it might be better to start looking for other work.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    Sounds like it might be better to start looking for other work.
    +1, heck +10

    If you really want to keep the job going you have to sort out where you fit in the mix... is it you, is it your boss, is it both. And regardless of what it is, what do you do about it? Perception is hard changed once set and often not worth the fight just to get "back".
    - Ted S

  6. #6
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Yea, and also employers dont' really get to just arbitrarily change the payscale unless they are such a special business that everyone wants to work there OR you are not a competitive worker and don't have other options.

    There is a marketplace for professional skills, and that marketplace determines your basic value. It's not just about what someone wants to pay you.
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    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guido2004 View Post
    Did you just want to get it of your chest, or is there actualy something you want to ask?
    How dare you be so damn rude? a sitepoint advisor? what the heck? who do you think you are? Offer the poor guy some advice! it's not difficult.

    @dwallen, just find a new employer the current one is a true deadbeat. Don't worry about your speed, when you burn out working fast for deadbeats you tend to get slower over time. Some people (not all) expect way too much these days, and for very little.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by NetNerd85 View Post
    How dare you be so damn rude? a sitepoint advisor? what the heck? who do you think you are? Offer the poor guy some advice! it's not difficult.
    I suspect you misread the intent there NetNerd85. It sounds to me like clarification of the intention of the OP rather than rudeness.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAWK View Post
    I suspect you misread the intent there NetNerd85. It sounds to me like clarification of the intention of the OP rather than rudeness.
    I suspect guido2004, as it's very clear, didn't bother to even read the entire post otherwise it would have been very clear, everyone else got the point of the post. The first part is backstory, the setup to the question, laying out the situation. However you wish to put it. No, guido2004 was simply rude, it's clear, you know it as well - be honest. Unless you prefer to defend the staff rather than care for visitors?

    At the very least guido2004 could have said it much better.
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  10. #10
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NetNerd85 View Post
    How dare you be so damn rude? a sitepoint advisor? what the heck? who do you think you are? Offer the poor guy some advice! it's not difficult.

    @dwallen, just find a new employer the current one is a true deadbeat. Don't worry about your speed, when you burn out working fast for deadbeats you tend to get slower over time. Some people (not all) expect way too much these days, and for very little.
    It sounds like you misinterpreted the comment completely. And, ironically, yours was by far the rudest post I've read in a while

    And one more thing, be careful about giving such strong and definitive advice when you've only heard one side of the story. Do you really know that the employer is a 'true deadbeat' or are you just throwing that around with no knowledge his side of the situation. Maybe the employee performance is awful and the employer is doing his best - you never know.

    For someone who accused someone else of being rude, you were quite rude yourself.
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  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    Again Sagewing

    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    It sounds like you misinterpreted the comment completely. And, ironically, yours was by far the rudest post I've read in a while
    How? I was defending. Sounds like you misinterpreted the comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    And one more thing, be careful about giving such strong and definitive advice when you've only heard one side of the story. Do you really know that the employer is a 'true deadbeat' or are you just throwing that around with no knowledge his side of the situation. Maybe the employee performance is awful and the employer is doing his best - you never know.
    Indeed, but when you've been through the same type of thing you actually have a position from which you can speak and offer advice. Not everyone comes from a San Francisco where every IT company showers their employees with money and love.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    For someone who accused someone else of being rude, you were quite rude yourself.
    How? I was defending. Sounds like you misinterpreted the comment.
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  12. #12
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Yes, yes, life is full of misunderstandings. If you want to continue them, use the PM system. This is no such place and is, to be honest, trolling. Rudeness differs across language barriers. Perhaps the 'From Italy With Love' under Guido's name might have given a hint as to a possible culture difference. Or perhaps the link to the blog, which is written in Dutch, in the signature.


    I've worked for exactly the same kind of person recently. I decided for my own good to leave it, as the awful money wasn't worth what I was putting up with. It really gets you down when you've worked for clients/companies giving 10x the hourly wage, 4x the manners and next to no b***s***. But when you need the money, and nothing better comes your way, you need it.

    The truth is your boss needs you. Use that - in a subtle way. If he adds to projects, asks you technical questions; everything he asks for which isn't paid for, deny or charge. Now you're not working per hour, suck the most out of the 'per project' pay as you can. Make it more expensive for your boss to do it the way he is.

    When you've got enough in the bank to last you a couple of weeks, find some more work. Until then, stay right where you are.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by NetNerd85 View Post
    Unless you prefer to defend the staff rather than care for visitors?
    That is not how I operate. If the OP wants to contact me by PM then that's fine, otherwise let's get back on topic

  14. #14
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    if you're not making the money per hour then maybe you have to try and quote more accurately and before taking on the project. but anyway you need to look for another boss

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Arkinstall View Post

    I've worked for exactly the same kind of person recently. I decided for my own good to leave it, as the awful money wasn't worth what I was putting up with. It really gets you down when you've worked for clients/companies giving 10x the hourly wage, 4x the manners and next to no b***s***. But when you need the money, and nothing better comes your way, you need it.

    The truth is your boss needs you. Use that - in a subtle way. If he adds to projects, asks you technical questions; everything he asks for which isn't paid for, deny or charge. Now you're not working per hour, suck the most out of the 'per project' pay as you can. Make it more expensive for your boss to do it the way he is.

    When you've got enough in the bank to last you a couple of weeks, find some more work. Until then, stay right where you are.
    Oh right, this topic again Sorry for not responding sooner. Glad to hear some more sound advice, and getting it back on topic.

    @NetNerd85
    I don't think my employer is a total deadbeat. There has just been one case where he was able to move the goalposts because at the start, it wasn't made clear to me what the short term goals for the project's first phase was. He barely gives any feedback daily (I usually have to poke and prod him during his busy day if I wanted a reaction), so I assumed that everything was going right on schedule.

    Also, I tend to work a lot quicker with a lot of stuff piled on me. I like a constant influx of work. If my workload is more barren, I end up working slower. Ironically, my boss's attempt to remedy the situation of slow performance is by giving me less work.

    @Jake
    Well, we have all the goals set out now. If he asks for something more I will ask him how much more I will get paid for it. The first step I thought about is ask my boss to give me more paid work (other projects).

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by davemies View Post
    if you're not making the money per hour then maybe you have to try and quote more accurately and before taking on the project. but anyway you need to look for another boss
    An assumption is made here. I don't get to make the quotes- my boss does, based on his stated budget for the project. Just one more reason to find another job I guess

  17. #17
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    If you're going to continue to work for this boss, it sounds like the two of you need to set some guidelines for the projects you're working on. A definitive date deadline and an estimated number of hours should be agreed upon before you start. I get the feeling you're not sharing/understanding the whole story, and there seems to be at the very least a perception problem. If he feels he's not getting a proper effort out of you, then you've got a much bigger problem because he/she doesn't trust your effort and/or honesty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwallen View Post
    I work for a company that used to pay me hourly like any other typical full-time employee. I do not work under a contract with them. My boss is telling me that he no longer feels confident in paying me by the hour and would rather pay me per project. He feels like I have been working more slowly and it's to his benefit that keep me there because despite my apparent slow speed, my technical abilities are solid. I may have been slowing a bit over the past couple of months, but it wouldn't be severe to the point that the company is losing any money over it keeping me full-time.

    Because of this, he has reduced my workload to one project at a time, and I'm on my first solo paid project right now. Leaving me with more idle time, (and since I'm no longer on hourly pay) I also decided to put in less hours a week to work while searching for another job.

    He estimated that it would take around 60 hours to complete the project...no chance now. I've already put in over 50 hours and it looks to be at least a 100 hour project. But he told me it's because I work very slowly. Since he thought I was taking three times as long to get the work done, I got paid 1/3 as much for the first two weeks of work (he multiplies the progress he sees by the project's total cost for paying me) which honestly comes to less than $5 an hour. That's a far cry from what I get paid on salary. Now I know you might say, if I still came in 40 hours a week I'd get more work done. To me it wouldn't change a whole lot because the matter is I'd be getting paid about the same when you divide it per hour.

    Do you think he just started putting me on low-budget projects to see how much work he could squeeze out of me? The strange thing is that despite him saying I am a slow worker, he's not rushing me to a deadline. It beats getting fired for incompetence, but getting paid like this is humiliating.

    If he knows I possess good technical skills, why doesn't he give me work that apply those skills more efficiently? Then he would feel more confident in me. My guess is he doesn't have such work for me.
    From reading this, it kind of sounds you got had. You have a skill and he has a project. A client should not be determing the # of hours a project takes or they will always low ball it everytime. I would definitely look for alternative work.

  19. #19
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell View Post
    I get the feeling you're not sharing/understanding the whole story, and there seems to be at the very least a perception problem. If he feels he's not getting a proper effort out of you, then you've got a much bigger problem because he/she doesn't trust your effort and/or honesty.
    I really agree with this perspective - something doesn't add up. It's not clear what the whole situation is, but imagine the possibilities:

    - If everything you say is accurate and there is nothing else to tell, then your boss is not a good manager and you should be able to find a new position elsewhere.

    - Perhaps everything you say is accurate, but perhaps you didn't mention that your boss is unhappy with your productivity and is looking for ways to keep you on without firing you for non-performance.

    - Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle. Maybe your boss is trying to keep you on while looking for a replacement for you.

    There are so many factors. Depending on the 'whole story' it would be easy to know what to do. Are there many other employees who are happy? Is your boss experienced? What's the full deal?
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    It sounds to me that he is testing you.

    You say that you slow down with less work... why? If it's because you get bored, that's not very good. if you want to get switched back to hourly, impress him. Blow through the project under the number of hours he allocated... don't make it take twice as long. If you can work faster with stuff piled on you, why can't you work faster with less work?

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    @DaveMaxwell
    You're absolutely right about there being a perception problem. The perception of how much work is expected of me, and the perception of how close I am to completing the project. The client was the one that determined the number of hours to be expected from the work. Yet, he's not rushing it right now.

    @samanime
    You answered your last question in that paragraph. Slow work environments tend to bore me. If I don't get to push the envelope or feel the pressure to do a good job (I'm not really feeling it now with my work schedule up in the air), I am not gonna perform as well.

    As far as I know, other employees are happy, and they are following their work to a T. But working at a moderate, steady pace isn't good enough for me. I like being humbled, not by being told that my performance is bad, but by working alongside people with a lot of experience in their trade and learning new things from them.

    A while back I asked my boss if there will exist such an opportunity because I really want to dive into more advanced work but he says it's unlikely. Locally, we have no senior (10+ years) employees that do technical work. I'm a budding back end developer in a place that's 30% designers, 50% managers/salespeople and 20% developers. Front end development has gotten boring to me and I want to move on. Maybe he has figured out that I've lost interest in the work he has the most of, and that he cannot easily supply the kind of work I prefer. It would partly explain why I have been moved to this position. The only reason I've been staying there is because I haven't found another job, which would be a bit of a challenge seeing that I have done front end work most of the time.

  22. #22
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    I wonder if your boss would describe it like this:

    "I have this employee but he seems unmotivated and dissatisfied with the work. Clearly that is affecting his performance, as he openly states that he would prefer different work than I can give him. He seems to think that he is outgrowing the work that we do here, and wants to get into more back-end stuff. I don't have any of that to offer, and I am trying to continue working with him in spite of that. I have had no choice to reduce his pay and alter the arrangement, since an unhappy employee just isn't good for my business. My guess is that he's looking for another job and will leave soon enough, which is probably best for everyone"
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    I agree with Sagewing. You have to understand the other part of coin. From your aspect - yes you are doing hard and working for your client for last 1 yrs that good and it proves that your client like to work with you but this doesn't mean he will work with you forever. Is it ? He can find other resource as well. Who knows.

    In practical life you need to deal with positive and negative. To me you was shocked when your client told you about this new payment process as you never imagine about that and what hurt you most. Never ever expect anything from any one. Clear with your terms and be more vocal and logical with your client. Try to observer from employer point of view. If you are confident in your skill then no one will stop you.

    One Question:

    Tell me, how your boss estimate the project of 60 hrs ? If you are working per project you will convey him that this project will take 100 hrs else it cant be done. So why you started work with a agreement of 60 hrs?

    You need to criticize yourself as well and need to find out the areas you need to improve i guess. This can be happen in your new job or with new client.

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    My point is... it's up to you to motivate yourself. You work for him, so you work on his terms, not the other way around. This isn't to say that he shouldn't try to motivate you, because he should, but if you get "bored" and work slow because of it, that's not exactly a desirable trait.

    If I were you, I'd push through the boredom and get stuff done quickly and with quality. That will show him that you're serious and he'll likely switch you back. If I had to guess, I'd bet on Sagewing's hypothetical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwallen View Post
    @samanime
    You answered your last question in that paragraph. Slow work environments tend to bore me. If I don't get to push the envelope or feel the pressure to do a good job (I'm not really feeling it now with my work schedule up in the air), I am not gonna perform as well.
    I would not find this acceptable if I were your boss. If the work is too slow and boring, you should be working through it twice as fast and spend the other half of your time automating the heck out of it. The work may also be disorganised, so spend the other half organising it then.

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