BLUF: Delegated management of software documentation to direct (Jane). Direct on the same team (Dick) is angry his individual contribution wasn't recognized. Feels like Jane is getting credit for his work. What to do?
Here's the background. And, yes, names have been changed. Also, this is terribly long and I thank all of you that have to fortitude to make it to end and offer some suggestions.
I manage a Customer Support team of 2 staff (this is in addition to 3 other teams I manage). Dick & Jane work on the Customer Support Team and are inherited hires. Prior to me, they worked under a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” – previous manager didn’t ask what they were working on and they didn’t tell him.
At the beginning of 2008, I implemented quarterly MT goals with an informal review at the end of each quarter. Since there was no structure, and the company is rapidly evolving, setting yearly or even semi-annual goals was too long for the tactical objectives that we needed to hit. Concurrently, I implemented O3s and began giving feedback.
In June 2008, I conducted a formal, semi-annual review. Dick’s performance was lackluster and instead of owning his performance offered strong resistance to my assessment. Even when reminded of previous O3 conversations (thank you O3 worksheets) he continued to make nonsensical arguments – “I had to talk to development 3 times to get this bug fixed”, “I know the agenda for the staff meeting included an item entitled ‘how to improve support’ but I didn’t know I was actually suppose to contribute something every week”, “I used to be a manager and I would give people an exceed if they tried hard”. This was all capped with, “How can I work the same amount of time but make more money?” Since this time, we have had several conversations about how he could get something, for nothing.
Some further context on Dick – he is a retired federal government bureaucrat whose organization valued seniority as opposed to merit. Also, he is a part-time employee who works 2.5 days per week.
Jane’s performance review was off the charts. She embraced the new structure, consistently commented on the improvement it made in the organization (backed up by quantifiable metrics she took upon herself to collect), and was, and still is, in my office at least once a week with good ideas for new initiatives we should undertake. And, even better, she’s executing the ideas and not simply throwing them into my lap and waiting for me.
Some further context on Jane – this is her full-time job. Jane started working here after Dick.
The second half of 2008 I began traveling approximately 75% of the time and was unable to manage the day-to-day administrative/operational side of support. I publicly (in front of Dick) delegated these responsibilities to Jane. Since then, Dick has exhibited passive-aggressive behaviors towards Jane. For instance, Jane will create a document template so that information is uniformly collected and formatted, give it to Dick to use, and then Dick will do his own thing and send it back to Jane. I have counseled Jane to give Dick’s work back to him when it doesn’t conform and reiterate the proper format. Additionally, if he continues to behave in this way, allow me to intervene. She nobly says she wants to try to resolve it and I have continued to let her because the impact to team performance is minimal. This back and forth has been happening for the past 6 months. Dick is unaware that I know anything about this.
** Question ** OK, not included in BLUF but this came to me as I was writing. Should I intervene and how? I haven’t seen this behavior. It has only been reported to me by Jane. I don’t want Jane to feel undermined but this is getting ridiculous. Dick falls in line for a while, then falls back out. It’s a cycle.
Last month, the Development manager (my peer) was lamenting the lack of resources to write some documentation. I told him my team had some bandwidth and I would be happy to devote it to his cause. He readily accepted.
I went to Jane and asked her to come up with a structure for the document creation process – keeping track of what needed to be written, tracking what has been written, establishing formatting conventions, creating formats for the documents, and producing a sample section. I told her to send me the process with any supporting examples so I could get approval from Development as it was ultimately their deliverable, we were just assisting. As usual, Jane produced a solid package that was easy to understand, easy to follow, and very polished looking. I forwarded this to Development and they gave it the thumbs-up.
A week later, Jane was on vacation and Dick asked where to begin on the documentation. Jane said she didn’t have the information with her but to go ask the Development Manager. The Development Manager told him the section to start on and said, “Be sure to use the same format as what Jane provided.” Dick asked for a sample, and in the words of the Development Manager, turned beet red and said “I did 85% of this!”
What the Development Manager didn’t know was that Dick had worked on the sample section that was included in the package that Jane delivered to me and that I delivered to Development. I wasn’t aware of it either but I didn’t go looking for that level of detail of how the work got divided up – I delegated day-to-day administrative/operational Jane. Since this documentation was tangential to work that was already being performed by Support, in my mind, it was covered by that umbrella of delegation.
Some additional facts:
* Jane didn’t represent the delivered package as being entirely of her own creation. She simply e-mailed me and said "here's the info for development"
* The sample section was 1 part of the package/process.
* Jane was largely responsible for the look and feel of the sample section. I have reviewed Dick’s first 2 drafts and while they are there in concept, the detail and presentation was a result of Jane giving it back to Dick for modification (twice) and of Jane finally cleaning it up herself to meet the deadline.
* Jane gave positive feedback (not via the feedback model) to Dick on his first draft.
* Jane is characterized by giving credit where credit is due and is complimentary of work done by her co-workers.
So all of this leads me to the following:
* When you delegate to someone, how closely should you monitor the work submitted to your delegate? Knowing what everyone contributed and the quality of the work seems to counter the effects of delegation.
* What should I say to Dick? I assume (hope) that the reason he is making such a big deal about this is because he is trying to improve his standing with me.
Thanks for your help.