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Background
I have a DR who transferred to my Dept 8weeks ago, his former manager is no longer with our company.

I know he spends a good portion of his week communicating in social forums and using IMs.
He does not know I am aware.
Without getting in to how I know and staying away from quoting usage policies could anyone provide advice on feedback that would be a good start to correct this behavior.
His work suffers immensely when he hurries to gain social time.

bffranklin's picture

I wouldn't worry about directly addressing the use of systems just yet. I'd start by describing how the work is suffering and the effects.

Hey, can I share something with you?
When you give me a report with a whole bunch of mistakes, I end up having to redo _your_ work to meet deadlines. What can you do differently?

He may not come out and commit to stopping the IM usage, but he may be smart enough to commit to putting more effort into the work and realizing that means less playtime.

If you give us more specific examples of how things are suffering, we may be able to more directly address it.

Anyway, if the above fails, you may want to move on to:

You: Hey, can I share something with you?
Direct: Sure.
You: When you spend time IMing and on social network sites, others end up having to cover for your lack of effort. What can you do differently?
Direct: What do you mean? I don't spend time IMing! Who told you that?
You: Doesn't matter. If I'm talking to you about it, you can assume I believe it. What can you do differently?
Direct: Not IM at work?
You: Sounds great! Thanks.

jhack's picture

Have you been doing one on ones with him? Have you been giving him feedback already?

Feedback should be frequent and mostly affirming. When it's adjusting, it is then not such a big deal.

Remember that his poor performance is something you can measure (x mistakes in the report) while the reason ("he hurries to gain social time") is a conclusion.

Your feedback should be on the behavior you observe, not on conclusions. Perhaps his work would be substandard if he weren't online.

Finally, you might consider a broader range of implications for step 3: impact on his performance appraisals, impact on your willingness to give him better assignments... (here's where the O3's come in: you should know what motivates him).

John

tcomeau's picture

[quote="clemgr"]...
His work suffers immensely when he hurries to gain social time.[/quote]

I'll echo the other comments: The use of IM is, frankly, irrelevant. If he was using IM in a way that improved his effectiveness, you'd be looking for ways to get the usage policy changed.

Give him feedback on the work. If your company policy explicitly says "Thou shalt not use AIM" (because they want to use Jabber, for example) give him feedback on following IT security policy. If there isn't such a policy that you can print out and highlight, don't bring it up.

If he was in a meeting, and you could hear his IM alerts on his laptop, [i]that[/i] is the time to give him feedback that sounds like "When I hear IM alerts during meetings, it interrupts my train of thought, distracts the other people in the meeting, and sends the message that you aren't paying attention to what's going on in the room."

Focus on what you know: His work isn't meeting your quality or productivity expectations. Don't make a judgement about whether his use of social media is making him more or less effective.

My use of social media is making me a better manager. (That social media being this forum!)

tc>

clemgr's picture

We have our first scheduled 03 this week I will use this to review performance based on the weeks since arrival.
I have been struggling with feedback with this DR they receive corrective with noticeable disagreement and positive with now there is no room to improve.
It is always to the extreme.
Past performance appraisals I believe were inadequate also no MT goals were set, I suppose I need to set some immediately.

I appreciate the advice I know I must concentrate on the behaviors I will need to dedicate more time reviewing output until this is resolved.

I am thinking of sitting with the DR while they process tasks with the purpose of coaching and replacing social with productive behavior.

bffranklin's picture

[quote="clemgr"]
I am thinking of sitting with the DR while they process tasks with the purpose of coaching and replacing social with productive behavior.[/quote]

This is a waste of your time and the company's money. Either the direct can step up and produce work to the expectations, or they can move along. You don't get a professional babysitter, and you're tasked with much more responsibility than your direct!

That said, if it's a training issue, this could be a great opportunity for another of your directs to step up and help out.

tcomeau's picture

[quote="bffranklin"]...
This is a waste of your time and the company's money. [/quote]

I disagree. (Surprise!)

From what little we know, this guy has been a victim of bad management: No measurable goals, little effort to build a relationship, no regular feedback on his work performance. While it wasn't our forum member who failed him, he is a product of management failure.

clemgr is trying to do the work of managing his DR, and it's not easy. Of course it's not easy, it's management.

This person deserves at least a chance at good management, and that includes the kind of things others have suggested.

tc>

bffranklin's picture

Maybe my high D came out a bit on that response (you think?)!

My point is that while this individual is certainly worthy of attention to get them on the right track, sitting with them and watching them probably isn't the best use of the manager's time. This is something that could readily be delegated, if a bit of handholding is what the direct needs.

tcomeau's picture

[quote="bffranklin"]...
My point is that while this individual is certainly worthy of attention to get them on the right track, sitting with them and watching them probably isn't the best use of the manager's time. [/quote]

Ah, that's a different discussion!

I can't tell from here.

Sometimes I sit with people for extended periods while they work, making fairly specific, detailed comments. That's close to what I think clemgr is suggesting. Sometimes I give people vague directions and see what happens.

I think both approaches are valid.

Intensive coaching for half a day or a day can be very helpful, particularly for people new to a role. One of my peers does this regularly with new developers -- basically pair programming (an Agile practice I enthusiastically endorse) -- and has great outcomes.

If you "babysit" for a week, then you probably are wasting everybody's time. If you do some intensive coaching that includes commenting on the things that interrupt, the effect of distractions, and the value of focus, that's probably valuable.

I'll leave it to clemgr to figure out which he's doing, and how he can be effective with his New Guy.

tc>

US41's picture

Focus on effectiveness: You want him to do a good job, and you want to get the most you can out of him.

If his work is suffering, give him feedback:

* When you are late for meetings...
* When you fail to deliver early...
* When you say you are too busy...
* When you say you do not have time...

... what happens is I remember going by your desk and seeing you on IM or using a web forum, and I think you are not giving my work I hired you to do 100% of your attention.

If his work is not suffering, then GIVE HIM MORE WORK.

Take work from other performers and put it on him to free them up for off-site training, learning the management ropes, training people themselves, etc. Move someone's work onto him and start delegating more of yours onto the freed-up resource.

I think the issue of micromanaging what someone does all day is resolved by making them busy. If you are busy, then there is still work to be delegated to make them busy.