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Good Morning,

I have been a MT user for a few months now and now find myself asking for assistance / advice of other members.

My problem:

A few months ago I got a new job. During the interview the company did tell me that I was heading into a position that was mismanaged for a period of time and was in a state of disarray. What they failed to tell me was how bad it actually was.

There are personnel issues, workload issues (some people over worked, while others play on the computer all day), there are no policies in place to govern worker behavior.

I have started using some of the MT tools with my directs, but finding it difficult to change past behaviors as other managers just let their directs do as they please. I am finding it hard to give feedback for a specific behavior when others within the company are allowed to behave in the same manner without consequences.

I find the situation very frustrating and difficult. Being new, I want to make a positive impression, but changing the behavior of my team, when others within the company are still allowed to continue their behavior, seems easier said than done.

I appreciate any ideas that you may have.

J.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="bates_40"]I have started using some of the MT tools with my directs, but finding it difficult to change past behaviors as other managers just let their directs do as they please. I am finding it hard to give feedback for a specific behavior when others within the company are allowed to behave in the same manner without consequences.

I find the situation very frustrating and difficult. Being new, I want to make a positive impression, but changing the behavior of my team, when others within the company are still allowed to continue their behavior, seems easier said than done.[/quote]

Ouch!

Clearly more senior management see that there is a problem as they raised it before you took the job. I think your best bet is to keep applying the MT tools, in particular when someone does something good (i.e. your people who are doing all the work) give them lots of affirming feedback and the people who are playing on their computer all day gets goals set for them and adjusting feedback if they don't meet them. When you meet your boss make sure to praise your effective workers but don't mention you're not-effective ones unless specifically asked, then respond with what you're doing to improve them (so it's not "Bob's a lazy slob who comes in late and then spends his entire day playing solitaire and clock watching" it's "I've had to talk to Bob about his punctuality and for missing some pretty important deadlines. I've set him some goals over the coming weeks and will be checking his progress on a weekly basis"). If any of your non-effective workers complains that someone on another team gets away with stuff I think the best approach is to simply point out that that person doesn't work for you but the complainer does. Also you're giving them feedback because [b]they[/b] missed [b]their[/b] goal, what someone else did or didn't do (unless it directly impacted on their ability to meet their goal, e.g. there's a task dependancy so someone else had to finish their part of the task before they could start theirs (for analogy, a roofer can't start working until the bricklayer has finished building the walls), but that's a whole different ball game) is irrelevant.

It'll be difficult at first but eventually the non-effective workers will get fed up of getting mostly adjusting feedback whilst the effective ones get mostly affirming feedback and start to knuckle down, at least a bit more than they do at the moment so you'll have the opportunity to give them affirming feedback. Mean while your effective workers will knwo that their work is being appreciated and recognised.

Your team will be seen as one that gets things done and you'll be seen as a problem solver, your boss may even start saying to your peers "Well, [b]J's[/b] team are producing, so why can't yours?" holding you up as the exemplar of what good management is. They'll either start imitating you on the sly or just straight out ask how you managed it and you can point them to MT.

That might seem a bit rose tinted glasses (it does to me and I wrote it) but what's the alternative?

Stephen

ccleveland's picture

J,

[u]You[/u] are responsible for managing [u]your[/u] team's performance. If you let people in your group play on the computer all day without giving them direct feedback and possibly further steps, that's your responsibility.

"Can I give you some feedback? When I see you playing games on the Internet all day, it causes others in our group to have to pick up your workload and I begin to consider if we can replace you with someone else. What will you do differently?"

So what if other groups allow their teams to do the bad behavior? Other manager's aren't responsible for your team and vice versa. If it's your staff member saying this to you...just smile and walk away (see the [url=http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/10/feedback-and-the-shot-across-the-bo... across the bow podcast[/url]).

If you're not measuring your team's performance start right away! And then measure improvement as you provide feedback, late stage coaching, or, if you must, replace team members. As you make improvements, others (management and peers) will notice.

CC

Mark's picture

Great question. So sorry you are where you are.

Stephen - great post sir.

The only place I disagree with Stephen is the rose colored glasses cite.

Here's my take: [b]This is your job. DO IT.[/b]

Us executives have a saying: "Don't make me come down there and do your job for you."

It is YOUR JOB to hold people accountable for work. It is NOT acceptable, ever, for any manager, to NOT DO THEIR JOB because someone else is not doing theirs. The corrosiveness - the sheer destructive capability - of this sort of "it's hard" thinking is debilitating even to THINK about.

We have a saying in Texas: Cowboy Up.

[And that includes ever - EVER - saying again anything that could be interpreted that the company is at fault for the situation you are in. (You did that in your post, and I'll leave it to you to figure out where.)]

Do O3s. Give lots of feedback. Hold firm. Measure some basic stuff, and drown your team in pleasant, brief, warm and deadly negative feedback. When you see something good, however small, reward it with positive feedback. Find some job descriptions, and show them to folks when they don't meet the standards. Be pleasant, and as deadly as a manager wiling to terminate everyone who is unwilling to earn their keep, paid by customers. I don't know what your company sells, but if it's consumed by, or helps, folks on limited incomes, the sheer evil of loafing at work by those who do have a job is an ethical crime I find loathsome. What they are doing is so shameful that writing about it makes me want to spit.

Stop worrying about your damn impression. Do the right thing. If they fire you for it, we'll do whatever we can to help.

Do not be party to this sickness. Be a professional. Cowboy up.

Earn YOUR pay.

Mark

PS: You know what? I'm a nice person. I'm sorry this post doesn't sound that way. [b]But I refuse to stand by while others there (not here!) suggest that the status quo is okay. [/b] I refuse to watch a good person be ruined by a culture that has gone sour. You are in danger of that, and moderation in the fight against mediocrity is a professional sin.

This is the lesson: Never give in. (apologies)

PM me and I will give you my cell phone number if you think you'll need it. - H

steven_martin's picture

Mark

Once again I find myself in awe of the power of your comments. Your offer of some personal support to J goes way beyond what required. It shows how dedicated to your M-T followers.

"Cowboy Up!" - I love it. For some reason I don't you need to hear it much. But for us that need this advice once in a while, it's simple and effective.

Thanks Again
Steven

ashdenver's picture

I'm a Pollyanna at heart and I would personally adopt the Rah-Rah-Go-Team-Be-The-Best-Work-Hard-Play-Hard attitude. Sure you're expecting a lot more out of your new team than anyone else's manager but so what? You're in it to win it and it's not a matter of "no one else has to play by these rules" because the lack of rules doesn't lead to the winner's circle.

"We want to be recognized throughout the company as the best team around. I expect a lot out of the team AND I give back to the team a lot. Feedback, coaching, mentoring, leadership, O3s -- okay, maybe a pizza lunch once in a while or a fun two hour team outing to the bowling alley during a slow season. We don't get to be the best by doing what everyone else does. The BEST shows up on time (or early!), work hard and give it their all. The BEST are rewarded for their efforts. That's what I want for each person on the team. I am committed to being part of a winning, world-class team. I invite the rest of you to join that winning team."

I guess what I'm saying is: remove the negative. Shift the team perspective of "I shouldn't have to cuz no one else has to" into something positive and fun like "I want to because I want to be part of the best team in this company!"

Mark said to take off the rose colored glasses and cowboy up. I'd say put on the blinders (and hand them out to the team) so the only focus is on personal, professional and team development AND tell the team to cowboy up (not just yourself!) cuz if you make it about being the best, they've also gotta cowboy up & stand tall and strong against the dudes in black hats.

LouFlorence's picture

J.

This may sound a little perverse, but you are in a [i]great[/i] position. You have the opportunity to put the basics of sound management in place and to make a tremendous difference. Focus on the management trinity and communications.

Don't worry about what other managers and groups do. Just take care of your people and their results. With the situation you describe you should be able to bring about visible change quickly.

When you begin to see the changes, your job will become fun. It's great to go to work and know that you are having a positive effect. Your directs will start to feel it too (well, some of them).

Persevere and do not despair. You're the lucky one!

Regards,
Lou

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="bates_40"]
A few months ago I got a new job. During the interview the company did tell me that I was heading into a position that was mismanaged for a period of time and was in a state of disarray. What they failed to tell me was how bad it actually was.

There are personnel issues, workload issues (some people over worked, while others play on the computer all day), there are no policies in place to govern worker behavior. [/quote]

Been there (years back at a different place than I now serve.)

Set CLEAR expectations and performance levels for YOUR team. I was tempted to begin terminating skips immediately to prove my point. However, I worked through/with one of the managers on my team instead. This reinforced the status quo was not acceptable.

Stay professional--always. Those that cannot handle the new regime (you) and the new way of doing things will leave.

It was an *incredibly* challenging position. Your position, I am certain, is also quite challenging. Hang in there. Follow the MT trinity. I wish I had MTools then (and knowing what I know now.)

Despite the years of separation some of my former directs keep me updated on their career moves, families, etc. We stay in touch.

mjpeterson's picture

Bates, I would say that you have a great opportunity. You can take a team that is failing and make it successful. This could be a tremendous way to improve and develop both yourself and your career. Being able to succeed where others have failed will make you a standout in your company. It will also give you the material for an awesome resume and the ability to go elsewhere if you ultimately decide your current company is not the right place for you.

US41's picture

[quote="bates_40"]finding it difficult to change past behaviors as other managers just let their directs do as they please[/quote]

Ah yes. The ol' "But Billy gets to stay out after dark, why can't I?" plea from my children. I am quite familiar with it.

Suggestion:

"Can I give you some feedback? [Y]... When you say that you want to do X because the people on that team do X, it makes me think that you want us to do no better than they are doing. My goal is for our team to outperform theirs 2 to 1. Your job is to contribute to my goal. What can you do differently to contribute to us outperforming them?"

I've had a few directs come to me before and ask how come others are permitted to do things they are not. I look them right in the eye and say, "If you start performing to their level, you will be afforded such treatment as well."

At work, there are no equals. There are top performers, the solid middle, and those who have left to seek other opportunities effectively immediately.

Annual pay raises are not equal - top performers get more. I calculate the amount of money I have to throw around and I divide it up totally unequally.

Annual review scores are not equal - I will throw myself into a fire for my top, top performer to get a better score than everyone else.

Seats are not equal. My good guys sit near the windows.

I make sure that my team is acutely aware of the accomplishments of my top performers and the deserving way in which they are given whatever status symbols I have at my disposal to hand out.

Likewise, I do not allow my team to perform like everyone else's. I dress better than my peers. I ensure that I represent a superior team, and I measure their success and trumpet it around the company loudly and often. I raise my folk's names to management when they do something of note, and I remind my boss that my team is his best team and that we are the special forces squad. Everyone else is infantry.

If you believe your team is special, and you tell them they are special, and you tell management they are special, and you throw out those that cannot make you special, and you hire people who can make you special... and coach those who can be coached to contribute to the team becoming special, you will succeed like no other manager in your company.

If you accept the status quo and operate a Marxist society where failure is rewarded and success is punished (unrecognized), your results will be crummy and when layoff time comes, you'll be a candidate for force reduction when you could have been immune.

Build a superior team. Set the bar high. Expect the best. Inspect to assure you are getting it. Reward it with positive feedback and accolades. Coach everyone. Those who fail to perform - get rid of them and send a message to your team that low performers will not be tolerated. Show them through your behavior that your team is not average.

High morale is not equal with happiness, comfort, or pleasure. You cannot create high morale by raising pay or benefits. My morale is high, and my benefits were recently reduced due to change in company policy.

Your team members will have high morale if they believe the work they do is important, contributes to some cause, and that the group they belong to is seen as performing. Even if they are overworked, underpaid, and surrounded by incompetence on all sides, a team that sees themselves as elite will have high morale.

I have high morale because my boss, like me, does not suffer fools. He takes us under wing, coaches us, and gives us a chance to perform. Those that don't try or simply cannot do it - my boss helps them go be successful somewhere else. The rest of us keep going upward and know that we are members of a group dedicated to success. We believe in ourselves.

bffranklin's picture

[quote="US41"] I remind my boss that my team is his best team and that we are the special forces squad. Everyone else is infantry.

If you believe your team is special, and you tell them they are special, and you tell management they are special, and you throw out those that cannot make you special, and you hire people who can make you special... and coach those who can be coached to contribute to the team becoming special, you will succeed like no other manager in your company.[/quote]

US41,

Thank you. We hear it again and again from Mike and Mark for good reason, but sometimes pieces of it need to be stated in just the right way to get through my thick skull.

It's not just about being a good, it's about being the best (or at least aiming to be the best).