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Currently in my department we have two project teams and all of the data is handled by the data group. The PM for the project in question is extremely young and has no experience doing any sort of management. She was given that role by my boss. Her second-in-command is also extremely young and inexperienced and is also a personal favorite of my boss.

The head of the data group is older and has much more experience but can be very abrasive.

The problem is they all fight like children constantly. On the matter they are arguing over I agree with the data guy and have expressed that to everyone multiple times. But the developers still go on doing things the way they are used to doing them and then the data guy throws a little fit and gets mad at the developers and then they get mad and then they throw their toys at each other.

My first step was to move someone I know and trust into the room where they all work to try to keep things in check. I've had meetings with the group heads as well as meetings with everyone to try to set this straight but the bickering continues.

I am almost out of ideas. Other than telling them to play nice or I'll cancel recess the only thing I can think of is to have 1 on 1s with everyone involved.

Any suggestions?

regas14's picture

In my opinion one-on-ones and feedback are definitely the path you should take. I'm not sure what your expected result was of moving someone else into the room. Aside from putting that person in the crossfire, did you delegate to them the responsibility and authority to actually fix the situation or was that person there to observe and keep the others from killing each other. Neither of those seem to me to be effective to your objective of getting the work done well and keeping your people satisfied.

First, for the more junior members of this situation, explain to them that when they participate in this ineffective behavior it shows in many ways (but tailor that statement to the effects that will have the greatest resonance with them). Ask them what they will do differently to improve the situation and support them in taking the appropriate actions while delegating to them the responsibility for improvement.

Second, for the more senior member involved, explain to him that his participation in this ineffective behavior hurts the group and the impact that his work has on the effort. Ask him what he will do differently to improve the situation and support him in the same way as you are the others.

Hold everyone accountable for seeing marked improvement and hold yourself accountable for being regularly involved in the process.

Good Luck!

escuccim's picture

At the moment we are undergoing construction in our office so I am on one side and most of the developers are on a different side. I wanted to put someone I knew and trusted in the room with them to try to mediate the conflicts and keep order. I thought that maybe just having someone there would help them keep it under control. He does have the authority to do whatever needs to be done.

Other than that your suggestions are excellent. I will definitely do that.

Thanks!

[quote="regas14"]In my opinion one-on-ones and feedback are definitely the path you should take. I'm not sure what your expected result was of moving someone else into the room. Aside from putting that person in the crossfire, did you delegate to them the responsibility and authority to actually fix the situation or was that person there to observe and keep the others from killing each other. Neither of those seem to me to be effective to your objective of getting the work done well and keeping your people satisfied.

First, for the more junior members of this situation, explain to them that when they participate in this ineffective behavior it shows in many ways (but tailor that statement to the effects that will have the greatest resonance with them). Ask them what they will do differently to improve the situation and support them in taking the appropriate actions while delegating to them the responsibility for improvement.

Second, for the more senior member involved, explain to him that his participation in this ineffective behavior hurts the group and the impact that his work has on the effort. Ask him what he will do differently to improve the situation and support him in the same way as you are the others.

Hold everyone accountable for seeing marked improvement and hold yourself accountable for being regularly involved in the process.

Good Luck![/quote]

Mark's picture

It's a tough spot, but you're smart enough to know that behaviors ought to change. That's good - many managers don't know that yet.

Some other thoughts:

You're getting paid to do this job, managing them. Why would you put someone else in there? If you need someone in there, YOU GO.

And you don't need to. Start with lots of feedback - and are you really not doing one on ones already? Wow. If behavior doesn't change, make sure the "here's what happens" stuff starts coming true.

And watch out for all the characterizations and euphemisms you're using here. Stick with stuff you can see and hear, actual behaviors. Enough with the children analogies.... bad habits have a way of coming out of our mouths when we are ill-tempered.

Mark

escuccim's picture

Well put and well taken.

I am doing one-on-ones with my direct reports and most of the people involved in this situation are not my direct reports. Their supervisors are either unable to handle the situation or are getting involved in the bickering.

The way I put it was uncalled for and it was because I was extremely frustrated with things.

There are some more serious, underlying problems in this situation which were not mentioned here but have been mentioned in other posts I have made. I'm not sure that any of this will ever be resolved before we get the root causes taken care of, and those go up the chain so it's a very difficult situation.

[quote="mahorstman"]You're getting paid to do this job, managing them. Why would you put someone else in there? If you need someone in there, YOU GO.

And you don't need to. Start with lots of feedback - and are you really not doing one on ones already? Wow. If behavior doesn't change, make sure the "here's what happens" stuff starts coming true.

And watch out for all the characterizations and euphemisms you're using here. Stick with stuff you can see and hear, actual behaviors. Enough with the children analogies.... bad habits have a way of coming out of our mouths when we are ill-tempered.

Mark[/quote]

regas14's picture

escuccim,

From your initial post, I was under the impression that these were your direct reports. Now that I understand that they are not, I would suggest you provide some peer feedback to their supervisors stating the behavior (i.e. not giving feedback regarding the results of behavior of their direct reports) and the resulting impact of that behavior in terms of how it reflects upon the supervisor. You could state this in terms of how other managers view this kind of turmoil within their group, how their other direct reports react, how it impacts the effectiveness of this team and/or ultimately the bottom-line.

It is possible that the other supervisors think every one else has either failed to notice or is simply ignoring the situation. By letting them know that you and possibly others recognize what is going on and that it is affecting your perception of them might be just enough to cause them to see the importance of managing this situation.

I would not recommend doing one-on-ones with someone else's direct reports. That could get messy.

Good Luck!

G.R.

Mark's picture

So sorry I misunderstood!

Could you start over, and give us a full rendition? (Thpough it may be moot if none of these folks work for you.)

Make sure YOUR directs know what you expect of them regarding working with these others.

Mark

escuccim's picture

Well all of them work for me though not directly.

Our organization structure is not very clear. The CTO is the head of the entire department, I am in charge of the programming division. According to their offer letters pretty much all IT employees report directly to the CTO, although some of the newer ones report to me. Below me is a guy with a meaningless title who essentially is my right-hand man. He is the authority if I am out.

Below him are the project managers and below them are the developers.

The main feud seems to be between one of the database guys, who seems to think he is superior because he is older than everyone, and one of the very young, right-out-of-school, developers. The developer is a very bright young man but has no experience and no focus. He never completes anything totally and just jumps around doing bits and pieces of random things. His project manager is also very young has no management experience at all. She is getting involved in the bickering.

The bickering is about the fact that the older, data guy wants to do things slowly and methodically and the programmers want to just jump around and do "cool" things rather than things that need to get done.

As far as the issues go I agree with the data guy on everything he says, however he looks down on everyone who is younger than him because of their age and does not communicate well due to this. The programmers also always blame the data first and most of the time it turns out to be programming errors and this causes a lot of bad blood.

Whether or not these people are my direct reports or not is not totally clear given our lack of a clear hierarchy but ultimately it is my responsibility.

None of the project managers have any management experience so the whole situation is very difficult.

I hope this explains the situation a little better.

Thanks!

[quote="mahorstman"]So sorry I misunderstood!

Could you start over, and give us a full rendition? (Thpough it may be moot if none of these folks work for you.)

Make sure YOUR directs know what you expect of them regarding working with these others.[/quote]