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I think I can safely say I'm the only entomologist here, although please feel free to prove me wrong :)

I recently (8 months ago) got a dream job managing a research station in the Midwest.
I am in charge of the undergraduate educational programs, a bird sanctuary, our website, risk management, and about 200 other things.

I've done pretty well managing the scientists and students, but I've run into a snag with two of my staff. I've got dueling passive aggressives, basically. Sigh.

I'm hoping for some ideas on how to try to get them turned around.
Feel free to offer suggestions!

So far I've had a great time doing "job shadows" with all my directs. I even learned to inseminate a cow a couple of weeks ago! :shock:

Again, I may be the only manager here that can make that claim. (or that wants to :lol: )

jhack's picture

Welcome!

Wow... since childhood, arthropod taxonomy has been a fascination of mine (just this evening, my son and I were appreciating a Giant Root Borer attracted by our porch light)!

Have you listened to this podcast:

http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/08/resolving-conflict/

It covers conflict between directs.

I hate to presume...however, if you have not yet listened to the basics podcasts (especially one on ones!), then you should.

Finally, if you could post your question about your directs in the General Management and Leadership forum (http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=14) we can leave this thread to be a delightful discussion of Odonata, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and the rest while that boring work stuff takes place elsewhere....

John

PS: I'm guessing other folks on the forums will ask you be specific about what your directs [i]said[/i] and [i]did[/i], so be sure to add that detail (without names) in the post.

bug_girl's picture

I have been listening to the podcasts, and they've been helpful.

I took a detour from regular faculty into administration/student services, where I learned a LOT about human behavior.
I also had a spectacular boss, who taught me a great deal.

I find the podcasts most helpful for giving me terminology for what I see happening, but because my situation is so...well, ODD, it isn't always easy to apply.

Cows, vomiting vultures, and speedboat destruction of federal research don't come up often in the podcasts. But they are part of my weekly routine
8)

Feel free to ask entomological questions! And consider signing up for this great Citizen Scientist project that asks people to track fireflies--a great project for kids in the summer:
https://www.mos.org/fireflywatch/virtual_habitat

US41's picture

I like what Lencioni has to say about mining for conflict. Read "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" and "Death by Meeting." When we hold our team meeting, I do everything I can to get my folks arguing with one another. When the arguments come out on the table in the open, they can be addressed. When they are not arguing, that's where the hidden resentments lie. He calls it "mining for conflict."

Passive-aggressive behavior is all about unspoken conflict.

When we discuss a topic, and one of them says, "I think you should do this." Then I turn to one that I know does not agree with that idea and say, "What do you think about that? Is that what you want to do?" It's interesting how professional disagreement actually brings people closer together.

I do not do this to resolve personal conflict. I don't pull two of them in a room in front of me and tell them to hug and make up. When one comes to me about the other, I just give individual feedback if I detect behavior that is not effective. If they are in disagreement, that's not necessarily ineffective. Disagreement can be highly effective, and openly speaking disagreement has been a huge source of creative solutions for us.

bug_girl's picture

Unfortunately, this is not effective disagreement.

Most scientists are used to constructive back and forth; a lot of my social science colleagues are shocked at how much we argue :D

I'll post a longer description in the appropriate forum section, once I figure out how to describe it in a way that won't make our facility immediately identifiable.

pmoriarty's picture

Welcome to Manager Tools bug_girl!

I watched Mike Rowe inseminate a cow on Dirty Jobs. That's a skill I'll pass on acquiring, thanks. :)

bug_girl's picture

We are actually putting together a proposal to have Mike come to the station and film an episode :D

US41's picture

No need to post details. The solution to non-effective disagreement is very simple: Give each of them feedback privately.

* When you roll your eyes when she speaks...
* When you interrupt her...
* When you ignore her emails...
* When you talk about her behind her back negatively...

... it gets around, and others view you as

D: not being promotion worthy because you cannot control your emotions
I: not part of the team and do not look like you can compete
S: not interested in supporting us and making everyone successful or keeping things rolling along
C: incompetent at dealing with different kinds of people and unwilling to consider the data

That's pretty much it.

bug_girl's picture

The part that is stumping me is getting them to [i]CARE[/i] about any of the things you mentioned.
One person doesn't like people (she works primarily with animals). With 27 years service, and only 3 more to retirement, there isn't much I can do.

The other person has already said that she hates it so much she plans to leave...but has been here only one year, so is hanging on to make her resume look better.

Our process for firing takes at least 2 years...I have no leverage. Both of them have checked out.

My goal is just to keep them from tearing the place apart and making the one excellent employee in that unit quit before they finally go away.

I've put a performance improvement plan in place for the anti-social employee, with specific goals over the next 3 months. I think I can get her back on track, although she's quite troubled and angry. Did I mention she also carries a gun as part of her job? (patrolling nature reserve).

The other person has refused to meet with me so far, so my next step is not asking [i]nicely[/i] for a meeting.

Sigh.

Almost everyone else I work with is fabulous, BTW.
And these are helpful comments, because they confirm that I'm doing the right things....it's just not working. At least I know the pathology may not be mine :)

tomw's picture

[quote="bug_girl"]The part that is stumping me is getting them to [i]CARE[/i] about any of the things you mentioned. [/quote]

That's the biggest challenge of management: finding out what your staff cares about and using it to motivate them to be more effective.

One-on-ones help a LOT in that respect.

jhack's picture

Tom's right - you can only influence the situation if you have built up trust with each of them.

John

PS: Cool firefly site...the kids and I'll have to spend some time Saturday evening in the backyard.

US41's picture

I'm going to challenge some of your assumptions that I believe are probably false that you might be using as a way of avoiding the very hard choices and decisions you face yourself.

[quote="bug_girl"]The part that is stumping me is getting them to [i]CARE[/i] about any of the things you mentioned. [/quote]

You don't need anyone to care about anything. You need them to behave effectively. What they care about is their business, but what they DO, SAY, and the FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, and BODY LANGUAGE they use - those are your territory. You give feedback on that.

[quote]One person doesn't like people (she works primarily with animals). With 27 years service, and only 3 more to retirement, there isn't much I can do. [/quote]

There is plenty you can do. Being close to retirement means nothing.

[quote]The other person has already said that she hates it so much she plans to leave...but has been here only one year, so is hanging on to make her resume look better.[/quote]

Again, there is plenty you can do here as well.

[quote]Our process for firing takes at least 2 years...I have no leverage. Both of them have checked out.[/quote]

Your firing process takes that long when an ineffective manager does not do their job and tries to fire someone. If you work the system effectively, you can probably speed things up dramatically - or drive someone to resign long before firing would have worked simply through doing your best to help them be effective. You have plenty of leverage.

Perhaps they have checked out because you have been indecisive and have not taken firm action yourself - so they feel as though nothing is going to happen to get things rolling. Employees tend to reflect the behavior of the manager they work for.

[quote]My goal is just to keep them from tearing the place apart and making the one excellent employee in that unit quit before they finally go away.[/quote]

You have set the bar very low to prevent your own failure. That is not acceptable. You are trying to keep people from quitting - that is not your goal. Your goal is to retain GOOD people. The people that are not behaving effectively and will not change - your goal is to lose those people and lose them soon.

Hold O3's with them twice weekly. When you summon them, and they do not show up, reel them in and sit them down for a firm talk. "I'm your boss. You report to me. When I call a meeting, and you don't come, that's insubordination. I will not tolerate that sort of behavior. Are we clear?"

Just because MT preaches Management Trinity does not mean there is not an appropriate time to drop your authority right on someone's lap like a ton of bricks. There is. Employees refusing to come to meetings? Tell them they have to. If they don't, write them up for it in front of HR. Stick it in their file.

You have plenty of leverage:

* You can call meetings with them and they have to attend.
* You can give them assignments which they have to perform successfully
* You can measure performance and record results in the O3 forms.
* You can share those forms with HR and ask them to speed up the process
* You can do so much status reviewing and feedbacking of your reports that they resign from the frustration of having a real boss who will not tolerate poor performance.

Are you giving them negative feedback about these behaviors daily? Hourly? Are you meeting with them weekly and holding a hot wash for the previous week each time? "What went well? Well, let's see... nothing really except that you finally agreed to attend these meetings after I threatened your employment. Not really top drawer performance. Take another look at --- here's a list of 50 things that didn't go so good this week. I gave you sixteen adjusting feedbacks about this that and the other thing... You forgot to log your time, you didn't show up on time a single day, etc."

Put it all in your notes. Ask them to write up what the plan is to fix these things and deliver it to you the next day by noon. When they don't, make a note of that, and continue after them for it. Continue chasing them until they finally realize that you are the boss.

YOU ARE THE BOSS.

You have to believe it if you want them to believe it. In some situations, it is your job to behave this way. This sounds like one of those situations.

M_T_D's picture

[quote]

[quote]
Quote:
One person doesn't like people (she works primarily with animals). With 27 years service, and only 3 more to retirement, there isn't much I can do.
[/quote]

There is plenty you can do. Being close to retirement means nothing.

[/quote]

I would like to hear more about this. I have some staff who are near retirement whose performance is not great and one person that is a particular problem. When I try some of the approaches that you suggest (i.e. specifically discussing their poor performance, where they need to be, and ask for their plans), it leads to a discussion of how this person is be discriminated against for age. This is absolutely not the case, but it has lead to reluctance by my management to act on his performance issues.

My strategy has been to force the issue and not provide any special provisions for this person. Of course this is miserable for me because of the push back that I'm getting without any action by HR or management to solve the problem. This isn't working.

tomw's picture

[quote="M_T_D"]I would like to hear more about this. I have some staff who are near retirement whose performance is not great and one person that is a particular problem. When I try some of the approaches that you suggest (i.e. specifically discussing their poor performance, where they need to be, and ask for their plans), it leads to a discussion of how this person is be discriminated against for age. [/quote]

How are you phrasing your points? What about their performance do you discuss?

It's really important you focus on things that are observable (behaviors) that are not open for discussion, such as arriving late, missing deadlines, submitting work with lots of mistakes, raising voice in meetings, etc.

US41's picture

[quote="M_T_D"]I would like to hear more about this. I have some staff who are near retirement whose performance is not great and one person that is a particular problem. When I try some of the approaches that you suggest (i.e. specifically discussing their poor performance, where they need to be, and ask for their plans), it leads to a discussion of how this person is be discriminated against for age. This is absolutely not the case, but it has lead to reluctance by my management to act on his performance issues.

My strategy has been to force the issue and not provide any special provisions for this person. Of course this is miserable for me because of the push back that I'm getting without any action by HR or management to solve the problem. This isn't working.[/quote]

The concept of HR was not created to help you as a manager. HR is there to protect the company from your decisions and ensure that you are personally blamed for them should any lawsuit arise, to secure benefits for employees, and to process payroll. They aren't going to step in.

HR will sit back with a finger in the wind and try to determine their risk of endorsing what you have done. They will back you when you have provided them enough cover to do so. Don't expect them to rescue you. They'll just use The C and say, "Yes, it sounds like you have a problem. We have to make sure the company is not found negligent." and leave it to you.

* Hold O3's and make the person accountable to attend them. Failure to attend is insubordination. It is a legitimate mgt request to reel in your folks for a weekly meeting.

* During O3's ask after work. Always use the MT objective for everything you ask for or that they are working on. "You will do #/% of this by Month/Date/Year Hour:Minute AM/PM" and put it in your notes on the form at the bottom.

* Every O3 should have ten minutes where you follow up on these things. When they fail to deliver, note it, and give adjusting feedback. "When you are asked to provide something by Tuesday, October 12, 2008 at 5:00PM GMT, and you deliver it at 6:00PM GMT, here's what happens... I get your status too late to include it in my weekly report to my boss, and I draw the conclusion that you are not doing everything you can to help me."

Listen to the reasons why they can't do it. Say, "That's fine, and you still have to deliver it. What will you do differently next time."

Get commitment from them to deliver on time that they say, and write down that they committed. If they still do not deliver, then give more strong feedback, and say that you draw the conclusion that they cannot or refuse to perform to a minimum standard, and that continuation of this behavior will require you to take more formal action with them.

The bottom line with this kind of thing, guys, is that when you have a poor performer, and the Management Trinity from the podcasts is not encouraging better performance in them but instead rebellion, you as the boss must continue to press them hard even though it is exhausting for you to do so. Increase the O3's to twice a week, and continue piling up notes about things they have failed to do. End every months with a hot wash, "WWW - not so much. TALA - you are not doing your job. Here are 80 dates you missed, 50 assignments you did substandard, and this cannot continue."

They will likely flee your management if you continue to press them like this before you can take action. Your system of follow-up and note-taking in O3's will corner them into having to do as you ask.

Continue to throw work their way despite the fact that they claim they are overloaded. Ensure it is similar to the abilities of others that you are expecting from them. They will eventually see where this is headed and take steps to get away.

If they don't, you will build a mountain of reasons as to why it is time to let them go. You go straight to HR with the big pile of notes, review a summary document with them, give them a copy, and say, "I request that we terminate this person's employment. All possible coaching has been provided. All options are exhausted. This person is causing others to lose productivity."

They *will* work with you if you give that cover.

But remember, your hope against hope is that the person so cornered actually begins to perform, receive positive feedback, and then turn everything around and become a productive and useful team member. Your goal is not to fire someone. If you work with someone with the intent of firing them, you're own darkness will cause you such stress you will give out before the employee does.

This is all in the podcasts:

http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/07/the-single-most-effective-managemen...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/07/the-single-most-effective-managemen...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/07/giving-effective-feedback/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/08/the-art-of-delegation/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/08/the-art-of-coaching/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/09/more-on-coaching/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/10/compassionate-layoffs/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/11/how-do-you-help-employees-develop/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/11/coaching-revisited-part-1/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/12/coaching-revisited-part-2/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/02/how-to-fire-someone-well-almost/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/the-late-and-early-stage-coaching-m...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/late-stage-coaching-model-review-pa...

The MT podcasts present an integrated suite of techniques that work together. You need to understand the entirety of the system to put it to work.

It works like crazy for me.

[quote]
this is miserable for me[/quote]

Indeed. It is not easy to turn around problem employees or convince them to leave. It requires you be in constant conflict with them. Welcome to "They." Welcome to management.

M_T_D's picture

Thanks for taking the time to type this up! This an excellent summary!

I'm going to focus on this MT approach with the hope that his performance will either improve, but be prepared for HR should it not.

US101's picture

Can I just say that US41's post should be in the top 10 of all posts. There is so much value here to picked up. Thanks US41 for taking the time to contribute so much to this management community.

bug_girl's picture

I guess we might as well give up on taking this to another section of the forum. :lol:

Part of the challenge for me is definitely that I've only been there 8 months, and am still learning what motivates these two.
You are absolutely right that my hope that they go away in 2 years is setting the bar too low. Thanks for calling me on that.

I think I was just so discouraged after 2 weeks of hassles over this that I wasn't thinking straight.

One issue is that I simply don't have *time* to manage this situation the way it needs to be, given all my other responsibilities. That's making me feel overwhelmed, and want to give up on this.

The other issue is how to [b]physically[/b] be present to see these behaviors. We have a 5000+ acre property to deal with, and I can't be everywhere, and in the Capitol 2 days/week.

Of course, now that I know what's holding me back, I still have to figure out what to do about it....
Ok, maybe some of the pathology is me after all. :oops:

BTW, I work for the state, and yes, it really *does* take 2 years to fire someone because of the nature of the contracts. (Unless they do something dangerous-which I would rather they not do, since one of them is armed.)

This has been really helpful! Thanks!

bffranklin's picture

[quote="bug_girl"]Part of the challenge for me is definitely that I've only been there 8 months, and am still learning what motivates these two. [/quote]
[quote="bug_girl"]One issue is that I simply don't have *time* to manage this situation the way it needs to be, given all my other responsibilities. That's making me feel overwhelmed, and want to give up on this. [/quote]

You still haven't told us if you're doing O3s. I'm going to suspect you're not because O3s a) will quickly let you know what motivates your direct, and b) save you _hours_ on a weekly basis.

You may also want to review delegation if you're having to do too much work. Let your top performers grow!

[quote="bug_girl"]The other issue is how to [b]physically[/b] be present to see these behaviors.[/quote]

You don't need to be. Give them feedback. You're here telling us about it, so you _believe_ it could be true. Just make sure it's feedback on behaviors. As John initially noted, passive aggressive isn't a behavior, its a judgment. Here's a forum topic that goes into detail on this:

[url]http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=791&start=0&postdays...

-B[/url]

US41's picture

Bug girl,

The last response may have seemed like tough love, but this one will be. I feel like you are on the brink of a break-through, so I will invest further in your situation in the hopes of helping three people find better lives to lead all day and unstop your problem. It's going to sound harsh, yet my intention is to help you and others who stumble across this in similar situations, not embarrass you.

[quote="bug_girl"]Part of the challenge for me is definitely that I've only been there 8 months, and am still learning what motivates these two.[/quote]

Part of the challenge for you is to stop using "I need more data" as an excuse to not take action. You do not need more data. You have all the data needed to take action. You might not be comfortable with the data you have being complete, but the pursuit of perfection is paralyzing you.

If I would your boss, I would give you this feedback, "... when you allow a situation like this to continue for weeks on end and do not take action and say you need more data, I get the impression you are not competent to manage these people. I feel the desire to reach over you and fix the problem myself right away. What are you going to do to take action NOW?"

You do not need to know what motivates them. What motivates them is irrelevant. You need to know what behaviors they engage in and whether or not they are effective.

[quote]I think I was just so discouraged after 2 weeks of hassles over this that I wasn't thinking straight. [/quote]

Two weeks of hassles is nothing with problem employees. Get ready for a year of hassles in some cases. If you don't like doing that kind of thing, then you might not be cut out for management. It is a consideration. If you can't make the tough calls and deal with the constant conflict, then an individual contributor role is what you need.

[quote]One issue is that I simply don't have *time* to manage this situation the way it needs to be, given all my other responsibilities. That's making me feel overwhelmed, and want to give up on this. [/quote]

Nonsense. You had time to write this post, and that is more time than you need to manage this problem. You do have time. You only need 30 minutes per week with each of them to manage this problem. Listen to the podcasts to which I posted links.

[quote]The other issue is how to [b]physically[/b] be present to see these behaviors.[/quote]

You do not need to be physically present. You can give feedback on behavior without ever seeing it. "When you scowl at visitors to the facility, I get phone calls, I get email, and I get personal complaints. It ticks me off that I have to come tell you to stop scowling. What can you do differently?"

They will say "I didn't scowl." Say, "Yeah, sure, whatever." Keep calling them on their scowling. Press them on it - "press" as I use it means continuous and unrelenting feedback on their bad behavior as reported by others whether you see it or not.

"You keep calling me about scowling, but I don't scowl!" "Listen, if you don't scowl, please explain how it is that I get regular complaints about you scowling. You scowl. You know you scowl. Are you saying you are unwilling to smile?"

[quote]Ok, maybe some of the pathology is me after all. :oops:[/quote]

Maybe some? ;) Maybe most? Probably most? Almost entirely certain that it is almost all? Everything that happens on my team somehow has me at the center of it. I don't understand how that happens, just because I am the leader of the team and my managers emulate many of my behaviors - including the ineffective ones. How could it happen that most of my team's problems can be found with roots at my desk? Of course the successes were my influence at work, but the failures... surely not, right? ;)

[quote]BTW, I work for the state, and yes, it really *does* take 2 years to fire someone because of the nature of the contracts.[/quote]

One of them is armed. You think that unacceptable and unprofessional behavior is not dangerous? I think it's dangerous. I bet a gov't HR office will see it as dangerous too when you keep repeating, "Frightening behavior from an armed employee. Others feel threatened and intimidated. Creating a hostile work environment in which an employee creates a feeling of terror."

I'm trying to imagine HR finding a comfortable nest snipe from when I tell them I have an armed employee who engages in unprofessional behavior. "Look, the guy is wearing a gun to work, and he's scaring people. I've asked him for commitment to change these behaviors listed here, and he has said he will not. We need to move on this now before something happens." HR is going to move on it. Remember, their job is to cover the company/gov't. When you send them evidence that the company is now taking risks and you are being conservative and protective, HR will move very quickly.

[b]Remember: HR's job is to arrange benefits, process payroll, and protect the company from employee decisions.[/b]

Anytime you are having a hard time with HR, it is because you are asking them to do something that they see as more risky than ignoring your whining. To get them on your team, you have to show them that it is more risky to ignore you than to help you.

It doesn't take two years to fire someone. It takes aggressive hard work. When you walk into HR and say "I am seeing these two behaviors. They must stop. We are losing productivity, and work is not getting done that needs to get done, people are frightened, and this person is ARMED", and then 90 days later you walk in with a presentation with a graphical time line showing failure to perform on both their parts, they will get fired.

But if you set out to fire them in the first place, you will find this impossible to do. I suggest you step back and simply record your efforts to make them great employees with love in your heart. If you do that, you will find this far less stressful, and your results will be better.

You should be very proud of yourself having had the guts to post this problem and to accept guidance from the people on these forums. That was a major step to take. But you have another HUGE step to take: starting on Monday reeling these people in, peppering them with feedback, and getting your O3's and coaching rolling along per the podcasts I posted.

Without those podcasts, this series of messages won't result in much for you.

bug_girl's picture

You said [quote]
If I would your boss, I would give you this feedback, "... when you allow a situation like this to continue for weeks on end and do not take action and say you need more data, I get the impression you are not competent to manage these people. I feel the desire to reach over you and fix the problem myself right away. What are you going to do to take action NOW?" [/quote]

Actually, it isn't like that at all. This situation was given to me by my boss about 4 months ago for me to fix--and so far my initial attempts just haven't worked. As I said on page one, the initial things I've done were all the things you've recommended--dealing with specific behaviors, one-on-one meetings, etc.

I came here because I listened to the podcasts, found them helpful, and thought I might find help and [b]support[/b] in trying to better apply them in my work.

But, seriously dude. WTF? I'm willing to admit I'm wrong. (I already have!) I'm here trying to get better.

Your system doesn't fit very well within our govt. structure. You have incomplete information about my responsibilities, and while I find some of your comments helpful, it's really not worth the trauma.

At least do me the courtesy of not mocking me on the podcast in addition to this.

jhack's picture

Bug girl,

Re-welcome to the forums. When you dive in head first, and aren't afraid to tackle this issue, it shows you have the nerve and the desire to be a great manager.

All polemics aside, there is some good advice above, and reading through the thread, I can see you've gained insight and see some actions you can take.

Only you know your situation. What many of us, in our situations, have discovered is that one on ones are very powerful tools for understanding what motivates our people. And they help build trust - which makes conversations about performance or shortcomings easier. It takes time. Months, sometimes longer.

You can't do everything at once. You can't be everywhere. So start with one thing that moves you in the right direction. Don't give feedback if you aren't doing one on ones. Build that trust, find out from them what they're thinking. Ask questions and listen to them.

There are rarely quick and easy solutions to our problems.

Let me make some specific recommendations. They're just ideas, available for your modifcation:

Meet with them one on one. Listen to them. Ask them about their work, and how things are going. Let them talk. Gather intelligence.

If we go back to the beginning, your first goal is to keep them from "tearing the place apart." Choose one specific behavior ("putting tools back in their proper storage location", or "file your status report on time so that we can build on your successes."). In your one-on-one meeting, make that simple thing the goal. You can present it as, "I need your help." or you can use the feedback model discussed above.

The one who wants to build her resume? Tell her: "I understand you're sticking around to build your resume. I can help you with that. Let's pick a skill area that you'd like to develop for your next job. Let;s make it possible for me to give you a glowing recommendation after you've mastered that skill." If you can get her to perform in her own self interest, you're in good shape. She may decide this isn't such a bad gig.

I hope this helps.

John

thaGUma's picture

Stick with it Bug girl, you are getting a lot of advice, some of it good, some of it - well - more from a standpoint of "if i were" rather than from experience.

I look forward to your posts - if only to be an excuse for outrageous bug-related puns.

Chris

bffranklin's picture

[quote="bug_girl"]I came here because I listened to the podcasts, found them helpful, and thought I might find help and [b]support[/b] in trying to better apply them in my work.

But, seriously dude. WTF? I'm willing to admit I'm wrong. (I already have!) I'm here trying to get better.

Your system doesn't fit very well within our govt. structure. You have incomplete information about my responsibilities, and while I find some of your comments helpful, it's really not worth the trauma.

At least do me the courtesy of not mocking me on the podcast in addition to this.[/quote]

Bug girl,

You've just been on the receiving end of being poked with an umbrella. Mark has a wonderful story about being on an elevator with a friend, when a man got on with a rather large umbrella stuffed under his arm. Mark was repeatedly jabbed with this umbrella as the man rode the elevator. When the man got off, Mark said to his friend "Dude, that man made me so angry!" His friend stated "No, that man poked you with an umbrella. You decided to get angry all by yourself."

The point here is, of course, that while US41's comments were direct and pointed, mocking is a judgment you came to all by yourself. Additionally, we all know what WT* stands for, and we prefer to keep discussion on the forums more civil than that.

I'd also like to note that the podcasts are done by Mike and Mark who go by mauzenne and mhorstman on the forums, respectively. You need have no fear of being mocked, perceived or otherwise, in the podcasts. In fact, ad hominem attacks are verboten on this forum.

All that said, we still have a pretty incomplete picture of the steps you've taken over the past 4 months. Would you mind giving us a better step by step picture of the things you've tried (think along the lines of documentation you'd present to HR)?

Again, welcome aboard! We're hoping to hear your progress (and eventual success) on this issue, so keep us updated!

bug_girl's picture

My bad for not getting who does what here straight in terms of usernames. I was pretty shocked to get that type of response when I was hoping for... well, help!

I can definitely hear what US41 is saying, but it is [i]SO[/i] not my style to be that forceful, and none of my directs would respond to it. US41, just because my style isn't yours, that doesn't immediately mean it's wrong. Just that it's different. I appreciate that you wanted to deliver a kick in the pants to get me moving. But it didn't have to be a kick.

The whole thing is actually a very complex story (aren't they all!), and this thread took off before I had a chance to put together a suitably disguised timeline to detail everything that's happened.
It's practically a soap opera--lying, past sex with an ex-boss that I took over for, drinking, and other drama. HR is involved, and I have a really great and supportive person there that's been helping me with the documentation. But we do have to have 3 strikes documented before we can call out.

I spent the last 4 years in a quasi-counseling role (Dean's Office), so I tend to do a lot better by using that sympathetic listening experience to pull information out of people. I'm still building trust, and I get new bits of info every week.

Example: one person is hard of hearing from a pistol discharge too close to her head. This wasn't documented in any way, and I didn't get her to tell me this until last Friday! It totally explains why some people have complained she was "unresponsive." It was her own mistake for not wearing hearing protection, so she's been embarrassed about admitting it.

I *think* the problem for the person that wants to move on is that she can't prioritize, and is a perfectionist. So she's created a false urgency that everything has to be done immediately, and stressed/burned herself out. (And claims she's too "busy" to have our meetings.) So, I'll help her set priorities, and decide what she needs to stop doing, to focus on key tasks. I think that's the root of her anger and passive-aggressive behavior.

I think there is also a real issue in the structure of *my* job, because I don't really have anyone to delegate some of what I do to. Both in my reactions to this thread and in chewing over the advice offered, I can see that my being stressed out is a factor too.

And it's too bad we can't use WT* here, because I'm pretty sure a bunch of you are wondering "what the heck kind of job does this chick actually have??? Guns! Speedboats! Cows!"

It's not [i]Green Bay Vice[/i] or [i]Des Moines CSI[/i].
Much more mundane.
But I have never been bored for a single second in this job. 8)

bug_girl's picture

[quote]The one who wants to build her resume? Tell her: "I understand you're sticking around to build your resume. I can help you with that. Let's pick a skill area that you'd like to develop for your next job. Let;s make it possible for me to give you a glowing recommendation after you've mastered that skill." If you can get her to perform in her own self interest, you're in good shape. [/quote]

I just used this today, BTW. Thanks!!

cwatine's picture

Bug girl-

I think reading again the US41 posts (putting aside the harsh tone and the emotions it creates) would help you a great deal.

Everything is in it. Mark would have the same advice on you, believe me.

My feeling is you must take control of the situation.

O3 will be the first step: are they in place now?

I can understand it is a difficult step. One of my friends who is an excellent professional running a big company is absolutely convinced about them. Still he has not been able to make the decision to start! And he is finding excuses not to do it : "too much work", "how will people react", etc

I know it looks like jumping in the unkown.

Jump ... you won't regret it. And we are here to help and support you.

Regards,

Ced.

bug_girl's picture

Oh, I agree, cedwat. I just wasn't happy about some of the assumptions made--folks jumped in with advice (mostly good), but I hadn't had a chance to fully explain all of what was going on. (I still haven't!)

We are doing one-on-ones, although it's been difficult to get the people who I'm having the most trouble with to attend regularly. In general, I'm having to be a [b]lot[/b] more forceful about saying 'we need to do this, and you need to be there.'

I've had a few breakthroughs (like the hearing issue), but this unit was relatively unsupervised for several years, and is used to operating independently with no one ever asking "Why are you doing that? What's the ROI?" Or even "where [i]are[/i] you all day? I never see you."

(they were under the "supervision" of the person i mentioned before who had a drinking problem, and was dating his direct. Oy.)

I'm trying to stick to talking about behavior and setting clear deadlines for when things need to happen. We'll see how it goes......

I need a crossed fingers smilie.

cwatine's picture

Bug girl,

I agree there may have been too much assumptions built from what you said in some answers and I would have felt offensed too, or at least not understood. Still, if the form was discutable, the content is of great value value. And I am sure the intention was pure.

It is an excellent news that you have started O3 because they are the fundation you will build on.

One thing that was difficult in the beginning for me was my temptation to answer to all the remarks and questions I had during those O3. I wanted to solve everything but I realised people just wanted me to listen.
I still have to keep in mind not to talk too much and to listen with attention.
I may be wrong but I feel you may be tempted to justify yourself and what you are doing when you get questions. You dont have to. Not answering immediately or not answering at all is not bad management.

"Why are you doing this?" : I am trying to know you better so we can work more efficiently together.
"I never see you" : Ok. What is your feeling about that? What did you expect? (And you don't have to promise anything here, just "thank you")

You are not responsible about what happened in the past in this team. You are responsible for the future.
I suggest you explain to them that from now, you would prefer to talk about what will be done and not about what has been.
Maybe some people will try to find excuses from the past to justify their present behaviour. You can answer: "ok I have heard you, And what can you do differently next time?"

And ... You have a crossed finger Cedwat!

Regards,

Ced.

bug_girl's picture

Oh, maybe I wasn't clear--those are questions I'm asking [i]them[/i]!

For one employee I "inherited" no one seems to know what she does, or where she does it. Since I know what she's *supposed* to do, that's what I'm focusing on--we'll work on where she is when she does it later.

There's a lot of things they are doing simply because it's what they were taught....so the answer to my why is usually "because that's the way it's supposed to be."

Most of the time, if I show them that there is a reason to change, they come along. For example, I'm in charge of managing invasive species. Mute Swans are an invasive species, and there is a lot of new information that suggests they are related to deaths of canvasback ducks (a native species) because they compete with them for food.

My directs weren't happy about my asking them to addle eggs, since swan babies are really cute (and popular with visitors). But, I got enough evidence assembled that they reluctantly agreed it was a good thing to do. In fact, they were really interested--former boss had never told them about this issue. Long term, if we get rid of our Mutes, we might have more Tundra swans--and have cygnets again.

I really don't like playing the "because I'm the boss, that's why!" card unless I absolutely have to. In some cases, that's where we've ended up, unfortunately.

So, while this job can be really frustrating because of the personnel issues, I'm thrilled to be at a level where I can really set policy and make positive changes happen!

In case you are curious:
[url]http://www.hsus.org/wildlife/urban_wildlife_our_wild_neighbors/solving_p...

You can only addle eggs very early in their development--it's a common means of control for Canada Goose.

cwatine's picture

[quote]Oh, maybe I wasn't clear--those are questions I'm asking [i]them[/i]![/quote]

Ooops sorry, I misunderstood.

[quote]For one employee I "inherited" no one seems to know what she does, or where she does it. Since I know what she's *supposed* to do, that's what I'm focusing on--we'll work on where she is when she does it later.[/quote]

That is a great opportunity for you to make a difference. I have experimented two powerfull ways of increasing results and accountability in a team :
- a clear job description of each
- a unique main goal for the whole team (this goal must be measurable and time bound)
It makes everything more clear for people : and you can determine each one's main goals (3-5 per person per period) in function of the Main goal and the jow descriptions.

1) For each of your employee, you can make a very good job description by asking the following questions (taken from MT of course!) :
- why did the company create this function
- what are the activities the employee is supposed to spend his time on
- what skills/competences are the most important to be successfull in this job
- how can you evaluate the job is done and well done (performance control)

Yes, it sounds simple. And very often, we have a hard time doing it.

Can you clearly answer those questions for yourself and show them to your direct? Is you mission clear for them?
Are their missions clear for them?

2) Do you have ONE big goal for the team that naturally prioritize jobs and decisions?

[quote]There's a lot of things they are doing simply because it's what they were taught....so the answer to my why is usually "because that's the way it's supposed to be."[/quote]

I have no problem with that answer if the job is well done and according to the list above.

[quote]I really don't like playing the "because I'm the boss, that's why!" card unless I absolutely have to. In some cases, that's where we've ended up, unfortunately.[/quote]

Saying "you do it because I am the boss" is not a way to explain the goal of the team. It is what you say when you are confronted to someone who is not playing the game after you have exhausted all other means (explanation, feedback, etc).
It is very rare that you have to say it. People know it.

[quote]So, while this job can be really frustrating because of the personnel issues, I'm thrilled to be at a level where I can really set policy and make positive changes happen! [/quote]

This is the most important part of your job and also the most exciting. What looks as an obstacle now may very well become a passion. When everything goes in the right order and the management leverage takes place, it is incredibly gratifying on a personal point of view.

bug_girl's picture

Fortunately, our HR group has gotten the message about measurable goals, so I don't have to do much in terms of developing new resources.

Our "performance improvement plan" form makes the direct and boss sit down and choose 4 goals to work on over the next 3 months, set out how the boss will support the employee, and choose meeting dates.

Maybe they listen to MT too? :D

cwatine's picture

Are they "personal development" goals, goals for the team, goals from the company etc?
It is a perfect opportunity to set up a MAIN GOAL for the team and then attach one or more of the individual goal to it.

Have you listen to the podcasts about MT Goals? They are just great.
You can also "search" the forum about "MT Goals", "goals" ...

mdave's picture

For what it's worth, I spent some time at the Rangeland Insect Lab working on the Melanopus (that's grasshoppers to normal people :lol: ) diapause studies a number of years ago. But I digress...

It sounds like you have a fascinating and divergent job -- not unlike the one that I have in my not-for-profit sector. Your opening hit it on the head. "I am an entomologist... but, in my dream job,..... [u]managing[/u] a research station..." Odds are that you are in your dream job because you [u]were[/u] a fanstastic entomologist with very good interpersonal skills. Managing is a whole new ball game. In current terms you are a manager with an entomology background -- and your success at you dream job will likely be evaluted on your [u]ability to manage[/u].

MT is all about managing and many of the contributors here are obviously talented and experienced managers -- and usually on target. It really does not matter if you run a team of salesman, an IT shop, permit federal energy actions (did I give myself away), or herd scientists. After lurking and, finally, joining I have noticed that the "my situation is different" concept rarely holds water -- good management practices are the lowest common demoninator to any enterprise. While perhaps uncomfortable, US41 hit on some key points. Your technical issues are unique, the underlying management, however, is not.

Please let us know how it goes. Best wishes

P.S. Grew up with a dairy farm, know how to inseminate too!!!