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Re: Failing Dinah

Posted by fallsfall on January 22, 2005, at 6:41:11

In reply to Re: Failing Daisym, posted by Dinah on January 21, 2005, at 22:22:51


I'm glad you will see him today. Make sure that you go. And go on Monday, too.

I have every confidence that you will make it through this period. They wouldn't have given you the raise if things were as dire as you sound.

As a former manager, I wasn't thrilled when my engineers were behind schedule, but it was part of my job to manage those things. When someone would come to me and say "Ummm... I'm not going to have it done when it needs to be done..." I would say "Argh! Are you sure you can't get it done? What is the exact current state of things?". Then they would explain enough so that I would know what needed to be done still. Then I had a couple of options. I could give them guidance on how to finish on time (a technical tip, or advice on how to restructure things), or I would ask someone else to help them (and either tell each what role to play in the collaboration, or let them figure it out themselves), or (and I don't know if I ever did this...) take the task away from the person and assign it to someone else. At this point in time, my focus was on understanding where the task was and figuring out how to most expeditiously get it done.

Unless the employee was on written warning that they had to have something done on time, this was simply part of my job. Work is not predictable. People are not predictable. A manager's job is to smooth out the unpredictable-ness and get everything done.

Only after the crisis was over, and the work done, would I address the issue of the lateness of the work. My focus would be to find out what went wrong with the employee - where did they get stuck or confused, what information did they need that they didn't have, what process could we put in place so that we would see these problems earlier (when it was easier for me to fix them)?

I might say to the employee "You should have done XYZ" or "You should have told me when..." or "Next time, I want you to..." or even "Sigh. This is a mess. Let's not get into this mess again, OK?"

You said that you talked to them a couple of weeks ago and told them exactly where you were on things. If you were honest with them then, there hasn't been time for you to get into a situation where things are impossibly bad. Life happens. Managers get paid to shuffle resources and have contingency plans and remove obstacles.

Maybe they haven't had to do that for you before (because you will pull the allnighter to get things done). But that doesn't mean that it isn't *reasonable* for you to need them to do that for you now.

The most important thing to me was having my people be honest with me about where they were on the task. I would factor in information about the particular person - if Person A said they were on time, I didn't worry, if Person B said they were on time I would ask some questions to find out if they really were - since they tended to be overly optomistic. And there were times when people surpised me - maybe Person A would, uncharacteristically get into trouble, or Person B would *really* be on schedule. But it was my job to figure out how to help get the job done. By helping the person, adding resources to the task, or reassigning the task.

My guess is that you are one of those people who, when you said something would be done, would always have things done on time. But you have already warned them that things are difficult right now. They said "We expect you to get them done anyway" - maybe because in the past that was all that was needed to "fix" whatever problem you have had in the past. If they need to do more to help you get through this assignment, they will be surprised - maybe annoyed - but it is *part of their job* to do that.

Your shame at getting into trouble is probably a lot more than their anger. Be honest with them. They can't help you get out of this if they don't know all the facts.

Having your work done on time is not a life or death matter. It may cost someone (your customer or your firm or you) money if you don't get things done. But money *is* just money. You are Dinah - you are much more important than money.

Please take care of yourself.




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