OMG how come you don't complete tasks in exactly the same manner I would?
October 19, 2012 7:37 AM Subscribe
I am an inexperienced manager with one experienced employee and one inexperienced employee working under me. We are in a technical field; I do some of the technical work, but it is very time-consuming, so they are meant to be extra 'hands' and free me to do planning and analysis of the team's work. What are reasonable expectations to have of them and how can I ensure they meet these reasonable expectations?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have always had an assistant or two to help me, but this is the first job where I have multiple FTEs and a huge project that requires multiple FTEs instead of my doing most of the work, and the assistant filling in gaps parttime. I didn't expect the dynamic of the two of them working together (in my absence) to affect things so much, but I think part of this difficulty is their own individual snowflakiness (see below).
One of my teammembers actually has more hands-on experience in the technical skills we are doing than I do, but somehow she is slower than me at getting these tasks done and gets disorganized sometimes. I try to communicate that this is not ok, but I either feel like I am wounding her (because she gets very flustered) or I feel like she doesn't know how to avoid the disorganzation (because she doesn't improve). She generally finishes things well, but often much slower than I would have expected. Also, she has trouble incorporating the computer into her work, and it has to happen.
The other teammember is a temp and is much younger and less experienced than both of us, but is a quick learner. Her lack of experience means that she doesn't always understand the bigger picture, and that would be fine because I am happy to guide her every task. However, her 'quickness' means that she sometimes skips ahead/alters how things are done and/or demands explanations, when what I really want is just that my directions be followed. I don't have kids but her tone with me in demanding explanations reminds me greatly of my nieces and nephews arguing with their parents...saying reasonable things but being defiant.
I do spend a lot of time explaining things to these guys; I find our project really interesting and it would be great if my team could contribute more to the bigger picture. Sometimes, they do actually have good ideas. However, we are getting so stuck on day-to-day tasks that I regret talking about anything else, because it seems to distract and confuse my more experienced employee and it seems to falsely empower the less experienced one. Then, sometimes, it seems like they talk about things amongst themselves and cause this effect to an even greater degree.
They both seem like very nice people and I enjoy their company otherwise, but I am basically climbing the walls waiting for the slow one to finish whatever and pulling my hair out when I find things done not-quite-right by the other (yes, these small details do actually matter). With many tasks, we have gotten to a place where we're getting things done effectively, but most of these successes have been long and cost me a lot of frustration. And even where things are going ok, they're going slower than if I were to do the tasks that they do. Everytime we need to do something new, I am more and more tempted to just do it myself, but I should be working on my own planning and analytical work. I also find myself comparing them to their peers on other teams and thinking how much better the project would be going if only I had a better team (I had no part in picking my team, btw, and only limited abilities to change it). I suspect some of my angst must be irrational and caused my relentless ambition and satisfaction in meeting goals. I recognize that giving me the team that I have is my company's responsibility and so maybe, results will not be what they could have been, but they are what they are. FWIW, my higherups have expressed nothing but satisfaction wtih our progress; I am a basket case though. How do I make sure that it's not me being a bad instructor/manager that's holding my team back? How do I know when they're not doing well enough versus when I'm expecting too much?