Hardware

Brand new year - Same old pet peeves


Well it's New Year Resolution time and for a fleeting minute I thought about making one. It was going to be entitled, "I'm not going to let these things get to me this year." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't going to happen.

I think most people who work with me/for me would rate me on the high end of the tolerance scale. I try my darndest to not get aggravated with my employees and colleagues and I especially try not to call out anyone in public. But as I get older, there are some things (lets call them hot buttons) that are almost guaranteed to set me off. Here is my current and growing list of behaviors (in no particular order) that are guaranteed to elevate my blood pressure as a manager:

Failing to pay attention to detail. It's the little things that can kill you, and nothing bothers me more than having someone jump into a task or project without thinking it out and reading what is in front of their nose only to hand me a deliverable that is flawed in some way because they missed something obvious.

Real life example – I asked someone to set up a laptop and projector for a presentation that I had to do to for senior management. I would have done it myself but I had meetings prior that prevented me from doing so. I was told that the task was accomplished and the equipment set up and tested. I walk into the meeting 10 minutes prior to the demonstration and find that the laptop had gone into password protected screen saver mode – I can't log in. I manage to correct this by the time all senior management shows up only to find that for whatever reason the laptop could not open a PDF document. Since I was demonstrating our new website pre-roll out and the person setting up the laptop knew the content I was going to demonstrate, you think they would have tried opening one of our links? The issue got fixed, but took away valuable time from the presentation and made me and conversely my unit look bad.

Taking the long and winding road. This is great for songs and for long walks, but when you are explaining something or giving a status update for goodness sakes – get to the point! If you are writing something, give the headline then fill in the details. If you are speaking to me, I will probe with questions if I want additional information. There is a difference between telling important and significant details and rambling.

Real life example – you know people like this. I can see you nodding your head. Think how much shorter meetings could be if people stayed focused and on topic!

Saying you have it covered – but you don't. I have a simple request. If you say you are going to accomplish a task, do it or let me know ASAP what is preventing you from accomplishing it. Don't let me get caught thinking something is done or being covered when it is not.

Real life example - If this is not a pet peeve for you, it will become one the first time you get caught flat footed telling someone something is done only to be told it is not – particularly if it is your boss.

Forcing me to micromanage you. I hate micromanagement from both sides. I don't want to be micromanaged and I do not WANT to micromanage. Give me a task and give me my parameters and let me get to work. As a manager, that is what I want from my employees. If it takes as much effort for me to get you to accomplish the task than it would for me to do the task myself – we have a problem.

Real life example – I'm grinding my teeth thinking about an example and anything I write here will be too obvious to my staff who are savvy enough to read TechRepublic.

Not taking the next logical step. There are times when you are working on a task where you reach a conclusion and it becomes obvious what the next step is. If I am unclear as to my authority to take the next step I will ask but I always try to follow through on something to its logical conclusion if I can. This is particularly true in the cases where your work product can be tested to see if it is truly done or not.

Real life example – Someone has written code that works great with test data. Next logical step – try it with real data and see what happens. Only then can you tell me you have finished something. If I ask "Have you tested it?" and the answer is "No" then you aren't done and don't tell me you are. I understand that this doesn't work in all environments, but I do believe people can do more "desk checking" than they actually do.

Hitting barriers without exhausting your resources. We all come across problems/challenges that sometimes stump us. What drives me crazy is when someone gets stuck on the proverbial speed bump and gives up. If I can Google a possible solution to your problem and you haven't tried it or can give me a good reason why it won't work – you aren't trying hard enough.

Real life example – My example is in my explanation of the peeve above. I literally Googled the solution to a problem that someone spent days on. Arghhh!

Spinning your wheels and not accomplishing the task. This is the opposite of above. There comes a point in time where you have invested enough time in seeking a solution that you need to stop and ask someone a question. It's ok not to know everything and it is ok to ask for help. Please note that this is not permission to run and bother your coworker every time you reach a challenge (see above) but know when to ask for help. People don't want to do your work for you, but most people I know are glad to lend a hand if you are in need – just don't abuse it.

Real life example – All IT professionals? I say this tongue and cheek but I think most of us have been guilty of this once or twice. My real life example is when I have paid contractors to come fix a problem and they run through all the "typical" solutions that I have already tried and documented the results. If I am being charged by the hour I sure as heck don't want to pay to watch you perform work I have already done. There have been too many times when I have had to ask a contractor to "pick up the phone and either call the vendor or someone with more expertise." It's amazing how quickly problems can get fixed that way.

Well I have come to the end of my list and there are less than ten. This must obviously mean I'm forgetting one or two. This is where you come in. What sets you off and gets your blood boiling? Everything we can list is probably something we should or shouldn't be doing in the workplace. Gather enough of these and we will have a template for the "perfect employee" or at least a nice list of what not to do if you want to be promoted.

In the meantime, Happy New Year and I am looking forward to your peeves.

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