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Am I expecting too much?

By spacepebs ·
Late last year I was promoted to manager after 7 years as the sole IT staffer for our company. At that time, I was told I could hire an assistant to do most of the PC support tasks. I hired someone who is technically very able but seems to be very scatterbrained. I've had numerous discussions with him regarding the need for attention to detail but every day is a new adventure. How do you teach someone a skill like attention to detail? As his manager, I am responsible for his actions and can't seem to make a difference unless I scrutinize everything he does. FWIW, he's otherwise a good employee that works hard if I keep him busy, very even-tempered and good with our users.


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Priority list

by Fred Mars In reply to Thanks!

"He has little experience prioritizing and is easily lead astray by those who persuade him their issues are more critical than others."

Perhaps you can work out a prioritization method with him. For example, perhaps setting up new user accounts is the most important activity, with supporting a particular application next, setting up PCs third, and so forth. Then if someone comes to him with a request to set up a PC when he has a new user account to do he can let them know their request is not the top priority at that time. Arrange with him to refer those who wish to have their projects bumped in priority to see you (as his manager).

Another thing to remember if using this method is that the priority order does not need to be the same all the time (one month it might be user accounts, another month it might be installing printer drivers). However, he should be following the priority list you give him, and only accept alterations or exceptions to that priority list from you.

Using this tool, he can have a consistent feel for what should be done next, and he can refer the "heat" for refusing or reordering requests to you.

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by somebozo In reply to Am I expecting too much?

I have dealt with similar users before. Keep a close eyes on details he is missing for each job. Next create a quality control sheet and tell him to fill one for each job. All he has to do is tick next to item after its fullfilled..

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by Shellbot In reply to

Everyone needs a settleing in period, but at some stage he has to take responsibilty for his own work.
If a staff member has to be babysat, then that has to be looked into. They might be a genious, but if they are unable to get the job done, then one has to wonder if it matters.

Going aganst the grain here, but last time i was boss i took away a bit of the paperwork and lists, BUT laid down clear rules of what i expected. I found all staff except 1 actually increased productivity and learnt to manage thier own time better. The one that didn't was a no-hoper and will always be floating from job to job trying to find one they "like" (whatever that may be).
I enforced the verbal and written warning procedures and they knew that even though i was hard, i was very very fair and was even known to reward when noticeable (good) changes occured..

just my thoughts...

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I Agree, Quality Control Sheet!!!

by thinw002 In reply to

This sounds like an excellent Idea

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Goal- versus process-orientation

by DC Guy In reply to Am I expecting too much?

My guess is that you've got a goal-oriented guy there. Goal-oriented people can be great in jobs that require research, innovation, creativity, big-picture thinking, etc. They have trouble in jobs that involve a lot of routine or which are only one step in a larger process.

Since they tend to be bright and ambitious, and since goal-oriented jobs are rare, we do our best to help them fit in.

They have trouble with priorities. Pursuing more than one goal at a time can drive them nuts, which I suspect may be the specific problem your guy is having. You have to assign clear priorities to their tasks (or let them do it) so they know which goal is important today. You probably will also have to put up with weakness at multi-tasking. They have a tendency to pursue one goal at a time, at least one goal in each sector of their life such as education, family, job, church, hobby, etc.

You also have to give them clearly defined deliverables so they have a solid goal to hang onto. That may be nothing more than you signing something acknowledging that a particular assignment is finished. If your guy seems to leave a lot of things hanging, it's probably because by his standards he can't tell when something is complete: when a goal has been achieved and it's time to move on to the next one.

Paradoxically, he needs well defined processes because they aren't important to him, and he needs well defined goals because they are.

If this sounds a little touchie-feelie, well it is. That's a big part of your job as a manager, to use your people skills. Much of the rest of it can probably be automated or at least offshore outsourced. ^_^

It sounds like you've got a pretty valuable employee and it's worth the trouble to smooth down his rough edges. That's a rewarding task. If some of you aren't sure about that, I can tell you about ten or twelve employees I've had, of types that are not at all unusual, who make this guy look perfect by comparison.

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The hardest part of a manager's job...

by jemwit In reply to Am I expecting too much?

There are lots of good suggestions in the replies so far. I especially recommend establishing clear expectations - priorities, goals, processes, procedures, and deliverables.

These expectations start with a clear job description and must suit the salary/experience levels established. For instance, entry level employees should be expected to perform at a lower level than senior staff. Each expectation needs to have a measurable or observable result.

Once established, you must measure achievements against those expectations, clearly documenting the results and reviewing them on a regular basis with the employee.

For a typical professional employee, this review should be at least quarterly, but when you are having problems getting the results you need, do it monthly or weekly. Reviews should be informal and non-threatening, concentrating on job performance. Recognition for good performance should be given alongside remediation plans for poor performance.

If you find you must do these reviews more often than weekly, especially if the employee has been on the job for at least 3 months, you probably should use your documentation to justify termination.

This takes work, but is the most important part of your job. It took me many years as a manager to feel comfortable with this advice, but the best interests of your team, company, and self are at risk otherwise.

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