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training to be proactive

By searchy ·
A member of my team has been working extremely hard over the past few months, he is hard working, approachable and always has a good sense of humour. He has not been properly managed - he seems to have developed a purely reactive approach to everything he does.

I want to help him to become more proactive, e.g when relocating an employee from one department to another he will forsee problems with email, new printers, different file shares, different software required, different phone extension number. At the moment he just jumps in at the deep end and fixes whatever problems come up.

He also very rarely finishes a task completely because he doesn't put himself in the shoes of the end user so doesn't antipicate their problems. i.e. he may set up a piecs of software under the admin account without testing it with the users account.

This approach is part of his personality but is really effecting his productivity. I can't trust him to complete a task so constantly have to check up and have also had to resolve issues myself that he has not completed. The majority of IT personnel i've met have an analytical and methodical approach that they naturally apply to tasks such as the above.

Is there a general method to problem solving or that I can try to train him in? or is there any advice anyone can give to help me get the most from this employee?

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Try the mentor approach

by jmgarvin In reply to training to be proactive

Try to mentor him as a person that really cares about how things are done. Have him "help" you write a SOP on how you should do the general tasks of the IT department.

If that doesn't work you should do performance evals and make sure he understands what is expected of him.

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Check list

by zlitocook In reply to training to be proactive

If you do things the same way for each department make a check list for things that have to be done. It may make some IT mad but with a list if some thing is not done you can come back to the person and show it to them. After awhile it will become a proccess and not need to be looked at. If this dose not work, look at what this person has going on. I have seen this before and found that he was given more then he could handle.

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Checklists work, measure performance too

by bevmillar In reply to Check list

There are lots of templates for checklists and policy and procedures, and completing them (online) and saving them for performance reviews works. Documents if the employee just needed guidance or a different type of job.

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This guy is dripping with potential

by maxwell edison In reply to training to be proactive

My philosophy is to hire (and retain) for attitude, and train for skills. It's extremely difficult to train someone, generally speaking, to have a good attitude, regardless of the strength of his technical skills. (Although it can be done.) But if you have a person whose attitude is as you describe (hard working, approachable, good sense of humor, etc.), he's worth keeping, he's worth training, and he's worth helping.

Someone else in the thread mentioned the idea of a checklist. I think that's a great idea -- and it's a tool we use as well. A checklist really serves two purposes. It makes a person think about what needs to be done under certain circumstances, and it helps get the tasks completed. When, for example, you're relocating an employee from one department to another, you always have to do this, that, and the other thing, each and every time. Writing the checklist (and let him do it, by the way) will force him to think ahead. And make it very detailed. One item on the checklist, for example, can actually have subsets of more things to do. Using the checklist in the process of working on a task ensures it all gets done, and perhaps at the right time and in the right order. (Creating the mail account on the server first, for example, before configuring the client email software.) And a checklist doesn't have to be set in stone, so to speak. It can be a growing and changing document that's refined over time. He can use it as both a thinking and planning tool, as well as a completion tool.

You can also help him with his approach to things, and it sounds like he'd probably be receptive to suggestions. When you said, "he doesn't put himself in the shoes of the end user so doesn't anticipate their problems", the first thing that came to mind is one of Stephen Covey's habits of effective people, seek first to understand, then to be understood. Although that habit in Covey's context is generally applied to communicating with people, it can certainly be applied to technically helping people as well, especially in one's approach. You might even buy him the book and help him refine those kinds of skills as well.

Praise him for what he does well, and help him do it even better. Working on those strengths to make them stronger is what's needed. Like I said, if you try working with someone whose weakness is his attitude, it could be a losing proposition. But this could be a real winner for everybody.

I'd help this guy as much as I could - take him under my own wing and help him fly. You'll both be better as a result.

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talk to him and be honest

by joetechsupport In reply to training to be proactive

Communicate with him.

Wow! I would have killed to have a supervisor like you. Both you and he are in luck and can look forward to a productive and friendly working relationship.

Speak with him.

If what you say about your tech's personality is true and if you are as honest, open and non-threatening to him as you are to us while showing how he can improve he should be pleased to receive you.

Just tell him how you want to help. Done the right way, no problem.

There are some schools that say do not tell employees directly, instead deceive them by dropping hints and suggestion strategically so that the employee develops the belief that they thought of the idea themselves.

This is not only a waste of tame but an insult to to any IT tech worth their salt's intelligence. And yours. The guy sounds clever. Do YOU want to treat him like an idiot? I'm not speaking to you,sir, but the argument.

He will be as pleased with his improvement in proactivity as you are. Your rapport will improve.

A respectful use of psychology- if your office clears out mostly after office hours and its common to see you and this fellow still around at this time talk to him then. If he's on his own time, pay him OT if you can, It's a meaningful gesture for 1/2 to 1 hour. Outside of office hours doesn't spark the office rumour mill and put him out of ease. If there's lots of empty private space like a learning center try out of your office for neutral ground.

Speaking from experience, often all that is missing is some human and technical mentoring.

People may know how to format a hardrive, add a user account etc. People may not be clear on what is expected. In fact I can almost guarantee he's not clear what PRECISELY is expected.

To very many people, very busy=OK. Free time=out the door. That my be all he is concerned with, that he keeps busy.

The other thing that is missing in most relationships be they familial, working, romantic or friendly is empathy. Not feeling sorry. Understanding, knowing and owning the others point of view.

There is so much of the "BS-management-assert-yourself-start-motivation-drive- start-running-the-company-in-3-months-you that he may be thinking more about that or his job security than keeping his mind on his work.

But he's luck, he's got you, one of the few and far betweens, you can help him settle down, IF he turns out to be a little nervous.

Communication is the most imoportant. Everyone talks about it, but few practice it between hiring and firing.

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by greenhouse In reply to training to be proactive

I agree with joetechsupport, the key is to tell him the truth in a clear but constructive manner. What has always worked for us has been having a meeting after a problem has been fixed and discussing how we might have anticiopated the problem. If we could not possibly have anticipated it then being reactive is the correct course. But a good discussion about what we may have overlooked or missed helps us not do the same thing the next time. Elicit answers from your employee, he should be the expert on the situation. Partner with him and he will learn to adapt to this new way of thinking. I also find that formal analysis beforehand of risks can help mitigate many problems.

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