Author Topic: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues  (Read 3726 times)

Mrs. S

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How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« on: May 04, 2017, 12:42:47 AM »
I work for a huge organisation and currently am deployed on a major project which involves multiple disciplines and a lot of moving parts in the machinery(which simply refuse to budge).

This is also not the first time I have been working on a similar project so I came in expecting some of it.

As someone who believes that cordial and helpful relations with people go further I have at many times been the helpful person helping people navigate through various aspects of the project.
Past few days have however grated on my patience with how incompetent people can be and how they can expect others to vouch for them. I am taking steps to clarify my position on such attempts.

I was wondering how you deal with incompetence when multiple levels of cooperation and collaboration is required and you can't work in seclusion.

bonkers40

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2017, 05:01:05 AM »
Care less? Work is pretty easy when you stop caring about all the other idiots around you.

GuitarStv

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2017, 05:10:08 AM »
I worked for more than ten years working at different companies where what you describe is the norm.  My assumption was always that this is just the way things are, and you need to learn to deal with it.  The company I've started working at this time is quite different though . . . It has a very flat organizational structure, employees are given tasks to do and periods of time that the tasks are due then completely left to their own devices, and because of the trust that management puts in the employees the employees are happier and work harder.  I'm still working on large interdisciplinary projects as I always have, but the incompetent issue you described simply doesn't come up in this environment.

So, I guess my advice is to find a better place to work.

Mrs. S

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2017, 05:51:55 AM »
Care less? Work is pretty easy when you stop caring about all the other idiots around you.

It would definitely be but when you work on public projects the idealist in me simply refuses to not care. I am working hard on idiot proofing my work as well.

So, I guess my advice is to find a better place to work.

Would you believe this is one of the better ones? Things like this make me want to both FIRE early and be int the game so that I can make whatever change I can.

chasesfish

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2017, 06:10:37 AM »
It took me years to finally get *mostly* away from dealing with incompetent people.

1) Find a leader who doesn't tolerate incompetent people

2) Run your own team and don't tolerate incompetent people

3) Get geographical separation for your team from other teams

I finally have all three, its nice.  We still have to deal with other parts of the organization from time to time, but we're generally free from incompetent people.  #1 is key

Laura33

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2017, 06:14:52 AM »
OK, I'm going to take a slightly contrary view here and encourage you to keep caring and keep helping and teaching.  Yes, draw boundaries where you need to, and make sure that all of your work is clearly documented (you don't want to end up getting the blame when someone else causes a deadline to be missed).  And you can't fix "I don't care enough to try to do a good job."  But other than that, the more you can develop your "work with stupid people" skills and help/motivate them, the more good you will do for the world.

The fundamental problem is that, the better you are at something, the higher the proportion of people you have to deal with who are worse than you.  E.g., if you are the smartest guy in the room, then by definition, everyone else around you is stupid by comparison, which can leave you feeling like you are surrounded by idiots.  But smart people also have different levels of people skills.  I know smart people who make you feel like an idiot in every interaction; I also know smart people who just radiate intelligence and enthusiasm and raise up everyone around them.  That's just one example; you can replace "smart" with any other characteristic and the lesson holds.

IOW it sounds like you are naturally much higher on the food chain than the people around you -- smarter, better work ethic, better executive function, more experience; whatever it is, the substantive work you are responsible for comes much easier for you than for those around you.  But the work needs everyone to contribute to the best extent they can -- the best product almost never comes from the team with one awesome contributor on it; it comes from the team that gets the best out of each individual member.  So maybe you can look at this as an opportunity to develop *other* skills that may not come as naturally to you, like patience with stupidity (always my favorite!), people management/motivation, cat-herding, etc.  What can you offer that will help these other people learn to do their roles better, meet their deadlines, produce higher-quality work, etc.? 

chasesfish

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2017, 06:50:08 AM »
I agree with Laura's post by the way.

My comments are based on what I describe as aptitude - If you determine someone doesn't have the underlying ability to ever *get* the job or learn through experience, then move on.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2017, 09:19:30 AM »
Following, as I become conscious of the need to steer clear of ineffective organizations and place myself in only the Awesome.

Mrs. S

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2017, 11:03:13 AM »
So maybe you can look at this as an opportunity to develop *other* skills that may not come as naturally to you, like patience with stupidity (always my favorite!), people management/motivation, cat-herding, etc.  What can you offer that will help these other people learn to do their roles better, meet their deadlines, produce higher-quality work, etc.?

Have you been talking to my boss. He keeps on insisting that I once you can get through to the not so smart ones you have done your job the best way possible. I a getting the hang of people managing business which I would run from given a chance. I do hope the ones actually below me would say I am a fair manager if not a good one.

My frustration is more towards people who are a part of our organisation but way beyond my influence. I am trying to do both distancing and patience together.

Lanthiriel

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2017, 11:50:47 AM »
I've discovered that the only way I can cope is by being in charge of processes and not people. So I can spend a lot of time ranting about what I need for my project and making sure I get it without "being mean" because I'm not responsible for the team's professional growth; I'm just responsible for this specific project. Weirdly, in the engineering environment at least, this seems to work for me. People love working with me because I make them look good even if I've spent the last two weeks if not being an outright ass to them to get what I need, then at least seething menacingly in the doorways of their offices.

I also do the millennial thing of jumping ship every 2-3 years. It at least gives me a year where I can drink the Koolaid and pretend everything will be better. So far I've seen about a 20% pay increase with each jump and I always learn a lot with each move. I'm making one right now and hoping I finally will land somewhere that I can stomach for a longer period of time.

Laura33

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2017, 11:53:39 AM »
So maybe you can look at this as an opportunity to develop *other* skills that may not come as naturally to you, like patience with stupidity (always my favorite!), people management/motivation, cat-herding, etc.  What can you offer that will help these other people learn to do their roles better, meet their deadlines, produce higher-quality work, etc.?

Have you been talking to my boss. He keeps on insisting that I once you can get through to the not so smart ones you have done your job the best way possible. I a getting the hang of people managing business which I would run from given a chance. I do hope the ones actually below me would say I am a fair manager if not a good one.

My frustration is more towards people who are a part of our organisation but way beyond my influence. I am trying to do both distancing and patience together.

Understood -- it is a very frustrating situation.  But look at it from your boss' perspective:  he is stuck with these deadlines and obligations, and he is reliant on both his people and people from these other parts of the organization to make that happen.  But, like you, he has no authority over those other people -- he cannot force them to comply and cooperate any more than you can. 

The end result of this is an opportunity for you:  anything you can do to grease the wheels and convince these other people to make their deadlines and do it correctly will make your boss look good to his superiors; and that, in turn, is very good for your own career.

Tl;dr:  "People management" skills are not just for the people below you on the corporate chart; in fact, they are even more important when applied to people over whom you have no power whatsoever. 

[And I also agree with chasesfish, that some people and situations are just not fixable.  Unfortunately, you don't have the power to make these people go away, so you need to find a workaround]

Aminul

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2017, 07:47:07 AM »
I'm going to throw out an idea that has helped me in similar situations:  humanize the idiots.  Find something you have in common and try to build a relationship with them that is more than just work-related.  When I've worked with someone I have a shared interest with I'm less likely to view them as just incompetent and more likely to help them.  I've also found that the inverse is true -- they seem to engage in our work differently.  Obviously this isn't going to work in all situations, but it might be worth a shot. 

I've also found it helpful to remind myself that I can't control what other people do, but can control what I do.  It sounds like you are already doing this.

boulder3381

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2017, 08:25:10 AM »
Make sure your generosity and skills are not trianing them to relay on you.  https://mobile.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fashion/what-shamu-taught-me-about-a-happy-marriage.html

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boulder3381

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2017, 08:28:49 AM »


Make sure your generosity and skills are not trianing them to rely on you.  https://mobile.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fashion/what-shamu-taught-me-about-a-happy-marriage.html

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The above book is a quick introduction to some behavioral patterns we errantly set up in our life with coworkers and family members.   It also provides a method of adjust in said patterns.   

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HipGnosis

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2017, 09:35:32 AM »
It mostly depends on your boss / management.
Do they desire, expect or demand that you focus on your individual projects / goals or team accomplishments?
Some people will expect you to always help them if you help them once.

If the boss / management wants you to help others and it bothers you, it's not the best place for you to work.

Mrs. S

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2017, 01:10:22 AM »


Make sure your generosity and skills are not trianing them to rely on you.  https://mobile.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fashion/what-shamu-taught-me-about-a-happy-marriage.html

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

The above book is a quick introduction to some behavioral patterns we errantly set up in our life with coworkers and family members.   It also provides a method of adjust in said patterns.   

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk


That was a great read and I am itching to try it on someone.

If the boss / management wants you to help others and it bothers you, it's not the best place for you to work.

So I finally broke it to my boss with examples of both clueless behavior from other team leads and from majority office population in general and how it affects our work and productivity. He has been way more supportive than I had thought and has helped clearly define our boundaries to others way higher in hierarchy.

It is something which goes against my basic nature and I am struggling to let people say and do stupid things. I can see this approach easing my workload as we get into the thick of the project.

Laura33

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2017, 06:02:29 AM »
Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have spent the past week dealing with people who are both clueless and obstreperous -- they are digging in their heels on something that they don't realize is going to bite them in the ass, and refusing to hear any alternatives other that What They Want.  And by the time they listened to me on the workaround I came up with, it was too late to implement it by the deadline. So I am now firmly into "teaching a pig to sing" territory: it wastes my time and just annoys the pig.

I think/hope we are getting there.  But I am certainly getting to practice what I preached.  :-)

Zamboni

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2017, 07:42:40 AM »
You definitely have my sympathy.

I had to have a very direct talk with someone this week to the tune of:

"You have to do this yourself. Your name is first, so you will get all of the credit, and you need to be the one working on it. If you get stuck, then other people here can help you down the home stretch, but at that point I expect you will have most of it done. We don't need to meet again . . . "

No idea if this will work, though.

Mrs. S

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Re: How do you deal with incompetency of your colleagues
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2017, 12:14:39 AM »
Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have spent the past week dealing with people who are both clueless and obstreperous -- ...

I think/hope we are getting there.  But I am certainly getting to practice what I preached.  :-)
Does it make me a bad person if I do feel better someone else is going through the same issues.

You definitely have my sympathy.

I had to have a very direct talk with someone this week to the tune of:

"You have to do this yourself. Your name is first, so you will get all of the credit, and you need to be the one working on it. If you get stuck, then other people here can help you down the home stretch, but at that point I expect you will have most of it done. We don't need to meet again . . . "

No idea if this will work, though.

All the best what worked for me in a similar case was simply not helping.
I have to really restrain myself and it is hard but I have started absenting myself from discussion which take up time and give others excuse to shrug off their work on me.