Author Topic: How shocked should I be? (again, this time HR) +15 mo update  (Read 20782 times)

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
How shocked should I be? (again, this time HR) +15 mo update
« on: April 12, 2016, 03:58:25 PM »
As of recently, I am in charge of operations in a very small section. There are only 3 full-time employees, none of whom are great. #1 is passive, #2 I think lies to escape responsibility and work, and #3 seems to be just lazy. The section is losing money because of low booking rate, but the department needs it up and running, just with less of a deficit. Every booking means more work for same pay for #2 and #3, and currently they space them out unreasonably because they don't want to work.

Last night, I was checking a technical problems that #2 claims prevents us from increasing bookings.  I established that there is no technical problem at all, and that #2 is inventing it to escape work. #3 is sitting next to me as this becomes apparent, and says, in so many words, "if you're going to make us work more, I may not want to work this job". For perspective, these guys are working at about 33-50% of effort, and are paid more than people who work at 100%, same job, more stress, less flexibility, shift work (different section).

So... How shocked should I be? I am pretty shocked, honestly. I understand that shirking responsibility, lying, and avoiding work happen all the time - at minimum wage jobs. These guys are paid $80K+. How often does one see this at this pay grade? Is this (lying, complaining about doing what you are paid for) something I can make a performance improvement plan around (first step to firing, if they don't improve)? How would I set goals? Don't let us catch you lying in the next 3 months? Don't complain about doing your job? It doesn't seem like a measurable enough thing. If it were my business, I would start interviewing for replacements, but this is a big organization, and you can't just fire someone over a comment they made (I hope you can't). Most importantly, what are the chances of hiring someone just like these guys in the next round? BTW, someone else will be taking over the booking, but there's still the issue of having these guys do the work that's booked.

I'm meeting with higher-ups about this again this week (ongoing meetings). How (un)reasonable is to propose finding new employees? Is it too harsh, too soon? I haven't been at this long (officially <2 weeks, but ramping up for ~6 months), so it would make sense to defer decisions to the higher-ups, but one of them is a softie, and I think they want me to come up with plans. I am very interested in seeing this unit work efficiently, this attitude just makes me mad.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 06:24:55 PM by milliemchi »

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2016, 04:06:23 PM »
Not sure since I'm not there, but if these guys have been there for a long time, then inertia has probably set in and the best case scenario is lazy dude finds a new job and lying dude transfers in-house to someone who will let him coast.

Document everything that is done, including time, what happened, why did you initially look into this/have the conversation, etc... Keep meticulous records of their ineptitude. Go through all the bureaucratic nonsense(setting improvement goals, giving them a verbal, then written warning, etc...). Be sure to make the goals about performance. Set a goal to improve performance 25%, for example. Set a goal to learn how to properly book and to make X number of bookings in the next 3 months. Stuff like that.

Remember, best case here is these guys willingly separate from you and go their own way and then you hire on someone who will actually do the job. This sounds like 90% of government employees I have ever worked with, so good luck if you are in the public sector.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 04:51:13 PM by AZDude »

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2016, 04:14:56 PM »
Not public sector. Large research university (non-profit, but private and relatively well run).

human

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 791
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2016, 04:15:36 PM »
It sounds like public sector employees just by virtue of them still being around, however the language in the post doesn't seem fedspeak. I think the lying deserves a "this is not professional and hurts the team and goals" speech with a stern warning that any unethical behaviour such as this (not just lying) it better not happen again or the result may be disciplinary. Then next time a suspension or something then firing. Check with HR they may have an unofficial time limit, say for example they smarten up for a year and the next time they purposely screw things up they get another pass. Of just fire them, I always thought you didn't need cause in the US? Or does that bring in hefty severance?

I work in the public sector, I've had under performing employees, they always seem to just push the envelope and skate by. I've never experienced what the OP is discussing - "you better not make me work hard?" WTF?

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8553
  • Location: the woods
  • resting up for 2020
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2016, 04:19:29 PM »
Yeah, document everything. Go through historical emails and work records to build a case for a PIP, then give concrete performance-based goals. If you don't know what those concrete performance based goals are, you're going to have a hard time managing anyone successfully in that role.

For non-union, at-will employees, you technically can fire people for whatever reason you want. Companies set up formal processes to protect themselves from lawsuits and, to a lesser extent, be able to truly distinguish legitimately poor performers from irrational bosses.

For hiring replacements, ask behavior-based questions to see how they would respond or have responded to X scenario. Sure, people can lie, but you can get a sense of reality from those.

Don't bother getting mad, though. It's just a job. Some people slack off. Honestly, it's not (totally) their fault, it's more the fault of leadership who allows it. Set goals, sincerely encourage them to hit those goals, but if they don't, wash your hands and try again.

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2016, 04:19:44 PM »
It's also "if we work any harder, mistakes will happen, and that would be really hard on the clients" (yes, it would be). Now I'm also worried about passive-aggressive sabotage. I thought to keep that out of the original post, but I guess I can throw it out there.

former player

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4678
  • Location: Avalon
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2016, 04:25:07 PM »
You need to know that this has been a problem your bosses have had for a long time and have been unable to solve for a long time.  So why have they given the job of solving it to you?  Is your own position secure?  Are you a rising star that they think will actually solve it, or is there something else going on?  Protect yourself first.

Putting myself in the position of the three workers, it sounds as though there has been no incentive for them to perform at the level you think they should be.  There may in fact have been active disincentives, depending on the way in which the work is set up, the renumeration and other working conditions are set up, and a lack of opportunity to progress (or the possibility of being put into a harder-working section if they do in fact work hard, or two of them not willing to risk getting on the wrong side of the lying one by working hard - I would be pretty worried about the interpersonal dynamics in this little set-up).

If you want to change the dynamic, You have started out well by investigating the bookings "issue" and having someone else take over the bookings.  Your job is to oversee that the bookings get done, and the only way to do this is a constant presence, in one way or another.  You can be physically present ("management by walking around") or you can put in a system of recording hours worked on each booking and times to completion of jobs.

If this section has advantageous working conditions as against the same jobs elsewhere in the organisation, you should be able to fill any vacancies by advertising internally.  So if employee no. 3 wants to go, let him.  Employee no.1 will probably do fine, especially with a bit of personal attention and encouragement.  No. 2 is the one I would worry about and keep a very close eye on. 




human

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 791
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2016, 04:26:13 PM »
It's hard to set specific productivity goals like x bookings in a day because then work becomes a drudgery and/or people will rush through their work to get x bookings done and then slack off and perhaps make mistakes all day. It sucks but you have to get tough and tell them their productivity is so low it doesn't meet the threshold of careful but simply unproductive. Are there other units that do similar work? You could speak to their manager to get a good sense of how this sort of thing is monitored.

Tester

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2016, 04:29:04 PM »
If you fire them then you will be the one hiring new ones I hope - so you should take care to avoid hiring the same (this should take c are of your concern of hiring the same type...)

The one who said you should not make them work wants to go. He even told you that "I may not want to work this job".
Perhaps he is looking to be fired to get a severance package?

The one who lies has to go if he continues to do it.
Perhaps he had a manager which just bought his BS and now he tries it with you :).
I would have a discussion with him about how what he said was "incorrect".
And show him that you will not buy his BS.
I think this one is the one who can do a good job if he is not a bad person and just used the lies to be lazy.

The passive one I don't know, ask him what he wants and how can you improve productivity.
What if he just saw how the other two get to be lazy/lie and now he just does the same?

Just don't do it on impulse, start asking around, find out why they are all slacking and some even lying.
Talk with the upper management on the history of that team, managers....
Talk with HR if they have information.

After you put the pieces together come up with a plan.
I would not mention the lying yet to my managers/HR if I can't prove it.





MissNancyPryor

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 539
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Northwest USA
  • The Stewardess is Flying the Plane!
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2016, 04:36:51 PM »
It is surprisingly common.  I work with one guy who has a largely field-based work force but is supposed to spend all non-field days in our headquarters.  Instead he games the system and says he is in the field when we damn well know he is sleeping in or goofing off.  At $160K salary.  He will get away with that until our new director officially joins the office in another 5 months--he is still several hundred miles away so only knows our whereabouts because we tell him.  No use "telling on" the scammer because my company notoriously will not deal with people and will probably make more notice of the fact that I said something about it.  Eyes on my own paper on that one. 

Another guy decided to take every Friday off, his wife ratted him out at the Christmas party when she said how grateful she was that he got to do that....but of course it was unsanctioned and the now-retired director was just hearing about that for the first time.  He was not dealt with either; same reasons as above--the director could see the barn door and didn't want to deal with it before he retired.  Sigh. 

Those are the pitfalls of having a huge geographically diverse company, and having modern electronics so it is not possible to know if someone is on their fishing boat or at their desk.  It torques me off that people are allowed to do this because there are definitely quality people out there who could do a better job and who want the roles.  A physical presence does affect the culture so while some jobs are work-at-home possibilities these leadership positions are not.

That is the issue:  if you are willing to go through a high-quality candidate selection process and then quickly deal with those who are a poor fit, you will be rewarded.  There are just too many lazy or 'soft' managers as you say who don't want to go through the hassle of firing the losers and getting good people in the door.  I can tell you are not of that variety because you are asking the right questions. 

I always say about my staff, of which I inherited most -- if I wouldn't hire them again, I better be moving them up or moving them out.  It has worked for me.  I fired one and essentially forced one into retirement when "the work load became too much", and we have great hires in their places.  The group is functioning at a higher level now and people have thanked me for rooting out the poor performers. 

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2016, 04:40:13 PM »
To answer questions, this unit has been without proper supervision for ~10 years. The higher-ups have been involved for about the same length of time as I am (about 6 months). Two are new to the organization, maybe a year, and don't have time for hands-on management. The big shot is openly unhappy with #2 and #3. They promoted me as the 'rising star', detecting a positive and proactive attitude. The third is my boss from my other (concurrent) appointment, great to work with, but just can't project meanness. So they are not the ones who have neglected the situation, and I expect full support from them. My job does not hang on how this situation resolves. Worst case scenario, I go back to my technical position, but I don't even see that happening.

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2016, 04:42:32 PM »
And thanks for the advice, everyone.

Tester

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2016, 04:52:34 PM »
And thanks for the advice, everyone.

Ok, one more thing I would do.
If you don't have time until your meeting with your managers to find out everything tell them your plan.
Don't go to that meeting without a plan.
Especially if you were promoted as a rising star.
Any plan, even if the plan is "just find out their motivation for slacking and go from there".

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2016, 05:00:07 PM »
Don't go to that meeting without a plan.
Any plan, even if the plan is "just find out their motivation for slacking and go from there".

Yeah, I think I can do better than that, we've been on it for a while.

But - any advice on weeding out slackers at an interview? Or is that an unsolved problem for all managers everywhere?

Also, a question for everyone, which I didn't articulate in the OP, how much sense do you think it makes to work on improvement, just in general, or are such issues (laziness) beyond hope?

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8553
  • Location: the woods
  • resting up for 2020
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2016, 05:12:56 PM »
Also, a question for everyone, which I didn't articulate in the OP, how much sense do you think it makes to work on improvement, just in general, or are such issues (laziness) beyond hope?

It will benefit both your life and your career if you treat everyone as if they have the capacity to excel.

Set clear expectations, praise accomplishments, give consistent incentives, and manage to performance, not attitude or lateness. If you become known as someone who develops people, you will get high quality candidates, which in turn will help your own development.

bobechs

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2016, 05:20:01 PM »
As you begin and continue your own special purge, and recruit in the new generation, do keep in that back of your mind that famous adage: the revolution devours its own children.  The new people will understand that, even if they can't articulate it.  Being Snake People and all...

Just sayin.

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2016, 05:22:19 PM »
Also, a question for everyone, which I didn't articulate in the OP, how much sense do you think it makes to work on improvement, just in general, or are such issues (laziness) beyond hope?

You should at least give them fair warning about it. Remember, these people have been "meeting expectations" (from their point of view) for 10 years. They might not even realize how much they suck.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9888
  • Location: Seattle
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2016, 06:59:49 PM »
1)  Increase the bookings -- it is almost impossible to motivate people, even good people, if there isn't sufficient work to keep them busy
2)  Get a position description drafted/approved by HR for the roles currently occupied by #1-3 (if different)
3)  Put 1-3 on PIPs the minute they aren't keeping up with the increased bookings or actively sabotaging things.  Document everything
4)  Network inside and outside the company to find good prospective replacements for #1-3.

If you can increase the bookings sufficiently, you can argue that you need additional staff (especially if your current 3 are on PIPs) and start bringing in new blood even while you are weeding out the old. 

Good luck.  I had to let a couple of long-time employees go when I was in charge at my old office.  It was hard, but necessary.  Remaining staff were grateful, because as someone stated above the new people hired are pulling more weight, making life easier for everyone.  The old people were nice, but lazy/complacent and unwilling to take on new/additional work as our programs grew.  I made the decision about one when he gave me pushback when I asked him to take over arranging catering for one of our events (something I had done in the past but didn't have time for once I was doing my old job + the director's job managing 8 additional programs....).

Catbert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1729
  • Location: Southern California
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2016, 11:45:10 AM »
Talk to your HR about how your company treats performance versus conduct issues.  A PIP is how you deal with performance issues.  However, lying, AWOL, surfing the internet, and insubordination are conduct problems.  You may be able to deal with those issues by starting with verbal warnings and working your way up through written warnings, suspensions and maybe even firing.  Or maybe you'll get lucky and they will find another job if their current one gets less cushy.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2016, 12:17:31 PM »
Also, a question for everyone, which I didn't articulate in the OP, how much sense do you think it makes to work on improvement, just in general, or are such issues (laziness) beyond hope?

You should at least give them fair warning about it. Remember, these people have been "meeting expectations" (from their point of view) for 10 years. They might not even realize how much they suck.

I think there's a good chance of that (except for the liar). Do they know what the problem is, organizationally?

#3 might even regret what s/he said. It's easy to get upset about changes when you first hear about them, then realize they make sense or are for everybody's benefit.

Like when people whine and moan about a new development nearby. Do all the whiners sell their houses and move someplace less desirable? Of course not!

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3389
  • Location: New York
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2016, 12:19:08 PM »
In 2005, I took over an underperforming data analytics/reporting group that was known as the place to go when you wanted a job with low expectations and no future. Within six months I replaced them all with fresh college hires. These guys were previously productive software engineers, making 80-100k a year, and were completely disinterested in being held accountable. They all starting looking for other internal postings literally days from when I took over. I replaced them with 40k college grads with 10x productivity. When I was done, the jobs were redefined as entry level training roles where either you were promoted out of it in two years or laid off - the "up or out" method.

The key to turning a group around is to make the goals clear, hold them accountable, and follow through on your promises. Carrot and stick. Give your people an opportunity to succeed and reward them when they do. It's up to the guys doing the jobs if they don't want to meet the goals, because you do not care one way or the other. They miss the goal, they get the stick. That can mean required personal status meetings at 7am, job assignments nobody wants, unpaid leave, whatever. There's always a stick if you know what to look for.

Quote
So... How shocked should I be? I am pretty shocked, honestly. I understand that shirking responsibility, lying, and avoiding work happen all the time - at minimum wage jobs. These guys are paid $80K+. How often does one see this at this pay grade?
All. The. Time. I've never had a professional job where everybody was pulling their weight.

Quote
Is this (lying, complaining about doing what you are paid for) something I can make a performance improvement plan around (first step to firing, if they don't improve)? How would I set goals? Don't let us catch you lying in the next 3 months? Don't complain about doing your job?
You must have a zero tolerance policy for lying. That is completely unacceptable and grounds for immediate termination. Lying is fairly unusual in a professional environment. You need to make it clear to this guy (in private, with HR support, preferably) that lying will not be tolerated. Document previous lies and take these to HR to prepare for this first meeting. They should support your ability to fire him if he does it again even one time, and even if the lie is about something innocuous. 

For the guy who says that if you make him work, he's going to quit, take him up on that. This guy will be easy to push out: give him all the least desirable jobs.

Quote
Most importantly, what are the chances of hiring someone just like these guys in the next round?
Any advice on weeding out slackers at an interview? Or is that an unsolved problem for all managers everywhere?
MJ mentioned it above, but the best way to interview is to use the STAR method. Situation, Task, Action, Result. Develop an interview script for the role. http://www.wm.edu/offices/career/graduate_students/_graddocs/STAR%20Method_Interviews.pdf
The basic approach is to ask "Tell me about a time when you..." rather than "How would you..."

Another way to detect this is to ask questions about relationships in past jobs. Red flags are people who don't take responsibility for their own failures. If the applicant has had a lot of jobs where he had an awful boss or terrible coworkers, but he was a shining star, pass on him.

One question in all of my interviews is, "Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss. How did you resolve it?" This shakes out more problem hires than any other question.

Good answers: We disagreed, I explained my point of view in more detail, boss kept his original decision but I felt like I had been heard, so it was OK. or, We disagreed, I did my best to follow boss's instructions, things didn't go well and I helped to get them back on the right track.

Bad answers: We disagreed, and everything fell apart, and I felt smug and satisfied. We disagreed, and I kept explaining it to my bonehead boss but he would not understand, which is why I'm here talking to you. We disagreed, and I did it my way behind his back. We disagreed, and I did everything I could to sabotage the work effort. Yes, people have actually used these answers in an interview.

Quote
Also, a question for everyone, which I didn't articulate in the OP, how much sense do you think it makes to work on improvement, just in general, or are such issues (laziness) beyond hope?
I'm a big believer in giving people an opportunity to succeed. They have not been well managed in the past, and that's about to change. Giving people bright, measureable goals to hit improves job satisfaction. If they haven't been measured before, or given any kind of feedback on their performance, it's easy to understand why they don't try hard.

Other suggestions:
- Read _Three Signs of a Miserable Job_, it's the best book on Six Sigma and the value of quantitative business metrics ever written.
- Prepare a 30/60/90 day plan for each of your new people. Review this with them weekly to evaluate progress. Set more milestones if that helps.
- Require a written status report of some kind, due weekly. The laziest will not submit it, makes it easy to fire them.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3032
  • Age: 82
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2016, 12:24:54 PM »
What's wrong with just being upfront and lay out clear expectations of how work will proceed from this point forward?

Have a meeting with the three employees, explain that you have been going through things, discovered that any issues/problems that have been reported are now completely resolved (not sure if it's a great idea to call the one guy out for lying/fabricating stuff unless you are 100% sure of that, but you may want to in private unless all three of them were complicit in the fabricated issues), and going forward you will be doing X amount of projects/work/hours logged... and any other pertinent details as far as ramping up your department's workload and assignments.

End the meeting with a firm idea of exactly what you will be expecting from each of them and the direction you will be taking this department. And make sure that they understand that any issues or problems that do crop up you need to be looped in instantly and will address them. But emphasize that you need them to do the work assigned in a competent and timely manner from this point forward and make sure that they really understand that.

This is a department restructuring - and they should be looped in so they know exactly what you want from them. As long as you've discussed what you want to do and set clear boundaries and expectations for all of them, if they do not meet expectations, give them one warning (advancing to a PIP if necessary), letting them know that job performance must improve or else they will be replaced.

If you get push back from any of them, then that's when you have one-on-one meetings and address their particular issues. Of course check in with your supervisors and HR if needed to see about how to go about putting the lazy and lying employees on a performance improvement plan (usually called a PIP) which is the last ditch effort to help them improve before firing. Set a definite timeline for them to improve, and if they haven't shown you that they are capable of performing consistently well, then fire them.

Chances are that the lazy employee will leave before this, and the liar would be aware that they were on thin ice and being monitored by someone that knows what the hell they are doing (you) and will either improve or get out themselves.



« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 12:30:04 PM by Frankies Girl »

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1593
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2016, 12:27:37 PM »
What is "PIP"?

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3032
  • Age: 82
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2016, 01:29:50 PM »
Quote
But - any advice on weeding out slackers at an interview? Or is that an unsolved problem for all managers everywhere?

Ask them for examples in the past of times when they showed initiative. Sure, they might be lying, but use your poker skills to read their face for how genuine they are being. Ask very specific follow-up questions, feigning interest in their previous job, to try and catch them in a lie.

Quote
Also, a question for everyone, which I didn't articulate in the OP, how much sense do you think it makes to work on improvement, just in general, or are such issues (laziness) beyond hope?

Not beyond hope, but if they have lazing around for ten years and suddenly some dude shows up and starts poking them... expect lots of pushback and some angry retorts. Maybe offer something as a carrot to entice their best effort(bonus, casual dress code, telecommute days, etc...). If I was told that getting an above average performance review meant telecommuting part-time and wearing jeans to work, you would get my best effort. If that same review meant I got a 1.5% instead of a 1% raise... good luck getting me to do more than the minimum to not get fired.

BFGirl

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 716
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2016, 01:45:23 PM »
The thing that I have noticed in the jobs I have held long term is that slackers don't necessarily start out that way.  Oftentimes they started off excited about the job and worked hard, but bad management has eroded their enthusiasm.

One of the things that I've seen over and over is when someone has an idea to improve efficiency or are trying to do the best job they can and constantly get shot down arbitrarily.  It is very easy to take an "I don't give a shit" attitude at that point.  I've seen it over and over in my current job.  When people feel like their opinions and skills aren't valued, they figure out the least amount they can do to get the job done and not get fired. 

Of course, there are also just lazy people who are out to do as little as possible, but you might take some time to attempt to determine if there is a way to motivate your employees before you write them off.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6960
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2016, 01:24:02 PM »
Quote
The key to turning a group around is to make the goals clear, hold them accountable, and follow through on your promises. Carrot and stick. Give your people an opportunity to succeed and reward them when they do. It's up to the guys doing the jobs if they don't want to meet the goals, because you do not care one way or the other. They miss the goal, they get the stick. That can mean required personal status meetings at 7am, job assignments nobody wants, unpaid leave, whatever. There's always a stick if you know what to look for.

This is some good advice, and I have to say: it happens a lot.

Sometimes, people are lazy.  Sometimes, they are incapable.

I work in semiconductors, and we had a series of really bad hires (for one particular position).
Some of it is that our expectations are high - we needed people who could do the job, and set up systems for tracking things, and figure out how to fix things that are broken.

My personal experience is that people at age 50+ are often very good at interviewing.  They know a lot.  They say the right things.  So we had three bad hires in a row for this particular position.  (Obviously not everyone over 50, we've had many good  hires too.)

It's kind of a balance.  On one hand, you want to give people the opportunity to grow, improve, and get better.  Maybe there is a position with a better fit (of course, that can backfire.  We tried to fire a guy for incompetence, but he was buddies with the CEO, so he got promoted instead.  Explain THAT to the other engineers without pissing them off).

So these guys were my coworkers.  The bosses that finally fired the guys-
Guy #1: Boss #1 just talked with him over the space of a couple of months about the job requirements.  And asked him if he REALLY felt like it was a good fit.  By mutual agreement, he quit after his first year options were vested.

Guy #2: Boss #2 put the guy on a performance improvement plan.  He wasn't able to do the job.  Now, this guy had experience, but he was used to bigger companies with "systems" and "people".  He was used to running one experiment at a time, but having "people" to actually run them.  Here, he was expected to run multiple experiments to fix a problem, run part of them himself, keep all of his own processes running, keep track of chemical inventory, learn a new design system, etc.  In the end, what happened is that my group did >50% of his job.  When we had 2 major problems at once, he did one.  We told him to fix both.  He was incapable of even making a plan (I told him to make a plan for the second one, and we'd do it.)

So another guy and I just fixed problem #2.  Three weeks later he was ready to start on it.  In any event, once boss #2 realized that my group was doing the majority of the work, he laid him off.

Guy #3: Boss #2 laid him off too.  He was a development type guy but really was unable to finish any project.

Now, how does that help you?  Well, I have to say that there is always the possibility of "errors" when people take on more work than their natural abilities.  You can set up improvement plans, and instruct them on how to get a little better.  Thing is, you have to work with these guys and they have to be willing.  Regardless, you have to document the specific expectations.  Make them achievable for THEM (not compared to people in other groups).  If they *really* don't want to do the extra work, they will either quit OR you will let them go after they do not achieve their goals.

Long term you want them to be replaced with people who can do the job.

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2016, 11:47:03 AM »
We had another ops meeting Friday. The big boss says she's seen all this in one form or another already. The non-mean boss reveals that he supervises two more people who give him pushback, and that he's not happy with ($60-80K). He's been writing their evaluations for years (obviously "meets expectations"), without any firm action. I'm not surprised at that, but I didn't know he was that unhappy with them. The big boss kept saying we have to be patient, which I thought meant "give #2 and #3 time to come around", but it turned out to be "we have to be patient about getting rid of these guys" i.e., firing them - proper procedures, etc.

I had a plan, and big boss had a plan, and it turned out to be the same plan (make changes to schedule, monitor performance, go on to improvement plans etc.).

Also, this year I'll have input into their annual evaluations, but next year I'll be writing those. Fun. :/  I have to add that when I was approached about this position, we talked about an 'administrative' position.  It turned out to be 'management', which was a bit more than I bargained for. But hey - they think I can do it, they want me specifically, and they're giving me a raise for it, so I'm happy to do it. Besides, learning new things is very motivational. I'm just explaining why I need guidance.

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2016, 06:33:48 PM »
UPDATE (in case anyone wondered how this is evolving):

Big boss and I had a meeting with #2 (deceiving) and #3 (lazy) today. Boy! #2 quickly saw that the gig was up, and was very much willing to cooperate and extend himself with the new requirements. He was hired for 9-5, but offered to switch shifts around and do some Saturdays. I respect that. #3 was hired to work PM shifts and Saturdays. When we presented this 'new' schedule, he said "that's what we already do". When we explained that we are going to expect him to actually be there for those hours, he started getting worked up, said "this is not going to work for me", "I cannot work like that". When big boss asked them not to take lunch breaks at the same time, so there is always one person manning the equipment, he said "this does not go over well with me". After some of this, he got up, threw his papers on the desk, said "I cannot work like this", twice, and stormed out of the room. I was surprised. Big boss was not.

Being so new and inexperienced and green and all, I did not say what I think should be done, but inside I went "please fire him, please fire him..." After this, I am actually worried about continuing to work with this guy, as he'll mess something up accidentally on purpose. I don't want to constantly monitor what he's doing, I have other things to do. HR already wants to fire him, and even the non-mean boss seemed to think he should be fired. Big boss will consult with HR on Monday.

Incidentally, just today, on another thread, somebody posted "When people show you who they are, believe them". Great advice, I think.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2016, 06:49:47 PM »
Well, 1/2 isn't bad.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3032
  • Age: 82
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2016, 02:06:38 AM »
Not what i expected, (thought liar would get huffy and quit and lazy would start pulling his weight!) but at least they all know the crappy work ethics are not going to be tolerated going forward. Thanks for the update!

snowball

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 66
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2016, 09:33:48 PM »
Sympathy.  I was promoted recently to manage a dept which consists of some reasonably competent people + two who mean well but haven't managed to achieve competence over many years of being coached and given training.  Absolutely the only reason they're still here is that they've been here so long no one has wanted to bite the bullet and get rid of them, and other people keep picking up their slack.  Plus they are fairly well liked, and neither does well financially so losing their jobs will be a blow.  But...if a new hire's work was at that level they wouldn't pass probation, so why should the standards for these two be lower?  We are painfully under-resourced and overworked in other areas, and I can't justify keeping people just because they've been here a long time.

So I want to get rid of them, and I'm giving them both a "needs improvement" performance evaluation as a start, which will come as a shock to them (everyone else in their sections is well aware they don't pull their weight, but they aren't - well, one is more wilfully oblivious to it than the other).  I think I'll be able to lay them off in the end, but there's probably going to be pushback from another manager who's also been here forever.

I wish I believed there was a chance of them getting better at their jobs, but they've had so many chances to improve already...I don't think leopards really change their spots.  They're nice enough people, so I want to do it as a layoff, not a firing, to try to make it as easy on them to find another job as possible.  We won't need to refill their positions (their productivity level is that bad), so the layoff will even ring true.

...One of them is a vivid demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger principle in action.  If she really believed she had competence issues, maybe she'd have a hope of improving, but she thinks she's fine (and underappreciated and underpaid), and I'm pretty sure no feedback I can give will change that.  She will think I'm just being unfair - she already has reacted that way when I've tried to give her constructive criticism.  (As if I would voluntarily want to go down this path if I had an alternative way of solving it.  Sigh.  I WANT you to be good at your job!  It would make my life so much easier.)

The other one I feel sorrier for, because she tries to improve, but can never seem to keep all the necessary details straight, even for simple work that you'd think almost anyone could do well, much less the more complicated work that she's been doing (badly) for over a decade.  I hope she can find some job out there that she'll actually be good at - none of the types of work we do would qualify, but I can imagine some things that might.

Tester

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2016, 09:35:41 PM »
I think I said that the lazy one told you he wants to get fired :).
And also that the liar might get around if you show him you won't buy his lies.
Now, I think I can say good job and start looking for a replacement for the lazy one.

snowball

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 66
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2016, 09:45:04 PM »
(I never particularly wanted to be a manager, and I still don't really, but I accepted the position and I'm going to do my damnedest to do a good job and leave my successor in a better situation than the one I'm in right now - I don't want to stick anybody else with this.  A lot of things need to change.  Some days, though, I'm thinking about FIRE pretty wistfully.  One day.)

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #34 on: May 09, 2016, 06:40:30 PM »
UPDATE:

Lazy #3 was upset about the Friday meeting, so he took Monday off. (??)
Big boss and HR boss are having a meeting with him Tuesday "to take corrective action for insubordination".  What does that mean?
From other discussion (about his vacation time), I don't think they will fire him tomorrow.

ETA: #2 (shifty) came in this morning requesting 45 minutes daily for the morning setup time, I said that takes 15 at most - no BS-ing this time, he just said OK.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2016, 07:38:02 PM by milliemchi »

plainjane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1675
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #35 on: May 09, 2016, 06:50:20 PM »
It could be that they are offering the person the opportunity to leave on their own terms rather than have a firing on their record. Or they could be telling the person they have one chance left.  Or both.

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3389
  • Location: New York
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2016, 08:14:43 AM »
Quote
"to take corrective action for insubordination".  What does that mean?
When I read your first update, my first thought was, ah, they've set him up for an insubordination termination. Insubordination is when your subordinates don't do what you tell them to do. Storming out of a meeting and saying you "can't work like this" are classic examples. Taking time off without prior approval, likewise.

So this meeting they're setting up, the big boss is hoping he either doesn't bother to show up, or he's insubordinate in front of HR. Either one of those should allow him to term him immediately. If he does show up, he'll be presented with the evidence and given one last chance to toe the line. Job metrics will be presented. Any failure, no matter how slight, will result in termination.

Insubordination terminations usually result in one of the following outcomes:
- Complaints of sexual harassment or racial profiling
- Threats of lawsuits
- Lawyering up/union rep/whatever's available

Don't take it personally if these happen, it's almost inevitable. People who are insubordinate tend to think nothing is their fault, so they look for someone else to pin the blame on. Usually it's a superior, but they will settle for a peer in a pinch.

mbl

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 314
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #37 on: May 10, 2016, 08:56:35 AM »
Also, a question for everyone, which I didn't articulate in the OP, how much sense do you think it makes to work on improvement, just in general, or are such issues (laziness) beyond hope?

It will benefit both your life and your career if you treat everyone as if they have the capacity to excel.

Set clear expectations, praise accomplishments, give consistent incentives, and manage to performance, not attitude or lateness. If you become known as someone who develops people, you will get high quality candidates, which in turn will help your own development.

Well stated.
Most workers who are promoted into positions where they are "managing" other people tend to take on the negative reinforcement methods.    Illustrating their utter ignorance of the optimal ways to manage.   The old "Peter" principal.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3514
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #38 on: May 10, 2016, 09:58:18 AM »
Nothing to add to the thread, but thank you for keeping us updated. I think all of us who have ever had lazy, useless coworkers who never faced any sort of consequences for it are living vicariously through you right now.

Taran Wanderer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 569
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #39 on: May 10, 2016, 10:13:17 AM »
I'll start by admitting I haven't read all of the other responses, but I'll share my reaction based on 15+ years of managing people.  Our organization has gone through a number of changes over that time period, so it's almost like having worked for four different companies, so my opinion is informed by different high-level leadership guidance and HR approaches.

First, your ability to create change in this new position is probably never going to be better than it is in the first few weeks.  You have come in with fresh eyes and found significant problems.  Document those problems, communicate them to others who will need to support your decisions, and get ready to make change.

Second, lying is grounds for immediate termination.  At a minimum, you need to issue a final written warning to the liar immediately, and if he/she lies again, terminate.

Third, $80,000 a year is a lot of money.  If these people won't work for that much, I'm sure you can find someone you will.

Finally, don't be timid here.  Be firm about communicating your observations up the chain of command in your organization.  Lying, waste, and laziness offend anyone who has a decent work ethic.  Help them feel offended by sharing the truth, and then make the changes you need to make.

If you don't, you just become part of the problem, and the solution may be for your manager to make a change with your position.


frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 706
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #40 on: May 10, 2016, 06:13:43 PM »
I think you've been getting a lot of great advice here, I just want to comment about one thing:

Quote
These guys are paid $80K+. How often does one see this at this pay grade?

Quote
Third, $80,000 a year is a lot of money.  If these people won't work for that much, I'm sure you can find someone you will.

I just want to state a little caution about these ideas.  It doesn't actually matter how much the pay is, but how much the pay is RELATIVE to other similar jobs.  $80k might be a good salary, but if most people in a similar position at other companies are making $120k, then the relatively low pay at this company may be a demotivating factor.  These employees might be staying in these positions, versus taking a better paying position elsewhere, only BECAUSE this job is easy and they've gotten away with a low workload.  So I would check to see that their salaries are competitive, especially if you're facing the possibility of needing to make new hires.




milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #41 on: May 12, 2016, 02:28:52 PM »
UPDATE:

The 'corrective action' was an oral reprimand. I'm a little disappointed, as I searched online and got the impression that in cases of insubordination, one can go directly to written reprimand (or even firing). But here we are. I talked to HR later in the week, and found out that we can, basically, mess with this guy's hours and schedule, legally. I need to see what big boss wants to do, she's out for the week. I should have mentioned this, but #3 had already been caught stealing time about 6 months ago, and only my non-mean boss saved his job. This was in-character, but a bad idea, obviously. Anyways, that's whence low expectations of #3.  And, these guys are paid above average for the work they do, so I expect above average attitude and performance.

And as someone referred to big boss as 'him', just for the sake of raising awareness, both big boss and HR boss are women.

Catbert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1729
  • Location: Southern California
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #42 on: May 12, 2016, 08:55:09 PM »
UPDATE:

The 'corrective action' was an oral reprimand. I'm a little disappointed, as I searched online and got the impression that in cases of insubordination, one can go directly to written reprimand (or even firing). But here we are. I talked to HR later in the week, and found out that we can, basically, mess with this guy's hours and schedule, legally. I need to see what big boss wants to do, she's out for the week. I should have mentioned this, but #3 had already been caught stealing time about 6 months ago, and only my non-mean boss saved his job. This was in-character, but a bad idea, obviously. Anyways, that's whence low expectations of #3.  And, these guys are paid above average for the work they do, so I expect above average attitude and performance.

And as someone referred to big boss as 'him', just for the sake of raising awareness, both big boss and HR boss are women.

For a long time employee who has been allow to get away with shit for alota years, I think an oral reprimand isn't unusual.  Can vary a lot between companies.  Depending on your company's system the next step could be written reprimand/warning and then maybe suspensions (time off without pay) and finally termination. 

Edited last sentence: I'd be careful about messing with is schedule unless there is a good reason.  Making him arrive on time = fine.  Changing his schedule to yours so you can keep an eye on him = okay.  Changing for a business related reason = good.  Fucking with him just because you can = dangerous if he later wants to claim discrimination.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2016, 11:21:11 AM by mary w »

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #43 on: May 13, 2016, 07:26:43 AM »
Yes, but we'll have only one piece of equipment for about three months, so we only need one of them. #3 will be sitting twiddling thumbs (like he's been doing for a while, except now with no pretense of working). We really, really, do not need two full-time people, and #3 has less seniority. Anyway, I don't make these decisions, big boss will, and I'll be waiting to see how she will handle it.

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3389
  • Location: New York
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #44 on: May 13, 2016, 09:15:04 AM »
Don't mess with his hours - that's grounds for a retaliation lawsuit. You CAN tell him that certain hours are required, but you better have good documentation about why they're required if he's the only member of the team with this restriction.

Advising you on this stuff is HR's job. It's practically their whole job, keeping management from making mistakes on worker protections.

Don't worry about the slow moving HR. That's pretty common, you just have to jump through their hoops until it's over with. Welcome to management!

Taran Wanderer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 569
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #45 on: May 14, 2016, 08:30:12 AM »
Advising you on this stuff is HR's job. It's practically their whole job, keeping management from making mistakes on worker protections.

Don't worry about the slow moving HR. That's pretty common, you just have to jump through their hoops until it's over with. Welcome to management!

Nice description! Working with slow moving HR can be painful, but it's not as painful as dealing with a lawsuit resulting from moving too fast without proper guidance.

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #46 on: August 30, 2016, 09:50:32 PM »
UPDATE #4:

We had performance evaluations for #2 and #3 (which I ended up drafting after all), and #3 got all 3s (meets expectations, default score), with two 2s relating to attitude and inappropriate behavior. He was not happy with that. He told us that he will accept our scoring, but that in his mind, he is all 5s (highest score which would very rarely happen) and that he is the best, technically, not only in our organization, but probably in the world. He is good technically, but oh, come on...

Shortly after that he requested sheduled lunch breaks. I said 'you don't need that, there is two of you, take staggered lunches'.  The following week, he put lunch breaks on the schedule throughout the summer. I took those off the schedule, informed big boss, and nothing happened.

So we have a pattern now. After getting unexpected bad news, he misbehaves. It will be interesting...
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 10:14:11 AM by milliemchi »

milliemchi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 316
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #47 on: August 30, 2016, 10:15:15 PM »
UPDATE #5:

In June, we had a little sh*tfest. #3 requested some vacation time immediately after the meeting where he stormed out, and got it. #2 moved up an elective health intervention, and #1 went on a 4-week vacation overseas, which he planned, but it's unclear that he did all the paperwork for it (bad, and it won't happen again, but not grounds for reprimands here), and all were gone on the same Monday, with 3 business days notice. This came about because of poor oversight before I was put in position. We had bookings with no one to do the work for about a week, and not enough coverage later on for what ended up being 12 weeks. Not to brag, but I found two guys to do the work that week and cover the more-than-8h/day shifts later on, got trained in the technical aspect just enough to train the replacements to get the basic work done, (with ongoing training after the crisis week), and did that all in 5 business days. (I also successfully troubleshooted two big technical issues for which I had no training, and this is to brag.) ;)  Immediately after, I created a basic syllabus for future training (this time it was all by-the-seat-of-the-pants, as it's never been done before). This was an insane amount of work that I never want to do again, but accomplished two things: one, it showed #2 and #3 that we have people who can replace them if need be (the technical expertise is a big factor), and two, we avoided the previous managing group witnessing the sh*tfest.  The latter have been bitching about having lost the management powers and are actively rooting for us to fail, with the goal of taking over again. This cannot happen, but their attitude creates bad politics. I spent the next two weeks setting up the ongoing schedules, and a system for monitoring that the replacements are getting the work done, and then went on my planned vacation (with proper paperwok done months before, and that could not be moved).

While I was enjoying my overseas vacation, #3 changed his hours without talking to either me, big boss, non-mean boss, or #1 (passive) who is in charge of #2 an #3 when I'm not there (but not fully in the loop apparently, since he hadn't mentioned this). #3 blocked off additional hours, without unblocking time off that was set up earlier, so nothing was booked at either times. He figured he could get away with it, but I was checking while on vacation, called him and told him to talk to big boss, which he didn't do.  Big boss interpreted schedule changing as him trying to work with us to create a more workable schedule. I did not, I thought it was a really bad thing to do, mentioned that this was not cooperative behavior, and then didn't push any more. While I was gone, #3 also complained to non-mean boss repeatedly, that this place was a 'hellhole' (who does that?), together with some general bitching and moaning. The end result of it all was that he got a talking to, but no disciplinary action. Sigh.

I am getting a lot of verbal support from big boss, but apparently no firm action. I don't feel like pushing for anyone to get fired while being still so new. This may be good, since at this last meeting #3 seemed less combative, (though he did make his own requests). So, this is still a learning opportunity, there may be reasons for not escalating that I am not aware of. It is still interesting, I am not particularly frustrated, I treat it as a learn-on-the-job exercise.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 10:14:20 AM by milliemchi »

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28057
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2016, 04:24:57 AM »
3 is angling for a layoff/severance.  Since your company is so reticent to fire people, don't be surprised when this happens instead.

Thanks for the updates!
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 04:28:32 AM by arebelspy »
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

firelight

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1061
Re: How shocked should I be?
« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2016, 02:16:38 PM »
3 is angling for a layoff/severance.  Since your company is so reticent to fire people, don't be surprised when this happens instead.

Thanks for the updates!
I'm wondering about the same thing. Why doesn't your company just fire him? Does he have a time based contract?