Tool Selection

Could be someone I know, someone I don't know, fictional characters, dead people. I don't care, I'm an equal opportunity complainer when it comes to complete dickwads.

Wherever there's a Complete Tool, I'll follow closely behind with my anonymous bitching. 'Cuz that'll show 'em.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Forced Initiative Works! Oh, Wait, It DOESN'T.

As a manager, a significant portion of my job is to coach, train, motivate and otherwise develop my employees.  I'm constantly looking for ways to keep them engaged in what they do and inspired to move on to the next level in their career progression.

The primary system that I've used over the years is to test them thoroughly in every potential front: sales, administration, technical skills, leadership, communication, resourcefulness, initiative, etc.  After determining what they excel at, I just simply appeal to their strengths and let them know what their smarter choices will be. Then we train from there, working to refine their strengths and enhance their weaker points.

I'm now in my 8th year as a manager for this company and, compared to my peers, I've had enormous success retaining employees (the newest of my current set have been there for almost 2 years) and promoting and developing them.  This is the part of the job that I love the most and would do exclusively if I were allowed.

Regardless of any of my ongoing success, MisManager and I will still have conversations like this one:

MisManager: So what are you doing for the next 30 days with your employees?
Awesomeness: Well, first I've decided that with "Carlos", that I was going to harness his ability to have fun and have him use it for good instead of evil.  (Seriously, he's so much fun to work with, but so hard to keep on task....unless the task is to have fun.) So I thought that he could come up with games that we could play every Friday and get our clients involved.  I think it would be good for everyone else also, to help keep up our energy at the end of the week.  What do you think?
MisManager: Well, honestly, I don't know why he's the only one that gets to do something fun.  You should really spread the wealth on that one.
Awesomeness: Maybe I didn't explain correctly.  He would just be producing and coordinating the activity.  Everyone will play though.
MisManager: Yeah, I get it, but I still think that everyone should take a turn coming up with the games.  
Awesomeness: Well, sure, if they have ideas then we're certainly open to them.  The point of assigning this, though, was to give "Carlos" an ownership in his job and allowing him to do something he excels at.
MisManager: You're not being fair to anyone else on your staff though.  You think that "Carlos" is the only one who's fun?  What about Jailbait? (Jailbait's been his nickname in a few other posts, so we're just going to stick with it since it's 5:45 in the morning and I'm not done with coffee.)  He's a lot of fun too, and you would know that if you gave him a chance. 

Bitch break:  FUCKING SERIOUSLY?!  Look, I work with these guys day in and out.  I know how much fun everyone on my staff can be (even Employee Von Munchausen has her moments), but I also know that coordinating group events is not Jailbait's strong suit.  As a matter of fact, he cringes when I ask him to do anything similar.  He's not an "idea guy," nor is he a strong implementer. When I try to explain this to MisManager, this happens:

Awesomeness: Jailbait is a lot of fun, but we established a long time ago that he's not interested in putting together games and activities.
MisManager: Well, it's not like it's all that difficult and he has the time to do it, so you should think about "Carlos" and Jailbait taking turns doing this.
Awesomeness: No.  I'm not okay with forcing job assignments on people who have no interest in doing them.
MisManager: Fine.  He should at least be partnered with someone though.  Maybe he should work with a member of the sales team.  "Blah" (I'm calling her "Blah," because she's just a very bland person.  Even when she's in the office she's easy to forget because she just stays at her desk and doesn't really talk to anyone.) is thinking she wants to be a manager some day, so maybe she should take the initiative and work with him on this. 
Awesomeness: {Resisting the urge to have her look up the word initiative in the dictionary...... losing......losing......winning a little more......a little more.......okay, crisis averted.} She can work with him on this, but I'd like for him to take the lead since this is his job.
MisManager: Well, I thought that since she's in the senior employee that she could really take this on and run with it.  Heading a project will give her great leadership experience.

So, to recap, the job that I completely made up out of nothing to give to one of my employees, she has now hijacked and given the lead to someone who thinks "fun" is a type of exotic dessert. *Face palm*

Awesomeness: I think this is getting too complicated.  I'd really rather see him work on this alone.  I'd like to see where he chooses to go with this.  If you'd like to develop "Blah" as a leader, then maybe I can help you find a different project for her.
MisManager: I don't understand why you won't give anyone else a chance with this.  You really need to work on your skills in developing your people.  It means that you give everyone a chance to succeed at something.

OHMYFUCKINGGOD! You cannot be serious.  Oh, no she is.  Dead serious.  So the plan now is to take someone who has no personality and no sense of fun or adventure and have them head up an assignment to energize everyone.  I give up.

This Friday was the first week we were going to play a game and what did we do?  FUCKING NOTHING. Why?  Because it was "Blah's" job as the SuperLeader to schedule some sit down time with "Carlos" to talk about game ideas.

Can you guess what happened?

"Blah" took no initiative whatsoever to speak with "Carlos".  Now "Carlos" is no longer motivated to do this because he has no ownership in it.  Way to suck the life out of your staff with your bungling MisManager.