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How Do You Deal with Lazy/Underperforming People?
Old 06-20-2009, 09:52 AM   #1
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How Do You Deal with Lazy/Underperforming People?

My new job is managing technology projects now that my finance job is pretty much done after integrating the company that Mega Corp bought 2 years ago.

I don't have any direct reports, but I get to assign work to a pool of engineers and support people. The engineers have been spectacular. The support people and other business function people not such much. We have a support guy whose main job consists of a) watching You Tube/Hulu and b) complaining about not getting enough interesting work. However, when given interesting work such as designing a support package for upcoming projects, the work he's produced has been more thunder than rain -- he makes a big deal of every little thing he does in front of the big boss but then try to drag me into every one of his project to be the human shield. I have pushed back and assigned the project back to him. I'm trying to determine if the constant need to grab on to other people is a sign of laziness or a sign of insecurity. If it's the latter, a little hand holding from me, and he will be able to do the work of interfacing with IT and other business functions. If it's the former, I may have to get on his case more aggressively.

As for the other "business" folks, half are a bunch of walking hot air bags who are able to drag out "I don't know what the hell I'm talking about" into a 5 minute speech followed up with a "Why don't you make that an action item?" I wasted 3 hours yesterday re-doing stats because another project manager made such a fundamental mistake as using a single week's data to project out over the lifetime of the project. Then I had to explain to him that drawing a line with a single point is not good math. It's much more realistic to look a the real stats over the life of the project rather than trying to be lazy and project using a single point. Meanwhile, i could have used the time to make further progress pushing my own project.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:02 AM   #2
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"How Do You Deal with Lazy/Underperforming People?"

Take them to lunch.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by BunsGettingFirm View Post
My new job is managing technology projects now that my finance job is pretty much done after integrating the company that Mega Corp bought 2 years ago.

I don't have any direct reports, but I get to assign work to a pool of engineers and support people. The engineers have been spectacular. The support people and other business function people not such much. We have a support guy whose main job consists of a) watching You Tube/Hulu and b) complaining about not getting enough interesting work. However, when given interesting work such as designing a support package for upcoming projects, the work he's produced has been more thunder than rain -- he makes a big deal of every little thing he does in front of the big boss but then try to drag me into every one of his project to be the human shield. I have pushed back and assigned the project back to him. I'm trying to determine if the constant need to grab on to other people is a sign of laziness or a sign of insecurity. If it's the latter, a little hand holding from me, and he will be able to do the work of interfacing with IT and other business functions. If it's the former, I may have to get on his case more aggressively.

As for the other "business" folks, half are a bunch of walking hot air bags who are able to drag out "I don't know what the hell I'm talking about" into a 5 minute speech followed up with a "Why don't you make that an action item?" I wasted 3 hours yesterday re-doing stats because another project manager made such a fundamental mistake as using a single week's data to project out over the lifetime of the project. Then I had to explain to him that drawing a line with a single point is not good math. It's much more realistic to look a the real stats over the life of the project rather than trying to be lazy and project using a single point. Meanwhile, i could have used the time to make further progress pushing my own project.
Nothing doing with the lazy lones if they belong to a union in a big corporation. At leasdt thatīs the case in Spain. I should know. Been HR manager in a 2.500 shipyard. And if the unions donīt protect them, they can always take paid sick leave.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:41 AM   #4
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I don't have any direct reports, but I get to assign work to a pool of engineers and support people. The engineers have been spectacular. The support people and other business function people not such much.
I'd say you've answered your own question. "Get" is a curious choice of words here, your boss is pretty clever. Getting work out of people who don't work for you is a skill far greater than motivating direct reports. You don't have a stick so you'd better be great with carrots...
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:02 AM   #5
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"How Do You Deal with Lazy/Underperforming People?"


Turn off their internet connection !
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:32 AM   #6
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I'd say you've answered your own question. "Get" is a curious choice of words here, your boss is pretty clever. Getting work out of people who don't work for you is a skill far greater than motivating direct reports. You don't have a stick so you'd better be great with carrots...
At our MegaCorp, this is called Matrix management. As noted, you better have a lot of carrots. Think of the whiners as incentive to FIRE.
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Old 06-20-2009, 03:08 PM   #7
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We have a support guy whose main job consists of a) watching You Tube/Hulu ...
So does IT have a way of tracking his web browsing on company time? And would there be a policy against that sort of behavior?

Maybe it's time to stop dealing and start disciplining. Not your job to enforce the rules, but it may be the best way to separate this one from the herd.
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Old 06-20-2009, 04:00 PM   #8
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Nords, when I read this, I had the same response.

Every now and then, alas, one must hang someone 'to encourage the others.'

Best done to those who are wasting good oxygen anyway.

ta,
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Old 06-20-2009, 04:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by CuppaJoe View Post
"How Do You Deal with Lazy/Underperforming People?"

Take them to lunch.
If this guy were any more out to lunch, he would be a restaurant. I may have to be resigned to the fact some people are just not A level performers in life or at work. I'll leave him floating for a couple of weeks and see how much progress he makes on the support package selection and business case. If I see him floundering, I may have to step back in.

BTW, I don't think I can get this guy to perform with a stick. The entire bunch know each other from past startups they have done together, so it would be a losing battle for me to try to discipline this guy.

BSSC, yes, you're right. My job is about the lowest on the corporate management totem pole. It's got all the stress of management but none of the perks like having people who kiss your ass.
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Old 06-20-2009, 04:08 PM   #10
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throttle the throughput to hulu.com and youtube.com to 15 kb/s. Just enough to let him browse the web pages and load up a video but not nearly enough to actually watch anything.
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:05 PM   #11
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Turn off their internet connection !
I second this motion.
Use the stick on this one.
Disable only his network connection and inform him that his misuse of the company internet connection is leaving your LAN open to viruses and malware and phishing and...Literally pull the plug right in front of him.
Inform him that if he needs internet access to perform w*rk, he may request it on a case by case basis under supervision.
When his eyes stop bugging, let him know you did him a favor THIS TIME by not going to management with the abuse of company time and resources.
Cut him off for a week or two, and he will be begging you to reconsider. He will also fall behind on any internet access related w*rk.
You will own him. Or he will quit. Either way, to the slacker problem.
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:08 PM   #12
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Just rig the computer up like this...
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:14 PM   #13
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I second this motion.
Use the stick on this one.
Disable only his network connection and inform him that his misuse of the company internet connection is leaving your LAN open to viruses and malware and phishing and...Literally pull the plug right in front of him.
Inform him that if he needs internet access to perform w*rk, he may request it on a case by case basis under supervision.
When his eyes stop bugging, let him know you did him a favor THIS TIME by not going to management with the abuse of company time and resources.
Cut him off for a week or two, and he will be begging you to reconsider. He will also fall behind on any internet access related w*rk.
You will own him. Or he will quit. Either way, to the slacker problem.
You might want to put in a work order for that. Otherwise you'd likely be violating your company's IT policy by modifying network configurations.

And assuming you unplug the ethernet, how would the employee be expected to receive email, access network files and shared resources, etc. That would be pretty sweet if my boss did that to me, since I could legitimately sit and stare at the screen 8 hrs a day. While awake.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:39 PM   #14
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Another wrd of caution. It's difficult to justify (legally) treating one employee differently than the others. If you can show he's doing inappropriate things on the work computer, no problemo. But if he's doing the same thing others are, with just a difference in the amount, it may be difficult to shut him down. When I was doing network security, we couldn't even get serious abusers fired. At least in my Megacorp. Maybe yours is different. I'd definitely recommend running any action past management and HR before implementing it.
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Performance management
Old 06-20-2009, 11:12 PM   #15
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Performance management

Meet with the lazy guy. Get agreement on what is to be done, by whom, and by what date. After the meeting, document this in an email which you send to him and copy to your boss. Get weekly progress reports...or more frequent reports if the timeline warrants it. Remove any excuses the guy has for not working. If he is not measuring up, provide feedback and reinforce expectations, and document it. If there is no progress after a reasonable amount of time, discuss with the guy's boss, and do that earlier rather than later. Document EVERYTHING.

At least, that's what I would do, and have done. Yes, it's work. But it's your j*b.
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:25 AM   #16
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You fire me.
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Old 06-21-2009, 11:50 AM   #17
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This megacorp is surprising relaxed about having people watch YouTube & Hulu on work computers. Besides, I think video watching is just a symptom. This guy was supposedly hired to lead a support organization that never materialized, so I am to believe that he has some drive and leadership ability, but so far what he's shown me is that he's perfectly happy doing nothing for months on end but complain that he's not getting the quality work for which he's capable.

Meanwhile, I thank everyone for weighing in. I think Meadbh has provided me with a solid path forward. I will try to document everything and make sure that there are objectives and schedules for everything this guy does.
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:00 PM   #18
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Buns....if he was hired to lead an org that never materialized....then he might just be acting out in a passive agressive way. Have you tried to make him your partner in this...like asking him for advice and how you would appreciate his feedback regarding the project....it's reverse psychology....if he feels part of and respected, then he might do some work.
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:10 PM   #19
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Meet with the lazy guy. Get agreement on what is to be done, by whom, and by what date. After the meeting, document this in an email which you send to him and copy to your boss. Get weekly progress reports...or more frequent reports if the timeline warrants it. Remove any excuses the guy has for not working. If he is not measuring up, provide feedback and reinforce expectations, and document it. If there is no progress after a reasonable amount of time, discuss with the guy's boss, and do that earlier rather than later. Document EVERYTHING.

At least, that's what I would do, and have done. Yes, it's work. But it's your j*b.
You have to ask yourself where 'lazy guy's' boss been all this time...
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:51 PM   #20
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You fire me.
You can't do that until you have managed his performance and documented that he hasn't responded. Discipline needs to be progressive. Even in a nonunionized environment, I've seen firees win lawsuits against their employers for doing that.

OTOH, with proper performance managment (and I agree with Citrine's advice too) this lazy guy may turn out to be excellent.

I totally agree with Midpack's observation.
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