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well nobody told ME about it

I decided to set a rule at work for everybody.

You're allowed to be mad about Things, sometimes. We all are. Unrealistic schedules, work being undone, time wasted, money wasted, something breaking, someone being a jerk, life in general.

But of all the things to be mad at, you're not allowed to be mad about just feeling left out.

Communication is on you. If you want to know what's going on, ask. Set expectations. Or even better, be PART of the story. People tell you things when they trust you, understand that you need the information, or most common, they know you can help them. They'll naturally keep you in the loop if those things are true. If you're making enough contributions, they can't forget about you.

If one person routinely leaves you out, talk to that person. Maybe they have room for improvement.

But if you're screaming at a whole room full of people that they should have told you something, the problem isn't them. The problem is you.

Plans change fast. Everyone is doing their best to talk. So if you JUST learned something, that's great. Now you know. Let's move on.

Are we moving forward? Yes? Good.


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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2017 09:33 pm (UTC)
> a whole room full of people that they should have told you something, the problem isn't them.

Are you sure?
Jul. 28th, 2017 10:54 pm (UTC)
If someone is "screaming at a whole room full of people," that person is the problem for sure.

In 30 years of working at a professional level, I've never seen the like. I'm wondering if this person's problems aren't greater than just those encountered in the workplace. FanSee
Jul. 29th, 2017 01:02 am (UTC)
If you've never seen this, you haven't worked in academia and gone to faculty meetings. LOL
Jul. 29th, 2017 01:47 am (UTC)
You are right: I have never worked in academia. That is, I was the Chief Accountant for the Department of Anesthesia at the University of Pennsylvania. We were employed by an academic institution, but our meetings all focused on the administrative and financial functions of the University. We were a genteel bunch. FanSee
Jul. 29th, 2017 01:01 am (UTC)
Hmm. Well some people don't include other people, because the people not including others are assholes, who deserve to have other people angry at them. Just saying.
Jul. 29th, 2017 12:17 pm (UTC)
There are organizations where the person who didn't have the information isn't the problem. A telltale sign is that it's not just one person who has this problem.
Aug. 16th, 2017 07:16 pm (UTC)
True some of the time
If you have a single person that shouts loudly at the whole room and gets really upset, that's an issue for them.

However, if you have clusters of people who are surprised then it points to an organisational flaw.

I'm a manager at my company. My management chain extends to around 40 people. For me, proper communication is the single biggest challenge in the role.

You typically don't want everyone talking to everyone. This is because the number of communication channels grows with people by N(N-1)/2. Everyone knowing everything is inefficient.

You also don't want people accepting actions or making commitments by side-channels. You don't want water-cooler conversations where "we're ahead on this piece of the delivery" turns in to a commitment to deliver sooner through a game of telephone between people.

What you really want is the right people, knowing only the things they need to know at the sufficient level of detail suitable for their role.

This is difficult. I don't think people who are not managers really appreciate how hard this is to get right.

The last point about level of detail is subtle but really important. As software engineers, my staff love detail. They'll happily write a 1,000 word e-mail to describe some issue they're having in their development.

At my level, there might be 150 work items in flight at once. There may be 10-20 of these e-mails that escalate to me and to analyse and understand each one of those is a serious undertaking. Worse, I am often in meetings so will not read the e-mail for some time. That work is blocked until I process it and 99.9% of the time, I'll have detailed questions that require direct communication with the person who wrote the e-mail in the first place.

It is _far_ better to get through that in a 15-20 minute discussion and not write the e-mail in the first place. You're unblocked, I can ask my questions and we can both go on with our day.

The other problem, as you mention, is the "plan" is in constant flux. It is adapting to new information all the time and to get the correct messages in the right level of detail for the staff to work effectively can be challenging.

A third and subtle problem is knowing too much. I've found that staff get stressed by problems that aren't their responsibility to solve and aren't their fault. A project might be going less well than management hoped, and by being aware of this difficulty it can negatively impact unconnected teams. Them not knowing about this at all is actually better for them and for us. They're happier and better adjusted.

I don't know the specifics of your situation but one technique I've found which is useful is having data radiators. Have big screens that give dashboards that radiate information that is needed by these large groups of people:

* What is the schedule
* Are we behind / ahead of that schedule
* What is blocked?
* What is blocked and on the critical path?

etc.. have this automatically change when the plan changes.

If this is in a single, highly conspicuous place it can work to get rid of some of these problems.

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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