Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

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kjvmartin
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Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by kjvmartin »

I've been promoted to management for about 3 years. I was a top level performer in a huge government organization and got passed over for various reasons until I finally got it about 10 years into my career. I learned things are not always done based on merit. I'll leave it at that. I was assigned an experienced mentor in my new role and given a team where I was forewarned about one employee that had some performance issues. "Everyone gets one" was the explanation. It turned out that there were two, and due to some transfers I now have 3 out of 10 direct reports that struggle with their jobs. They each have decades of seniority, 4 year degrees, and are unionized. They take up most of my time. After a particularly bad error by my worst, I processed paperwork on her and the result was that I had to spend hours each week for 3 months of 1 on 1 meetings helping that staff (with more seniority than me) improve at their job. It seemed as though it was punishing me. During that time, I was essentially responsible for their job. I had to document all of the efforts I did to help. Thus, they sailed through it and filed a grievance against me which was denied. It seems as though nothing was learned and the work coming to me remotely is often incomplete. If something is wrong, though, I catch the heat for it.

I have two other staff which are almost as poor, but I have been encouraged to "work with them" to avoid further complications. My administration does not want a constant stream of paperwork. Even if they did..... Now, I have seen that the worst I can do to a staff is to mostly inconvenience me and increase my workload. It's entirely impossible to terminate anyone unless they violate a cardinal work policy/falsify a document. Even then, our agency often settles and reinstates before arbitration costs get out of hand. I have seen people get their jobs back with full back pay months after being on the 6:00 news.

Is this something unique to government? Any good resources/books I could look into? We don't get much/any leadership training that is applicable to us.
oldfort
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by oldfort »

This isn't a personal finance question, but you may have had unrealistic expectations going in. If you get an employee with 30 years experience, stuck in an entry level position, it doesn't mean they're going to be an all star. If they were great at their job, they wouldn't have gone 30 years in a career without ever getting promoted to a position of greater responsibility. Can you get your employees more training? If half your employees don't know how to do their jobs, it's incumbent on the organization to fix it.
Last edited by oldfort on Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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rob
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by rob »

If it's really the way you state... Only thing that comes to mind is stop spending your time down that hole.
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Gray
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by Gray »

Find something they can do and put them in charge of it. Otherwise leave well enough alone. You don’t want to put your career In jeopardy, or face lawsuits. It isn’t worth it.

If you can find a mutual interest that benefits your organization and send her to training, great, but baby steps.
BillWalters
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by BillWalters »

This is typical for government. Frankly you seem like a questionable fit for a public sector job.
New Providence
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by New Providence »

kjvmartin wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:11 pm
I learned things are not always done based on merit.
Yep, life is not fair. :idea:
Sooner or later most come to that realization.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by Sandtrap »

OP:
Topic:
Attempting to change Under performing Unionized public service government employees with seniority.

Actionable financial questions:

How does this change your retirement plans financially?
Will it be a financial impact to change to a private sector job?
Does your supervisor(s) expect you to overhaul that group of public workers? At financial consequence?
What did the person in that position prior to you do?

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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by 4nursebee »

Pale Blue Dot
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Watty
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by Watty »

kjvmartin wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:11 pm It turned out that there were two, and due to some transfers I now have 3 out of 10 direct reports that struggle with their jobs.
One of the traditional ways to handle under performing employees that you can't fire is to transfer them into some other group. It sounds like you were on the receiving end of that.

It is pure office politics but try to figure out how to transfer some of your problem people to other groups.
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midareff
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by midareff »

Having spent some 28 years in management in a government agency I can feel and understand your pain. Eventually one masters the techniques of changing job descriptions and requirements so a particular employee may have to bounce elsewhere, making shift or work location requirements somewhat less attractive so folks try to go elsewhere and then there is the relentless truth of the performance report and job ratings.
oldfort
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by oldfort »

Watty wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:36 am
kjvmartin wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:11 pm It turned out that there were two, and due to some transfers I now have 3 out of 10 direct reports that struggle with their jobs.
One of the traditional ways to handle under performing employees that you can't fire is to transfer them into some other group. It sounds like you were on the receiving end of that.

It is pure office politics but try to figure out how to transfer some of your problem people to other groups.
Along those lines, the OP may want to get give his poor subordinates excellent performance reviews so they can more easily transfer into a different group.
tiburblium
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by tiburblium »

kjvmartin wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:11 pm I've been promoted to management for about 3 years. I was a top level performer in a huge government organization and got passed over for various reasons until I finally got it about 10 years into my career. I learned things are not always done based on merit. I'll leave it at that.
Does your field have opportunities in the private sector you could pursue?
Chris001122
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by Chris001122 »

I wonder if you have asked the problem employees what motivates them. The reason is because different things motivate different people. I tend to send poorly done work back to people and have them correct it themselves, too. Keeping some notes on the number of errors could be helpful to you and them and then privately working with them to reduce those errors might help them.

I reward people at work with small gifts for excellent work, and public praise, often via e-mails copied to their work teams. I've also given praise via the company's HR tool and via LinkedIn recommendations. I make sure that I praise the people doing the great work and copy the people that are not doing what they need to do. They often get the message via my silence on their work. I do not reprimand people publicly in these type of "status updates" but I will note if we are still waiting on someone's work to be completed. Perhaps it could help you.
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Afty
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by Afty »

You have my sympathy. Managing even a single low performer is painful and takes a lot of time.

Have you heard of the Situation-Behavior-Impact framework for delivering feedback? It's a way to deliver critical feedback that is specific and applicable. In the case you described, you might try delivering feedback in this way:

Situation - "Last week when you submitted that report..."
Behavior - "There was an error in the report..."
Impact - "That caused [lost client/$XX lost/angry grand-boss]."

"I understand that everyone makes mistakes. How can we make sure serious mistakes like this don't make it through our review process in the future?"

There's a book called Crucial Conversations that can help you structure these types of difficult conversations.
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batpot
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by batpot »

Afty wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:06 pm You have my sympathy. Managing even a single low performer is painful and takes a lot of time.

Have you heard of the Situation-Behavior-Impact framework for delivering feedback? It's a way to deliver critical feedback that is specific and applicable. In the case you described, you might try delivering feedback in this way:

Situation - "Last week when you submitted that report..."
Behavior - "There was an error in the report..."
Impact - "That caused [lost client/$XX lost/angry grand-boss]."

"I understand that everyone makes mistakes. How can we make sure serious mistakes like this don't make it through our review process in the future?"

There's a book called Crucial Conversations that can help you structure these types of difficult conversations.
and write the conversations in an email, and save it and any response so you have a record.
It can be possible to work within the system to eliminate, or at least demote deadbeats by proving an inability to perform, but it takes a lot of work.
nydoc
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by nydoc »

Keep moving up in your career and soon you will forget about those lazy suckers. Remember you can not change the work culture. Change your job and move to a better place.
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by stoptothink »

kjvmartin wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:11 pmIs this something unique to government?
No, I moved from the public sector to private 5yrs ago. Private is 1000x better (IMO), but this isn't one of the reasons. To make a long story short, I have a handful of employees (out of 27) that are probably a net-negative for the company and (for reasons not allowed to be discussed on this board) it is literally impossible to get rid of them. I am fortunate that I have managers under me who actually have to waste their time dealing with them (so I don't have to, for the most part), but they are still on my budget.
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bottlecap
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by bottlecap »

Based on the experience of a close relative, this is par for the course for the federal government, at least. You may even have it better than some others.

The federal government hires and promotes in ways that ensure inefficiency and incompetence - even at many levels that you would think might be vitally important. And the trend isn’t getting better.

Yet there are some excellent folks that aren’t mailing it in and do actually care about not wasting everyone’s money.

My guess is the best advice yet given is to learn how to game the system to transfer those people so they are someone else's problem. That makes a whole lot of sense given the experiences that have been shared with me.

Good luck,

JT
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by New Providence »

Wait until you find out that your Staff's salary is higher than yours! :oops: :shock:
Wannaretireearly wrote: Sat Jul 04, 2020 2:28 am I switched roles (lateral move) from managing one team to another. I've been at a Sr. Manager level for 5 or 6 years. Overall the change has been good, and I'm well regarded in both the old and new group.

When I took over my new team earlier this year ( with 2 directs, likely more will get shuffled under me soon) I noticed their base salary was higher than mine.
Given i just moved to this new team, I did not want to make a big deal about this with my boss/Director initially.
However, we just had our annual review and my salary was not adjusted to get closer to my employees. In fact, the $ raise I gave my two employees was slightly higher than what I got. So net effect, the gap between my salary and my employees is now larger! (The gap is not huge, but 5k ish).

I get that things are sometimes upside down. This happened when I first became a manager 5 or 6 years ago. I get that the two folks I directly manage are senior IC's. I appreciate that I got *slightly* higher bonus and *slightly* higher stock awards, but this salary issue is bugging me and is something I want to bring up next week.

My draft approach for this discussion:
1. Briefly review the work/impact I've had with my new team. Including tangible improvements/impact I've had with direct and indirect reports/peers/projects etc etc.

2. Mention that as an experienced manager, I expected the gap between my salary and directs to get closer, not wider! Mention that salary being 'upside/down' with my team is a concern.

3. Ask if this topic has come up during VP salary reviews, especially as the VP knows me (I reported directly to him a couple of years ago), and especially as I regularly get reminded by my new boss that Director is a next step for me, etc.

I'm a lil nervous about this discussion, i have a good relationship with my boss and want to keep that. However, I've never been a squeaky wheel re: comp unless it was negotiating a new job at a new company.

I was hoping that new boss would recognize the gap and try to close it during review time. I'm not sure if he did as we've not talked since we all got our new comp numbers. One of the reasons he hired me is as a potential replacement for him or even to replace a director that reports to him (my peer, who is not performing, and I'm helping/driving etc...).

Any advice? Anyone been thru something similar either as the requestor or on the receiving end (esp when managers/leaders are raising this)?

I'm certain I will bring this up next week.
Perhaps I should have brought this up when I first joined the new org earlier this year...but, that's now water under the bridge....
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kjvmartin
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by kjvmartin »

Afty wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:06 pm You have my sympathy. Managing even a single low performer is painful and takes a lot of time.

Have you heard of the Situation-Behavior-Impact framework for delivering feedback? It's a way to deliver critical feedback that is specific and applicable. In the case you described, you might try delivering feedback in this way:

Situation - "Last week when you submitted that report..."
Behavior - "There was an error in the report..."
Impact - "That caused [lost client/$XX lost/angry grand-boss]."

"I understand that everyone makes mistakes. How can we make sure serious mistakes like this don't make it through our review process in the future?"

There's a book called Crucial Conversations that can help you structure these types of difficult conversations.
Thank you, I have ordered this book!
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kjvmartin
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by kjvmartin »

stoptothink wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:00 pm
kjvmartin wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:11 pmIs this something unique to government?
No, I moved from the public sector to private 5yrs ago. Private is 1000x better (IMO), but this isn't one of the reasons. To make a long story short, I have a handful of employees (out of 27) that are probably a net-negative for the company and (for reasons not allowed to be discussed on this board) it is literally impossible to get rid of them. I am fortunate that I have managers under me who actually have to waste their time dealing with them (so I don't have to, for the most part), but they are still on my budget.
I can certainly relate that there seem to be a lot of unwritten rules in the staffing process/HR process.

One area where I do sympathize is that we have a fair number of employees who have been with the agency since before computers. Some processes are 2nd nature to someone with a computer background or familiarity. I do think they could do more to train those staff, but even with one-on-one help, some people still are either helpless or are feigning helplessness. It has been very interesting going to remote work during COVID. Also, policies and the general tone of the agency has shifted nearly 180 degrees over the past 20 years as public policy has changed. What we do now is far different than what it was in times past. Many do not agree with the changes.
oldfort
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by oldfort »

batpot wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:36 pm
Afty wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:06 pm You have my sympathy. Managing even a single low performer is painful and takes a lot of time.

Have you heard of the Situation-Behavior-Impact framework for delivering feedback? It's a way to deliver critical feedback that is specific and applicable. In the case you described, you might try delivering feedback in this way:

Situation - "Last week when you submitted that report..."
Behavior - "There was an error in the report..."
Impact - "That caused [lost client/$XX lost/angry grand-boss]."

"I understand that everyone makes mistakes. How can we make sure serious mistakes like this don't make it through our review process in the future?"

There's a book called Crucial Conversations that can help you structure these types of difficult conversations.
and write the conversations in an email, and save it and any response so you have a record.
It can be possible to work within the system to eliminate, or at least demote deadbeats by proving an inability to perform, but it takes a lot of work.
This might be possible if the OP had a single problematic employee. The OP has three employees struggling with their jobs and two others who are almost as poor. It will be a lot easier and more productive for the OP to look for a new job than terminate five employees in the government.
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Horton
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

Post by Horton »

You have my sympathies. I've managed people in the past and this is why I'm perfectly content in my technical-track individual contributor role. I have three little "direct reports" to focus on right now.
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Re: Management Strategies - Entrenched Bad Staff

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Thread is off-topic from Personal Finance (staff issue). Topic is locked.
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