Skip to main content

Busy with Buzzwords: Direct Reports

Ooo! Interesting topic with which to revive the "Busy with Buzzwords" posts....and indeed my blogging as a whole. :)

Something strange has been happening at work lately. Instead of just getting or inferring management/workplace advice, I'm increasingly giving some. This is both unexpected, and unexpectedly unsurprising.

So, a young 'un a few days ago couldn't understand the seemingly puzzling behavior of a normally super-solid senior person at Google, and there are a lot of those! Apparently this person (lets call him/her X) seemed unnecessarily protective of some sub-optimal performance of someone else (Y) which has making the young un's life much harder than it needed to be. The young un didn't get it.

The reason was pretty obvious when I asked "Doesn't Y report to X now?" and the answer was in the affirmative.

For many people, there's something about having people report to you that changes, for both good and bad, how you relate to and judge that person. Many people treat their direct reports like they treat their kids. If they're bad, you try harder not to believe it; also you don't like other people pointing it out.

Managers in most modern, large companies have incentives set up so that their reports' opinions of them, and their reports progress, does matter to their own success (360-reviews etc.), but I think more often the bond is emotional as well. You want to believe that you have great reports and they're doing great stuff.

The problem is that this is both good and bad management. I've been grateful in the past, particularly early in my career, to know that I have managers that'll protect me from the consequences of mistakes that I make, but will be honest while telling me about that. I've responded well to that kind of management. However doing that without actually making the report understand that their screwing up, will make the person ignore the problem if not exacerbate it.

What's the point or the lesson here?

When talking to someone who has reports:

  • talk about their reports like you'd talk about their kids; carefully
  • in general expect that person to be less rational than usual
If you're someone who has reports:
  • They're not your kids! They'll change; they might report to someone else; you'll get more of em...
  • Your reputation as someone who is fair is much more valuable than that as someone who glosses over sub-optimal performance of your reports and refuses to see reality
  • Protect them, but don't coddle em

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yup - humans still lack humanity

Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.

My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.

She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.

No one did.

The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.

Still nobody moved.

My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn&#…

Whimsy when I changed my profile picture...

I changed by profile picture at work.



Later in the day, two people on my team had changed their profile pictures to these.. :-)



It made my day!

I changed my profile pic again today. Let's see how fast anyone catches on this time. :-)

Everyone's struggle is real... at the very least to them

A couple of weeks ago, while in line waiting to pick up some food I'd just ordered, I overheard two conversations - I don't make a habit of this, but it's hard to not hear things when you leave your phone behind. :-/
My first reactions as I heard both of these conversations was annoyance at the protagonist in one and admiration for the other. Both conversations stayed with me for a while, but it took me some time to realize that was unfair on my part to be annoyed at the person that I was annoyed at.

So about these conversations:
The first was between someone working there and a friend. She was sympathizing with her friend who'd be starting a new job leaving this place. "Oh, it's minimum wage again?", she said with concern in her voice. "Yes, but it's fine", said her friend. The job was closer to where she lived so she thought she'd make about the same and she might get home a little earlier to her daughter some evenings though the hours…