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lack of follow-up leads to lack of discipline leads to lack of accountability August 6, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Experiences, Management, Observations, Technology Trouble.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Talk about giving away the farm; you don’t even need to read the rest of the post.

But I hope you do.

If you’re an on-the-ground web department peon like me, you’ve been victimized by everyone in the company. Your colleagues don’t want to learn how to use the web apps they have to use, so they either do the job poorly, don’t do it at all, or loudly complain about how difficult it is to get their work done because of the web. Your department-mates continue trying to shove work off on other people because they don’t have time to fix everyone else’s crap and get their own work done at the same time, or they take enough pride in their work to fix everyone else’s crap and don’t get their own work done as a result. And management doesn’t even bother learning.

Middle management, however, is the worst. They know they’re most at-risk in this economic climate, so they put their fingers into as many pies as possible. They just don’t wash their fingers first.

CC-licensed photo by Thibault Martin-Lagardette

CC-licensed photo by Thibault Martin-Lagardette

Here is one such story, the story of Rickie, one of the middle managers here at CorporateSpeak. Rickie has worked here for about eight years, and before the changes enacted by the Two-Year-Old, her role was pretty well-defined: schedule photographers to go out and shoot pictures and video for our clients who retain our staff and pay us, instead of paying the photographers and videographers. Kind of like a contract basis thing. Anyway, Rickie has been assigned to take pictures every now and then when we need to go shoot something quickly.

Yeah. Rickie’s not very good with a camera of any kind, even a cheap digital one. But we keep training her and sending her out to take a picture of a building, or a sign, or a group of lawyers, or whatever. She keeps coming back with crappy pictures that I (or an artist/graphic designer) can make pretty using Photoshop, but why should we have to? We can send her out with a good camera, but the results are just as bad.

Rickie has been trained three times on camera use, lighting, and photo composition, and still 12-year-olds on MySpace and Facebook take better pictures than Rickie. Seriously. It would be better if I went out there and took the photos myself and stayed late to finish my other work.

But here’s the best part: if every three weeks I said “I can’t design your website because I need to be trained on HTML” or “I can’t crop this picture in Photoshop because I forgot what I learned in my Photoshop classes”, I would be written up or fired due to incompetence. Rickie and her ilk get to say it all the time and get away with it.

It’s not just Rickie, either; it’s everyone Rickie manages who has to do web duties in addition to photography and copywriting. None of them have made a real effort to get good at their admittedly-small chunk of web duty. I’ve tried to get their managers to follow up with them, and when I had a boss who had nominal authority over some of these people, he tried too. But it didn’t happen. Ever.

There was no follow-up on when people screwed up. Because there was no follow-up, there was no discipline. Because there was no discipline, there was no accountability. And now LR and I spend about two hours every day fixing, among other things, Rickie’s poorly-shot photographs.

The hardest part of accountability is having clear disciplinary measures in place, which I’m going to talk about tomorrow. (That, my friends, is what we call a “tease”.)

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1. losing the weekend « corporatespeak - August 7, 2009

[…] learned behaviors never went away. And now we have people like Rickie, who can’t retain what she needs to know, or our layout/mockup team, most of whom don’t […]

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