Usability study? (Take III)

Subject: Usability study? (Take III)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 14:58:16 -0500

Kate Salm wondered: <<What would you do if the manager knew there was a problem, but was unwilling to do anything because they were tired of constantly having to deal with the person (basically the supervisor gave up in frustration..>>

I'd gently remind the manager that they have the right and the responsibility to inform the writer that as a condition of their continuing employment with the company, the writer will be required to cooperate with the editor. Define this as objectively as possible (e.g., "all editorial comments accepted or provided with a satisfactory rebuttal") so that it is measurable, and do so in writing, then place a copy of the letter in the writer's Personnel file. Insist that the manager serve as arbitrator if there's any disagreement.

Reader's Digest version: Every week, provide a summary letter (copied to Personnel) about the writer's progress towards meeting this goal. If the progress isn't satisfactory, send a second letter explicitly reporting the data you have collected, ending with a warning that the writer will only get two more chances to correct the problem before being terminated. At the end of three weeks, if the problem hasn't been resolved, the writer can be legitimately fired. It's only "wrongful dismissal" if the writer has no clear objective to meet and there's no track record that the problem and the consequences were clearly communicated to the writer. The company lawyer will tell you how to do this right; please note that my version is just a summary of how this works.

I've also been known to inform a manager in no uncertain terms that if the problem wasn't important enough for them to work on, then it wasn't important enough for me to work on. I _strongly discourage_ you from doing this; unless the manager is as accomodating as mine was, this is a sure recipe for trouble. That's not to say you can't gently hint at this or use it to make a point, but you have to do so with great delicacy so that you don't end up being the one perceived as a problem.

<<... the writer had no intention of listening to anyone but themselves either way>>

Must be a great place to work: Do whatever you want, secure in the knowledge that you can't be fired or corrected or otherwise forced to get an honest job. Less sarcastically, the bottom line is that anyone can be replaced--in the present job market, quickly--and that's particularly true if they're not very good at their job. It doesn't matter what the writer's "intention" is: what matters is why the company is prepared to tolerate this attitude.

Really, this is a management problem: the fact that you're willing to do anything to solve it speaks well for you, but in the end, managers are the ones paid to manage employees. If they abdicate that responsibility, ask them for permission to turn the problem over to the Personnel department for arbitration and action.

<<... and will scream at you (the editor) for even suggesting a change regardless of how minute it is>>

If you're serious about this ("screaming" rather than merely objecting strongly), file a complaint with the Personnel department. This kind of behavior is harassment (not necessarily "sexual" harassment, though that might also be true in your case), and shouldn't be tolerated.

<<And this person know tells everyone you are incapable of doing your job because you disagreed with them and/or didn't do things exactly what they wanted you to do?>>

Ditto. Also explain to them in no uncertain terms that this is libel (possibly slander--I'm not a lawyer), and that it stops NOW or else they'll be hearing from your lawyer tomorrow morning. Of course, if you're fighting fire with fire, prepare to receive some burns yourself.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)



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Re: Usability study? (Take II): From: Kate Salm

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