Inaccurate SMEs, take II

Subject: Inaccurate SMEs, take II
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 12:03:52 -0700

Mark Baker, responding to my advice that "you may need to fall back a
step and ask your own manager to intercede; that's definitely a last
resort, since it gives the appearance that you can't handle your own

Responded that <<Sorry, but I must be emphatic here. This is VERY BAD

In your humble opinion, of course, and presumably speaking as a
manager rather than as an employee who's been in this situation and
solved it that way. YMMV, and obviously did.

<<If you are having an ongoing problem with another person in the
company that you cannot resolve quickly and amicably in one day and
which is affecting the quality of your work TELL YOUR MANAGER.>>

I'm not sure that I understand where we disagree. My advice was quite
clear, I thought: try to resolve it "quickly and amicably" yourself.
If that doesn't work, talk to your manager, but try to fix it
yourself first.

<<Failing to inform your manager of a problem that affects
your ability to do your job or that affects the quality of your work
is serious professional misconduct.>>

If it gets to the point that it compromises your work, then by all
means, bring in the heavy guns. In my opinion, you're swatting a fly
with a sledgehammer if you don't try to resolve it yourself first.

<<It is up to the manager to decide whether the employee should be
asked to try to solve the problem themselves or if the manager needs
to get involved.>>

In short, "trust us, we're managers and thus much wiser than you are
about these things. Now be a good little techwhirler and go do
whatever it is that you do. I'll figure it out for you." Rubbish.
That's fine for neophytes; for anyone of adult maturity who's been in
the workplace for a few years, it's ridiculous advice.

<<Good managers will generally not intervene publicly as a first

And we all know how many good managers there are out there, don't we.
Maybe you've just been luckier than most? I certainly haven't. To be
precise: only 1 of my 4 managers to date has been willing to
intervene at all, let alone intervene judiciously and discreetly.
YMMV, and obviously did.

<<The best response is usually to coach the employee on how to
solve the problem and to monitor their progress in doing so.>>

I don't know about you, but the more I read this, the more
patronizing it sounds. That's perfectly sound advice from the
standpoint of a manager who's been approached by an employee with a
problem, but the original question seems to have been posed from the
standpoint of an employee who hadn't yet needed managerial

<<Be assured that your manager will not thank you if you let a
problem like this fester for months before finally saying something
when there is a huge problem and the company is faced with shipping
defective documentation or delaying a product release.>>

And to bring this full circle, we now agree. Nowhere in my original
post did I mention waiting until things become desperate, or waiting
months until it's far too late for an easy fix.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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