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Old 05-08-2012, 09:26 AM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 14,169
Well first, it looks like the employees being described are basically just standard IT development staff doing fairly mainstream, "farm hand" type tasks. If all they are doing is data access and such then that's a pretty established thing, and it's probably not accurate to talk about these guys in the quotation-mark surrounded term "talent."

Not all development is created equal, there's a lot of developers out there who do tasks that are pretty mainstream and not really "novel" but still require technical expertise to implement the specific solution.

So there is no intrinsic reason to treat these guys like they are the team that developed iOS or something like that.

That being said, if they are IT people who work in a loose environment with a loose schedule but get things done correctly and on time, as a manager I'd see no reason to change things up.

It does seem like some people in this thread are honing in on the fact that the OP talked about the unprofessionalism and nerdiness as if it was "anything other than positive." As long as the OP is a professional manager there's absolutely no reason he can't (correctly) label their work habits unprofessional and their personal characteristics "nerdy" and still treat them as he should and manage them as he should. I didn't get the impression he was bitching at them about playing Magic: The Gathering or that he was making fun of them for being nerds, if he was then I'd agree that's a management problem.

No, instead it looks like he has an issue with a single employee, who apparently, unlike his peers, is not succeeding in this environment. Not all IT shops are so loosely organized, and to be honest some people have trouble succeeding in a loosely organized environment. It could be that this team member is someone who needs more structure than his peers to succeed.

As a manager one of your most important roles (if not prime role) is to help your employees get their jobs done. In this case the loose culture has created a scenario in which the one team member who cannot succeed on their own feels like you talking to them at all is "harsh" and etc.

Do the tasks this guy have come with specific deadlines? If not, I'd try to establish some sort of internal deadline, just casually let him know "let's see if we can get this done by 5/25 for me to review." Check in with him periodically throughout the week in a very non-confrontational (and as private as possible) way, with questions like "so how is xx doing? Do you need anything from me on that? Just let me know if there's anything I can help with." Obviously your help wouldn't be in the technical sphere but just anything you could help expedited, any procedural or organizational snags he's hitting you could smooth over etc.

If he misses the deadline, I'd try to talk to him about how we can change things to get them in time. Maybe adjust the deadline some, maybe assign more help etc.

I think what this does is hold him accountable but without actually directly criticizing him. Once you've set up a framework like that over time if he doesn't recognize he's being held accountable and needs to step it up, then I think you have to start maybe getting a bit stricter with him, but you should ease into that if possible.