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Amity88
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:08 am    Post subject: How do you guys deal with incompetent mentees? Reply with quote

Have you guys been in a situation where you're assigned a task to mentor/monitor/ramp-up someone and they need way too much hand-holding? I'm curious how you guys dealt with them. These folks aren't dumb, but mess up stuff by forgetting important stuff and by not really trying to understand what they're doing. You'd tell them how stuff are built up with the expectation that they'd then be able to handle things that are slightly different....... but they're either unable to do so and sit there doing everything except the most obvious. Often I suspect that they're just trying to finish the day without really giving much importance to their work or trying to do stuff the round about way, causing unnecessary delays. When the shit hits the fan, the rest of us have to work extra to put the damn fire out.

I've tried assigning very specific task-lists, almost like an algo. Yet they miss out on stuff, omg! The constant monitoring needed leaves me less hours to work on my own stuff. It's even more difficult when some of them are female, I've found that I can't really push them as much as the dudes, gotta be all delicate and shit.

/end_rant
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on the scenario. Are they supposed to be equal peers, interns, short term contract workers, etc.? If they're supposed to be equals, might be time for a talk with your manager. Otherwise get them started on something that doesn't have as critical time sensitivity for completion. Or smaller tasks that you can guess won't take you too long to do (if they don't finish and you have to).

Communicate. How will you both know when they are "meeting expectations"? After some basic introduction to procedures and similar items, give them a task you believe they can complete and get their agreement. Then leave them to work on it with instructions to ask questions. Be clear that they shouldn't be "afraid" to ask questions.

Then set checkpoints on progress. Be aware that some people may get stuck and be afraid to admit it for fear that it will reflect poorly upon them. Choose whether or not there is value in allowing them to do that or being more explicit in verifying actual progress rather than merely accepting their statements of progress. Take notes on how that goes for later review on where they need to focus, or perhaps to evaluate whether or not the task was beyond their current abilities.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Misread that as manatee for a second, which was interesting.

As to the question, depends as mentioned, drip feeding is a good approach if you have time, start on a few things get that consolidated. Even if somebody is experienced an information dump still has potential to overload.

Oh and make sure that you document or at least get evidence that you have something in place.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i had a few years ago 3 interns at job that should help me with stuff. one of them was really helpful but the 2 other guys (indians) it was really difficult to work with:
1. they were assigned a few simple tasks they could not do by them self so they kept asking for help in a way where i finally should do their work by myself.
2. i gave up on them and they got someone else to get the tasks assigned.
3. it came back as boomerang where i should co-work with them on a report (based on SQL). they wasted too much time on arguing with me why their approach is the correct one and mine is wrong. so i let them do it their way. eventually they did build the report but some numbers were way out of expected range. and this is where i explained (10th time) to them why my approach was the correct one and they were wrong...

also they were millenians ;)
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Amity88
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pjp wrote:
Depends on the scenario. Are they supposed to be equal peers, interns, short term contract workers, etc.?


It's a mixed bag. One intern, one new regular at my same level and a few contract workers. It's some of the contract workers who need the babysitting.

Quote:
If they're supposed to be equals, might be time for a talk with your manager.

Well, he's aware of it at this point (he asked for feedback on them). Usually I never escalate stuff unless I'm forced to and try to talk to them directly and get things fixed.

Quote:
Otherwise get them started on something that doesn't have as critical time sensitivity for completion. Or smaller tasks that you can guess won't take you too long to do (if they don't finish and you have to).


They're currently working on derivative products that have minimal changes or things that had the critical things already taken care of. The trouble is when the small things aren't dealt with and add up close to the deadline or something messes up when run on actual chips. In some ways that's partially my fault for not monitoring them until recently. I used to just give them the overview of what's needed, the timelines and let them deal with the project. They'd report progress directly to my manager just like the rest of use. The expectation was that I'd help them when they get stuck. This style of "kick the chick out of the nest and let them figure out how to fly" was how I was trained myself.

About the time-sensitivity, it has a lot to do with how time is managed. In our case, we'd have to run simulations that take more than half a day to complete. Not checking them early while they run or running one at a time screws up the time-efficiency a lot. Some of the contractors don't handle this well despite having been told to do things in parallel. I suspect some use this as a way to slack off.... I must say, Gentoo compiles certainly prepared me for this line of work :lol:

Quote:

Communicate. How will you both know when they are "meeting expectations"? After some basic introduction to procedures and similar items, give them a task you believe they can complete and get their agreement. Then leave them to work on it with instructions to ask questions. Be clear that they shouldn't be "afraid" to ask questions.


Recently I started holding a short meeting to check status daily, to assist with issues they face (I started to directly ask them if there are any blockers etc) and started using a checklist of tasks in order of priority. It helps but I feel like it's a lot of hand-holding/micromanagement , it's additional work for me to track and send reports. Untill recently, I just had to be in weekly meetings where someone else does most of the talking :)

Quote:
Take notes on how that goes for later review on where they need to focus, or perhaps to evaluate whether or not the task was beyond their current abilities.

This is a good point!

John-Boy wrote:

As to the question, depends as mentioned, drip feeding is a good approach if you have time, start on a few things get that consolidated. Even if somebody is experienced an information dump still has potential to overload.

Oh and make sure that you document or at least get evidence that you have something in place.


uhh... there's never enough time. As of late, I get quite tired when I get back home cause of this. The brain is fried. I've started to track things very thoroughly and document them. I'm usually quite chill but now I feel like I'm micromanaging/babysitting now and maybe being a bit too hard on them. It's like I'm held responsible for crap other people do. They don't even feel the pressure from the schedule or the other teams who depend on us.

e3k wrote:

they were assigned a few simple tasks they could not do by them self so they kept asking for help in a way where i finally should do their work by myself.

I've seen this pattern before. Fumble about and let someone else catch the ball you drop, then it becomes their problem. :roll:

Quote:

they wasted too much time on arguing with me why their approach is the correct one and mine is wrong

Seen this too, but fortunately I didn't have to work directly with these kind of folks so far. Discussions and new view points are fine, but being adamant isn't. Usually I'm the first interviewer and reject people who seem too difficult to work with.

John-Boy wrote:

Misread that as manatee for a second, which was interesting.


:lol: Well, I hear that manatees have habit of swimming towards propellers and dying.....

/edit2: Sorry about the OP, I was frustrated and venting. I'm in a much better mood now.
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pjp
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me like you're mostly doing everything you ought to be doing. At a certain point, the evalution comes down to "are you capable of doing the job." Your manager may be mentoring you for a team lead or management role if you aren't already there. For those who should be peers, it may be time for a "serious talk" in outlying clear expectations of the time sensitivity of the job. "X, Y and Z must be done in parallel due to the time involved. This is critical to success of your role and the team." Or whatever.

In my experience, a contract worker should be able to do at least some basic tasks without any handholding. It just depends on their length of contracct. I worked one place where we brought someone on for 90 days without clear expectations. I think it took a week to get their login. Given the expecation of parallelism, a possible difficulty could be in understanding all the the tasks well enough for them to be comfortable doing something else. If you have to know the specific tasks of this job before you get the job, then that may be a problem of expectations. Or you may just be identifying those who will not be retained on the team.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have an intern and unless they're exceptional, you'll have to explain to them everything. Also, this holds true for anyone working for you, even experienced employees.

People won't admit but people love some direction and love more being told what to do.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i do not prefer to be told how to do stuff and also get tired of hand holding. yes needs exceptional people and then it goes well.
also the 2 interns from India did actually learn the biggest lesson after i let them do things alone and wrong. + i did stop wasting my time with meaningless arguing.
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