Help needed for nurturing others

eab29

New Member
I’m not sure if this the right platform to seek advice but to be honest I’m not getting much help within the company whom I work for.

I’ve recently become a design manager within the businesses small marketing department. This is great, but it’s never been something I'd say I’ve aspired to (I like to me be more hands on) but know with career progression it can be the inevitable path at times. I’m fully aware that the higher you go the more responsibility you have and the management of people…this is the part where I feel like I’m falling down. Unfortunately, I’ve now become the direct line manager to the other designer whom over the course of their time at the company has had patchy performance and attitude towards work. Let’s just say there have been many concerns and talks with this person. And they just about manage to keep their head above water. Frustratingly their prior line manager (our now general manager) never ironed out a lot of these behaviours and has been pretty weak in terms of management. I’ve basically now been told this person is my issue.

As I’ve had no management training I’m trying to approach it the only way I know how, as a designer. I’ve tried various ways to try and engage this person. Giving them a variety of briefs, instilling regular casual catch ups that are not necessarily work related. Idea generation sessions, an open platform to communicate any issues etc, clear feedback and direction, making sure they have more visibility around the business, offering praise etc, etc. But none of this really goes anywhere. None of it seems to have sparked anything within them. I said from the beginning to my boss and HR I need help, and I'm open to change my approach and am happy to be told if I’m doing something wrong. My gut feeling is though as this has been a 3 year ongoing issue I’m just dealing with someone who’s lost complete interest in the role and simply isn’t interested in developing and can’t/won’t shake their negative attitude.

In summary it’s making a job I used to love unenjoyable, I understand everyone places a different value on their job and maybe this person is happy to coast, but I’m not sure I can continue to try and drag someone through their career at this company. It’s exhausting and I don’t want it to compromise my own design work. I have the added anxiety that once COVID is over and we are back in an office, I know that this will get worse as there are other negative team members that they’ll feed off.

Can anyone out there offer me any tips and advice how to get the best out of this person? Before I throw in the towel and look to move on :giggle:. Just to add I’ve always been this designer’s senior, so a change in attitude isn’t solely down to one of us being promoted over the other, it's always been an issue.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Have you said this to the person.

Get to the bottom of what the lack of enthusiasm is that leads to the sloppy work and threading water.

Ask them if there's anything else they would like to do, that you like them, you want them to do well and that you can get them involved in other projects when there's time, if that's what they want.


The lack of care from higher management is probably it though.
 

eab29

New Member
Have you said this to the person.

Get to the bottom of what the lack of enthusiasm is that leads to the sloppy work and threading water.

Ask them if there's anything else they would like to do, that you like them, you want them to do well and that you can get them involved in other projects when there's time, if that's what they want.


The lack of care from higher management is probably it though.
Hi, thanks for your swift reply. Myself and my manager have tried to get to the bottom of it on multiple occasions the answer is often either a defeated "I hold my hands up and take the feedback onboard" reply or it can be quite argumentative and defensive but with no real validity.

We have tried to focus in on areas of design for which they’ve expressed interest. For example video editing, and offered support for that where possible, whether that be software or training. However these projects have never really been met with the level of enthusiasm you’d expect from someone who said they were eager to develop.

I constantly try to engage with them and nurture. An example of a recent issue. We had one project that went a little off course (as is the case with design work sometimes but nothing major) I was constantly checking in and offering support and assistance. To be told everything was ok. After the project completion they went over my head and sent an email to the GM basically saying don’t ever give me a project like that again!

To be honest I think you’re right the lack of initial leadership has probably left them all at sea and I can feel the lack of respect for higher management from them.

My uni tutor used to always say “if you’re not enjoying your work, you’re doing it wrong” and it’s one of those phrases that’s always stuck with me.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Well, that's wrong on so many levels.

  1. The first thing I do is say to them that there's a hierarchy any issues are to be sent directly to me.
  2. They must do the projects assigned to them, whether they like it or not. Everyone is in the same position and given tasks they don't like doing, but it's part of the job.
I remember when I was younger I was asked by the CEO to grab a camera and go around an event snapping pics for the evening. I was a guest as an employee of the company. I did it begrudgingly and was pretty annoyed about it, as it had ruined my night out with staff and stakeholders.

I brought it to my immediate Director who just said, we all have to do things we don't like. That night he had to go physically to each paper and get a quote and write it down from everyone there about how they enjoyed the night and what the best part was.

Basically, suck it up sunshine.


==============
Have any rewards been offered? Salary scaling from year 1-5.
Bonuses based on performance? I used to get £2000 every six month as a performance bonus. I was set goals to achieve, like archiving and adding metadata to photos for easier search on the server and things like that.

Have they been incentivised in any way?
 

eab29

New Member
Well, that's wrong on so many levels.

  1. The first thing I do is say to them that there's a hierarchy any issues are to be sent directly to me.
  2. They must do the projects assigned to them, whether they like it or not. Everyone is in the same position and given tasks they don't like doing, but it's part of the job.
I remember when I was younger I was asked by the CEO to grab a camera and go around an event snapping pics for the evening. I was a guest as an employee of the company. I did it begrudgingly and was pretty annoyed about it, as it had ruined my night out with staff and stakeholders.

I brought it to my immediate Director who just said, we all have to do things we don't like. That night he had to go physically to each paper and get a quote and write it down from everyone there about how they enjoyed the night and what the best part was.

Basically, suck it up sunshine.


==============
Have any rewards been offered? Salary scaling from year 1-5.
Bonuses based on performance? I used to get £2000 every six month as a performance bonus. I was set goals to achieve, like archiving and adding metadata to photos for easier search on the server and things like that.

Have they been incentivised in any way?
The company have always been very good in terms of starting salaries and payrises. This person previously negotiated a higher rise than the one they were initially offered at the time, because they basically backed themselves and said I can step up. Looking back it seemed like a bit of bribe because nothings significantly changed.

On a side note the company also agreed to them changing their working hours and even agreed to dress down Fridays at their request (which was good for the business in general) So it’s not like they have never been backed by the company or had their views heard.
 

sprout

Active Member
Honestly, maybe I am a bit old-school here, but Hank’s appraisal it about right. Suck it up.

I can’t believe this person is being so fragile. I would never have dreamed of behaving like that. It is not as if you are treating them unfairly. Quite the opposite. You have given them far more slack than I probably would have. By this point, refusal to do what they are paid to do, I’d be stepping into written warning territory. It is simple. They come to work. You pay them money. They do the work you need them to do, in order that the company can also make some money – and afford to employ them! Simple.

Of course you have to keep your workforce happy and contented and be fair. I am not suggesting any draconian, victorian measures here, but it seems like they have been given plenty of chances to behave like a normal employee. Ultimately, they are paid money to do a job.

Then again, this could explain why I chose not to take the managerial path and have worked for myself for the last couple of decades. Probably better that way!!
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
Honestly it sounds like the person knows he can basically get away with doing as little as possible while still being rewarded with a pay rise etc... in essence he knows how to play the system/game to his advantage and as harsh as this might sound the 'people in charge' seem too soft.

If it was me, note I don't have employees as a sole trader, I'd have been giving him a written warning about his 'lacklustre' performance and given him an ultimatum to improve etc, it's not like you'd have difficulty replacing a designer these days, hell you could likely get some fresh graduate who will take less pay and put more effort in and you'd likely have hundreds apply if you got the word out well enough.
 

eab29

New Member
Honestly it sounds like the person knows he can basically get away with doing as little as possible while still being rewarded with a pay rise etc... in essence he knows how to play the system/game to his advantage and as harsh as this might sound the 'people in charge' seem too soft.

If it was me, note I don't have employees as a sole trader, I'd have been giving him a written warning about his 'lacklustre' performance and given him an ultimatum to improve etc, it's not like you'd have difficulty replacing a designer these days, hell you could likely get some fresh graduate who will take less pay and put more effort in and you'd likely have hundreds apply if you got the word out well enough.
I think that’s the thing that ultimately saddens me the most, they’re in a really sort after role that someone else would give so much for, and as you say probably take less pay. Even with redundancies at the company beginning of last year followed by periods of furlough I’d of hoped that would of really been the wake up call they needed to kick on. I just want to shake them and tell them it isn’t good enough, and if they were anywhere else right now their time would of probably been up long ago. I just have to choose my words carefully.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
I think that’s the thing that ultimately saddens me the most, they’re in a really sort after role that someone else would give so much for, and as you say probably take less pay. Even with redundancies at the company beginning of last year followed by periods of furlough I’d of hoped that would of really been the wake up call they needed to kick on. I just want to shake them and tell them it isn’t good enough, and if they were anywhere else right now their time would of probably been up long ago. I just have to choose my words carefully.
Do you get to do yearly 'performance reviews'?

Basically you have a chat with the person, you give feedback on their work ethic etc and then set improvements you expect to see in the following year. Make it clear that this will be recorded and could be used in the future if the company needs to make any redundancies etc. Essentially put him on notice that if you need to lose someone from your department that he could be on the chopping block if he doesn't start improving, same goes for the others. Tell them they'll be 're-reviewed' at 6 months.

Then after 6 months if you don't see any progress you can add a 'performance warning' to their records etc.
 

stinkypluff

New Member
Have you considered key performance indicators? That way you can agree some areas where you will monitor their work and you can use this as leverage during reviews etc. One kpi could be taking on tasks and challenges that they struggle with or don’t like... you can measure their performance against these specific tasks
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Another one would be to get them involved in other teams and projects to vary the day to day and the work. Maybe see what other people work on and how they work and things like that.
 

Philemon

New Member
Well, that's wrong on so many levels.

  1. The first thing I do is say to them that there's a hierarchy any issues are to be sent directly to me.
  2. They must do the projects assigned to them, whether they like it or not. Everyone is in the same position and given tasks they don't like doing, but it's part of the job.
I remember when I was younger I was asked by the CEO to grab a camera and go around an event snapping pics for the evening. I was a guest as an employee of the company. I did it begrudgingly and was pretty annoyed about it, as it had ruined my night out with staff and stakeholders.

I brought it to my immediate Director who just said, we all have to do things we don't like. That night he had to go physically to each paper and get a quote and write it down from everyone there about how they enjoyed the night and what the best part was.

Basically, suck it up sunshine.


==============
Have any rewards been offered? Salary scaling from year 1-5.
Bonuses based on performance? I used to get £2000 every six month as a performance bonus. I was set goals to achieve, like archiving and adding metadata to photos for easier search on the server and things like that.

Have they been incentivised in any way?
I’m not sure if this the right platform to seek advice but to be honest I’m not getting much help within the company whom I work for.

I’ve recently become a design manager within the businesses small marketing department. This is great, but it’s never been something I'd say I’ve aspired to (I like to me be more hands on) but know with career progression it can be the inevitable path at times. I’m fully aware that the higher you go the more responsibility you have and the management of people…this is the part where I feel like I’m falling down. Unfortunately, I’ve now become the direct line manager to the other designer whom over the course of their time at the company has had patchy performance and attitude towards work. Let’s just say there have been many concerns and talks with this person. And they just about manage to keep their head above water. Frustratingly their prior line manager (our now general manager) never ironed out a lot of these behaviours and has been pretty weak in terms of management. I’ve basically now been told this person is my issue.

As I’ve had no management training I’m trying to approach it the only way I know how, as a designer. I’ve tried various ways to try and engage this person. Giving them a variety of briefs, instilling regular casual catch ups that are not necessarily work related. Idea generation sessions, an open platform to communicate any issues etc, clear feedback and direction, making sure they have more visibility around the business, offering praise etc, etc. But none of this really goes anywhere. None of it seems to have sparked anything within them. I said from the beginning to my boss and HR I need help, and I'm open to change my approach and am happy to be told if I’m doing something wrong. My gut feeling is though as this has been a 3 year ongoing issue I’m just dealing with someone who’s lost complete interest in the role and simply isn’t interested in developing and can’t/won’t shake their negative attitude.

In summary it’s making a job I used to love unenjoyable, I understand everyone places a different value on their job and maybe this person is happy to coast, but I’m not sure I can continue to try and drag someone through their career at this company. It’s exhausting and I don’t want it to compromise my own design work. I have the added anxiety that once COVID is over and we are back in an office, I know that this will get worse as there are other negative team members that they’ll feed off.

Can anyone out there offer me any tips and advice how to get the best out of this person? Before I throw in the towel and look to move on :giggle:. Just to add I’ve always been this designer’s senior, so a change in attitude isn’t solely down to one of us being promoted over the other, it's always been an issue.
Managing people is not always easy as you will have to deal with people of differing characters.

If you lay close attention, you would realize when someone is working for the though they will always claim to love the job. It might just be the case.

My boss used to give me pressure that made me feel like giving up but I always thought to myself, how can I live without being a graphic designer? I loved my job so much that I would go to any extend to deliver.

Anyone who love their job would want to become better at what they do. That is by taking on more challenging projects and learning as they go.

If they are not willing to take more challenging projects then I doubt if they really love what they do.

A few things that motivated me even at my most difficult moments:

1 Colleagues, my colleagues were friendly and full of fun and ill miss them any day I don't go to work.

2 I am more productive when am not being micro-managed. Just let them come up with creative ideas for a project and give constructive feedback. Don't tell them how to do everything, let them feel they are in charge

3 Appreciate. If they deliver on a project, no matter how small, congratulate them and in front of other workers.
If the fail, encourage them in private and in a respectful manner

Try to be close to them with casual diacussions. A few minutes of fun here and there will do some magic

Hope this helps somehow.
 

eab29

New Member
Hi all I know some time has passed since my initial post and I just wanted to come back to you all and thank you for your feedback and give an update.

The past month or so things seem to be going really well, productivity and engagement is up and a good working relationship seems to have cemented . To cut a long story short I think the turning point was delegating them a very important yet exciting project one which would be fantastic for their portfolio and visibility around the company. This somewhat helped me as well when it came to their performance review that this is the benchmark standard and attitude to be applied throughout which they’ve very much taken onboard. All in all I’m really chuffed that they seem to be finally enjoying their work again! It came to light in the review they were frustrated working under our previous manager which was one of the major factors in a downturn of productivity. I quote they said “I’m so much happier now you’re my line manager”. Fingers crossed the upward trajectory continues and the department continues to thrive! Thanks again all for your words of wisdom.
 
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