Pattie Buel

I explain my style to new staff when they join the group (or when I joined the group). The first blown deadline usually results in a long conversation about why it happened and a reminder that I view every single conversation as an opportunity for them to ask for help/guidance/extension/etc. After that first minor loss of trust, my questions get more specific – no longer “How’s it going” but “Have you hit any snags? When do you think you’ll have something for me to look at?”. If I continue to get the “everything’s good” answers when it’s not, then we start meeting frequently with you producing evidence of your progress. I’m still not going to do your job for you but now you have to earn my trust back that you know how to do the job.

My starting assumption with any new staff member is that they were promoted to their current grade for a reason and they have the technical skills necessary to so their job. What they need to learn is the organization’s policies, procedures and quirks. If my assumption is faulty, it will come out. But what I usually find is that the person didn’t want to be seen as needing to ask for help. Because maybe you know exactly what to do but have run out of time because something else you are doing took too much time. Or maybe you just back-burnered it because your priorities were different than mine (learning experience for both of us). And maybe, you just don’t understand what I’m asking for but don’t want me to know that. For example – In contract management there are a lot of ways to do the same thing – especially when it involves tracking status of something. What works for me may not work for you so I don’t expect you to do it my way. But I do expect that youhavea way, that you canexplainyour way to others, and that it’s not something you create/re-create only when asked to produce it. After all, that’s how contracts run out of money. So when your performance plans says you have a tracking system that shows, at a minimum, funding applied and invoices paid and that it’s on the network, I expect that I can go on the network to your files and find it. I also expect that it’s up-to-date since you’re the one who initiates incremental funding requests and pays the invoices. I don’t expect that when I ask you to show it to me as part of a performance meeting, you reply that you’ll have to get back to me on that and it takes 3 days or more for it to suddenly appear.