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I work in a small company (10-15 employees). Approximately a year and a half ago we took on employees who work remotely and, as such, we started using Microsoft Teams.

Internally we are two teams, both of which engage with multiple external partners, contractors and customers. We also have multiple ongoing projects. As such, our Teams structure reflects this with different channels and chats. However, being a small company, we wear many hats and have access to multiple chats/channels.

One of my team members is a gentleman, and, unfortunately, when we started using Teams we were under the pump and no-one had time to teach him how to use it.

Due to his lack of knowledge, he has developed this habit where he opens Teams and just starts typing in whichever chat/channel he last viewed. Since we wear many hats, people have indulged this by responding. However I have found it somewhat frustrating due to number of reasons;

  • He posts information not relevant to that chat/channel
  • Information gets fragmented across multiple places
  • His questions and requests are going unnoticed and work is not getting done
  • Because things are going unnoticed, he brings it up the next day in our daily stand-ups causing them to go overtime (sometimes by an hour)
  • He interrupts existing conversations/threads with questions irrelevant to that conversation (on more than one occasion I've had things unresolved because he has hijacked the thread)
  • Information specific to our team is shown to the other team and external people (which in some cases has prompted a confused reply as they think it's directed to them)
  • He posts personal conversations, grievances, complaints etc on channels/chats that are being broadcasted to the whole organisation
  • Our workloads are ramping up and we are relying more and more on information being stored in Teams
  • I'm the person who sits next to him, so I'm the one who is constantly having to help him find things because he has made a mess. I'm also the person he complains to about how terrible Teams is or people ignoring him
  • My workload is increasing and I'm running out of both time and patience to be his tech support/person to complain to

I realise it's because he hasn't been trained properly. I also acknowledge that maybe I'm making a bigger deal of this than my other co-workers (they're starting showing signs of frustration however). I have in the past made suggestions trying to help, but they haven't worked.

So my question is, how do I approach this situation in a reasonable and sensitive way? I don't want to be rude or condescending, nor do I want to come across as whining or uptight. But it is becoming an issue I feel needs to be addressed.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Mar 15 '20 at 16:10
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You've implemented a new and unfamiliar application to the team with no training what so ever. To make matters worse you re-enforced his behavior/improper Teams etiquette by actually responding to the questions that are posted in the group.

While the concept of channels and groups may be second nature to you it's obviously not for your co-worker.

Perhaps a simple response to the post stating that it belongs in X group and asking him to re-post it there is in order. Similar to the way that SE handles questions posted to the wrong forum.

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    +1. And, refuse to answer questions which are in the wrong channel - otherwise, laziness is reinforced. – PeteCon Mar 13 '20 at 14:02
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    This is a great answer. In my workplace, I've noticed that different teams use tools like Teams and Trello very differently. If you want to enforce a certain style of usage, make that clear in a direct but friendly manner. – Andrew Brēza Mar 13 '20 at 17:27
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Ask your Manager if you could make a simple guide for him as to what channel to ask for what etc.

And ask your Manager to give a gentle reminder to him if your suggestion/reminder is ignored by him.

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    Agree, it seems just taking an hour or two to give him the proper introduction/ training should hopefully fix this issue. – quarague Mar 13 '20 at 8:22
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From my experience, your suggestions will not ever work. If he is "that kind of" Senior I believe he is, he won't take "that green youngling" too seriously.

So, what to do? The training and "urge to apply that training" must come from above.

It sounds like you are in some kind of SCRUM environment or at least agile. So, to speak in scrum terms, which should have their counterparts in other processes, too: This is your scrum master's duty. I'd speak to him or even file a "general suggestion" to repeat some training on the Teams usage. Everybody will know who is targeted but you cannot point him out, obviously. That would be counterproductive, too.

Now, you are writing, your dailies have exceeded their time box by over 1h repeatedly? That, too is a major neglet on your scrum master's part. HE should abort what ever is going off trail and make an appointment to address the issue.

So, maybe your scrum-master needs a little bit of training on his role, too.

While you need to be sensitive with this issue, I do not think this is in any way harassment. You have an impediment. If he used the tool as intended, you (team) could be more productive. So the impediment needs to go. We don't want him to get into trouble or fired, so he needs training. That's not your job, though. And he needs someone to give him "incentives" to apply said training. - Not your job, neither.

If you do not have anything like a scrum master, the next person on my mind would be your manager.

But: Don't "complain" to him. Suggest an improvement. Don't even mention Mr.SeniorDev. Just tell him, what happens that is bad for productivity. Messages have been missed. Information has been disclosed to wrong people. Information is hard or not at all to find. Let's improve that by having a little "Refresher" on Teams. Wouldn't that be nice? From there on: He's the manager, let him manage.

If this does not work, you'll have to endure some annoyance, yes. But you also can step up in escalation. But keep in mind: "Is the trouble really in relation to the annoyance?" Depending on the country, he'll be there for maybe 4-5 more years? Maybe you can improve his behavior 33%, redirect his "support" questions 33% and suck it up 33%?

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It's quite common for teams to start using some sort of tool in an ad-hoc fashion and learn how to use it as they go along. Over time, they figure out how best to use it for their needs. You've been using it for 18 months, so there are probably more positives than negatives.

You've already identified some valid points and have ideas. Your next step would be to raise this with the appropriate people and get their support for a positive way forward.

You need to get your management on board with this, especially if you've tried and failed before. Ignore the things that are annoying to you and highlight a few things that are a risk to the company, eg:

  • messages get lost and consequently work doesn't get done
  • information intended to be private is seen outside the company

Include some examples of practices that result in the above and how to avoid them. Choose benign things and avoid exposing individuals as much as you can (better still use your own actions as examples). You'll have the beginnings of a "how to use Teams" guide.

Above all, do not make this personal. Avoid statements like "he did this/that". Many of the current practices have become accepted through not addressing them at the time, which all of you have some shared culpability for. You want to help your team, not complain about people.

Because things are going unnoticed, he brings it up the next day in our daily stand-ups causing them to go overtime (sometimes by an hour)

That sounds like a separate issue to take up with whoever facilitates the stand-ups.

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