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I am an architect by designation in an IT company, but recently I was given a manager role. I used to work with a good resource (7/10 if I score him) let's say Adam. My neighboring team --Core had issues, so Adam was given to them.

Now, I was assigned a person -Brit, who was apparently fired by another team because they could not tolerate him over 1y. why? Because if you give him coding work, he goes in circles --refactoring, re-refactoring, re-re-refactoring, re-doing, not fixing code comments...

I am given another Eve --fresh from tier 1 college. He takes random several 2hrs breaks. Yesterday I gave him feedback to Eve: to better get straight, and now the Core team manager has started passing comments --which is hurting me.

To summarize, I have 2 teammates, reporting to me with a project to deliver. At this pace, the quality of the output will be very low (4/10). I asked for new team members but its 'no hiring' policy is in the company.

So, what more can I do to get things in better shape?

[EDIT 1] instead of referring people as T1, T2, R1, R2 I gave some names.

[EDIT 2] I make sure Eve gets to know her issues as part of code review discussion. Its already 3 times since I told her why the code fails. I see the same coming to me again and again but in different forms. I try to hear her point of view, but it seems she is convinced by my argument that her code will not work. Yet, the same code comes back in several forms.

The question is being downvoted by Stack people with out giving a reason. This is very discouraging. Very sad. Bad, to me of-course.

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    Can you elaborate on "Yesterday I gave him feedback to better get straight, and now the T1 team manager starts passing comments --which is hurting me" Are these things linked in any way? Jul 13, 2023 at 5:00
  • Also, if you could elaborate on why the several 2 hour breaks is an issue, that would be good. Jul 13, 2023 at 5:08
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    I really dislike the tone of your question. Maybe it's a cultural thing. "Resource", "rate my resource" and the overall mindset to just replace every "resouce" who doesn't perform immediately. These are your coworkers. Not screwdrivers.
    – jwsc
    Jul 13, 2023 at 5:24
  • @GregoryCurrie Yes they are linked. I gave Eve (T2) feedback at my workstation (in a low tone so that only he could hear it). This particular Manager sits beside me so he could listen to the talk, when he passed the comments
    – chendu
    Jul 13, 2023 at 11:24
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    @chendu You should not be giving feedback to your team members in the presence of others. Jul 14, 2023 at 1:51

5 Answers 5

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Part of your role as manager is to get the best out of the resources you have.

If you suspect you have two resources that are not efficient, you need to figure out how to improve things.

Blaming company policy for a hiring freeze because you are unable, or unwilling, to get the best out of what you have is not constructive.

So you need to go back to your managerial training, and use the strategies you learnt for managing people to get the best out of your charges.

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    "go back to your managerial training" Aye, there's the rub; I bet they haven't been given any managerial training, just a manager role. OP - if that's the case, you need to start training yourself.
    – PeteCon
    Jul 13, 2023 at 5:57
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    I wonder what proportion of managers in tech actually receive any management training Jul 13, 2023 at 10:18
  • @mattfreake if you were not given it, it is something readily available online for 59.99 at online course websites. But if you put people in those places who don't get that, well, problems.
    – Aida Paul
    Jul 13, 2023 at 11:24
  • And what happens if he's already getting the best out of his team? Incompetent workers aren't going to work better without some intervention - and in many organisations, the immediate "manager" doesn't actually have the authority to intervene in any meaningful way. Rather than answering from an ideal situation, you should be answering from reality.
    – HorusKol
    Jul 15, 2023 at 13:41
  • @HorusKol There is nothing to suggest in the question that the OP has tried to improve the resources they have. Happy to answer a different question than the one posed here, but for that, there needs to be another question. Jul 15, 2023 at 15:47
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You are failing as a manager. Blaming your reports is not helpful. It's a poor workman who blames his tools rather than sharpening them and learning how to use them effectively.

If your people need training, invest in training your people. If they need guidance, guide them. Employee development is part of being a manager. If you don't know how, invest in your own training -- ask other managers, ask your own manager, find books or courses.

Just as you would for any other task you were assigned.

Or admit that you aren't prepared to be a manager and go back to being a technical leader.

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    Being a manager and being a technical leader require different skillsets and too many places force people into being a manager, in order to move up the ladder. If the OP works in one of those places and doesn't want to be a manager, moving employer could be an option. Jul 13, 2023 at 15:55
  • Many companies do now have non-nanagemet promotion tracks for those who don't want to be forced to, essentially, change professions. They may or may not be as respected or as well rewarded, but it's something to enquire about.
    – keshlam
    Jul 14, 2023 at 0:24
  • You're correct that an underperforming team is the managers fault. However, it sounds like this manager has been given underperforming staff. There is a difference. If the staff continue to underperform even after intervention, the manager should seek replacements. However, reality is that the manager cannot replace these individuals - what advice can you offer the manager to overcome this?
    – HorusKol
    Jul 15, 2023 at 13:48
  • Wrong. I don't agree with any of the points. This is Eves's problem --if not why was she sent out of other teams? I am not blaming tools. At the same time, if you can't see the picture clearly you don't get the right results.
    – chendu
    Jul 19, 2023 at 5:56
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I'm going to give an answer that is slightly different from the other two.

Assuming everything you have written is correct and there is no way to 'Polish a Turd' - What you need to do as a Manager is...

Manage.

Set your tasks, set your criteria for completion, set your time lines and your deadlines. Create regular stand-ups, Make sure everyone has sufficient access etc.

In short - You want to do everything within your power to set them up for success.

Why?

Two reasons:

1: It could be that they aren't as bad as you think they are and they need the right environment to thrive in - in which case, you putting in the effort might yield results.

2: They are as bad as you think they are. In which case, by proactively managing them and giving them all that they need to succeed - when they don't succeed - they will fail on their own merits. In which case, you can start making the case to the business that they need to fire them or hire someone competent.

But you need to make 110% sure that as a Manager, all your i's are dotted and your t's are crossed.

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  • God answer, always more helpful to take the OP at their word as basis for an answer
    – Kilisi
    Jul 14, 2023 at 10:12
  • Note there is nothing in the question that the OP has attempted to even figure out if they are "Turds". (Personally, I think it's very poor form to refer to people in such a manner, even idiomatically). Jul 17, 2023 at 6:11
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Here's another angle to look at.

Hierarchy is well aware you're new to management yet have given you a sub par team with problematic staff. They're not expecting much success from this formula.

What to do?

Cover your back, find your staffs strengths and utilise them. Don't rely on them to succeed at things they fail at, it's just not going to happen. Keep pushing the hierarchy for what you need to get your projects done. Policies are not set in stone. If you maintain your professionalism and composure & show a path forwards they can change.

A large part of my career has been fixing the unfixable, most of the solution is to remain calm and focus. Analyse the problem and the resources and hit the basics. With crap staff you get easy bits done first and watch closely, quietly getting involved if need be, it builds their confidence and morale as well as getting them squarely behind you. Then progressively attack the more complex stuff. Most people will follow someone calm who has a plan and looks like they know what they're doing. They like to be part of something that works.

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This really comes down to two things that you have to do and they aren't necessarily going to really make a difference for your goals but as a manager, will matter for your reviews.

First, is you need to continue to vocalize to your leadership that you feel that you are short on resources to meet your goals. Sounds like its a mix of skills gap and meandering. You can push for help perhaps in a temporary resource or knowledge share sessions that will help elevate the knowledge of your team. Adam could be a good choice to spend an hour or two a week for a month or so doing lunch and learns. Otherwise, you have done your part in making management aware that your team is not currently in a position to clear those goals.

Second, I sort of mentioned it in the previous paragraph but good leaders elevate their team. Part of this is going to require keeping a tighter leash on endless refactors. Enforcing that sometimes good is good enough. Working in IT for instance if the work is being done with a system like Git you can push to get draft PRs in work early and personally review them as they are in progress to steer the work. It also gives you enough insight that you should be more able to inject "this is complete" at a given point.

Eve sounds like she is just lacking context and experience at this point which is totally solvable. It may be counter intuitive but pairing sessions with Eve may be a good way to help accelerate that. If you used to contribute to the project you are working on setting aside some of the time your schedule permits to work as a pair. You, even if you aren't sure about HOW to do it, you know way more of the WHY and what the goals are as you have seniority working in the company.

And for your sake, document your efforts so when it comes time for your review you can say we missed goal X. I requested Y resources. I did Z to improve the work output of Adam and Eve. At that point as a leader you have done everything you can. You asked for more resources. You put in the time you could to onboard Eve as fast as possible. You have put your fingers in the process to keep Adam from daydreaming of that perfect line of code.

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