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Can you help re:employees with time management problems


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Sep 27, 2002 at 12:41:37 PM
Subject: Can you help re:employees with time management problems

<HTML>I would be pleased if anyone could give me advice. I work for an organization that often retains employees until they retire. In the past the atmosphere at the organization was much more leisurely than it is today, as is true at many organizations. Although the speed at which things must be turned around has picked up considerably, I have two, very well-educated, older longtime employees who have not picked up their pace. While intrinsically I view them as competent and capable of producing good work, they appear to be unable to do so on time. Even if I emphasize the critical nature of the job and the tight deadline, they do not seem to be able to manage their time to get it done. The deadlines are not unreasonable but do require the employee to have good focus on the matter at hand.

I find these employees allow themselves to get distracted by noncritical activities like whether we need a meeting on some other issue next week because someone has asked or by spending way too much time schmoozing on the phone with someone they need to get information from to get the job done. (Schmoozing is not necessarily bad in their job, it's just a question of knowing you can't do it when a deadline has to be met.) They are both not very organized--their offices are pretty messy. One of them has a problem intuitively figuring out the level of detail one can go into in the time given (he often gets caught in the details) and the other is a perennial procrastinator. I often follow the posts on other forums on this board because I have a son who is slow and unfocused. I am sympathetic to the problem. But, on the other hand, I have a lot of work to get done and can no longer sustain picking up their pieces myself or having one of my more efficent employees do so.

Firing is not an option here. I have thought about making them attend time management classes (at the organization's expense) but am worried 1) about an approach for bringing this up that would not be insulting to well-educated, basically competent employees, 2) the organization-offered time management course could in itself be a waste of time. I am stumped about what other course could be effective. I could inform them I will downgrade their performance rating if their poor time management persists--this requires a lot of paperwork on my part and I'm not sure it would help them address their problem.

Thank you for any ideas.</HTML>

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Anonymous
Joined Sep 20, 2017
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Posted:Sep 28, 2002 9:35:59 PM

<HTML>AA--Thanks for your reply. I particularly like your insight that time management classes would most likely not be helpful for people who have LD or ADD. I think intuitively that's what I thought. And, as you can tell from my posting here, I certainly suspect ADD or LD that affects executive function. (Interestingly, one of them has a son--very bright-- who has been tested and therapied to the nth degree for various LDs.) I like the solution you suggest--call them in (one at a time of course!)--say I notice they have trouble meeting deadlines, keeping papers and assignments organized, etc. and wait for a response. We do have an EAC whom I've used (to great success) for another employee in the past--perhaps I can alert her--and hopefully refer them to her. I'm afraid there's not much knowledge about LDs in the workplace--I will check on the EAC's experience in this area. I had an employee, who in restrospect I'm sure had LD, whom a gave a poor rating to. He filed an EEO complaint--I was willing to work through the thing, but he insisted on a transfer within the organization. The same thing happened in his new position. He ended up filing a suit and was bought off, but all of this took years, was very adverserial, and in the end he was no better off. Everyone would have been better off and it would have been hugely cheaper for the organization to have paid for some testing and a couple of months of Lindamood Bell to address what I suspect was his failure to visualize what he read and heard. Again, thanks for your reply.</HTML>

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Anonymous
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Posted:Sep 29, 2002 8:13:41 PM

<HTML>I'd be careful about the time management courses -- lots of those aren't geared to *REALLY* disorganized people and it only adds to the frustration -- and ends up being one MORE thing to try to remember to do!
AA's got it in a nutshell.</HTML>

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Anonymous
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Posted:Oct 06, 2002 4:17:41 PM

<HTML>Have you asked them? I know for me, I have some very unconventional ways to managed my time. Fortunately noone has a problem with me using them at this current job. At any job I have had I have had a good idea of what my problems were,and how I might solve them. Sometimes it was a matter of leaving the job,sometimes it was a matter of trying things to help me manage. Making a team helped to. If one is better at schmoozing and cutting it short,why not let that one do all the schmoozing etc.?</HTML>

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 12, 2002 1:28:28 AM

<HTML>Why don't you offer to meet with them daily or weekly and get into the details of how they work? Ask them to talk about how they achieved their goals- and make recommendations that will help them to go faster.

You stated One of them has a problem intuitively figuring out the level of detail one can go into in the time given (he often gets caught in the details) and the other is a perennial procrastinator." Have you shared these observations with them? Can you give examples of when one should go into detail and when one should not? Can you ask the person to talk to you when they have a decision to make involving detail?

I would approach them by offering respectfully to coach them on ways they can work more efficiently. Make a committment to their success and speed.</HTML>

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Anonymous
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Posted:Jan 12, 2003 1:14:57 AM

<HTML>You're the boss. They have to do what you say anyway you want to play it. You can't legally do anything that would put them at a higher risk of not meeting your expectations if the reason you would do that is you suspect they may have a disability/disorder, but you also can't expect them to meet your expectations unless they know what they are.

In the following, substitute "ADD" with "any given functional challenge."

From my experience, non-ADD'ers torture themselves with thinking that if they could just press the seriousness on the ADD'er that they'll shape up. The problem is, a person with ADD is just as serious and was trying harder than a "normie" can ever understand, but they have real issues that they sometimes need help with.

You can go the help me help you route and just ask them what you can do to help them do better. They may also not be familiar with what is wasting time. Never assume what someone knows or doesn't know. Ask them. Deal with the issue without dancing around it. People with ADD don't "catch" social cues and you cannot assume that they know something because it seems common sense to you because the input they get as part of the learning process is completely different. ADD aside, assuming what someone else knows is never a good idea.

Time management stuff is good sometimes--not always if it's too complicated to help, though. However, there can be some great tips that the employees just never pondered. They might not even be aware of the potential of hearing others' time management tips if they'd never studied that topic before. Get your employees some time management books on tape or CD as a gift, maybe.

Number one, share your concerns--your specific concerns, not in a judgemental way, but in a "how are we going to get this done?" way, which is the only way of putting it the ADD'er can relate to. The judgemental stuff is just part of that pointless "try harder" cycle and an ADD'er learns to mistrust it.

Dancing around issues because you're afraid of insulting a professional is more demeaning and counterproductive in the end. Treat them as people who deserve to know what your concerns are. That is sound advice no matter what the ability set of your employees. Just imagine if three years from now you heard your current boss had been concerned about an aspect of your work from the day you started, but hadn't said anything to you because he was afraid of insulting you. You would be angry.

While we're being non-judging and respecting others' professionalism, maybe, being experienced, they have a different perspective of how critical a deadline really is. Ask them. If you really respect them, you'll gain perspective f/ their opinions.

I was a foreman once--the first female manager in the company and my biological age was less than the average seniority in my all-male department. The trick is always respect. Letting people know what is on your mind while respecting what is on theirs. The bluntness that so often turns people off to ADD'ers like me was a breath of fresh air to men who had been handed every size and shape of corporate lingo made in the last 30+ years.

People with ADD can work very fast if they have a fire fighting mentality and also can visualize what it is they are getting out the door and who is waiting for it and why they need it. You could also bring in professionals to help with organization, just ask your people if they would like for you to hire someone to take that burden off them. No dancing--there are people good at organizing who you can hire to do it in one hour as opposed to you're employees struggling with it all the time when they were hired to do something else.

You did a good job using the non-judgemental language when it came to your employees. You gave the background that the employees aren't fireable without making the judgement that they may be just marking time. I'd offer this thought--you're son may not be slow and unfocused. His current way of doing things seems to be more time-consuming than what would be expected of someone of his developmental level and he also displays behaviors that society associates with a lack of focus. If he IS slow and unfocused, then there is nothing you can do so give up on him.</HTML>

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