Issue # 125 Zzaj Rant

Those of us who work for the U.S. military have all encountered dopes like the one I’ve written the counseling statement for below… they’ve never “taken their uniform off” & learned that when supervising other civilians – they are no longer in the military.  & I’ve no doubt that this same situation occurs often in organizations “on the outside”.  The bottom line is this – if this person worked in a company in the market and demonstrated the same lack of computer/web savvy as this individual does – they would be FIRED in a matter of weeks!


MEMORANDUM FOR nameless person in the organization who is incapable of learning how to work/live in the automated environment we all live in today.

SUBJECT:  Letter of Counseling

1.  This letter of counseling is issued to you to provide a written assessment of your current performance outlining areas that you need to sustain and areas where improvement is required.

2.  You have made significant contributions to this organization, but most of those contributions are totally overshadowed by your unwillingness to learn new toolsets, and to adapt your antiquated (and often technophobic) views of “how business is done” to the new reality.  Despite your efforts at ensuring the calendar is the primary synchronization tool in the organization, we have come danger close on missing key events/requirements because you fail to immediately bring discrepancies you find on the calendar to the attention of those responsible for maintaining it.  I need you to improve your level of responsiveness to other members of the team; despite constant reminders of events or tasks that await quick decisions from you, you continually procrastinate, apparently not concerned that others are looking to you for rapid and solid decisions; in many cases, your inability to think through a situation and render a quick decision has caused unnecessary drama and grief for those who work for/with you.

3.  What you do well and what you need to sustain:

a.  Take TDY trips – many of those in the organization would prefer that you go on an extended trip and just stay gone

b.  I can’t think of much else, since nearly all you’ve done has been with the intent of changing procedures that were already in-place to fit your technophobic view of how work should be done.

4.  The following are the areas where you need to improve and actions I am directing you to take:

a.  Meetings

1.  When you conduct meetings with your subordinates, ensure that you’ve already got “an answer”; do not sit in front of those who already read the same emails you have and wade through print or electronic versions of the same traffic; in fact, on each of the points you have to discuss, already have your “answer” in your head.  Use the calendar, task log tracker, fielding list tracker and other automated tools to help you arrive at a decision that already anticipates what needs to be said, so that drama can be eliminated from all of your meetings.

2.  Be willing and able to modify “your” answer if those who work for you bring up salient points that may result in a change to your decision; the key to success is to already have analyzed all possible points rationally and being prepared to come up with the best decision possible quickly and accurately every time.

b.  Working with those who work for you

1.  Do not expect that those who work for you will “jump” when you say “jump”; like it or not, you supervise civilians, and they have every right to tell you how they are going to accomplish a task you’ve given them; they are no longer in the military, and the reason you were hired in a supervisory position is because you are expected to be able to deal with this non-military organization.

2.  Do not expect those who work for you to do things the way you do them; if they produce a product that you don’t like, be prepared to revamp it (as an example for them) the way you want it prepared.  While it is understandable that this will produce more work for you than you may want to do, it is why you are being paid more money than those who work for you.  Your goal should be to come up with template standards that will work in almost any situation, so that there is no need to spend hours debating the position of a graphic on a slide.

3.  Most of those who work for you have very specific language in their Position Descriptions indicating that (for the most part) they work “unsupervised”; this means that they are working their own schedules and agendas; do not expect them to “come to you”, because they are busy working based on their own priorities.  If you have something that’s important enough to merit a change in priorities, go to them and negotiate based on their schedules, not the other way around.

4.  Do not try and “answer all the mail”; you need to learn to trust the judgement of those you’ve tasked to answer it for you; that’s what delegation of authority is really all about.  If their answer isn’t the same as yours would be – so what?  If it accomplishes the 5W’s in a task on time, you’ve met your obligation.

c.  Use the automated tools

1.  Focus in on which automated tools can help you do your job; actually learn to rely on them instead of wading through 100’s of emails that arrive in your inbox; often the only email that counts is the one at the end of the string where a decision is rendered.

2.  When OPORDS from higher headquarters are issued that mandate that supervisors embrace new ways of doing business – get with the program.  Learn how to join the 21st Century and give up your technophobic vision of a past that’s long-gone.  In fact, you should be the EXAMPLE for all your employees when it comes to how to use these tools… sign-up for every class you can in the technical arena, so you can teach others how to be effective and efficient.

5.  With your attention to the listed areas and compliance with the intent of what is stated here (particularly in the automated tools area), your performance and the operations of the organization will be enhanced.


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