>Off the Beaten Path>Getting along with a co-worker
So I, who am 43 with 20 years of experience, and a 20 year old start at a boatyard about the same time. I've had problems in the past trying to teach someone the correct methods for a given job, and was met with insulance as if I had no right to direct actions, resulting in mutual alienation and eventual career self destruction by someone who felt he was too good to listen, I'm encountering that same issue now with this kid who is trying and wants to be a valuable employee. However, he does get high, sometimes at work, texts and smokes his E-cig a lot. Last week he wasn't paying attention and came extremely close to scratching a 50' power cat that I had just painted. I screamed at him about smoking not paying attention and was met with a retort that he didn't have to listen to me.
He's a decent enough kid, I think. Not lazy, just young with a lot of pride (he starts the local boatbuilding school in 2 months and thinks this gives him credibility).. Unfortunately we are tasked together a good bit and I am being held responsible for his substandard work, so I have to go behind him.
I don't want to be "that guy" who goes to the boss and complains. I'm as polite and calm as I can be when giving directions, but he slacks off a lot.. Mabey I'm just old, but I want quality work, and I have a family that needs my job so I cant just deck him like he really needs. Any advice on ways to handle this situation? I think he sees us as equals, which if he had a clue, I'd see it that way too, as I do the other guys at the shop. Oh, the boss has a habit of hiring current participants in and new grads from said school, be-it structural or mechanical. There are only a couple of us with real experience.
It sounds like you are doing the right things even if it is frustrating that he doesn't listen. It seems to me that the only thing you have control over in this situation is your own attitude and perspective. You can't change his. At that age, they have to make their own mistakes and learn from them.
I don't think you need any advice. You know how to deal with it. You may just need the courage to do it.
Today I attended a workshop. We were talking about problem solving. I realized that I have no doubt my problem solving skills when dealing with technical matters in general. However, when it comes with dealing with any human relationship, it is tough because the matter is no longer static. Everyone has emotions and baggage. Whatever I say is not about the matter any more but it could trigger the other person's inner child's reaction which was carried over from the past. I love the Orange metaphor talked by Wayne Dyer in his talk: How to get what you really really really really want. If you are curious, you can check the first 2 minutes of this video.
5k - 20:56 (09/12), 7k - 28:40 (11/12), 10k trial - 43:08 (03/13), 42:05 (05/13), FM - 3:09:28 (05/13), HM - 1:28:20 (05/14), Failed 10K trial - 6:10/mi for 4mi (08/14), FM - 3:03 (09/14)
if you are held responsible for his work then you have all the right to correct him & talk with him. As TJoseph mentioned it sounds like you are handling this in a professtional & mature manner. Have you told him that you responsible for his work? How about telling him that you are held accountable from your own boss(s) & that they check in with you to see how he's doing & you are going to be honest in your evaulation? when you say that you have to go behind him, you mean that you have to go back over his work ? Unfortunately standards in a workplace have been decreasing for the past 3 decades.
He is not your equal! but you will have to treat him as such when you talk with him or he wont improve his standards. Does your boss care about getting quality work from all his employees?
Half Fanatic #846
It may help put things in perspective to see him as a trainee rather than a coworker.
And, what skyedog said!
I ran half my last race on my left foot! I don't always roll a joint, but when I do, I usually roll my ankle
What a pain. I hope you're able to get him to come around.
I've seen other 16-21 year old's that genuinely don't know/understand that there is an informal seniority hierarchy they should respect, even if officially you all have the same generic job title (or no titles at all). Just from the combination of ignorance and self-importance common to youth. Damn whippersnappers.
Look him the eye and be straight and honest, with respect. Avoid humiliating him and you'll avoid making an enemy.
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As others mention, you're doing yourself a favor by keeping it professional. However, there are few things you can try to correct the situation. Some of these have worked for me in the past. Most of these need buy-in from your boss to be successful.
One problem is that kids don't know what they don't know. They don't value experience, because to them this is all just stuff they could learn in school or figure out on the job. People with experience aren't very good about describing exactly what it is either. So, the only way to convince someone that experience is valuable is to show them. Therefore, give him the reigns. Let him be responsible for a job or two. Let him tell you what to do. Don't be passive aggressive about it -- just do the job. When it comes to a problem that normally your experience would solve, ask him what he would like you to do. At this point you can either coach him on the better direction, or just follow his direction.
The important part is that you need the boss's buy-in so for evaluation of the work later. You an the boss can collude to make sure he points out the kid's mistake. You can make sure the boss holds him to the deadline. You can also collude to have the boss reference past work that was superior in quality and why it was so.
If experience is really important for the job, he will fail naturally without you sabotaging his work.
If really the problem is that he just doesn't give a shit, then talk over disciplinary actions with your boss. Or have your boss make it clear that you are the one in charge and that the kid's job is contingent on your approval of his work. Make sure to keep notes of things he does right and things he does wrong -- because the first time you say something subjective the kid (and maybe even the boss if he has HR worries) is going to ask for examples.
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I supervise a lot of people, some officially and some unofficially. I'll throw my 2 cents in here and you can take it for what it's worth.
First, keep a sense of humor as much as possible. Yes, his work reflects on you and you want to look good. But you want to keep that stern, "I'm the boss" tone in reserve so that when you pull it out he knows you mean business. If every interaction you have with him sounds like one he'd have with his dad, he's going to pretty quickly tune you out. There's a lot of truth to the saying "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." You're in this together, remember that.
Second, you are older and more experienced, but that doesn't mean you know everything. There's bound to be SOMETHING you can learn from him, even if it's just how to switch the apps on your phone. Everyone wants to feel like they are contributing and are adding value. Even if you have to fake it, let him feel like he's teaching you something. He's going to be more willing to listen to what you have to say if you don't seem like a know-it-all (even if you really do).
Third, it's just work. Nobody knows more about being a workaholic more than me, but at the end of the day, you aren't really defined by your job. Step back and realize that you can let someone else shine a little too, and that doesn't make you look any worse. You've got a lot more to offer than just your job. He'll realize that and thank you for it.
People skills are hard. Remember to take lots of deep breaths!
No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.
I will show you how to do this once. If you screw it up. Pink slip. Three pink slips and you are out.
Old guys never seem to remember how many times they messed up.
Young people have to make their own decisions. The more decisions they make the more often they will be right.
Kids now days don't know how to unwrap a piece of candy. Its not their fault their parents always did it for them.
I'll put a kid on the grading chain. Tell him to mark #1 #2 #3 boards. If you put a #1 in the #2 pile you just lost $20. If you put a #2 in the #1 pile you will get a claim from customer.
Go back thru the lumber and correct it. In 2 weeks they will start getting most of them right.
Maybe you could take a few hits off of his bowl after work and tell him that his work ethic sucks and he's been doing this for a few months and you've been doing this for 20 years. There is a REASON that he is being paired with you, and it is to learn from you. Also, tell his ass that lil' boat scratching close call could have cost him his job had he successfully damaged the boat. Maybe the cat just has to learn the hard way, sounds like you are doing all you can to keep him out of trouble. Good luck, and be careful with that weed. Only take two hits max, because it might be REALLY good, and if you're not used ot it, you could get REALLY stoned.
Thanks for all of The helpful replies. It's not like he's a bad seed, just young and disrespectful kid that gets pissed off at even helpful constructive criticism. His work costs the boss money. The boss is a good guy and a kick ass triathalete by the way, he got 3rd in his ave group at duathalon nationals which was a B race for him. Anyways.... I feel a loyalty to My boss to be profitable, but in my old age, my ego must have gone by the wayside as I am well open to input as a learning opportunity, knowing full well that the more that I know, the more I know that I don't know.
Anyways. He really screwed up Friday, and when the browser him know, politely at that, he stormed out of work straight at 5:00.
This Is where I won't let history repeat itself. Last time this situation arose, I tried to help a guy understand the reasons why we do what we do and had smoke blown In my face(literally) by a redneck who was too proud to learn.
If I say something to the boss, the guy is probably gone, I just don't know how to tell the guy to set aside his pride and accept help without throwing a hissy-fit and not putting myself in an awkward position of "him vs me" in our other coworkers eyes.
His work costs the boss money now, but if you can transform this guy into a quality worker for the next 20 years, you will make your boss a lot of money and help the kid out as well. Sounds like he needs it even if he doesn't want it.
Most likely what the kid needs is a positive role model, one who knows the long view, who takes his job seriously, but not so seriously that he doesn't see the humanity underneath the job.
Is this kid worth the time and energy? Are any of us?
I like the advice about taking a lot of deep breaths. One thing I try to keep in mind is that fuck-ups are pretty used to getting yelled at, so it doesn't really impact them. They can just respond with: "there goes another asshole." What they are not used to is people who are patient enough with them to help them.
At the very least, working on helping him would probably be good for your own character. Think of your work with him the same way as painting that PowerCat -- frustration won't get the job done.
The Logic of Long Distance
I love auto spell correct. BROWSER? That was supposed to be boss. Anyways..... that's good advice. I'll take this a not just a learning, but a character building opportunity. Thanks!
I may be in a minority of one here, but I think you should tell your boss. I don't think this situation is fair on yourself and the kid's attitude to work stinks.