Thursday, February 7, 2013

Destructive Testing

In my profession, we work as surprisingly small teams on projects that last years.  We are not a large firm, yet there are people in our company that I have never worked with. When I do pick up one of the "never worked withs" or a new hire on a project, right off the bat I tend to grill them on their decision making process. In my experience, with 99% of people, a grilling doesn't require much. "Why did you do it that way?"  "What about this?"  "What building code constraints apply to what you are working on?"  Typically, it doesn't take much to determine they are sleep walking through their job.

I've been doing this for a long time never consciously thinking about it, but recognized it as a pattern a few years back when I made a young female Architect cry.  What was it that I left in my note that made her cry you ask? "This is unacceptable", in reference to two drawings she had produced.
She was out in the corridor boohooing to one of her female peers. One of the firm principles came and asked me what I had done. I 'splained the situation and further noted that if she thought that was "rough", how would she handle a belligerent and pissed off client in a meeting.
That communicated to him. He repeated the same thing to her. 
To summarize it in two words, "grow up".
She stayed with us for 5 or 6 years then moved on to Californication, then Pennsylvania and finally wound up in New York.  I learned all this day before yesterday. She was back in town and came by for a visit.  She made a point of visiting me. Imagine that.
I digress.
The pattern I've noticed in myself is that I destructive test my newbies in very short order. I want to know what their threshold for stress is, and whether or not anyone is at home in the brainpan. I have a subconscious drive to determine who is a go to person and who is a pencil in very short order. My "go to's" can take a problem and solve it. If I have to constantly direct your every move, you are a pencil.
I am not mean in the process*, but direct and unwavering in my expectation of their performance.
Also, I'm not going to dumb this down to your level.  You are going to have to rise to my level of play. I will help you, but the onus is on you.
I have resurrected a few lost causes, and turned a few pencils into go to guys, or girls over the years.

*Ok, I admit, now that I'm consciously aware of my destructive testing protocol, I do take a certain amount of joy in watching them squirm. I have two that have been with us for 5 to 10 years now that have coasted along all that time. I've already upset the 10 year "veteran".  The 5 year newbie is rapidly discovering all the shit he doesn't know. He's starting to come around and ask a lot more questions. He's discovered that he's not as smart as everyone else thought he was.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing wrong with a little "Live Fire" training... small teams under pressure to perform and live up to clients expectation in a competitive field, you need to know who you can count on, or as you put it "Go to".
    It's not personal, just business...


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