Lack of clarity from above hampers productivity and job satisfaction

secret engineerOur secret blogger has a new job – and despite a positive start managerial inconsistency is beginning to get irksome

I have now settled into my new life at work and, from what people have said to me “on the ground”, all seems to be going well. I was a tad disappointed then when, via a circuitous route, I was informed that my work was considered to be a bit slow. As it happens, I have every reason to believe this was a bit of “Chinese Whispers” coupled to an early lack of speed due to learning the CAD system. However, as any I’ve worked with can tell you, I’ve never been the quickest to turn a job around so despite this it struck a bit hard and triggered a minor panic attack.

It’s never a problem to have a “reality check” on how you approach work and generally I’ve found this particular issue isn’t so bad. If you work at being quicker you just need to nudge up to “acceptable” without losing any other qualities (high quality draftsmanship / meticulous maintenance of documents / etc.) and most folk are happy. Chuck in a willingness to pull long hours when needed and Bob’s your Mother’s Brother, as they say.

Of course, you have to be adaptable…It’s the undeclared 180-degree u-turns that leave me on the back foot that gives me a real problem

What was rather irksome in this case was that, when joining the company, I was very specifically told that the ethos was “I don’t mind if its late so long as it’s right.” Of course, that’s not carte-blanche to take forever over a job but it will – or at least should – colour the way you approach your work. Therefore, I’ve been picking up on errors in look-alike drawings used to create new ones, considering better ways to lay them out and so on. I can say with confidence that what I have produced are a better set of drawings, what I’m worried about is that I have now been “marked down” for doing what I was specifically told to.

Of course, there’s no point in spending much time worrying about it, you modify your approach and dive back in there. So, although I’m not improving the quality of the company’s IP as much as I was – I am turning stuff around quicker – I shall continue with this until someone says something else and then once more modify my approach.

All engineering is compromise and I’ve never had a problem with adapting my work style to the particular requirements of a company, although I have worked with one or two people who appear to have a “my way or the highway” attitude – something that’s always struck me as being rather arrogant and a little short sighted. It’s one thing to push for your own idea of the best way to do things on principle but it’s another to completely go against what your boss thinks is required.

It’s not just the generally nebulous area of the quality / time / resource triangle where the lack of straightforward direction is frustrating. I’m sure I cannot be the only who has had a conversation along the lines of:

General Managerial Type Bod: I’m not keen on that proposal.

Design Eng: No problem, what would you like?

General Managerial Type Bod: I don’t know, just not that.

Design Eng: Well, throw me a spratt at least. Which area of the design is giving you concern?

General Managerial Type Bod: I’m not sure, I just don’t like it…

And so on ad nauseum, or at least until you snap and staple his / her head to the desk.

Then there’s the world of pain that is the “moving goalpost”, but that can wait until another time. Of course, you have to be adaptable, of course we are here to help others move towards an as yet undefined end point and – all joking aside – the general changes of mind or prevarications can be written off as part of the creative process. It’s the undeclared 180-degree u-turns that leave me on the back foot that gives me a real problem. In these cases, a little bit of clarity and consistency would be greatly appreciated.