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"that person needs to be fired/changed/yelled at!"  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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People are so human.

Every day somebody needs to sit with me and tell me how they are frustrated with somebody else. Sometimes I hear this sort of thing more than 20 times in one day. It's just part of my role here.

Yesterday somebody suggested "you need to fire that guy, he has only one function here and he is terrible at it!" "Fire" is sort of a funny word considering how this person (and nearly everybody I hear about) is paid nothing. When I bring it up I'm told that this person is not earning the food they are fed.

I'm not exaggerating. Every day. Sometimes twenty times a day.

For the one event yesterday, I spoke to the person being complained about and asked for a slight change in direction. I feel like it will work out fine.

And then I got to thinking about how much time was consumed by the angry party, plus my time. Plus the angry party probably burned a fair bit of time getting his angry worked up. He had a fair point about the object of his anger falling short.

And then I think that there are some really lovely people that nobody has ever complained about. Maybe we should give them candy - or an award .... and we should focus on finding the awesome rather than being angry at shortcomings. And there are some really lovely people that have never complained about anybody! Now that I think about it ... the people that never complain about anybody seem to be the same people that others have not complained about. I'm sure that that is not 100% true, but there seems to be a lot of truth to it.

I do know that a few of the complainers are the people that others complain about the most. I'm reluctant to mention this because I don't want to discourage people from trying to make things better (and isn't that the real root of complaint?)

But for the complaint yesterday .... the complaint that led to this thought ... the complaint where somebody should be "fired" .... I wonder if the complainer could have approached the person and said something helpful to them. After all, that is exactly what I did.

You will notice that this thread is in the forum "wheaton laboratories" which is in the "community" section. This is a community thing.

....

I want to related something from my corporate whore days and then tie it back in.

I used to help teams of software engineers improve their development velocity. One of my favorite tools was called "pair programming." The funny thing is that the first time I hear of it I thought no company would ever adopt it, so I wrote it off as unpractical. But, in time, I learned the massive value of it. And a big part of my job was convincing people to try it (much like convincing people to consider the value of permaculture).

Two software engineers sit at one workstation. One engineer is "the driver" and the other is "the partner". The driver has the keyboard for a while (maybe an hour) and does the actual typing. While the driver is driving, the partner does everything in their power to assist the driver. The problem is that you have two people. And people are sooooooo human. Often times one human thinks the other human is a complete dumbfuck. A worthless engineer that should have never been hired. Often times the feeling is mutual. The primary urge of "the partner" is to tell "the driver": "you're doing it all wrong! how did you ever get a job as a software engineer? Let me drive and I will teach you real engineering!"

Usually, during the first ten minutes, each engineer is utterly certain that pair programming is the stupidest idea ever. A waste of valuable resources. Most importantly, that giant asshole paul wheaton should be fired so everybody can just get the fuck back to work without all this woo-woo bullshit.

This is the point where I say to "the partner": Your analysis of the driver may very well be accurate. And by your standards of software engineering, the driver's approach is utterly stupid. Your task is to keep communication between the two of you flowing. You must keep your head wrapped around the approach and .... here is your prime directive .... do everything in your power to assist the driver in creating their stupid implementation. You don't have to endorse it as good - you just have to be an excellent assistant. You are paid a professional wage, be a professional assistant. In a short while you will get your turn to be the driver and you can write the code over again if you think that is the right thing to do.

...

I guess that's where I am going with all this. If somebody is falling short, what can any one of us do to help that person be better? I suppose some people might think that the best thing to do is to tell them they are a dumbfuck and it would be best for the community if they would leave. I'm hoping that people can come up with a more wholesome message than that. Maybe a gentle reminder. Maybe offering a little moral support. Maybe .... a few minutes of being "the partner" - help get the pump primed, help get things moving in the right direction.

...

(I can already hear the response to this suggestion - we have had people where they have had a dozen reminders about a ten minute task and, to date, they still have not done this ten minute task. And we have had to ask some of these people to leave because it was such a problem. But I think that is the exception rather than the rule. I think most people have responded really well to a little support once in a while)

...

Back to the "pair programming": after about two weeks of required pair programming, people generally prefer to do pair programming all the time. Many people doing pair programming for two months go from openly hating their coworkers, to having an incredible, positive bond. People feel like they learned more in two months than they learned in four years of college. Team velocity is usually about two to three times higher and quality is usually double. Not only are the superstar engineers doing much better, but the junior engineers are doing almost as well as the superstars. Conflict which used to be hostile and daily is virtually non-existent.

...

Whenever people are involved, there will be challenges. I think 90% of the challenges can be solved with "pair programming", but, of course, we aren't programming. But now that I've shared this little bit of information, maybe it can find its way into all of the daily, nutty stuff we are doing and be of some small help.


 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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- Been there, done that, (YELLED) got the 'Tee shirt' (Says there are too many A holes around here !)wore it out , used the rag to polish the shoes
I wear to funerals ( For Dead ideas ? )

Much, much more effective, ''You look like you could use a hand'' ! ''Or Two !'' '' Can I take that other thing out of your hand !'', ''You know, if I watch
you a minute, I can probably see how you do it !'' Followed much later with I'm left handed (true) '' It works better for me this way !''

You don't need to be the head guy to solve most problems, just be willing to go a little farther ! Big AL
 
Dawn Hoff
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Location: Andalucía, Spain
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I think very much you should out the complainer in to work with whomever he complains about.

I'm also thinking that a polite "ummm, have you told them?" Might be a good thing once in a while.

What might be really really useful is to have a non-violent communication work shop ;-) That to me is really people care - learning to be assertive, and positive at the same time, is the best tool I've ever ever learned (I'm still working at it, it's an squired skill).
 
Tyler Flaumitsch
Posts: 23
Location: Dawson City, Yukon
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Dawn Hoff wrote:I think very much you should out the complainer in to work with whomever he complains about.

I'm also thinking that a polite "ummm, have you told them?" Might be a good thing once in a while.

What might be really really useful is to have a non-violent communication work shop ;-) That to me is really people care - learning to be assertive, and positive at the same time, is the best tool I've ever ever learned (I'm still working at it, it's an squired skill).


Hey Paul, I think that Dawn is on to something about non-violent communication, but think that there is more to it. In the time that wheaton labs has been running you have put a lot of fucking awesome brain power and passion into projects that move permaculture forward. I think you are on the verge of doing more of the people work that needs to happen for the great stuff you are doing to be able to be heard by many others and remove some of the obstacles that happen when more than one person get together. I would suggest that you consider establishing a way that you treat each other. You can either do this the same as as you have set grounds rules surrounding kiddos, alcohol, drugs, etc or engage in a dialogue with gappers, Tim and Family and come up with basic expectations about how people treat each other. The biggest things that I would suggest you focus on are:

- Non-violence - being committed creating safety. In the form physical, emotional, and moral safety.
- Social Responsibility - the idea that everyone there is important and depends on each other. Which means stepping up and helping, voicing your concerns to the person that is contributing to them and being committed to solutions to name a few.
- Social Learning - The idea that everyone has something to contribute and you are all smarter together than just one person alone
- Open communication - being willing to have some degree of transparency, people saying what they mean, meaning what they say and not being mean when they say it.

there are some other things, but in my experience (this is big part of what I do) these things will help. If you are interested and I get over your way again maybe we can talk about working people through some of this stuff. Just a thought.

I also have to say Paul from what I have seen you, yourself, already have a pretty good handle on this stuff, the trick is getting others to buy in, act this way, and call each other on it as time moves forward.

Cheers.

 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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paul wheaton wrote:I think 90% of the challenges can be solved with "pair programming", but, of course, we aren't programming.


I don't understand why pair programming wont work? I mean, there are probably some instances were it wouldn't but have you tried making the complainer be the assistant and then switch roles after an hour?
 
Matu Collins
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Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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http://www.centerforappreciativeinquiry.net/more-on-ai/the-generic-processes-of-appreciative-inquiry/

I'm doing a job with a committee right now where this discussion is really relevant.

Non violent communication is one popular method to improve people problems, another method that has very broad applications which I have found to be very useful is called appreciative inquiry. Teaching groups to seek answers in an appreciative inquiry way makes things significantly more fun and also gets good results.

A more in depth way of approaching the world with its challenges and conflicts is outlined in the book "the anatomy of peace" by the Arbinger institute. Really worthwhile read in my life, I've been thinking of putting a review of it up on permies even though it's not about farming or frugality. I think I will put a review up because after this thread it is clear that the topic of human relations can speed or impede forward velocity anywhere. here is a video that gives a hint of what the anatomy of peace is about.

This is concrete, useable, game changing tactical stuff that can make the difference between success and petering out. It may sound a little woo woo but it's quality.
 
Julia Winter
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Could the pair-programming exercise be described by: "taking turns leading?"
 
Rick Edwards
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I think paired tasking or community tasking vs. solo tasking or something like that. It loses the software programming reference that can be used as a mental block by some because they think it doesn't cross-over to the tactile task oriented farm world. Also sometimes it might be more than two in the group for the task. Sometimes one Leader with one or more assistants until completed, or Leaders can switch off depending on the amount of people with the skills for the task vs. helper role skill set. The key is though that if done alone, nobody else learns when it is happening (stacking functions). Instead they have to have the knowledge related to them later using another block of time and generally less effectively than if they were a part of the process in the first place.
 
Fire me boy! Cool, soothing, shameless self promotion:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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