General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes. UPDATE #17, #21 #36 #39

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jpcher:
I feel that I've been put in a tough spot and I'm not sure if I handled the situation in the best possible office-etiquette manner. Instead of talking directly to a CW, I went through my boss simply because it just didn't sit right for me to tell CW how to do his job. (Actually, Boss approached me at the onset of this problem, before I could decide how best to handle it.)

BG: CW (Mark) and I don't work in the same office, in fact his office is out of state. I've never met him nor have I worked on a project with him before. However he holds the same position that I do. I do not know his talents or work history. The only contact we've had has been quick e-mails "Would you please send me this file" type of thing.

Part of my job is layout and design of a monthly company magazine (a glorified newsletter) which has a distribution of close to 30,000 readers. It is a big deal and I take strong pride in my work. I work on the front half of the magazine (feature stories) and, until recently, Kathy worked the back half (employee events, awards, community involvement.) Kathy was located in yet a different state and retired a few months ago.

I do have to admit that I am an anal-perfectionist. While Kathy did a fine job, there were things that I privately questioned concerning her layout. However I bit my tongue because I never thought it was my place to tell her how to do her job. If the Editor was happy? So be it. I'm not going to stir the pot and step on toes just because of my personal thoughts as to how the job could be done better. (Trust me, this thought is pertinent to my post.)

When Kathy retired the back half of the magazine was turned over to Mark. I assumed that Kathy gave Mark some sort of tutelage as to design requirements/rules, etc. Or at the very least Editor would have had a meeting with Mark to explain the ins-and-outs. (Editor and Mark work in the same building.) endBG.



The first issue (January) that Mark worked on the magazine, he sent his final layout to Editor, my Boss and me. I was flabbergasted. I thought "Do you really think these pages are ready to go to press?" Honestly? It looked like something a freshman in HS would do when first learning page layout design.

Apparently Editor thought the same thing and contacted my Boss. Since it was a tight deadline Editor asked my Boss if I would be able to quickly re-work the back pages. Which I did and the magazine went to press before the deadline.

I did not contact Mark. Again, I didn't feel that I was in the position to tell him that his layout really, really sucked (no, I wouldn't have used those words. But not being a teacher, I didn't know how to politely approach Mark.) I felt that it was up to the Editor or my Boss to contact Mark's Boss in order to explain the situation.

Question #1: Should I have taken it upon myself and contacted Mark in order to, somehow, try to politely explain everything that he did was wrong, extremely sloppy, and in no way publishable? (I wouldn't use those words, but again, I was stuck as to how to work-etiquettely approach Mark with this.)

The same problems arose with the February and March issues of the mag. I was asked to re-do the pages that Mark worked on. I know that I take pride in my work, so I'm assuming that Mark feels the same about his work.

Question #2: I feel bad for Mark because I re-did his work, without consulting him. If you were Mark and saw the published magazine completely different from the way you designed it, wouldn't you have negative thoughts? However, I did what I was instructed to do by my Boss.


The Kicker?: We (Mark, other graphic designers in his group, my Boss, his Boss, Editor and their UberBoss) had a recent phone meeting where I was surprised to find that Kathy nor Editor never gave Mark any sort of tutelage.*

Mark's comment that really put me off was: "This seems more like a simple desk-top publisher type of job and not a graphic designer job. Why are we doing this?" Editor piped up and said "We thought this would be a good opportunity for your group to get company-wide exposure."

With the insult that Mark gave with his question, I have absolutely no desire to mentor Mark.

Question #3: Is it my place to mentor Mark? Or is this something that I should leave up to the Boss'?


To the desk-top publishers out there, please don't take offense. I started out as a "simple ::)" DTP before I found the love of graphically designing a printed page. I found his comment degrading all of us DTPs that strive to do a good, artistic job to be extremely insulting. DTP and page layout is not just slapping words on a page.



Question #4: What is the best work-etiquette way to handle this situation?




*The culmination of that meeting was that I was tasked to mark-up the last .pdf of his pages that he sent to everyone. Boy, did I mark it up! But I was polite and used phrases like "Please don't do this" or "Maybe try that" then sent it to my Boss so that she could edit if need be.

Acadianna:

--- Quote from: jpcher on April 06, 2013, 02:33:10 PM ---Question #2: I feel bad for Mark because I re-did his work, without consulting him. If you were Mark and saw the published magazine completely different from the way you designed it, wouldn't you have negative thoughts?

--- End quote ---

If I were Mark and saw that my work had been redone -- three times! -- I'd take the hint that I wasn't doing the work properly.  I'd be asking begging someone for help!

It sounds like Mark has a significantly different concept of what the work should look like than you, your editor, and your boss do.  Mark may need quite a bit more training than anyone has anticipated, which may be difficult for you to fit into your schedule.  If, on the other hand, he simply doesn't want to put in the required effort to produce a high-level publication, then the mentoring may require someone with the authority to order him to perform (i.e., editor or boss).

I know nothing about graphic design, but I also wondered whether this sort of mentoring could be accomplished with the two of you located at different work sites.

kudeebee:

--- Quote from: jpcher on April 06, 2013, 02:33:10 PM ---Question #1: Should I have taken it upon myself and contacted Mark in order to, somehow, try to politely explain everything that he did was wrong, extremely sloppy, and in no way publishable? (I wouldn't use those words, but again, I was stuck as to how to work-etiquettely approach Mark with this.)

No, it was not your job to contact Mark.  That should have been the person who asked you to make the corrections.

Question #2: I feel bad for Mark because I re-did his work, without consulting him. If you were Mark and saw the published magazine completely different from the way you designed it, wouldn't you have negative thoughts? However, I did what I was instructed to do by my Boss.

I would be wondering what happened and would be contacting my boss to find out.  then i would not have make the same mistakes the next time.


Question #3: Is it my place to mentor Mark? Or is this something that I should leave up to the Boss'?

Unless you are asked to mentor Mark, it isn't up to you.

Question #4: What is the best work-etiquette way to handle this situation?

I would talk to your boss about this.  Ask him if you are going to end up having to correct Mark's work everytime.  Mention the comment about the "simple dtp job" that Mark made.

In all honesty, it sounds like Mark really doesn't want to do this job or that he doesn't feel the need to put as much time and effort into it as you do.  He may feel that this publication is taking away from his other responsibilities or that it isnt as important as his other work.  If you are having to redo it every time, wouldn't it be just as easy for you to do it right the first time?  Is this something you could do or would it take away from too many other projects?

--- End quote ---

artk2002:
This is definitely something that a boss should be mediating. If you have to do emergency rework on this again, that affords you a good opening. "Boss, this is the third/eleventyfirst time I've had to redo Mark's work at the last minute. This is cutting into my productivity in getting the TPS report out. What can we do to fix this situation?" This lays out what the problem is; most importantly, it highlights the cost of continuing. If you just (un)happily go off and fix the newsletter, the boss really doesn't see the cost.


--- Quote from: jpcher on April 06, 2013, 02:33:10 PM ---I did not contact Mark. Again, I didn't feel that I was in the position to tell him that his layout really, really sucked (no, I wouldn't have used those words. But not being a teacher, I didn't know how to politely approach Mark.) I felt that it was up to the Editor or my Boss to contact Mark's Boss in order to explain the situation.

--- End quote ---

While I agree that you should not be coaching Mark unless that job is delegated to you, there is something that you could be doing here. When you do the revisions and submit them to Boss and Editor, make sure that Mark is copied and that you give a list of what changes you made and why. Make sure that Mark sees the "thank you" that you should get in response -- the point being that you get the Editor and/or Boss to endorse the changes you made, giving them far more force than if you just fixed things hoping that he'd notice that the final product isn't what he submitted.

In fact, I would say that you must copy Mark when you submit your revisions. That's just professional courtesy. Make it clear that Boss or Editor asked for the revisions, though.

onyonryngs:
All of this should be handled by his supervisor.  Mentoring is usually done at the request of a supervisor if the company has a mentoring program in place.

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