Author Topic: Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes. UPDATE #17, #21 #36 #39  (Read 10977 times)

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jpcher

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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.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 11:18:51 AM by jpcher »

Acadianna

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2013, 02:58:10 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?

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

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2013, 06:23:14 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?

artk2002

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2013, 07:50:23 PM »
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.

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.

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.
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onyonryngs

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2013, 09:21:20 PM »
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.

katycoo

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2013, 09:33:32 PM »
Stay out of it.  Do only what you are asked to do.  The Editor will raise with Mark whatever needs to be raised.

You can, however, raise with your boss the additional work and ask about what is being done about it.

Zizi-K

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2013, 09:48:59 PM »
As someone who has worked in and around graphic design, and who is kind of a perfectionist when it comes to visual production, I feel your pain. I wonder if you couldn't enlist technology to help you with your problem. What about creating templates or style sheets that clearly spell out what is and isn't acceptable (or typical/usual) for the newsletter? Or some kind of 'best practices' guideline? Perhaps with some templates, Mark wouldn't have to start from scratch and would have less opportunity to be sloppy?

blarg314

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 04:36:41 AM »

I don't think I'd really call this 'mentoring' - what you really want to do is haul a coworker up to the point that they're doing acceptable work, which is quite different.  So that means that you are under no obligation to save Mark from himself.

I can think of a few things you can do, though.

You could ask the boss if he would like you to write down a guide to standard format for the newsletter (or maybe create a template for the format, depending on how you do the newsletter). That way, if your boss does decide to take Mark to task, you've got some input into what he's being told.

Second, as this has happened three times running, I don't think it would be out of line to ask your boss if this is going to be a regular part of your job. If so, I think it's reasonable to request that you get the documents to fix earlier, so it doesn't interfere with your regular work.

You may want to be a bit careful, though. If they decide Mark's work is totally unacceptable, you may get the whole newsletter to produce, which may not be what you want.

TootsNYC

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 11:21:59 AM »
As someone who has worked in and around graphic design, and who is kind of a perfectionist when it comes to visual production, I feel your pain. I wonder if you couldn't enlist technology to help you with your problem. What about creating templates or style sheets that clearly spell out what is and isn't acceptable (or typical/usual) for the newsletter? Or some kind of 'best practices' guideline? Perhaps with some templates, Mark wouldn't have to start from scratch and would have less opportunity to be sloppy?

I had those same thoughts as well--templates, etc.



And I agree w/ Art:


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.

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.

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.

jpcher

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 07:45:03 PM »
Thank you all for your responses.

There is a template and style-sheet set up. Prior to the last phone meeting, I went through the previous file that Mark was working with and "fixed" a few things. I also verbally explained (during the meeting) what some of the styles were to be used for.

Editor called me this morning and said that, if I wouldn't mind, he would send off the .pdf mark-up that Boss and I made directly to Mark and see what happens. He requested corrections to be made early a.m. tomorrow.

Editor also told me that many of the mark-ups that we made were things that he has been requesting Mark to do since the first month. To no avail.


Waiting to see what Mark does with the mark-up . . .



To everyone that said I should copy Mark on any changes I make along with the reasons why those changes were made . . . that's an excellent thought. I'm not sure why I was hesitant to do this, but going forth I will make sure that I give positive comments and be suggestive as to how his layout might be improved.


For what it's worth, I really wouldn't mind taking up the whole magazine. This 36-40 page spread is kinda like my baby. I really, really, really love working on this, but I will not belittle someone else's work (I will not say Mark can't do the job) unless he completely shows himself to be unwilling to learn.

I do want to help Mark, but I was concerned about stepping on his toes.




Your thoughts have been extremely helpful.



Deetee

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 09:45:54 PM »
If you want to do this, I think you should let your boss and editor know about your enthusiasm for this project. They may be hesitant to " punish" you got doing a good job.

bopper

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2013, 09:02:06 AM »
Can you send the marked up improved copy to the editor and let the editor send it to Mark?

Carotte

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2013, 09:45:12 AM »

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."


Anyway I turn this Mark ends up sounding like a useless and bad anything, because he is either
A) a graphic designer that does a bad job and doesn't want to 'lower' itself by doing a dtp work (that he's doing baddly),
B) a DTP in denial that can't do his job properly,
C) someone with unrelated formation that was dragged into this and should ask out instead of doing a poor job,
or D) someone with unrelated formation that asked in and realised it's actually work and doesn't want to admit he's not good at it.

And for A to D, he doesn't seem to want to improve anyway.
I mean, unless Kathy changed her layout everytime or that he doesn't know how to use an Indesign template (or the software you use), there's no reason he could mess it up so much. Or he wanted to do his own thing, thinking it was the design of the century, but can't take criticism.

betty

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2013, 09:53:52 AM »
You've had some good suggestions. I'm a graphic designer and I've worked both for in-house creative departments and as a freelancer for a variety of clients. The design process always includes feedback and changes to the initial design. ALWAYS. It's rare that something is completely done on the first round. Part of learning to be a designer is learning to accept criticism.

It seems like adding a bit more time into the process so that Mark can submit his original design, get feedback, make changes, and then resubmit for review would help. Perhaps he could submit a couple of pages for feedback first, so he doesn't waste time laying out the whole section incorrectly.

Would it help if you were designated the Senior Designer for this project, and Mark would submit his design to you first for review? You would review, mark up the pdf or a scan, and call him to go over the requested changes. After he made the changes and you were happy with the design, then it would be submitted to the editors/bosses. It would add some time to your workload but not as much as redoing his work every issue, and would look great on your resume.

CoryanderX

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Re: Mentoring a CW without stepping on toes.
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 02:19:45 PM »
I feel like I can relate a LOT to your situation; it sounds very similar to experiences I've had collaborating with co-workers.

My advice is that, if it's possible your boss and editor aren't aware that you'd be happy to take on the whole task, you should definitely make them aware, at least once. Logically, it's very hard to see why they wouldn't want you to take on the entire task that you're great at and you love doing, if they know that's an option. So the most reasonable explanation for why that hasn't happened is that they don't know that it's an option.

Of course, they may still have some weird boss-logic for still wanting Mark to do half of it, and that's their prerogative, so once you've made your position clear, you have to leave it alone after that. But hopefully they'd jump at the chance to make the right decision.

Oh, and I definitely don't think you should contact Mark directly, except possibly for ccing him on your markups.