Q. I am supposed to be in charge of a department -- and I am frustrated. I have been trying for four months now to get our group to meet its production schedule. When I got this job, I replaced someone who failed to do just that.
I have taken a variety of measures and put in place a number of new systems. I have instituted weekly production meetings and biweekly update memos, for instance. I call individuals when they miss deadlines and offer a little prodding.
My employees have shown a slight improvement, but not a whole lot. Meanwhile, I am scheduled to have a review of progress with my boss in two months. What else can I do to get these people to pick up the pace before that deadline?
A. You may very well have done a lot of things, but they strike me as being mechanical in nature. The meetings, the reports, the prodding are all good -- but will continue to be to no avail unless you also establish the principle of accountability.
Each of these people must feel responsible for completing his part of the process. Unless they do, you are the only one who feels responsibility, and it is clear that you cannot fix your department's problem by yourself.
Lay down the law specifically and explicitly: All schedules will be met unless you are advised in advance. When someone brings you news of a slippage, the worker also must bring you a recovery plan.
With this rule, spell out the consequences of failure -- disciplinary action. Don't be too hesitant: Your predecessor's fate suggests that it will be meted out to you unless you turn the situation around expeditiously. Then follow through. I suspect that your group will only take you seriously when you do that.
Q. I work for a family-owned company of about 60 employees. Our employers are the most generous and kind people I have ever met. This is what causes my problem.
Our firm has unlimited sick days. If a child is sick, the parent can stay home and will get paid in full. If an employee has a headache or a stomachache, he or she can stay home and nurse the ache -- at full pay.
This is all wonderful, on the one hand, but it creates resentment with employees, like myself, who make it a point to come to work every day and do the work of those who abuse the kindness of the owners.
I have suggested to the management that the number of sick days should be limited, but they decided against it.
What can we do? This situation is really bothering me.
A. In a word, nothing. Setting benefits policies is up to the owners. Whatever policy they set, some people will always take more advantage of it than others.
You should conduct yourself as you deem right. If you feel you pull your weight more than others, and if your supervisor agrees, you should get your reward in terms of raises and promotion. If you don't, then you have a legitimate issue with your boss.Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and an author and lecturer on management. Please sent questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Dr., San Jose, Calif. 95190.