Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why I Don't Take a Ball Peen Hammer to Work


I did the Guru things again with Little Monster today. I think it went better. It's hard to tell. If nothing else, he is scared now. The Husband spent a great deal of time informing Little Monster that not only was his penis insignificant, it could be cut off very easily. Boszilla and The Husband did a long round of 'Good Cop, Bad Cop" on Tuesday.

Bosszilla told me this morning that he doesn't usually get to play the Good Cop. He isn't used to it.

I've never had such difficulty being the Guru of the Work Instruction. Oh, I've dealt with the "But I don't WANNA do it" and the "Here, you do it FOR me" attitudes, but I can usually work through those. Dealing with "I already know this but I will tolerate your little meanderings because they are amusing and then I will not demonstrate my great knowledge because I want to see if anyone will notice" attitude is perfectly designed to make my hands itch for a ball peen hammer.

I prefer to teach concepts using simple things. Today we worked on writing an instruction for putting batteries into a flashlight. I bet you don't think about putting batteries into a flashlight, but if you have to write an instruction for someone else, you can't assume they know anything other than what you tell them. And, as Little Monster found out, if you don't tell them to put the batteries in with the positive pole toward the lightbulb, the flashlight won't work.

It's all in the details.

But that's only a portion of it. It is also in the RIGHT details. One of the work instructions he's done is about applying an emulsion to a silk screen to make a stencil. From what I've been told about it and what he said today, he spent a good paragraph on where to find the paper buckets and how to pour emulsion from the can. He spent almost no time on the more technical actions of how to spread the emulsion on the silk to get the right coverage and thickness and none on orienting the stencil once it is made (there is a distinct "up" and "down", as well as a "front" and a "back"). In other words, he spent the most time on the details that had the least effect on the final product.

Mind you, this is the process he spent an hour or so watching and then declared he had learned to do it. Maybe he has a thing for paper buckets. I don't want to know.

I keep hearing stories about how he annoys those who try to help him. He's getting rides to and from work, but he won't be at the morning meet up place on time, so either they have to wait on him and be late to work, or they leave without him and he doesn't make it in. It isn't as if he has to do something extraordinary -- just walk about a block to the McDonalds by a quarter of 8. If it were me, I'd be standing there at 7:35, because I'm like that. Paranoia breeds consideration.

What annoys me most in this whole guru process is how obvious he makes his dislike and distaste for the process. I pointed out today how his body language indicated he wasn't very interested. I've pointed that out before to him. What's funny to me is that he SHOULD be interested, or at least really interested in faking it. I'm writing a report each session that will directly affect whether or not he will retain his employment. This was told to him very specifically (I was copied on the email).

Although he has been told directly to stop with the "correct, correct" thing, he still has a hard time NOT TALKING when someone else is talking. It isn't that he's saying anything (he's replaced "correct, correct" with "right, right"), or that he doesn't have opportunities to talk. I think he can't stand to hear anything that might imply he isn't Very Smart, so he's using a sonic defense. It's the business version of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing LA LA LA.

There's also a whole issue with Eye Contact. I realize this is probably cultural, but, damn, it's annoying. I gave him a sheet of notes today outlining everything we were to discuss so he would not be writing notes. I asked him to put his notebook aside. I wanted to do everything I could to assure he was listening which means occasionally making eye contact. I then made a point of reading the notes with him to be sure there were no questions, pretty much just saying what was on the page. He picked up his pencil and began to write what I was saying on the page next to the typed words I was reading out loud. I should have just taken his pencil away, but I suspect he would have bitten his finger and written notes in his own blood out of desperation.

I dunno. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm too nice, or not authoritative enough, or he doesn't like women who are taller than he is. If I brought in the hammer, he might pay attention to that.

1/2 hour is all I could stand. He won't ask questions. When I ask him questions, his answers are circular and vague. When I try to elicit feedback from him, he starts into a demonstration of How Smart He is -- which might be a form of feedback, but so far it hasn't related to what I asked him about. I can't concentrate on what he won't admit he doesn't understand so I compensate by going over everything in detail. He then does the little "I am so much Smarter Than You" eye roll. Maybe it really means "I am checking my frontal lobes to be sure I have memorized your every word and gesture", but I don't think so. So, either he got it or he didn't.

I ended by giving him a simple assignment to pick some item that could be taken apart and reassembled, and to write instructions for both tasks. Each instruction should have at least 4 steps. He's to bring the item and the instructions for Monday. Somehow I expect he will "forget" on Monday or he will miss his pick up at McDonalds.

Anyway, I poured a little more of my wisdom on the ground before him. We will see what he soaked up. If he learns what he needs, he's good and he'll keep his job. If he doesn't, he isn't so good. In fact, he's unemployed, which might be just like getting hit with that hammer.

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