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durendal

Dealing with Subordinates

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Just thought I'd ask some opinions regarding dealing with subordinates.

I have this subordinate who is very, very poor in English. How poor you say? This is what that person said:

"I just like to follow the status of supplier because until they will not entry in our store."

I totally understand what it meant. But do you? I'm not really particular in punctuation, conjunctions or any of all that "Proper English" stuff. But the grammar is just plain terrible.

We usually don't use English on a daily basis, but when it comes to dealing with foreign clients and customers, you cannot avoid but speak in English. Now imagine yourself talking to this person, will you be frustrated or will you laugh out loud? This person is a college graduate mind you.

I guess what I wanted to ask is which method do you think might work best in improving this persons English? And how would you feel if you spoke with this person.

Just trying to get some insights so I could convey to this person what a foreigner would feel if they made a conversation.

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as a native english speaker, I do not think that is very clear.

I would imagine some of the grammar used may be similar to the persons native tongue, which i guess would be your native tongue.

so you will understand it, but as I am only fully accustomed to english grammar, it is quite confusing to me.

I can guess at what it may mean,. but there are a number of possibilities.

if I spoke with this person.. I would not object to his grammar. but I would feel slightly uneasy and lose confidence in the ability to communicate with him. I would feel very cautious about any business relations and would possibly refuse to make any important business decisions with him.

personally, when dealing with subordinate, I like to focus on morale. I try to let them feel that they are doing well. I make a slight suggestion to see if they will take initiative and solve the problem them self.

so if i found myself in a similar situation, I might try to make a scenario where this person will think about his own english ability and possibly make his own decision to improve.

I think you have more experience than me in this area though.

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Sorry, I'd laugh like crazy in my head, but I'd get frustrated if I had to deal with someone like that. My boss has very bad english but he's Korean so I understand. Learning another language is hard, and just because he's a college grad, doesn't mean he went to school in america.

If you can understand him and no one else can then you may want to notify or complain to your boss....unless you're the boss

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Yeah, that is somewhat my predicament, this person reports to me. Being in a country where English is a second language, I find it odd that this person's ability to speak enlgish is somewhat hampered. In college, even though English is not our first language, it is universally used. When communicating via email, we use English. Our company policy is in English. I mean, even common directional street signs are in English.

I have already dealt with some of this persons short comings before. Heck I practically made this person cry. But in the end, after all the drama, coaching and reprimanding, there was a significant improvement. You might say there was a 180 degree turn around. And I'm even proud to say, that even the other department managers have shunned this person, bypassing this person for promotion many times. Some have even given up on changing the said person and left this person in a stagnant position. I took a risk and promoted this person and now is one of the top performers. Of course that is after all hell I gave this person.

But the English speaking issue is not completely work related, nor was it a strict requirement. What I'm afraid of is when they are presenting a Business Review, they might find it difficult to present properly. Not to mention that they are presenting to the owners. Similar to the last Business Review we had. I required this person to send me a script, which I had to modify heavily. Luckily the owners didn't ask much questions and this person managed to breeze thought the presentation.

I just want to give this person a chance to improve, not for performance or anything work related. What I want to improve is something more of a personal development which might be useful even after this person has left the company.

I'm actually thinking of lending this person an english novel. Let this person read it, analyze and require this person to tell me what the story is about. This way said person would be immersed in the English Language, learn the structure of the english thru example, deepen the understanding of the language and improve vocabulary.

In your honest opinion, what would be the recommended book to start with?

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wow, this is pretty honourable.

so you are really taking on the role of this person's mentor.

you're such a cool guy :cool:

well I wouldn't want to confuse him/her, so I would recommend a book that I can find easy to read.

with my dyslexia, reading can be a real pain for me at times and i lose interest, so I would think any book that i can read comfortably may be suitable.

I recommend, (in this order)

"his dark materials" series by philip pullman http://www.philip-pullman.com/

"Shannara" series by Terry Brooks http://www.terrybrooks.net/novels/index.html

"Harry potter" series by J. K. Rowling http://www.jkrowling.com/

"last vampire" series by Christopher pike http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Vampire

books to avoid because of awkward language....

lord of the rings.

the hobbit.

anything by stephen king

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additional:

if you think those books might be troublesome to start with...

really well written, easy and straightforward books would be the chronicles of narnia by c.s. lewis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chronicles_of_Narnia

these books are quite short, not overly complicated, straightforward and also tell a good story.

my grandma read these books when recovering from a stroke.

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I enjoy Neil Gaiman. he's got lots of interesting short stories, and some full length novels.

You could also get him to join the board, and get himself into some regular discussions. Some people start out a little awkward, but with regular practice get better. And it's fun at the same time

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Depends what they're interested in really, if they hate detective stories, there really isn't any point in recommending Sherlock Holmes. I've always found the Susan Cooper Dark is Rising series a good read for 'kinda creepy, kinda mystery, kinda general' interest, while if they like sci-fi, maybe the Hitchhikers Guide 'trilogy'. Hell, give them the English translation of the Guyver chapters, so they can directly compare how the sentence structure differs if you have any in their first language.

Maybe don't make him/her feel singled out, they might feel a little picked on, how about trying to get together some kind of informal book group, so a few people can read the same book, and they can talk about it, then if there's anything they have difficulty understanding in the book, they can ask about it without feeling embarrassed.

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Ah, thanks for the book suggestions. This person however is not an "anime fan", or fan of anything that we all have in common. Not to mention internet is not available to this person.

I've considered lending Narnia but this person has children. So any fantasy book that I give might be read by the children. I'm thinking about anything Charles Dickens. Literary classics that no average kid will be reading today.

Also, when dealing with people, I don't like to sugar coat things. So I tell this person directly the facts and the impacts it has on other things. I don't have this kind of problem with other people and other people of the same position are in different locations, so forming a book club is not really viable.

The tendency with people is that the more you pamper them the more they will get used to you, making it difficult for you later on to reprimand a person. No matter how nice you are to your people, there comes a limit where you need to show your fangs in order for them not to abuse your kindness.

Additionally, no, this initiative is not something I would consider honourable. To be completely honest, I'm very irritated with the English, especially when communicating with the other departments, it's embarrassing.

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Well, if you don't want to sugar coat it, still offer the reading suggestions, but make bringing their English up to an acceptable standard part of a performance/pay review. It may not have been a requirement for the job when they joined up, but if it's going to affect future prospects, either in or out of the company, it might be worth doing.

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Yes, thank you, that is exactly what I intended in offering the book reading. I can see no other way of improving this persons English than to force them to read. Seminars about proper english usage were already conducted but to no avail, especially when there is no initiative on the person concerned. At least by forcefully making a person read, subconsciously, the grammar and usage might stick due to familiarity.

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when you say charles dickens, it makes me think that the language will be quite confusing. to brush up on modern english using charles dickens seems counter productive.

since i don't know what area your work is in, I can't really recommend anything that could be relative to the work environment. would you be able to give us a clue? or would you rather not?

no problem if not.

when i was in school, there were certain books that we read in english class.

perhaps this will be the best type of recommendation.

the 2 i can remember are :

"the lord of the flies" by William Golding.

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell.

george orwell also wrote "nineteen eighty four". I never read that, but it is of course a very famous book.

edit:

by the way, these are political satire so this persons children will probably not be interested in them.

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Yeah, I don't think Charles Dickens is a good choice. It's too dated.

Maybe try Dan Brown. He's popular enough, uses common english. You can pick a book that is a movie, or one that is a stand alone.

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Well, this person is a manager of a retail store. Think B & Q or Home Depot. I would like to use self help books from authors like Jack Welch (7 habits etc etc) and others, but I have never read them, nor do I like to read them. And I don't want to force others to do something that I'm not willing to do. Or should I?

Too bad about Dickens though, since his Great Expectations is one of the best books that I have ever read.

I'll consider Geroge Orwel and William Golding. I've always wanted to read Lord of the Flies, but never got around to it.

Also, I don't think books by Dan Brown with a movie would be appropriate, since I am requiring this person to discuss with me the book, said person just might watch the movie instead. I'll consider his other books, but those books are rather expensive. I don't want to lend a good book only to be returned to me in tatters. I happen to be very particular about the condition of my books.

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Okay, another predicament I am having. How do you fire a person?

Again, I am having difficulty with another one of my managers. I am so sick and tired to have to dictate instructions like I am talking to a child. I hired that person as a manager, not a parrot. I gave explicit instruction and they were not followed, and the reply I get when asked why wasn't it done, a scratch on the head and a smile. It's really frustrating because the performance of a single person is dragging down the efforts of the others. I tell you, this person has absolutely no common sense. I have transferred this person to a different location twice already because I have been hearing complaints from the front liners that the manager has an attitude problem. Right now, I haven't heard of any complaints from the frontliners, but I heard from our satellite HR that they have been receiving the same complaints again from this person. I can't do anything because there is no written proof.

I already gave this person a failing grade twice on the performance appraisal. I just don't know how to tell this person that I want their resignation!

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I don't fully know your situation, but I like to work very closely with a person if they are not performing to my expectation. I will take them close to me by my side and I will ask them to judge the situation from my perspective.

If I am asking them to judge the situation, I am giving them responsibility for recognising the failures or the issues. then I ask them what they believe the best course of action is. when they view it from the other side, they will usually understand better.

and an agreement will be forthcoming.

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Obviously when I posted the above, I was quite upset.

Yes, similar to you, if I have an under-performing staff, I give them a one on one talk, ask them what seems to be the problem, what is their difficulty in executing the tasks that I give them, and what is a possible solution to their predicament. This method works, most of the time. If it fails, then more desperate measures are required. You see, I classify workers into 4 types. Class A: Has motivation and has skill, Class B: Has motivation but no skill, Class C: Has skill but no motivation and Class D: No skill and no motivation. Each class has their own distinct way of handling.

This person, I do not know where to class, because obviously this person does not have the skill, and although has motivation, is placed elsewhere.

I have tried mentoring, coaching and even counseling to no avail. I spent countless hours trying to teach the ropes of the industry. I even tried both pampering and "baring my fangs". Apparently both don't work. Previously, I've managed to help improve an employee who was seen as a hopeless cause by every department Manager. In fact, most of the employees I train are now sought after by the different departments. But this time, even I gave up. I don't give up easily. But when you have to repeat every word you said every time and still nothing happens, then it really is useless. Which is why, instead of the endless, repeated and tiring reprimands, it would be much more productive to let this employee pursue other ventures outside the company.

Which brings me to my question. How do I let an employee go? I have never fired anyone before which makes this hard for me.

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just to be silly - you could point at them like alan sugar or donald trump on the apprentice and say 'youre fired!'

post-908-0-36906400-1326967043_thumb.jpe

OR heres a little more serious suggestion...

just explain to them your siutation if you have mentored, counselled, coached them then they know that.so if you say that even though you have done all that its not working so thats why they have to go, thats a valid reason... so you could say to them ' youre aware of how much time and effort has been put into training you? well, im afraid its become apparent that you havent improved in an efficent enough way, i feel that you have been given help and a very fair chance already to improve but i am not seeing any evidence that your ability to do the job required of you is getting any better, so im very sorry but it would be best for the company and yourself if you employment were to cease here...

its not like youre saying out of nowhere - you're crap, piss off!

i understand it could be hard because it cant be easy to effect someones life, but at the end of the day its their fault they are not performing up to the standard you require.

anyway, good luck.

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I understand the position you are in.

I also had a difficult situation recently.

I think the decision just needs to be made. once the decision is made, it's like a freight train.

decision flows into action and there is nothing that can stop it.

how you phrase it does not matter. after all, you are professional enough that by this stage, whatever you say will be correct.

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@Aether, very good script. I think I'd like to use a modified version of that.

Well, I don't think this will be a problem for me anymore, since something just came up that I eventually won't have to deal with this. But at least before the upcoming change and before I make the final decision, I'm going to give one final chance. Shape up or ship out.

Thanks for the support.

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It is not at all necessary to talk to the subject before engaging in their dismissal. In fact, it is completely unessecary, and not as much fun.

All you really have to do is stop including them in the work schedule. Take away their hours, stop assigning them work. Then, delete their company email account, and change the system access password. Up next is to place brand new locks on all the doors and windows. And don't forget to stare at them funny everytime they pass you in the hall. Call security to inexplicably remove them from the premesise several times. And when they finally come to confront you by all these changes, calmly ecplain to them that they have been transfered to another branch. Write down the address for said branch, and even offer to take them their-why, because seeing that look on their face as they walk into the unemployment office is priceless. And on your way to the elevator, you give a slight turn and wave saying "He's aaaall yours".

Granted, the 'unemployment office' technique is not for everyone. If it leaves you with personal feelings of guilt or abandonment, it can always be replaced with 'Mcdonalds', or any such fast food venue of your choosing. Granted, Mcdonalds is unhealthy and cruel, but that is a topic for another discussion.

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It is not at all necessary to talk to the subject before engaging in their dismissal. In fact, it is completely unessecary, and not as much fun. All you really have to do is stop including them in the work schedule. Take away their hours, stop assigning them work. Then, delete their company email account, and change the system access password. Up next is to place brand new locks on all the doors and windows. And don't forget to stare at them funny everytime they pass you in the hall. Call security to inexplicably remove them from the premesise several times. And when they finally come to confront you by all these changes, calmly ecplain to them that they have been transfered to another branch. Write down the address for said branch, and even offer to take them their-why, because seeing that look on their face as they walk into the unemployment office is priceless. And on your way to the elevator, you give a slight turn and wave saying "He's aaaall yours". Granted, the 'unemployment office' technique is not for everyone. If it leaves you with personal feelings of guilt or abandonment, it can always be replaced with 'Mcdonalds', or any such fast food venue of your choosing. Granted, Mcdonalds is unhealthy and cruel, but that is a topic for another discussion.

Wow, you're harsh. I wish I could also do that, but if I did, then that's a potential expensive labor suit.

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