Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pitchers and Catchers

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training this week. Ah, baseball season isn't that far off now... On the days I'm at the NJ Avenue office, I can see the new Nationals ballpark going up along South Capital Street. I had occasion to drive past it last week on my way home. I have high hopes for it. There is a good page on it's final appearance and construction updates here. The same site has really good coverage of the entire building boom currently underway along M St SE. It has changed immeasurably since the first time I was there as an intern in the summer of 2001. There was nothing but empty lots and muffler shops; now it's ballparks, high rise offices, and the new DOT Headquarters.

On a more personal note, I've been thinking about work a lot lately. Tyson's visit, especially, got me thinking about how to get better work out of the people I supervise now. It's made trickier by the facts that 1) I'm not really their boss or superior, merely the 'senior engineer' in our little group, and 2) I intensely dislike them on a personal level. Since I'm not the boss, per se, it's not like I'm going to be held responsible for the group's performance. But I'm sick of sitting by while they run around like chickens with their heads cut off. They suffer from 3 main faults, in my opinion.

  • They are far too in love with meetings and 'summits'; if there is one thing I've learned at work and in the military, it's that nothing ever gets done in a meeting. Once you start getting into the details of getting something accomplished, you're "in the weeds" and "getting sidetracked" and "need to take this off-line." I hate meetings.
  • They are too timid; one in particular is seems petrified of getting his head bitten off by the Program Manager. He never makes decisions, he has to call his counterpart at the shipyard to talk about it. And when he reports something up the chain as a problem (i.e. he hasn't already been told exactly what to do) he only brings the problem, and never a suggested solution.
  • They think they already have all the answers. This is puzzling, given the other two major problems. But they seem to think they know what needs to happen better than anyone else.
I also have personal reasons for disliking them, but I have to chalk that up to bad luck. But I do want to figure out how to get their heads straightened out professionally. I want to do a good job. This is easily the highest-profile task I've been on since starting work, with a many opportunities to network and forge good working relationships with counterparts at other companies and the Navy. I'm afraid if things don't get fixed my name will get lumped in with these knuckleheads.

1 comment:

Archie Teck said...

Hmmmm. I don't like the sound of that - too much like "working in groups" back in American Studies days. Do you have personnel evaluations only as individuals, or as a group there as well?

Meanwhile, the ballpark looks great. Interesting that there are no light towers, as those have become more prominent as a design feature in other recent outdoor parks. I like the glass facade they're using on southwest corner, and I love the grand stair. Also, the all-grey colorscheme together with the reticulation of many parts makes it the Millenium Falcon of ballparks.