Stand Up for Job Satisfaction9 Oct, 2013 By: Robert Green
If CAD management frustrations have pushed you to the breaking point, you can face the problem head-on — but understand the risks first.
Addressing the Risks
Now let's break the possible negative ramifications down and look at some ways to manage the risk of each. I'll put a positive spin on each topic of conversation so you can have a constructive talk with management as you bring up your frustrations.
Being labeled a whiner. The key here is to focus your complaint on how much the company is suffering, rather than how much you dislike the way you're being treated.
Do say: "When I'm not empowered to enforce standards we continue to experience errors, rework, and lost profits. We could be saving a ton of money if we could just get people working in unison!"
Don't say: "These people are idiots who can't follow instructions!"
Obviously I've dramatized this a bit, but notice how I made standards about savings rather than a power struggle?
Earning a reputation as a control freak. When users and project managers hear CAD managers complain they think, "What are they complaining about — they aren't the ones getting yelled at by the client!" The key here is to relate to users in a way that shows you understand the pressures they are under, and that you're trying to speed up production for them.
Do say: "Lack of standardization hurts our ability to produce consistently high-quality work and costs us time whenever we have to fix a nonstandard CAD file. Let me show you how to get your work done faster and make fewer errors."
Don't say: "You are driving me nuts. Can't you just follow the standard?"
I've found that yelling at people simply doesn't work. You have to appeal to their desire to get things done faster and with less effort. To the extent that standards help you deliver that message, you can get users to self-standardize because they see the benefit in doing so.
Appearing out of touch with users. When CAD users have project managers and supervisors telling them, "I don't care how you do it, just get it done," they are bound to take liberties with standards. Copying old files, not bringing documentation up to standards, etc., are often symptoms of users working under duress.
Do say: "I understand the desire to 'just get it done,' but shouldn't we 'just get it done right' rather than making mistakes?"
Don't say: "These $&(#* project managers are making my life miserable!"
This case is the most frustrating for me, and one I struggle with. I use a logical appeal that doing things right is always better — and more efficient — than doing them wrong. If this approach fails, then I simply point out the costs of fixing the avoidable mistakes. It may take a few iterations, but eventually right wins over wrong.
Looking like you're on your way out. If your management perceives your frustration as a coded message that you're ready to quit, you can counter with the following line of conversation.
Do say: "I'm not trying to quit, I'm trying to make things work better. I think everyone on the management team should encourage all team members to do things better. I just need some authority to get things done."
Don't say: "If you don't make these changes, I will quit!"
The goal here is to repeat a message of improvement and the need to get some sort of authority to get things done. So long as the message is delivered rationally and with a business focus, it will be received well. Yelling, making threats, and placing the blame on others will only undermine your case.
As I've seen more and more CAD managers suffer from career frustration, I've become convinced that direct communication with management and confronting the issues head-on is the best approach. This method of resolving problems carries some risk, however, and I counsel you to fully consider those risks before taking the leap.
However, if you've reached the point where your frustration is boiling over, you owe it to yourself to manage your career so you can be happier. By keeping a cool head and stressing the desire to do things right and save the company money, you can improve your situation. Whatever method you choose to take, I wish you the best for a challenging and fulfilling career with CAD. Until next time.
In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!