I thought I’d add to the pile.

How do you help people think for themselves?

I’m having trouble with some coworkers. One is new, the other has been with the company for about 9 months or longer…maybe longer. Essentially, we make websites.

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Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions on how to do simple things. I’ve realized that I need to do a better job of training folks. (We don’t really have formalized training, and I certainly didn’t have any. I picked it up as I went. But I realize that not everyone is like that, and it’s not fair for me to say “I didn’t have any and I figured it out!”)

But the big issue is I’ve getting a lot of questions that are more related to judgement. It’s hard to describe, but it’s along the lines of “What’s the best way to do this?” But instead of asking that question, I’m being asked “How do I do x?” where x is that judgement kind of question. So I explain “Well, I’d do this and that and this, but you do what works for you.” And the response is, “Ok, so I should do it (the way you said)?” And I’m like “Well, that’s a way to do it.” But then as soon as something doesn’t fit exactly into the way I described (because of unknowns that came up), they’re back again asking for the solution to that problem.

If something doesn’t fit exactly right out of the box, they’re going to our developers to write custom code for these things, when the issues could probably be solved using the tools we have. It’s just that you have to think about those tools and ways to use them.

There’s no effort to think it through themselves. It’s frustrating.

I asked the longer-term guy today to stop adding custom code to all these sites every time x problem comes up because it’s a hacky solution and what we really need to do is address it at a production level so we’re not doing the same hack every time.

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“It’s all yours,” he said. It felt like he was passing all the responsibility onto me for projects him and the other guy are working on, but that I’m only peripherally involved in. Like, because I brought up the problem, it was now mine to solve.

“Well, not really. As a department, we need to develop a process solution to this issue, because it’s going to keep coming up,” I said.

“We’re using the tools available to us to fix this problem.”

I wanted to say, No, not really. You’re running to the developers so they can fix your problems by hacking it, and taking valuable time for a simple thing that needs a different, long-term fix, not a hacky solution.

So I went into one of the sites, fixed what was going on, didn’t use hacky solutions, and did it in a way that’s reproducible so we can keep making lots more of these without the problem coming up again and again.

I don’t know if it’s laziness or he really doesn’t know. At 9 months, I would have thought he knew our product better, but he doesn’t.

I kind of feel like I have to go back to basic training for him, the other guy, and a few other folks.

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I was just talking with the two developers about how frustrating it is to get so many of the same questions and that we need better documentation.

Unfortunately, documentation doesn’t help when the solution is to think about the problem and use the tools available to fix it. Sort of like creative thinking/problem solving, I guess. I don’t know how that’s taught.