{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "How hard do you push interns? An intern told me that a task took 4 solid hours, which seemed very high for the output provided. I checked the file version history, and there are a few 30-60 min breaks, and 80% of the task was obviously done in the hour before a check-in deadline. How, and how harshly should I push them on this discrepancy?\n\nBefore you ask, this was a data transformation task that happens 100% in the same file, with no need to Google, use other files, ask for help, etc.", "post_id": "621d5dc1961251003748552b", "reply_count": 214, "vote_count": 47, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting", "feed_type": "crowd" }
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How hard do you push interns? An intern told me that a task took 4 solid hours, which seemed very high for the output provided. I checked the file version history, and there are a few 30-60 min breaks, and 80% of the task was obviously done in the hour before a check-in deadline. How, and how harshly should I push them on this discrepancy?

Before you ask, this was a data transformation task that happens 100% in the same file, with no need to Google, use other files, ask for help, etc.

likefunnyhelpful
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I read through most of the comments and the comments about Parkinson’s Law likely apply here. My spouse just started a new job with several other entry level hires (she’s entry level too) and they are all contractors. She and her buddies 100% will do other things during the day and still bill it as worked time. I’ve talked to her about it many, many times that if her managers found out it could be a serious issue but she just doesn’t understand. Sounds like your intern is similar here.

Now here is the additional thing. She and her coworkers are also eager to prove themselves and have worked off the clock to get things done as well. I think they are just stuck in college mode where they want the good grades but are used to some level of procrastination and last minute, late night cramming.

I’d suggest giving your intern more work at once and tighter deadlines. Maybe even some deadlines that he/she is unlikely to meet so that they can feel a little more pressure about getting things done. They sound like they are deadline driven (since this is exactly what they would have been in a college environment). If they start missing deadlines and taking significant breaks then discuss that with them, but I would first make the deadlines tighter before talking to them.

likefunny

My 2 cents: you set a deadline, and they met the deadline. For all you know they were doing side research to confirm results during the “break” time. Or they were sharing a copy of the file for feedback and a gut check. Point being, a GOOD manager recognizes that when you set an expectation, and that expectation is met, that’s really the end of it.

Going forward, perhaps have a discussion with the intern and ask if they felt this was challenging and if they think they could have done it faster? Secondly, you might provide feedback that while you are happy they met the deadline, you thought it maybe could have gone faster. In the future let them know that it is a REQUIREMENT to meet the deadline, but a POSITIVE PERFORMANCE MARKER to beat a deadline. You never set the latter expectation, yet because this unmentioned expectation wasn’t met, you’re upset. This is immature and inexperienced managing.

A GOOD manager self reflects after a case like this, and asks, what could I have done better to communicate what I want vs what is the bare minimum need? How can I simultaneously reward people for getting done what needs to be done, while still encouraging them to push past simply meeting the need to excel? How can I move past micromanaging into true leadership?

Frankly I’m the amount of time you’ve likely spent double checking him, making this post, and responding to it, you’ve already wasted more billable hours than this intern did doing things which may or may not have been value add. You have worried more about the little things and less about the big things that matter.

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I usually have my interns screen share on my tertiary screen while they complete any assigned work. I screen record their process and attach it with comments to my performance feedback. Used to also have them install an eye tracker but HR got involved.

funnylikesmartuplifting

Sarcasm at its level best! 😂 ( I hope)

likefunny

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s law? It’s the maxim that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” It sounds like you gave the intern four hours to complete a one hour task. So it became a four hour task.

Sure, some people are naturally very motivated over-achievers, and have the smarts to do your task, without errors, in less than an hour, and turn it in as soon as they know it is complete, ready for the next task. But most people are going to work according to Parkinson’s law.

If the intern had turned in the assignment faster, would you have rewarded them for it? Would they get a better review? Pay? Free lunch? A pat on the back?

Or would you give them more work? If there are no consequences for lazing away the day, nor benefits for grinding on a given task, why rush?

likesmarthelpfulfunny

Five years of consulting work have taught me this exactly. There's never a benefit for pushing to get things done earlier...in fact, the "reward" for wrapping up earlier is usually more review cycles that lead to flip/flopping changes anyway. So much of consulting is changing things according to someone's opinion, and then changing that back to someone else's opinion. Too many managers think everyone else should be motivated by the gain on the budget, when seniors/associates couldn't care less.

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"Hey, [intern name] thanks for knocking this out. Any areas along the way that tripped you up? Can you walk me through your process for tackling this?"

I have full-time analysts who take "longer than usual" because they review their work multiple times and usually hand me mistake-free products.

Would rather they take the additional time to send over a good version instead of having to iterate after the fact.

Follow-up question: was the product riddled with mistakes or otherwise error-free?

likehelpfulsmart

Dear consultant, exactly.

Wow, you checked the file history? :O
That seems quite excessive esp for a manager!

Interns have a learning curve, think what you used to do as an intern. I'll suggest perhaps coaching them on how much time it is expected for a task to be completed, how they can avoid spinning wheels etc. Need to draw a balance as they are interns so we can't expect them to perform as experienced hires but also not as externs.

likefunny

For real. Internships are also two-way streets. They're interviewing you as much as you are them. If you treat them like shit they're gonna go somewhere else.

likesmart

I'd tell them, while 4 hours to deliver the task is fine, but make sure the break time is not charged to the client code.

likefunny

Wow… you can audit every minute of a deliverable now? Thank goodness I’m not an associate anymore. OP is a little intense for going to those lengths but OP has a valid point. Intern was likely being lazy or just as likely, a personal matter popped up. It’s hard staying focused working from home. If it’s habitual, maybe worth addressing but I’d take it easy on one occasion. Not everyone is a rockstar. Principle means well but doesn’t remember how intense project delivery can be. They answer the mail and kiss babies most of the day 😂 “I’m a people person, I deal with people!!!” 😂

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Do you time their bathroom breaks too?

likefunny

Just awful

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OP - I can tell you , u r A New manager and not a leader …

likefunny

People just keep trying to outsmart each other on FB!

Had to double check I wasn't an intern anymore

likefunny

They’re interns…they don’t even get paid much to begin with. Cest la vie

likefunny

Lol just the phrasing of your first sentence is hilarious. A firm spanking should do it.

likefunnyhelpful

D9 ... here's the code x6nho

Breaks allow people to be productive. This is micromanaging.

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Just curious about the 2.5 hour break.

Look, I've been a manager for 3 years at Big4 as well. Like everyone said it's about coaching them and enabling them. Micromanaging and seeing how many autosaves they did doesn't help anyone.

Maybe have expectations conversations before their next task where you tell them the expected time and if they can't finish help them. That will help you and them formulate the SI/BI or whatever they called it formula where you can informally coach them to do better.

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Part of being an intern is also learning how to work efficiently and the value of time management. Let this one slide. If it continues to happen or becomes a problem, then pull them aside and use it as a teaching opportunity. But for the love of god, don’t be like “so I checked the version history and I know it took you x hours to do this”…because you’ll sound like a psycho.

likefunnyhelpful

Absolutely psychotic, who cares as long as the work got done with minimal error and before the deadline?

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I would suggest giving them deadline and check in to see the progress. New hires require coaching not micromanaging . Don’t be the annoying manager no one wants to work with

likefunny

Likely too late

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Post with your name so we know to avoid you 😭

likefunnysmarthelpful

Just ask anyone at the firm who they don’t want to work with. I guarantee their name comes up.

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Fire the individual and then give them a swirlie and say they’re blackballed from working in corporate America

likefunnyhelpful

This is the way

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Its highkey deranged if you're even checking file edit history, let alone taking this to an anonymous forum to plot some grand strategy.

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Imagine working at a company where a normal thing to do is to check time stamps on files to see how many breaks someone took

likefunny

If you feel this strongly about it and about coaching, use this as a teachable moment, and couch it as such and not as a scolding or criticism. Sit down with intern and say, " I know you said it took 4 hours...it should have only taken X time and that's what I'm planning to discount the time to for the client ... You're an intern so no harm, no foul ... here's what some people (potentially client) might do when they look at your file and keep in mind that some asinine folks internally might even do this to judge your work product later" .... And discuss with them about ethics and motivations for the possibly inflated time estimate. BUT, if someone under me was doing what you are doing (especially to an intern) without very good reason, I'd be coaching you to improve your toxic micromanagement tendencies. Please fix.

likesmart

Well said M3! I think it is important to coach interns now as they are new to the industry and usually the working world. This is when they will be building the foundation of their working ways so they should be aware that their efforts can be monitored.
Breaks are fine but if they are saying something actually took 4 hours and it obviously did not (and not even close), then they should know how easily what they say can be validated.

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You are a terrible manager. How did you become one when you don’t know how to coach or people manage? Sad 😢

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