so this morning, i had a meeting i was dreading. well, two meetings, really.
the first meeting i wasn't looking forward to was the one where i had to tell the temp that i had done an alternate design for a project i assigned her. that kind of overhauling never goes over well with any artist.
some background on the last few days:
this particular project is one that happens to have a committee of clients (sigh). i know what i was thinking when i assigned it to the temp. i was thinking, i dread this project and i don't want to do it, so i'll have the temp do this for me. well, that was my first mistake.
designing the latest set of comps for a flyer, stickers, and a web site for this project (legal filesharing and legal downloading of music) should have taken, i thought, an hour, tops. so i gave it to the temp as her first project on wednesday, and i said i wanted it done by the end of the day -- i figured 8 hours was plenty of time, and i was being really generous, allowing for time to go get a parking pass and name badge on campus, get lost on the way to work, have an hour-long lunch, have an hour or so of questions. i had a meeting that ran from 9-1 on wednesday. now, considering the temp was supposed to show up at 8, i figured i'd sit her down, give her the instructions, let her ask questions, and then i could come back to some progress.
the first cowpat in my path was that the HR secretary comes and tells me that the temp thought she was supposed to start at 9, not 8; what should the secretary give her to do while i'm at my meeting? okay, fine, i think, and i begin to write up two pages of extremely detailed notes to take the place of my verbal instructions. i even draw detailed thumbnails of what i want the layouts to look like. i head off to my meeting.
cowpat #2: i come back from my meeting early, at 11:30. no temp. i see her stuff, but no temp. hrm. i go off to lunch and come back an hour later. no temp. i begin to wander around the office building, asking people if they've seen my temp. at 2, i spot a new person, who must be my temp, in the hall. she is indeed my temp, so we go back into the office so she can show me what she's done...
...which, as it turns out, is nothing. my notes were apparently not clear, nor were my thumbnails. the temp spent from 9 until 11:30 ostensibly reading up on the background of filesharing and music downloading, so she could 'fully understand the project.' i'm not amused, but okay, fine. i remind her that the deadline is the end of the day, and she says she's not going to be able to get it done by then. i am now really unamused, but tell her to do what she can by the end of the day, and we'll take it from there.
i ask her if she has any questions, or if my notes were unclear. oddly, she says my notes were clear. (!) i answer her questions, which takes about 20 minutes. by now, it's 2:30. also by now, it's become clear that she's stuck in that annoying phase of being just out of school -- the phase where you think you know everything. regular readers will remember how much i LOATHE people who know everything. few behaviors get on my last nerve faster than being a know-it-all.
for the next two-and-a-half hours, she continually asks me questions, which is irritating, but fair enough. however, it's that the questions she asks are ones designed to try to prove to me know much she knows that really get my back up. a brief example:
"how many colors do you want me to use?" she asks.
"use as many as you need; it's not being printed on a press, but on a laser printer."
"but the more colors i use, the more it's going to cost."
"yes, that would be true," i say, "if it were being done on an offset press. however, this is being printed on a color laser printer from a fiery server, so it's not an issue." (i'm thinking 'didn't i just SAY this?')
"i always try to save my clients money," she says.
"that's great," i say, "but in this instance, because it's going to be printed on a color laser printer, and there will be no film or plates or press, it will cost the same amount, no matter how many colors you use."
silence for a couple of seconds, then, "okay, if you say so."
extrapolate two-and-a-half-hours of those kinds of conversations, and by the time 4:45 rolls around, you can imagine the mood i'm in. she has done only two mildly different comps of the same flyer. damn good thing i lied about the real deadline, which is friday at 11 a.m. i tell her that tomorrow, she's going to need to step it up and work more quickly. Molasses asks me if she can leave early on fridays so she can celebrate shabbat. fine, no problem, i say; but if you want 40 hours, you'll need to make that time up during the week. she offers to come in early at 7 three mornings a week, starting thursday.
i fume all the way home, trying to think of how i can fix this problem. if i send the temp back after only a day for the crime of getting on my nerves, then i appear difficult and ungrateful. so, i decide that perhaps i am just being bitchy (which is known to happen), and perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot.
thursday, she shows up at 8 instead of 7 as she'd said she would. at 11, i realized that she'd spent from 8 until 11 doing more research on filesharing and downloading. grr. so i pointedly asked her if she thought she'd done enough research and felt confident enough to start designing the website comp. more questions and revelations about her personal life i'd have preferred to not have known, Molasses manages to come up with a website comp. it's not great, but it's okay. this takes until 4:30. i'm so frustrated, i leave the office at 4:30 and walk across the street to whole foods to cool off before i start shouting.
more fuming on the way home ensues. last night, i decide to pull her off the project entirely, and give her the next thing i'd planned on having her do, a tedious job of turning 8 powerpoint presentations into a flash presentation. her degree is in interactive design, so i figure that perhaps this will be more suited to her.
i get an email late last night with copy changes to the filesharing/downloading project, and so decide, 'screw this, i'm just going to redo the entire thing and do my own set of comps.' it's 7, and Molasses had said she'd be in by 7, but there's no sign of her. so, i set to work.
by 7:20, i had comps done for the flyer, the poster, the website, and the stickers.
i wish i were kidding.
Molasses walks in at 7:40 and notices right away that i've done a second set of comps. "are you not happy with my work?" she asks.
"it's more that i got emailed copy changes late last night, and you weren't here to make them," i said. "so i decided to do another set of comps, which match the thumbnails i gave you. i'll present your ideas at the meeting at 11, but i didn't know if you were coming in or not."
she apologizes for being late and says it won't happen again. "good," i say, and tell her that i've decided to have her work on this powerpoint project instead. so i explain that to her, show her where all the files are, and tell her all about the audience and the context and drown her in information. this seems to work much better, and Molasses gets to work.
i start worrying about how i'm going to handle the meeting at 11 with the two difficult clients; one of whom seems to hate everything i design. and i do mean, everything -- it's been three different projects he's not liked the designs of. he sent a fairly annoying email last friday to me about one of my designs that had me mentally composing a Not Sent letter all the way home. :P
i manage to make it to 10 without dumb questions, largely because my boss calls me into her office, next door, to ask me how things are going. i tell her about Molasses, and she laughs and reminds me not to expect too much from the temp; and to just give her tedious, time-consuming projects. i tell her about the meeting at 11 with the committee, with the two difficult clients. my boss fills me in: apparently, it's just these two clients, not me. one is just extremely negative and miserable with her life; the other one is just habitually contrary and shoots everything down as a kneejerk reaction.
aha. so it's not just me, i realize, and instantly feel much better about the meeting. my boss offers to come sit in the meeting with me if i want her to, but i say that no, now that i know what's going on, it'll be fine -- but i'll report back.
and sure enough, it was fine. the contrarian loved the design i'd done. the committee hated the design Molasses had done. i got them all on track, and accomplished what i needed to, and even got invited to lunch afterward by one of the other committee members.
i was pleased to tell my boss that the meeting went just fine, and my design was loved. this was met with much amazement, and we had a nice talk about how important intangible people skills were as part of one's career.
i feel very proud of myself today for handling two such annoying situations and coming out on top. :)