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Dealing with Difficult Users

We all have to deal with people.  Management of technology tools like CAD is not devoid of dealing with individuals.  If you think that you can just sit behind your desk and pass out tips and tricks all day, you are most likely in the wrong business.  Actually, I think it has more to do with people skills than technology skills that keeps you moving forward.


I would suspect that most of your time will be spent dealing with your staff, users, managers, clients and vendors.  That is a lot of interaction with people.  You need to sharpen your people skills every chance you get.


One of the most troublesome spots is when you have to deal with those users who are considered ďtroublemakersĒ.  They may disagree with your selection of the tools, your CAD Standard or just your being in charge of overseeing CAD.  They may be troublesome because they are frustrated, stressed, pressured from above or any number of things.  Or they just may be cranky people.


No matter what the source of their troubles, you have to deal effectively with them day to day.  20 percent of your users Ė take 80 percent of your time.  Often these people will also be your biggest trouble spots.  Ignoring and avoiding the standards and methods that must be followed. 


Letís look at some ways to make the best of the situation.


First, keep them involved.  Donít let them fester away in a corner, picking at everything related to CAD and the company guidelines.  This will only make the problem worse.  I choose to have them involved in my process at some point.  Often when creating new tools or methods, I will run the idea past one or more of my toughest users to see what they think.  They often make your best critics.  They look at things from a different perspective.  They often see holes in your plans that you never see.

Second, donít take it personal and donít give up.  They are not mad at you.  They are not out to get you, unless of course you are not a nice person.  Assuming that you are a nice person, the reason they are confrontational is because you may not be listening or that you may not be fair.  Donít give up.  Donít let them get away with it.  Donít give in.

Do not let them step on the standard and not use it.  Just being cranky does not give them the privilege of ignoring the Standard.  The Standard is to be supported and followed.  You are the main enforcer and you need to confront anyone who pushes back from the guideline, Manager, User, Engineer or Architect.

Talk to them first.  Find out the reason for not following the standard.  Find out why they are upset with some edict that emanates from the CAD Dept.  You need to listen first, and then act.  Get the complete story, then decide how best to react.  You may even want to take some time to investigate the reason.  See if it is valid.  See if they have a better idea.

Employ pier pressure.  Have others assist you in dealing with the squeaking wheel.  Make them feel slightly out of place to be avoiding the standards.  Donít make this so heavy that they are ostracized, just make sure that the team moves together and they need to be part of the team.


Call on their boss or the project manager as a last resort, the absolute last resort.  If you just cannot seem to get through to them, then have a conversation with their boss or Project Manager.  Let the PM know the impact on productivity and time for not working as a unified team.  Let there boss know that they are causing problems and lessening morale.  Donít go into their office looking to get the person in trouble.  The point is to fix the problem, not to place blame.

Be patient Ė do not come down to their level.  Donít ignore them.  If they are breaking the rules, do not let them escape, do not let them hide.

Do not let things fester Ė deal with problems head on when they arise.  Deal fairly but forcefully.


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