Author Topic: Reading a request thoroughly  (Read 4717 times)

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Ceallach

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Reading a request thoroughly
« on: October 22, 2012, 11:08:12 PM »
I have a newish employee who I'm a bit iffy about.   She had looked into sourcing a particular item for me for the office.  She'd sent me a suggested product via email and I told her I'd get back to her.    Today I emailed her back and said "Fine to proceed with the order, we just need 1 for now because of XYZ reason, we'll review it later on. Thanks".     So a fairly brief email.

I was surprised later today to get a reply saying "Sorry I just read the first bit and then ordered so I got 2.   Apparently we can return one for credit later on." 

At first I wondered if my email had been too wordy, but I looked back, and sure enough it's brief - I mention the need for just 1 in the first line.  So she literally read 3 words of my email and then went ahead.  Which seems quite silly to me.  Is she assuming that everything else in my email is irrelevant drivel?   Because common sense to me would indicate that you read the whole email before actioning anything!

Does this seem a little off to you, or am I being unreasonable?   It could well be that it's a simple mistake, and I don't want to come across as nitpicky by calling her on it if so.   On the other hand, if it's a symptom of overall carelessness and lack of attention to detail then it's a big problem.  She is not a junior, her level is such that I expect her to be proactive, take care of things and be on top of everything.    Would you let this tiny mistake go?   It's the first specific example I have of her doing this, my other concerns are more general things (not being proactive enough, responsiveness etc) which I think she may be improving in. 
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Paws

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2012, 11:53:01 PM »
This is one of my pet peeves too--people not reading and following clearly given instructions.
However, that said, we've all done it at one time or another.  The issue, I think, it whether this is a one-off or a pattern. I would let this one go but would be alert to further similar gaffes, which I would then chose to address.

Ceallach

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 12:00:08 AM »
This is one of my pet peeves too--people not reading and following clearly given instructions.
However, that said, we've all done it at one time or another.  The issue, I think, it whether this is a one-off or a pattern. I would let this one go but would be alert to further similar gaffes, which I would then chose to address.

Thanks!   I'm a perfectionist and have very clear ideas on how things should work, so I have to continually try to keep a balance in my head as to what's reasonable and what's not, otherwise I'd be the boss from hell.  (Apparently I'm not, my staff seem to find me very fair and pleasant!  But I work on it).   So it's good to get outside perspective.     My standards of office etiquette and appropriate communication are very high.   But this did strike me as a bit off.  I'll keep an eye on her.
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mmswm

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 12:16:40 AM »
I think it's worth documenting the incident (informally).  That way, you have a paper trail started should this be a pattern and not a "one-off" incident.
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

siamesecat2965

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 09:43:00 AM »
This is one of my pet peeves too--people not reading and following clearly given instructions.
However, that said, we've all done it at one time or another.  The issue, I think, it whether this is a one-off or a pattern. I would let this one go but would be alert to further similar gaffes, which I would then chose to address.

I'd let it go as well.  She also admitted her error, and also what could be done to remedy it, i.e. returning the second item for credit. Others might have tried to hide their mistake, but she put it out there, so I'd let it go, but also, as previously stated, be alert.  I don't think its serious enough to actually document.

Bexx27

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 09:53:38 AM »
I hate this, too, but it's unfortunately very common. It speaks well of her that she eventually noticed, admitted her error, and apologized. Like PPs, I wouldn't hold it against her unless it becomes a pattern. I might keep a closer eye on her work for a little while just in case.
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Zilla

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 09:54:09 AM »
I would let it go with one tiny reply back.  "Alright, no problem.  Glad we can get credit for the second one.  Please just be sure to read the entire email.  This will often happen where I will need more or less etc."
 
Or something to that effect.

TootsNYC

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 10:41:22 AM »
I have a newish employee who I'm a bit iffy about.   She had looked into sourcing a particular item for me for the office.  She'd sent me a suggested product via email and I told her I'd get back to her.    Today I emailed her back and said "Fine to proceed with the order, we just need 1 for now because of XYZ reason, we'll review it later on. Thanks".     So a fairly brief email.

I was surprised later today to get a reply saying "Sorry I just read the first bit and then ordered so I got 2.   Apparently we can return one for credit later on." 

At first I wondered if my email had been too wordy, but I looked back, and sure enough it's brief - I mention the need for just 1 in the first line.  So she literally read 3 words of my email and then went ahead.  Which seems quite silly to me.  Is she assuming that everything else in my email is irrelevant drivel?   Because common sense to me would indicate that you read the whole email before actioning anything!

Does this seem a little off to you, or am I being unreasonable?   It could well be that it's a simple mistake, and I don't want to come across as nitpicky by calling her on it if so.   On the other hand, if it's a symptom of overall carelessness and lack of attention to detail then it's a big problem.  She is not a junior, her level is such that I expect her to be proactive, take care of things and be on top of everything.    Would you let this tiny mistake go?   It's the first specific example I have of her doing this, my other concerns are more general things (not being proactive enough, responsiveness etc) which I think she may be improving in.

She was proactive enough to have found the solution to the problem she created. 

And to let you know so that when you open the box, you aren't confused about what's next.

I think if you criticize her over this relatively small misstep, you run the risk of creating a very bad dynamic.

Zilla

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 10:54:59 AM »
I have a newish employee who I'm a bit iffy about.   She had looked into sourcing a particular item for me for the office.  She'd sent me a suggested product via email and I told her I'd get back to her.    Today I emailed her back and said "Fine to proceed with the order, we just need 1 for now because of XYZ reason, we'll review it later on. Thanks".     So a fairly brief email.

I was surprised later today to get a reply saying "Sorry I just read the first bit and then ordered so I got 2.   Apparently we can return one for credit later on." 

At first I wondered if my email had been too wordy, but I looked back, and sure enough it's brief - I mention the need for just 1 in the first line.  So she literally read 3 words of my email and then went ahead.  Which seems quite silly to me.  Is she assuming that everything else in my email is irrelevant drivel?   Because common sense to me would indicate that you read the whole email before actioning anything!

Does this seem a little off to you, or am I being unreasonable?   It could well be that it's a simple mistake, and I don't want to come across as nitpicky by calling her on it if so.   On the other hand, if it's a symptom of overall carelessness and lack of attention to detail then it's a big problem.  She is not a junior, her level is such that I expect her to be proactive, take care of things and be on top of everything.    Would you let this tiny mistake go?   It's the first specific example I have of her doing this, my other concerns are more general things (not being proactive enough, responsiveness etc) which I think she may be improving in.

She was proactive enough to have found the solution to the problem she created. 

And to let you know so that when you open the box, you aren't confused about what's next.

I think if you criticize her over this relatively small misstep, you run the risk of creating a very bad dynamic.

If she is new and OP is training her, it wouldn't create a bad dynamic to tell her that these things will happen in the future and to be sure to read the entire email.  I have met other employees that do this time and time again.  Heading off this path is a wise thing to do.  Most employers/bosses think common sense will prevail and itself will teach the employee.  In gently telling the employee to make sure she reads the email will help enforce that.

TootsNYC

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 11:09:13 AM »
Training is one thing--criticizing is another.

I think it would be fine, as the trainer, to say, "Oh, I noticed that you hadn't read the whole e-mail. Be sure to slow down--if you think about it, you'll have spent more time already just figuring out how to return the extra one, etc., than you'd have spent being careful in the first place. And by the time you actually return the item, it'll probably be 4 times as long as reading the email carefully."
   And I'd follow it up by saying, "I encourage you to take the time you need to be careful. It's a form of sticking up for yourself, to insist on slowing down enough to be mindful about what you're doing. Protect yourself from mistakes, from any reputation loss that comes because you're rushing. Don't get so wrapped up in rushing that you set yourself up for this sort of incidental time cost."

But that's not the same as (to use the OP's words) "calling her on it."

(and if "being responsive" is something she's working on, that might have led her to rush a bit with this--to be responsive)

LazyDaisy

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2012, 12:59:15 PM »
I have a newish employee who I'm a bit iffy about.   She had looked into sourcing a particular item for me for the office.  She'd sent me a suggested product via email and I told her I'd get back to her.    Today I emailed her back and said "Fine to proceed with the order, we just need 1 for now because of XYZ reason, we'll review it later on. Thanks".     So a fairly brief email.

I was surprised later today to get a reply saying "Sorry I just read the first bit and then ordered so I got 2.   Apparently we can return one for credit later on.

At first I wondered if my email had been too wordy, but I looked back, and sure enough it's brief - I mention the need for just 1 in the first line.  So she literally read 3 words of my email and then went ahead.  Which seems quite silly to me.  Is she assuming that everything else in my email is irrelevant drivel?   Because common sense to me would indicate that you read the whole email before actioning anything!

Does this seem a little off to you, or am I being unreasonable?   It could well be that it's a simple mistake, and I don't want to come across as nitpicky by calling her on it if so.   On the other hand, if it's a symptom of overall carelessness and lack of attention to detail then it's a big problem.  She is not a junior, her level is such that I expect her to be proactive, take care of things and be on top of everything.    Would you let this tiny mistake go?   It's the first specific example I have of her doing this, my other concerns are more general things (not being proactive enough, responsiveness etc) which I think she may be improving in.

This is not a little thing depending on if XYZ reason has anything to do with budgets and needing funding for anything else. Returning for credit is only OK if you will be ordering more from this company and don't need those funds for something else in the mean time. This would be a bigger deal in my department because budgets are tight. If her mistake does cause further problems, then that needs to be addressed. If not, then a reminder to read everything would still be good; you shouldn't need to tell adults that but in my experience it happens very often. I can start an email with "I have 3 questions I need answers to before I can proceed..." and still only get the first question answered; I've completely stopped putting anything important at the end of my email. If you can find a solution to get her to read everything, please let me know.
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doodlemor

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 01:08:35 PM »
I would probably say, with a rueful half smile on my face........

Now that you've seen what can happen, *in the future* be sure to read all of your emails to the end before you act on them.

I'm used to working with 10 year old children, though, so perhaps this is not sufficiently professional for adults.  I really like Zilla's and Toots suggestions for the situation, too.

Be sure to save the emails, Ceallach, in case this is how she generally operates.  But you knew that already.

kareng57

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2012, 01:10:28 PM »
I have to agree with some PPs - she was proactive in noticing her mistake right away, and letting you know about it - as opposed to trying to hide it, or trying to make it appear as though it was somehow your fault.

Yes, of course she should have read the memo more carefully, but I think that this one time I'd chalk it up to new-job-jitters - trying to fulfill the request so quickly that she somehow passed over the "only need 1" bit.  Certainly keep an eye on her for the next little while, but I think it's unreasonable to figure that she assumed everything else in the email was irrelevant drivel.

bopper

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 01:29:34 PM »
I think it's worth documenting the incident (informally).  That way, you have a paper trail started should this be a pattern and not a "one-off" incident.

I agree.  She realized her mistake, but if you are seeing an overall pattern then start informally documenting things.

White Dragon

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Re: Reading a request thoroughly
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2012, 01:34:47 AM »
I was actually going to ask about this very same topic, because I am also dealing with this problem and trying to figure out how to proceed.

In my job, I send out sets of blueprints to contractors and clients.
These are always sent electronically and I prepare printed sets as needed.

The emails always say the same thing

"Attached please find drawings from XXXX.
Your hard copy sets are available for pick up at the office."

In addition, the front page of every file lists who is getting the drawings, and in what format.

So now I have told them twice if there are printouts for them.

Recently, a contractor was frustrated that he didn't know we had prints for him. He admitted that he hadn't read the email completely.

Someone decided that the solution to this was for me to phone every time I have prints for a contractor.
Given that I already tell them twice, it seems redundant to also call, especially since the contractor has already said it was his fault.

I'm frustrated at the whole 'Have White Dragon call' solution, but I'm not sure if that's logic or annoyance calling.

What's reasonable here?