Author Topic: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing  (Read 3959 times)

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Mental Magpie

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12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« on: December 28, 2012, 10:45:00 PM »
I called someone who is a higher rank than I do.  Technically, he does have the authority to tell me what to do.  While he is not my direct supervisor, he is a corollary supervisor to me in a way.  I asked him what I thought was a pretty straight forward question.  He didn't know the answer immediately, which is absolutely OK, but instead of saying, "Let me find out" and hanging up, he hemmed and hawed for 12 minutes (yes, I timed it, simply because I know he has this habit), all the while keeping me on the phone, only to eventually say, "I'll have to look.  I'll call you back."  During those 12 minutes, I would try to ask him a question pertaining to the original question (along the lines of, "Well, would this work instead?") only to have him start talking to someone else presumably in the office with him.  I'd have to wait for that conversation to be over for him to answer me or at least acknowledge that I said something.  At one point, I held the phone away from my ear and shook it just because I was so frustrated and could do nothing about it.

One of the first times I called him for something, I tried to ask him to call me back when he had the answer.  Instead of agreeing, he just said, "No, it will just take a second."  I didn't feel like I could argue with my superior.  I also don't feel like I can insist he call me back when he finds the answer.

How can I politely tell him that the best solution is to call me back when he has the answer so that he doesn't waste my time when I could be doing something more productive (like maybe also trying to find the answer via different means)?  I spent 12 minutes on the phone doing nothing when he could have just told me from the get go that he would call me back with the answer.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Paws

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2012, 10:53:06 PM »
I think I'd try emailing him instead. Or call him and ask him to email you the answer back "because you have a meeting in five minutes" or whatever.  Then at least you could be busy doing something else while he figures it out.

JenJay

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 01:00:59 AM »
"Hey *rank*, I need to go do *task* real quick. I'll call you back in 10 minutes, thanks."

If he doesn't respond to requesting that he call you back then I'd make up an excuse to get off the phone, give him time to find the answer, and call him back.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 01:03:33 AM by JenJay »

problemattic

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2012, 01:20:22 PM »
My boss is like this!  I turned to email, even though she's physically nearby, but she managed to drag that out, too.  She typically emailed me back, asking multiple questions that were answered in my original email.  I deal with it now by keeping some mindless "busy work" at hand to do when she holds her one-person brainstorming sessions.  It's stuff I have to accomplish anyway, and it keeps my frustration level down.  I don't know if this is an option for you.  I will be lurking to see if others have a better solution. 

Mental Magpie

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2012, 05:09:53 PM »
"Hey *rank*, I need to go do *task* real quick. I'll call you back in 10 minutes, thanks."

If he doesn't respond to requesting that he call you back then I'd make up an excuse to get off the phone, give him time to find the answer, and call him back.

Dunno why this didn't occur to me  ::)

problemattic, would this work for you, too?
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

TOLady

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2012, 12:06:25 PM »
We have a person in IT that does this and it drives me bonkers.

We are requested to call rather than email, unfortunately. When I do occassionally call because of a problem (I frequently beta test the new programs and systems they come up with and there have been a few bugs I haven't been able to fix myself) I now know to not even let him try and do it over the phone with me.

I tell him the problem and ask that he call when he has a solution. If he tries to do it over the phone (these are bugs that usually take a while to fix) I gently interrupt him and let me know that it is easier for him to have the fix before we try anything over the phone.

9 out of 10 times, it does take him more than 1/2 an hour before he can come up with the fix so I do think he's actually starting to get the wisdom of "get back to me when you know the fix".


onyonryngs

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2012, 12:25:59 PM »
You could try the "Can I call you back in a few minutes after I finish this up?" on calls where he called you first, but I still think you should just say nothing.  Unless you never spend your time at work on ehell or surfing the net, the lost productivity argument really can't be used.

Joeschmo

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2012, 12:49:02 PM »
As long as you're hourly I wouldnt worry about it.  They are paying you for your time so if the business prefers to keep employees who lower productivity  so be it.

problemattic

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 03:54:48 PM »
Magpie, I think JenJay has a great idea, but it won't work for me.  My boss is a nice enough person, but she is the Supreme High Muckety-Muck and Ruler of All, and she forgot somewhere along the way that anyone else's time might be valuable.  She just steamrolls right over my wrigglings and excuses to get out of being her audience.  I am hourly, so she's really costing the company money when she pulls this stuff on the underlings, but I set personal goals at work that I am sometimes unable to achieve due to her behavior.  This is frustrating.  Reaching those goals is good for me, good for her, and good for the customers.  There is literally no one to complain to, because she is, as I suggested, Queen.   ;)

But I won't give up the dream.  I'll keep fighting the good fight, not go gentle into that good night, and so on. 

Annoyed in America

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2013, 08:37:31 AM »
LOL..I know exactly how you feel.  You could:
1)Put him on the speaker and continue working
2)Tell him someone just stepped into your office and you will call him back
3)Tell him you have to run to the bathroom.

If it a face to face, get up and walk down the hall to the restroom.  He will follow talking at you until he realizes where you are.  Works every time!

These kind of people don't realize how much of your time they are wasting.  They also don't want to admit they don't have the answer.  You will never break his habit.  You just need to be creative with your response.

Mental Magpie

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2013, 05:17:32 PM »
LOL..I know exactly how you feel.  You could:
1)Put him on the speaker and continue working
2)Tell him someone just stepped into your office and you will call him back
3)Tell him you have to run to the bathroom.

If it a face to face, get up and walk down the hall to the restroom.  He will follow talking at you until he realizes where you are.  Works every time!

These kind of people don't realize how much of your time they are wasting.  They also don't want to admit they don't have the answer.  You will never break his habit.  You just need to be creative with your response.

1)  I can't necessarily do that due to where I work.
2)  I can't necessarily do that due to where I work.
3)  That I could do.

I can't really escape it too much, that's part of the problem.  It's not an in person thing, and again, due to where I work, I couldn't really do that anyway, lol.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

greencat

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2013, 03:57:09 AM »
Ahh...got to love it when your boss totally wastes your time.  I had a boss that decided to yell at me for 15 minutes over using about 5 cents in office supplies in a manner I considered useful but he considered wasteful...needless to say, I made more than 20 cents an hour, so he wasted a lot more of his money than I did!

Annoyed in America

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2013, 10:23:15 AM »
LOL..I know exactly how you feel.  You could:
1)Put him on the speaker and continue working
2)Tell him someone just stepped into your office and you will call him back
3)Tell him you have to run to the bathroom.

If it a face to face, get up and walk down the hall to the restroom.  He will follow talking at you until he realizes where you are.  Works every time!

These kind of people don't realize how much of your time they are wasting.  They also don't want to admit they don't have the answer.  You will never break his habit.  You just need to be creative with your response.

1)  I can't necessarily do that due to where I work.
2)  I can't necessarily do that due to where I work.
3)  That I could do.

I can't really escape it too much, that's part of the problem.  It's not an in person thing, and again, due to where I work, I couldn't really do that anyway, lol.

My boss sometimes stands there yacking and I am eager to get back to the task at hand.  He and I have a great relationship so I can say "I'm sorry, I can stand here discussing this issue OR I can get back to this project. (said with a smile, good naturedly)  Your choice."  He always says "oh, okay...carry on." (with an embarrassed little smile)  He does not realize what he is doing until I kindly and gently point it out.

bopper

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2013, 09:49:26 AM »
Put the phone on speaker phone and continue on with your other work?

Mental Magpie

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Re: 12 Minutes Spent Accomplishing Nothing
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2013, 11:41:03 AM »
Put the phone on speaker phone and continue on with your other work?

I can't really do that because of where I work.  If an inmate was to overhear something I would be in a looooooooooooooooot of trouble.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.