Author Topic: Duplicating work (a bit long) Update #10  (Read 4692 times)

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Katana_Geldar

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Duplicating work (a bit long) Update #10
« on: March 15, 2013, 05:00:23 AM »
I work in the library in a private college for international students and its been enrolment week. We've had new management and they have their own ideas of how I work thing and its not going well to say the least.

But we've had to adapt, as we were so far in there was nothing to do but plough on and hope for the best.

I'm only there casual three days a week, but I've Ben there for almost a year and I handle the new students getting ID cards. Normally I check their details on the student database where they have been enrolled. But due to the management, most of them aren't on there. So we assign their borrowers numbers without fully checking.

Yesterday we had the undergrads, so about 100 or so came in to register and I assigned numbers to them. While I was doing that, my boss who sits next to me told me some students entries were coming in on the database, so she started assigning numbers to them not knowing that some of those students had already been in to see us and I had given them numbers. I pointed this out to her, saying that without checking our system (which is more accurate as we get it direct from students) against the database we were essentially were duplicating our work. She said she would stop and then went home.

Today, I saw her using our numbers list to assign to students and I thought nothing of it as we had talked yesterday. Before she left she asked me to check all the students entries in the database to make sure there was no duplication there. I didn't get around to doing it until long after she had left. And what astonished me was that she repeated the mistake from yesterday, and in a big way. About half the students that I had entered yesterday  had two numbers, one that I assigned in our system the day before and one that she had assigned this morning when the entries were coming up.

What she has essentially done is created a lot of work for not myself, but my colleague who covers the days I'm not as all of those entries will need to be changed. It's very tedious work and it will need to be done.

So, I left her a note atop the papers explaining the duplication of work. I'll probably get a call about it Monday. It's not completely her fault, as admin should ave dine their job properly and had the database going, but I am annoyed that this sort of thing could have been prevented had she listened to me.

Any suggestions own how to approach this if I do get asked? I probably will and the girl who is on Mondays and Tuesdays has her own strange way of working and doesn't tell people what she does.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 05:24:58 PM by Katana_Geldar »

Amara

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 02:12:59 PM »
Can you suggest a meeting with all the people who work with the numbers in any way and come to an agreement on the best (only) way to do this? If so, perhaps someone can create a document to be sent out after the meeting that details the procedure.

Lynn2000

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 03:55:10 PM »
I confess I'm not entirely certain what you're asking... Normally you guys do things one way. But then someone else (management) messed up, so you guys were doing things ad hoc on a temporary basis. You noticed your boss was confused and making a mistake, and you pointed it out to her. You thought she understood, but then discovered she'd continued to make the mistake. You and/or another co-worker will be the ones stuck fixing this mistake.

And your question is... how do you explain how this mistake occurred, politely? (That's my guess.) I say, blame it on "the other guys." Management failed to get us the student entries in time, thus we were forced to quickly modify our data entry system. Mistakes were made, which now need to be unmade. It stinks, but that's what they're paying us for.

If it's appropriate for you to send an email to your co-worker(s) about it, I would copy the boss who made the mistake, and detail the scope of the problem and what needs to be done. "Betty, there are 532 duplicate entries in the database. Between you and I we will need to go through each pair of duplicates and merge them." If this is going to be a problem for a while longer, I would also propose steps to take that would prevent this. "In the future, we should be sure to check the database before assigning a student a number, in case the entry from management has come through, or in case the student has already been to see us." Maybe offer to put a post-it note reminder on the computer monitor or something.
~Lynn2000

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 06:45:05 PM »
I work in the library in a private college for international students and its been enrolment week. We've had new management and they have their own ideas of how I work thing and its not going well to say the least.

But we've had to adapt, as we were so far in there was nothing to do but plough on and hope for the best.

I'm only there casual three days a week, but I've Ben there for almost a year and I handle the new students getting ID cards. Normally I check their details on the student database where they have been enrolled. But due to the management, most of them aren't on there. So we assign their borrowers numbers without fully checking.

[snip]

So, I left her a note atop the papers explaining the duplication of work. I'll probably get a call about it Monday. It's not completely her fault, as admin should ave dine their job properly and had the database going, but I am annoyed that this sort of thing could have been prevented had she listened to me.

Any suggestions own how to approach this if I do get asked? I probably will and the girl who is on Mondays and Tuesdays has her own strange way of working and doesn't tell people what she does.

This situation is kind of confusing for me. Could you clarify a few things?
1) Are you assigning numbers for library cards only or are these their main student IDs?
2) What is the normal procedure when everything is added to the database on time? From your description, I assume the sequence is: (i) Students are added to the school database. (ii) Someone at the library manually copies the information from the database to the library system and assigns the student a number. (iii) The student comes in to receive a physical card with that number. Is that correct?
3) Who usually assigns the numbers? You? The boss? Any library employee?
4) Is there an official policy for how to handle students who aren't in the database yet, or are you having to make it up on the fly? When you add a student to the library database, is it obvious if the same student is already in the database? (E.g., will the system flag it as a duplicate?) How do you distinguish between duplicate entries versus two students with the same name?
5) When students started coming in without being in the database, did you discuss the situation with your boss before starting to assign numbers? Or did you first discuss it with her after she started assigning duplicate numbers?

If there is no official policy for handling this situation, then I think you should approach it from the standpoint that one is needed. The current situation is excellent evidence of why one is needed, so that everyone will be on the same page. The procedures need to clearly lay out how you should handle students who aren't yet in the database and how to ensure that students are not assigned a second number once they're added to the main database. However, if this situation isn't covered by policy, then you should be prepared to be told that you should have talked to your boss before you proceeded and for people to critique the way you documented your improvised procedure. If you improvised to handle an uncommon situation, then you share some of the responsibility for your boss/colleagues not knowing what's going on.

If there are conflicting policies, e.g., you are only supposed to assign numbers to students already in the system and you're not supposed to turn away a student asking for an ID card, then point out the conflicting policies and ask your boss to clarify. Get it documented in writing which policy you are supposed to follow in case of conflicts. Again, be prepared to be told that you should have asked before proceeding.

If you were following official policy, then point out that this is happening a lot this term due to the database issues and everyone (including yourself) could use a policy refresher to make sure this goes smoothly.

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 09:31:43 PM »
The usual procedure is this:

1) Student is added to the school database.
2) Student comes into library to get their ID done and they enter our details into our database, to be approved by us.
3) The student is checked against the school database. They are then assigned a number by us for library purposes.
4) The library then records the students borrowers number on the school database.

Except, it's not working. Admin are either not entering students in to the school database or they aren't coming up when they come in. We aren't sure why.

So, we assign the number for our system and wait for it to come up on the database.

But, my boss has started assigning numbers to new students that are coming up on the library database not knowing that some of them have already been in to see us and have been given a number.

Basically, it's a break in the chain that never happened before: students have not been appearing on the student database.

Also, I'm fairly junior down the line and it's not my place to raise issues with anyone but her. She's just as pissed of about it as I am.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 10:17:49 PM »
The usual procedure is this:

1) Student is added to the school database.
2) Student comes into library to get their ID done and they enter our details into our database, to be approved by us.
3) The student is checked against the school database. They are then assigned a number by us for library purposes.

4) The library then records the students borrowers number on the school database.

Except, it's not working. Admin are either not entering students in to the school database or they aren't coming up when they come in. We aren't sure why.

So, we assign the number for our system and wait for it to come up on the database.

But, my boss has started assigning numbers to new students that are coming up on the library database not knowing that some of them have already been in to see us and have been given a number.

Basically, it's a break in the chain that never happened before: students have not been appearing on the student database.

Also, I'm fairly junior down the line and it's not my place to raise issues with anyone but her. She's just as pissed of about it as I am.

So numbers are usually assigned after the students physically come into the library to be added to the library database? And your boss is assigning numbers when they show up in the database when she thinks they haven't even come in yet? So she isn't even following the normal procedures?

If she is your boss, then it is your place to ask what procedures you are supposed to follow when the school database isn't up to date and how you should document changes from the normal procedure so other employees will know what has been done. Documenting it properly is especially important since you're not working every day. If she won't follow her own procedures, then there's nothing you can do. But asking her to spell out how she wants to you to adapt the procedures to handle the database issues will at least make sure that everyone is on the same page. If you can get the instructions in writing, e.g., an email, so you can refer to them later, then when conflicts come up, you'll at least be able to show that you were following your instructions.

GreenHall

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 10:04:38 AM »
I keep getting distracted by the students coming thru of rnumbers again.  I don't know how long the process is for assigning a number, but I would like to believe that a college student would remember. "Oh I got a library number in my morning class, so don't need to get one in my afternoon class".  Is there a way to make an announcement when a batch show up along the lines of "if you have already worked with the library/gotten a library number, you do not need to do this again"?


Katana_Geldar

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 04:35:38 PM »
Students have no idea this is going on, all they know us to pick up their cards today. They cone in once,not twice. My boss is the one giving them the number after I did.

Last term she started entering students in who didn't come to see us into the system. I'm not sure why, possibly something to with the e-learning.

And, since she again broke procedure and we didn't type up their ID cards, I wonder what in earth is going to happen today when the studebts expect their cards.

Lynn2000

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2013, 11:05:01 AM »
So, it sounds to me like your boss is the one not following procedure, and thus making more work for others. I think I would send Boss an email asking for clarification, and copy anyone else who would be affected as well--like the other person who does your same job the other days of the week.

Something like, "Boss, these database problems have got me really confused. I've been doing XYZ, but I see an increasing number of duplicate entries in the system, which will take a long time for Betty and I to correct. [without mentioning Boss is the one causing those] Is there something else I should be doing, other than XYZ, to prevent this issue?"

Boss might thus realized she has caused the duplicate entries by interfering with the XYZ steps; or, if totally clueless, at least she will be perplexed as to why your perfectly appropriate XYZ steps are "causing" this problem and might ask you to investigate, so at some point you could say, "Oh, it looks like someone was doing ABC at the same time I was doing XYZ." At which point Boss should remember she was the one doing ABC. And stop doing it.

Or, if Boss thinks you should not be doing XYZ at this time, this is her opportunity to clarify that in writing to both you and Betty. If Boss is more the type to tell you something verbally, you can always send her a follow-up email saying, "Just to clarify, today we discussed that I should do ABC instead of XYZ until further notice, correct?"

I'm imagining that since you work side by side with Boss, and you felt comfortable correcting her verbally and also leaving her a note explaining that she'd done something wrong, it would be perfectly appropriate for you to send her an email on the same subject. But with the email you could copy other affected people, too, so everyone is on the same page; get Boss's response in writing for future reference; and have documentation to pass along to others should things continue to be messed up.
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Katana_Geldar

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2013, 05:11:21 PM »
I'll see how we go tomorrow when I'm there. I did get a call yesterday asking about student cards and if I had done them. I told her I hadn't because she had told me nit to and never said any different.

I suppose I should ha asked her, but we were both stressed from the week and my new medication was making me have strabge ,old swings, so it was all I could do to keep my mind on task.

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long)
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2013, 05:24:11 PM »
Ok, we'll a bit of an update.

It's been a stressful time since I last posted, so I'm hoping I can more on to a better job with better hours and more pay. Getting it will be a bit of a gamble though.

Basically, we were playing catch up all week and all the things I predicted that were made worse did. And work I had sent hours doing on week before classes was made redundant by later decisions my boss had made.

The numbers weren't really a problem, not compared to the fact she had told me to create library system accounts based on info in the student database before the students came in to register. So we ended up with students unable to register as our system won't let us have duplicate entries.

I found an efficient work around, getting the students to confirm their details that we had entered from the database to make sure they were correct. Then entering new details students had given us. All we had to do was talk to them for a few minutes and take their photo.

I had been doing this for about a week and a half when I told her his yesterday, and she told me not to do it anymore as it was too complicated. Her method? To let the student create a duplicate entry (by adding a character to the ID s the system would let us, something else I proposed which she said no when I suggested it and the she suggested it herself!) or telling the student that they couldn't register for ther card today and to come back another day.

This time I shut my mouth. I was also upset by the fact that hours of work I had done that she had told me to do was now getting in the way of us doing our jobs properly, which was getting student cards to students. I'm beginning see she's one of those people who doesn't welcome new ideas because they aren't hers, even if they 110% better than the solutions she gave us.

She noticed that I was upset, I think, and tried to explain to me her reasons for her decisions. More efficiency, big picture, being ale to explain this to other staff as well as admin stuffing up big time. But really, my solution did make it so much easier and she didn't acknowledge that.

This is further compounded by the fact that the girl on the front desk isn't checking everything when students come in, despite the fact that she has been told by my boss to do so several times. It created more work for me when she didn't check into at her end. But I did feel sorry for her when she had to tell students who had come for their ID cards to come back another day because we had stuffed up.

They wanted me to work today, I said no as it meant I was working all week and would have had no time for the things I usually do Mondays to do today. And I meant to apply for that job. However, my current boss is the only one who can say I can do things that this job requires, which means getting a reference from her. She knew she was going to lose me one way or mother, but I don't think she was thinking this soon!

YummyMummy66

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long) Update #10
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 06:57:54 AM »
Who is this person in relationship to your job? 

Is she your supervisor?  Above you somehow?  Is she just a co-worker?

Does she have anything to do with the end product of her decisions? Anotherwords, she is putting this system into place, but is she involved in any way to see how it actually works?   If not, I would invite her to do so and explain to her why her system is not working.

And if you can, I would be going above her head if this is not corrected.  It is not only a hassle for the staff, but the students as well.

Lynn2000

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long) Update #10
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 10:27:36 AM »
OP, this sounds like a stressful time, I'm sorry you're going through this. :(

I guess my only suggestion at this point is to try and document the conflicting and inefficient orders you've been given. Even if Boss gives you verbal instructions, follow up with an email repeating them--"just so you can be clear" or something like that. It's possible at some point the opportunity will arise to pass that information on to someone above Boss, or back to Boss herself if she tries to blame you for doing what she told you.

It is really frustrating, especially when it affects "the public," but unless the actions she wants you to take are getting into illegal/dangerous/etc. territory, it sounds like it might be best to just go along with them, while making sure you have documentation that better ideas were rejected.
~Lynn2000

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long) Update #10
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 05:09:38 PM »
I can't go over her head, it would end up looking bad for me and the library is pretty much her kingdom. No one else but us or maybe the IT guy gets our systems. It really only matters when we have a lot of people coming in. At least next time we know what not to do.

Anyway, the influx seems to be winding down somewhat. I managed to catalogue some books yesterday and I applied for the dream position. Got a four day weekend over Easter but there won't be much relaxing.

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Duplicating work (a bit long) Update #10
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 07:30:50 AM »
Well, it's been a little while since my first  update  and the other day my boss did conceded that she was wrong assigning me to do the work in the first place.

It's quieted down a lot, but admin are still giving us problems with giving excuses for not enrolling students properly. And a lot of them are worried as they have tests on and assignments due soon.

But, I had an interview today for dream job and hopefully I don't have to work there for much longer