Author Topic: Confusing response from big boss - update #21  (Read 6852 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

DollyPond

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 680
Confusing response from big boss - update #21
« on: June 22, 2013, 09:56:26 PM »
Dear All,

I'm asking for some help understanding an e-mail response from big boss.

Today I sent an e-mail to our group (big boss copied) with the news that a problem we have been experiencing has also been seen at a colleague's site.  In other words, the problem is not unique to us (i.e. we are not making some kind of annoying mistake) but seems to be a more generalized failure of one vendor's equipment.

Big Boss responded to all saying that he does not like this kind of thinking and that we should be looking into the future so as to achieve the highest standards.

I am confused by this response as are a few others in the group.  I'm not sure how identifying the root cause of a problem is not forward looking.

I don't plan to respond.  I am hoping that his wife, who is a member of the group, points out to him that he may have missed the point of the e-mail.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 03:41:08 PM by DollyPond »

NyaChan

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4107
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2013, 10:04:48 PM »
 ??? Yeah I can see how that would be confusing - I'm fairly befuddled myself.

Harriet Jones

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6723
  • Yes, we know who you are.
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2013, 10:09:13 PM »
My guess is that he zeroed in on some phrasing in your email without paying attention to the entire content. 

PastryGoddess

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4899
    • My Image Portfolio and Store
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2013, 10:12:46 PM »
Dear All,

I'm asking for some help understanding an e-mail response from big boss.

Today I sent an e-mail to our group (big boss copied) with the news that a problem we have been experiencing has also been seen at a colleague's site.  In other words, the problem is not unique to us (i.e. we are not making some kind of annoying mistake) but seems to be a more generalized failure of one vendor's equipment.

Big Boss responded to all saying that he does not like this kind of thinking and that we should be looking into the future so as to achieve the highest standards.

I am confused by this response as are a few others in the group.  I'm not sure how identifying the root cause of a problem is not forward looking.

I don't plan to respond.  I am hoping that his wife, who is a member of the group, points out to him that he may have missed the point of the e-mail.

Thoughts?


Maybe this is a time to go into detail with the big boss as to why you sent the email and what it means for the company.  He may just see this as a general complaint regarding the vendor and not how it affects company as a whole.

I wouldn't copy the whole group just reply directly to Big Boss

Pen^2

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2013, 11:46:19 PM »
Yeah, I'm thinking he skimmed it, and thought you were trying to blame the other vendor for a problem, and didn't bother reading it properly before replying.

Not sure what to reply though! Some people don't like being corrected, and it can be dangerous if such a person is a big boss.

DollyPond

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 680
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2013, 09:59:08 AM »
After thinking about it I also have another suspicion.

I think there may have been a separate discussion that I was not part of concerning whether or not to report out additional findings from a new test we just started.  We were all discussing this at a meeting the day before.  Two of our attending physicians are resistant to this because "no one else is doing it yet".  He might have thought that I was replying to that thread.

The bad part is that if that IS what he was thinking the subject line of my e-mail ("Good to know we're not alone in this") comes across as really snarky.  Hopefully he'll go back and read my actual e-mail, realize I was not part of the original discussion and not assume the worst.  Or as I had said his wife could point out the mix up.

Good point about people who do not like to be corrected.  Big Boss is new and I haven't gotten a read on that yet - so best to not stir things up.

artk2002

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 13001
    • The Delian's Commonwealth
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2013, 10:26:43 AM »
Sounds like just another empty platitude that comes out of the executive suite. I think that you're spending far too much effort trying to decode it. I've worked for a number of CEOs who could put together sentences that were correct as far as English grammar were concerned, but had absolutely no real meaning.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Daydream

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 290
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2013, 04:28:42 PM »
Was the intent of your email to point out that now that the problem with the vendor's equipment has been identified, you can move forward in making things better by either finding a new vendor, or trying to get the current vendor to fix the problem?  If so, and you didn't say that in the email, it could be that Big Boss needs this spelled out for him. 

So, while you might have been thinking, "Now Big Boss will automatically look into changing vendors, or will ask me or someone in More Appropriate Dept. to do so, and this will make things better," he may not understand that unless you actually write: "Would you like me or someone in Other Department to discuss this problem with Vendor or look for a new vendor so that we can fix this problem?" 

Perhaps you thought it would be too forward to say that.

If he has a mind that just reads what is front of him, stops, and does not think any further, he may just think, "Why is DollyPond 'complaining' about this problem?  We can't do anything about it, so we should just 'look into the future' by ignoring it." 

If you knew him better and could trust that he wouldn't react badly, I would at this point write something like, "Yes, if we are able to correct this problem, it will help us to move forward and achieve the highest standards.  I will look into it." 

But I agree that that might be seen as "correcting" him, so it's probably good that you've decided not to respond. 


ETA:  Some people see any mention of something bad without trying to fix it as "complaining" or a "waste of time," etc.  So, if your intent was not to find a solution and was just to say, "Hey, I discovered something interesting about this problem we've been having and just wanted to share it with all of you," he might not like that.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 04:50:54 PM by Daydream »

jpcher

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8692
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2013, 06:27:38 PM »
First question . . . Are you team lead? or Person with Authority?


Today I sent an e-mail to our group (big boss copied) with the news that a problem we have been experiencing has also been seen at a colleague's site.  In other words, the problem is not unique to us (i.e. we are not making some kind of annoying mistake) but seems to be a more generalized failure of one vendor's equipment.

Big Boss responded to all saying that he does not like this kind of thinking and that we should be looking into the future so as to achieve the highest standards.

I am confused by this response as are a few others in the group.  I'm not sure how identifying the root cause of a problem is not forward looking.

I don't plan to respond.  I am hoping that his wife, who is a member of the group, points out to him that he may have missed the point of the e-mail.

Thoughts?

Simply identifying the root of the problem could possibly be misconstrued as "It's not our fault (phew) . . . somebody else can fix it."* In which case (in big boss' mind) your e-mail was not forward thinking at all.

*Not knowing the exact wording of your e-mail (and I'm not expecting you to post it) it's difficult to surmise exactly what the big boss was thinking, if at all  :-\, when he responded.

Personally, I think you did the right thing by sending out an e-mail to everybody saying "Hey! Great news! We're not idiots!" ;D


After thinking about it I also have another suspicion.

(snip)

Good point about people who do not like to be corrected.  Big Boss is new and I haven't gotten a read on that yet - so best to not stir things up.

Stop playing the guessing game. That's the only way to get a read on Big Boss.

"Yes, i If we are able to correct this problem, it will help us to move forward and achieve the highest standards.  We have been troubleshooting the problem on our own and I thought it would be a morale booster to let the team know that the problem is not unique to us and the source of the problem is, in fact, on the vendor side. I see that as progress.

I will look into it. I am in contact with colleague and, together, we will continue to work on finding a solution. If you have any suggestions on how to best solve this problem, please let me know."

I do not think that this would be correcting big boss. It is sending him additional/detailed information that he may not be aware of. No need to copy the team (cc your supervisor if you're not directly under big boss.)





I don't plan to respond.  I am hoping that his wife, who is a member of the group, points out to him that he may have missed the point of the e-mail.

Please, please, pleeeease! do not put his wife in the middle! Just.No. Very bad!



(edited to fix color)
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 06:37:56 PM by jpcher »

citadelle

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 522
  • fully functional & aesthetically pleasing
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2013, 09:44:24 PM »

Simply identifying the root of the problem could possibly be misconstrued as "It's not our fault (phew) . . . somebody else can fix it."* In which case (in big boss' mind) your e-mail was not forward thinking at all

<Snipped>

This was my thought. As teachers we are discouraged from thinking about problems students have as parenting issues or poverty related, for example. We are supposed to focus on what we can do about the problem, even if the root cause is out of our hands.

Don't know if that applies, but was my first thought.

lmyrs

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1143
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 06:31:32 PM »
I agree with most of the above stating that he likely didn't read through the whole thing or he misunderstood the content in some way. I think this demonstrates one of the very important reasons to put clear and specific subject lines in your emails, especially when those emails are being sent to higher ups. Rather than "we're not alone" a better option would have been "Update on xyz System Issues". Then, right away the big boss would know what you were talking about, even if he didn't read the whole thing.

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30953
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2013, 11:44:34 AM »
Or maybe "new info on that problem"

 I like the idea of creating the framework in which you wat the message to be seen.

(it all gets very tiring, doesn't it?)

DollyPond

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 680
Re: Confusing e-mail response from big boss
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2013, 02:50:42 PM »
No new developments so far...

Everyone has pretty much just let it slide (even those who asked me "What does he mean by that?").  Big boss was traveling and then we had a major physical move of our department.  Big boss came by to tour our new areas but did not say anything about the subject.

So I guess we'll just let sleeping dogs lie.  There is a group meeting next week (Big boss not attending).  I'm thinking that it won't come up.

DollyPond

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 680
Re: Confusing response from big boss - another incident
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 04:27:50 PM »
So the original incident that I described here died a quiet death with nothing more said about it.

Today I sent the following e-mail to big boss following up on his request that we meet tomorrow or Friday:

Quote
Would you have a time to meet tomorrow to discuss the [TCP Reports]?  My time is most flexible tomorrow.  On Friday I am having lunch with friends but can schedule a time before or after that.

He had the supervisor "speak to" me about including too much personal information in the e-mail. He has also not responded with a time to meet.  I included the lunch info because sometimes he does schedule meetings at noon.

Is this justified or am I dealing with a crazy person?
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 04:30:56 PM by DollyPond »

fountainsoflettuce

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 295
Re: Confusing response from big boss - another incident #13
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2013, 04:35:12 PM »
He doesn't care why you are unavailable, ie lunch with friends and to a lesser degree, whether you can change your plans.  You should have just said, "I am unable on Friday from x to y time."