Author Topic: Covering for the receptionist  (Read 2673 times)

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CakeBeret

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Covering for the receptionist
« on: March 12, 2014, 10:39:57 AM »
After working at a tiny business for 6 years I'm still getting the hang of working for a larger company and figuring out the right way to handle things.

At my work there are about a dozen people trained to be backup for the receptionist. I am one of them, and I am at the bottom of the list since I'm very busy most of the time. Right now I am approaching the busiest time of the month.

I got an email this morning asking if I would cover reception for an hour. It looked like the receptionist had already asked several other people, who said that they were too busy. I figured it was only for an hour so I'd make it work.

I said yes, and about 10 minutes later my manager sent out an email to several other backups saying I was too busy to cover reception and someone else needed to figure it out.

That made me wonder if I made a misstep somewhere. Should I have consulted a manager before saying yes? I have a high level of autonomy and don't usually speak with my manager more than once a week, so I honestly didn't think to ask first.

I guess I'm just trying to figure out the best way to handle this in the future.
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TurtleDove

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2014, 10:45:25 AM »
None of us can answer this for you - ask your manager! :)

Dindrane

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2014, 10:57:50 AM »
None of us can answer this for you - ask your manager! :)

Agreed. You now have a perfect opening to talk to your manager about when you should try to make covering the front desk work and when you should tell them you're too busy.


TootsNYC

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2014, 11:14:35 AM »
None of us can answer this for you - ask your manager! :)

Agreed. You now have a perfect opening to talk to your manager about when you should try to make covering the front desk work and when you should tell them you're too busy.


I'll third that.

Ask your manager, "Did I screw up by not asking you before I said yes? How much priority should I put on those requests?"

PastryGoddess

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2014, 11:16:48 AM »
I think you did fine. There were no missteps.  You decided on your own that you could cover the front desk with your current workload, and you probably could have. And I think your manager did fine as well.  Your manager decided that your work was more important and sent an email out to the staff letting them know. 

It would have been something completely different if YOU had sent out a message letting everyone know you were too busy and asking them to figure it out.

MrTango

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2014, 11:23:15 AM »
I think you did fine. There were no missteps.  You decided on your own that you could cover the front desk with your current workload, and you probably could have. And I think your manager did fine as well.  Your manager decided that your work was more important and sent an email out to the staff letting them know. 

It would have been something completely different if YOU had sent out a message letting everyone know you were too busy and asking them to figure it out.

I came here to say pretty much this.

I think your response that you could cover shows that you are willing to be a team-player.  Your manager's email was an exercise of his/her authority to determine that your work is of higher priority than having you cover the receptionist's desk.  That way, when someone says, "Why wasn't CakeBeret able to cover the desk" the answer will be "Because her manager said so" rather than "Because she didn't want to/volunteer to."

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2014, 11:23:52 AM »
I as a manager might step in and say, "Cake Beret is still too busy."  But I would also be glad that you are willing to step up and act as part of the team.

Now if you use this as an opening to discuss with your boss, you will be golden.  You are trying to learn not only your specific tasks but also how the team operates.  Go for it.
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MrTango

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2014, 11:24:26 AM »
I as a manager might step in and say, "Cake Beret is still too busy."  But I would also be glad that you are willing to step up and act as part of the team.

Now if you use this as an opening to discuss with your boss, you will be golden.  You are trying to learn not only your specific tasks but also how the team operates.  Go for it.

This is also a very good point.

Arila

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2014, 01:39:07 PM »
As part of the conversation with the manager, maybe you could request/suggest that reception coverage not be so informally arranged. This shouldn't be up to the receptionist to go around begging one person after the other, it should be a decision made by the manager(s) together and the task given to the appropriate person, or guidelines given to the prioritized list on  when they are allowed to say no.

purple

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2014, 11:26:07 PM »
As part of the conversation with the manager, maybe you could request/suggest that reception coverage not be so informally arranged. This shouldn't be up to the receptionist to go around begging one person after the other, it should be a decision made by the manager(s) together and the task given to the appropriate person, or guidelines given to the prioritized list on  when they are allowed to say no.

Yes! And you would really look 'golden' (as somebody upthread phrased it) if you went in with not only the suggestion/issue but also a solution.  Go in and say something like 'the way that the reception duties are organised and the system for working out who will cover reception at what times seems to be a bit haphazard.  How about we do something like this great process/roster/thingy that I've worked out so that everybody can plan their time much better'.

EMuir

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2014, 11:35:20 PM »
I can totally understand why your boss might do that, because to one who looks for these things, they might think "Aha, CakeBeret has TONS of time to waste."  And then politically your boss has to deal with someone implying he isn't managing efficiently.  But I think it's worth discussing.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2014, 01:03:27 AM »
I as a manager might step in and say, "Cake Beret is still too busy."  But I would also be glad that you are willing to step up and act as part of the team.

Now if you use this as an opening to discuss with your boss, you will be golden.  You are trying to learn not only your specific tasks but also how the team operates.  Go for it.

This is along the exact same lines as what I would say.  Definitely take this as an opportunity to speak with your boss, it shows how much of a team player you are and how you are willing to learn new things, ie how to handle this in the future.
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Ceallach

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Re: Covering for the receptionist
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2014, 03:54:50 AM »
I've worked at large companies with this setup and yes you would usually check with your manager before agreeing to cover a specific time, even as designated backup.
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