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At the end of the day, I was pulled aside by my manager due to me making mistakes on a workbook that I send daily to a big boss in the company. The task isn't complicated, but I keep making various mistakes, and now the big boss spoke to my manager and made it clear that my work or should I say the workbook I sent him can't be trusted. Now trust in me is tarnished too.

I currently manage one of the worst performing sites in the company. The site performing badly isn't something I can rectify as it is due to badly maintained machinery from over the years. But because of this I feel the pressure is completely on my shoulders as this site is the forefront of all the top bosses.

I feel pressure, stress, and always like I'm fire fighting. My mind is always focused on more than one thing at a time. I tell the site what to produce and they make it, but it isn't so simple as a lot of the time they don't make because of machines breaking down. Because of this, I make a lot of small mistakes in my work.

What can I do to stop this?! I understand the best way is to bullet point my work to make it more manageable and triple check my work. But even with this I still make mistakes!

I really feel that if I carry on like this then I am sure to be put on a performance review!

It's crazy I am really stressed about a workbook, but it's who this workbook goes to that's the problem.

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    You need someone to review your work before it gets submitted. Any operation that depends on a single individual's infallible correctness is doomed to failure. People aren't machines. We all make mistakes. – AffableAmbler Jan 16 '18 at 19:10
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    Is the report you sent to your boss's boss the first draft? Personally I think something that goes to the big boss should be reviewed 3, 4 times at least across multiple days. I would talk to your boss and ask if he could review the work. Plus it's on your boss to make sure you're doing your work, so it's on both of you guys. – Dan Jan 16 '18 at 19:20
  • Do you have a "right hand person" you trust to review it for you? – Mister Positive Jan 16 '18 at 19:26
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    If you don't have someone able to review the sheet for you, add an extra worksheet which contains double-checking arithmetic - e.g if a column should add up to 100, have a cell which checks for that on the review worksheet. Only when the review worksheet has a set of green ticks should you send the file off. – PeteCon Jan 16 '18 at 19:46
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it sounds more like a psychology / productivity issue instead of a workplace one. – Dukeling Jan 16 '18 at 21:04
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Re-read/re-check after 30mins.

If you make small mistakes, you're rushing too much. After you've written a report, leave it be for 30 minutes and then read it again, slowly. Because it has left your active thoughts, you have to read it properly in order to understand it again, your short term memory doesn't fill in the gaps. This will filter out at least some of the flaws.

Alternatively, you can let someone else read it first, but that would require some hours from someone else and, in the end, you have to provide proper results on your own.

Make (check)lists

You say you can't focus on one thing at a time, you have to create order in the chaos. I like to make lists of what I have to do, I do this before I actually start. Because I wrote it down, I dont have to remember it. That saves you a lot of noise, as you can always read it back.

Checklists also help. Just add the most common things on the list, and a few general exceptions. Then run your report through the checklist and fix what you have to.

This has bonus effects:

  • You create better work as you double check your work. This is a good habit.
  • You can prove to your boss that you're trying to improve, and actually have something to show.
  • If you write this down properly, others could use your documentation to improve as well, e.g. new employees.
  • +1: I can't get through the day without a checklist (and prioritising it)! – trashpanda Jan 18 '18 at 15:14
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... due to me making mistakes on a workbook that I send daily to a big boss in the company.

You have a manual reporting system and a worksheet-based workflow. Two problems right there.

I tell the site what to produce and they make it, but it isn't so simple as a lot of the time they don't make because of machines breaking down. Because of this, I make a lot of small mistakes in my work.

Are you responsible (personally) for maintenance?

First things first: That report is a deliverable that needs to be done daily. Is it possible to automate getting the data for that report? Is it possible to automate generating it? Hiring a contract developer for just a few days may straighten out your reporting problem.

Second: If you are managing the site, why are breakdowns consuming your time? Do you not have a maintenance / engineering person or team on-site? Should you?

A manager's job should be in removing obstacles to productivity. It sounds to me like you've "integrated" the obstacles into your workflow. I refer to that as "Treating the symptoms and not solving the problems." I've seen more than one manager fall into this way of thinking and never break out. You need to break out.

  • I second automating the process. Correctly automated, the process will be quicker with no mistakes. – B540Glenn Jan 18 '18 at 19:57
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In a way you are in a good position. It sounds like through no particular fault of your own, your reputation with upper management is pretty low. The good thing is that there is no where for it to go but up. (or "out")

Take the opportunity to take control of the situation. While you are not the manager, you clearly see the problems in the site. Collect the numbers you need and the anecdotes and advocate to management about fixing the machines.

Find yourself a right hand person. Preferably someone experienced with the difficulties of the existing equipment. Have this person help you document and formulate a strategy to fix the problems. Also have this person review your reports and workbooks before you send them up the chain.

The worst thing that will happen is you'll get fired, but it sounds like that is possibility anyway.

The best thing is that you will improve the operations of the site, make your life easier and receive credit for it.

The reality is probably somewhere in between.

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I currently manage one of the worst performing sites in the company. The site performing badly isn't something I can rectify as it is due to badly maintained machinery from over the years. But because of this I feel the pressure is completely on my shoulders as this site is the forefront of all the top bosses.

I'd be rather careful because of this - it could well be that you're used as a scapegoat or an example (you might know it's poorly maintained machinery, but the guy up the food chain explaining himself could easily twist the story to state that it's because he keeps getting a workbook with mistakes.)

I'd also agree with other comments / answers, in that you should definitely get someone to sign it off, check it over and point out any mistakes that have been made - you might be the one who has to sign it off, but you can certainly get someone else to check it over.

I feel pressure, stress, and always like I'm fire fighting. My mind is always focused on more than one thing at a time. I tell the site what to produce and they make it, but it isn't so simple as a lot of the time they don't make because of machines breaking down. Because of this, I make a lot of small mistakes in my work.

My only other advice would be to slow down! Be realistic about what you can achieve, and then just stick to that, don't rush, and double check things. You may well get less done this way, but it's generally much easier to answer to management about getting less done than about doing stuff inaccurately:

Bob, we had 4 breakdowns today I had to deal with, there's simply no way I could have achieved all we had planned - I've documented it all there for you to see. I'm afraid that until these machines are replaced, I can only foresee the level of productivity decreasing over time.

This reads a lot better than something like:

Bob, sorry I made these mistakes, but these machines breaking down are stressing me out and so I'm never really sure what I'm meant to be doing!

It also makes for a much better conversation in any future interview about your past employment there (again, "I was handed a bunch of crap machines that kept breaking, so I couldn't get stuff done" reads a lot better than "The machines kept breaking and then I got stressed and kept making mistakes.")

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