I have a supervisor and a coworker who just started doing an aspect of the job, since the old person left. It’s in accounting, so I like things done accurately. The previous coworkers in that position always adhered to the rules whenever I corrected them.

The rule is to always rename a file and move to the right folder once its processed. However these new supervisor and co-worker who just started the job don't do it.

First time I came across the error, I had emailed them separately and the supervisor agreed and responded to follow the right procedure. However, they are still not doing it. My boss is very passive and won't not do much so it’s something I have to take on my own.

I emailed them 3 times to change it after that and make adjustments, but it’s still not being done. It’s getting frustrating as others followed suit but these people are refusing to do it. What is the best thing to do at this point?

  • 7
    How is that affecting you? Is it just against the policy but not necessarily harmful short or long term, or is it actually making someone else's day harder?
    – Layman
    Dec 7, 2018 at 2:24
  • If you can program, maybe you can automate the task? Dec 7, 2018 at 7:41

5 Answers 5


I think that you are going to have to let this one go (and, knowing the accountancy mind-set, I know that it might not be easy ;-)

You have tried as much as you can (three times now), and they won’t follow Procedure. That leaves two possibilities:

  • If there is a good reason for doing so & they do not, something will go wrong and it will come back and bite them. At which point, someone will bawl them out and they will follow Procedure (and they might listen to you more closely in future)
  • There may actually be no important reason for that Procedure, other than “we do it that way because we have always done it that way”.

It doesn’t sound like you are the boss of your co-worker, so you can’t order or reprimand him, and you obviously can’t do that your own boss, whom you probably do not want to annoy, so let it go.

If you must have one last try – you don't make it clear, did you just say “do this …” or “do this because …” and show them good reasons to do so and ill consequences of not doing so?

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    I disagree, you have a process for handling files that prevents them from being missed or processed twice. They need to follow the process or recommend a better one that all who have to deal with it can agree on. Escalate if needed. Dec 7, 2018 at 22:22
  • No offence intended, but how do you know what the Process is, when the OP didn't explain it? He didn't explain it to us in his question, so maybe he didn't explain it to his boss & colleague? if there are clear benefits & detriments, then he ought to have explained them, which he does not say that he does (and which I suggest that he does). Dec 8, 2018 at 7:39
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    I inferred by the question 'coworkers not following procedure' that there was a process (procedure = process was my interpretation) Dec 12, 2018 at 19:45
  • Fair enough (+1). I just wish the OP had told us whether he had just said "do this ...", or "do this, because ..." Dec 13, 2018 at 7:09

The rule is to always rename a file and move to the right folder once its processed.

Well, the obvious question (besides that raised by mandy in particular, about authority) is: what's the purpose of that rule?

Presumably, that rule wasn't put in place for no reason at all, but to solve a problem. I'll hazard a guess that the problem it solved was that people didn't know which files had been processed and which hadn't been, and that this resulted in either double work or work that didn't get done.

If the new hires solve that same problem in a different way, then what reason (and, indeed, authority) do you have to force them to solve the problem your way?

Basically, don't look at whether someone is following a "rule" blindly, but look at whether they are solving the problem the rule was put in place to solve.

There's a place where following a rule or procedure to the letter is appropriate, but I don't think just keeping track of which files have been processed is necessarily one of those. It might be beneficial to simply apply a bit of flexibility here, and at most, remind the new hires about why that rule is in place and that it's the recommended way to avoid issues which presumably have been encountered in the past. However, you leave the decision (and also consequences) to them.

If, on the other hand, the rule was put in place by someone organizationally superior to the new hires, then enforcing the rule is their job, not yours. If not following the rule that has been put in place (and presumably explained to them) causes problems, you can be sure that they will find out about it.

Either way, for you to blatantly and repeatedly tell your superior how they should do their job is rarely a great career move on your part. Telling your coworkers how to do their job might not be as much of a career-limiting move, but can very easily come across as at least arrogant. There's a fine line between providing help or suggestions to someone new to the job, and telling them how to do the job they were hired for without being asked. Mind which side of that line you're on.

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    Just saying: This is accounting. If there is an audit, and your boss has to explain why procedures were not followed, this could be a big, big problem for everyone.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 8, 2018 at 15:53
  • @gnasher729 I agree. But it seems to me OP has already made their point several times, without success. At some point, it stands to reason that it's better to just explain why the rule is there (which could be "you have to make awfully sure that nothing can be missed and nothing can be processed twice") and leave it at that. OP can always do that in writing if they want to. If one's superior doesn't understand why that is important (yes, especially in accounting) then that's a separate problem from when one's superior, or coworker, is not following "procedure" or adhering to "the rule".
    – user
    Dec 8, 2018 at 16:16

Look at it from their perspective. Some guy, who is not their superior, is demanding that they do their new job a certain way without reason other than "it's the rule".

If you want them to change their behavior, the better approach would have been to at least provide them with a copy of the procedures for this specific process ( such a document exists correct? ) and explain to them how their failure to rename and move these files is preventing this process from completing.

Alternatively, you could have volunteered to train them or explained to the appropriate person that you believe these employees would benefit from being trained in their new roles.

Unfortunately, you did not take any of these measures and they are probably not going to listen to you and probably don't take you seriously. If your boss doesn't even support you in this endeavor, then you need to just let it go and take this experience as a lesson learned.


It seems you're in no position to enforce anything!

If it is company procedure (doesn't seem to be from your post) then remind management to inform the newcomers and to enforce it.

If this is no company set procedure and / or if it isn't vital for efficiency or teamwork and there are many accepted ways to do that in your field don't attempt to force everyone to give up their way and follow yours.

All you'll do is kill your work climate and since you're in a minority now, you might end up losing more than just your way of doing things...

All you can do is to suggest your "rule" to management as a company procedure with the remark that it was de facto standard at the company so far and worked great.

Management will decide or chose to ignore...
This is very suboptimal but if management doesn't feel the urge for a protocol (no matter how good it is) you can't do anything.

Your company apparently allows everyone doing their own thing.

So you do it your way and LET OTHERS BE.

In fact, if anything you're supposed to follow your (new)supervisors instructions!
So if he asks you to follow his procedure you bite your tongue if he won't take your arguments and DO WHAT HE TOLD YOU...


The first thing is to determine whether you have the authority to enforce such a rule. It sounds like you do not have, which means you will need to rely on others.

Next you would want to setup a meeting to discuss such rule. You have tried email communication, it did not work; so it is time to talk face to face. You would want to layout the benefits of your proposed rule, why it is important etc.

Then, and this is very important, Listen! Why are some people not doing it? Is it costing them additional time? Is it difficult to do? Are they using another set of rules to achieve a similar purpose of yours?

Remember, you do not want to enforce the rule. You want others to agree with you. They will follow suit once they see the reason.

In the long term you would have to decide how far you wish to take this matter to. Is it worth mentioning it to your supervisor's supervisor? At the end you may just have to suck it up (you do not have authority, and those that have sadly decided it is a small and irrelevant matter), or leave to find another opportunity.

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