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I work for a marketing company that staffs various events. Our regional manager keeps getting changed for some reason. The new one I’ve had difficulty with. On several occasions she just ignores my messages. For the past several days she said I have a shift today. She just sent this in a text message but it isn’t on the official system and I have almost no information about the shift (such as the time). I contacted her several times to get this and she just said she would do it soon. Finally she gave me the time and it was only 3 hours before the shift started. She has done similar things.

I would l like to speak with her manager but not sure who it is. I have a guess, someone included in some email chains. My question is how should I approach it?

I could email the person I suspect of being the manager "Hello, I work for Ms. Manager in location X. I was wondering if you’re her manager or know who is?"

In future situations like this what should I do? If she hasn't provided me with the necessary information 2 days in advance I could find other work but that would mean missing my shift with them. This is a real problem her not using the official system because now I can't check in when I'm at work.

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    Is there a minimum notice period you must get before the shift? Is this documented somewhere, ie. employee handbook? – rath Jun 9 at 19:10
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    Please add a country tag. Depending on where you are, you may have a criminal boss, instead of just a bad one. – Rupert Morrish Jun 9 at 20:41
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    @rath to my knowledge no there isn't. However in the industry (and with all the previous managers for this agency) at least a weeks notice is standard. If there's an urgent request then they pay more to have it filled on little notice. – Bertelem Jun 10 at 2:57
  • @RupertMorrish US. What are you thinking? It seems like jumping the gun to go straight into the legal route. – Bertelem Jun 10 at 2:58
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    @Bertelem Knowing what is legal does not always means getting into a legal fight. Knowing what the rules are is helpful for what you can demand / ask. – Sourav Ghosh Jun 10 at 6:12
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This is really frustrating. It sounds either like a novice and immature manager or a really bad miscommunication.

Some things you should do quickly, including escalating, that could change the behavior of your manager quickly:

1. Are your colleagues having the same experience? Have a conversation with some of the folks you work with and see if the same thing is happening to them.

2. Talk to your manager. If you can, get a face-to-face conversation to let your manager know the new way of disseminating the schedule is a major departure from the norms of the team and is unacceptable to you. Describe what you would like them to do instead. Speaking in person or over the phone is better than email or text.

3. Get help from another manager or leader at the company. It doesn’t have to be your manager’s supervisor. Any leader at the company can help you. If there is an old manager or senior leader you trust, reach out to them for help —- they may know the right path to escalate.

4. Document the behavior. Keep track of when and how you’re being called in on short notice.

If you get through 1-3 without any improvement, you could consider making a complaint to a local authority or labor advocate. You might also consider starting a search for a new employer. In the meantime, show up when you can, and if you can’t —- make it known to your manager that you need more notice and can’t make it.

Good luck.

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    +1 for a face-to-face chat. This and Sourav's recommendation to force the use of official channels is the way to go. – rath Jun 10 at 8:57
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It just seems you have a manager who is poor at their job.

Some of the times the main reason for avoiding official channels is to avoid getting into the legalities, and it seems to be the same in your case, too.

If the out-of-the-band requests are being used (exploited) for tricking you (or anyone) into getting some work done beyond the scope, it's not acceptable. Remember, there is no official paper trail of the work assignment, and in case things go south, it's mostly you who will be facing the difficulties.

I'd suggest, press as hard as you can for relying on the official communication channels for work assignments, at least. Quick updates / status checks via unofficial communication channels are OK, but the work assignments, roles and responsibilities, expected outcome/deliverable should be communicated over official channel - it's better that way.

If your manager does not tend to use official channels, you start doing so. For example, whenever you receive any request / work assignment over offline communication, you can initially try responding to the communication saying:

"Thank you for the update. Can you also possibly share the same information over e-mail so that we can have a better tracking of work records for future purpose?"

If that approach does not work (they do not pay heed to your request), next time onward, initiate yourself. Write an official email something like

"As communicated on X date and time, I will be taking up Y work, with responsibilities P, Q, R. . Please let me know whether the understanding is correct, and changes (if any)."

That puts the ball in their court - for them to respond if they don't agree with something and you get yourself a paper trail which can be used for future purpose. Chances are if the communications are made official, it'll be tracked better. However, if this also do not work, have a meeting setup with your manager and explain them the difficulties you have to face, the problems of the last minute assignments and ask them guidance on how to accomplish the tasks.

Remember, the target is not to push back on the last minute assignments, rather the task is to avoid having last minute assignments altogether which are difficult to complete. Improved communication and better tracking can help that regard.

  • +1 Would it be worth ignoring the unofficial channels alltogether? For example, if the OP misses their shift because it was communicated via text at the last minute, do you think Sorry, I didn't see it in the rota is a good answer? I'd be tempted to do it, but I've never had to deal with this kind of system so I don't know. – rath Jun 10 at 8:59
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    @rath I think that's legal, but I wont suggest something just because it's legal. Showing the willingness to get things done is a more positive attitude, especially when the work is still doable - and bring new ideas to improve the workflow would appear more acceptable. Just my two cents. – Sourav Ghosh Jun 10 at 10:51

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