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I work for this organization and record my work in an Excel spreadsheet. My boss messaged me today saying he would prefer me to use another format of MS Word. What does this mean? This message was sent in June and I havent heard any update yet.

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    It would be helpful to indicate where you are geographically and what sort of work you do (particularly if it's billed to clients). – chrylis -on strike- Sep 3 at 7:05
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    How do you jump from "my boss wants me to change how I track my time" to "my boss might want to get rid of me" ? – Rich Sep 3 at 13:29
  • I'm unclear how using a different format to record your work equates to getting canned? – Dan Sep 10 at 13:44
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No, it just means that the different format enables him to make better use of the numbers.

If your performance is poor, then changing the format does not affect that, it does mean that your boss will have grounds to talk to you about your performance as necessary.

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    +1 but just to be pedantically correct (because I think OP needs the distinction, based on their question), changing the format can better reveal an underlying performance issue, but such a (hopefully hypothetical) issue would always have been there even before the new format was being used. If, however, only OP is being looked at in more detail and not their coworkers, that can indicate that he is being investigated more thoroughly because they already suspect a performance issue. The solution is to improve performance (or at least ask for help), not to avoid the new format. – Flater Sep 2 at 14:37
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    This can also be management's way of trying to micromanage. In that case, they are trying to get 100% utilization out of people who realistically can give maybe 80%, due to normal business interruptions, breaks, and even time in changing tasks. It's still not the OPs fault, unless it's a change specifically because the OP is severely under performing. – computercarguy Sep 3 at 17:36
  • Hi, Thanks! If I am sure of one thing, then it's not underperformance! I just manage the reports of this department. Other members just perform technical functions such as troubleshooting, installation, etc for their clients. Few do not send me the reports and hence upload just half baked reports. I did ask them specifically to send me the drafts so I could write a good report and upload it. The record of my work in excel sheet relates to who sent me reports and of what! The manager messaged me saying he wants me to use a different format. I am fine with it, but I was concerned with the phrase – aiuxu Sep 4 at 5:39
  • @aiuxu so it would be good if you accepted one of the answers (and I'm not asking just for mine...) so the system can mark the question as completed, otherwise it keeps pushing the question on the front page for no reason. – Solar Mike Sep 4 at 5:44
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    @computercarguy: The new format is not indicative of micromanagement. It could just as well be the opposite, where new management has decided to move away from micromanagement by tracking better metrics. Calling all tracking micromanagement merely perpetuates the issue of management arguing that micromanagement is needed to keep things on track. – Flater Sep 4 at 9:40
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Billing

A common reason for requiring particular formats and rules for recording work done is not for reviewing the employee, but for billing their work to various customers (no matter if external customers or internal departments), allocating the cost of all the worker's time to particular projects and business units so that the profitability of these projects and/or business units can be calculated.

"Viewing the utilisation of your services" sounds very much like this purpose - the rest of the organization needs your boss to put your (and others) numbers in some standartised report, so your boss requires a particular format to make it simpler for him/her to copy&paste the data.

  • Now I think of this, I think you are right! Thank you so much! – aiuxu Sep 4 at 5:41
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This is a fairly common practice - for full time employees or contractors.

  1. For full time employees, accurately tracking output can not only help with ensuring productivity improvements (important to make the company grow faster / become more profitable) but is also required from a financial perspective (example: capitalization of software development costs).

  2. For contractors, accurately tracking output allows the company to ensure they are getting the appropriate value from their 3rd party investments.

I wouldn't assume the ask has anything to do with your performance unless there have been prior indications from your leadership that it's an issue or if you feel that you've not delivered (on time) what you signed up to do.

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You know what? I'll take the dissenting, cynical opinion.

Does your boss usually speak that formally with you? I mean, the phrase "view the utilization of your services" isn't exactly common (If your boss usually spouts jargon like that all the time, feel free to disregard the rest of this answer.) In my experience, bosses speak formally and with jargon when they're worried about the side-effects of speaking clearly/concisely/informally.

In this case, I'd actually guess the translation of that business speak is: "I want to better track whether you're actually getting stuff done, because I don't think you are." But they can't simply say that, because you might get angry with them at them accusing you of not being productive/useful.

So along those lines, I'd suggest:

  • Taking a good hard look at whether you add to the company. If you don't, can you change some things that you do so that you add better value? Now's a perfect time, since if you can turn things around, it'll hopefully be reflected in better time tracking in the new format.
  • Judge whether your boss knows the full scope of your accomplishments. Sometimes, bosses have no idea what the true benefit for a particular employee is. If you've been helping Joe in accounting with the expenses process each week and working as a resource for the XYZ project... does your boss know about them?
  • Polish up your Resume/CV. I'm not saying "You're getting Fired!" but if the boss is worried about your productivity, having an up-to-date resume is a good proactive measure.
  • I definitely understand where you're coming from, but it could be a "form letter" type from upper management (or the lawyers), meant to be sent to everyone and changing it for normal speech patterns isn't allowed. So this leads to Management not targeting the OP, but rather looking at Everyone for who is under performing. Updating a resume/CV when getting policy changes like this is always good advice. – computercarguy Sep 3 at 17:42
  • @computercarguy - Dunno. I mean, I got the impression that the message was tailored towards the OP, with having to convert their current Excel format to another type. But I guess it could be a company-wide message. Likewise, I'm assuming the message was verbal instead of email - but that's just a gut take from the verb 'say' (people use 'say' to describe email correspondence, too.) If the message was verbal, it's likely not something from higher up. – Kevin Sep 3 at 22:23
  • "My boss messaged me", to me, this sounds more like a written message than a verbal one. The title and the body of the Question don't really match here, though, but I don't think I'd ever say someone messaged me if they talked to me, even if it was a voicemail. Not often, but I've had managers speak to me as if they got a memo from their boss and are inadvertently quoting the "lawyer speak" from that message. The OP doesn't say it's their own spreadsheet or the companies that multiple people use, so there's a lot of ambiguity in this Question, granted. – computercarguy Sep 3 at 22:32
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    Hi, it was sent as an email from the lead himself. I have updated the question stating the type of work I do! The others just perform technical duties such as troubleshooting and sometimes they upload half baked reports. I have asked them not to do that and send me everything as it is my job to write detailed and well-structured reports. I send the records of the work done stating who sent me reports to the employer. The lead wants me to change the format, I understand. But the phrase 'to better view the utilization of your services' is what got me bothered. Thank you! – aiuxu Sep 4 at 5:43

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