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This is my first job and I'm just about a month in. My workplace uses an app for staff to communicate with each other, and on this app a group chat has been made including myself and everyone in my department. A staff member who I believe is a manager (?) (I am yet to meet them) attached a pdf showing where I have filled out some paperwork incorrectly. They asked that everyone reply to their message outlining what is wrong with how it has been filled out, not naming me directly but my portion of the paperwork is evidently what is incorrect about it. I would like to point out that there is nowhere to refer to on how this type of paperwork is to be filled out, and I have previously only been shown once or twice how to do it amongst many other new things to remember. At the time at which I filled this paperwork out, it was one of the first times working a shift alone and so it was also the first time doing paperwork without having anyone around to ask who would know how it is to be done correctly.

This group chat includes people who have been working there for much longer, who obviously will know what part of the paperwork is wrong. Myself and two other members of staff all joined this department at around the same time. I find it unnecessary that this person asked everyone to point out what was wrong about it, instead of only new staff as a learning opportunity (although I think I would still feel uncomfortable with this situation). I don't see why they couldn't have contacted only me directly.

Advice much appreciated.

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    Is there anything in the paperwork that specifically and conclusively identifies you or anyone else?
    – sf02
    Feb 23 at 22:03
  • @sf02 Yes, we are to sign our names for each row we fill out. Feb 23 at 22:04
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    They asked that everyone reply to their message outlining what is wrong with how it has been filled - Was it filled out with insufficient training in how to fill it out? Might just be an age thing, but saying it how it is cuts straight through all the BS. Feb 24 at 15:17

4 Answers 4

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I would keep a note of it, but wait.

A Single instance should be dealt with in isolation, but if it happens multiple times - then yes, public shaming is very unprofessional.

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    I would go farther and say that even a single instance is clearly an unprofessional public shaming. There's no reason for such behavior. Unfortunately, in organizations that operate like this, there's also rarely any recourse. The unfortunate result of such behavior is people keeping their heads down, not taking any chances and covering up rather than exposing problems.
    – DaveG
    Feb 27 at 19:54
  • I see where you are coming from and somewhat agree that it shouldn't happen. In the same breath though - we are all human and the occasional mistake should be considered as a mistake. I once had a manager who gave a warning about something, that everyone in the room interpreted as a threat of instant dismissal - which was not the Managers intent, he just really badly phrased it. Feb 27 at 21:36
  • I would be more willing to consider it a mistake if it was just a manager saying something in the heat of the moment. But in this case it was a pretty deliberate act, putting a message and a pdf into a group chat and then asking everyone what is wrong with the document. That doesn't happen in the heat of the moment. I've been through something like, when I hadn't even made a mistake, and at least in my case it indicated a pretty severe management problem.
    – DaveG
    Feb 27 at 22:34
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I feel like I am kind of being called out publicly for a mistake I made.

If you know you made a mistake and know how to correct it, the first thing you should do is to publicly reply and state that on line X you did Y when you should have done Z. This will look much better in the eyes of everyone than just remaining silent and letting yet another person publicly point out your mistake.

If you are unsure if it was you, or still don't know the correct procedure, I would reach out to whoever originally showed you ( or someone that knows how to do it ) asking them to explain it again and making sure that you take detailed notes for yourself. Make sure that you learn the procedure correctly to avoid repeating the same mistakes again.

Either way, you can approach the person who called you out publicly and let them know that their public display of someone else's mistakes without first giving that an opportunity to correct them is counterproductive and unprofessional and ask them to please address their concerns with your work privately in the future. If they continue with this behavior I would let your manager know and see what they say.

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    Agree with the first two paragraphs, but not so much the last paragraph. This could easily end up becoming a confrontation if the OP approaches the person assuming that person was out to attack/humiliate them. If the OP does indeed want to know about the reasoning, an open and frank approach to understand the situation would be much more helpful. Perhaps that person was frustrated at the approaches to documentation, or just a bad day. If there is any obvious unprofessionalism in their response at this point, then the manager or HR is a good person to approach.
    – Enthus3d
    Feb 27 at 3:48
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Don't worry too much about how you are perceived for this. It was one instance, you're new, nobody likes paperwork, and most people are going to recognize that this indirect way of giving feedback in front of everyone is bad style (or at best a misguided attempt at a learning opportunity).

This is especially true if you react graciously. If you already know your errors, point them out yourself and thank whoever taught you after that first shift alone. If you don't, thank whoever gave feedback. Ask where you can find information on how to fill out this (and other?) paperwork correctly, or who can show you how to do so. Show that you are willing to learn from mistakes, regardless of whether you are truly to blame for them or not.

You can even use this as an opportunity to make life easier for future newcomers. Clearly the information was not available when you needed it - maybe it should be part of the introduction every newcomer gets. Maybe there should be an info sheet wherever you get the paperwork that explains some terms or gives examples. Just make sure you don't look as if you're only trying to make excuses.

But should you bring up this incident with your supervisor or anyone else?

If you knew this person, you could just drop by and mention it without giving the incident too much weight. Since you don't I recommend to let it lie for now unless they do something like that again. Don't make more of it than it was, and definitely don't act the same way they did. If you bring it up with your supervisor, do it only in the context of avoiding such mistakes in the future (e.g. how to make sure that you know how to fill out the necessary paperwork before you are left alone with it).

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    100% agree. You are assuming the more experienced people are doing it correctly, which they might not. It could be your mistake might be the "straw that broke the camel's back," where this manager sees a problem that needs to be corrected, as it was the last one seen and used as an example. No one likes to be called out and embarrassed, but you said you were not specifically named. Relax and take is as one of those "learning opportunities."
    – Keltari
    Feb 25 at 15:54
  • Agree with this answer the most. These kinds of incidents shouldn't be handled too lightly nor too heavily, at the risk of causing unnecessary friction on the job. Being open about receiving feedback is also a good stance to take.
    – Enthus3d
    Feb 27 at 3:40
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In such situations, it is important to remain calm and respond with gratitude for the feedback, even if it seems that it was not given in the most appropriate way.

Every new employee has the right to make more mistakes than those who have been working for a longer time. It is important to focus on how we can improve our situation. In this case, it is worth asking for specific help or clarification to avoid similar mistakes in the future. If there are no clear guidelines or training materials, it is worth reporting it to the supervisor or team leader to help improve the system and minimize similar situations in the future.

It is important to learn from such situations and use them as opportunities for learning and development. Certainly, if you propose creating instructions on how to fill out such a document and what the whole process looks like (after filling), it will be appreciated by superiors and other people who process these documents. For the next new employees, it will be a great relief and will reduce their stress at the beginning of work

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