16

Basically, my boss and his peer (both are directors of their respective departments), don't appear to agree on a particular policy, and it's resulting in extra work for me, confusion for my colleagues, and inconvenience for our customers.

Now for the specifics: I work for a small cultural center in a metro area, and we host a lot of lectures, discussion panels, and author readings. We're a small outfit so most of us have several jobs to do, and one of my jobs is to set up the online registration form for each event. There's been an issue lately where events would be promoted/advertised (with flyers, posters, etc) before I have created the registration page for them. Oftentimes, I don't know an event is taking place until a colleague or customer calls me wanting to register, but can't find the registration page and is asking me where it is.

I talked to my boss about it, and he sent a nice reminder email to the event director and his team stating that events should not be promoted until they have verified that a registration page exists for the event. The event director responded with a vague note about some events needing more "lead time" to be promoted. I replied with a suggestion, and asked if that would help his situation, but never heard back about it or any alternative suggestions.

Since then (that was about a month ago), yet another event that I didn't know was taking place has been promoted and yet again I get a call about the missing registration page. As I mentioned earlier, I have have several jobs to do, and when this happens I have to drop everything to put up the registration page. I feel like the events director and his team are being disrespectful of my time.

I can continue discussing this with my boss, but I suspect this is a part of a power struggle between the two of them. And the entire organization and our customers are caught in the middle of it.

Should I just give up "deal with it"? What would you do?

  • 3
    What's your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to find ways to compel the events director to be more respectful? – enderland Jun 12 '15 at 17:34
  • That is just silly that the event directory would not want registration page. Did they send you a notice and you just did not yet get around to it or did you never get a notice? – paparazzo Jun 12 '15 at 17:37
  • 2
    @enderland - Trying to make us look more organize in our customers' eyes, and make my work a little easier. – girl-in-the-middle Jun 12 '15 at 17:50
  • 2
    why not make it generic and give them an interface to make their own registration page for new events? – JamesRyan Jun 12 '15 at 23:57
  • 4
    @JamesRyan - THAT. A major goal of a great software developer should be to write themselves out of their most boring/annoying/manual task. Write generic framework with a UI for the promotions people to fill in the form. Give them the UI. Never worry about registration pages again. I think a next question for the poster should be "How do I sell my boss on that idea" :) – user13655 Jun 13 '15 at 0:17
21

First off, make sure your manager is aware of the problem. It's his job to help you solve problems like this, and it's also in your best interest to make sure he knows about the problem before he starts getting complaints about you.

As this answer says, working with a peer in the promotions group might improve things. The events director isn't doing his job and probably isn't even telling the promotions people that there's a dependency. So see if you can get "dialed in" to their group -- when they receive a request to develop a flyer, ad, etc, maybe they could give you a heads-up so you're at least aware of it.

As for the specific problem, two suggestions:

  1. This is why the phrase "tickets go on sale (some future date)" was invented. Ok, they want to do promotions way in advance; that's cool. Does registration need to be immediately enabled? You could try asking about that.

  2. What can you do to make putting up a registration page easier and faster? Can you develop a generic template that you could deploy immediately, and if they want it to be customized (graphics tied into the event, etc), that could come later? Instead of thinking of the registration page as a Big Thing that you need to drop other work for, can you reduce the first version to "copy this file" or something similar? Make sure the events director knows that the sooner you get the event information the sooner he'll have a customized registration page, but in the meantime you can solve the immediate problem and get back to your regular work.

Since both of these would represent policy changes (of different sorts), you should talk with your manager and see if he'll help you advocate for these.

  • 1
    Those two suggestions are great, I'm going to try them. Thanks! – girl-in-the-middle Jun 12 '15 at 18:39
  • I can't agree strongly enough with your recommendation to connect with someone in the promotions group. Not only does it help coordinate the work, it can lead to insights on ways to improve the things you do for them and maybe changes that help the company as a whole. – ColleenV Jun 13 '15 at 15:00
15

This reminds me of the old statement "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

This doesn't seem so much a power struggle as just dealing with a disorganized manager in the events department. It may be necessary for your boss to go to his management to get this problem solved.

That said, there are already some good answers here, and I recommend trying to work this out using those. However, I will suggest a tougher approach you can try - with your manager's permission, of course - if the event manager won't change his ways when you ask politely: Send out a statement stating that in the future any and all new web pages require N days of notice to prepare, where N is whatever number you feel comfortable with that will allow you to fit in new work. Then back it up by refusing to create any more event registration pages in less than the number of days you specify. After a couple occurrences of having egg on his face, the events manager should change his ways. If not, then he'll probably be complaining to his management. Hopefully they'll side with you; if not, comply with their directives ... while you hunt for a new job.

  • 12
    I agree about enforcing a lead time. So far, the event manager has no incentive to change his behavior because he gets what he wants. It's a very manipulative way to always make sure your stuff is higher priority than everyone else's. I might put up a "Coming soon" page with the event manager's contact information for questions about registration and let him explain why he's promoting an event no-one can sign up for, or find some other way to make it his problem rather than mine. – ColleenV Jun 12 '15 at 20:01
  • 2
    THIS! While @Monica's answer is great (+1), I believe that educating him is much more useful then working around to accommodate him. – o0'. Jun 13 '15 at 8:41
5

Your first course of action if you're stuck in a situation you can't resolve should always be to contact your boss. If you haven't updated them about this instance - that should be your first go-to.

To make it crystal clear - that event director is acting unprofessionally here.

Since your boss (and not you) are the person interacting with that event-director, there is very little you can do about it other than ask nicely, you hold no real power over the event-director and are not in a position of bartering.

The other thing you can try and do is talk to the event-director in a professional - non argumentative tone in a way that doesn't create a conflict. That should not be your first option and depends on the people involved.

Hey, I noticed you published material about event X, really cool. I don't know if you're aware but I'm the one working on creating the registration forms for these events - I would really appreciate it if you kept me in the loop for these new events so we can deliver an even better experience for our customers.

That's pretty much all you can do - although really, if your boss talked to them your suspicion of a power-struggle is likely true. You might be able to convince that event director to cut you slack and have their beef with your boss over someone else's back but I wouldn't bet on it.

  • 1
    Thanks. I'll talk to my boss again. I don't want to sound like a complainer; I think I can do it without whining and crying :). – girl-in-the-middle Jun 12 '15 at 17:54
2

Everytime you get a call, you send an email to the planning team:

A customer just called and wants to buy tickets. Please confirm that this event is really happening. Implementation of the webpage will take 3 days after successful confirmation. Thank you.

You can't drop everything because they inform you too late, especially not the tasks requested by people who came to you in time. Make that clear if they complain.

Next step to make them create the webpage themselves. We worked for example on a project, where the marketing team always decided a lot of stuff internally, but then waited until the last minute until they came to us developers and then needed everything right now and supplied the wrong texts and images and so on.

We suggested they get an own interface to handle those things and after a few days of coding they had their tool and it was their responsibility to upload and arrange everything in time.

If your boss plays along, that would save you all lots of trouble. Just point out the added flexibility they gain a blah blah blah ....

1

Should I just give up "deal with it"?

Yes. In the end, the work needs to be done, so in one way or another, you're going to need to deal with it.

What would you do?

I would try again with my boss, but I don't expect that will work.

What I would also do is start a conversation with someone at my level over in the event promotion group (whomever the colleague is that is calling asking about the registration page?). I would tell them that there's no registration page because nobody told me to make it/put it up. Then we can work out how to get that communication done at our level rather than the boss' level. Ideally, the colleague can put pressure on the troublesome boss and they can work something out. More likely, they can spread word that you need to be contacted when the promotion starts and you can build an informal process.

One word of caution: I'm the sort who cares far more about getting stuff done than using the proper channels to get stuff done. I expect that your small company can be forgiving of such things too. Other companies are less forgiving of just making up process, and doing this can cause trouble. I would recommend doing it anyways, but at least I warned you.

  • Thanks for the feedback. I like the idea of working with peers in the other department. There's only one person there, and I'm pretty sure she's involved in the politics/power struggle as well. I'm realizing that I'm unwillingly playing a part in this struggle too, even though I'm like you and I just want this stuff to get done. I just think it can get done a lot better. – girl-in-the-middle Jun 12 '15 at 17:53
1

Lots of good answers, but two issues haven't been directly addressed: 1) why are the customers calling you, and 2) are you referring the customers back to the event planners?

It may be that there's a generic "If you have problems with this website, contact us HERE" link on every page, and they're just following that link. Perhaps you need to change it to "If you are experiencing errors and other problems, contact us HERE. If you cannot find a course that you believe should be offered, contact the organizers THERE."

If your boss agrees, you should be very sympathetic and apologetic to customers, and explain to them that you have no record of this event and can't create a page until the event planners have given you the okay. Helpfully give them the direct number of the event planning manager and explain that that person is in charge and will be happy to help them out. Etc.

It's a good thing that you are trying to save the reputation of your company, and that you're trying to step into the gap that the event planners left. But it seems obvious that the event planners aren't feeling the consequences of their actions because you're saving them.

0

Ignoring is not a solution as it won't go away and will continue to be bothersome.

Honestly you need a process oriented solution. Make it clear that you need x number of days lead time. Create a project request queue or use a open source tool like JIRA. Make it known that this will help you help them better and so it is a win win. You can train on how to use it. Maybe talk to IT and create an email address e.g. registrationhelp@conpanyx.com to manage requests if you don't want to use a project tool.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.