There is this situation where Jane report to her reporting officer and the reporting officer reports to a director. One day, the director went to Jane for a discussion, which at the end of the discussion, Jane had to complete a project. Jane promise the director that the work will be completed within the next 5 days. Jane went to inform her reporting officer and her reporting officer told her that she should not promise to be completed within the next 5 days. The reporting officer advise her that she should have given herself more buffer days.

Which of the following decisions should Jane take to avoid offending her reporting officer and the director and why should Jane take that decision?

  1. Jane talk to the director that her reporting officer advise her that she need to have more time to complete the project.

  2. Jane complete the project within the 5 days and deliver to the director without informing her reporting officer.

  3. Jane did not complete the project within the 5 days and did not inform the director about her conversation with her reporting officer. However, Jane took 10 days to complete the project. (meaning that Jane had manage to complete the project by the 10th day)

  4. Other decision, please specify.

Thank you.

7 Is this a question from an exam? – nvoigt Feb 18 at 9:23

No This is not a question from any exam(s).
  • 7
    Is this a question from an exam? – nvoigt Feb 18 '16 at 9:23
  • @nvoigt, No, This question does not come from any exam(s) – user275517 Feb 18 '16 at 10:09
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    Clearly a multiple choice question from some kind of educational material. – Marv Mills Feb 18 '16 at 10:35
  • #3 is a decision? – colmde Feb 18 '16 at 14:46
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    @user275517 Did Jane complete her task in less than 5 days or in 10 days? The fact that this is ambiguous really throws red flags that this is not a real situation but a poorly written exam question. – Myles Feb 18 '16 at 16:47

"Jane" should:

  • Thank her reporting officer for the advice.
  • Complete the project in however long it takes to complete the project to the appropriate standard.
  • Keep both her reporting officer and the director informed about the progress of the project.

This is just basic professionalism: you do your job to the best of your ability, and you keep the people who need to know about what you're doing informed.

  • I found your answer short and professional. Thank you. – user275517 Feb 23 '16 at 1:10

Note that unless Jane has the experience to correct her initial estimate, it is very likely that she was over-optimistic and will not complete the work in five days. I know that I usually have to double my first guess to be close to accurate, and that multiplier increases as the time gets longer due to inefficiencies from day to day and week to week.

This is probably what her manager was trying to warn her about. It does NOT mean she shouldn't try to complete the work as quickly as possible, just that "promises" may need some buffer to make sure you don't inadvertently break them too often.

And it has nothing to do with "chain of command"; it's all about learning to make realistic estimates.

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    My estimates are usually accurate! Oh wait, wrong Jane? :) – Jane S Feb 18 '16 at 10:28
  • All janes that I know are overachievers and finish their project early or on time even if they underestimate the complexity. This mean that all janes are overachievers and your answer must be incorrect. Damn assumptions... – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 19 '16 at 21:15

Divorcing this from a specific context makes all the answer academic, contrived, and almost entirely useless.

In what corporate monstrosity is this type of communication happening?

There is no real way to determine what to do. Communication is the only antidote to the political nonsense Jane and her boss are potentially trapped in, but this is too sanitized to even know. Without that background, this and any specific advice is just as likely to be wrong as right. I could spin stories in any direction that would make an answer obvious in one context inappropriate in another. In most companies, Jane and her boss^1 are weighing the political capital they need to spend to resolve this, which is entirely unrelated to actually completing the project, which I guess we're supposed to assume is important?

What's the project? Is the deadline important? Did Jane's boss^2 ask her because there's some critical business need that prevented her from waiting for boss^1? Did Jane's estimate already reach a customer's ears? Can Jane reduce the actual time by pulling on other resources, perhaps meeting or exceeding the estimate? Is Jane's boss performing? Does the culture encourage people to not work hard, to prevent others from looking bad?

Look at this question: "Which of the following decisions should Jane take to avoid offending her reporting officer and the director and why should Jane take that decision?" Offending them? Offending? Is this work or school? There are people who have the social skills to have a simple conversation with boss^1 and boss^2 and have everyone leaving happy. There are others who offend everyone, even under complete agreement. How long does the work actually take, what quality is required, what debt (technical debt, administrative debt) would be left behind--these all need to be answered. Let's say Jane is a programmer. Maybe Jane explains to boss^2 that she hadn't considered technical debt, and that she can deliver functional code in 5 days into production, but that she'll need to account for an additional 5 days to resolve the technical debt. If that's the reality, whether boss^1 or boss^2 is offended is impossible to predict. Boss^1 may be offended unless Jane intentionally offends boss^2, due to some territorially nonsense that doesn't belong at work and will probably exist in whatever monstrosity of a corporate structure is assumed in this case.

Questions like this are loaded--they encourage generic "why can't we all just get along" answers rather than constructive solutions from the details, and totally ignore the hundreds of other factors that could change everyone's answers. I could repost this with different details filled in and get the exact same members posting contradictory advice, and they would often be correct. If this is for some type of training material, frankly, it's a disaster on multiple levels. If it's been sanitized from a real-world situation, please include enough details to make it meaningful.

So here's my answer: (d) Jane should put down the textbook and look for a job in the 21st century.

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