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In our department we have an e-mail notification system setup where any employees' records which are raising issues get put into an e-mail and sent to me and my boss. We have another system for logging our notes and counseling info about those individuals that we talk to.

The problem is that my manager does not use the system nor does he reply to the e-mails saying "Handled", "I got this one", etc. I have to use the systems implemented, but he chooses not to. This causes two big problems:

  1. Double Work: I don't know who he has handled and who he has not (or why)
  2. Negligent Retention: Any of his notes or counseling info is not logged in the system for audits later or previous history checks, putting everyone (and the company) at risk for lawsuits.

The obvious answer is to communicate with him and talk to him. The issue I face is I do not know how to approach my manager and stating (ie implying) that he is not doing his job correctly (which he is not). I know it's not my place to tell my boss he is not doing his job right, but his not doing it right causes me to waste my time. How do I communicate with a boss that does not take criticism or ideas at all? What are some conversation strategies or starters for this issue? Do I do it in person or over e-mail? etc

Side Note: Another option I thought to avoid the communication issue would be to just reply to the e-mails and CC him saying "Handled". I am unsure if this will make me look naive or stupid because we get swamped with these e-mails so doubling up on them seems bad. We got so swamped and I had other tasks to handle that I fell a few days behind on these notifications that I had to lie about the dates I left voice mails for the individuals in question just to keep up. Is this idea of replying to the e-mails a good idea or no?

  • Are you working in a security or problem management / help desk role? From the wording of your question, it certainly sounds like it – Anthony Mar 4 '16 at 4:40
  • Problem management (which sounds better than reality). I do compliance work and making sure we stay in compliance. Someone does something wrong, I have to talk to them to fix it and get in compliance. – B1313 Mar 4 '16 at 4:52
  • I also do training for the system the employees use on their end. So, sort of like a help desk role. – B1313 Mar 4 '16 at 5:00
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There are a number of factors to consider here:

  • Who instigated the introduction of this system? If it's your boss, then the whole thing is fundamentally broken.
  • How many members are there in your team? Is it just you and your boss? More?
  • Do other team members use this system?
  • Do other teams use this system? Why? Is it successful?
  • What is the risk of something not being tracked correctly? Why?

What I see here is a system that is not fit for purpose. If you're being inundated with emails such that the signal to noise ratio is too high, then there needs to be a re-evaluation of its use in your team.

The issues you point out in your question show clearly that how the system is currently being used is a risk to the business. These are important and need to be brought to your boss's attention.

So what can I do?

Firstly, find out if you really are stuck with this system. If it's company mandated, perhaps approach your boss saying that you feel it's not working well in your team dynamic.

If it's your boss who introduced it, you can still raise it with him. I would bring up the signal to noise ratio as an issue for you, rather than get on to your boss about not using it.

Most importantly, rather than just walk in and give the problem, give a solution. There are going to be a bunch of tools that handle workflow like this that don't fill up email. It may be worth doing a quick look to see if there is something that may work better with your process flows.

Lastly, if your boss is committed to using this system (or it's mandated), then you will have to talk to your boss about using it effectively. Your set of issues are valid, so I would suggest raising it under the flag of risk mitigation. Any good manager should understand that what you are trying to achieve here is to reduce risk, and improve effectiveness of your team. If you can't get that through, then you're probably pretty much out of luck.

  • Thanks for the reply. There 2 systems (both are the best money can buy): 1) Logs Counseling Info 2) Notify us of violators. Both are used company wide. Who implemented them? Probably a blend of people. Our team is a an entire building, but only my boss and me (and maybe 1 other person, rarely) have access/responsibility to these modules. The risk is astronomical, it can be the difference between a $250k fine or none... – B1313 Mar 4 '16 at 4:45
  • Then concentrate on risk in the discussion with your boss. Rather than tell him he's not using it right, ask him if there are ways it can be used more effectively. – Jane S Mar 4 '16 at 4:46
  • The ratio is only about 80 per day, which is not that high (each phone call takes approx 5 mins) so that's only 500 mins a day, so only 6 hours or so to keep up on all of it. The biggest problem is double work (ie why should I speak to Joe if you spoke to him already about the same thing?). The solution I have in mind is relatively simple, use the dang systems otherwise don't even bother having them. Know what I mean? Risk mitigation is not under my job duty umbrella, but it unofficially is (if that makes sense). – B1313 Mar 4 '16 at 4:47
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    Risk mitigation is everyone's job. Signal to noise can mean rework, not just the emails. If you're spending time checking what's been done and not been done, then that's wasting time. And still raise it as a query about how to use it better. It makes it into something to solve together, even if you already know the solution ;) – Jane S Mar 4 '16 at 4:48
  • To the 1st comment, that doesn't solve the problem at all (from a pragmatic standpoint). If I am the only one who uses it then all the efficiency improvements in the world won't help because anything he does will never get into the logging system. 2nd comment, I am not so sure since I don't have say so power or influence on those aspects. – B1313 Mar 4 '16 at 4:49
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The issue I face is I do not know how to approach my manager and stating (ie implying) that he is not doing his job correctly (which he is not). I know it's not my place to tell my boss he is not doing his job right, but his not doing it right causes me to waste my time.

You're right, it's not your place to suggest that your boss isn't doing his job. It could be that he's incompetent, or it could be that his time is more valuable than yours and better spent doing other things, even if that causes problems for you.

The way to raise your issue is to avoid making it about what he's doing wrong (even if he is!) and instead ask how you should deal with the problems it causes. Mention that the lack of communication logs or documentation is making you inefficient and causing you to do unnecessary work. If true, mention that your users/clients/whatever are being confused by inconsistent communication when you contact them for something that's already resolved or in progress.

It's up to your manager to then decide what to do. Maybe he'll get the message and start communicating more clearly about his work. Maybe he'll tell you to check in with him before picking up an issue. Maybe he'll tell you to suck it up and not consider it a problem. If it's the latter, this way of working is now a condition of the job and you'll have to decide if that's something you can live with.

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You have a bad manager, you basically have two options if you want to continue working there.

Talk to the manager about it, mention that you're having problems knowing which has been handled because he doesn't seem to be inputting them. The manager might just shrug it off.

Secondly just carry on as is, if it falls to bits, it falls to bits, that's really the managers problem and you may end up with their job.

I've had this issue with job tracking systems in a couple of places. I don't worry about other people's shortcoming, so long as all my work is logged and in the clear, the rest can dig themselves as deep a hole as they want.

Double handling is inefficient and some find it frustrating because they look at it the wrong way. I'd just log that time as well, usually I don't care what I'm doing so long as I account for all my productive hours properly.

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