We have processes in place at the office that people are supposed to follow. Recently we had a flurry of cases where people didn't follow these processes due to deadline pressures, and certain things didn't work as expected. Most of us know "who they are", but management sent a general letter to everyone reminding us of the proper procedures.

Now I am thinking - would that be the most productive way of addressing the issue? Wouldn't it suffer from a type of "bystander effect" whereby people would be uncertain if they are the target of the reminder, reducing the effectiveness of the reminder? Would a more targeted approach work better, that is, speaking in private with the worst offenders?

  • 2
    Not an answer to your question, but if following established processes would cause you to miss deadlines, then you have inefficient processes and/or poor planning in your organisation. If a process has a good reason for existing, then it must be followed, irrespective of deadline pressure. If you can't hit a deadline without 'damn the process just get it done' then your deadline was probably unrealistic to start with ... just my 2c. – brhans Apr 26 '17 at 20:10
  • @brhans Oh I totally agree that processes must be followed. My concern is what is the best way of making that happen, and I am not sure a blanket reminder about the process is the best way to accomplish that – user1220 Apr 26 '17 at 20:14
  • 1
    mmm - probably really needs to start with a root-cause analysis to figure out where the real problem is. I wouldn't be to quick to jump on the worker-bee who just has to git-'er-done and as-such the blanket reminder is probably ineffective - as with focusing on the 'offenders' at the end of the line. IMO this kind of thing is more indicative of a problem a little higher up the chain of command ... – brhans Apr 26 '17 at 20:52
  • 1
    @HorusKol Reminding people of the standards currently in place does not mean they are not internally reviewed. Maybe they have been deemed still appropriate, maybe they will be changed, but as long as that is unclear, some standard in place is often better than none at all. – skymningen Apr 27 '17 at 7:54
  • 1
    Why do you assume that the management hasn't spoken privately to the "offenders"? By definition, if they had a private conversation, you wouldn't know about it, would you? – Masked Man Apr 27 '17 at 17:53

Imagine if a group of 5 people all chafe against these procedures, because they take a long time and the 5 people don't know the benefit of following them. In a deadline crunch, 2 people skip steps they think aren't important. Badness happens.

If management takes just those 2 people aside and says "that was wrong" -- the other three will not learn the lesson, will they? There may have been some one-on-one talks and consequences for the people who didn't follow process, or there may not. But an all-hands email that says "this is how we do things here, because when we don't, badness happens" is absolutely critical to ensuring everyone re-commits to following the process.

Are you the target even if you followed the process? Yes, you are. You're not a bystander. You can take a moment to feel pleased that you never succumbed to the lure of skipping process, and aren't responsible for the badness. Or you can take a moment to feel lucky, or even slightly guilty that when someone said "I don't have time for that nonsense too close to deadline" you didn't object, or didn't object enough. Believe me, everyone is a target of an all-hands email. That's the point of them.

  • 1
    Agreed. The other people (also considering going against the procedures) might be completely unaware the others got rebuked, and the next time a deadline comes up, they might decide to let things slide because they know the others did too but not that management was displeased with this. – Llewellyn Apr 27 '17 at 13:51
  • On the other hand, if the procedures are well known, it is rather naive to assume that everyone will "learn their lesson" from a blanket email. I think both are required - the offenders need to be spoken to privately, and reminded why following the procedures are non-negotiable. Then a wider memo can be circulated, advising that the individuals have been spoken to (without naming names) and encouraging everyone else to follow procedures in future. That way, everyone is aware of the importance, and the offenders are under no doubt. – mike_dowler Apr 27 '17 at 21:49

I'm uncertain of your role in the company and your position in the company food chain. From what you say, management sent an email, to everyone.

Now, they decided to send a generalized one, and you stated that everyone "knows who they are" - so my observation would be: it seems like it has already been handled by management in the manner they deem to be appropriate.

Why do you feel more is needed? What is your standing where, when management asks "what are you doing?" you can tell them (while remaining employed) "I saw your email and decided to handle it in a better way, myself."

If you are worried that they don't know or understand why what happened happened, then raise that issue privately with them. Not from a "hey, it was Joe, NOT ME!!" perspective, but from a "deadline issues caused our normal processes to break down. I'm worried that we need to tighten our processes to handle deadline issues, or to prevent people from having the latitude to ignore the guidelines, or this is bound to repeat itself."

If you have a decent manager, expect to get a process re-engineering assignment delegated to you, though.

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.