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Bad work situation...

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robbie3982

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Last Tuesday someone that I work with from another company on promotions, S, asked me about advertising in our paper. That's not my department and I'm still fairly new, so I asked my boss who to forward the inquiry to. He told me to send it to B so I forwarded the email on to him. We knew that B wouldn't handle this situation, but he's a manager and would know who to forward it on to.

I spoke to S yesterday about something else and asked if anyone had contacted her about her inquiry. She said they hadn't so I promised to follow up for her. Since B had never responded to my email I didn't know who he'd forwarded the message on to, so I called him and left a voicemail saying "Hey, S hasn't been contacted yet about that message I forwarded to you last week. When you get a chance call me and let me know what's going on with this. Thanks!"

I mentioned to my boss what was going on because I like to keep him abreast of problems that I encounter and what I'm doing to resolve them.

Today I get this email:

Next time you try to hang me with my boss, I strongly suggest you contact me first. Your original message was forwarded to the appropriate sales people. The implication from you is that I failed to respond, which is not the case. Furthermore, anything related to the retail sales staff should first be directed to the retail sales manager, R. In R’s absence, I will be glad to help.

-B

I don't even know who his boss is! It was definitely not my intention to tattle on him and get him in trouble with his boss! I sent him back an email apologizing saying that my ONLY intention was to make sure that S received the information she had requested and assuring him that I hadn't contacted his boss.

I forwarded my boss the email that he sent me, though, because I really couldn't believe that he would respond like that. Apparently his email really pissed my boss off and he forwarded it onto a whole lot of higher ups (B's boss, my boss's boss, the GM, the owner...)
. I feel like this whole thing is so blown out of proportion and I feel awful. I never wanted to get anyone in trouble!
 

monarch64

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Robbie, sorry to hear you''re having this issue. I would consider it a lesson learned, honestly. It''s just one of those things that happens sometimes, even though you didn''t mean to step on someone''s toes or offend them, you did, and there isn''t much you can do except to learn from it.
 

eks6426

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Oh sweetie, you just got a taste of the "silos" in the newspaper industry. From my nearly 10 years in the newspaper industry, I have learned that the departments are very territorial. Each manager seems to like to run his own little kingdom and if you disturb it, a lot of them will lash back at you. In this case, you dealt with advertising. I don''t know how your advertising revenue is going right now, but as a whole the industry is really hurting and the advertising staff is being pushed harder than ever. There have been terminations at my paper for reps or managers that didn''t follow through with a lead. It''s really aweful for them right now.

You did the right things by informing your boss of your follow up call to the manager. My guess is your manager also followed up with someone and hence the issue with B thinking you contacted his boss...word probably from your boss...got to his boss.

If I remember right you are in promotions in the single copy area and are fairly new. I would recommend that you ask if you can do some job shadowing days with other employees in the newspaper. It will help you learn more about the other departments PLUS help you gain some new allies in other departments. Marketing is a department that crosses into a lot of other areas in the newspaper world and the other departments can be rather "defensive" toward marketing. I found that by getting to know the managers (not just upper but all levels) and even some of the employees you can help network yourself out of problems like the one you experienced. After you do the job shadowing, try to go out to lunch, get coffee whatever to keep those contacts up. I actually used to put things like "call Susie in advertising about her cat"...remembering the little stuff about people and taking the time to contact them makes all the difference.

Good luck and hang in there.
 

Skippy123

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Gosh, I think I would be a little made at your boss. It did get blown out of proportion. Wow, that is awful. I guess we learn lessons from those things. I would act like nothing happened and move on. I know it is hard but really if you act like nothing happened others will realize you don''t care so they won''t care. Do others agree????
 

robbie3982

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Thanks for the suggestions everyone! ID, I really like that idea of shadowing different departments. Honestly, the communication/comraderie between departments here isn''t so great, though, so I don''t know if that will actually happen.
 

Mara

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well personally i wouldn't have fwd'd the email to my boss.

whenever i want to stay out of drama i don't try to perpetuate it. that means sometimes just apologizing about a miscommunication and moving on. you don't always have to like the people you work with (you know this already right, didn't you have another issue with a coworker recently?)...but sometimes you do have to deal with them. it teaches you patience and it can teach you that a lot of people are total dumbasses! but just chalk it up, and move on. i think knowing that and not taking things personally (how could this person be upset with you when they don't even know YOU)... comes with many many years of working experience and dealing with highly political internal office situations.
 

eks6426

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Robbie--The communication inbetween almost all departments in newspapers is poor. What you need to do is convince your boss that it's a good thing to do then have him convince the General Manager or the Publisher...the person to whom most of the department heads report. If you can get your boss to help you get approval from one of those upper level managers, the way will be paved for you. Start with a department your boss has allies in.

I really had to work hard to get the job shadowing done in my paper. I did everything from go on sales calls with reps to sitting in on the story meetings with the newstaff. I delivered papers with district managers and 2am and helped load inserts. I even did the MIS department and helped run the monthly reports a few times. I would say I did some sort of job shadowing at least twice in every department. Some managers were better about it than others, but most of them turned out to be thrilled that person from another department was truly interested in their department. It'll be slow, but it will work if you are persistant!

And Mara is right about not perpetuating the cycle of drama. One thing you could have done is to go find the guy and personally apologize to him. That way he wouldn't forward your email around the building either. :)
 

Skippy123

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Mara hit the nail on the head!!! I completely agree with her. I work in an accounting firm and the less waves made the better so we got to decide which we let roll off our backs and just go with the flow.
 

oldminer

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Bosses often take an open opportunity to put you in a state of fear and subserviance. They do this because they can''t legitimately earn your respect and must get you to cooperate via coercion instead. "Get used to it" is a sad commentary on the workplace, but many firms handle their interoffice affairs very badly.

I think you did the right thing, but it can cost you to swim against the current. Good luck!
 

robbie3982

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Thanks everyone. Hindsight is 20/20 and if I''d known how blown out of proportion this was going to get I never would''ve hit fwd. Lesson learned. I''ll think twice before forwarding anything again.

Mara, I''m seriously amazed at how immature people can be in the workplace. I guess I just always thought having an adult job meant that people acted like adults. It''s crazy how much my view of "the real world" has changed over the last few years!

ID, he can forward it to whoever he wants. I was very apologetic and not rude at all in response. My boss had actually wanted me to sit in on the meetings of the other departments so I sent out an email to all the department heads asking them to let me know when their meetings are so I could be up-to-date on what''s going on and better market our paper. Not one department head responded. I let my boss know and he never did anything about it. I''ll need to stay on top of this to make sure it actually happens.

Thanks for the wish of good luck, oldminer! Apparently B is in a lot of trouble. I''m probably going to need that luck.
 

Mara

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I am seriously daily amazed at how people can act in a workplace. There are so many different types of personalities out there and everyone feels like THEIR way is the right way. The sense of entitlement in a work environment can be really stifling from individuals as well. I am really not the type of person who''s a ''let it ride'' personality for the most part and I typically do speak up about stuff, BUT in a work environment I have found that more often than not...just keeping my mouth shut and doing MY own job as best I can and trying to stay out of drama and politics gets me further and keeps me happier than not.
 

sumbride

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Feb 17, 2006
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3,867
If someone sent something like that to me, I definitely vvould send it to my boss! But I vvould do that because my boss actually looks out for me, not all bosses do. I''ve been in a fevv situations vvhere I''ve been bullied and it''s not fun, but letting them get avvay vvith it just sets you up for more trouble in the future. I do think this got just a little out of proportion, but I don''t think that''s your doing, Robbie. I think the person acting defensively probably felt attacked, and probably because they realized they vveren''t doing their job. I have found it''s best to keep my boss apprised of any difficult situations I have vvith covvorkers so that she can do an endrun around them if necessary, and it also keeps the gossip from spreading.
 

ellchris

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
28
I believe Mara is correct but I''d also like to add that currently I manage about 30 workers with 2 supervisors and 3 team leaders.
If an employee ever went over the head of their supervisor and forwarded me
an email making another employee look bad, (regardless of MOST situations)
I''d be disappointed in the employee who sent it. I think your boss may have reacted without thinking the situation through and when they come to his/her
senses may not look so kindly on you.
To do something like this simply based on how you were feeling at the moment (insulted perhaps) and no other valid reason, would give me a negative
view into your character and may be one of the factors I''d consider when evalution time came around.
As you can see, I don''t have much patience for drama or emotional outbursts
in my department. Your boss may be different.

Good luck.
elle
 

robbie3982

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Date: 12/20/2006 1:03:16 PM
Author: ellchris
I believe Mara is correct but I''d also like to add that currently I manage about 30 workers with 2 supervisors and 3 team leaders.
If an employee ever went over the head of their supervisor and forwarded me
an email making another employee look bad, (regardless of MOST situations)
I''d be disappointed in the employee who sent it. I think your boss may have reacted without thinking the situation through and when they come to his/her
senses may not look so kindly on you.
To do something like this simply based on how you were feeling at the moment (insulted perhaps) and no other valid reason, would give me a negative
view into your character and may be one of the factors I''d consider when evalution time came around.
As you can see, I don''t have much patience for drama or emotional outbursts
in my department. Your boss may be different.

Good luck.
elle
I''m confused...I didn''t go over anyone''s head...I forwarded it to my boss, not B''s boss. I forwarded it as kind of a "what is he talking about?" I know I didn''t talk to B''s boss and the only other person I told about the situation was my boss, so I figured that he must''ve said something to B''s boss which makes this email a reaction to what he did.
 

eks6426

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Date: 12/20/2006 12:04:41 PM
Author: oldminer
Bosses often take an open opportunity to put you in a state of fear and subserviance. They do this because they can''t legitimately earn your respect and must get you to cooperate via coercion instead. ''Get used to it'' is a sad commentary on the workplace, but many firms handle their interoffice affairs very badly.

I think you did the right thing, but it can cost you to swim against the current. Good luck!
This is so true and so sad.
 

robbie3982

Ideal_Rock
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Jun 28, 2006
Messages
3,960
Ah. No, they''re totally different situations. My boss was already involved in the situation.
 

TravelingGal

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
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Having been a boss myself, I do agree that unless it''s something major, I would prefer my employee take initiative and rather than coming to me.

My own boss, who I learned a lot from, would sit in her office and listen to people complaining. Then she always asked the question, "Hm, what do you think you should do?" It was amazing how many people would hem and haw before they could come up for an answer.

I would have just grabbed the bull by the horns and explain what happened to B. If B wanted to stay nasty about it, that''s his/her problem.

But yes Robbie, you are right, people are often immature in he office. Office politics is just a grown up term for the playground fights we used to have.
 

Skippy123

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 24, 2006
Messages
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TravelingGal. I use to think when I grew up that their was never going to be immaturity out there. It is so true; it is everywhere!!!! It is how a person choses to deal with it all in the end. I use to not understand when I was younger why people would not act grown up, but now that I turned 30 I just accept it. Ha!!! Just make sure you have a good friend you can vent with. That always helps me
 

strmrdr

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Nov 1, 2003
Messages
23,295
here is the way I see it...

1: asking boos who to contact and looking out for the client +2 points
2: following up with the cient +2 points
3: asking the guy whats up +2 points
4: mantioning it to your boss without waiting for a reply -1 points
5: bosses overreaction -5 points for him not you.
6: person who sent the email reaction -100 points to him.

If I was his boss and read that id fire his behind and kick him to the curb.
 

gailrmv

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Nov 8, 2005
Messages
3,136
The part that puzzles me is why B got his back up - b/c how did it get to his boss?
I probably would have talked to B before talking again with my boss (re: B''s pissy email), but it depends on the people involved and the relationships. In most jobs I''ve had, it was best to get as much done without bothering the boss, as possible. However, in one job, our department was very political, and it was like each little "fiefdom" for itself. It was important to keep my boss in the loop on any kind of conflict, b/c some parts of our department totally inappropriate and counterproductive, and my boss was in a position to do something about it whereas I was not. In that situation I would have done exactly what you did.
 

robbie3982

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Date: 12/20/2006 9:21:32 PM
Author: gailrmv
The part that puzzles me is why B got his back up - b/c how did it get to his boss?
I probably would have talked to B before talking again with my boss (re: B''s pissy email), but it depends on the people involved and the relationships. In most jobs I''ve had, it was best to get as much done without bothering the boss, as possible. However, in one job, our department was very political, and it was like each little ''fiefdom'' for itself. It was important to keep my boss in the loop on any kind of conflict, b/c some parts of our department totally inappropriate and counterproductive, and my boss was in a position to do something about it whereas I was not. In that situation I would have done exactly what you did.
Gail, my boss must have said something to his boss. My boss likes to be in the loop about what''s going on so I let him know that when I''d spoken to S a week later she still hadn''t been contacted, but that I was going to follow up with B to see what was going on. I had no idea that he was going to call his boss. He never even mentioned to me that he did, but it''s pretty obvious that that''s what happened.
 

Aurelia

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Jul 30, 2006
Messages
150
Just my own (humble) suggestion:

Try to not rely on e-mail for ALL communication. Some situations, like this one, would perhaps work out far better with a few in-person conversations. Not email, not the phone, but a real-life-in-person conversation. Things are far clearer, less attitude, less barriers. I know there are LOTS of things I might think I could write in an email, but would never say in person (in a good way!) Peoples'' feelings get hurt less, and true intentions are often more apparent.

Hope things calm down for you a bit at work. Best of luck!

Aurelia
 

robbie3982

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Thanks Aurelia. I think I do rely a bit too much on email. It just seems to be the safest and easiest way to communicate. People at my company have a bad habit of not remembering to do things and then saying they were never told to do them. I like that at least with email I can prove whether I did or didn''t say something. It sucks too that we''re in two different buildings so a lot of times instead of walking accross the street I just call or email. I actually don''t think I''ve ever even met B in person before. I think I should definitely start having more in person convos though.
 

starryeyed

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Messages
2,398
Advertising = Money!! It''s unbelievable that S did not get a call back within 24 hours. Sounds to me like B dropped the ball and wanted to blame the "newbie"!

It''s probably not a small thing that got blown out of proportion - it''s probably symptomatic of poor sales, and management is trying to correct the problem, which seem to be B or some flake in his department.

Going forward, when dealing with B, it may help to copy the other person involved - in this instance, perhaps you could have gotten S''s email and copied her. It closes the loop. Otherwise, give him a timeframe - S has a deadline and needs to hear back from us TODAY - I will follow up with you later, let me know if I can help.

You behaved like an "accountable" employee - B did not. Sounds like B relies on politic-ing to keep his job! Just be aware of it.
 

simplysplendid

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Hi, I think it is good to keep your boss abreast of all the projects that you are handling or issues you are facing. But this is a pretty small issue and I agree with Mara, I would not have sent the email from B to my boss if I am in your shoes. It''s just a miscommunication and it can be easily resolved with a clarification email and it should be case closed. It is just one of those office politics and you can''t be keeping your boss posted on every one of it, especially if your boss is the type who tends to blow things out of proportion (like he just did)..
 

phoenixgirl

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Well, it sounds like you have been doing a good job of communicating face to face (when you had your conversation with your boss that may have led to B''s anger) or over the phone (when you called B to ask about the follow-up). This is always a good idea because tone can be misinterpreted in email and passages can be overanalyzed for hidden meaning (also, it can be used against you!).

Really, it was your boss''s prerogitive to get to B in trouble by contacting his boss, and if B is mad, he should be mad at your boss. And frankly that''s probably the case, but B can''t scare/overrule your boss, so he''s taking it out on you. Yeesh. Just be glad you don''t spend your life writing emails in which you strongly recommend that people not cross you . . . what is he, the Godfather?

When you forwarded the email to your boss, was it because you thought it was information he needed to know or was it because it was upsetting and you wanted feedback that B was a jerk and you did nothing wrong? The latter choice is a natural response, but now realizing that your boss probably started the whole problem, the chances are that forwarding B''s rant would hurt more than help. Of course, this is only something you''d realize after sitting on it for a while, so I guess the only thing you did wrong was not realize you should think about it and see if you have any realizations after sitting on it. Which of course is silly to expect somebody to be able to do, but I guess waiting never hurts.

I got some angry rants last week when an opinion article that one of my students wrote appeared in the paper. In the words of the vice principal (who approved it), it was well-balanced and well-written and I had nothing to apologize for, but I have somehow become an emblem of all that is wrong in the world to a certain group of teachers. I got a bunch of emails implying that I am a bad teacher and person for not telling this student what to think. This one rant (which was sent to at least ten people) asked me all of these personal questions about how I deal with stress (Do I smoke? drink?) and told me what I should learn from the situation like I was a little child. Luckily I was able to see it for what it was -- some guy channeling all his frustrations with his job onto me -- and I just wrote back a simple, polite response without addressing his rambling points (honestly I didn''t even read it that carefully). One of the original complainers actually emailed me to thank me for responding so kindly to him. I think angry rant man was hoping I''d respond in kind and let it turn into a war, but I decided that it wasn''t even worth addressing and that if everybody else who received the email couldn''t see that, then oh well. Sometimes the only way to win is not to play.
 

justjulia

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Apr 4, 2006
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2,308
What an awkward situation. I feel for you, Robbie. I think this will all blow over, with time. I work in a situation where there are 3 buildings in the company, and people rely on email heavily to save time. It didn''t take long for me to realize that I had to physically go to those places pretty regularly, and make friends face to face, to do business. Here''s the icebreaker: food. Yep, take food (usually something sweet and full of carbohydrates) to the breakroom and put a big stand up note behind it saying who it is from and something upbeat and quick like, "Have a terrific day! From name, name, name, in marketing." I think people see email as legal entrapment--they know it will be saved or forwarded and it brings out the worst in people. Layiing low is hard- especially when you are new and trying to do the right thing.
But doing so will ensure that people will confide in you in the future. Next time you encounter male pms, just go visit the fool and act all naive and friendly.
Skip the email. This too shall pass.
 

belle

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Date: 12/20/2006 2:00:44 PM
Author: robbie3982
Ah. No, they''re totally different situations. My boss was already involved in the situation.
i''m not saying they are the same situation, just that he may have felt the same way. it sounds like it in his email anyway. live and learn.
 
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