One of the things that bothers me to no end is when there is an obvious problem with professionalism in an office. This “unnecessary complication” entry deals with the latest example of unprofessional problems at my office and the bigger problems that the example exposes.
Here’s the short version of the story. On Tuesday, one of my clients submitted a request to draw down money from their loan. On Wednesday, I alerted the leader of the part of my company that handles draw downs that a big request was coming. On Thursday, I submitted the draw down request. On Friday, I receive a phone call from the secretary who processes the draw downs and one of my company’s Vice Presidents. The secretary is both frantic at the large dollar amount of the request and upset that she did not receive a head’s up about the request.
My response on the phone was that our company has a process to draw down large dollar amounts so we should be following that process. I added that I happened to be following the process as proscribed in our policy manual down to the last letter. I also said that I reported that this request was coming on Wednesday so I couldn’t comment on why the report did not get to the secretary since my report was given to her superior.
Apparently, I did something wrong in that exchange. Go back and re-read those two, short paragraphs. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Yesterday, I come into the office and within an hour my supervisor comes into my office and closes the door because she wants to talk about this draw down request. She reiterates the secretary’s concerns and I state to my supervisor that not only did I follow the procedures down to the very last letter, but that I went out of my way to alert the other department that a large request was coming. She agrees completely. However, because someone in the other department (the other department consists of the secretary, her supervisor, and one other person) complained, my supervisor needed to speak with me about what happened. So, again, I told the my supervisor what the problem was as I saw it and that the real issue seems to be that the other department – aside from having too much time on their hands – doesn’t know the procedures. My supervisor reluctantly tends to agree and suggests that the entire “situation” be left alone to die.
Frankly, I didn’t think that there was a “situation” to begin with. Why didn’t I think there was a situation? That’s an easy one to answer – because I have a job that requires my brain to focus and function on other issues! The fact that there are people employed by my company who have time enough in their day to make a mountain out of nothing (it’s not even a molehill – it’s NOTHING) is astounding!
The unprofessional act that I see in this entire debacle is that the wrong person was “spoken to” for five minutes behind a closed door. Clearly, the secretary not only didn’t do her job, but she acted out in a frantic, childish manner when she didn’t understand something (which speaks to her education level and level of professionalism). Here’s a lesson to everyone out there – in this situation, you do NOT sit down with the person who is bringing in millions of dollars for the company and happens to be carrying at least half of the organization’s salary load. No. In fact, the person that you sit down with is the secretary and ask her why she had a breakdown in communication and couldn’t call the person submitting the draw down (me) directly and in a non-frantic manner to ask two simple questions.
Further, when the person submitting the request (me) went out of his way to alert the other department that a large request was coming, you thank that person for their diligence in making sure the process works smoothly.
And a final note on the unprofessional parts of this situation – neither the Vice President who listened to the secretary’s complaints or my supervisor took the time to read through the organization’s policy manual to determine who was right and who was wrong (or, in this case, who was overreacting). Why did they not do this very simple review? That’s easy. This organization and its people always take the path of least resistance. In other words, they know that they can either “speak to” me or with the uneducated and overly emotional secretary to resolve this situation. They know that talking to me will end in one result and talking to her will end in an outward bitterness from her toward her associates and an increase in her already unprofessional attitude. By the way, my response to my supervisor after the brief five minute discussion was, “Look, I really don’t have time for this. I appreciate that they have a lot of time on their hands in the other department, but I have work to do so if the shit is going to roll downhill and land on me, then so be it. Let’s get back to work already.”
Which person do you think they’re going to “talk to” about this? Obviously they’re going to talk to me about it. Why incite an already unprofessional person to be even worse?
And that’s the larger issue that this situation uncovers. My company always takes the path of least resistance. They never, as the Greek philosopher Pythagoras suggested, “Choose always the way that seems best, however rough it may be. Custom will soon render it easy and agreeable.” The problem is that always taking the easy way out allows for an unprofessional person (or persons) to dig their heels in and really take a hold of an organization to the point of destroying it.
That bothers me sometimes – that my organization will be destroyed because of uneducated, underperforming employees. Very scary…
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