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I had a conversation at work yesterday that is throwing me for a loop. I'll try to keep this brief. I'd really appreciate feedback on my behavior.


I'm responsible for a particular area/task. Making a mistake can cost us a lot of money. This area is fairly complex, with legal regulations, multiple software programs that don't play nicely together, and company policies. Earlier this year, there was a major policy change. It is a good change in the long term, but can cost us quite a bit this year as we implement it.


In essence, I no longer have the luxury of time that I used to have. Once we cross a particular date, boom! It all "freezes" and the money is counted. I've kept management in the loop. The directive to me is make sure we don't lose any money. Fair enough.


I am not in control of it. I'm more of a coordinator. I've been working with various teams and individuals to help get everyone's part done. I track all of it, and report the status weekly. I've had serious resistance from one person, and this resistance can/will cost us a lot of money.


I asked for management's assistance with this person. Management has done nothing, and has no information for me when I follow up.


I sent an email to mgmt outlining old policy and new policy, and a proposal for a new procedure. I basically said that with the new policy, we are no longer required to do certain steps, and I suggested we skip those steps. (It would also bypass the resistor.)


And on Friday, senior management came down on me saying the current status was unacceptable. The status is due to the resistor. There's not much else I can do...but I did some research into regulations, and sent an email outlining what the law states that we can do, and my recommendation. (I need management to make a decision on policy. That decision will determine if we lose money, or not. I did not say those last 2 sentences in my email.)


I didn't technically get into trouble for those 2 emails, but they did have a conversation with me. I was told that giving my recommendation is viewed as throwing my weight around.


That's what is making me a little crazy. I feel that it's my job to outline the options and the risks for management. It's their job to make decisions. On one hand, I'm held accountable for the outcome, but on the other hand, I'm not supposed to share crucial information and options.


I'm not too worried about the situation at this point, for many reasons. But I am concerned that this is seen as aggressive. Is there any truth to it? I am assertive, there's no doubt about that. I don't think it's aggression? I'm providing options and my procedure suggestion every time policy changes. I don't have a problem keeping quiet, except that I'll be responsible for losses.


I dunno. Thoughts?

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I dunno either. It may be a matter of email, and them misreading your tone. Personally I don't see a problem with making your recommendation, or laying out the options as you see them with the potential outcome (and your concern that one is more likely to lose money than the other, and why, and repeating the goal of not losing money), and ending with Please advise. (You await their decision.)

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Perception is reality.


In this case, I don't think it makes sense to analyze whether you were right or wrong to make the recommendation. This may also differ based on your responsibilities and where you work - the company culture. What is important is that THEY feel you overstepped your bounds and that you should heed that advice.


If you are not responsible for implementing the recommendations, it could be seen as telling someone else how to do their job. If you are not regularly tasked with looking up the legislation (and depending on the size of the company this might fall to a lawyer to interpret?), it could also be seen as overstepping your bounds.


In my opinion, some things belong in an email and others belong in a conversation. People tend to take emails more seriously. In my position, if ever I'm not sure if I'm overstepping bounds, I email the "safe" reply (in this case, the problem is due to the resistor) and I will call or chat in the hall with a superior for things that may not be in my realm ("you know.., i read the regulations and we could probably do A,B, or C. Do you think I should say that?")


It's never wrong to do research and have opinions. It's the communication methods you sometimes need to be careful about, IMO.

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I get where you are coming from as I get in trouble pretty frequently. In my position I just blow it off since it has become the norm for my upper bosses to be more worried about how things look or the feel of things than facts and production.


I have found that emails work well to stir the pot but do little to fix a problem. Face to face talks do just the opposite and makes a real life interaction possible and when it is all done your management think they were the ones that solved the problem and it makes your life so much easier.


What do you did was fine but I bet if you had spoken to them in person (if they are in the same offices as you) or on the phone they would have taken your concern and information much differently.


I actually drive over and pop in to talk to someone instead of sending an email. It seems people appreciate the effort and when you are standing right there it makes it personal.


As far as the resistor person you need to find a way to expose them without overtly exposing them. I have worked out some great ways of shining the light on someone that is slacking or doing terrible work.



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Thank you all for the input. You've given me some new angles to think about.


I really like the idea of meeting, and then asking about an email before I send it. I never want to be aggressive, and wanted to examine my choices. It shocked me when they said it.


My role is confusing for everyone. Normally, this role wouldn't require looking up legislation. But I'm considered an expert across the company, one of three. I'm frequently asked for things from headquarters, and across the company. They ask for information, opinions, details. I help design the new policies, write up the flow charts, highlight issues, and test our final procedures on a national level. So it's pretty normal that I'd do the same locally...at least in my mind. It seems local mgmt doesn't agree. At least they told me before writing me up for it.


I feel bad for the resistor. She used to be in my dept. She didn't get a promotion she wanted, and instead was asked to apply to other depts. She's acting out, but can't go after mgmt, so she goes after me. I do everything I can to remain professional with her. Sometimes I have to hide her emails so I don't reply with what I really want to say.


I've never really thought of emails as stirring the pot. It's a good point. Thanks again!

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