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Need advice - what am I doing wrong?

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Fortan
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Need advice - what am I doing wrong?

Postby Fortan » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 2:52 pm

Sent an email with a request to one of my employees on Wednesday. I needed her to do 3 simple tasks for me, stating that it was really important that I had the data required before end of Thursday.

Thursday at midday, I received ONE of the analysis I asked for with NO mention of the other two parts. I of course replied that I needed the other data as well, asking when she expected to have it ready and to ask questions if she further clarification. I followed up by passing by her late yesterday afternoon and she said she was working on it and that I would have it by today before 10 am.

Friday morning at 10 I receive the second part in an email. Below the second part is a comment saying about part 3: "We don't normally do analysis on this level, we group to a higher level". I go to her place of work and she has left early for the weekend.

Needless to say I am frustrated but I keep wondering if I am doing anything wrong? I never asked for her to think for me or think of what I need or don't need. I asked her to perform a simple task.... :shock:

What would you do if you were me? I have to go see her when she comes in Monday morning. What would you say/do?

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Re: Need advice - what am I doing wrong?

Postby JR8 » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 3:21 pm

Fortan wrote:Needless to say I am frustrated but I keep wondering if I am doing anything wrong? I never asked for her to think for me or think of what I need or don't need. I asked her to perform a simple task.... :shock:

What would you do if you were me? I have to go see her when she comes in Monday morning. What would you say/do?


There are some HRs here that can give better insight I expect. But IME, this attitude is not unusual in SG. In England they're called Jobsworths, which translates into 'It's more than my jobs worth, to do anything bar the minimum'.

- Ask her how she interpreted your initial request, expectations, and timings, and then just sit back and listen.

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Re: Need advice - what am I doing wrong?

Postby AngMoG » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 3:25 pm

Fortan wrote:Sent an email with a request to one of my employees on Wednesday. I needed her to do 3 simple tasks for me, stating that it was really important that I had the data required before end of Thursday.

Thursday at midday, I received ONE of the analysis I asked for with NO mention of the other two parts. I of course replied that I needed the other data as well, asking when she expected to have it ready and to ask questions if she further clarification. I followed up by passing by her late yesterday afternoon and she said she was working on it and that I would have it by today before 10 am.

Friday morning at 10 I receive the second part in an email. Below the second part is a comment saying about part 3: "We don't normally do analysis on this level, we group to a higher level". I go to her place of work and she has left early for the weekend.

Needless to say I am frustrated but I keep wondering if I am doing anything wrong? I never asked for her to think for me or think of what I need or don't need. I asked her to perform a simple task.... :shock:

What would you do if you were me? I have to go see her when she comes in Monday morning. What would you say/do?


I agree with what JR8 said. Additionally, it would be good to understand if she is your direct report or not. Since if she is not, that may significantly impact your ability to get work done by her; in that case, it may be good to get her manager on board.

If she is your report, make your expectations to her clear in the form of "ground rules" (verbally only). Also try to start off along the lines of "when can you get this done?" instead of setting a potentially unrealistic deadline in the beginning.

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Postby zzm9980 » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 4:02 pm

Temporarily wapping tabs to a local forum filled with bad grammar looking for some incompressible rant about an Ang Moh boss who can't get a job in his own country and is making a local do his work for him... :D j/k

I think Ang Moh is correct in his first question: Is she your direct report, is there some ambiguous matrix/dotted line structure, or is it neither?

Second, did the initial email solicit feedback as to if it was a request she could perform and along what time-line? Just based on your post, I'm sure you would have gladly accepted reasonable feedback on Wednesday if she said "Hi Fortran, I can have the first two data sets complete for you by Friday morning, but the third one should be redirected to so and so group". But my experience working Asia if you do not explicitly spell something out in clear detail, including all conditions, don't expect it. So if you just asked her to do three things but didn't say "tell me if you can't get it done", don't expect her to.

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Postby Fortan » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 4:46 pm

In regards to the reporting, she is not reporting 'directly' to me but is a shared resource in our team. Lots of dotted lines here. I have had help from some of her colleagues before. Some deliver immediately, some on time. I sent the request to a colleague of mine last week in fact and was told to hold on until he could find someone to do it. He as I was swamped in 2014 things we are preparing. The task is ultra simple: pull 3 data sets out of SAP. I have to be honest and say I would have no clue on how to do it - but this team that includes her, does nothing but SAP. Simple sales data extraction and I will model it myself in a pivot later on.

- My first request was to get a full year of sales data per customer, for a specific product line, down to line items, globally.

- Second one was a request for the same but for a specific region.

- My third request was to get total revenue by sales entity.

... and yes I specified exactly what periods, products, regions, even sales entities.

I'll have a chat with the person who initiated the 'work relationship' first. I have calmed down a bit now and she might have been swamped with work and just tried to get out of the half day leave she was going on, I don't know. Just annoyed me at the point of time. Sometimes it is good to rant a bit and then calm down somewhere else than in the office. I usually leave this kind of thing to the next day. If I do anything in writing, I save it as a draft and re-read the next morning. Who knows she might be the best at what she does but has had the worst week of her life.... there could be many explanations....

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Postby Fortan » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 4:47 pm

zzm9980 wrote:Temporarily wapping tabs to a local forum filled with bad grammar looking for some incompressible rant about an Ang Moh boss who can't get a job in his own country and is making a local do his work for him... :D


It's bound to be there :D :D

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Postby zzm9980 » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 5:26 pm

Ooops, wapping should be swapping.

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Postby x9200 » Fri, 01 Nov 2013 6:17 pm

First problem is, hardly anybody takes deadlines seriously. It is a bit like in this joke about Italian drivers and crossing junctions on the red lights - they are only suggestions. Unfortunately this is not only the fault of the employees but also very often the requesting person. You may be told with great emphasis on the urgency that data is needed on that date and later after spending half night preparing it you would learn that it was not urgent at all.
Anyway, your first step is to ensure the message gets through. You may need help of the direct boss of the employee to have it done. Second necessary step is not to wait till the deadline date but frequently check the progress reminding about the deadline.

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Postby Girl_Next_Door » Mon, 04 Nov 2013 9:44 am

I worked in a very international environment, dealing mainly with the 15 APAC countries and North America.

For me, I feel that in Asia, many people are quite hierarchical. Obviously, if the CEO emails you, you respond immediately. No question asked. However, I do struggle with some colleagues who only respond to emails if you fell in the following category:
- More senior in corporate ranking than him
- Pop over and remind him (in an almost begging manner) at least 3 times

Personally, I noticed the male colleagues are more hierarchical than the female ones. The Singaporeans tend to struggle when they perceived they have too much on their plate. They tend to be passive aggressive and will generally not express it. They just assume it is acceptable.

Needless to say, my worse personal experiences are dealing with Indonesians and Filipinos professionals. Best experiences has been Taiwanese.

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Postby v4jr4 » Thu, 07 Nov 2013 9:32 am

Girl_Next_Door wrote:Needless to say, my worse personal experiences are dealing with Indonesians and Filipinos professionals. Best experiences has been Taiwanese.


Depends on the situation, but some Indonesians that I know (Chinese and Malay) are helpful, while some others are "disastrous". Most of the time, hierarchy is the key to get things done (or, in other words, always cc the emails to his/her boss). Unfortunately, this can be tackled with the "middle way" negotiation (in order to "give face") :P
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