I received the first critique of my work performance in the interviewer job recently. My Supervisor politely made me aware that my admin hours are too high, which means that I spend too much time checking and correcting interview forms. So I asked how much time admin is expected to take per workload on average, and she told me:
- How much time they expect me to spend on average per assignment
- How much time she spends (having years of experience)
A clear guideline. I didn’t know before she told me since I never see anyone else’s hour sheets, so I had no benchmark. Therefore I followed my natural inclination to be as thorough and detail-oriented ‘as possible’*. It may have been exacerbated by my great respect for my employer and desire to please them. So now I know, and can adjust my time consumption VS zealousness balance to a viable level.
‘The cost of quality’ by Linda Bourne.
(source: Project Manager.com.au)
My supervisor spent the rest of the conversation giving positive feedback, and overall the conversation left me feeling good but aware that I need to adjust my admin time. So now I am trying to rein in my pedantic tendencies.
Memory flash back
Then I came to think of a comment that confused me several months ago, made by one of the office ladies during the last interviewer assembly. She said to me and another interviewer that we don’t need to do research to verify and complete partial responses when we check the interview forms, because it will be checked in the office anyway. ‘It is just double work’.
The comment confused me and kept circling in my mind, seeding uncertainty about what to do when checking the forms, because it contradicted the guidelines we had learned in the training course. It broke the clean line of consistency I associate with the employer. Every aspect of the job is regulated by clear, well defined rules; not by a diversity of ad hoc staff interpretations (as may be common in some other workplaces).
I ended up telling the boss about it and asked her to clarify the rules. She confirmed my understanding of the rules and said she would follow up with the office ladies.
Message received. Finally
Now, several months later, I can hear what the lady probably REALLY said to me about checking the forms. She probably said: ‘Your admin hours are too high!’ I get it now (I think). With a few months of delay.
The comment caused confusion and no improvement, because it did not specify the problem and its consequence. In contrast, my supervisor’s specific and clear critique is helpful and enables me to take action, and it does not cause any confusion.
What this really highlights is how much easier workplace communication can be in the absence** of a social workplace environment and its expectations about intercepting indirect communication.
My supervisor’s supervises employees who she rarely sees face to face, and who are not ever present in the office; who therefore can never be expected to pick up on any indirect messages from the office ladies. So she communicates and passes on feedback in a direct and concise manner, and even supports some types of messages with a written, concise summary afterwards.
What a relief! and what a difference from my experience working in an office and other workplaces where there could be a sense of looming dissatisfaction without being able to pinpoint the source of it, and where serious complaints could hit suddenly, like a lightening strike from a clear sky (I do fear this could still happen in my current job although I am not physically present in the workplace).
Questions to readers
Have you encountered any of this in a place where you worked:
- Good communication. What made it work well?
- Miscommunication. What made it go wrong?
- Being targeted with any kind of complaints. What triggered it and how did you handle it?
*Unless I find the work is boring or meaningless, in which case I’m capable of totally overlooking even humongous details.
**Obviously I and my colleagues in similar positions are the absent ones – the workplace is very much present.