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AIBU to think she should just send an email?

40 replies

vvviola · 16/07/2015 16:14

I'm dealing with quite a few staffing problems at work, and honestly this is minor compared to them, but I think this might be the straw that broke the camels back.

I have one particular staff member who just cannot seem to just reply to an email.


Me (by email): Hi Jane, is that document cover blue or brown?

Jane (by email): It's blue with brown writing

Jane (by phone literally 3 seconds after email arrives in my inbox): just wanted to let you know I emailed you to tell you the report cover is blue with brown writing.

If I ignore the phone, she'll come in to my office, often come around behind my desk (I have an L-shaped desk: long part is between me and the door, short part is to my right with computer etc on it), to tell me the exact thing she told me in the email.

It is utterly infuriating! I have taken to forwarding my phone to voicemail every time I send an email to avoid the calls - but then forget to take it off again.

(And, unfortunately due to all the other stuff going on with my team, and this person, just telling her isn't going to be possible, at least in the near future).

Any suggestions to stop my head exploding?

OP posts:

cuntycowfacemonkey · 16/07/2015 16:17

You (by email): Hi Jane is that document cover blue or brown - just email back no need to phone thanks.


WorraLiberty · 16/07/2015 16:17

Of course telling her is possible.

Just end you email with "By the way, no need to phone or pop in."


MaxPepsi · 16/07/2015 16:17

Do you have to send the email in the first place?

In our old office, unless an email was required for an audit trail, we had to get up and move from our seats and speak directly to our colleagues.

Or - pick up the phone and ask.

Then if she emails to confirm you can ignore that more easily?


ShadowFire · 16/07/2015 16:18

Would immediately replying to her e-mail so she knows you've got the message about the folder (or whatever) help at all?


DorisLessingsCat · 16/07/2015 16:18

Don't write emails about things like that - go and speak to her instead, or pick up the phone?


howabout · 16/07/2015 16:19

Don't email her in the first place. Use the phone then it is done and dusted at the time, or can you use instant messenger. My DH's work is phasing out email as it is too difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in messages.


vvviola · 16/07/2015 16:24

MaxPepsi I usually do have to send the email, because if I walked to the team office (I have my own office across the corridor) every time I needed a fact, I'd be back and forth like a yoyo.

(And to be fair, when I'm in the middle of trying to pull together a massive report it's an awful lot better use of my time to quickly email - was that figure 30% or 35%, let her check it out while I keep going, and let her email me back when she has it).

I suppose I could try adding some of those comments in my email and see does it work (she's extremely fragile at the moment, and we are all looking after her, and supporting her, so I'm trying very hard not to upset the apple cart at the moment - although the email/phone issue has been going on since long before the other problems started)

OP posts:

SugarOnTop · 16/07/2015 16:33

how can it not be possible for you to manage this team member? it doesn't matter what else is going on, all you need to say to her is: "in the interest of time management, i'd like you to carry on with what you were doing after you've reply to my email instead of making more work for yourself by coming to see me and repeating the same thing."

it sounds like she enjoys time wasting and i wouldn't tolerate it. have you considered referring her to HR if she's proving difficult for you to handle?


DorisLessingsCat · 16/07/2015 16:34

I think YABU.

I would hate to be interrupted by a string of short emails when I'm working. Collate all your missing information after an hour or so of working on a report and then go and speak to her.

You won't be any less efficient and using email for such small queries is really bad working practice.


vvviola · 16/07/2015 16:47

I think I explained myself badly Doris all the emails that would have me in and out to the office aren't to her. I just meant that throughout the day, if I was to go in there with every query, I would be in and out all the time (lots of staff, big room, everyone dealing with distinct things).

I probably email her about her issues 3 or 4 times a day. And for more complex stuff, I'm happy to go in or have her come in to me. She is the only one of the team who insists on coming in/phoning.

As for the other complex issue - I've passed it up the line to my boss. It needs someone of his level to deal with it. So for the moment, my job is observing and trying to keep everything on an even keel until senior management figure out how to deal with the problem.

I suspect, if it hadn't been for the big issue, I would have taken her to one side and just said what some of the posters above suggested. But at the moment I don't feel I can, so have resorted to ranting on here instead.

OP posts:

vvviola · 22/07/2015 18:05

Well, I took the advice of some of the posters here and put some version of "no need to phone, just drop me an email when you have a chance". It's working about 50% of the time, which makes it a lot less annoying.

The coming behind my desk part is getting progressively worse now though. Today, each time she came into the office she came right up beside my chair and stared over my shoulder at my screen.

I'm not good with people invading my personal space at the best of times.

I haven't had a lot of experience managing a team of this size (with a few difficult personalities) so it's all a bit stressful at the moment.

OP posts:

trinity0097 · 22/07/2015 18:09

Can you turn your desk around so you can see people coming in?


Loric · 22/07/2015 18:16

She probably has had emails go missing/go straight to junk mail before and is wary of you or others saying you never received it. I would just acknowledge the email straight away. As for the personal space issue you could just say the next time she comes in that you have a bad cold and don't want her to catch it? Keep this up for a few weeks and she'll get used to it and it'll become the norm


FenellaFellorick · 22/07/2015 18:25

can you intercept her?

So when you see her coming, hold up a hand and say hi, did you need me?

people will almost always stop if you hold your hand up (like a lollypop person- hand up palm out -) whether you say stop or whether what you're saying has anything at all to do with them stopping.

It's weird. Try it Grin

And get familiar with the button on your keyboard that puts your screen saver on and press it the second she comes behind you.


BoneyBackJefferson · 22/07/2015 18:29

Try sending a confirmation email


Sleepsoftly · 22/07/2015 18:35

(And, unfortunately due to all the other stuff going on with my team, and this person, just telling her isn't going to be possible, at least in the near future)

Then there are some poor communication values going on that are literally 'knocking on the door'. If you cant say anything face to face then you don't deserve the luxury of being able to deliver in another form. Not saying they are your problems, because they will always fester from the top down.


iwouldgoouttonight · 22/07/2015 18:36

My boss in my old job was like that. After every email he sent he'd phone me to say exactly the same thing he'd emailed about. Thankfully he was based in a different part of the country so he couldn't just pop in, but just the follow up phone calls were infuriating.

It'd then take me ages to get back into what I was doing before he rang because he'd made me think about loads of different things. I started not answering the phone and in the end I left the job (not just because of this but it didn't help).

Can you say you're working on something where you really need to concentrate so can't have any interruptions? People in my current job often go off to a quiet room to work if they want quiet, nobody minds.


ememem84 · 22/07/2015 18:47

this sort of thing winds me up. I send someone an email. They respond. then if i haven't responded within about 5 seconds call me to find out if i got the email they sent. INFURIATING! I was getting to it. i deal with more than one thing...


maybe i need to chill out a bit

however, I have started sending auto response notifications to the main offenders - if you use outlook 2010 (or whatever latest version is) you can set up to send auto forwards to certain people after every email received from them.

mine just read (for clarification these are only for internal people, and we're a small office ) "Thanks for your email - It's in the queue - I'll come back to you with any questions"

external people i can do nothing about - so just have to live with it. sigh


The5DayChicken · 22/07/2015 18:51

Why on earth are you all emailing if you're so close to each other?? Confused In my old place of work we were actively encouraged to get our arses off our chairs and go to check these things in person. Not only does it keep people more active than they otherwise would be when office based but actual face to face interaction is surely preferable?


LindyHemming · 22/07/2015 18:56

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

totallybewildered · 22/07/2015 18:58

I think you are being very unreasonable. People go stir crazy tied down to a desk assaulted by emails. it isn't good time management at all, it is very unproductive. personal interactions are very much more time efficient, natural healthy, and get people physically moving around a bit.

I left a job once because it didn't have enough movement associated with it, same room all day.... it isn't healthy, or productive.


whois · 22/07/2015 18:58

You email was pointless. I'd have phones and only emailed if no answer from the phone.


totallybewildered · 22/07/2015 18:59

Euphemia, chicken is right though, the OP is making excuses to avoid personal interaction, but I think she's deluding herself.


The5DayChicken · 22/07/2015 19:00

I did Euphemia. But the 'reasons' strike me as excuses for poor organisation, communication and management skills.


totallybewildered · 22/07/2015 19:03

chicken, I agree totally.

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