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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Handling Blaming Emails

Theses days we communicate a lot using email - both at home and at office. At times you may get emails which blame or point fingers at you. It might hint at something or explicitly blame you for something that has gone wrong.

So how does one handle such emails? Here are some thoughts:
  • Send a terse "*******" or "*******" message 
  • Send a terse though polite "get lost" or "go to hell" or "not my problem" message 
  • Send a response reversing the blame or finger pointing back to the sender
  • Send a response transferring the blame or finger pointing to someone else without copying that person
  • Send a response transferring the blame or finger pointing to someone else while copying that person
  • Sit on the email forever, ignore and don't respond at all, never
  • Sit on the email for a while, analyze the situation and send a measured response to neutralize the blame
  • Don't accept or deny the blame, agree to the concern raised in the email and send a response you will analyze and suitably take care of the sender's concern
  • Accept the blame if that's really the case and send a response you will take care of the sender's concern
  • If the blaming or finger-pointing is motivated and not factually correct call the person first and get her concurrence and then send a response starting with "As discussed..."
Have your pick. Depending on the case, going with the appropriate choice out of the last two is generally a good idea. And if you know for sure that the blame is rightfully yours to take going ahead with the second last one is not a bad idea either. Of course sometimes you need to be a little diplomatic - so start with the third last and then go to the second last.

Senior Managers with Junior Manners

The title "Senior Managers with Junior Manners" is meant to reflect the fact that in some organizations there are those who by title are "Senior Managers" but show such an amazing lack of maturity that their actions are fit to be called "Junior Manners". Consider the following examples:
  • Instead of talking one on one with someone on sensitive matters they send emails marking copies to some more similar "Senior Managers". A senior manager should write less emails and talk more to employees. And for sensitive topics emails should be avoided. Emails demeaning someone or belittling someone are a strict no no.
  • Instead of supporting organizational initiatives they find faults in other departments' actions by drawing attention to inconsequential details.
  • When one meets them one may get the feeling of talking to an overgrown kid. They generally fail to inspire and while interacting with them one is always worried about their "hot buttons" more than the "topic of discussion".
  • They get promoted as "Senior Manager" more because of longevity factor (number of years put in) or loyalty factor (trusted lieutenant syndrome) than the competency factor (the true professional worth). This makes them think they are indispensable but others are not.
  • They are hyper sensitive to things like a junior person following up with them on completing an action or asking them to complete an activity by a certain date, an office boy delivering them something from another employee rather than the employee himself/herself handing it over personally
Well the above examples show some facets of what to expect when dealing with "Senior Managers with Junior Manners". And here are some ideas on how to deal with them:
  • When they say they are upset and point out something agree to them. Make sure their egos are taken care of in a tactful manner.
  • Ensure some of the "Senior Managers with Senior Manners" are kept in the loop. At times it is good to leverage the relations some of these "Senior Managers with Senior Manners " share with  "Senior Managers with Junior Manners"
  • Make sure you know your stuff absolutely well. There is nothing that matters more than this. And this helps in many other ways as well.

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