Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The expert email 'forwarder'

Before you click that "Forward" button on your email, stop and think, 'I can do this, but am I just being lazy?'

The 'Forward' function in Outlook and email clients exist so that we can share information but it's not there simply for people who want to shirk their work duties. Lately, I've been getting annoyed because a staff member at one of our vendors prefers not to do any work but forward my requests and give me phone numbers to call and follow up for myself. It's understandable if his sole function is to divert emails but his role is to assist me in work related matters and action my requests.

At work it's been a rant of mine ever since one of the staff at a vendor of ours got promoted and she was totally awesome. Her promotion is awesome but she's left us in a bottomless pit with her new, crappy replacement. If I sent her any request to action or investigate, she would be onto my request immediately and she chased, she pursued, she followed up, she diarised and she got results for me. It was a like working relationship dream come true. Even if it was a request that was not her immediate duty, she would forward the request to her colleagues but she would follow up with them first and then get back to me with her results. I email her my requests, she emails me her results = working relationship dream come true.

Her replacement however is a total fail. He likes to forward emails. Not once has he actioned any of my requests without me having to repeatedly hassle him for results. I'm not his mother and I'm not his girlfriend nor his secretary. It's not my role to chase him for answers, replies and results and I've got deadlines to work to. He doesn't understand the concept of using diaries and calendars to schedule in tasks. Everyone has one of those in the office. The expert forwarder. The expert forwarder is extremely experienced in pressing the forward button and passing the work and responsibility to others. Sometimes they don't even read their emails because they know that once it has been forwarded, it's not their responsibility anymore unless it comes back.

It would be a dream come true if the expert forwarder that I have to deal with right now gets promoted because he fails on all my requests. Unfortunately the possibility of him being promoted are slim simply because if his manager asked clients to rate his service, we'd all give him a zero. How does one handle expert forwarders? How can you compel one to actually do some work instead of passing the buck around? How can you manage an expert forwarder to actually perform the work instead of trying to flick you off to other departments when their role is to field all enquiries from you and act on your requests internally?

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