This was actually a recent communication problem, which my supervisor and I are working on. It has been preceded by my being sporadic in asking for help when I get a workload that isn't feasible by me alone. I don't want to give the impression that I cannot get my work done so I work feverishly when I have a lot to do, and when I come up short, my boss asks why I didn't come to her for help. I have had to work on the fact that sometimes my work load is extensive and that it is okay to ask for help, because my supervisor understands that my task list fluctuates beyond her or my means-so sometimes I will need help. And when I do need help, instead of working and hoping I get it all finished, I can and should go to my supervisor for help and let her know the status of my current situation so that she can correctly assess and provide the help that I need.
When I do not communicate my current task list and how much work, time, and materials-my supervisor is unable to know or understand that I need assistance.
Besides that general issue, this is one specific one that I encountered recently.
Part of my duties requires me to take a monthly inventory of my entire collection of various literature pieces, shipping materials, and various samples-which totals well into the 700K plus range. I have materials in an executive storage building down the road, a corner in the back corner of the facility filled with skids of literature, an 80 foot long, 17 foot high rack of literature right outside my mail center (within the facility), and a back office filled with loose literature that I pulled from the other locations.
Now for the past two years, I have completed inventory wherever it fit into my schedule, so it may not have been finished by the same day each month. I also run into periods of time where I am so busy working on things that I can't fit in the time to complete the entire inventory. This is the only issue left that comes up in my semiannual performance reviews, so this has been my supervisor, and I's main working issue for a while now. The problems occur on both of our parts. Sometimes my supervisor will tell me that certain tasks should be my only priority at the moment, so I will focus on those tasks-and then when I haven't been able to fit in inventory (which takes about a whole work day), she gets irate and asks why it's not finished yet. Other times I have put it off personally because it's a difficult task for me to complete-I know it's not an extremely relevant excuse, but having ADD makes it really hard for me to continually count and multiply and correctly fill everything out in my monthly excel spreadsheet-so I procrastinate...well I use to.
Now I have been taking measures to fix any snag that I run into, and I have created a process that compliments my ADD and makes it less of a frustration for me to finish inventory.
BUT onto the recent communication (sorry, but the background I just explained kind of makes the current situation more understandable!!!) She told me three months ago that I should start having the previous month inventory done on the first of the next consecutive month. Now, when we discussed this, I had just finished July Inventory with one week left in August (I was extremely busy after our largest trade show of the year), and September 1st was coming up-I believe it was on a Tuesday. I had a 8500 piece mailing that I was told to put my full attention toward and get it out before working on anything else. So I worked feverishly for the last week of August, and the mailing went out at the end of the day on Tuesday, September 1st-I only worked on this mailing and didn't have time for anything else-not even normal daily tasks! My supervisor knew this, and never mentioned whether I had worked on inventory or not, so I assumed she would understand if I got it finished on September 2nd-a day late.
Boy, was I wrong. Usually she is not so harsh-I think that it had been a rough day, because I got a written warning for not performing my duty of finishing inventory on the first of the month. I got it all done on the second however. I was upset, but I cannot afford to lose my job, so I just simmered in my office and got over it-besides it didn't hurt my record or my pay check.
The next month, October, the first was on a Thursday, so I was able to finish inventory by the seat of my pants-still being pretty busy. BUT November first rolls around, and it's on a Sunday-this past Sunday to be exact, so I again assumed that I could finish inventory on Monday which would have been the first business day back TOO finish it. Well, first thing-I check my e-mail and my supervisor is asking "Why isn't inventory done?" When she is short like that, I know it's with an irate tone. This upset me as well, because the previous Friday was October 30-and my supervisor was there all day and came back to my office several times and never once mentioned inventory and whether I had it started or finished or what-not. I bit my tongue from saying, "Well I didn't know I was suppose to work Sunday"--because I have a temper BUT my parents taught me to NEVER disrespect an elder let alone someone in charge, so I replies " I will get it done today." and that was that- I spent all Monday finishing it, and nothing else was said.
My satisfaction at the decision to make inventory routine on the first was great-I was happy that we were communicating and working together to solve my only major performance issue. However, when its communicated to me that one task deserves my full attention, I was disappointed when I was given written warning for being a day late-when I was doing what I was told. After the second inventory was taken under the new routine, and my boss and I communicated well over the entire process I was back to being really happy with the situation, but then when this past inventory rolled around and she asked whether inventory was done with no prior communication of her wanting me to have it finished early-I was back to be disappointed again. If I would have known that she wanted inventory done early, I would have been able to-but instead the lack of communication caused a negative interaction.
I have my busiest time of the year starting in two weeks, where I will be non-stop busy until about Mid-February, and last year at this time, my supervisor and I cohesively decided to skip December 2008 inventory because I was so busy, and while she didn't want to skip it, we both had to communicate as to why and how to prevent it-so we will see how our communication affects this year's inventory during these busy times!
The moral of this story (well actual series of events, rather.): Even when you have worked in the same position for a long period of time, there is always a need for communication. When you are dealing with a supervisor that is very busy or high up within the company-which comes with a lot of reponsibilities like my supervisor who is the VP of marketing- you must remember that they may not always think that they need to communicate certain things if they trust and rely on you to get something done. They may also look over certain details that they expect you to know, and there is even room for error or mis communication. It's always best to take the time to actually sit down in a closed office and ask your supervisor to explicitly detail what he/she expects specifically and take notes. This prevents any confusion or dissapointment or even disciplinary action towards yourself. This also gives you a chance to communicate to your supervisor what you can and can't do, or what your task list is going to be complied of. By cutting off interruption and getting all of this information communicated at one time-you eliminate mistakes, miscommunication, multiple interactions with interruptions, and forgetting specific details to either convey, or to take in. Take my series of issues as an understanding of what the lack of communication or mis communication can do!