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Just Not On The Same Page

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: freezingsheep | March 9, 2023

Back in 2008, I graduated and started a job as an internal analyst with one of the big, global manufacturers — one that had a generally IT-literate employee base. Our team used a couple of niche simulation programmes to do prediction analysis, but our outputs would always be presented to our “clients” in Office apps — Word, Powerpoint, and/or Excel — which everyone had access to and knew how to use. Well, nearly everyone.

On this occasion, we had been asked for a favour by another department, and the guy (apparently some bigwig) was looking for some prediction data for three different scenarios and needed it urgently. We had already been working on something similar for someone else, so I sent over a cut of the bits he wanted pretty quickly — same day instead of a few weeks or months. You’re welcome.

But instead of a thank-you, my boss got an angry email that we had only sent over information for one of the three scenarios. I assured him that I had sent all three; each one was on a separate tab, and if he checked again he should see he had everything he asked for.

But after a couple more emails back and forth, double-checking my outbox, and even resending it just in case the extra tabs somehow went missing in transit, he was adamant that the information wasn’t there. He was acting very huffy, entitled, and condescending. He even implied that we were being willfully obstructive along with one of his re-requests for the information that I had already sent him.

It didn’t take long to escalate to the point that he demanded a phone call to get the key figures from us (despite him being far too busy for such things) before we ruined his important meeting with our incompetence.

We didn’t have screen sharing back then, but it still didn’t take long to ask him:

Me: “Look down… Down… Do you see the words ‘option 1,’ ‘option 2,’ and ‘option 3’ just above the bar at the bottom… over on the left?”

He did. His voice sounded quieter now.

Me: “Click ‘option 2’.”

Bigwig: “Oh.”

Turns out he didn’t know what tabs were and didn’t think to ask. In 2008, he still thought Excel was only ever one page. And I never did get that thank-you.

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