View Full Version : Co-worker Cooperation

7-21-11, 9:39am
In all the years I have been working within an office environment, this situation arises repeatedly. Typically, I am in a position of administration with very little “power” but quite a bit of responsibility. At this moment, I have asked two co-workers who are Dept Heads for feedback on insurance information. I have e-mailed, and called twice without a follow up on my inquiry to them. This has happened elsewhere, I ask for specific detailed information to complete paperwork that has a deadline as all things do, folks do not reply, in each situation it has been men not responding.

I’d like to break this cycle of behavior and change the placing of me in a position of sitting and waiting for feedback. In cases like this, do you just CYA with my attempts and move on? The reverse does not happen, if I am asked for help, I reply. I am not inclined to go to our mutual boss but am flummoxed as to what is missing. My typical response is just guys being jerks. Is that fair?

One co-worker suggested that the next time a person who does not reply normally asks for something, do the same, or bargain, mention your request and make it a negotiation. I hate this stuff, just work with me and move on. I am not saying I asked at 9 am and not getting a reply by 10, it's more like give a person a day and than try once more. At that point, it's time to drop this but I internally fail to drop the aggravation towards the individual.

Miss Cellane
7-21-11, 10:12am
Is there a boss somewhere who is expecting your report at some point? What I'd do is CC the boss on every email you send requesting the information. If people aren't inclined to do the work for you, they might be if they realize that the Big Boss can see they are not providing the info.

Or go to their desk and talk with them. It's harder to ignore the person standing right in front of you. It's easy to ignore email.

Are you giving them a set deadline? One that's a few days before the date you really need the information by? I've noticed that when people get open-ended requests, "Can you get me the TSP reports when you have time?" the TPS reports will be put aside for every request that has a time limit. Try, "Bob, I need X, Y, and Z by Tuesday, July 26. If that will be a problem, please contact me so we can work something out."

Or, since these are Department Heads, ask them if there is someone else you can contact directly to get the information. It could be that the Heads are waiting for someone in their department to get them the info. Things might go more smoothly if you can contact that person directly.

Zoe Girl
7-21-11, 11:53am
I know that one well, in many areas of my life in fact. So frustrating!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the books Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations. They are both really really good for getting through these difficulties. I wish I had them years ago for both personal and professional reasons. One point they make is often in a conflict we will try silence or violence (anger) and that these both are not so effective in getting what we need for the job to be done. So the books walk you through another way of being assertive, giving space for the other person to deal with their part and maybe tell you what is going on, and then move forward to getting it done. It is very real-world, the confrontation book has more about when you have an agreement and then the other person does not hold up their end. Sometimes one conversation is not enough, and if this is a longstanding pattern with the same people then it may take many conversations and being effective to change the pattern. As frustrating as it is now I would make sure you are ready for a long period of consistent follow through on your part before you launch into change. I have done this with my kids, I wait until I know I can really devote time to working on an issue before I tackle it, and until I know I am ready I consciuosly let it go. Another big point I got from the books is to put your personal story about the behavior on hold and assume that everyone wants to do a good job.

Hope that helps, I agree with communicating to everyone involved if the original deadline is not met. I would quickly tell 'bob' that you need this by a certain date, but calmly say that after the deadline you will have to share this with others on the project. Then with a big (authentic) smile say 'let me know if there is going to be a problem, I know we both care about the quality of this project and doing a good job' or whatever sounds real.

7-21-11, 4:55pm
I used to have to coordinate a survey with data compiled from every branch of the company. The first year, I got hardly any timely response. That is because I sent out the "I need XYZ" and didn't put a date.

The next two years I sent out emails that said "I need XYZ by DATE" (about two weeks before actual survey due, to give me time to follow up) and then sent out WEEKLY reminder emails to people I hadn't heard from. Those two years I had only a couple of people I still had to ride about getting the info.

Edited to say: START EARLY trying to get information. When doing the annual survey listed above, I started gathering information 4 months ahead of time (yes, you read that correctly). That is how long it took to get a simple response from some people.

7-21-11, 6:04pm
yes, I have been in this situation. I handled it by sending a copy of the e-mail to him and his supervisor on the thrid attempt. Had to do it each quarter, it was like he did not even listen until the e-mail went out to both parties......

7-26-11, 5:53am
I know many people who do not respond to email until at least the second or third request as they feel they get so much "worthless" email anything "important" will be repeated. Right, no, but it happens.

7-26-11, 10:28am
If you're in the same building, I would suggest an in-person visit to their desk to make your repeated request. A friendly, I-was-in-the-neighborhood visit.