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Handling Inconvenient Requests Expand / Collapse
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Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 3:02 PM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Handling Inconvenient Requests

Brad M. McGehee
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Post #829446
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 7:09 PM


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I think that the default response ought to be to help out. That's what we do as technologists, and our art/science is often arcane and complex in the eyes of layman.

That being said, someone shouldn't abuse the ability to make requests. If this happened repeatedly, maybe even twice, I might say no.

It would depend on my situation, plans, and feelings towards the individual, but in general I don't like being taken advantage of. However if there is some way that I can help others in my job, my inclination is to just help them







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Post #829477
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 8:00 AM
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I get all sorts of requests due to the nature of my job, (database jack-of-all-trades). I've actually spent time at work this weekend to finish some processing so some reports can go out Monday.

I think one should examine the nature of the request and the priorities of the job. I had a lot of problems at one time with coworkers and clients sitting on data and projects till the last minute, then dumping it on my group on Friday afternoon. (Hey, I gave them the requirements last week... )This isn't good business or necessary fair to all the parties involved. I believe that you need to set up internal processes and make clear the expectations of all parties. Otherwise you end up with a lot of finger pointing and abuse.
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Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 8:36 AM


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I usually try to figure out if the request is because that person can't do it by himself/herself and it's not part of the general job that person is responsible for or if it's simple because if I do it then he/she doesn't have to do it.
The former cases I usually try to help them out. The latter: no.
As an example we have two groups in our company that belong to different divisions, both groups capable of accessing the same data.
I don't see any valid reason for doing reports for the other division on a Friday afternoon seeing the other group leaving early at the same time (actually happened more than once). One common reply from the folks requesting the report is something along "I get it faster from you folks than from my own group".
I started to send those folks to my boss requesting my support. Most of the time they didn't show up on his desk...
It's a very thin line between being called "unwilling to help" and becoming everybody's "report slave".




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Post #829523
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 7:54 AM


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My default decision is to help the person. The only reason I wouldn't would be because of some prior commitment conflicting with it.

If, as per one of your examples, I had a 5:30 engagement already scheduled, I'd tell the manager what the situation was, and ask if getting the requested data after that would work.

If I have to go out of my way to help someone, I will almost always do so. Then I'll inform them that they owe someone a favor. Doesn't matter what, doesn't matter for whom, they just need to take an extra effort to help someone.

That policy has worked very well for me. People respond positively to it.


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Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 12:14 AM


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Personally, my response to requests of that type has always been to try and say yes. Though it has backfired a little, on more than one performance appraisal I have been criticised for being 'too accommodating' and told I need to learn to say no!

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Post #830452
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 3:12 AM
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Default, by nature, is to help out.

In my work environment (Auditing) we always have young staff that suddenly become partners in the business and therefore they become one of my bosses. My philosophy is that the hand I bite today may be the hand that feeds me tomorrow. I also use the "I'll do it but then you owe me" routine. I may not take them up on it but it seems to prevent some coming back for more.
Post #830507
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 4:09 AM
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I would hope that most peoples for a better word for it "Default position is" "Yes" on this point.

I mean I would say "Yes". However we do get trained sociologically in the "You scratch my back and I will scratch yours ethos" it goes back to the pre dawn of mankind.

However I would be lying if I said I didn't say "No to people" because

1) That person before "Didn't scratch my back"
2) The wife waiting in the rain for a lift home

It's all a point of social integration and goes far beyond the report. There's abosloutly nothing wrong with saying "NO" There's also nothing wrong with saying why such a late request?

If they ask for something that's urgent then you need to know why.
Post #830528
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 5:47 AM
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I echo the general response of those that have already responded. My criteria, both for myself and for support teams I have managed, is a twofold assessment:

1) What is the requestor doing while I do the report? If he/she is at happy hour, then so am I (or my team). If they are willing to stay with me, and review results (even if that is completely unnecessary), then I will consider it. That is the best test of their taking advantage.

2) How has the requestor behaved in the past. Is the assistance from me or my team appreciated, or taken for granted? Are there frequent 'emergencies', indicating a lack of planning on their part?

If I am truly helping in an exceptional situation, and the requestor is meeting me half way, then I am very happy to help.

Post #830572
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 6:42 AM
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I feel the best way to make this decision is to look at your mission. I have always felt the mission of IT/IS to help people be more productive. In this case, the manager is attempting to get something done, but is having difficulty. Therefore it is my mission to assist him.

Of course, afterwards I would look at why he had to ask for my help. Is there anything I can do to prevent this type of request from happening again? But that's a Monday thing.

Of course, if I know something about this manager that suggests that by giving in to his request it will make my mission more difficult (say, he's the type of person who just wants a minute of your time and by giving in he'll continually ask for more and more until you're doing everything for him and have not time to help others) then an alternative needs to be sought. I wouldn't lie to him but maybe I could run the report from home and email it to him later or something.

I'm fortunate that I have a degree of freedom where my manager trusts my judgement and wouldn't bust my chops over being too accomodating. I was in a situation like that before and it ran counter to my mission so I found somewhere to work where their values and mine lined up.
Post #830609
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