Help me stop freaking out
November 16, 2012 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Need help replying to an email from my boss.

She wrote, "I'm concerned about your turning work in late or slowly on a fairly regular basis. Is this something we should talk about?" She certainly has a point and I don't have a good answer besides that I'm working on it. What should I say??
posted by kat518 to Work & Money (41 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I personally would not respond to this in writing but would ask to speak with her in person instead. Maybe I'm just paranoid but I wouldn't want to be agreeing in writing that my work is supbar.
posted by elizardbits at 9:54 AM on November 16, 2012 [39 favorites]

What your boss wants to hear is "the work that is due will be ready on [DATE] and there will be no further delays." What you want to tell your boss depends on why the work is overdue. Are you slacking, or are there departmental issues?
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't communicate anything in writing and instead speak with the boss face to face. You never know if these things might end up being used against you.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:57 AM on November 16, 2012

You could ...

A. Re-make (and keep) a commitment to a deadline for the work you're working on now.

B. Examine your circumstances to see what's interfering with your ability to meet the deadlines, and work to clear up or eliminate those interferences.

C. Ask for a sit-down re: B.

D. Consider whether your workload really is more than you can handle, and ask for an adjustment. Very tricky, here, especially if everyone else is handling as much (or more) workload.

In any case, elizardbits has a good idea about face-to-face vs. e-mail.
posted by John Borrowman at 9:57 AM on November 16, 2012

Can you identify anything specific that is contributing to your delayed work?

(For example: are you being forced to attend meetings that aren't relevant to what you do, do coworkers interrupt you for things that are not your responsibility, etc?)

Your best bet, if none of the above applies -- and if it does, you're going to have to be non-accusatory, but clear about what the problem is -- is to ask for feedback on ways you could do your work better. You are doing the work to the best of your ability, with the resulting speed, but is there something she thinks you could be doing better or differently?

You also need to learn to let her or the relevant people know when something is going to be late or delayed. As a editor, I would much rather someone tell me "X is going to be late because of Y" so I can plan around that rather than sitting here wondering what's going on.
posted by at 9:57 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't freak out! It'll be ok. Reply to the email and say you would like to talk to her in person and ask to schedule a time to do so.

How are you working on it? Are you doing things besides just "trying" to work faster, or do you have some new strategies you are trying out? It'll go really far if you can tell your boss that you are trying A, B, C actions, but you've pinpointed a bottleneck at point X, and you think you need to do Y and Z to get past it. (Perhaps Y and Z are some sort of resource available to you.) I hope that makes sense. Bosses really, really like to hear these types of lists. They don't want to have to think of them for you. But ask for help if you need it.
posted by stowaway at 9:58 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You say "You certainly have a point and I don't have a good answer, besides that I'm working on it. It won't happen again". And don't let it happen again.
posted by unSane at 9:58 AM on November 16, 2012

I agree that you should not agree that your work is subpar in writing.

If you have to respond in writing, be vague.
Then talk to her in person - give her whatever reason you can.
"I'm working on it" is not a valid reason. You need somethign like, "The project was more time intensive than expected"
posted by Flood at 9:59 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

nth face-to-face (or on the phone if you are remote).

NEVER put anything in writing that agrees to criticisms about your general work progress. Discuss, then follow up with a summary of the discussion regarding how you are addressing the concerns.
posted by chiefthe at 10:02 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

I agree with elizardbits, but I also want to add that you should take this as a warning and as a piece of evidence that your boss can use -- should she need to-- to possibly let you go in the future. (Ex: "I notified you by email on November 15 that your lateness was a problem.")

I know you say you're "working on it", but this should be a wake up call for you.

Also, yes, have a meeting in person and do not admit to culpability via email aka further evidence.
posted by Flamingo at 10:05 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Check in with her face-to-face. It doesn't need to be a huge involved thing. Don't put it in writing. Basically tell her that future stuff will be on time (and then, you know, actually turn stuff in on time).

This isn't anything to freak out about. Your stuff has been late, your boss has noticed, and she wants to make sure the wheels are turning smoothly. Treat it as a very mild wake-up call and you'll be fine.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:08 AM on November 16, 2012

You also need to learn to let her or the relevant people know when something is going to be late or delayed. As a editor, I would much rather someone tell me "X is going to be late because of Y" so I can plan around that rather than sitting here wondering what's going on.

Yeah, this is really super important to keep in mind. If you know that there is just no way for you to meet your due date on a project, and fail to communicate that to the relevant parties, it is so much SO MUCH worse than asking for an extra day (or an extra hand) a few days ahead of time. I cannot possibly stress how much worse it is to just leave people hanging.

I understand that it depends on the nature of your workplace and your relationship with your boss, but if the reason you're always late is that people are giving you unrealistic project due dates that you are unable to meet even when working full out, you should consider speaking up about recalibrating realistic workflow expectations.
posted by elizardbits at 10:09 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, one other thing: it is your boss's job to be the boss. If the reason your work is late is because you're depending on someone else to get you something, and they're late with it, you need to tell her. Don't make excuses for anyone making you look bad.
posted by griphus at 10:19 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

My advice should have the caveat that I work for individual employers and not in an office.

I have found that people respond really well when you cheerfully admit that you are lacking a skill/tool/approach that you need to do the job, and have a plan in place to fix the deficit that is concrete and does not involve them doing any extra work.

I recently had success with saying something like this:

"You're right that you've been having to micromanage me, and I apologize. I think it's because I don't have a good idea how often various tasks need to be done. I am going to come up with a list of tasks and an ideal frequency for each task and then put them on a schedule that we will both have access to. That way all you have to do is approve it and forget about it."

My boss responded really well and now instead of seeing it as a fault that she had to correct, she actually complimented me on showing so much initiative to improve (completely forgetting that she was the one who originally brought up the issue!)

I'm sure your boss doesn't want to have this conversation any more than you do, so make it as easy as possible on her while still giving her the impression that you're working towards permanent, lasting change.

Oh and honestly? If this isn't something you can fix with something simple like a schedule or a reminder a few days before the project is due or something like that, I'd start looking for another job. Once your boss has you in their mind as slow/late and you don't immediately fix it, they tend to keep thinking of you that way and it will hamper your ability to get credit for your work and effort.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'd pick up the phone and call her and be as frank and truthful as you can and upfront about working on it. She was pretty up front about the concern.

If you have too many responsibilities, you can tell you feel your bandwidth has been compromised by X and ask for some guidance about priorities. If it's that you are poorly organized then say that you're working on your organizational strategies and you could use Y type of support (online class in time management, something like that.) Or even that you've been struggling due to some project or another, but you see light at the end of the tunnel because Z.

Basically own up, ask for help, but be assertive in offering your own solutions (you don't want to ask her to solve your problems unless that's really the only way to fix the problem.)

And what others have said about checking in when you're running late.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:31 AM on November 16, 2012

I understand why people are telling you not to put anything in writing, but as someone who has been on the other side of these conversations, the single most frustrating thing in the world is a problem employee that doesn't seem to realize he/she has a problem. Whatever you do, don't come across like that.

I think your most effective response woud be to write back that you understand that timeliness is important for reasons x, y and z, and this is an area that you are actively working to improve.

If you can describe things you'll do to improve, do that. If you can't, ask for a meeting to discuss potential solutions. But a simple "I know this is a problem. I feel bad about it and I'm working to improve" is the one thing that is likeliest to flip your boss from "enforcer" to "ally".
posted by psycheslamp at 10:35 AM on November 16, 2012

Face to face is the way to go. Not just to avoid acknowledging things on paper, but to get a better idea of where she's coming from. Her email could be saying "hey, you okay?" or "I want to keep our professional relationship on pleasant terms, but this has gone on for too long and I need to say something" or "I am starting a paper trail in case I need to let you go." If you meet with her in person, the tone of the meeting might give you a better idea.

Regardless, go armed with strategies that will help you turn in your work on time, and be proactive about following through on them. Weekly status meetings or regular emails can help. If there is something that can be done from her side to help - e.g. she's overloading you or expecting too quick of a turnaround - ask for her help with that, but be realistic; don't say it takes three hours to complete a thirty-minute project. Anyone can say "I'm working on it" without improving; you want to prove to her that you're invested in working on it.

Any time you get feedback like this in writing, it's a clear sign that you need to turn things around immediately. It's much easier to fix it in the early stages than to let it slide until your employment is in jeopardy. If your work is late because you're overloaded or held to unrealistically high standards, talk to your boss about expectations. If there's a health issue (not enough sleep? depression?) interfering with your ability to perform, look into it. If you just don't like your work or are burnt out, time to start looking for something else.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:44 AM on November 16, 2012

N'thing "face to face" interaction here.

It's unfortunate that your manager seems to have taken this route rather than pulling you aside and having the guts to ask you in person.

Keep professional and follow through on whatever you verbally agree to. When you do follow through, write an email telling him as much.
posted by PsuDab93 at 10:48 AM on November 16, 2012

I was thinking of saying something like, I've been having a hard time with short term vs. long term priorities (which is true) and asking for suggestions on how to deal with it - what do you think?
posted by kat518 at 10:48 AM on November 16, 2012

That's a little vague. Why are you having a hard time with them? The more specific you are with the problem (without making yourself seem incompetent) the more useful the feedback will be.
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on November 16, 2012

I would respond in writing, but not apologize. Something like "Sure - it would be very helpful to me if we could meet and review my priorities and expectations." This says that you are interested in improving and looking for her input.

In the meeting, I would try to find out what your top priorities are, how fixed the deadlines actually are, and how early she would like to know if there is going to be an issue with meeting a deadline. As others have suggested, I would also tell her why something is taking longer than expected - but don't get defensive, and don't use a vague answer like "I'm working on it." I might even bring a list of your projects broken down by task and show her exactly where you are in the process. At the end of the meeting, let her know that you appreciate her willingness to help you.
posted by beyond_pink at 11:00 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I worry that something like this will eventually happen with a coworker of mine who I really like, but whose lateness on projects is starting to become a little noticeable. With the person I'm thinking about, since they're a bit newer to things, I feel like there might be some lack of understanding of process not entirely grokking the chain of who's affected when something is late, or not noticing that someone who has to work on their stuff after them (hello, me!) is going to be out for a few days and assuming that lateness is no big deal.

When I'm late with a project at work, for instance, I know exactly who's set to be working on that item after me, and I try to be mindful of whether they have something scheduled that will make my turning it in late especially problematic (or less so). Often, I'll give an update directly to that person before my boss asks about it—that way, if/when the boss comes to me and says, "How's it going with X?" (which of course really means, "Hey, you're late, what's going on?") I can say, "Yeah, sorry, I know I'm running a little behind, but I let Susie know where I am with it, and actually, she still isn't ready with Y thing that will need to be added to X after I'm done with it, so I think we're OK. I'm going to try to get it done by Z day of the week. Does that sound all right?"

Or if it turns out that my getting the project in late will mess Susie up, I'll come up with a list of triage options for getting the work done: "Since I'm already late with X, and it's going to take me a bit longer than Y, I was thinking I might try to get Y to Susie first, so she at least has something to work on while I'm finishing up X. What do you think?" Just showing that I've made the effort to be in touch with the stakeholders in the project and that they're calm and I'm calm, and that we all have a potential revised plan, usually answers the question to everyone's satisfaction and I can continue toiling. (And sometimes, taking a break from project X to work on project Y can be just the thing I need to make me more productive.)

Anyway, I think it might help your case if you can demonstrate to your boss that you understand how your actions affect others—that you understand what happens after you pass along your work and who's affected by your lateness, and that you're taking steps to make their lives easier. Or, if you don't entirely understand how the process works, this is the point at which admitting that and asking questions would be in order: "Oh, I didn't understand that I was holding anyone up by being late on this. Would it help if I let you and Susie know in the future if it looks like things are stacking up a bit?"

And yeah, I think it would pay to be a little more proactive about things re: short-term vs. long-term priorities—if that's the problem, that short-term projects are interfering with keeping up with long-term projects, for instance, then I would think through the problem a little before approaching your boss. Don't expect him or her to have all the answers—what would your ideal situation be? (E.g., "So I'm having trouble keeping up with entering these items into the system for my weekly budget, since I've been getting so busy with requests from [customers | another department | etc.]. Would it be OK if I blocked out the time from 4 to 5 p.m. every day, barring any emergencies, for entering these things into the system?") I would make sure you have a handle on the specific difficulties involved and how you think they could be solved. Think through those questions first, come up with a potential plan or a set of questions about the difficulty you're having, and then go to talk to the boss (in person, definitely).
posted by limeonaire at 11:01 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Dear Boss,

I would be happy to discuss any concerns you have. Let's meet at X date, X time."
posted by xingcat at 11:01 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I guess one of the things that concerns me about this is that it's Friday and I'm going to be out of the office next week :( Should I try to catch her today?
posted by kat518 at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2012

Yes! Do not leave the office for a week without addressing your boss's complaints about late work first. That will look really, really shitty.
posted by griphus at 11:39 AM on November 16, 2012 [13 favorites]

More than that, if it were humanly possible to right the ship schedule-wise, I'd do it. I.E. stay late, work on the weekend, delay the week off (either by rescheduling or by shaving a day off the time off, i.e. leave Tuesday, not Monday).

This may be less critical if there are others doing the same work you are and you're not creating a logjam. But tardiness in getting work to others + vacation week = catastrophe, and may well be the thing that has caused your boss to fire this shot across your bow.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

More than that, if it were humanly possible to right the ship schedule-wise, I'd do it. I.E. stay late, work on the weekend, delay the week off (either by rescheduling or by shaving a day off the time off, i.e. leave Tuesday, not Monday).

Yup. When I've been obviously working hard and achieving my bosses are happy to have me take time off. When they're already pissy at me it's just caused resentment and annoyance, even if it's a scheduled vacation.

Sorry. This seems really stressful and I feel for you. I hope it all works out well.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:48 PM on November 16, 2012

When I say long-term vs. short-term goals, I mean that after I answer the ringing phone, I have a hard time figuring out what I was doing before the phone rang. Especially when the person on the phone has usually given me other things to do so then I do those things and then I really don't remember what I was doing before the phone rang.

I would also like to mention that a colleague asked me if I could take care of something really quickly for him one day recently and I basically dropped everything to get it done. I was happy to do it but I'd like to bring it up because I don't think she knows about that and I think it shows that I can act really quickly when I need to so just let me know when I need to. But I don't think I can mention it without being defensive.

I can try to do some work while I'm out of town but I have bus tickets to leave tonight, tickets for a show in a different city for Sunday, and a plane ticket out of that city bound for another city for Monday. Maybe sending some emails and doing some work while I'm clearly supposed to be on vacation would help.
posted by kat518 at 12:50 PM on November 16, 2012

I don't have a good answer besides that I'm working on it.

Just Nthing others that you need a much, much better response than this.

The response - whether you decide to write or call (and I would recommend call), needs to include:

Derailment factors affecting recent work (colleague's request for example).
Steps you are taking to address this (e.g developing a task list with orders of importance, next steps in tasks, estimated completion, and critical dependencies [for example, needs approval from X] .
Help your manager could offer you (can be specific, or could be a general request. Specific is better, e.g Can I run additional work requests by you before actioning, so I can confirm they are appropriate use of my time.)
How these steps are going to help your work, and how your subsequent work will be turned in on time.

Just regarding your difficulties with the phone calls, and helping out colleagues. It took me a while to learn this when I first went into the corporate world, and as somewhat of a people pleaser it's something I still have to relearn regularly: your manager's happiness is the only happiness that matters from a work perspective. Now, sometimes, you make your manager happy, by making other people happy. But not usually. This other dude's request, he's not your manager, and it may not feel like it, but by helping him you are probably not doing your job, which is not to help him, but to help your manager.

It sounds like your manager is concerned, and giving you a heads up. Be grateful for this opportunity and make sure you take it.
posted by smoke at 1:00 PM on November 16, 2012

I wouldn't take this approach, as it feels to formal and combative:
"Dear Boss,
I would be happy to discuss any concerns you have. Let's meet at X date, X time."

If I were your boss and I got an email like that, I'd think "Oh jesus. She doesn't get it. I just want her to get her work done on time! What's there to talk about?"

If I got a message like the one you got, here is exactly what I would do:

I'd casually pop into my boss' office and say: "Hi, got a sec? I just want to make sure you know that I took your message to heart. You're right, I haven't been doing my best, but from this point forward, I will. Period. My work will be done on time, and it'll be done right. I want to be someone you can count on. That's important to me, and it means I have to step up with my work. And I will."

And then, from that point on, I'd never be late with my work again unless there was a really major reason, in which case I'd make sure my boss knew the reason AND knew whatever it was has been handled. Oh, and personal stuff doesn't count as a reason. I'm talking about other factors at work that would cause something to be delayed... maybe a product required for your job wasn't delivered or you spotted an error in someone else's work that needed to be corrected before you could use their work to complete your own (if your work is dependent on the work of others).

I know my approach may be too forward for some, but it really has worked for me in the past. Years ago, I was left to run the office I worked in while my boss was on vacation for a week. I handled something very badly and was called into our general manager's office to get bitched out. Before he could say a word, I said:

"Here's what happened.......
Here's how I handled it.......
That was my mistake. I made a mess.
Here's how I'm going to fix it........
Here's what I learned from this whole thing.........."

I'll never forget the look on my boss' face. He probably expected me to shift the blame on someone else, and I certainly could have since other people were involved too. Instead, I took responsibility and made sure he knew I'd fix it and prevent it from ever happening again. He just stared at me for a minute. Then he sat back in his chair with a huge grin and said "I'm glad we had this talk. Get to it."

And from that point on, he treated me very differently - in a VERY good way - because he knew I was someone he could rely on.

Your boss wants you to be someone he or she can rely on.
Be that person.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:00 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This sounds like an organizational issue. Do you make yourself a to-do list at the beginning of the day? Do you know what tasks you're responsible for every day? I do a to do list like this:

O organize files in drawers
O vacuum
O party
O call that one guy

I do this even before I start any task, even if I plan to do it right away I write it down. That way if I get taken away from the task, I can glance at the list and remember what I have to get done. When it's completely finished, I check it off. If I decide not to do it, I cross if off. If I am going to do it later, I put an L in the circle. It ends up looking like this:

X organize files in drawers
X vacuum
L party
O call that one guy

Then at the end of the day, I carry over anything that has an L to the next day's list (you can also do this first thing in the morning).

You can tell your boss that you're going to improve your skills at prioritizing your work by being more systematic about how you structure your day (meaning, a to-do list).

Ask her if in the future you would need to come to her before taking on an extra task, as you did with that guy. That will allow you to slip in that you did something good, while still being positive and not defensive.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:01 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

"I would also like to mention that a colleague asked me if I could take care of something really quickly for him one day recently and I basically dropped everything to get it done. I was happy to do it but I'd like to bring it up because I don't think she knows about that and I think it shows that I can act really quickly when I need to so just let me know when I need to."

This is the problem. I think you're failing to grasp that you always need to be on time. Without realizing it, you're wanting your boss to do part of your job. You want your boss to keep track of your duties and make sure you know which are most important. But that's your job.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:14 PM on November 16, 2012

ALSO: the young rope-rider's organization suggestion is EXCELLENT. I do this. I'm a big fan of using a legal pad for it. There's something about paper and pen (plus the cardboard back of a legal pad) that really works for me when it comes to making lists and such.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:16 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

The to-do list is a great idea. I have like an ongoing one but it gets to be too much of a disaster hassle. I've been trying to get better at to-do lists. One thing that may or may not be helping me in life is that I've been leaving it at the office. I don't know that it's a good idea but it helps me leave work at the office.

Anyway, I talked to her. I was nervous but I just asked if she had a minute and told her that I was sorry. She said that this wasn't a huge deal but there was something else that had her a little bothered. I basically agreed and said I'm going to try to do more. I didn't even sit down, just tried to make it an informal thing. She is so gracious, you guys - she said that she thought I did a great job with another project and complimented my shirt. She seemed surprised that I talked to her but said that we can talk about the job itself or getting more help if needed. I'm always a little worried when she's super nice that she's going to be totally mean at some point (I'm a little paranoid from having worked with crazy people in the past) but that still hasn't happened. I'm going to try not to push her in that direction.

Thanks, all!
posted by kat518 at 1:38 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you've been trying organizationally and it's not coming together, you might take a look at the adult ADHD checklists that are out there and see if it sounds familiar. Without my meds I can make a to-do list, but it doesn't actually help at all.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:43 PM on November 16, 2012

I would also like to mention that a colleague asked me if I could take care of something really quickly for him one day recently and I basically dropped everything to get it done.

This is such an easy trap to fall into - to focus on the quick things, the easy wins, but lose track of the bigger projects. Being overly reactive to drop-by projects and overly accommodating to your colleagues turns you into an all-day sucker. You work for your boss, and your boss (or her boss) should be the only person you drop everything for. You can use your boss as leverage to manage the work you do for others. "Let me check with [Boss] - I think she's expecting me to stay on task with [project]."
posted by Sweetie Darling at 1:57 PM on November 16, 2012

If you haven't seen it, I recommend Randy Pausch Lecture: Time Management
posted by anon4now at 4:06 PM on November 16, 2012

Glad it went well. Don't mistake being nice with it being "all settled," although it does sound like she's in the early stage of trying to correct your behavior, and not soon to go nuclear.

People who pile things on you and basically jump the line - that needs to be handled one of two ways:

- write it down and get back to what you were doing. Don't fall into the "last in, first out" trap. Make sure interrupting guy/gal knows that you're already busy but that you will put their task in line.
- if you deal with a lot of interruptions that seem to demand real-time service (for example, if you're essentially acting as a receptionist in addition to your "real" job), it's good to make sure your boss knows what the level of those interruptions have been. If they're reasonable, they will take that into account, and might even get the interruptions reduced. Maybe. The idea here is not to whine about it, just bring it up conversationally. "Sure were a lot of people in the door today. BTW, Joe from Accounting asked me to put cover pages on all the TPS reports. Do I need to do that today?"
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:20 PM on November 16, 2012

Most people aren't really much good at juggling multiple tasks, short term and long term projects and competing priorities plus answering emails and phone calls with more interruptions all day. Unfortunately that's the modern workplace, isn't it? All the time management tricks in the world aren't going to make it better if you are burned out on the job. I am not a systematic, organized type person and it doesn't mean enough to me to become one - I prefer work environments where the tasks are small chunks of work and the requirements for getting most every task done is "Now. ASAP. Correctly and accurately." Long term projects are the worst. So I triage the short term and the constant interruptions because I'm very good at it, and other people in my office deal with the long term stuff.

Anyway, if your work is late because it's a slog and you hate it, start looking for a better job in a different environment that you like more. If it's late because of the short term/long term issue, I would say, in the future, proactively go to your manager and ask him or her to set your priorities and get you a schedule with milestones/deadlines for the long term projects. It's also been my experience that long term projects often get dumped on people who haven't had training on how to handle them at all - of course they get overwhelmed and miss deadlines - they need the manager to manage.
posted by citron at 6:38 PM on November 16, 2012

My job includes working with a manager who's great but it frequently seems like he will pop into my office and give me about five things to do and walk out when none of them are longer term things. So then I do them and think, yay! I did the things! Then I remember, oh great, I did several things that each take a few minutes but I still have to do the bigger thing that will take me a few hours. We're in a ramping-up point seasonally and when this has happened before, I've found myself staying at the office late just so I can do that longer item without interruption. Is there a better way?

I would really like to be the employee who does the day-to-day stuff well and the longer term projects but I feel so stretched that I have to make choices - and clearly I'm making the wrong ones.
posted by kat518 at 7:43 PM on November 16, 2012

Trust your intuition that her niceness may be unintentionally deceptive: the late Friday timing and the email format could indicate that she avoids offering criticism, which can mean you're not getting the full story here. She cared enough to put it into writing.

Do you have more than one manager? That makes it quadruple important to proactively manage people's expectations and discuss what the priorities are.

The trick with finding time to do the long-term stuff is to come in really early or stay late. Your only other option is some "do not disturb" sign, but if you have multiple managers, some who pop in, that may not work.
posted by salvia at 10:35 PM on November 16, 2012

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