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Thread: Vacation protocol involving co-workers

  1. #1
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Vacation protocol involving co-workers

    Ok. I'm a female so I worry about things like this. I'm sure men don't.

    Our Historic Preservation Planner took off for a week & half vacation. Technically I'm his overseer not his supervisor. However, when people have a concern with his work or a question on some project he's working on they come to me. Fine, no worries.

    Before he left he didn't provide me with an update on any outstanding issues, projects, or concerns. Granted I didn't ask.

    Now he's away on vacation and I have been put in the situation of not being able to answer an inquiry on a project of his. I want to send him an e-mail reminder (or I suppose give him instruction) that in the future if he goes away for an extended amount of time, to please give me a head's up on any projects/cases he's working on so that I can be informed should someone have a question while he's out.

    So three questions:
    1. Is it unrealistic to ask for such notice? To me it seems like common courtesy.
    2. Do I send him an e-mail now, while he's out or do I wait until he returns? Or do I speak with him in person?
    3. As his "overseer" is this something I should be doing or that his supervisor should be doing?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    I'm not really understanding the difference between supervisor and overseer but no matter. Personally, I would just talk to him when he returns and explain that in the future it would be helpful to know what he's working on in case something comes up. That's appropriate and conducive to an efficient office. He's going to have a bunch of emails to deal with anyway when he returns so talking to him directly will probably have more impact.

    Off-topic: How many people actually check their email and/or voicemail when they are on vacation? I simply refuse to do it. Vacation is a time to get away from work and not think about it. My personal philosphy has always been "if I get hit by a bus the work will still be there and someone will have to do it" so why take precious minutes from my hard earned vacation to respond to non-life threatening issues?
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    It's not unreasonable at all to expect to be briefed on any outstanding issues that may need to be addressed before a vacation. In fact, if I failed to do that in my office, I'd probably expect a call on my cell to get the info, which wouldn't really bother me since that's just how we roll here in our little office of 3.

    If it were my office, I'd call him to get my question answered and then wait until he gets back to bring it up in person, as finding an email about the issue upon returning from a vacation could be a real buzzkill and come across as somewhat bitchy.

    I'm not quite clear on what the difference is between an overseer and a supervisor in this context, however.

  4. #4
    I think that if the vacationing preservationist knew that you would be covering for him while he was away, he had a duty to inform you of project status and anything that "might" arise while he's gone.

    If the information required is only held by him and is truly urgent, then I'd try to contact him. Otherwise, once he gets back to the office I'd brief him on all you did while he was gone and what's you've left pending for him. This might be a segue into the usefulness of a briefing before vacation.

    Oh, and I'm a guy. I don't worry about these things, but I do think about them.
    Batter up!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    My supervisor or coworker would just call me while I was on vacation and ask me for an update on the project and I would give it to him. No big deal. I am salaried and need to be available off-hours.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    In your 3rd paragraph, you mention that he left without giving you an update. I assume since he reports to you, that is unacceptable. I also, forgive me, I think if you KNEW this extended leave was coming, you'd schedule a meeting to get some outputs and some take-aways. Where I currently work, such disconnects get blamed UP the system, not down, unless its an "help! I fell and can't get up" from the subordinate.

    EDIT: Sorry Dandy this has NOTHING to do with being female in my book.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    In your 3rd paragraph, you mention that he left without giving you an update. I assume since he reports to you, that is unacceptable. I also, forgive me, I think if you KNEW this extended leave was coming, you'd schedule a meeting to get some outputs and some take-aways. Where I currently work, such disconnects get blamed UP the system, not down, unless its an "help! I fell and can't get up" from the subordinate.

    EDIT: Sorry Dandy this has NOTHING to do with being female in my book.
    I think part of the problem is that he doesn't officially report to me. (Which I have issues with the whole overseeing vs. supervising. Basically I get stuck doing all the supervisory work but don't have to discipline them or get official credit for supervising them.)

    I think there's equal blame and I acknowlege that. I didn't ask him to brief me but neither did he have the initative to meet with me. In my experience (both planning and pre-planning) I've never had a supervisor ask to meet with me before a vacation. It was always me CMA and speaking with them, to help them and frankly so that I could relatively guarantee that I wouldn't be bothered during my vacation.

    Our division of the Dept. has weekly meetings so at the next weekly meeting where everyone is in attendance I'll bring it up. And with summer vacations it probably doesn't hurt to remind the other two as well.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    I think part of the problem is that he doesn't officially report to me. (Which I have issues with the whole overseeing vs. supervising. Basically I get stuck doing all the supervisory work but don't have to discipline them or get official credit for supervising them.)

    I think there's equal blame and I acknowlege that. I didn't ask him to brief me but neither did he have the initative to meet with me.
    .

    Okay then, did he update the "supervisor" that he officially reports too???

    Blame on both sides in my book, but I wouldn't play a blame card on anybody at this point.

    I think you have a great idea to turn this behavior around. Bring it up at your meeting and use it as just one example. I think others would have to agree. Also ask if they think calling for an update while on vacation is the suitable alternative (I bet not).

    Personally I'm like jmello. If you have to, call me, BUT If its not an emergency, don't. I have been called while on the beach, I rub it in, answer the question and hang up - no biggie.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    Okay then, did he update the "supervisor" that he officially reports too???

    Blame on both sides in my book, but I wouldn't play a blame card on anybody at this point.

    I think you have a great idea to turn this behavior around. Bring it up at your meeting and use it as just one example. I think others would have to agree. Also ask if they think calling for an update while on vacation is the suitable alternative (I bet not).

    Personally I'm like jmello. If you have to, call me, BUT If its not an emergency, don't. I have been called while on the beach, I rub it in, answer the question and hang up - no biggie.
    *sigh*

    No, he didn't speak to his "supervisor" either. Who's to blame doesn't concern me other than how can we make sure it doesn't happen again.

    Here's the kicker: no one in the department has his cell phone number either.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    I always tend to laugh a little when i read your office quirks. Who is running the join over there, Michale Scott?

    In all seriousness, doesn't your office have a calender of when people will be taking a vacation that gives everyone a heads up when someone is in or out.
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    My supervisor or coworker would just call me while I was on vacation and ask me for an update on the project and I would give it to him. No big deal. I am salaried and need to be available off-hours.
    Seriously? This happened to me once (stuck in Denver traffic on my way to ski), but I have never worked in an office where this was expected of me. I would have a problem with this.


    Of course, I let people know of anything they would need to know before I leave too.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    I always tend to laugh a little when i read your office quirks. Who is running the join over there, Michale Scott?

    In all seriousness, doesn't your office have a calender of when people will be taking a vacation that gives everyone a heads up when someone is in or out.
    Tell me about it! Please, at least Michael Scott tries.

    No office calendar. The secretary keeps track but there is nothing for everyone to see, you need to go search it out. We can't even get people to sign out the cars & where they parked them. I don't know how much time is wasted wandering the parking garages.

    This place is pretty laid back, which is a pretty nice work environment, but it does cause a lot of issues. I don't want to be micro-managed but a few practices that lend themselves to consideration among co-workers would help.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    It sounds less like who is in charge of who and more an issue of communication about what is going on.
    I would wait till he gets back and caually say something about the questions that were asked and play it off about how you didn't know what to say and that maybe you both should work a little closer together during this next year so that this will not be an issue for either one of you.

    It is always better to say "I" rather than "you".
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Seriously? This happened to me once (stuck in Denver traffic on my way to ski), but I have never worked in an office where this was expected of me. I would have a problem with this.
    Yes, seriously. I would rather have them call me then do a hatchet job on one of my projects because they don't know the details. We also work on the 9/9 schedule, so one or two of us are off every Monday and Friday. It is important to be able to call on an off day if necessary.

    I got a call from my coworker while I was on the beach in Florida in April. No big deal. I told him what he needed to know and I was off the phone in two minutes. Problem solved and I did not get another call the whole vacation.

    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    Here's the kicker: no one in the department has his cell phone number either.
    Nice work on his part! Very nice work. That's hard to do.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    I think part of the problem is that he doesn't officially report to me. (Which I have issues with the whole overseeing vs. supervising. Basically I get stuck doing all the supervisory work but don't have to discipline them or get official credit for supervising them.)
    Ahhh, they joy of responsibility without authority. I have breathed that air, and it stinks. It's also very hard to get out of that situation once your superiors stick you in it. After all, they have someone to blame when things go wrong but don't have to share credit for work well done. A perfect system . . . for them.

    I see no problem with your requesting that both he and his supervisor keep you informed of his project status when he will be away. A simple e-mail to him, cc-ed to his supervisor, should do the trick. Your best bet is to ensure that his supervisor knows that you are expecting things from him (and by extension from the supervisor) and to make sure the supervisor knows when he has cooperated (or not). Don't be afraid to be the wheel that squeaks.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Captain Worley's avatar
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    I'd talk to him when he gets back, BUT....

    Keep in mind there is some stuff that pops up randomly that even if he had briefed you, you wouldn't know the answer to.

    Don't ever call someone at home or vacation unless it is an end of the world emergency.

    YMMV...
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Captain Worley View post
    I'd talk to him when he gets back, BUT....

    Keep in mind there is some stuff that pops up randomly that even if he had briefed you, you wouldn't know the answer to.

    Don't ever call someone at home or vacation unless it is an end of the world emergency.

    YMMV...
    I don't know that this is universal. I really think it is contextual and depends on the individual workplace. Here, it just wouldn't be that big of a deal to get a call on the cell about something while out of the office as long as it was kept brief. I'd rather get the call and have it be over and done with than return to work to find a sh!tstorm waiting for me.

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