Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance: To help or not to help - rebuttal

I suppose this is how the no-longer-a -wordprocessing-operator probably used to feel when I—facing serious deadline pressure—would sometimes trouble her to help me with a formatting problem in MS Word that would have taken me an hour to resolve because, let's face it, unless you have a graduate degree in Advanced Word, it's very much a WYGINWYW user interface (What You Get Is Not What You Want). But she would bite her tongue and fix whatever the problem was in about three minutes so I could get the document out and help keep our enterprise functioning.

Assuming the "darned tool" in this case is some arcane software tool, rather than some person, I can really sympathize with someone not mastering it if he only needs to use it very occasionally.

Anyway, I'll have to differ with my friend Peter here. If it's really a few minutes of assistance every couple of months, I'd say just suck it up because doing anything else would only expend more of your time and, potentially, burn a bridge for little reason. maybe someday you'll need something this annoying fellow can provide.

Well - in fact it is not the same thing. What I have asked him to do in order to help himself is to take the time to write an e-mail that says "I need access to this tool" and then to go to the tool and click the big "EXPORT TO EXCEL" button.

I'm irritated by the complete lack of acknowledgment that I may not be on this earth to assist him because he's too short sided to follow through or the implication that his work is more important. At the firm, I appreciate the nuances of the Attorney, 'No-longer a word processor' hierarchy (if anyone ever referred to me or one of my staff even administrative staff in that manner I would call them out on the carpet and explain the nuances of Employee Relations to them) but imagine a fellow Attorney who kept coming to you because it was easier for you to do something than for her to take 5 minutes (sometime during the month) and figure it out.

This I'm sure would get under your skin. Maybe not the first time, and not the second but the third probably would raise your ire just a tad. I could not be convinced that in the last 3 months he hasn't had 5 -10 minutes to resolve this for himself.

I'm not the kind of co-worker who gathers favors. If I can help I will, if there's something I need from someone else I try to be as respectful as possible while making the request. However, at the end of the day we're both being paid to do the same thing - keep the company running. I'll do my part and figure out how to do my job and he should do the same. I have been more than accommodating; this is the third time he's demonstrated the failure to plan ahead and my "team attitude" is all shot to hell. That's all I'm saying.

1 comment:

MWR said...

Of course that was only a shorthand name I picked to create some imaginary hierarchy. In actual fact, my esteemed colleague, "The Specialist", was always happy to help me because, despite various indications otherwise, I am boundlessly charming and entertaining at all relevant times. And modest.

Still, we must recognize the difficulty of hiding a body and keeping it hidden for any length of time in a cubicle environment. Maybe there is another way.

Let's assume for a moment that he isn't actually reading your blog along with a lot of others at Seattle's mysterious "Megabank", and a few months hence he yet again comes to you for help. I'd say help him, but then physically present yourself in his cubicle/office at the same time and say somethign like "O.K., Wanker [but use his real name for maximum cubicular comity], let's get you set up with this tool once and for all." (Affect a slightly over-the-top air of giggly frustration as you say this.) Then, go to his computer and announce "We're going to send the email right now so you can access the tool whenever you need it." [ignoring the obvious irony here for a wanker] Then type the email and send it off.

Alternatively, wait until he's not around, go to his extension, or his assistant's, and leave an anonymous message for the help desk asking if someone could come by on a low-priority basis and help get "Mr. Wanker" set up with the tool.