Ken Lloyd: First Draft Revises Hits Employee's Last Nerve
Question: My manager sends me drafts of documents he prepares, and he asks me to add whatever is needed and do some editing. I always give his requests top priority, so I immediately start working on whatever he sends. About 20 minutes later, he'll send a totally different version and tell me to forget about the first draft. I'll start on it, and 20 minutes later, he might send another draft. This is wasting my time. What do you suggest I do?
Answer: One interim solution is to refrain from instantly working on the first draft that your manager sends. Rather, wait for 20 minutes before starting. Even at that time, do not spend too much time on this, since another draft may soon be on its way.
The suggestion above deals with the symptoms of this situation, but you will need to address the cause. Namely, you should meet with your manager and discuss this matter. Tell him that you take immediate action on his requests, and you end up wasting time when he sends a second or third draft and asks that earlier drafts be set aside.
At that point, ask him what he would like you to do. For example, should you wait for an hour before you review one of his drafts? Or, perhaps your manager should refrain from sending a first draft until he has spent more time reviewing and polishing it.
Or, maybe it would make more sense for him to move onto something else after he sends his first draft to you. Until the two of you discuss this matter reach some kind of agreement, this drafty mess is going to continue.
Question: In reviewing some of our employee data, we found that turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness increased over the past year. We're concerned about this and trying to learn more about what it means and how to address it. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: By way of overview, the outcomes that you found, namely increases in turnover, absenteeism, tardiness, are all symptoms of employee dissatisfaction. The concept is that the employees' needs are not being met on the job, so they are engaging in activities where they are more likely to be met. In other words, coming in late, missing work, and finding another job are all more satisfying than coming to work in your organization.
At the same time, turnover tends to be higher in some industries and geographical areas than others, and there are demographic factors that can play a role as well. It would be helpful for you to look at your company over the past year and see if there were any changes that were particularly dissatisfying to a good number of employees. This can include such developments as new leadership, a broken perceived commitment about raises, or a decrease in managerial accessibility.