Last week I encountered a situation that could have been avoided if everyone had communicated properly, including me.
I was tasked with the assignment three weeks ago. When I received the assignment, I had communicated that I needed the information but did not give a deadline. First communication error, always give a specific due date. Shame on me.
Two weeks ago, I followed up and requested the information again because I was going out of town and wanted to have the project completed before leaving. The response was, “I’ll get it to you right away.” And so, I assumed, I would be getting it right away. You know what they say about assuming. Umm hmm.
The week before I was leaving, I still had not received the information. At this point, I was desperate and called my client and asked about the information. I was told if I could just create the documents and that they would take care of the rest. Again, poor communication. I should have said at that point that I could no longer meet the deadline and we would have to take care of the project upon my return from my trip. But I didn’t. I agreed to the client’s request.
Two hours before the close of business on my last day before leaving for my trip, I received the information. At that point, I had to rush through the information to get what was needed to prepare the documents requested. You know what happens when you rush? You got it; you make mistakes, and so I did.
With the incorrect information (not knowing it was incorrect at that time), I asked one of my staff members to complete the project and communicate with my client while I was away. The day I was leaving, I set aside time to meet with her to review her assignment and asked her to reach out to our client to continue communications. We planned that the client would print the documentation and I would present the materials to the client’s staff the day I returned from my trip. I thought the communication was great at the time, but upon my return, there was a communication breakdown.
Again, I made assumptions, thought all was good and printed the documentation the morning I was to present. When the project was first discussed, we set the meeting for a specific time. Because I was not told differently, I assumed (umm hmm) that we were set for that time. When I arrived, the client was not at the office. The client ultimate arrived and said they were not aware the time was set. I had to wait a few hours before the presentation and during that time, we discovered the documentation was incorrect and made the necessary changes. This was a breakdown on my client as I had requested the information be reviewed prior to that time and again, assumed it was taken care of. Keep in mind, I take full responsibility for the initial error but always like a second set of eyes to review anything I do before final distribution.
In the end, everything worked out but because of the lack of communication, follow up, and following a process, a lot of time (and money) was wasted. In looking at this experience, I learned many lessons and know that everything happens for a reason. But with proper communication, much aggravation can be avoided.
Barbara Flynn, MS-HR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP