A Reader Writes:
I am a project manager in Finance who has to put out a lot of fires on a daily basis. Of the many managers who use my services, there are two in particular who call me when they are in the middle of meetings with senior management asking for “fire drill” reports and numbers that I have already provided to them but they misplaced them or get flustered and ask again. I have always sent them this data immediately without complaint. The problem is that after these ‘emergencies’ I never get a simple acknowledgement or thank you. On several occasions, I followed up asking them how the meeting went and they say “great!” but no mention of my efforts. Should I say something to them about their lack of gratitude? Or be less available to them in the future?
First, don’t model your own behavior on these managers. They may be able to pull off a sharp presentation with the C-Suite based on your last-minute efforts, but they do not contribute to the longevity of the organization with their values. Their behavior causes ill-will by evoking a temptation that you expressed of not wanting to help them again. Use their example as one of non-emulation by always following up with a thank you when someone helps you.
Because you are in a functional support role, refusing to help will not advance your long-term goals. But you can be clever about it so that you don’t keep spinning your wheels. When preparing reports for these managers well in advance of their presentation meetings, save them for a second delivery right before their meeting so they will have it again on top of their inbox. You could also pair the report with a summary of where to find crucial data so they can reference it without calling you as though they never received it.
Finally, do something kind for yourself and leverage your efforts for these ungrateful managers to your advantage. Take good notes of each and every time you have gone above and beyond and be sure to enter it into your organization’s mid-year review system, or at least let your manager know so it can count for something before your next salary review.