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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Will You Please Sign Off on This?

#1 Dinosaur is a primary care doctor who encountered a sneaky plastic surgeon. It appears that said plastic surgeon sent a patient to #1 Dinosaur with a form to fill out. Fine. Except that at the bottom of the form it said this:
Surgery and alternative treatments were discussed with the patient. Complications of surgery and expected outcomes were also discussed.

Umm, no, says our friendly primary care doc. He's not the surgeon and pre-surgery consults are not his job and should not be his liability. He wisely did the following:
By the way, before I signed the form I crossed out the offending line, initialed it, and wrote in: Informed consent to be obtained by the primary surgeon.


Once upon a time I had the responsibility to maintain the organizational structure of the company with in our HRIS. This meant any documentation to conduct a reorganization landed on my desk. All these documents had to be signed off by the HR person responsible for that branch of the business.

More often than not, I would get documents that made no sense. The phone call to the HR business partner went like this:

Evil HR Lady: Hi HR Business Partner, this is Evil HR Lady. I'm looking at the reorg for marketing.

HR Business Partner: Why isn't it in the system yet?

EHRL: Ummm, I just got it 30 seconds ago and I have a few questions.

HRBP: Like what? Is it going to be in the system today?

EHRL: Well, for instance, what happens to John Doe? In the old organization he reported directly to Jane Smith, but he and his 30 reports aren't on the new org chart. The documentation doesn't mention who he now reports to and there is no mention of them being terminated.

HRBP: (long pause) I don't know.

EHRL: {pushes mute and then screams, "why do you sign on off on these things without looking at them!!! Then takes the phone off mute.) Well, I need you to find out. And while you are at it, it mentions that Jennifer Jones is being promoted.

HRBP: Yes, yes, yes.

EHRL: Her new salary is 22% above her old salary. That is outside of guidelines. Did you want that to go into effect?

HRBP: What? 22%! No. I hope they haven't told her. I'll call you back later.

Variations on this theme were repeated frequently.

Now, the HRBPs knew that there was someone like me to save their little rear ends, but they should have acted as if I wasn't going to pay attention. They should have read carefully and asked questions before approving anything.

I know why they didn't. HR is busy. Overwhelmed. Details like this sometimes get pushed to the side. Fine, then, don't sign off on it. Give it to your lackey to read through before signing off. Make sure you know what you are signing off on.

Our consequences are rarely as dramatic as the ones #1 Dinosaur could end up facing, but there are consequences. Read before you sign. Make sure you truly approve before you "approve" something.


Ask a Manager said...

Yes! I'm so glad to read this! This is my pet peeve -- I see people doing this all the time. By the time things come to me, a couple of other people usually should have signed off on them. But it's often clear they didn't process them thoroughly, and I know it's because they assume someone down the line will catch any problems. It is infuriating...

Katherine said...

Even worse is when you sit down, have a meeting about a restructure is going to go, and then the supervisor tries to put the paperwork through the original, incorrect way he proposed, even though that's not the way it was agreed to in the meeting!

(I'm my boss's lackey, and the one who always reads all the paperwork and then says, "Wait a minute boss, don't sign that!")

Samantha said...

I'm always stunned when people don't read important paperwork. Heck, I even read the rental agreement on a storage unit line by line, and asked questions!

Several years ago, I was dating someone that was in the process of a divorce. One of the things I told him, was that when he got the paperwork, I wanted to see it (so I could make sure that he was telling me the truth). Well, he got the paperwork, and as he was getting ready to sign it (looking for a pen), I asked if I could look at it. He handed it to me, and I started to read.

I then asked questions... Such as "I thought you were giving her $XXX.xx for support and alimony. Did you know that this says you are giving her $YYYY.yy for support and alimony? Or that she is asking for 50% of your military pension, even though you've only been married for 7 years? And that she wants you to take responsibility for ALL debt incurred, even after you separated?" He freaked out, because he hadn't read the paperwork. He had trusted his ex to file with the terms they had agreed to over the phone.

Surprisingly, even after I had done that for him, he got impatient with me about the storage thing, as he went with me that day. I reminded him about his divorce paperwork, and he shut up quick.

He still thanks me for reading the divorce paperwork, and we split up over 5 years ago. :)

Evil HRISguy said...

I feel your pain.

Just today.


He's listed as a manager in the system


Sure send me an email with the info while my mind reading hat is in the shop.


Sure, hand me that pen.


Sure, after the email, oh, and you might want to include any rate changes in that and follow up with a signed Action Form and your list will follow.

Bianca Reagan said...

Samantha, that is so sad. If that man was getting a divorce from his ex-wife, meaning they obviously couldn't live together anymore, why would he trust her to accurately report the agreed-upon terms on the paperwork? What a maroon.