Didn’t Read the Memo

by Sharlyn Lauby on March 9, 2009

But, still responsible for the content, right?

Sounds simple.  Someone writes a memo.  Most people don’t write memos because they have nothing else to do, so let’s assume there’s a legitimate business reason for their correspondence.  It’s the receiver’s obligation to read the memo.  End of discussion.

Now some people on the receiving end of memos like to abdicate responsibility for reading by tossing out a bunch of excuses:

“It was too long.” If a memo is too long, teach the person writing the memo how to craft clear and concise sentences.  It’s not an excuse to ignore what the sender has to say.

“It was boring.” Hate to break it to ya…but very necessary information is sometimes boring.  Reading the troubleshooting guide for my printer is boring.  But when it stopped working and I had a client deadline…somehow it seemed both interesting and necessary.

This same principle applies to emails, reports, etc.  If you have access to the information, then it’s your responsibility to review it.  The trend in excuses du jour is to claim that you never got the email.  I think it’s the funniest thing when people pull the “I didn’t get the email” excuse.  Likewise, the announcement at a beginning of a meeting that their server went down…so “if you sent me something, I might not have received it.”

I don’t understand why people don’t just tell the truth.  Just say, “I was busy playing Wurdle and forgot completely about our meeting.  So I was going to craft some lame excuse because you’d never be able to call me on it.  Except for the fact I answered your emails about March Madness and birthday cake in the breakroom.”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, personal accountability and transparency go hand in hand.

P.S. Interested in reading more about leadership and accountability? Grab a green beer and check out the great posts at this month’s Carnival of Leadership Development. HR Bartender is proud to be among the list. Thanks to Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership for hosting!

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