Worried About Reactions To A Scheduling Error

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about scheduling:

I work long hours (7 am to 10pm) so my schedule is set to “alternative days” in which I work one day and a second (senior) colleague works the other day. Every now and then I switch my days around with this colleague so I get a weekend off to go on a trip/visit etc. I did so a few months ago but my colleague did not remember and booked a hospital appointment. Now, I have to call head office for cover just a week before the time it is needed.

Being a new employee (less than a year) I am worried about what they might think of me. A similar situation occurred earlier when I had to go for a training and got the message about the training late. I am worried they might think that I don’t work enough hours or take liberties with days off and so on and so forth. Is there a particular way I should request this or inform them or is there any advice you can give me to stop me worrying?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

It’s hard to get over feeling worried and concerned about work, so nothing may help completely However, let me give you some thoughts to consider.

1. If you’re really, REALLY worried, perhaps you should cancel your time off and work the shift as expected. You can take the time off another time when you and your colleague can be certain the schedule is arranged.

2. If you and your colleague are allowed to switch schedules and he said he would be available but now is not, this is more his problem that it is yours. Next time, make sure you get a written agreement by email. Just write to him about the requested change and ask him to write you back. Then, save the email.

3. If you’re not supposed to switch schedules this will be a reminder to not do it again in the future. Or, let your immediate supervisor or manager know and give approval.

4. If you still need the replacement staff, let your head office know as soon as possible so they can start the process of finding staffing for the position.

Write to the most appropriate person and say something like,”Due to a misunderstanding about the work schedule, both Hal and I are scheduled to be off next week. We both have made arrangements that can’t be canceled. I regret this very much and assure you it will never happen again. In the future, any scheduling changes will be put on a mutual calendar so there will be no errors or misunderstandings.However, for now, we need to staff the office from June xx until June xx. I will be here until closing on June xx and will have work set up for the temporary person.Thank you for your action on this matter. Please let me know if I can assist with the situation.”

That might not fit your workplace or culture, but the concept is the same. Keep it brief, say you are sorry and express willingness to help. Then, when you return write another thank you note expressing your appreciation for their assistance.If you’re a good employee your manager’s will realize that it isn’t like you to leave them with a problem. If you have a direct supervisor, perhaps you can be honest with him or her and ask for advice about writing up the chain of command to get the staffing needed on those days. Best wishes to you with this. You’ll probably feel nervous up until the time you talk to someone about this. Once you get started that nervousness will go away, so just get started and get it over with. Best wishes to you through this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe