It never fails. Every time you start an important project the phone rings or a new email appears requesting information. Instead of setting anything aside, you try to do everything at once. While that can work for a time, inevitably something gets overlooked.

This is my confession.

Part of my task at Crossroads is to work with our vendors in order to better support our clients; I talk with our vendors every day. As part of the workflow, vendors send me email surveys in order to track my satisfaction with their services. This is a very common occurrence and it became a little too routine for me.

I received an email from a manager from one of these vendors apologizing to me. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I received that email. I had never spoken with him before and nothing he wrote rang true. I made a note to call him later in the afternoon to tell him that I received this strange email and ask if he meant to send it to me or to someone else.

I continued on with my day and was reading though the rest of my emails. I saw that I had received a survey from the same vender I was going to call that afternoon.

slowroad

Then it dawned on me why this manager reached out to me. I hadn’t actually read the survey instructions. In it were seven short questions. I was directed to pick a score from one to five on how I would rate their support. I had been mindlessly selecting scores on the wrong end of the scale!

Instead of submitting positive reviews of my vendor partners, I had for weeks been downgrading them over and over. I sat there a moment stunned. That wasn’t my intention at all. I immediately felt regret over the numerous surveys that I did not take the time to read. Regret turned into guilt as I realized these surveys might be tied to people’s performance reviews. My guilt turned to action.

I immediately called the manager, explained to him my error and expressed my regret. He thanked me for the input and assured me he would not let it affect any employee review. Then, I contacted my partners at the vendor directly, the people who help me everyday and answer my questions. I apologized to them and explained what I had done. I explained I had contacted their boss and told him everything. They laughed, thanked me and we all moved on.

I feel better that I cleared this up and learned a shareable lesson. When working with partners it’s important to understand the questions you’re being asked and provide honest and meaningful feedback to strengthen those relationships. 

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