Quiet loud

With all this technology that IT has been handing out to people, and the various moves, and the new folks, our department was a little behind on security for the technology.  So the week before school began, I polled the department to find out who needed laptop locks installed at their desks, and wrote an email to the very nice, highly competent woman, Iris, who handles the workflow of the security staff, laying it all out for her and for the security staffer who typically does the installations.  (It sounded like no one in IT had mentioned all the new hardware to security; I get the sense that security would want to know about all that, but feel I’ve done my part in tipping them off.)

Anyway, the woman I wrote to responded that she was creating work orders and would try to get the locks installed soon.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I haven’t been alarmed–the first weeks of school are a busy time for everyone, and the safety of people is more important than the security of equipment–especially when a lot of those people are new, young, and a bit lost.

My mistake, I guess, was not cc’ing on our email correspondence all the people whom I’d polled about their needs, because today, after two weeks of nothing happening yet, Romola wrote (and cc’d me on) a rather terse email to the overall head of security–the guy who oversees the safety of the entire campus and the over 1,000 people in it–saying that “she and Lucinda” had asked for laptop locks, this had not yet been done, and when might they expect them?

I was mortified on the behalf of the department, and on my own behalf, even though I know Romola is an adult and responsible for her own relationships with all of these people.  I thought about not doing anything, but I was afraid that the two staffers would feel caught out in front of their boss–even though I thought it was much more likely that all three of them would roll their eyes at her imperiousness.  (I also did consider the possibility that Romola was trying to take initiative and handle something without getting me involved.)  So I wrote a quick follow-up saying that I should have cc’d her and Lucinda on my original email to Iris, that Iris had generated seven work orders for locks for our department alone and probably a lot more for the rest of the campus, and that if we were contributing to the problem by constantly moving the laptops around (between rooms and also taking them home, of course), they should please let us know.  And thank you.

So now Romola probably thinks I am an interfering micromanager, and if she’s not feeling that, she’s probably feeling rebuked.  Or both!  However, she did send a warmer note thanking Iris for all her help and promising to “wait patiently.”  Still, I’m ruminating about the incident.  Is she a little blind or am I a little too touchy?  Or both?


One response to this post.

  1. Hard to know from the outside whether she’s a little blind or you’re a little touchy, but, oh crikey, this email gave me a little shiver about how hard it is to be department chair. I’m so glad not to be in that position this year, and I’m impressed at all you seem to accomplish in that role.


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