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I run a report that requires significant data entry and is used in determining overarching financial decisions within our company that was created by some consultants I was hired to replace. I have no background in accounting, but was hired as a financial analyst (with the job description lending itself more to analytics and trends on finance, not accounting and its practices). I frequently get into situations in which lacking an accounting background gets me in trouble with the timing of pieces of the report, causing it to be wrong (general ledger entry issues, limitations on existing reporting causing data inaccuracies with the financial information, etc.) and this has lent my boss a frustrated attitude in relation to my work and the report.

To be clear, she finds my work is excellent in every other report and analysis, but says "We've talked about making sure this is correct before sending it out". The information inside the report is 100% accurate, but my timing on when I'm running the reports is causing issues (mainly because other people aren't completing their entries on time), and she feels I'm the cause. I have no way of knowing nor the authority to ask whether or not these have been completed. None of these issues are objectively my fault, I've been specifically told to report on the data how it is because I don't have the background required to make sure the information itself is correct.

My biggest issue is responding to her when she reprimands me for something I have no control over. My current tactic is to just say "Ok." until she hangs up, and I feel it reflects poorly on me if I say "It's not my fault because X....". When this report was first passed over to me, there was a few issues and the company had a tough time getting people to trust the information within it, but that was before I was employed here. Many of the issues I've been blamed for were caused by incorrect calculations from before I was given the report, and as the report is large (about 200 pages worth of calculation), I don't have the ability to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it's alright.

What is the best response to my boss when things outside my job and responsibilities are the cause of my report accuracy without sounding petty?

I'm not looking to "manage up" and get my boss to change her methods, I just want to know how to respond when she brings these up without sounding whiny or like I'm trying to pass along the blame.

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How can I tell my boss that the informational inaccuracies aren't my fault without sounding whiny?

I don't think you can. Your boss expects you to get this report done and done well. So any reason you give for why "you" couldn't get it done will sound like an excuse to her.

I think the best solution for you is to be proactive in getting every one else to get their info in on time.

Your Boss is holding you responsible for the report. If you want her to see you positively, you need to accept that responsibility. Remember if she has given you the responsibility for it that also means she has given you the authority to do it too.

My suggestion is to make sure that the other people make their entries on time. If they don't have the entries in, do not run the report but rather call your boss and let her know what is going on. To be clear you should not report on the data as you have been told specifically not to. But you should make sure every one gets their entries in on time.

Bringing up a problem with other people not doing their work before the due date is far less likely to be seen as an excuse. Bringing it up after the due date will almost certainly be seen as an excuse.

Here is an example plan for making sure all goes smoothly with the report. You may need to modify the details some.

Plan

  1. Find out who all needs to make entries for the report and get their contact info.

  2. Contact them (in person if you can) and ask them to have their entry done by x/x/x date. Tell them It's really important to

  3. Send them reminder emails or phone calls when the due date approaches.

  4. Send them reminder emails or phone calls on the due date.

  5. After your due date for the entries to be done (but before the actual due date of the report) call your boss and tell her who has not finished their entries yet. Ask for her advice on how to get the truant employees to finish them.

Make sure the due date to have entries in by, is before your due date for the report. This way you can inform your boss about those who are not putting in the info on time the day before you have to turn in the report.

Under point number 2 since you are probably not these peoples manager it will be important to mention that you are on your bosses errand. You may consider calling your boss to apologize for not doing the report well enough in the past and present your plan for how you are going to get the report done well in the future. Doing this lets her know that you are no being proactive in trying to improve your performance.

As a side note. I suspect that it makes your boss look bad every time you send out a report with missing data, and she is passing that discomfort on to you. That's normal behavior for humans in authority.

Good luck!

Edit #1

So from the comments @Anoplexian clarified for me that the people who are adding entries for this report are higher than her boss in the hierarchy. Obviously this changes the "plan" Because you can no long claim your bosses authority to get them to fill in their data. instead you have to make everything a request and be extra careful not to step on their toes.

Honestly this is starting to sound like a toxic work environment. Your Boss should not be blaming you for you (and her) higher ups not doing their jobs.

What I would suggest doing is writing down a plan similar to the one I outlined above. Then ask your boss for a meeting. say somthing like this:

I've been unable to run report xyz properly, and I want to make sure I do it correctly the in the future. I've made a plan for how I can do it correctly and would appreciate your feedback on this plan?

Keep the meeting short. (Tell her you will keep it short under 15 minutes).

Your presentation in the meeting should go something like this.

1) I'm sorry This has not been done well in the past.
Note that you don't have to appologize for "your" not doing it well just that it wasn't done well.

2) I have a plan to fix this

3) The problem is: Person A, person B and person C are not filling in their entries on time. And they are my superiors so I don't really have the authority to set due dates for them to get their entries made. Be sure to emphasize that "you don't have authority" not that "personA,b,c don't fill n their data" since if you put to much emphasis on the other people not doing their job it is more likely to sound like an excuse. But it is still true and needs to be part of the discussion.

(4) We as a company should implement the following policy and give some one the authority to insure the due dates are met. present your version of the plan given above in this question and then tell your boss. I would be happy to take responsibility or the due date (though it doesn't have to be me), so long as it is clearly communicated to person A,B, and C that I am responsible for making sure those due dates are met. Because I don't want to step on anyone's toes or overstep my bounds.

Hopefully your boss reacts well to your proactively suggesting a policy change and will help you get it implemented.

If proactively offering a solution doesn't help then you need to document that you proactively offered a solution, and document every time that the other entries are not made on time (if that's even possible) This way if you get in trouble again you can say I've tried to fix this. What else would you have me do?

I know I already said good luck but seriously your going to need it.
Good luck!

  • "After the due date" - Personally, I'd set the due date for the data to be updated by coworkers some time before the due date of the report. If not all have handed in what is needed by that date I'd make that call. After the due date is probably too late already. But that would be my only criticism of this answer. Just that OP stated he somehow is not able to figure out if the data has in fact be updated. Maybe there is a need for a change of process, so a "last updated date" is set along with the data. – Fildor Dec 13 '17 at 7:55
  • This doesn't answer the question on how to respond to my boss, it answers how to remove the inaccuracies, which was specifically not what I was looking to solve. – Anoplexian Dec 13 '17 at 15:52
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    @Anoplexian Your right I wrote this in a hurry (bad Idea on my part) I actually jsut edited my answer to clarify that. From my edited question: I don't think you can. Your boss expects you to get this report done and done well. So any reason you give for why "you" couldn't get it done will sound like an excuse to her. – Dan Anderson Dec 13 '17 at 15:58
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    @DanAnderson Damn that's exactly what I feared. The people who need to have their items done are higher up than my boss is, so it's a matter of "We'll get to it when we do" for them, and "But.....do you want timely and accurate financials" from my boss. They want to have their cake and eat it too. – Anoplexian Dec 13 '17 at 16:09
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    @Anoplexian edit made hopefully it helps. You may want to add an edit to your question specifically stating that you don't have the authority because they are higher up in the company hierarchy than your boss. – Dan Anderson Dec 13 '17 at 16:58
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... [She] says "We've talked about making sure this is correct before sending it out". ...

... I've been specifically told to report on the data how it is because I don't have the background required to make sure the information itself is correct.

My biggest issue is responding to her when she reprimands me for something I have no control over. ...

The professional way to handle that is to pre-empt it by taking control.

It's not clear from the question whether generating the report and sending it out are separable tasks. If they are, then you can take control of the situation by generating the report and then, before sending it out more widely, sending it directly to your boss with the question "Is this correct and ready to send out?" If not, you can take control by e-mailing your boss before generating the report to ask whether it is ready.

Either way, you make it clear to her that you are unable to determine whether it is ready. You should be prepared for a follow-up discussion where you remind her that it's outside your expertise and ask her to identify someone whose expertise does cover the situation and to allocate some of their time to applying that expertise.

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