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Office Politics: Need to correct the VP’s mistake? Go through the admin

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “Because of some recent accomplishments, I received a letter of recognition from the vice president of sales in our corporate office. The recognition was extremely motivating, but my name was spelled wrong on the letter. When I brought this to my immediate supervisor's attention, she said she would forward the letter to the VP and have it corrected.  That was a month ago, and I’ve heard nothing further about it. This letter would be very helpful in future job interviews, but not if it has the wrong name. Do you think I should bypass my manager, go straight to the VP and tell her she messed up and to fix it?” — Insulted

Marie’s Answer:  “Since you were smart enough to get a recognition letter, I assume you're also smart enough to know that reprimanding the VP would be politically insane.  Fortunately, this problem has a much simpler solution:

•    First of all, you are absolutely right to expect a correction. Misspelling the name on a commendation is a stupid, careless mistake, so someone should feel quite embarrassed about this oversight.

•    To resolve the issue quickly and quietly, ask the VP's administrative assistant to help you get a replacement letter. The assistant may very well be the one who prepared the original, although not necessarily the one who mangled your name.

•    When you make this request, don’t criticize or complain. Simply explain that the letter means a great deal to you and that you plan to save it. Just don’t mention that you’re saving it for a future job search.

Whenever you’re dealing with higher-level managers, remember that a helpful executive assistant can be your most valuable resource.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous Non Admin April 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I would agree with the first comment. I would add though that I would have never given the letter/certificate to anyone else so that I at least had the one with incorrect spelling. I would have instead given them a copy with the correction written nicely to the side. Better to have one with your name incorrectly spelled than nothing – I too cherish any and all praise I can!


Mohan M Prasad April 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I would like to begin with your last part of your query. “Tell her she messed up….”.

An inadvertent error of spelling can happen to anyone and with anybody in the normal course and when we internalise it as a mess and not as an innocent mistake , there you are , we have complicated a simple situation .

I think, you must send a polite letter thanking your VP for the acknowledgment of your accomplishment. Point out the error and give him/her your correct spelling and request for the necessary changes. You can enclose the certificate.

Follow it up with a call to his/her secretary and request for the amended certificate.

This is a personal matter and nothing official about it. Further you cannot be mistaken for not going through your supervisor.

Of course it’s a matter of office courtesy that you keep the supervisor informed of what you have done.

Do not sweat over the small stuff . Take direct steps and rest be assured it will happen .

Mohan M Prasad


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