Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sure you did...

It amazes me how some people will try to get away with things.

We have one user who is a habitual offender… she is, to put it bluntly, incompetent. I know this because it took four of us a week and a half to train her on how to use the system. It’s a badly designed and unnecessarily complicated user interface, and very different to what she was accustomed to, but everyone else had cottoned onto the basics after 2 days. Even the stupid ones.

One of the problems with our system, although some people see it as a selling point, is that it is not at all forgiving of user error. One slip of the finger can easily, and frequently does, undo hours of work. All the rest of the users have come to terms with this, and have become far more meticulous and disciplined in their work – which is why it was a selling point.

Sure, they all make mistakes from time to time, but they’re all (but one) fully prepared to admit their error when it happens, and, albeit reluctantly, will redo their work. They mumble and groan, and log unnecessary support calls to deal with their frustration, but they deal with it.

But this user is something else.

Even though we are able to track her every action on the system, and are able to see precisely what she has done, and when she did it, she remains adamant that she does nothing wrong. She concocts elaborate fantasies about other users usurping her login details and sabotaging her work. (I wouldn’t blame them if they did, but the system’s logs clearly show that nothing of the sort happened).

She frequently (on a daily basis) comes to my desk (as opposed to following the proper support call logging procedure) with issues that have arisen. She is unable to do something… and upon investigation, I can see that she has already done it, but incorrectly – user error.

Upon seeing the activity logs on my screen, the rest of the users will sigh and shuffle off to their desks to go and make up for their stupid, but perfectly normal, mistake. But not Mrs. B.

“I did not do it!” she will demand.
“I aborted, I did not confirm. Are you saying that if I abort it will happen anyway?” she will continue to argue.

This is usually followed by a detailed explanation of the correct process, accompanied by a demonstration in the test environment. She will always insist that she followed the process precisely, despite the fact that I can prove otherwise.

Why, when confronted by irrefutable evidence, will deluded people and liars refuse to deviate from their positions? Is their cognitive bias so overpowering that they would sacrifice dignity and the respect of their peers rather than admit their fault?

It's not as if she has anything to gain by denying it. She won't get into trouble for a simple error. No matter how upset she gets, there's nothing we can do to fix it. Why expend all that energy and waste all that time?