new coworker is horrible, my boss does 6 performance evaluations a year, and more

by Alison Green on August 19, 2013

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Our new PR guy is horrible, but my boss loves him

I am in middle management at a public library. We recently hired a new PR person. Pretty much everyone hates him, except the director (I’ll get to that in a minute). He is combative, argumentative, and does not have any desire to learn about what we actually do. There have been several incidents where he screamed at a staff member, and she felt physically threatened. Additionally, there is a performance issue; routine tasks do not get done.

Our problem is that the director loves this person and has pretty much made him her #2. We have no HR and no assistant director, so while the public service managers and staff are on the floor dealing with the public and their everyday demands, plus trying to figure out how to work around his performance issues, he is functioning as her sounding board. We cannot figure out why she likes him so much. She made him salary, and he is allowed to come in whenever he wants as well as work from home. She is talking about building him his own new office. Repeatedly, we have expressed our concerns, and the director always backs him up. We have tried to work with him directly and be honest, but he always lies and says he’s done things that he actually hasn’t. Despite a paper trail a mile long, the director trusts him and ignores our documentation.

We love our library and want it to continue to be a great place for patrons to visit, but all of us are feeling burned out, beaten down, and sad. Do you have any suggestions?

You can certainly talk to your director about your concerns about the new guy’s performance (ideally many of you, not just you), but if she has a blind spot where he’s concerned, there might not be much you can do there. Your next option would be to talk to someone over her head, but that’s a risky move — you’d need someone you know to be reasonable and to have good judgment, and you’d need credibility with them and enough rapport that you could trust them to handle your concerns discreetly. If neither of those work … well, you’re looking at the damage a bad manager can do.

2. My manager does performance reviews every two months

Is it normal for my manager to want to do individual performance reviews every 2 months? It’s not just for me, but includes the 3 other people in my department. I know for a fact I’m doing a great job (my manager has told me so on several occasions outside of the performance reviews), so I guess I don’t understand why the necessity to have these reviews so frequently? I’m also the newest person on the team, and my cubemate said my manager never used to request these meetings so frequently before I started (a year ago).

Formal performance evaluations every two months? No, that’s insane. Generally they’re done annually, or sometimes every six months at most. There should be no need to do them every two months; that’s what normal feedback is for, as well as serious “we have a problem we need to fix” conversations if needed.

3. Should I try it make it up to a family friend for costing her a referral bonus?

I have been interning at the company my dad works for this summer and things have been going great. I love the company and the people are wonderful. My first week, a job opportunity that aligned with my degree and desired career path became available and it was brought to my attention by one of the women in the department. Because my dad has worked at this company for a number of years, I have known this woman since I was a small child and she’s a long-time family friend. I was encouraged to apply and ultimately was offered and accepted the job. I’m very excited! It’s a great fit and I can’t wait to start in this new role.

Here’s my dilemma: There were a number of applicants for the position and in the end it came down to two of us. The other candidate was also referred by the same friend who gave me the heads up about the job opening. This friend was very encouraging throughout the interview process and I will be working very closely with her in this new position. Unfortunately, because I am intern, I am considered an internal applicant and she will not be receiving the $1,000 employee referral bonus that she would otherwise. She had casually mentioned this information to my parents and they then let me know. Basically, I cost her $1,000 by getting this job that I would have never known about if it weren’t for her. My parents have suggested giving her a $100 gift card to a nice restaurant as a thank-you which I am more than happy to do. I’m worried though that this may be considered inappropriate or a “thanks for the job.” Do you think this is okay? I really would like to do something, I have obviously thanked her in person for the heads up and encouragement but I don’t want this to come across the wrong way.

I can’t imagine she’s sweating this — and if she is, she’s in the wrong. She suggested you apply, you did, you got the job, the end. You didn’t steal $1,000 from her. Plus, if she’s a long-time family friend, she should be glad you got the job, not annoyed that she lost out on a bonus because the other candidate didn’t get it. That said, your parents know her, and if they think a restaurant gift card is the way to go, I’d defer to their judgment. I don’ think it will come across as an inappropriate pay-off — just enclose it in a card with a sincere message of thanks.

4. Company says they won’t pay us for any time we forgot to record on your time cards

Recently the company I work for has faced great financial strain and has not been able to consistently meet payroll. (So far, as employees we have always been paid; the money has been taken on loans and from owners’ family members.) The stress has cause great scrutiny on our time cards. An explosive outburst from one of the owners resulted in them saying that if any punches were missing from an employee’s card, we would not be paid for the time. Now, sometimes employees forget and sometimes the time clock is not working. The owner feels that we are cheating them by making up more time than is earned and they say that they can’t afford that and if any punches are missing we will go without pay. We also aren’t allowed to see our time card (digital) before being paid from it.

On a separate, but equally disturbing note, we also have meal period issues. We are never specifically asked to not take a lunch, but the workload is such that they always pressure us (due to deadlines) not to take a break, even for 30 minutes.

Is any of this actionable? And if so, what can be done? We’re in Alabama.

Your employer is required to pay you for all time worked, even if you forgot to clock in. How they get your time recorded accurately is up to them (and they can fire people who forget to clock in if they want), but they do need to pay you for it. All of it.

As for breaks, Alabama doesn’t require work breaks for people over 15, but you can certainly try explaining to your manager that you need time to eat lunch or you won’t be able to focus or work efficiently the rest of the day. And since they’re not directly telling you not to, you can try simply ignoring their pressure to skip a meal.

5. I quit my old job before my new job was finalized, and now I’m unemployed

A company had been after me for almost a year to work for them and I kept saying that I wouldn’t consider it until I’d been at my current job at least a year. Once that year mark rolled around the guy offered me a job, with a huge raise, travel benefits, I’d be my own boss… the works. This was the type of job I’d been waiting for and I was ecstatic. He said he would “get back to me” on the start date, and I told my current job that I could finish out the month, but I was taking another position. Since the initial conversation where I was offered the job, I hadn’t heard back. When I contacted my new boss he was very evasive and said he was working on a date, it wouldn’t be long. Eventually I had served another 2 1/2 months at my job after putting them on notice that I was leaving. I could not stay in this position any longer because I put them “on notice” and that showed a “waive of commitment.” I still have received no communication from this new job and actually the last time I contacted him he said he felt backed in the corner and like I was trying to make him make a move before he was ready. I never responded, I was disgusted at how irresponsible he was being for offering me a job, shaking on it, not to mention his latest response which over exaggerated my persistence. I only followed up 4 times in the 2 1/2 month span where he strung me along. None of those attempts were lucrative as far as getting any further information on the job.

That’s the back story of why I am “leaving my current job,” though I’d rather stay, I have no choice. Now in interviews everyone is going to ask why I left my job and I know I can’t tell them this entire story. What do you recommend that I tell my prospective employers?

More evidence that you should never give notice until you have a start date. (Not to rub it in your face, but to help others avoid that mistake.)

I’d tell future employers that you left your old job for a new one that fell through. No need to go into any more detail than that.

6. Should I mention in my cover letter that I recently interviewed for a similar job at the company?

Should I mention in a cover letter that I recently interviewed for a similar job? Some background: I interviewed for a great job, and I didn’t get it. The interviewer was kind enough to give feedback, and said that I did well in the interview and I have great skills and experience, but I might not fit with the office culture.

Today I noticed a similar job posting with the same title in a different department for the same employer. The culture might be a better fit, and the department even seems a little better suited to my background, so I’m going to apply for it. I’ve asked the first interviewer if she’d be willing to put in a good word for me, given what she said of my skills and experience, though she’s definitely not obligated to do anything. My question is this: In my cover letter for the new posting, should I note that I recently interviewed for a similar position but another candidate was chosen? This could help if they conclude “Interview this guy,” but it could hurt if they conclude “Don’t hire this guy.”

Sure, mention it. You’ve already asked your previous interviewer to mention it for you, so whatever feedback they might solicit from her as a result of you mentioning it in your cover letter is something she’s likely already supplying to them anyway. Plus, if they recognize you as a candidate, it’s going to seem a little weird that you’re not mentioning recently interviewing with them for something else.

7. Hiring manager needs someone to start next week, but I’d need to give notice at my current job

In a recent phone interview, the hiring manager mentioned that her ideal candidate would be able to start next week. I was non-committal because I’m not sure how to respond to that. My job has a lot involved and is currently understaffed, so I couldn’t leave with such short notice in good conscience. I’ve also worked here for so long that I will most definitely need it for references in the future. When this comes up again at the interview, how should I approach it?

Just say, “Since I”m currently employed, I’ll need to give X weeks notice.” Any employer who balks at that and expects you to leave your current employer in the lurch is one you don’t want to work for.

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{ 108 comments… read them below or add one }

WWWONKA August 19, 2013 at 12:12 am

#2 in my last job I had to do performance reviews every month. That is because the upper management were such control freaks and were so incompetent they just pulled management techniques from out of their … hat.

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hamster August 19, 2013 at 8:11 am

#2 I had a job where they had a plan. Performance reviews monthly for the first 3 months ( in my country this is the part where you can quit and they can fire you without notice , afterwards there is a mandatory notice period of 1 month) . Then every 3 months for a year, then bi-annual, then after x years annual perf reviews.

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Ruffingit August 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

Wow, I can’t even imagine what a hassle that would be and a huge waste of time for both you and the employee to do that every single month. It’s always awesome to work for people who have less than zero idea how to manage so they tell their managers to do things like this. UGH.

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WWWONKA August 19, 2013 at 12:14 am

#1 A PR guy at a public library… where are my tax dollars going?

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Jessa August 19, 2013 at 12:29 am

Well if it’s a public library there has to be some oversight outside the building. I would look at that outside oversight some kind of ombudsman or something in the government. Because “getting his own built office” is a waste of tax dollars.

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 8:52 am

This is the OP of #1. I agree with you that the office is a waste of tax dollars. That’s part of my concern. The job itself is not a bad thing – we need someone to create signage, flyers, write press releases, do outreach in the community, etc. The trouble is, none of that is happening in a timely fashion now.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I say just give it some time. If he’s a bad co-worker, chances are he’ll eventually be a bad employee too. Don’t fix his work, help out with your part only, try hard to communicate via email only (sounds like you already have) and make sure you’re doing your job as best as you can. This is something the whole team will need to do before other, more important people will take notice. His bad deeds will catch up to him.

Nothing you can about the office thing either. I suppose that once your legislative body catches wind of that one (especially for an employee who was not the rock star they seemed to be), your boss will need to answer for that.

I had a boss like him and a director like her (she sought him out and hired him). As soon as I stopped caring so much about how his bad work was a poor reflection on our team and organization as whole and stopped trying to fix it – more important people started to notice.

It will be okay!

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Oh, and eventually both were fired.

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Elise August 19, 2013 at 3:31 am

A good PR person ata library will more than pay for themselves by bringing in donations. But it only makes sense to hire someone specifically for the job if the library is large enough.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 9:36 am

Why not? Somebody has to do all of the marketing stuff for all of the library programs and events, do outreach to the community to increase use and partnerships. In most libraries there’s actually quite a bit of PR work.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 9:52 am

So helping people learn to read, assisting those who can’t afford computers at home in having access to potentially learning about jobs and educational opportunities, and of course these things are a waste of YOUR tax dollars. I want my tax dollars that go to pay for the damn road back. I don’t drive so no one should get a road.

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Elizabeth West August 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

Jessa said building the guy his own office is a waste of tax dollars. She didn’t say that the PR position or the library was. I happen to agree with her.

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Jessa August 19, 2013 at 11:57 am

I did not say helping people anything was a waste. I’m not sure you need a PR person to do all that either. I know many libraries that provide all those services without having one. I just do not know that they are getting their money’s worth from this person. From what the OP is saying they are not working a full day and are not giving value for the dollar. If you are spending tax dollars then SPEND them on the programmes. NOT on a PR person who is not bringing in money.

A good PR person should be bringing in a significant portion of what they are costing or they are not worth the money. If you are spending MORE on PR than you are making from them you are wasting the money on PR. In this case “making” can be calculated in donations AND in persons using the services. So you have to assign a “value” to each student, patron, etc. for calculation purposes. But no PR person should cost money really.

If this person is not either bringing in donations, or causing more people to use the library (a MEASURABLE thing – you can count people in a library there are many many tools for this,) then it IS a waste of taxpayer money when that money can be spent directly on programmes, salaries, books, computers, etc.

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lonepear August 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I am happy to have my tax dollars spent on PR for libraries.

If those communication tasks are getting done elsewhere, *someone* has to do them. Is it better to have 10 librarians, but each one of them spends about 10% of their time on something they’re not necessarily good at or interested in, and not on the specialized skill they have, or 9 librarians and 1 PR person? If it’s true that there’s not enough work, maybe it should be a half-time position, but I certainly wouldn’t argue with having one.

Also, the value of a PR person for a library should not be measured entirely in the value of the donations they bring in, although it’s one measure to use. The library is underutilized in many cities, especially by people currently paying for services they can ill afford (job search help, internet access, and yes, books) that they could get for free with public funds already being spent. Telling people about these resources they already have and don’t know much about benefits the community. (Most–but not all!–people know the library has free books; but fewer know about the other resources.) People who aren’t already using the library but should be need to be reached where they are: by the means outreach and communication a PR person would specialize in.

A *competent* one, at least, unlike the one OP describes.

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Jessa August 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm

I agree with you and I actually said this. I did specifically, when I suggested value calculations include a value point for usage of services/people served etc. There are ways to measure more people coming into the building etc. There are ways to measure success of programming in terms of community usage. Those things have VALUE. You assign a value to those things as well as the donations. Let’s say children’s storytime you used to have 10 kids and now you have 30. You can decide what those 20 kids are worth to the system or just show them as a success measure.

The point is that whatever you are calculating – donations, people coming in, usage of services, amount of books loaned, DVDs taken out, school tours, whatever, the assigned value to the system of those measurements should come fairly close to what you’re paying out for that PR person, or you’re wasting your money on them. You have to have SOME idea that you are getting something in return for paying the person.

The start of that is getting a full day’s work out of them and if there is not a full day’s work available, making them part time. The finish of that is knowing that the work hours you get out of them add VALUE to the system. And if you’re not measuring value then you have no need for PR. Because otherwise why are you paying for it. How the heck do you know if it’s WORKING. PR does have a ROI.

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 11:08 am

You are absolutely right. It’s not working. Our circulation has been consistently down since he started. We have received no measurable value.

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Jennifer August 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Those libraries that are doing all that without a PR person…it’s because the librarians are doing it. On top of everything else. I do collection development, work reference at two different desks, plunge the toilets, plan and supervise or directly run an average of 10 programs a week, am responsible for all the outreach, write grants, request donations, and order supplies. I am also responsible for marketing and publicity, although I did manage recently to pass off the website, newsletter, and facebook to someone else, I still have to create and distribute flyers, posters, press releases, digital marketing, etc. This person sounds useless, but not all PR people are. I’d kill for a person to be in charge of PR.

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 11:07 am

I know exactly how that is! I’ve worked in libraries where I’ve done all those things, too. I’ve worked in libraries for 15 years. That’s another reason why this is so maddening! I could do his job with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back.

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Mike C. August 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

I don’t really see anything wrong with a larger library system advertising through the community the services they offer. Lots of folks who haven’t been to one since they were children would be impressed to see how their tax money is being invested back into the community.

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KarenT August 19, 2013 at 11:37 am

Totally agree.
My local library does a lot for the community, and advertising their services could do a lot of good.

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fposte August 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm

There’s definitely a place for that kind of work in library systems, and there are systems that pay for PR work and get their money’s worth. This just sounded like a pretty small place to have one as a salaried staffer, especially one who isn’t actually getting the work done.

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 11:03 am

I feel my library is big enough to justify having a PR person. Our previous PR person was incredible. It’s just this particular person who is a problem.

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Jubilance August 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Not all libraries are supported by tax dollars. I learned from NPR this morning that Vermont has no public funding for their libraries, which was amazing to me.

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fposte August 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm

They get no state money, but they do get local money (and some federal money in libraries with IMLS grants), so indignant local taxpayers can still be indignant.

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 11:05 am

Most public libraries do not get state money. I am in the one state that does. My state has the best public libraries in the nation, and mine is consistently ranked high.

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WWWONKA August 19, 2013 at 12:23 am

# 7 It doesn’t sound like the OP has an offer yet, see #5.

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fposte August 19, 2013 at 12:30 am

On #1–where’s the library board on this? A PR person is quite a commitment for what seems like a smallish library system; are they behind the director on this–and generally behind her? It’s possible that the board will kill this off on their own in time, because this sounds like a massive waste of money and space.

Unless there’s somebody other than the board over her, I think your options are severely limited, because it’s hard to convey a grievance to the board without it being seen as an outright mutiny. Do make sure that formal complaints are filed about the screaming incidents (is it always at the same person?). I’m guessing there’s no union there, because you didn’t mention it, but if there is, talk to your rep. But unfortunately this might be one of those things that only gets addressed after good staff leave.

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

Thanks for your advice. That’s kind of how I’ve felt. I have a good rapport with the board, but I’m afraid they don’t know about much of this. I still don’t know where they stand on the office. I do have a feeling they’re going to shoot it down.

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Rachel August 19, 2013 at 9:53 am

I once had to go to the board to report my executive director. It was after months and months of trying to work with him with no response. He literally worked less than four days in nine months, bringing in zero donations and making no strategic decisions.

The result: after a few more months he finally got fired. One important thing to note is the way by which I approached the board. My coworker was extremely upset about the whole situation and wrote a scathing letter and send it by email and mail to each of the board members. He was seen as very unprofessional and was let go soon after the executive director. I thought that was unfortunate, because he was a great worker who was in a terrible situation.

The way I started the process was to make a brief phone call to the board chair. I framed it as a question: what should I do in this situation? The board chair asked a few follow-up questions, but not very many, and that was all I said. Believe me, I had a lot more complaints, but I saved my bitching for my fiends. I never said a bad word about the Executive Director to anyone, other than to answer specific questions truthfully. When the situation blew over, I was seen as a discreet professional. I worked there another few years and advanced to director level.

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 10:03 am

Thank you very much for your feedback. It really helps to hear about a similar situation. At this time I don’t plan to approach the board, but to hear that what you did was effective is gratifying.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

How many fiends do you have?

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Rachel August 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Haha * Friends! Not fiends.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 10:34 am

If I were in your shoes, I would not touch the issue of the office – it’s not your problem. As a practical matter, if the board is any good, you are also better off. Either they are with her on this, they will shoot her down before she dos this, or it will come back to haunt her at review time. In any of these scenarios, you have nothing to gain by going to the board, and in the first case, you have something to lose.

As for the other – and much more serious – stuff document it to pieces. Again stick to what is technically your business. Screaming and physical threats are everyone’s business, for obvious reasons. You also document IN DETAIL all of the issues you have with him, including interactions with your director. Get as much of this in email or writing as possible. Once you have a few items, you probably want to document (without necessarily so much detail), what is happening with other staff, as you want to show that this is not about you and PR Guy.

Lots of Luck!

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

That’s pretty risky- going over the library directors head to the board. I’d say in 9 times out of 10 you’ll end up leaving if you do that.

I’d stick to waiting him out. If its really as bad as you say it is the board will find out from the public or through their dealings with him and the negative feedback will be overwhelming. He won’t last.

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Kim August 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

LOLLLLLL… I’m assuming you haven’t worked in a public library. Yes, he will last. If the Board questions his work, they will ask his supervisor, who will defend him to the hilt. The OP should absolutely go to the Board about this or accept that this situation is the new norm.

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Joey August 19, 2013 at 10:23 am

Actually I have. I just think its nearly always suicide to go over the Directors head to the board. People with as much responsibility as a PR person in a library won’t last no matter how tight they are with the director. Eventually the Board will grow tired of the issues, complaints, and excuses.

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WIncredible August 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I disagree. As a board member and a local public official, I don’t always know the day to day issues. If there are big problems, I surely want to know! It’s my job to be a steward of the public money and provide efficient services, if that is not being done I have to try and fix it.

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WIncredible August 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Oops, was supposed t be a reply to the person above!

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 11:01 am

Good point, Wincredible. I have to wonder what my board would say if they knew about this. Right now I’m leaning towards not going to them, because I have a feeling they’re going to find out eventually. But your comment does make me think differently. I’m sure they have no idea, even though they are a great board. They just aren’t there every day, and everyone wants to put their best faces on for them.

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Joey August 19, 2013 at 9:44 am

That’s pretty risky- going over the library directors head to the board. I’d say in 9 times out of 10 you’ll end up leaving if you do that.

I’d stick to waiting him out. If its really as bad as you say it is the board will find out from the public or through their dealings with him and the negative feedback will be overwhelming. He won’t last.

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fposte August 19, 2013 at 10:42 am

Agreed. I would only initiate something if I were leaving anyway, or if the guy was genuinely violent–in which case I’d have called the cops at the time as well. Going to the board is essentially a “it’s going to be me or the director” action, and the mes are a lot easier to replace.

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Elizabeth West August 19, 2013 at 11:45 am

I think when the funds for the office are requested that there might be some scrutiny kick in on that.

Re her blind devotion to such an obviously horrible employee: I can’t help but think she has a crush on him, or she knows his mother or something. Her defending him is just so bizarre.

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Jennifer August 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Only if the library funding is set up in such a way that the Board actually sees or understands what’s being paid out. One of my neighboring libraries had an employee who scammed thousands of dollars and nobody noticed for over a year.

You know your Board best – what is the likely outcome of taking a complaint to them? I know a group of librarians who tried to take their director before the board – 3 years later, she’s still there as crazy as ever while many of them are gone (I don’t know the ins and outs, wasn’t my library). You could maybe stir up some community backlash, maybe something in your Friends group, but when it was over you likely wouldn’t have a job and the library could take a bad hit in public opinion that it might not recover from.

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 10:59 am

Thank you. I am leaning towards not bringing this before the board. They are a rational group of people, and smart, but they are very much behind the director. With good reason – she is a good director, generally. That’s why this situation is so odd.

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Ruffingit August 20, 2013 at 11:22 am

Yes, this was my thought as well. The blind devotion thing makes me believe something more is going on under the surface, either a romantic situation or just close family friend or something.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 10:04 am

If there is someone on the board that the OP is close to or can trust that might be a good place to go with this. It can be extremely …dangerous to your own job to do so but it might be worth it to bring it up and ask for some guidance. Especially if the OP has staff of their own who are complaining about it. But I wouldn’t do it unless you had someone you were confident in confiding in.

Alternately if patrons have complained (because I would if someone was screaming in a library at one of the staff) then bring their complaints to the board.

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Gene August 19, 2013 at 12:54 am

A question for #4 OP, is the meal break unpaid? If you are working 8.5 hours each day but getting paid for only 8, they owe you OT.

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Lily August 19, 2013 at 1:37 am

I would like to reinforce the point Alison made of “ideally many of you, not just you” because I have had too many bad experiences with individuals telling me they are representing others. When I start asking questions, it turns out the others are not willing to be named or to answer any questions and then the “we” sounds like the royal “we” of someone full of himself. It would be best if each person individually complained to the manager, but if OP wants to risk representing others on a complaint, OP might want to confirm details with them. Who is willing to be named? Who is willing to speak up about what?

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Lily August 19, 2013 at 1:55 am

This comment is about #1

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 9:04 am

Sorry. Two of my staff members have complained directly to me. I’ve also heard complaints from at least ten people who don’t report directly to me, as well as two other managers who are on the same level. I know for sure the other two managers have expressed their concerns and received the same response.

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danr August 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

Go ahead and express your concerns to the director and encourage the others to complain too. If every manager does this, she can’t tell the board that everyone is fine with the situation. If only a couple of managers complain, she’ll say it’s a just of couple of people who don’t want change.
(and I agree with Coffee Lover below)

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CoffeeLover August 19, 2013 at 2:33 am

#1 I’m betting those two have a “personal relationship.” It may be one sided. It may just be flirting. But my money says it’s there. It explains why she’s blinding defending him in the face of hard evidence.

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Kara August 19, 2013 at 3:12 am

+1

I was totally thinking the same thing, in conjunction with the previous comments about tax dollars being spent for unnecessary positions/offices. It sounds like they may be romantically involved and she’s securing special privileges for him/making special behavioral allowances.

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Chloe August 19, 2013 at 3:16 am

I’ve seen very one-sided ‘relationships’ where a manager is so flattered by the attentions of a subordinate whom they respect that they lose all perspective on the actual merits of that person. And I’ve never seen it end any way than badly. Eventually, someone will get rid of one of them, but in the meantime all kinds of things will go wrong.

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Also Kara August 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Yep, my first thought was “What, is she sleeping with the guy?”

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Elise August 19, 2013 at 3:22 am

I didn’t want to be the one to say it, but that’s what I was thinking, too. And, that would still be my first guess if the sexes were reversed or if they were both the same sex.

People see what they want to see in those they desire.

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LisaLyn August 19, 2013 at 7:25 am

Excellent point about the varying degrees of such a relationship. It doesn’t have to be full on sex in the conference room in order to cause issues in the workplace.

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

That is kind of what we think, too. :-(

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dejavu2 August 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

I worked at a place where something like this was going on, and it turned out there was a romantic relationship. If it quacks like a duck, well you know the rest.

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fposte August 19, 2013 at 10:43 am

Sometimes. Sometimes it’s just the belief that somebody’s a miracle worker and you’ll be thanked for your vision in being involved with them. There really is plenty of bizarre partisanship that isn’t related to sexual relationships.

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Elizabeth West August 19, 2013 at 11:46 am

Heh, me too (posted above). In fact, that was my FIRST thought when I read this.

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RubyJackson August 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm

That’s usually the explanation for inexplicable things that make you go, Hmmmmm.

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Littlemoose August 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Glad I’m not the only one whose mind went there. The whole situation sounds kind of fishy, and a romantic relationship between these two would explain a lot.

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jesicka309 August 19, 2013 at 6:46 am

OP #2 – Maybe you can talk to your immediate superior about cutting back on evaluations? Formal evaluations are hard work on their end too (paperwork, following up, getting HR to sign off).

You could suggest that instead of a formal review every two months, you schedule a regular ‘catch up’ meeting every month/two months to discuss where you’re at and how things are going. It seems like they really want to keep a close eye on your development, which is fantastic, but I can understand how the stress of a review can be annoying.

And it may not be about you at all – perhaps the person who previously held the position got away with too much for too long, or they had trouble firing them because of infrequent performance reviews, or they mentioned in their exit interview that they didn’t do reviews often enough? Don’t take it personally if everyone has to do them. :)

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dejavu2 August 19, 2013 at 10:34 am

My guess is that it’s completely unrelated to the OP, just that they used hiring a new person as an excuse to implement a new policy.

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OP #2 August 20, 2013 at 12:18 am

Sorry I’m late to the post – I’m on vacation and it’s been hard to get to a computer today! Some background: I think these are pretty formal evaluations, complete with metrics reports and examples of work they cite to explain their points. It’s definitely more than a check in, but I don’t know if HR receives these numbers and a report.

Actually, my supervisor wanted to do monthly evaluations, but I was so upset by this when I first started, I went over my supervisor’s head and spoke with the VP of my department. She agreed that monthly was excessive. My VP spoke to my boss about limiting the reviews to a 6 months or quarterly. My boss thought the better compromise was every two months. I didn’t want to go over my boss again, so I’ve been keeping my trap shut. My other two coworkers have been the department for over 10 yrs+, and they are so defeated by not being heard by management and HR, that they stopped questioning any changes that my bosses/upper management make. Although they are annoyed by implementation of the new evaluation system, no one but me has spoken up.

I think AdAgencyChick might be on to something. One of my coworkers definitely doesn’t carry her end of the work and I know she’s had issues with other coworkers at my company for many years, professionally and personally. The silent policy at my office is no one gets fired, which is why she’s been at the position for so long. I might be the reason for start implementing a new policy, but I guess that’s hard to believe since my coworker is still here and I’ve been at my job for well over a year now. Wouldn’t they have taken action by now if that was the intent of job evaluations?

Anyway, sorry for the long follow up. Thanks Alison for taking my question. It’s nice to know I’m not losing my mind!

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FiveNine August 19, 2013 at 7:39 am

No. 1 — This reminds me of the letter not long ago where the executive assistant was complaining about the CFO (and didn’t realize the CFO often is equal to the CEO, with both having no one but the board of directors above them on the chain of command). Honestly, a PR person (manager? director? especially someone who the director has made salary and her No. 2) generally isn’t going to be the person on the floor. What on earth performance issues is the staff upset about? That he’s not checking in library books? Aside from the question of what are taxpayer dollars doing paying for a library PR point person, I really think sometimes a starting point for these questions is more a fundamental understanding of a typical organizational chart.

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FiveNine August 19, 2013 at 7:51 am

I just needed to add: I think this is an important issue because I feel some of these posters are setting themselves up to be fired by fundamentally not understanding who is their boss, etc. I think the CFO was even referred to as a “colleague” of the executive assistant, for example (!?!) and not the very top of the chain of command in the organization who was asking the assistant to handle his calls a certain way.

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 8:58 am

I think that you misunderstand the relationship of the PR person to the staff. We provide a great many services and programs to the community. The PR person’s job is to facilitate those by creating promotional materials, going out into the community to form relationships and to spread the word about the library, and generally being available to staff who need support with their programs and services. If these things don’t get done, we have to do them ourselves. Which is fine, if that’s the way it’s going to be. I just don’t appreciate being screamed at and lied to when I’ve made a flyer because he never got around to it. I don’t think tax dollars are being wasted on a PR person, per se. If a PR person is effective, he or she is bringing more people into the library to use the services that our tax dollars pay for. I do feel that our tax dollars are being wasted on this particular person.

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Rayner August 19, 2013 at 8:58 am

But if the PR person has been taking up tasks that the library staff have an interest in that are to do with PR – such as running a competition, or advertising a new group, or showcasing social media since many libraries are just moving into that – and hasn’t been following up or has been lying about progress, it affects the staff because he’s not on the floor when the public asks questions.

And when the public don’t get the answers they want – it’s the floor staff who get it in the neck. Not the people upstairs.

Also, OP is management, not just a pleb on the floor. She might have to deal with this guy a lot more often than you think.

I do think a chain of command layout would be helpful to many people to navigate their way to make complaints/raise issues/know where orders are coming from etc, but just because this guy sits high up the chain, it doesn’t mean his actions and lack of action goes unnoticed by people lower down.

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

Thank you.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 9:26 am

Not knowing OP #1′s specific library, I would guess that she and the PR director are equals. There is a difference between librarians and other library workers, such as shelvers and circulations clerks.

Also, the director is usually the highest ranking person at a library, similar to the CEO at a company. The only higher the OP can go is to the library board.

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Seal August 19, 2013 at 8:25 am

While that may well be a factor, the OP mentioned that the PR person screamed at a coworker several times and lied about work being done. Neither of these are acceptable behavior regardless of one’s rank in an organization.

Also, in order to provide publicity about an organization, a PR person needs to know what that organization does and why it’s important. The PR person in question was specifically described as not being willing to learn. This is especially aggregrigous if the director has made them second in command and is taking their advice on running the library.

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Seal August 19, 2013 at 8:27 am

Oops – this was supposed to be in reply to FiveNine’s post.

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Question Asker #1 August 19, 2013 at 8:59 am

Thank you. :-)

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Elizabeth West August 19, 2013 at 11:50 am

An unwillingness to know about the company you’re publicly representing is completely ridiculous. That’s a PR person’s actual freaking job.

I am DYING for an update on this one.

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 10:57 am

I wish I had an update… LOL. It seems like the comments have been mixed about whether or not to go to the board. My instinct right now is not to – as someone else said, if it’s “me or the director,” I’m easier to replace. My director also takes things very personally. If she found out I talked to the board, she’d lose all respect for me. I have always thought she was a great director, and I still do, I just feel like she’s really off track in this situation. It’s not just the fact that I enjoy this job, I also need it to support my family, so I can’t put it in danger. However, I do feel physically threatened by this guy on a regular basis – that’s the scariest thing right now. The attitude and performance issues are awful, sure, but his anger is what scares me the most. Normally patron complaints rattle her, but in the two cases where we’ve had direct patron complaints about him, she has ignored them. That also bothers me. He rarely has interaction with patrons either.

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LV August 19, 2013 at 8:38 am

My department does mini performance reviews every 3 months as a preparation of sorts for the “real” performance review that’s only once a year. I actually like it. It’s nice to be able to check in with my manager on what I’m doing and how my projects are going and get some feedback from her. Plus this way, nobody is struggling in Q4 to remember what they did in Q1/2 – it’s fresher in everyone’s minds.

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Leslie Yep August 19, 2013 at 9:59 am

Many managers do this in my workplace too. It takes maybe 90 minutes total on a quarterly basis – 30 minutes to reflect and write about some of your key achievements and lost opportunities in your big development areas, 60 minutes to discuss with your manager. I’ve found it very helpful on both sides, but it works best when you identified key areas for development in your annual performance review so it can be a short conversation with a great deal of structure.

We do these massive performance reviews annually and just can’t imagine doing that more than once a year! So I hope the OP’s structure is something a little lower lift like the above!

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Judy August 19, 2013 at 10:04 am

At my current job, the employees have to write up our goals in the first month of the year. We then have to mark our accomplishments in the review system, and have a meeting with our manager just before the end of each quarter. At the end of the year, we have to complete our summaries about each goal, and write our yearly review summary. The managers take our information that we wrote and go into the ranking session in early January. We get our reviews in late February and raises on April1.

So beyond the occasional atta-girl, we don’t get feedback (unless we’re trending really low) until the end of the year. At most after we present our case to the manager, we get “you seem to be on track.”

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AdAgencyChick August 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

#2 — since your coworker says this wasn’t your manager’s practice before, I wonder whether your manager is trying to get rid of someone, or at least to give someone negative feedback, while making it look like everyone is getting the same level of scrutiny. As AAM’s letter-writers have so often demonstrated, many managers think that when they take action against a bad performer, they have to take the same or a similar action for all employees in order to be consistent (for example, “if you are late by 15 minutes four times, you will be fired” in order to deal with one latecomer), when really the policy that should be consistently applied is “address bad performers’ issues, and let the good ones be.”

#3 — no, you don’t need to do anything! You didn’t “cost” this person a referral bonus — the hiring manager could have just as easily gone with a completely different external candidate, which would have lost your family friend the referral anyway. She’s probably not even thinking about it. But, I would 100% invite her out to dinner (and make it clear that it’s your treat) as a thank-you — not because of the referral bonus, but simply in acknowledgment of your long-time relationship and that you’re grateful that she thought of you in that way.

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Rayner August 19, 2013 at 9:12 am

#3 – It’s totally awesome to take your friend to dinner, or to buy her something special as a thank you for letting you know about the job opportunity. Maybe not a hundred dollars if it’s your first job – she’ll understand that you may have limited funds – but something thoughtful and well intentioned goes a long way with a nice card.

I wouldn’t blame yourself for costing her a thousand dollars, because you didn’t. She let you know, you applied and got the job. Had she been aiming for the thousand bucks, she would have let an outside candidate know first or taken other steps.

Be thankful, use her to network (nicely. Don’t just farm her for contacts), let her know how much it means to you that she helped you get on the ladder but don’t feel bad.

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Rayner August 19, 2013 at 9:13 am

*family friend, that should say

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Joey August 19, 2013 at 9:55 am

Yep. I disagree with a $100 gift cert in part because that’s probably a lot of money for the op. And its pretty ridiculous to think you somehow owe it. I’d stick to buying lunch ( or bake her some cookies) as a thank you.

Personally I think its kind of crappy of her to have even mentioned to the ops parents she lost out on the money.

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AdAgencyChick August 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

I missed that part about her mentioning it to OP’s parents — I agree, she shouldn’t have done that. OP, did your parents sound like she was upset about it? Because honestly, the only context in which she should have said anything at all is, “Yeah, I didn’t get the referral bonus because OP was already an intern, but who cares? Just so glad to have OP on the team!”

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Rayner August 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

Oh, I missed that part too. It was kind of sucky – even if she wasn’t mentioning it because “uh, guys, I lost money because of your daughter, what are you going to do?” it’s still pretty horrible to say. What kind of response do you give to that?

“Oh, I’m sorry, here’s a thousand bucks, my apologies for my daughter being an intern not a random person off the street?!!!”

I think that’s tacky, and the OP should ignore it. It’s not okay to repay that kind of money, and if the lady who didn’t get her bonus money has issue, she should take it up with the management because interns don’t create referral bonuses, and that maybe could change.

OP, like AdAgencyChick said really the only context she should have mentioned it is “I don’t care, I’m just happy to have you on board!”

Not saying that they will, but if your parents do pressure you to spend a hundred dollars, or pay for an extravagant meal, then you need to push back politely, and just outline your financial situation but tell them that you will do something that’s in your budget but still conveys your gratitude. Now that you have a job, it’s your money! lol.

Bake cookies, give her a $10 gift card to her favourite chocolate shop, or buy her a nice bookmark and a card, but don’t feel pressured to buy extravagant gifts. It was your interviewing skills, internship reputation, and enthusiasm that got you the job. She just pointed you in the right direction.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm

The OP’s dad works for the same company, and probably knew about the referral bonus. I can see something along the lines of “Oh Jane, did you get the referral bonus for OP?”. It’s not necessarily the friend being sucky.

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OP #3 August 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I don’t know how the subject came up but knowing this woman it was not ill intentioned in anyway. She’s a really great person and I don’t doubt that she is not upset about it. I believe it was more along the lines of she was pulling for me to get the job even though she was losing out on the referral bonus so it wasn’t rude or tacky at all.

My parents were thinking that it would be a nice gesture. I’d be paying not them (it’s my job afterall…). Also, yes this is my first job out of college.

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Not So NewReader August 19, 2013 at 8:19 pm

It puzzled me that she knew she would not get the bonus and yet she still recommended you.
Send her a lovely card with some thoughtful words. I think she would be upset if spend your first paycheck on her. You can look for nice, gestures to pay her back- rides home, hot cup of soup on that first cold fall day, etc. Above all, if you LIKE the job- LET her know. Let her see that it means something.

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Zed August 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

Yeah, $100 is way too much money to drop on a thank you gift card, especially for a former intern in their first job.

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dejavu2 August 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

I assumed the parents were planning to pay for the $100 gift card.

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Rayner August 19, 2013 at 10:41 am

The parents shouldn’t pay since it is the OPs responsibility – she was the one referred to the job etc – but it’s still excessive, whoever pays.

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Zed August 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

Even so. It’s too much, and I think a gift of that size is inappropriate in the situation the OP described.

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Rayner August 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

Yeah, it’s pretty excessive. Especially because the OP’s family friend didn’t – by the sounds of it – go an extra 200 miles, and get them hooked up with loads of people, and push hiring managers (in a good way) and everything else.

Not to say what they did wasn’t kind of them, but it doesn’t warrant, imo, a hundred bucksies.

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Forrest August 19, 2013 at 11:47 am

Exactly. OP, your friend didn’t get you the job – you got yourself the job. I think the only thing you owe the friend is a thank you note and your best performance on the job.

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

#2 is is more of a formal review or an overly formal check-in. I could see something like a check-in being much more frequent and they just call it a review because they don’t know what else to call it.

#4 I really hope you are looking for a new job. Please start today if you haven’t been, and good luck!

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Alan Wexelblat August 19, 2013 at 11:34 am

#7. When faced with that kind of pressure (which I find often comes from recruiters sensing a paycheck in the offing) I pull out my “professionalism” card.

I say something like “I know you’d like me to start next week, but I think it would be unprofessional if I just dropped everything at OLDJOB. I just need X weeks to wrap things up and treat everyone in a professional manner.”

All employers want employees who behave professionally and extend proper professional courtesy. I think it helps to show that I’m the kind of person who strives to treat everyone in the workplace professionally, even when I’m leaving a job.

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Elizabeth West August 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

#4–won’t pay for lost punches

To quote Christopher Cross (yes, I’m dating myself), RIDE. RIDE LIKE THE WIND. This ship is going down.

#6–mentioning a previous interview with the same company

Yep, I did this when I applied for Newjob. I originally interviewed for a front desk position and didn’t get it (because it was what was available at the time that I could do, and I wanted to work for this company). When I applied, I said something like, “I recently interviewed for a receptionist position at X location. While I wasn’t chosen for that position, I feel this one is very well suited to me [mentioned going to school for it too] and my interest in your company remains strong.”

I’m so proud of that cover letter. I worked really hard on it. With AAM/Alison’s book and commenters’ advice, it came out fantastic (I think). :D

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Ruffingit August 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I don’t have time to read through all the comments, but I am sure someone has mentioned this so I’m just going to add my voice to the choir for #4: GET OUT NOW!!! You are on the Titanic and the ice burg is well in view. They can’t make payroll without borrowing money and they are threatening illegal action in terms of not paying all the hours they owe? LEAVE. It’s your only logical recourse.

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Liz in a library August 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Yeah, that was my feeling too. I doubt this situation is going to magically right itself.

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WIncredible August 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm

LW1 — as a public library are you overseen by a board, city or county government? I am on my city library board and our public library, while semi-independent, is a city department and must answer to the city administrator and the library board. If you have similar oversight, get with these people for help!

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Anonymous August 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I was going to write the same thing. While we have a library board, personnel issues would go up through the City chain of command. The Library Director reports to the Deputy City Manager.

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Question Asker #1 August 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

We are not a city library. The director reports to the library board. Technically, the board then reports to the school district, but they’re so far removed from it that they’re not really part of the chain of command. They just approve the tax budget.

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Cody C August 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm

#6
I didn’t mention a previous interview with the same company(as a buyer) and as fate would have it the same HR person sat in on both interviews. I have a rather uncommon last name and that combined with my boyish good looks resulted in her stating “Didn’t we interview you for the marketing position” I thought at the time it made me look desperate and I guess I should have mentioned it in my cover letter.
I didn’t get either job.

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Bea W August 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm

#3 – IMHO you didn’t “cost” her anything. She never had the $1000 to begin with, and there was never any guarantee that anyone she referred that was eligible for the $1000 bonus would be offered a job.

It would be thoughtful to offer a gift as token of appreciation for her help, but $100 too much, especially from an intern who just got their first job! Something more along the lines of offering to buy lunch or something otherwise small but shows your appreciation is probably more appropriate. Even if you were making a ludicrous amount of money, $100 still seems excessive.

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OP#4 August 21, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Thanks for the input! For those who asked/suggested – I have plans to begin University as a full time student in spring. I just hope that I can live on this sinking ship until that time comes. The meal periods are unpaid, and we are continually yelled at about our overtime hours. So, logic would suggest that we should all be taking our lunches…but logic seems to have left long ago.

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ClaireBear August 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm

#4 – I’m in New York State, and when I worked at a warehouse as an order picker, my very high-strung loud supervisor would repeatedly yell (not threateningly, or I would’ve quit after the first incident) that we needed to get all of our orders done. After a particular incident, I expressed to him that I was often very anxious at work because I felt I was working extremely slowly, and he showed me evidence that I was one of the fastest pickers there. Well, that incident was a HUGE order — I’m talking two dozen pallets, I think only 14 of them were full wrapped pallets & the others required me to go from station to station getting X number of Y product — that I knew would take me all day and longer. I was too afraid to go to lunch that day because I expected my supervisor to barge into the break room and ask how I was doing on the order. I think I worked nine or ten hours with a single fifteen minute break. In NYS, if you work four hours or more, you get a paid 15-minute break before those first four hours are completed. Six or more, an unpaid lunch (I’ve heard varying times, but most often 30 minutes) must occur before the sixth hour starts and after the first break. Eight or more, add another 15-minute break. Feeling forced into getting that order completed by two hours before I actually completed it was not good for my health, nor was it legal.

Don’t get me started on the 12- and 13-hour days I “voluntarily” did. Yay overtime, boo getting breaks every three hours.

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Neel August 26, 2013 at 7:54 am

Sometimes situations mentioned above do create lot of trouble to other employees and some of us just can’t bear that, as it’s feels suffocating and we undergo extreme pressure to suit ourselves in that environment. Yet! We adjust, as for moving on to another company which would seem to be different from the present one may turn out to be disastrous too unless you have someone on the inside to spy you the culture

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