my employee constantly interrupts me with unnecessary updates and questions

A reader writes:

I am a fairly new accounting supervisor. Most days, I am completely overwhelmed with projects, data requests and constant deadlines looming overhead. I am trying to work more efficiently by delegating more projects and workload, but I have one employee who feels the need to come into my office several times daily to offer “updates” on the progress she’s making with things I’ve delegated to her. Sometimes she will just come in to ask a very trivial or elementary question about something she should know the answer to. Once she’s in my office, she often lingers as if she wants the conversation to continue—sometimes just standing there while I try to ease out of the conversation and return to my work. It can be a little awkward getting her to take the hint and leave.

I’m pretty sure I’m A.D.D. anyway, so having someone constantly appear in my doorway unnecessarily just derails my productivity. Of course it’s important to be accessible to my team, but her constant interruptions are stressing me out — I’m trying to save time by delegating, but the updates and hand-holding are greatly offsetting the time savings. She’s a very sensitive person and secretly I think she just wants constant affirmation (which I always try to provide). Also I’m a total “softie” and don’t want to hurt her feelings.

How do I explain I really don’t need or want so many progress reports–just give me very infrequent high-level updates or a finished product? Help.

Well, the biggest thing to know here is that as her manager, part of your job is to give her clear, direct feedback when you want her to do something differently. If you ever find yourself feeling annoyed or frustrated with someone you supervisor, take that as a flag for yourself that you need to give clearer feedback about whatever it is that’s producing the frustration. Of course, in a situation where you’ve already given plenty of clear feedback and the behavior hasn’t changed, that’s a flag that you need to escalate the seriousness of the conversation and possibly contemplate whether you have the wrong person in the job. But in this case, it sounds like you haven’t done step one yet — which is telling her what you’d like her to do differently.

Sometimes managers — especially new managers, but often more experienced ones too — neglect to have this conversation because they feel awkward about it. I suspect that’s the case here: you feel awkward or even a little rude telling her directly to cut this out. But it’s important to remember that you’re actually doing her a great disservice by allowing her to continue annoying you like this and not letting her know you want it to stop. (Imagine, after all, if you were doing something every day that was annoying the crap out of your manager and she didn’t bother to tell you. You’d be mortified, right? So it’s kind to speak up. It’s also your job as her manager — but it helps to remember that you’re doing her a disservice if you don’t.)

So you need to tell her — clearly and directly — that you want her to stop interrupting you so much and to start making more decisions on her own.

You shouldn’t become totally inaccessible to her, but it’s reasonable and smart to set up different channels for communicating, and to give her clearer guidance and what you do and don’t need to be updated on, and what you want her to figure out for herself rather than bringing to you. For instance: “Jane, I’m swamped, and I’m finding I need fewer interruptions during the day. Let’s set up one weekly meeting to touch base on things you need my input on. I’d appreciate it if you can save things for that meeting, unless it’s truly time-sensitive. Also, I don’t need regular updates and X and Y — just a quick overview once a week when we meet is fine. And I’d love for you to try to find answers to questions like A and B on your own; if you get stuck, come to me, but it will help me if you try to solve those things yourself first.”

And then enforce it. If she continues to interrupt you with things that she should either handle on her on or save for your weekly meeting, assert yourself:
* “It sounds like this isn’t urgent. Can it wait for our meeting on Thursday?”
* “This is the sort of question I’d love for you to find a solution to yourself. What have you tried so far?”

… and if necessary: “We talked a few weeks ago about trying to lower the number of times you’re popping by with updates and questions during the day. I haven’t seen much change. What can we do differently to make that happen?”

And remember, a major part of your job as a manager is to give people feedback, and you’re going to need be direct and matter of fact about it. I’d take your discomfort in this situation as a flag that you’ve got to some work to do in getting more comfortable with that!

{ 117 comments… read them below }

  1. Kelly L.

    I would guess a million times that either your predecessor, or some other manager in this employee’s past, strongly encouraged or even required a ton of updates and check-ins along the way to finishing a project. I say this because this management style does exist, and because you say you’re new in the position, so she could have gotten used to someone else’s style before you became her boss. Definitely talk about it with her, and keep in mind she almost certainly is doing it in an attempt to please, even if she’s missing the mark in your case.

    1. soitgoes

      Exactly. tbh, most managers think that their individual style is some instinctive default and that employees should automatically follow suit. The employee was probably told at one point that she had to give frequent updates. This is her norm, especially if she’s been with the company longer than the OP and worked under the OP’s predecessor. She’s working the way she always has, and it would seem that her last manager thought it was just fine. She probably thinks she’s doing the exact right thing.

    2. some1

      This, or the opposite: she had a supervisor who was completely unaccessible and she assumed she was doing everything right until Colossal Mistake, after which her supervisor told she should have been checking with someone to prevent Colossal Mistake, and she’s trying to prevent that from happening again.

    3. GrumpyBoss

      Having been this type of annoying employee myself, I concur. Once one manager trains you to overcommunicate, it is a very difficult habit to stop.

      1. De Minimis

        I agree, this is something she was probably told to do at a previous job. I’ve worked as an accountant in an environment where you would be dinged on your evluations for not checking in frequently enough or asking sufficient questions.

        This may also be a misguided attempt to “network,” something else that she probably learned from a previous job.

        One thing that can work is tell her to come up with a list of questions and then give her a meeting time to go over it. I agree that once a week is probably not enough, unless this is a long term project where not much will change over the course of a week.

        1. Kelly L.

          Oh yes, it could also be an attempt at “gumption” in the same vein as calling to follow up on your application a million times. Good point!

        2. SerfinUSA

          There are a couple of people in my department who were aided in their career path by strategic check-ins. It was very manager-dependent, but in these situations the frequent check-ins turned into meetings which turned into bigger meetings and eventually expanded opportunities. But the managers involved were the kind who liked having a protege whose initiative they could shape.

          1. De Minimis

            It really depends on the work culture. I think places that tend to have an “up or out” mentality encourage people to be constantly networking and schmoozing for the next opportunity or for additional duties.

            1. SerfinUSA

              Makes sense.

              It’s definitely interesting and enlightening to see different management styles in one workplace, something I didn’t experience much until I came to work in academia.

      2. Bee

        Me too. I don’t think my first manager trained me to overcommunicate, but he did want frequent updates. It’s not an easy habit to change.

        If it doesn’t look like the employee will stop for LW, maybe the employee could email updates and questions all together at the end of the day. Work on cutting it down from there.

    4. AdAgencyChick

      This is exactly the reaction I had. And that’s how OP can present it to the employee — “OldBoss probably liked you to do X, Y, and Z in the past. That’s not my style, and going forward, I’ll need you to do A, B, and C.”

      1. fposte

        I’d disagree with this, first because the OP has no idea what the practice used to be, and second because it sounds like this is about rejecting old ways in the unit rather than just requesting the employee report in a certain way. Just state what you’d like the employee to do–it’s a reasonable request that doesn’t need framing.

    5. super anon

      My manager at my last job required this! Not only did I have to check in with him during the day about every little thing, I also had to send him email updates about what I was doing and cc everyone else on the team to each one, and I had to fill out a sheet at the end of each day with what I had and had not accomplished and send that to him as well (considering I was sending him daily updates and having meetings with him multiple times a day, this extra step seemed rather silly). I also had to vet every single email I sent with him before it could be sent, and I was not allowed to email anyone else in the organization if I had any questions, all of my email communication had to be sent through him. Oh, AND he wanted to be cc’d on every email that I sent out as well.

      The point of all this is to say that I thought this was entirely normal (I had only really worked as an independent contractor prior to this, or in the retail sector) for a “grown up” job. It took me several months, talking to a therapist about my newly developed and quite severe anxiety, and discovering this blog to realize that this isn’t really how good managers manage. If I hadn’t gone through that journey of self discovery to realize that kind of environment isn’t the norm, I very well could be that employee that this letter is about.

      1. Oh anon

        I had a manager (actually company owner too) who was like this. I was the only person in our 10 person office that could send a letter out without her reviewing it. She would “correct” coworkers letters with a red pen. Also, we were given no autonomy with most decisions. If we did what we thought we should do, and she felt it was wrong, you would have a note left on your desk with rude messages written on pink highlighter the next morning. She seriously stayed at the office in the evening to look for mistakes made throughout the day, including if your envelope wasn’t sealed the way she wanted. I honestly think she reopened all outgoing mail before stamping it, because of some of the things she’d find. Then, when we asked her, what she felt were too many questions, she started having “question time,” instead of allowing them throughout the day. We finally got her to put in writing what she wanted us to do in certain situations (she changed her mind from one day to the next) and that helped a little. This lady was an awful manager though. I wasn’t allowed to move my phone from one side of my desk to the other, where it was mpre comfortable for me to answer, which I was required to do as I did a lot of data entry. I still have PTSD from this job.

        1. JAL

          Jeez this is ridiculous. I work doing quality assurance for an insurance surveying company and we are held to high quality standards (obviously) but this is outlandish

  2. Jazzy Red

    If any of the bosses I had over the years ever said that they would “love” for me to this or that, I would have lost all respect for them. The manager needs to say “you need to do this” or “I need you to do that”. OP, you’re supposed to be a leader now. That’s what your team needs from you, and you have to communicate what you need from them.

    1. YourCdnFriend

      I can see where you’re coming from but this totally depends on the culture. Not all companies operate in a top-down overt directive space. A lot operate in a space that is more guiding and encouraging. obviously, there needs to be consequences and strong conversations if things escalate but I have a lot of respect for more gentle guidance. I think there is a lot of value in a “softer” management style and I don’t think that equates to no management style.

      I know that I react much more positively to guidance and encouragement than demands and directives. It gives me a sense of control and ownership of the problem.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Eh, it’s personal style and culture. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life said “you need to do this” or “I need you to do that,” unless we were at the point of a performance issue. I say “I’d love for you to…” all the time. Feel free to lose all respect for me :)

      1. GrumpyBoss

        I personally get really bent out of shape over the “you need”… We all have our points of irrational behavior, and that’s mine. I can’t really articulate why it annoys me so, but it sure pushes my buttons! As someone else pointed out, it’s probably an I vs You statement thing.

        Coming from a direct manager, it’s a little easier to swallow, but I don’t like it.

        If someone not in a position of direct authority says it, I tend to behave very badly.

        1. Celeste

          Completely agree. Only I know my needs, thank you very much. In this scenario, it’s the supervisor who has the need to be updated less frequently.

        2. Another Lauren

          Agreed. I’ve recently learned that “you need to…” and “you gotta do…” are real triggers for me, particularly when they are delivered to me by individuals who are not my manager or my parents (I don’t especially like it when they do it either, but I can make more of an effort to swallow it then). It may be irrational, but it just feels so much less collaborative when “suggestions” are delivered this way…

          1. CA Admin

            When I was a Receptionist, our CEO would call in and be super cranky on the phone all the time. It always stressed me out.

            He once called in for this particular Partner, who wasn’t in his office, so I called his Assistant and told her that our CEO was on the phone and that she “needed” to go find him and tell him. She flipped out on me telling me “she didn’t need to do anything”. I apologized for the wording and she did eventually go find her Partner, but it really left a sour taste in my mouth. Granted, it was poor wording, but you’d think she knew what I meant in the heat of the moment.

            I don’t really get that sort of knee-jerk reaction, I guess…

        3. Joey

          Because its not really a need. It’s a personal preference. When a preference is communicated as a need it feels primadonna-ish.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        “I’d love for you to…”
        “I’d appreciate if you would…”
        “It would be really helpful if you would…”
        “It would be great if you would…”

        That’s my style. And I don’t have a consistent problem with people not understanding what I need from them.

    3. Katie the Fed

      A lot of times the message is easier for people to receive if it’s framed in terms of “I” rather than “you.”

      A “you” statement puts people on the defensive. An “I” statement makes people want to help.

    4. LawBee

      Mmm, I disagree. If that’s all it takes for you to lose all respect for your manager, I wonder. That’s a pretty trivial thing to rank above competence, clear communication, skill, support, knowledge and expertise, and every single other thing that’s part of managing effectively.

    5. J.B.

      Deborah Tannen’s book about men and women communicating at work points out that indirect communication is not the same thing as unclear communication. In the US, direct communication is much more valued. In Japan, indirect is. It’s all cultural. Indirectness does not mean that the person lacks authority.

      1. Chinook

        “In the US, direct communication is much more valued. In Japan, indirect is. It’s all cultural. Indirectness does not mean that the person lacks authority”

        And the flip side is that directness doesn’t mean the person is bossy or authoritarian. This is one of those things I had to learn as a Canadian working for companies with a head office in the U.S. In Canada, in general (we are not a homogeneous culture but there are generalities that seem to be true, especially among us more rural types), if someone asks you to do something indirectly (often in the form of a questino), we see it as something we have to do. A direct command is only given when something is urgent or we ignored the previous indirect ones (a habit we all learned when we would ignore our parent’s initial, indirect requests which then escalated). But, when dealing with American staff, they would go to a direct command (though often with softening language) and Iwould do it but it would put my back up instinctively until I started reading AAM and realized the cultural difference. Now part of my job includes explaining to vendors dealing with our American departments to ignore the rudeness because they don’t realize they are being rude and explaining to our American department to treat such-and-such vendor with kid gloves because it is impossible to replace a welder with 30 years experience in our area because there were only half a dozen of them in the province.

        1. LBK

          Now part of my job includes explaining to vendors dealing with our American departments to ignore the rudeness because they don’t realize they are being rude

          That kinda contradicts what you’re saying, though. It ISN’T rude. It’s a cultural difference that needs to be acknowledged, sure, but to me as an American it’s pretty rude to offer something as a suggestion when what you actually mean is that’s non-negotiable.

          1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

            I think what Chinook is saying, though, is that it is rude *to them and their office*. Doesn’t mean it’s unilaterally rude, but it’s being interpreted as rude due to their culture. It doesn’t take away from their point at all.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          That’s great.

          We do a bit of business with Canadian customers and I assigned the absolutely sweetest, nicest, softest rep to be in charge of our Canadian business. Literally, I sat and thought to myself, who is the nicest spoken rep we have to match up with how nicely our Canadian customers (generally) speak to us.

  3. Observer

    I would just add on thing to an excellent response. That is, that when she comes in an just lingers after you’ve dealt with the matter in hand, don’t “ease her out” or try to HINT to her that you need to get on with your work. END the conversation. Kindly and politely, but firmly and clearly. And, then get back to your work. As Allison says, if you don’t give her clear information, you are not helping her. Let’s face it, some of the interruptions would not be so bad if she just came in, asked her question and left. It’s to everyone’s benefit to reduce that to the extent possible.

    1. Purple Jello

      Right. It’s okay to ask “is there anything else?” to finalize the discussion. She may not know a diplomatic way to end this discussion, and this should do it if her response is “no”.

    2. Trixie

      Plus I’ve worked with folks whom I affectionately call “Chatty Cathy” because any simple question becomes a never-ending conversation. Asking if there’s anything else is a good way to wrap things up or table something until next meeting if appropriate.

  4. UKAnon

    OP, how do you react when things go wrong? I ask because it sounds to me like she might be nervous about what will happen if she gets something wrong, even if it isn’t a major slip-up. I may be way off, and if that does tie in to that it may be because of a previous manager, but it may also be something worth asking yourself. Just a thought!

    1. YourCdnFriend

      Definitely something to ponder.

      With the OP being new, I can totally see this as a symptom of an old manager but it’s worth considering.

  5. louise

    If you ever find yourself feeling annoyed or frustrated with someone you supervise, take that as a flag for yourself that you need to give clearer feedback about whatever it is that’s producing the frustration.

    Slow clap.

    That is going to be the first thing I tell supervisors who come to me with problems. They seem to think my role in HR is to solve their people problems, and I’m trying to show them my role is to HELP solve problems, i.e., empower them to solve the problems themselves.

    1. JAL

      But there’s always that one person who won’t get it no matter how many ways you explain it. I’m sort of an unofficial supervisor on my team and my coworkers often come to me ask me questions including people who have been trained by me and there was this woman (who no longer works with the company) Did not understand this one problem and kept asking me. I explained it 20 ways and even resorted taking my time to go back and show her. It was frustration upon frustration with her and it was obvious she wasn’t fit for the job.

  6. Cajun2Core

    Weekly, may not be quick enough for questions. Could you ask her to email you only once a day and to send all of her questions at once? I know, I used to email my boss often with questions because I didn’t want to forget them. He asked me to stop and just to email him all of my questions once a day. So what I did, was I just created a draft email and every time I had a question I added it to the email and then towards the end of the day (but not too late, say about 3:00) I would send the email to my boss. If you ask her to go this route you *must* make sure that you answer all of her questions. This same boss would only answer 1 or 2 for me. He was a jerk.

    Besides that, I think the weekly update meetings which Alison suggested is excellent.

      1. Chinook

        I had a boss who would answer only the first couple of questions and one day I asked why. He said he never scrolled down the email (he was usually between meetings and reading them on his phone) and relaized that there were more. We then agreed that it would be better that I send him oone question per email even if that meant 6 emails at once. It had the advanatge, too, that I could easily search for his answers by subject line.

    1. ND

      I’ve occasionally started an email to my manager or to a more knowledgeable colleague, and found that in the process of typing up the problem and what research I’ve already done, I’ve figured out the answer on my own :)

      1. Windchime

        This happens to me, too. Except it’s when I ask my cube neighbor to give me his input and I start describing the problem, and then as I’m describing it the answer will often come to me. It’s like I have to say it out loud before I can figure it out or something.

    2. Mitchell

      Wow I like that. I have one employee who emails me 3-4 times an hour. about nothing, usually.

  7. Meg Murry

    I think once a week might be too little for someone who asks questions several times a day. I’d start with suggesting she save up all her questions at once and check in with you at the same time every day to get those answered – get her a Steno pad out of the supply closet to jot them down. Alternately, you could “pop in” at her desk around the same time each morning, answer her questions and then leave instead of waiting for her to leave your office.

    You could also ask her to keep an email draft open of all her questions that aren’t urgent, and add to it throughout the day, then send it to you before she leaves. That way, if there are any questions that require you to do some looking up/research, you would have time for it.

    Last, encourage her to start some kind of shared status log/to do list – you could use tasks in Outlook, a Google Doc spreadsheet, etc that she could mark her progress on, and toggle to either “complete” or “waiting on response from Marketing” etc. Then she would be updating you on her progress, without having to come verbally update you.

    I would agree with others above that she may either be insecure, or come from a past place of severe micromanaging where the boss wanted to know where every project stood all the time – I worked at a place like that, and it was a very hard habit to break.

  8. LAI

    Personally, I sometimes finding myself going to others for “advice” on issues that I really kind of know the answer to already just because I need more social interaction in my day. I used to work in a job where I was constantly interacting with my coworkers about the work we were doing. My new office is much more independent, people work with their doors closed, etc. and I miss the friendly conversations. Also, personally, I find it much easier to work out big problems by talking them through — this helps me think of other perspectives or other possible consequences that I might not have thought of on my own.

    Also, regarding the trivial questions she keeps asking, I just wanted to make sure you differentiate between “how do I” and “should I” questions. If she’s asking how to do something technical, then I think it makes sense to push back and say that you want her to try to figure it out on her own first. But if it’s more of a “Should I do it this way or this way” kind of questions, and either would be fine, then she may just need more guidance about how or when to use her own judgment. And with this kinds of questions, a response of “what have you already tried?” is bound to be frustrating for the employee.

    1. Jillociraptor

      With my direct reports, I expect even “should I do it this way or that way” questions to come with some thinking already behind them–the pros and cons of each and why there’s still the question. In most cases, I expect pretty specific questions that leverage my expertise rather than more general “how should I do my job” stuff. (Though there are definitely some times when they really just need my permission as a CYA, which is also fine.)

    2. Lamb

      There’s a big difference between solving a problem by talking it through and asking for “advice” you don’t need because you want to be more social. With the second one, you (anyone) need to make sure you are paying attention to your coworkers’ cues not just on how willing they are to chat with you, but to how much they have to do when you want to chat. Someone might be perfectly willing to talk out a work problem with you even if they are on deadline, because it is for the good of the team, but if that person knew you had a good enough answer and just wanted to interact, they would prefer you left them alone this time.
      LAI, you may be very good about that, but since you mentioned it, I want to point out to everyone who likes to chat with their coworkers that socializing with you is very literally not their job, in the sense that their job is other things and they may be taking time away from those job duties to talk to you. Sometimes coworkers may have time for that, and sometimes they may not.

  9. Dulcinea

    I used to have a boss who would flip the f— out if I didn’t keep him updated on every.single.minor. development in my work, and would get annoyed if I wasted time trying to figure something out or was a little slower on a new task than someone experienced would be…. It could be she has had this type of boss before and that’s why she is doing it. But I am also the kind of person who likes affirmation, so I could see that being her thing.

    I agree with Allison’s advice about scheduling specific times for feedback. It solves the problem regardless of what her motives are. But ALSO: Maybe try telling her that, along with trying to find solutions herself, that to a certain extent its ok with you if she makes mistakes (depending on if the type of work she does is the kind where a mistake is likely to be caught before it actually causes any problems, like, eg, she is trying a new method of fastening teapot handles to the pot but there is product testing for this type of thing. Or something). And that you believe she has the skills and knowledge to figure these things out or at least discern when something is eally urgent or not. Because maybe she is just anxious and that’s why she wants the constant affirmation/feedback/answers to questions.

    1. Dulcinea

      OK, I said basically the same as everyone else up above but now I have another thought.

      I once had an internship for a judge and he told me “I’m going to tell you what I tell all my clerks. When I give you an assignment, I want two things: one, that you do not give it to me until it is absolutely done, and two, take as much time as you need but absolutely no more.” [i.e, he would not give a deadline]. Here is an article by a law firm partner with the same attitude: http://abovethelaw.com/2014/10/make-it-perfect-then-send-it-to-me/

      So anyway, it sounds like OP is more of a Mark Harrman type boss as compared to the other crazy micro-managing boss I mentioned in my other comment above (not the judge). I think you just need to explain that to your employee.

      1. Meg Murry

        That’s interesting. I was trained by super-micromanagers, and used to have colleagues that would be devastated when they spent hours on reports only to have it totally ripped apart by our bosses because it wasn’t what the boss had originally envisioned. I learned to start with the absolute roughest of rough drafts (with things like “insert something about blah-blah-blah results here” and a big empty box with “graph about x vs y here”) so I made sure my bosses and I were on the exact same page before I put tons of work into making something perfect they were going to take out. I also learned to save every draft as its own document, after one too many “oh, no, maybe it was better the way you had it the first time” comments requiring me to go back and undo all the changes I had made upon request.

    2. YourCdnFriend

      I like this idea. It’s in the vein of trying to transition yourself from affirmation-giver to confidence-booster. It’s a subtle change but could have a huge impact.

    3. Hooptie

      I agree with Allison’s advice as well. However, I would take it a step further. I JUST did this so I know that it can work. Oh and this isn’t an original from me – I had a fantastic manager that I learned this from earlier in my career.

      Use this as a coaching opportunity. “You are doing good work, but I am concerned that you may not feel fully confident in making some decisions or in having a good feel for how often you should be updating me. As you move further along in your career, these things are going to be more and more important so I’d like for us to work on it.”

      Since the OP sounds like she feels the employee needs attention and affirmation, I would set up 15 minutes at some point during the day to check in for ONE WEEK. Let the employee decide when, but you want to get it on your calendars. 30 minutes after the day begins, right after lunch, at the end of the day…whatever feels best to them. Unless it is an outright emergency, this is when you connect in person. Everything else should come via email, but the preference here is to have them make a list of their questions and present that to you with their daily progress report. Make sure they know that it won’t be easy to shift how you’re communicating but it is just for ONE WEEK to try something different.

      In your daily 15 minutes, go through what was emailed and coach them on what can be kept until their weekly check in. Use this time to reinforce the idea of what can wait, when they made a good decision, and reinforce where they CAN make decisions on their own. If they ask a question that seems obvious, throw it back at them. “What do YOU think?” Provide them with a template for a check in sheet based on what you want to see, then help them fill it in so they have a sample.

      If at any point they come into your office and it isn’t appropriate or can wait, let them know you’ll answer them in your next 15 minute session so they should add it to their list. This has been the hardest part for me but remember that you’re helping to create a pattern and break an old habit.

      By the end of the second week, if not the first, you should be at the point where you can do the 15 minute check ins every other day or eliminate them completely since you’ve now providing enough one on one time to help them gauge when they should come to you. In one week, you’ve only spent one hour and fifteen minutes of planned time rather than getting interrupted 40-50 times. The goal is to provide positive feedback to build their confidence while still showing where they can improve and how making those improvements will affect their overall performance and career.

      What I found by using this method is it helped to develop two way trust – my employee knew I cared about them and their development enough to help them – while laying the groundwork for setting expectations and boundaries far into the future. I hope it works as well for you if you give it a shot.

    4. bridget

      Use the phrase “I trust your judgment” [if you do]. Maybe specifically explain what sorts of decisions are within her discretion to make the initial decision on.

      I recently started a new job at a law firm, and I stopped by my partner’s office to clear my wording on an email to his client before I sent it. After I asked the question, I specifically asked whether he wanted me to clear this sort of thing ahead of time with him, or if I should just go ahead and answer emails without getting his stamp of approval ahead of time. He gave me a few tips about which sorts of things could be answered immediately, but he made clear that he trusted me to make the judgment call. This really made me feel freer to go ahead and take some risks on things like this, and save the questions for things that my judgment told me needed to go up the chain.

      1. LawBee

        We tried the “I trust your judgment” with a former employee. All it resulted in was her going to three other people with questions that I absolutely KNOW she knew the answer to. At some point, we had to let her go. Not just for this, although her inability to take ownership of her duties was symptomatic of more issues.

        So, yeah – I +1 this. Your employee can take it and feel empowered etc., or it will help highlight ways in which she’s not working out.

  10. HR Manager

    Or offer an alternative: if she walks in with a trivial update, respond with ‘Glad to hear the progress. I trust you know what you’re doing. Why don’t you update me when xxx happens?” Give her the milestone that is more meaningful for you, and let her know that you think she’s capable of handling this. It sounds to me that some of her behavior is a lack of confidence, and potentially looking for your approval to keep moving.

    1. Julie

      I think I’m going to have to pass that exact advice on to a friend with a similar situation as the OP. I love this!

  11. Jubilance

    I wonder if this employee had a previous manager that wanted this level of updates, and she’s continued it with you. I agree with AAM – be direct about the frequency of updates you need, and clearly end the conversation when you’re done.

  12. SJP

    Also OP please also be aware that this person may have been managaged by someone really really crappy who didn’t make her feel like she was good or could do her job.
    I used to be like your reportee.. and you know why that was? Cause I have a Sh!tty manager who used to make me feel like crap, that I wasn’t good at my job, knock my confidence and just generally be awful.
    So when I finally got the courage to move jobs I went to one with a good manager who actually one day in our catch up’s said to me “Sophie, you’re good at what you do, very good in fact but the fact you’re asking me a lot of questions that you know the answer to, or your need reassurance that it is right needs to stop. Because you’re not helping yourself by double guessing everything all the time. You have the knowledge, use it. Of course come to me with questions but follow your instincts and if you really don’t know for sure, then ask me. Other wise please use your wealth of knowledge and initiative and go with it. It will really grow your confidence if you do”

    And low and behold it did. I did know what I needed to do and by having this conversation it helped me grow in confidence and become better at by job.

    Of course this may not apply here but try and gauge from other commenters replies that this person may be like it from an old manager and habits are hard to break, or she isn’t sure your style yet properly.

    1. Dutch Thunder

      I got a very similar email from my then coworker once. She was training me on new processes that I didn’t feel comfortable with yet, though I did at that point have the required knowledge. It was a difficult message to receive, but also the most encouraging and supportive thing she could have done. It was invaluable.

      She’s my manager these days, and now that I’m not so new, I have a much better gauge about what she needs to be updated about – we’ve got a great working relationship now.

  13. Not So NewReader

    Alison, tthe pages are only half loading, are you having site ttrouble? I don’t seem to be having problems with other sites.

  14. Illini02

    I don’t want to say you are overreacting, because everyone has a preference. But some managers want their employees to check in this much. Some employees like to do that. Personally, I prefer a more hands off manager that trusts me to do my job, but I’ve had the other too. It gets hard when someone gets a new manager for them to know where this line is. In fact, you are in the much easier position because you have all the power. Essentially the employee has to adapt to your style of work, instead of vice versa. It doesn’t really sound like you have been clear about your style so they can adapt. Just say point blank “This is how I need to work, and having constant interruptions doesn’t help me get my job done”. Now, I think you should maybe meet her halfway and offer to have a daily check in (or whatever timeframe in your job would be logical) where she can talk about all of this. But she is trying to do work, just not in your style. At least she isn’t a slacker.

    1. Dulcinea

      Yeah, OP, I think you should make a point to say that this is about your preferred style of managing, not that what she is doing is categorically Bad.

  15. Mike C.

    Hey OP, this is really tangential to the question at hand, but if you think you might have ADD and you’re able to afford testing, I would highly recommended it. While children are over-diagnosed, adults are really under-diagnosed. I fit into that category in early college, and after some counseling regarding life style and study habits and low levels of medication, it made a huge difference in my life both at work and at home. Incidentally, one of the things I was told to do was write more, so that’s one of the reasons I comment here so often. There were a whole lot of things I just dealt with because for me it was normal, but I soon realized that this isn’t actually the case.

    While the complaints you have about dealing with lots of deadlines and how seemingly near-constant distractions are things that would annoy just about anyone, those are huge triggers for folks with ADD because it takes a lot of time to get settled into something and to be ripped from that is especially jarring. It becomes draining and seemingly small interactions really start to take their toll when

    I know a lot of folks don’t take the issue seriously or are freaked out about the medications (don’t be, they have really short half-lives and I only take mine as needed), but if it’s something you’ve repeatedly wondered about or you have other family members who deal with it, don’t be afraid to contact a specialist.

    1. GOG11

      I was diagnosed along the same timeline and went on medication and worked on changing habits. It’s made a world of difference for me, too.

      OP, if you are open to looking into it more and exploring possible supports (medication and counseling, as Mike C. said, for example) maybe it’s worth a shot. I know it helped me a lot.

  16. puddin

    Perhaps she is lingering because she just wants more time. She invents reasons to talk to you, comes in, asks, and still ‘hangs out’ in your office. It is the lingering that I am curious about. I think the weekly meetings are smart for the Q&A session, but also to demonstrate to your employee that she is worth your time and for building rapport. As you have just assumed this role, did you take time for a ‘get to know you’ session? Maybe that is something to consider.

    1. A Non

      That’s what I was thinking too. The employee sounds bored, or lonely, or trying to get to know you and doing it in a really awkward way. If you haven’t yet spent some time building relationships (say, over lunch), maybe do that and see if it eases off the employee’s anxiety.

      1. Natalie

        Oh, good point. I had a co-worker like this, and one of the causes was probably that he didn’t have many friends outside of work so he got most of his socialization at the office.

        The people who worked best with him were willing to add some chitchat into their interactions. If your employee is otherwise good, that might help a bit. (My co-worker had other significant performance issues, so he was swept up in a layoff.)

    2. LBK

      Eh…I think “get to know you” sessions are kinda awkward. I don’t really want to talk much about my personal life with my coworkers, least of all my manager. Feel free to get to know me professionally, though – in fact there’s a whole designated part of the hiring process in which you get to know me. It’s the interview. After that I don’t feel you really need to be sitting me down to talk about anything that’s not ongoing work.

  17. HR Chick

    One of the timing saving tricks a pretty experienced and successful managers I know had to really structure her day. She had what she called “office hours” where her staff (and she has a fairly large one), can drop and talk with her about anything — project updates, team concerns, quick questions, etc. It was first come first serve, but it was usually a two hour window at the beginning or end of the day. The times were consistent and everyone knew they’d be able to grab her. Otherwise, it was scheduling a meeting. I’ve got attention/focus issues myself, so this has always stuck with me as a way to meet a team’s needs and my own issues on the ability to focus. Just thought I’d share!

    1. Kelly L.

      With one of my old bosses, I used to make the Worry List. I’d jot down whatever was frazzling me and then talk to her about it all at once. Sometimes even just writing it down would make me realize my mind was running in circles and that some of the issues were really the same issue–i.e., there was an issue with the caterer because the accounting office wouldn’t get back to me, not independently of it.

  18. Katie the Fed

    I’m going to take a slightly different take here.

    Your employee might just need a bit more facetime with you than your other employees. The lingering at the end of the conversation makes me thing she’s trying to make some kind of connection with you. That can be annoying, but some people do want to feel more of a friendliness with their colleagues and supervisors.

    Can you meet that need elsewhere? Like do morning rounds and stop by and make small talk with her and your other employees? Try to meet her halfway a little?

    1. De Minimis

      Yeah, I’m wondering if she might be coming from an environment where you had to continually “put yourself out there” with supervisors and managers, and this is her attempt to build a relationship.

      I might just be projecting, though…

  19. Rat Racer

    I had a similar problem with one of my direct reports and asked this same question to the AAM community on the boards a few Fridays ago. At my job, we are all virtual, so my employee wasn’t stopping by my office, but he was constantly IM-ing me or calling me with stuff that could wait. So, I bit the bullet (based on the feedback I got from you all – THANK YOU!!) and had the slightly awkward conversation. Basically, I told him that he needs to distinguish in his head between issues that need to be resolved in real time vs. those that can wait and be answered over e-mail. I told him that I am always here if he needs help, and not to let me be a bottleneck if a question is keeping him from completing his work. On the other hand, I also encouraged him to try to work things out on his own – there is no penalty for a wrong guess in a rough draft. I don’t work in accounting though, so perhaps this doesn’t apply in your field.

    It was a little awkward, but it’s gotten SO much better, and I can now get through my day without getting pinged about which font to use in a powerpoint presentation. It’s worth it.

  20. Mirily

    I feel like this letter could be written about me. I’m a few months into a new job (and I’m not sure my manager has ever had a direct report before) and while I tend to ask for confirmation on a lot of things, it’s a direct result of my previous employer.

    My old boss never made much of a fuss about checking in on things – I had a decent bit of autonomy – she actually insisted that I not bother her with updates and questions. Worked fine until she went to the Executive Director and said that I “didn’t do anything” and hadn’t completed a list of tasks. Fortunately I keep record of everything I do, every day and all the tasks I had done were obviously on the server. But it’s made me ridiculously over cautious about keeping supervisors updated and in the loop even if they don’t explicitly ask for it. I try to temper it, but once you’ve had a manager go above your head and basically try to get you removed for something, you tend to over-correct a bit.

    Just communicate that you trust her judgement and are fine giving guidance but believe she can do these things and well — all on her own. If she’s dealing with Job PTSD though, nothing but time will break this habit.

  21. Ann O'Nemity

    I think some employees are just super needy like this. They like the handholding, the instant feedback, the continual socialization, etc. Maybe they’ve been shaped by previous managers (as discussed in many posts above), maybe they don’t have a lot of previous experience, maybe they have low self-esteem and low confidence. Whatever the cause, sometimes it can be really difficult for people like this to change.

    I’m pessimistic that there’s a magic solution that will instantaneously fix this. Having a direct conversation about the issue, setting a regular meeting, asking for one daily email of updates and questions instead of multiple, empowering the employee to be more autonomous – all of these are good steps to take. But at some point it may come down to finding a balance between the employee’s and the manager’s preferred work styles; but even this may not make both people happy, especially if these styles are wildly divergent to start with.

    1. fposte

      I think that’s certainly true for some people, but I also think the default to overchecking is pretty common behavior in some employees and it doesn’t mean they can’t adapt when it’s clear to them that more independence is desired. In my experience, that’s commoner than intractable neediness.

  22. Seal

    I have a similar employee who is always coming to me with questions about trivial things she should be able to handle herself. She also sends questions or requests via email, but follows up by asking if I got her message if I don’t respond fast enough. Conversely, there have been a few incidents where she has acted on something she definitely should have run by me first, with spectacularly bad results that resulted in verbal warnings. While much of her behavior stems from working for her previous supervisor, who was a micromanaging bully, some of it is just the way she is. She has responded well to coaching and very clear instructions on what to do in specific circumstances, but she still reverts to her old patterns on occasion.

    On the other hand, supervising her forces me to make sure that I am making my expectations and instructions to all my staff very clear and timely. I have gotten much better at setting boundaries and saying no rather than waffling on requests. Based on my experience, Alison’s advice about giving clear feedback to your employees if they are doing something that annoys you is spot-on.

  23. ARG

    My boss ( research physician, hence lacking in social skills) will end meetings abruptly. If you walk in to speak with him or ask a question, he will turn around from his computer, answer/converse, and end with ‘Ok, great, thanks.’ He will then turn back around to his computer, and will keep working- the most blunt way to say ‘leave me alone.’

    1. LBK

      I’m even worse than this…half the time I don’t even turn around. I know I can multitask well enough to finish typing out my email or running some numbers while I listen to the person, but I’m sure it comes off as rude to someone who doesn’t realize I’m actually paying attention to them. I do try to be conscious of it though and make a full stop in my work before I engage the person.

      1. LawBee

        That would drive me nuts, honestly. I’d rather you told me to come back when you weren’t busy than feel like my questions were an imposition on your time. I’m glad you recognize it, though.

    2. JMegan

      My dentist does this. She’ll chitchat and make small talk (to the extent that she can!) while she’s examining you, but then when she’s done she just gets up and walks away. No goodbye, no “thanks for coming, see you in six months,” she’s just…gone. She’s quite lovely otherwise, so I didn’t mind the behaviour, but it did take a bit of time to get used to it.

  24. LBK

    If you can suss out that she’s someone who wants the validation of being told she’s succeeding multiple times a day, PLEASE kill that behavior as firmly and politely as you can, for the sake of her coworkers and future managers. I work with someone who is a full-fledged adult, not someone new to the workplace who’s still building confidence. He still wants a pat on the back for doing his basic job responsibilities every day and it drives me insane. You made a sale? Well, you’re a salesperson, so I kind of assumed you would make some sales today. Don’t need to report every one to me.

  25. HAnon

    I don’t know if anyone has addressed this yet…but I’ve observed a similar dynamic in my department, and have a couple of thoughts.

    1) How equipped is the employee to actually do the work independently, without frequent help/feedback? If she is expected to be able to figure things out on her own without the training and support she needs initially, of course she is going to get flustered and need additional feedback.

    2) How realistic are the deadlines that the manager is enforcing? If she’s saying “hey, get all this done within the next 3 days” but is then unavailable to answer questions related to those tasks, she’s setting the employee up to fail.

    3) What kind of feedback is the employee given in the event of mistakes? If employee feels like her job is on the line with every minor mistake, she’s going to be over-cautious about making sure she does everything right. Does the manager/department have a culture of handling mistakes in an appropriate way?

    Sounds like the manager needs to assess employee’s capabilities — realistically — and see how prepared she really is to handle the nature of the work and the deadlines set in place, then act accordingly.

  26. Natalie

    What do you say if someone asks constant questions? ranging from what date is it to how do i do the task you have shown ne several times? no, i cannot fire her and yes i asked to ask less (in a delicate way).

      1. lili of the vally

        I am her manager. I said it is usually a good idea to consult notes and have a think herself first and to be mindful of the fact people are extremely busy so it may not be a good time to ask. She always says the questions are because she doesn’t know how to do the task but now that has been explained she will be fine completing it herself. It is awkward but her performance is not good and I want her to stop wasting so much of everyone’s time. Now she is more discreet about it but the behaviour is pretty much the same. I am end up doing her work for her because it is quicker than answering a million queries and then doing it myself. But we are very busy and she is not helping despite the good intentions. Most questions are directed to the rest of my team so I cannot police her every interaction with others. But I see what is happening and she has had twice as much training as anyone else so should be ok doing simple work. Also I don’t know how to tell someone they should not ask very loudly for today’s date every morning :)

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It sounds like you need to give her clearer, more direct feedback. You framed it as “it’s usually a good idea,” but need to frame it as “you’re doing X; I’d like you to do Y instead.” If that still doesn’t work, then you escalate: “I asked you to do Y, but it’s not happening. What’s going on?”

          Also, if her performance is bad in general, you need to address that the same way.

          (Also, why can’t you fire her? Sounds like it might need to go down that path.)

          1. lili of the vally

            The c0mpany will not fire her because of her age and long service. I will try being more direct even thought she gets upset hearing any criticism and will normally say the issue has now been resolved (only for me to see it coming back the next day). I thought if your boss tells you it is a good idea to do something you just take the clue and do it!

            1. Windchime

              Please, please, please do not drop clues and hope that your employee will pick them up. If you are framing them as suggestions or “might be a good idea’s”, then it’s likely that she is interpreting them as suggestions (because they are!) and not the directives that you are intending them to be. Please, managers–stop hinting and hoping that those of us who are direct communicators will pick up on your subtle hints. We won’t.

              My boss is very direct; these are the kinds of things he says:

              When he needs to end a conversation; he stands and says “Please forgive me; I need to go do xyz.”

              When he needs/wants me to do something, in email: “I’m looking for information or a query to answer the question “abc”. If we have that information in our widget repository, could you point me in the right direction please?”

              To the group: “Our deadline for shutting down the Copper Teapot Line is December 31. Please make it absolutely clear to our users that this will be happening. Fred, your task is to work with Barney on the lid conversions.”

              He’s a really kind person but also very direct. I love it.

  27. Hillary

    A couple months ago I was in a similar place to OP’s direct report. My job is very fluid, old manager left the company, and new manager didn’t know a lot about what I do. At the same time I didn’t know (and still don’t entirely know) how much authority I had. I needed multiple checkins a day, plus multi hour one on ones every week, while we were finding our footing.

    It doesn’t help that my new manager wants to be hands off, but we’re supposed to be a team on one responsibility. I risk undermining him if I don’t understand his thought processes.

  28. Lfryer

    I have the opposite problem. My supervisor (who is the owner of a very small company) constantly interrupts and asks me questions and goes on at length about things we have either already discussed, things I have already told her that I have completed, or incomplete thoughts that she then expects me to act on without ever spelling it out.

    Needless to say, I am planning on giving notice soon. I cannot deal with the amount of time and energy I waste in this position just dealing with her.

  29. Amy

    There may be a reason for the insecurity. Were initial instructions not detailed enough for her? Some people need more detail than others. I used to supervise someone who couldn’t do step 1 without feeling secure about steps 1-20. She couldn’t “think on her feet” at all. It was a terrifying prospect for her ( A “J” in Myers-Briggs typology) Is she doing something that’s new for her? Is she the newest person on the team? When you say “should know the answer” I have to wonder if there’s a training problem. Could she be partnered with an older mentor at her level? Perhaps the previous manager blew a gasket over small mistakes. Staff need to know that you can handle it if they mess up.

    My advice would be not to state up front that the interruptions are a problem, but to ask why this person seems to want such frequent feedback, and then get to the root of her problem, not yours. If she really is so insecure that she can’t take more than a few steps without reassurance, ask for a daily update by e-mail at the end of the work day, while still assuring her that you’re available for big questions.

  30. Cassie

    I have a couple of coworkers who do this constant micro-updates throughout the day with their boss – part of it is because their boss wants to be involved in everything but also because these employees know that their boss values face-time. If you don’t say hi/bye to her, she gets upset. I can imagine them continuing this with a new boss because they assume that’s what they need to do to survive.

    Me, I’ve always worked with faculty who simply don’t have the time or the desire to hand-hold. They need X done right now – how you get it done is usually not a big concern to them (if they do have a preference, they’ll tell you – not make you guess). I did have a staff supervisor at one time, but she was only responsible for my overall performance, not day-to-day stuff. So it would take some getting used to if I started working for a boss who wanted to be kept in the loop about everything.

    As far as the communication style, I think I’d rather the person just be direct and say “please do this”. If you say “it would be great if you do …”, it makes it sound like a “nice-to-have” rather than a “must-do”. So if you get made because I don’t do it, I will be confused why you didn’t just tell me to do it in the first place. (Because your “nice-to-have” might not be high on my priority list, whereas a “must-do” would be). You don’t have to be mean but it should be clear that it’s non-negotiable (if it is).

  31. Ms. T

    I am a recovering employee very much along the lines of the employee described above. My first few months on the job (which happens to be my first professional, office job) were painfully awkward. I had zero confidence and was constantly seeking approval from my managers. I would linger just like the OP describes and give unnecessary updates just because I needed the interaction and reassurance.

    While I know it’s not the quick fix you’re probably looking for, time and direct communication were the things that has helped me. Journaling also played a big role by helping me to see what my real “need” was and the motives behind my constant interactions.

    It’s been 10 months and I’m finally feeling confident in my job. Thankfully, I have a great manager who understood the issue even before I did. She gave me very clear, direct feedback and was patient with me while I worked through the deeper issues inside.

    One other thing that’s important to note, your direct report probably doesn’t like things the way they are either. It’s really hard to be in a position where you know you aren’t doing things right but also have no clue how to get from where you are to where you need to be. As much as it bothers you, I bet she is also struggling with how she handles her work. This could be a good opportunity to directly help her job satisfaction improve too. If you frame it in that way (while also being upfront about the way it will help you, too), it could help her to see that only good things can come from this change.

    1. accounting supervisor

      THANK YOU for such great advice and feedback on this. I know I need to be more direct with feedback — love the idea of weekly 1-on-1’s. This person is a good accountant — less experienced than I am, but still capable of doing a lot of these things without my step-by-step approval. But now that so many of you mentioned it — yes, our former boss (still my boss — I moved up when she moved up), was very much wanting updates and oversight.
      I think the biggest obstacle, for me, in this is that I was promoted from WITHIN this team. All of my direct-reports were my teammates (and mostly good friends) just 18 months ago. Making this transition has been harder than I thought, so I’m trying to navigate new territory. I know the friendship dynamic has changed and I’m trying to give them space and not try to be ‘one of the gang’ anymore — don’t want them to feel awkward with that. I think it’s more awkward for me than them. Performance feedback is more “weird” than I thought it would be.
      Thanks all, for this great advice. I LOVE this site.

  32. accounting supervisor

    …add-on…
    Also yes, this person is highly sensitive. We’ve had numerous feedback sessions (some turning out to be counseling sessions), discussing not only the personal aspect of things, but also how it has affected her performance among the team. Things are better — I think this is just an old habit developed in trying to please our former boss.
    Also it’s not just one person, but I can relate that sometimes employees are just excited with a break-through and want to share that. With everything, I’m learning this is about striking a good BALANCE. :)

  33. jen

    i don’t know the particulars, but i would also add that the OP might want to reflect on whether she gives enough feedback in general. i used to have a tendency to do this kind of thing when my boss had been unresponsive (most often due to other prioroties or just forgetting, etc.). but since she wasn’t saying “i have other priorities right now” her lack of response would make me anxious that she wasn’t happy with my work. in addition to setting the expectations as so many people mention, it’s worth it to keep in mind that a quick, umprompted ‘you’re doing good, keep going’ every now and then can calm the employee’s need to ‘check in’

  34. Susan E.

    Meeting once a week is great, though she may feel that’s insufficient. I would aboslutely ask her to email questions and updates to you, that way you get to deal with them and respond (if at all) when convenient for you. Putting things in writing is helpful for many reasons as well. This way she can get things “off her chest” and feel she’s doing her due diliegence to keep you informed. If the emails are long and incoherant, you’ll need to ask her to put the word “Question” in bold highlights if she needs a response from you. Though yes, encourage her to find answers herself.

  35. Sara

    As a mental health professional, Perhaps, the employee’s constant emails and intrusions is from a narcopathic mental derangement? Quite common in the states. Nip it in the bud directly, otherwise, like gangrene it gets much worse with all the trial emails of who coughed, smiling faces, and weekend work emails. It is a psychotic derangement.

    1. Mitchell

      Oh, you hit it on the head. I have one of these. She used to text me at 7 AM that she was in heavy traffic and would be a bit late (she arrived 30 minutes early — at her own request). Every staff meeting was a battle of wills to take the topic back from her amazing accomplishments in a similar situation, or how it reminded her of the time she met (celebrity). All staff bored to tears, eyes rolling. Every sick day was ‘excruciating pain I will have to go to the doctor if …’ etc. It took me awhile to figure this out. Now her 3 days off after a biopsy that required a tiny bandaid is no longer a surprise. I cut her hours by 30% after it became clear that her ‘heavy workload, I’m just swamped’ was total BS (and her salary by 20% downgraded due to other issues). Guess what, she’s not even looking for a new job. I guess I’m the first employer who figured out her BS and looks her dead in the eye and calls her on it and tells her to get back to work. The others probably all told her to quit or be fired. Narcopath – I like that.

      1. John A.

        A serious problem in the US workplace is the constant interruptions with the endless stream of trivial e-mails, after hours nonsense “updates” of irrelevance, vacation contamination of more emails of nothing, redundant updates, non-pertinent intrusions –all to place the focus on the mentally ill employee as Sara aptly asserts-the narcopath. NPD–narcopathic personality disorder/derangement. Feigning/playing busy, everything was a boulder up hill for the simplest tasks, how many folks were involved in a project involved the narcopath creating excel files, spreadsheets, graphs/tables of ….5 people!!!, ordering a pencil was astrophysics, emails regarding what type of sandwich meat, what style font required 10 emails!? Exhausting. Narcopath–attention is on them, and creating not meeting relevance/importance. It is a mental disorder–the US has a huge population of mentally ill folks in need of help. Socialized and functional, yet need robust professional psychiatric help. Fire these folks and do better research in the hiring process. These mental ill people need help, a group home, or straight jacket.

  36. Gwen W.

    WOW!–You guys/gals nailed it—we have an individual in the office that constantly sends unnecessary email updates at the crack of dawn, weekends, holidays, late evenings–it must be some sort of mental illness in America. I have worked abroad and have never seen anything like this–with constant emailings about EVERY. THING. EVERY. THING–at least 20-30 emails per day. I’ve seen many folks like this in the States–their eyes are darting, robotic voice articulations, they have bizarre microexpressions, odd facial contortions-akin to smelling something foul—constantly talk over people, loud booming voices, does NOT listen with understanding, has to get the last word in for everything, etc…. I have done some research on this American phenomenon and it may likely be a Cluster B mental disorder–histrionic, narcissitic personality derangement. Do NOT hire these folks–they WILL destroy a dept, a division, a project, etc…they need serious therapy not employment.

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