Here are five updates from letter-writers who had their questions answered here this year.
1. My assistant won’t tell me when she’s going to be out sick
I ended up having to fire her four months later. After you answered my question, I spoke with her and made it clear what my expectations were. As previously, she expressed regret and said she completely understood what was expected. A few months later, she was sick, and just barely followed my instructions about notifying me – sending two-word emails each morning (“out sick” and “still sick”) with nothing further as to when she’d be back, how serious it was, nothing. She didn’t respond to my email or phone call, and ended up being out for an entire week. Now it was a matter of not being able to depend on her to do her job, and on the subsequent Monday I called and left her a voicemail telling her she was fired (I didn’t want to do it via voicemail, but had no other choice). She didn’t check her voicemail until the next shift she was scheduled for (two days later) and called me in tears, begging for her job back. Truthfully, the entire thing completely shocked me; never in my experience have I known anyone (older than 20) to treat their job with such indifference.
On a side note, I want to say that your pointing out that my instructions were being ignored opened my eyes to the fact that she was doing that in other areas too — doing things how she thought they should be done, regardless of the fact I had told her I wanted them done a certain way. When I was interviewing for her replacement, I was clear to candidates that was vital. I am now more conscious of it and made it clear to my new hire from the get-go. So thank you for your advice, it really did make me a better manager!
2. My manager thinks I’m late when I’m not (#5 at the link)
Good morning Alison! Thanks to all for the excellent advice. Kudos to Katie the Fed and Turanga Leela for best advice ever!
The boss’s zeal to crack down on perceived lateness lasted about three days. One morning, she was leaning against the wall with a clipboard, commenting as we all went by “You’re on time, you’re late, you’re late” etc. And then it was back to not really caring.
Her latest endeavor? Boss needed to talk with one of the staff members, so rather than picking up the phone or walking over to her office, Boss asked two different people to tell Mariposa to call her. Somehow Mariposa never got the message and Boss says, “OMG, we have a major communication problem around here.” As a solution, Boss decided we needed to leave Post-it notes at our desks at all times, detailing where we ran off to, so she would know exactly where to find us. Which would be somewhat helpful…if she would ever leave her office to check in with the staff. Luckily that lasted for about a week before she lost interest.
I am looking for a new gig and thinking about going back to school. Whatever I decide, I will leave AAM a Post-it note so you know where to find me : )
3. When a candidate asks for more money a week after accepting an offer
I don’t know what is going on, but this continues to be a problem. We had three positions open. Two people accepted, started right away, and are doing fine. However, since I wrote this letter, we have had two other people accept, ask us to hold a position so that they could give extended notice and then take a week or two off before starting, and then attempted to renegotiate before they came in. So, this has now happened to us a staggering three times.
It really sucks from an employer’s perspective because we declined other qualified candidates, held a position open, continued to get bombarded with work, and then found ourselves back at square one months later. Personally, I think people are accepting offers, getting long lead times on the start date, and then leveraging them against other positions while they continue to interview.
It is a really crappy thing to do and I can’t tell if this is the “new normal” and/or if someone out there is advising people to do it. But I really can’t see it happening the other way around. Could you seriously picture a candidate giving notice at their existing job, stop working, and then just before starting having the employer call back to say it realized the offer was too generous and was going to trim it by 20%?
My advice to interviewees: Your working career is a 50-year marathon, not a sprint. What you say and do can affect you for years to come, possibly decades. These three individuals have had their names forever committed to memory and will not only be ineligible in the future, they will likely be ineligible at other locations if anyone from this firm leaves and goes somewhere else.
4. Did I violate work-friends protocol?
Alison, you were correct about this. I was being a bit paranoid and my work-friend is very much not a plan initiator. I haven’t noticed any fake phone calls either. My update (over a year later) is that we are friend-friends now and I’m really glad to have met her. I’m probably a bit overly pushy, but still not in Keith Hernandez territory. And we haven’t done anything mentioned in the original post, which is totally fine and normal: no helping moving, no sleepovers, no bridesmaids, no holidays.
That said, one of the highlights of my year was a team bike ride and this friend was one of my teammates and it was awesome and tons of fun! And yes, I initiated the bike ride.
Thanks to all the reader suggestions about meeting people in a new city; that was definitely adding to my anxiety about the situation. In general, I have no problems meeting people but finding people I super connect with is – for me – much harder.
I’m hoping we stay in touch in the future. I’m leaving my job soon so we can’t remain work-friends.
5. I don’t have experience with a program my interviewers want, but I’ve been studying it (#4 at the link)
My update is a happy one. I took your advice almost word for word, and scored an entry-level position with the company I really wanted to work for. I feel like I’ve really grown here. While work is work, my time here has been the best time I’ve ever spent working.
As a matter of fact, I’ve was given a promotion after 8 months in the entry-level position I was hired-on in! I’ve only been in this new position for a month or so, but I’m enjoying it a lot! I owe it all to you and your community’s advice. Thank you!