fundraising for an ex-employee’s family, employees don’t want to share anything from training, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Fundraising for an ex-employee’s family on a staff email list

I work in an office that houses three separate organizations. We’re all different entities, but we do connecting work for a community. An employee was let go by one of the organizations about a year ago. It was not a voluntary termination, and she was well-known for being pretty toxic in the workplace.

However, she had worked here for a long time and still holds friendships with a few other long-time employees. This morning we received an email from a current employee (in a different org than mine) forwarding on a message from let-go employee. A member of her family died of cancer and she was asking for donations via Go Fund Me. It seems wildly inappropriate that current coworker (of different org from me) forwarded this to the entire staff list for all three organizations. I’m in HR for my org, so maybe this is me being a bit sensitive on this topic, but doesn’t this seem completely out of line? I talked to my direct supervisor and she agreed it was a bit “off.” Do I say anything to the head of the org the forwarding coworker works for?

I’d lean more toward “a bit off” than “completely out of line.” Presumably the person who forwarded had good intentions but didn’t think through the reasons why it wasn’t a great idea. That’s less about the fact that the former employee was let go and more that it’s not really an appropriate use of organizational email lists, especially sending it to all three organizations and especially considering that other people probably have their own family situations that they didn’t use the office email lists to fundraise for.

I do think it’s perfectly reasonable for you to mention something to the organization the forwarder works for, along the lines of, “Hey, we’re sympathetic to this cause, but we don’t really want our email lists used this way.” On the other hand, though, if this is a one-time thing and not part of a pattern, it would be fine to just let it go.

2. Two employees don’t want to share anything from their continuing education classes

I am the director of a department over approximately 15-20 individuals who almost all hold professional licenses. These licenses have to be renewed annually (typically 20 hours or so of CEUs). We have a policy in place stating that we are happy to pay for your required CEUs, but ask that you give a brief overview of your course/ seminar upon your return.

Two of my employees have scoffed at this and asked that we remove the policy. They state that they do not have the time do get a presentation together and present it on top of their regular work. I stated that we aren’t asking for a PowerPoint presentation, just a brief “please tell your colleagues (not the entire organization, only a handful of people) what the conference/ seminar was about and how it might help us at this organization.” I stated it could be nothing more than a few minutes either during the weekly meeting or maybe a lunch and learn type thing.

They are still rebelling. They stated that they would rather pay for the CEUs themselves and take a vacation day than have to give any presentation. I’m inclined to still enforce the policy and pay for the classes 1) out of consistency to everyone and 2) because their work (intellectual or otherwise) does technically belong to us. Am I being too stubborn? Isn’t it fair to ask any employee to briefly tell their boss what they learned at a seminar? These employees between work 8-4:30 Monday through Friday. They are rarely asked to work over or on the weekends. Both are good at their jobs, but never go above or beyond.

No, you’re not being too stubborn. What you’re asking for is reasonable and really normal, and you’re entitled to hold firm on it. But first, talk to them and see if you can find out more about what’s at the root of their objections. Make sure that they understand that you’re just asking for an informal few minutes at a regular meeting, and that it shouldn’t require more than a few minutes of prep time. If they do understand that, say this: “I’m having trouble understanding why you object to this, since it isn’t a significant time commitment. Can you help me understand what you find objectionable about this?”

If they still don’t want to do it and can’t explain why, it’s reasonable for you to say, “This is something that we ask of all employees who do CEUs, and it’s part of collaborating with colleagues. So I do want you to do it, but if you have trouble figuring out what you’d like to share, let me know and we can brainstorm together.”

3. How do I explain a small gap in my resume that’s due to a stalker?

I’m currently job searching. Several years ago, immediately after graduating college, I had a great job at a Fortune 500 financial institution. It was a company large enough where we had building security at all entrances, and you were supposed to have an ID to get through to the elevator banks (swipe a badge to unlock the turnstiles, and then unlock any doors) before reaching your desk.

There was a guy from my graduating class who developed an unhealthy obsession with me after we worked together on our capstone project. He would sometimes be outside my bedroom window at night. I called the police about it, and he backed off for a while. My job was about 45 minutes from home, and I thought I was safe there. Occasionally, I would be walking from the train to my building and I would swear I occasionally saw him on the sidewalk from afar. I wasn’t sure it was him or my imagination until he managed to appear outside my cubicle at work. He somehow got into the building, past security, and into the locked office area. He just wasn’t letting up, so I quit my job (that I loved) and moved to a city about 2.5 hours away, only telling my family where I was going. I took the first job I was offered, which didn’t turn out to be a great fit. I left that job after three months when I found a much better fit. I have been leaving this three-month job off my resume because it doesn’t really make sense to include it.

I was recently asked about the short gap on my resume, even though it was over 10 years ago. Is it better to admit to a potential employer that I left a job off my resume or mention my stalker that caused me to leave a great job at a fantastic company? I’m worried that including the three-month job will make me look flaky, but the stalker issue might make it look like I’m dramatic.

Since it was right after you moved to the new city, I think you could just reference the move — as in, “I’d just moved to Chicago and was getting settled before looking for work.” It’s not that there’s anything wrong with explaining the stalker situation, but it’s personal and you’re not obligated to share it, and it can sometimes be better to just have a quick and easy explanation that keeps the conversation moving.

However, it’s really weird that someone is asking you about a three-month gap 10 years ago, so you shouldn’t run into this too much.

4. Is this something a contractor can ask?

I’m working for a great company, but only through an agency and as such I don’t get all the benefits actual employees get.

Recently, I learned one of the benefits that actual employees get is receiving free training that otherwise would cost them hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some of the training is in the form of webinars/online presentations, which to my understanding wouldn’t cost the company another penny if I were to have access to them.

Would it be out of line if I asked my manager for access to training? I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing, but when I first started I had no qualms about asking my manager if I could do this or that and he had been very accommodating. After getting to know more people over the months, though, I’m getting the sense that I probably shouldn’t have done that and that I was acting “entitled.” Meanwhile, my impression from many career advice books is that you have to be “proactive” and that if you don’t ask then you won’t get. Right now, I don’t seem to know the difference between being entitled and being proactive.

There’s some truth in some situations to the idea that you won’t get what you don’t ask for, but it’s also true that you can take that too far and that asking for some things can come across as entitled or just a little naive. But it can be tough to know what’s in which category.

However, one way to approach things when you’re not sure about that is to say it outright — so that it’s clear that you’re unsure and not presuming anything. For example: “I know that employees are able to watch online trainings in X and Y. Is that something I’d be able to do as well? I totally understand if I can’t do that as a contractor, but I wasn’t sure and so wanted to ask.”

Do be aware that it might actually cost them additional money even if it doesn’t seem like that (it’s common for companies to get licenses for up to a certain number of people, with additional people costing more). Or, they might deliberately restrict this kind of thing to employees to protect themselves legally; if they blur the line too much between employees and contractors, they can having to reclassify their contractors and pay steep fines. So the answer might be no — but asking about it the way I described above should be okay.

(One caveat to this: If you’ve already asked for a bunch of other “special” things in the last few months, you may have expended all the capital you have. If that’s the case, I’d wait a while until more builds back up.)

5. Employer canceled my interview because they decided to hire someone else

I recently applied for a job in the industry I want to be in and was given a Skype interview with a guy in head office. The Skype interview went extremely well, and he said that if I advanced to the second interview, with the director I would be working under, it would take place the following week, and asked if this would be okay. Unfortunately this was not okay for me, as I am not from the area, so I explained I was going home for the week due to a family circumstance and asked if it could be scheduled for the following week when I am back. He said this should not be a problem.

He then emailed me the following day, saying they wanted to invite me to the second stage interview and would be in touch with another date the week after next. However, it then got to the following week and I still hadn’t heard from him, so I sent an email on that Friday. He replied that the director had interviewed someone else on the original interview date and had decided to go with them instead, and so my second interview has been cancelled. I am really upset by this as not only did I want the job, but I found it unprofessional in terms of their management as surely I should be given the opportunity after promising me this. I am feeling really deflated about this, and was wondering if this is acceptable on their part or not.

Yes, this is a normal thing that happens. It’s disappointing, but if they found someone they want to hire, it doesn’t make sense for them to spend their time or yours on an interview. You probably feel like they shouldn’t have made that decision until they interviewed you, but sometimes it’s clear that a candidate is head and shoulders above the others, and when that happens there’s no obligation for employers to give other candidates a fair shot. It’s sort of like being upset that someone backed out of a date with you because he got serious about someone else — there’s no obligation to keep meetings or dates that you’ve determined no longer make sense for you, even if you’d previously agreed to them.

{ 352 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Sapphire

    I was on the manager’s end of a similar situation. A candidate asked me to postpone her 2nd interview for 2-3 weeks because she would need to make plans to travel to our home office. I agreed, but in the interim we found the perfect fit and hired her immediately. We did not want to risk losing the perfect hire, and we were still in the process of scheduling the other candidate’s second interview. I believe it is kinder to be honest- we could have followed through with the original candidate because we “offered” her the interview, knowing very well she had no chance. It would have hugely inconvenienced her and led her to believe she had a chance when she didn’t.

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    1. Amber

      I also use this as a way to judge my own interest in a job. If I’m eager to interview right away and really don’t want to miss out vs if I have to reschedule then I’m probably not really that interested.

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      1. MissGirl

        Not necessarily. I was in an identical situation. I had a great second interview and they wanted to bring me in for a third. Unfortunately I was leaving for the entire next week on a trip that could not be canceled. They were willing to wait until the following week and I got the job. They’re willingness to wait spoke of their interest in me.

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    2. CM

      I think the only inconsiderate move that the company made was not telling her that they had decided to cancel her interview, and only telling her after she chased them down. But that could have been because they were waiting to see if the other person would accept the offer.

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      1. Frustrated Optimist

        Agreed. Anymore, it seems like I am having to beg even for a rejection notice, after weeks of ghosting. Employers, please be courteous and just tell us when we didn’t get the job.

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      2. Definitely Anon

        I agree. They did not owe her an interview when they had already chosen someone else, but they did owe her notification that they would not be interviewing her after all. It seems like they were trying to keep all their options open while waiting for the candidate to accept the position.

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  2. Bee Eye LL

    #2 – Some people are so deathly afraid of public speaking that they will go out of their way to avoid it. Could this be part of the situation? I work with a guy who is like that.

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    1. Mike C.

      A few minutes talking in a staff meeting? Even the most public speaking adverse people can hold a causal conversation with a group of coworkers.

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      1. Bee Eye LL

        You’d be surprised, though. Especially in a somewhat formal setting like a staff meeting where an authority figure of some kind is there. People clam up.

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        1. Anna

          I’d be more inclined to think this might be the case if it weren’t a couple of people. That seems a bit too coincidental for there to be two people who are deathly afraid of public speaking.

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          1. Karen D

            Yeah, I don’t see fear, I see defiance, and I think OP would have said if they seemed nervous or had mentioned “I’m terrible at talking to people.”

            I think a big part of this is that it’s CE, which nearly everyone in the office is required to complete by dint of their having professional licenses. A lot of people required to do CEUs approach them with a different ownership mentality than they do other training. Even if their company pays for the courses, they think of continuing education as something that is “theirs” – with the company paying being a perk or benefit. Certainly, when they leave, they will take their professional credential with them, and this training is 100 percent in support of that credential.

            So they’re maybe seeing it kind of like someone taking paid vacation and then being told they have to do a “what I did on my vacation” talk. They may also rationalize that everyone in the office will have to do CE and that their efforts might end up being duplicative (I don’t know the full array of CE options available to employees in the OP’s business – for some professions, there’s a wide array of options to choose from, including some fun-sounding adventures; for others, the scope of CEs is pretty limited, so everyone who does CE is going to come back with a briefing on “New regulatory processes in sourcing teapot-grade chocolate” or “Expanding melting point options for stable shipping,” and then only thing that changes is the venue.)

            I’ve never worked in an industry that required CE, but a reasonable compromise might be the one the employees offered. If you want the company to pay, the company chooses the CEU you pursue and you’re required to report back. If you want to go it alone, that’s also an option (there might be a standard stipend that is less than the cost of some of the fancier/more involved CEUs, but honestly, “the company pays/the company benefits … you pay/you benefit” seems like a fair compromise to me.)

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            1. Blurgle

              You see, my concern would be that management was cheapy-cheapying out of sending *everyone* to CE by sending one or two people and then forcing them to teach everyone else. This is very common and it might be that your balkers have been in this situation before.

              It may also be that the trainer warned them not to use what they learned to train other staff and put the fear of God into them.

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      2. BuildMeUp

        Eh, I’ve grown out of it, but I used to be shy and anxious enough that speaking in front of a room full of people, with everyone’s attention on me, was terrifying, even if they were people I knew. My anxiety made it into much, much more than just a casual conversation.

        It does seem like the best thing would be to follow Alison’s advice and ask to make sure there’s no underlying issue before the OP puts their foot down.

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        1. Mookie

          Yes. Self-conscious and socially-anxious people work very, very hard to blend in, and many are wildly successful in professions that require a lot of speech- and presentation-making because they prepare to within an inch of their lives and select positions that are unlikely to spring on them any such surprises*. But, work is work and it isn’t always predictable and sometimes you’re voluntold into doing uncomfortable things. It’s worth asking them about it in a generalized way and then accommodating them (as Alison says, frame the assignment as a casual remark or two during the course of a normal, regularly-scheduled meeting), if possible. If it’s routine for all other department members to give a short “lesson” after attending an enrichment course, it really shouldn’t be so daunting for these two. Feeling “singled-out” for social scrutiny often triggers avoidance behavior.

          *Being caught out like this multiple times, all shaky crying voice and beet-red cheeks, I’ve had managers and co-workers ask me if I’m sick or dying because of how out-of-character I seem, if only they knew I was always like this inside but outwardly bluffing most of the time

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          1. Kyrielle

            Also, is the goal to push them to public speaking, or is it to share the info? Could they write a short email or one-page document instead of standing up in a team meeting, if their problem is with the public-speaking part of it (however casual)?

            That seems like it might meet the goal of sharing the information, if it’s an alternative that would work for them and the OP.

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            1. The Lobster Mobster

              Yep, my old job used to do this: our staff development department had an intranet page and when I went to a conference I just wrote up a short description of what I was doing, any useful info, etc., and they would quietly publish them. Some people had theirs distributed in a newsletter, if the staff development team thought it was useful enough and the person agreed. It was standard for everyone to do, and it only took about half an hour to write and forward.

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            2. Cath in Canada

              We have a standing item in our weekly team meeting where people can report back on any webinars or other training they’ve taken recently (a lot of us are PMPs, so we need a certain number of professional development units to retain certification). People just say what the topic was, comment on whether it was useful or not, and offer to send a link to anyone who’s interested.

              We also have a page on our Wiki where you can add, rate, and comment on webinars and such, but I never use it and I suspect it hasn’t been updated since the guy who set it up left the team, more than a year ago. Let me check…

              OK, people are still using the page to share slides from in-house meetings, but the last comment on an external webinar was from July 2016. So this option might work for some teams, but my team clearly finds it more effective to discuss this kind of training at our in-person meetings.

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            3. mrs__peel

              I would think an email would be far more useful, really– if it’s actually important information, I’d prefer having a written document that I can refer to.

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            4. a Gen X manager

              omg, YES! ^ THIS! I’d rather write 5 pages than to speak for 2 minutes in a group of co-workers.

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      3. paul

        Hell, even just let them brief their direct supervisor if that’s all it is…but I have to wonder if they’re resenting being asked to demonstrate the training was useful?

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        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          I was wondering if they were feeling like it was making them prove they did the training at all.

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          1. Aunt Margie at Work

            I didn’t think of that. You make a great point. I was thinking they didn’t want to share, like they were giving coworkers help they themselves hadn’t had. But I really think you nailed it.

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          2. AD

            Since OP said all employees who do these trainings are asked to do this afterwards, surely they realize they’re not being singled out or doubted? That doesn’t make sense.

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            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

              I worked at a place that had everyone report out to prove we went to the training. It was a stupid policy, but since it was taxpayer funded they had to do it.

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            2. neverjaunty

              Some people take training programs seriously and some don’t. I have attended professional training programs where some people decided that going out shopping or playing on their phones was a way better use of their time than attending “boring” classes.

              Of course that may not be the situation here, but it certainly is one reason people resist being asked to talk about what they learned.

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              1. Here we go again

                If the instructor isn’t engaging 1 or 2 students in a full class, that’s on the student, but if half the class isn’t paying attention, it may be that the class really is boring, I can’t really hold it against the students for disengaging.

                All that being said, I cannot think of a time when I would object to giving any highlights of something I learned from a professional development seminar. If the class was boring and you have a crappy instructor, I think it’s okay to say that too. “You know, I didn’t really like this presentation because of X, Y and Z, but here are two things I still picked up: _____ and ______.”

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                1. Sarah

                  Well, but nonetheless, if this is professional development that is being paid for by your workplace, I sort of feel like it’s your responsibility to suck it up and pay attention if even if the instructor isn’t amazingly engaging. We’re not talking about elementary school students here — theoretically these are working professionals who can handle a few hours of being bored and taking a few notes.

                2. One of the Sarahs

                  The thing is, the employees wouldn’t know ahead of time that the training/conference was boring and pointless, right? Sounds like they’re pushing back before they even go.

          3. HisGirlFriday

            That was my thought — I routinely go to continuing education sessions and report back what I’ve learned, very broadly, and it’s no big deal.

            A co-worker of mine was balking at having to do it, and it turned out that she had been not going to the meetings, but leaving work like she was, and literally couldn’t report on what happened because she didn’t know.

            Our continuing education isn’t tied to a license, though, and it sounds like OP’s is, so they should have other ways to prove they’ve attended.

            All in all, this is a very odd thing to push back on.

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            1. De Minimis

              Also, perhaps it was for something that involves personal development but might be somewhat embarrassing to talk about. I took a course earlier this year that involved organization, and I would be mortified to share the information, because it would need to involve discussing my issues with organization.

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              1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

                My staff did several things like strength finders, managing across teams, and dealing with difficult employees.

                Since these all referenced pretty personal things at times, I just had my staff share (a) a very broad overview of the training and (b) whether or not they felt the session was useful.

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          4. Karo

            And here I was assuming that they were pushing back so hard because they weren’t actually attending the trainings.

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            1. not really a lurker anymore

              Yep, that’s my assumption. They’re not going/paying attention.

              If they don’t want to report back, then yeah, then they pay for the class and use vacation time. It sounds like this is a clearly documented policy so failure to follow through is on them.

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          5. TL -

            Maybe they just want to help keep everyone current? When people go to trainings/conferences in my lab, they bring back little summaries that they share and it wouldn’t be unusual for someone to ask for a quick summary, not to prove that the person was involved but just to share knowledge. Presumably the training has some benefit to the group as a whole.

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            1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

              This. I often go to things that aren’t useful to my entire team but will share any new info that they can apply or that goes to workflow

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          6. Clinical Social Worker

            Normally you get a certificate that’s only issued when you stay to the end. Boom. Proof.

            I wonder if OP could just have people send out a short email about the training, why it was helpful and whether they would recommend it to colleagues? Might be easier.

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            1. Anna

              The difficulty of reporting out isn’t the problem, though. Everyone else who attends the classes aren’t having problems, it’s these two people who are refusing to do what everyone else is doing. I don’t think it’s a good idea to change an entire way of doing things because two people are refusing to do what they’re supposed to.

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          7. Dust Bunny

            I’m asked to do this when I’m sent to training because my supervisors want to know if I thought the training was useful and if it’s a class or program they should promote in the future to other people in positions similar to mine. I hate public speaking, but it’s not a high-pressure thing and they know perfectly well that I went.

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            1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

              This. I don’t want people to parrot the entire presentation, I just want them to let us know if it was helpful, or if there is anything we should implement.

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          8. mrs__peel

            Hmmm! Sort of like the middle school English tests I always hated. (“Recount the plot of ‘Johnny Tremain’ so I can prove you read it”).

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            1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

              I got a C on a 9th-grade English in-class essay because my examples were from the first 1/2 of the book, so my teacher just assumed I hadn’t read it. Still angry all these years later.

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        2. JB (not in Houston)

          That could be the case, but if they learned useful information, why wouldn’t the company want them to share it with the other employees? If it were me, I would.

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          1. LKW

            In my group if you attend a conference, you put together a high level summary of conference themes and interesting points and deliver a 1 hour presentation. It’s part an parcel of getting to go to the conference. If multiple people attend, that entire group is responsible for meeting, preparing and delivering with the more senior team members outlining the key points and the more junior members preparing the material.

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            1. Thinking Outside the Boss

              My office has a similar policy and we started doing it because people were going on training trips and spending their whole time shopping, drinking, and going out instead of the whole purpose of the trip–to learn something.

              Granted, there is an aspect of a training trip that is a reward. But the idea should be that the employee enjoys a great city in the evening after the training is done.

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      4. Sami

        You’d be also surprised by how many teachers are wonderful in front of a class of students and either freeze up or sweat buckets when asked to do a brief presentation in front of their fellow teachers.

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        1. Drew

          …or when meeting students’ parents, who are often old enough to be a new teacher’s OWN parents.

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          1. Sami

            I do too. For as much as I have fears, phobias and various other anxieties, public speaking isn’t one of them.

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      5. Mike C.

        I’m responding to everyone at once here, but this sort of briefing really feels like a basic, fundamental part of the job. Like, how does any work get done if no one talks to each other in meetings because they’re paralyzed with fear?

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        1. Sami

          Talking to one or two, maybe three people (sitting down) is different than standing up in front of a group of anywhere from seven to one hundred people- especially if there are handouts or PowerPoint or other presentation tool.

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          1. Daisy

            OP specifically said there’s no PowerPoint and it could be done at lunch, so that distinction is irrelevant

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        2. CoffeeLover

          I agree with you. It’s a fundamental part of most office jobs. While I understand being nervous, it’s definitely something that people need to get over if they expect to get anywhere in their career.

          Doing a presentation after paid training is such a common thing. I’ve actually never worked for a place that didn’t require this to some extent. I can’t believe these guys are trying this hard to push back on it.

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          1. Sarah

            Yep, I mean I get that people can have some anxiety about presentations, but ultimately this doesn’t really justify skipping out on minor job duties that your supervisor requests of you…I don’t always enjoy responding to emails, but…

            This is why I always tell my students that the “class participation” portion of their grade is neither a freebie nor a way to punish them — these are real life/career skills that they need to be developing while in school so they don’t freak out and mess up their career in a more high-stakes setting.

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        3. hbc

          It’s the difference between talking and presenting. I have lovely conversations with groups of our employees about work (and other) stuff, but a few of them were literally shaking during a “go around the room, say where you’re from” kind of situation.

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          1. Tomato Frog

            Yes, this is the perfect example. I’m very comfortable in conversations with my colleagues and in speaking off the cuff in meetings. But the more time I have to “prepare” what I’m going to say, the more my nervousness ratchets up.

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          2. Squeeble

            Oh, I hate those “go around the room” things. It doesn’t even do me any good as far as learning about the other people at the table, because I’m sitting there thinking “Okay, remember, my name is Squeeble, I’m from the Teapots Department, I’ve been here for a year” until my turn comes.

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            1. ChickenSuperhero

              I’m so glad it’s not just me! I literally write down *my name*, and answers to the questions we’re being asked so I don’t blank when it’s my turn. And I utterly rock at presentations, facilitating, etc but something about being on the spot…

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          3. Taylor Swift

            Yeah, but this is just part of a conversation too. “Fergus, tell us about the conference you were at last week” isn’t much different than “Fergus, what’s the status on the teapot lids?” .

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            1. tigerlily

              Again, just as hbc said, it’s the difference between talking and presenting. If I’m in a meeting and my supervisor said “oh hey, tell us how that training you just went to was” I would have no problem answering. As soon as I’m told ahead of time though, there’s an expectation of having to be prepared and articulate and presenting. It’s not a conversation anymore.

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              1. Taylor Swift

                Is it the notice that causes the problem? Like, if you were in this situation where you had to say something about a class or conference you attended, if you got asked in a meeting without being told beforehand, would that make you nervous? I’m curious about what the distinction between conversation and presentation is.

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                1. LBK

                  I think it’s purely psychological, and I’ve actually found it so much easier to present after realizing I have no problem talking in meetings in front of big groups of people, and it’s basically the same thing. The difference was all in my head.

        4. Britt

          Agreed. I hate public speaking whether it’s 2 or 200 people but it’s also known that in any job you’ll likely have to do some form of presenting, even if it’s one time. The request regarding the CEU courses is not asking much and the employees pushing back are being a little ridiculous here.

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          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            On the other hand, I don’t see why the manager won’t accept their proposed solution: they use vacation time and pay for the CEUs themselves.

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            1. CM

              Maybe because it’s useful for everyone to share information from the training.

              It could be that the employees are seeing this strictly as a professional certification requirement and feeling like they have to jump through hoops. I think if the manager explains that the rationale is that it’s good for the entire group to hear about the training topics, and gives a concrete example of what she is expecting (e.g., talk for 1-2 minutes at a regularly scheduled group meeting and be prepared with 3-5 bullet points/takeaways from the training that would be useful for people to know), it would be easier to get the employees on board.

              I also agree with those who suggested using email as an alternative. If they object to sending out a brief email, you know they’re being completely unreasonable.

              Reply
              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                Sure, but if I go to a training on my day off, it’s not my employer’s business.

                I think they’re being absurd, but this seems like a reasonable solution: the company will pay for it if you share the knowledge you gained (in a way that is genuinely helpful, as determined by your manager); otherwise you can do what you want with your own time and money.

                Reply
                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  To clarify: I think the employees who are refusing to five a presentation are being absurd.

                2. Here we go again

                  If it’s tied to a license, then it is industry standard in most cases to pay for continuing ed and could reflect poorly on the company for “refusing” to do so.

                3. Beachlover

                  That is my take also. OP says in their letter “We have a policy in place stating that we are happy to pay for your required CEUs, but ask that you give a brief overview of your course/ seminar upon your return”. So the employees are saying ok, I am going to pay for it myself, so company policy does not apply. Could be they have anxiety about speaking. I have no trouble going over general day to day workload at a staff meeting. But if I have to speak more formally, or give a “report” of some kind, I freeze up.

            2. Fictional Butt

              If these employees are known for having bad attitudes (idk if they are), I wonder if the boss thinks they will use that solution to make even more of a fuss. “Manager wanted me to do this stupid presentation so I was FORCED to use my vacation time for work training.”

              Reply
            3. neverjaunty

              That’s a very odd “solution”. Essentially the employees are saying they want a reason they can refuse to share anything about what they learned with their co-workers. How does that make sense?

              Reply
              1. Fictional Butt

                Yeah, it’s weird because it’s a personal solution to a work problem. Of course the employees can use their vacation time for training if they really want to, but the fact that they’d rather do that than perform a reasonable function of their job is super odd and problematic. And their coworkers are losing out on information. The employees are solving their own problem by offering to take vacation, but there’s still a business need (sharing info) that’s going unmet.

                Reply
                1. JessaB

                  Yes, and what about presentations that have nothing to do with CEU courses? Are they making those when they have to.

                  Also some companies spread out the CEU courses on purpose, sending 2 people to x and a person to y, so that everyone gets their licencing hours but in different areas so they can have them come back with a small presentation on new information and not have to send every single person to the same CEUs. This allows the company to have the benefit of new knowledge on best practises but only paying for each class a little bit.

              2. Stranger than fiction

                Funny you should say that. Knowledge hoarding is definitely a thing these days. I think some employees do this because it makes them more valuable or think its like some kind of job security. Or they’re just super competitive and want to have an edge over their coworkers.

                Reply
            4. Anna

              Because that’s not the actual problem; the problem is they will not share anything about their training. The attitude inherent in the refusal will not be solved by them paying for expensive training themselves simply so they don’t have to share what they learned. Don’t you think it’s at all weird they are both suggesting the exact same solution while not really naming the problem?

              Reply
            5. Sarah

              I actually thing this solution IS fine — if they really don’t care to do it, paying for the training on their own and taking a vacation day seems to be a reasonable solution in that the company isn’t out any money, and people can use their paycheck/vacation days for whatever they want to use them for.

              Reply
        5. That Would Be a Good Band Name

          I can give a new hire orientation presentation for 30 minutes, no problem. You won’t get me to speak in a staff meeting if I can in any way avoid it. When I’m speaking to the new hires, I’m the expert and I know that info cold. But in a group of peers? Even a smaller staff meeting? You’d be lucky to get two words out of me. I don’t do unprepared public speaking. And I don’t do prepared public speaking about topics that I’m not incredibly familiar with.

          I should also point out that I’m the type that dreads introducing myself in one of those meetings where everyone goes around the room and says their name/where they work. I’m in a professional org that does this at every meeting and I just *hate* it. And all I’m doing is saying my name and company!

          All that said, if I could get training paid for and the exchange was a brief presentation, I would do it. I’d have to prepare like crazy with note cards and rehearse and I’d still turn 15 shades of red and stumble and want to run out of the room. But I’d do it. My bigger point here is that anxiety is a b**ch and some people really can’t just do the presentation.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            but giving presentations is an expectation of most office jobs and you either need to figure out how to do them passably – even if you’re bright red and stumbling, that’s passably if you convey your information – or find a career path that doesn’t involve speaking in public, ever. (Which severely decreases your career path options.)

            Anxiety definitely sucks but speaking off the cuff in staff/group meetings is a necessary skill for most people so the expectation is that the anxiety gets managed, not that people who don’t like/have anxiety about public speaking are exempted.

            Reply
        6. Tomato Frog

          I don’t think anyone is saying that they shouldn’t be expected to give the presentation, or that it’s not basic and fundamental. Commenters are simply saying that it is indeed possible for them to be very scared of this sort of public speaking, however silly you might find that fear.

          Reply
          1. Sarah

            It’s not that I find the fear silly, it’s that professionals need to find ways to deal with this — whether it’s going to therapy, or spending some unpleasant months going to Toastmasters to get over the anxiety, or lots of preparation, or whatever, this is a regular, expected job duty and as such people working in those jobs should be dealing with it head on and doing what’s necessary to accomplish the professional task.

            I cannot tell you how much anxiety I get about confronting students who are suspected of cheating or plagiarizing. It is AGONIZING and horrible and just all around super unpleasant, and when these situations come up it ends up occupying my thoughts much more than is strictly reasonable. But this doesn’t mean I just let students in my classes get away with cheating — I manage the anxiety and do my job. Which is what these employees need to do as well (if that’s even the reason for not wanting to do it, which we don’t know — they haven’t produced a note from a therapist asking for an accommodation, but rather just said they don’t want to spend ANY time preparing to briefly speak in front of colleagues!)

            Reply
              1. Rat in the Sugar

                I’m actually seeing quite a few comments saying that employees should be allowed to turn in memos or emails or give the info to somebody else who will then do the presentation.

                Reply
                1. Tomato Frog

                  I missed those! I was just reading the comments that were responding to Mike C.’s conflating conversation and presentation.

            1. mrs__peel

              Going to law school helped me get over my intense social anxiety around public speaking. (Not that I recommend that method!)

              Reply
        7. Cassie

          I’m fine talking to a small group of people (less so if it’s like 25+), IF I’m talking about something I’m very familiar with and handle on a daily basis. I’ve also gone to (informal) trainings and come back and sent out my notes to everyone (just on my own accord) because I thought the info might be useful to coworkers.

          I can turn into a nervous wreck, though, if there’s a chance of something becoming confrontational – like if someone is stating a policy incorrectly and I feel it’s imperative to correct them. I was just in a largish meeting today and when I raised my hand to interject what the actual policy was, I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to talk because I was so nervous. I was taking notes during the meeting and my hand was shaking so bad. I thought for sure everyone is noticing (but I don’t think they did).

          Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      When we go to conferences or training we feed back in writing – we send some brief notes around by email, and put more detailed notes in our team learning folder. Which also means the information has more longevity and we’ve built up a nice bank of resources.

      Reply
      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        That is what we do too. It is nice because you can cover more info than in a verbal update and add hyperlinks

        Reply
        1. SM

          I think it depends on the information covered in the course. Some of the courses in my profession it’s really helpful to have the information shared in a meeting because then we get a chance to discuss the takaways as a group. How does it affect our projects, can other people share their experiences with it, are there other ways to accomplish the objective that work better with our processes…

          Reply
    3. SusanIvanova

      Maybe they could do a one-page emailed or wiki page “trip report” – that’s been an option in some of the places I’ve worked.

      Reply
    4. Not Australian

      If that were the case, I’m sure distributing a couple of pages of notes would work just as well.

      Reply
    5. Nic

      An easy solution if this is the case would be to send out a brief email to the team with some bullet points of what you picked up. That was something that we regularly did at OldJob.

      It’s quick, does not require public speaking, and can be referenced later!

      Reply
    6. The Other Dawn

      This was my thought as well.

      Or maybe they signed the sign-in sheet at the seminar or picked up their name tag (assuming it’s a seminar) and then skipped out early and don’t want to admit it.

      Reply
      1. Owl

        Since the class is credit towards maintaining a license, this probably isn’t possible — there is likely a sign-out sheet as well. Every class like this that I’ve been to is very vigilant about making sure people attended the whole thing. However they might just check out mentally and not pay attention to the class.

        Reply
      1. Anna

        Why should they be given an exception to not do a part of their job that everyone else is asked to do just because they don’t want to?

        Reply
    7. Koko

      If that ends up being the issue, perhaps they can be asked just to type up and email some notes to their team. That’s what we generally do where I work. When someone attends a conference or seminar, they’re naturally taking notes anyway. When they get back to the office they take 5 or 10 minutes to clean up and format them into a list of highlights/key points and action items/test ideas (typically about a page or a little less), and then email that to the whole team and post them to our shared drive.

      I actually find it more helpful to receive notes than listen to someone talk anyway, as I can reference them later. I’m even able to go back and see notes from people who shared things before I was hired. It’s a great asset.

      Reply
    8. Stranger than fiction

      Did the Op say they had to present it? I thought that was an option , as well as just summarizing it in writing.
      And I agree this is totally normal and reasonable when a company is paying for you to attend something. It makes me think they’re signing up for the class and then ditching it just to get the credit, if that’s even possible.

      Reply
    9. JanetInSC

      I thought the same thing. The boss could offer an alternative method such as letting the employees emailling staff about the content of the course. (I would actually prefer to read an email than listen to a colleague.)

      Reply
  3. Kristal

    I’m curious about the employees in letter #2 who don’t want to share what they’ve learned–do you get the sense that they are together, for the same reasons, refusing to do this? Or are their refusals separate?

    I think a pair of people stirring each other up about a work duty they perceive to be unfair or unnecessary could be different to address than if two people have two separate problems that are coincidentally about the same thing. In the latter case, or if you don’t think they’re egging each other on against giving training updates, then just asking what’s up seems like a good solution. But if they’re building each other into a froth that’s a different problem that might require a stronger intervention.

    Reply
    1. the.kat

      This is an important point. When you’ve got a few coworkers protesting “unfair treatment” in this case, it begins to feel like a holy mission and starts to take on a life of its own. If possible, you might want to keep these two employees from going to the same training sessions.

      Reply
  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, is it possible that they didn’t attend the training? It does not seem onerous to say, during a team meeting, “Oh, I went to CEU about X. We discussed [bullet points 1,2,3]. I think it was [helpful/not helpful] to our work regarding Y.” I can’t imagine why someone would push back on this unless they don’t know what was discussed, or have such an intense anxiety or other problem that makes it extraordinarily difficult to engage in any form of public speaking.

    Reply
    1. Tuxedo Cat

      I had two coworkers who wouldn’t share what a workshop was about or would do so in an unhelpful way: using generic, broad topics and just saying filler like it was amazing or interesting. One of them didn’t attend the workshops and didn’t want to get caught. The other was hoarding information because they wanted to be vital to the org.

      Reply
        1. Memyselfandi

          I have a staff member who is an info hoarder. She only shares when she has a chance to talk to agency leadership and make herself look good. No one on my team likes working with her, but to others she looks like a star. But the general opinion of those in the know is that eventually it will work to her disadvantage.

          Reply
          1. nonprofit manager

            I work with someone like this. The only difference is that she looks terrible to everyone except the one leader to whom she will share information. And unfortunately this leader is the only one who can do anything about this very difficult employee.

            Reply
        2. MillersSpring

          I worked with a person who hoarded info. When I was hired, our boss put me in her area and expected her to help onboard me. Instead I got radio silence.

          She’d been warm and friendly in the interview process. But on the job, she zipped up around me, never showed her face st my cube, gave one-word answers when I stoped by her cube…really frustrating. Some people just don’t want to help coworkers.

          Reply
          1. Lora

            I have one of these where I work now. It’s maddening. Especially when he is assigned to go to a bunch of meetings and none of the managers who tell him he needs to give up those meetings, ever follows up to make sure he really is sending the meeting request to someone else. I only find out because the other people come up to me asking why I wasn’t in the meeting because they had a question for me specifically.

            More often than not I’ve found it’s people who haven’t kept skills current or don’t have a lot of skills, have been doing one thing all their lives and don’t want to learn new things, have some other issue that prevents them from readily finding another job (in my field it tends to be visa issues). Folks, hoarding information won’t save you…even the CEO can be fired tomorrow and the company will survive.

            Reply
        3. Turquoise Cow

          I have worked with so many coworkers who were info hoarders. I think the mentality was something like, “they can’t fire me, or they won’t know [specific info].”

          It’s kind of a stupid mentality for the company; if the person was hit by a truck the next day, and they were seriously hindered, it would be a problem, so I think management should attempt to put and end to it in general. However, in my experience when the info hoarder was let go, everyone else found a way to muddle through. Sometimes it took a little while, but more often it seemed like the person was making the task seem more important than it was, and if they’d shared their information or processes, others could have helped them be more efficient.

          Reply
        4. Cassie

          I think info hoarders tend to think of info as being finite/limited. They think if I share what I know with other people, then everyone will know the info and I will no longer be useful. I tend to think differently – I think one of my strengths is being able to learn, so it doesn’t matter if I share what I already know. You hold on to this old stuff, I’m going to go and learn new things.

          Reply
        1. The Southern Gothic

          Mine too. I’m wondering what field this is in (possibly healthcare?) Could it be that these employees needing the CEU’s are specialized enough that giving a report to the rest of the group would be kind of pointless? Would the other employees necessarily know what the specialized employees were talking about?

          Another thought: The specialized employees probably worked very hard to earn their licensing (months or years of prep, exams, testing fees, books, etc) and believe they have the right to NOT share information if it would make them somehow less valuable. Having to prove you went to a seminar when the license you earned by yourself depends on updating CEUs every year might come off as over reaching by management.

          Reply
          1. Emmie

            You make a good point. This still is a reasonable employer request in exchange for paid CEUs. An uncomfortable employee can take a vacation day and pay for the seminar themselves. It is a reasonable request by management, and an overreaching thought is weirdly territorial.

            I must take continuing ed for my license. My colleagues do not have the same license. I would discuss key industry trends or explain how my seminar translated to our field.

            Reply
            1. Whats In A Name

              Yes, I agree here. If the company is paying for it (both workshop and time out of the office; I’ve worked places that even cover travel and meals) I think they are well within their rights to ask they share the information. It might not be relevant to everyone, but it may help understand important industry information – and with just a few minutes of presenting necessary I can’t imagine they are getting very deep into the weeds about irrelevant-to-some information.

              Reply
    2. MCMonkeyBean

      I know for my license, you have to have proof that you attended the continuing education classes, which usually comes in the form of a certificate from the company that provided the course. Technically you don’t need it when you renew the license, but they have random audits to ensure people aren’t lying about their credits. I’m sure there are some people who do lie about going, but it’s awfully risky.

      Reply
      1. LeisureSuitLarry

        I’m sure after you went to CPE classes a few times you figured out just how easy it is to get the form you need to say you were there. “Oops, I forgot to grab a form on my way out of the room. Do you have another one?”

        Reply
    3. LeisureSuitLarry

      My first thought when I read the article was “those two didn’t even go to the classes/training/presentations.” No, they went to the bar or something. I’ve done it dozens of times. A presentation starts off boring or too basic for my experience level, and suddenly I have to go to the bathroom. And it would just be so rude to interrupt twice, wouldn’t it? So I find a quiet place to read or whatever. Then I slip in at the end and grab a CPE form so I can get credit to the thing I didn’t go to. Honest? No. Effective? Yes. If LW2 digs a bit deeper, I’m pretty sure this is what s/he is going to find.

      Reply
    4. AndersonDarling

      I was coming to say this. We spend a lot of $$$ on CEs for our employees and we had to step back and wonder if it was really a valuable investment. We started requiring people to give short recaps of their training and we quickly found out that many people couldn’t think of anything that happened at a week long training session. Then we started questioning if they actually went or if they just didn’t pay attention. Either way, it wasn’t a good investment if nothing was learned.
      BTW- this was the case for front line employees as well as high ranking managers. People were using CEs as a chance to flake out.

      Reply
  5. Mike C.

    Re: #2

    Pull those two employees off of all their current projects until they give their expected talk. That way, they’ll have plenty of time to prepare.

    To be honest, I have no patience for prima donas like this. Knowledge is to be shared, not hoarded. No one is an island, and if they were honest with themselves, they could point it plenty of times where someone shared valuable knowledge and it benefited them greatly.

    All they are doing is climbing up a ladder and then pulling it up behind them so that no one else can benefit. Treat their actions accordingly.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      It can also affect relationships with colleagues. For example when a colleague who doesn’t actually design teapots went to a teapot design conference and didn’t come back with notes for the team, it didn’t exactly boost her relationship with the teapot designers.

      Reply
      1. paul

        It’s hard without knowing industry specifics…but why are you expecting someone that doesn’t do X for a living to attend a conference on X and be able to parse what’s worth bringing back notes on? That seems like a strange thing to do .

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          Firstly, they still have something to do with it – let’s say they inspect teapot designs and sometimes colour teapots in – so it was relevant and they could have brought notes back. (You’ll have to trust me as losing the teapots would make me too identifiable.)

          Secondly, I didn’t expect them to attend. They wanted to go. Nobody offered it to the actual designers who were totally thrilled to learn this person had gone and hadn’t even come back with notes.

          Hope that clears it up.

          Reply
    2. Tuxedo Cat

      Behaviors like the ones you’re describing help cultivate an environment where no one wants to share.

      Reply
        1. Tuxedo Cat

          I know in the past, when coworkers are less inclined to share knowledge, I feel less inclined to share knowledge too if it’s voluntary. In particular, I had issues with someone (a peer) who was happy to take any and all knowledge for all of us but would never share anything she learned or knew unless it directly and concretely benefited her.

          I don’t know if this entire workplace is not inherently sharing knowledge, but it could become that way.

          Reply
          1. LQ

            This is odd, I work with a handful of people throughout the org who hoard information. It makes me want to share more. Sure, take. Please. Let me give you more.

            You know why? It makes me inherently more valuable. Those people are all proving that they should never advance because after all no one else can ever do what they can do. Meanwhile I’m spewing forth as much knowledge into the brains of everyone around me and it’s a pile I can climb up and get promotions because of.

            Also…if everyone is required to go and everyone is required to share then it’s sort of baked in for the org to be knowledge sharey. I mean they might not be but the default should be to assume that they are a sharey org.

            Reply
            1. Mike C.

              Seriously this. That, and if I cross train, no one cares that I move on to something new or more advanced when I get bored of what I’m currently doing.

              Reply
            2. Tuxedo Cat

              This place didn’t reward sharing info at all, and people had more job stability and were rewarded somehow if they could create the image of being the only one who could do the job. It was odd, and I did bring up the issue that we were screwed as a department if this person were to leave/go on vacation/etc. Evidently, the powers that be thought this wasn’t going to be an issue.

              This might be a weird quirk in academia, too.

              Reply
              1. Anxa

                Sadly, this has been my experience and my observations in a few other places.

                My SO worked in academia and had to deal with this. Heck, I had to deal with it because the staff administrator refused to train newer staff, but also refused to do her job. Like payroll. I can’t tell you how many financial crises we had to avert because she could spend hours a day talking to her friends on the phone without getting fired, in part because she would hoard process information, instead of processing payroll.

                I blame her higher ups, though. They gave her way too much slack and should have just learned to do her job themselves. Especially the tenured professors. Sure, it would cost getting a grant written, but so many people were pulling back from projects with them because they refused to deal her and not getting paid. And a lot of those people were doing back-braking work on an IOU. It probably would have taking 3 weeks to catch up, but they couldn’t be bothered.

                Reply
            3. TootsNYC

              yeah, I’m the offspring of teachers, so I like to teach. But I’ve discovered that it makes me seem even MORE authoritative. I must be the expert, if I’m able and willing to teach other people, right?

              I also look like a problem solver.

              Reply
    3. MillersSpring

      I agree about taking a hard line: maybe pause their work on other projects before the staff meeting, remind them of the organization’s code of conduct about teamwork/cooperation, and point out that their current attitude will be reflected in their next performance reviews. Remind them that their summary remarks should be professional and helpful, not grumpy or incomplete.

      Reply
    4. kittymommy

      I know this may come across as mean but I doubt have any patience for this either. I get not wanting to soak before outsole and the anxiety it can entail, hell I have to be on anxiety meds when I had to present before and I world still break our in cold sweats, shake and get sick but it was past if what I was required to do and I knew it going in. It sounds like these two people knew about the policy prior to the classes so nothing has been sitting on them. What exactly did they think would happen? They’d be able to somehow talk their way into being exempt from a company wide policy?

      Reply
    5. Grey

      I could see your point in a case where an employee was attending a specific class that was beneficial to everyone. But CE classes are typically only beneficial to those who hold the original designation. The only people who need to know what you’ve learned are the people who are, or will be, taking the class anyway.

      I don’t think anyone’s being a prima donna in this case. They just don’t want to waste time on a “talk” no one needs to hear.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        This is flatly untrue. Depending on the field, CE can be incredibly useful to others.

        Not to mention “I think it’s useless so I refuse to do it” is really not an appropriate attitude to pull with a boss who has decided that yes, it is useful.

        Reply
        1. Grey

          Well, if it’s depending on the field, it’s not flatly untrue.

          And raising a respectful, reasonable objection to your boss’ policy is not inappropriate. You’re not making any demands. You’re just letting your boss know your side of things. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, it’s ultimately her decision but you should be allowed to be heard.

          Reply
          1. Whats In A Name

            But it sounds like they are not raising an reasonable objection – they are just flat out refusing to do it.

            Reply
          2. JB (not in Houston)

            I think neverjaunty was responding to this statement: “But CE classes are typically only beneficial to those who hold the original designation” That may be true in your field, but it’s untrue that CE classes are “typically only beneficial to those who hold the original designation”

            Reply
        2. YuliaC

          I wouldn’t say “flatly untrue” here… Very true in some industries. For my med tech professional certification, I have to take some of the same old boring classes over and over again; all my coworkers took them a million times as well. None of us wants to hear about any of them.
          I wouldn’t refuse to talk about them if it was a job requirement, but I would feel that the management didn’t have a good tether to our reality in demanding that.

          Reply
          1. Anna

            I think it’s safe to assume that if the OP asks employees to share, it’s because there’s information being provided that will be useful to others on the team.

            Reply
        1. Grey

          I get what you’re saying but I suppose this really depends on your line of work. For me, I’d be telling more than half the room what they already know (because they hold the same designation and are required to learn the same thing), and everybody else what they’ll never need to know and probably won’t understand because they never took the initial course.

          Reply
          1. AndersonDarling

            I’ve given summaries about boring classes and I’ve flat out said how boring it was and how they rambled on about topic X, Y, and Z. But there is usually something I can talk about, even if it is a side discussion I had with someone else form the industry.

            Reply
          2. Grassmower

            I am in a field where all of us have to take CE and the long timers — myself included — have taken a lot of these classes multiple times. However, knowing which presenters made the topic interesting or if a participant had a new perspective is valuable.

            It is a disclosed policy and part of the expectations of the role. To me it is an offense worthy of a write, elimination of a potential raise, etc. Do the job you are being paid to do.

            Reply
          3. Antilles

            That may certainly be the case for some industries, but I think it’s fair to assume that OP is familiar enough about the industry and the people she manages to generally know if that’s true or not.

            Reply
        2. CAinUK

          I generally agree with Mike C on this. If it’s just a friggin’ “here is what I learned: teapots are moving in X direction. Kthnksbyyee” statement at a meeting, then suck it up buttercups. And choosing to make this their hill to die on makes me roll my eyes super hard.

          BUT, if the company does a LOT of CE. And ppl are generally frustrated with having to give an overview that nobody listens to or cares about, AND it’s obvious they are actually attending the CE course (which I’d imagine it is, since it links to a license to proof is needed), then it’s worth considering if the company’s policy is just annoying. The fact that ppl are saying “I’d rather just take the time off and go myself than bother with this” makes be think the truth is somewhere in between: an annoying requirement and two employees who are fed up in other areas, too.

          Reply
    6. Lora

      I was actually thinking, I wonder if they were supposed to go for a conference but really did an online training type of thing at home. Those type of courses tend to be pass/fail and depressingly easy, I could see someone deciding it was free vacation days, rush through the online presentation, score 60/100 on the exam and then go to the beach.

      Have known multiple physicians and nurses who, instead of actual courses, do the NEJM online training. Which…ehhh…I guess it depends on what you’re trying to learn, whether or not it is useful to do like that. One of my friends/colleagues is a NP who teaches CE courses on disease transmission and how to speak with patients to evaluate their real disease risk factors, and I can’t imagine that reading about it online is comparable to having someone walk you through “how to ask a patient about whether they are really doing (specific incredibly embarrassing thing) in a non-judgmental way while keeping a poker face”. But, whatever.

      Reply
    7. neverjaunty

      Alternately, as suggested, the OP could try to find out why they are refusing instead of charging in and chest-beating right off the bat?

      Reply
    8. Emmie

      If this is something they really don’t want to do, discuss repayment arrangements and retro-vacation time. The company’s request, IMO, is reasonable.

      Reply
    9. LCL

      I mostly agree with what you say, and I have seen serious damage done to unit cohesiveness, and ultimately the ability to get the work done, by people who won’t talk to their coworkers. And I knew that our group was missing out on valuable technical information, and the nontalkers weren’t doing their professional reputation any favors.
      But I have found out that some people are majorly fearful about talking to more than 2 people at a time about technical subjects. And I have been pretty unsuccessful at forcing people to talk despite my best efforts. I have tried tact, I have tried my usual bluntness, and all combinations in between, and it just wasn’t happening.

      What has worked for me and my group is that I will meet with the person individually about the technical subject. Then I present the information myself giving full credit to the source, and preferably doing the presentation when the individual is there to answer questions. And I tell the person when we have our meeting that I am questioning them so that I can share the technical information with the group, not so I can pick apart their work.

      Reply
    10. Jaguar

      It’s something they have to do to maintain a professional designation and they’re willing to fund it themselves on their own time. These things are often more of an obligation than an opportunity to gain more knowledge, and in those cases, making it even more of stupid ritual is totally obnoxious. The stuff you have to do to maintain certification is often re-covering the basics, not cutting-edge information. If it was new, important information, certainly they should be obliged to talk. If it was routine garbage, maybe consider just letting them go on their own time and on their own dollar. Plus, if it was really important information, why stop at the 20 hours if it’s really valuable?

      Personally, if I saw the knowledge sharing as pointless, I would just give the presentation because it strikes me as the path of least resistance (and I get the benefits of having the training and my time paid for). But it would calcify my cynicism of the whole thing. I can totally understand people finding the whole thing so obnoxious that they would balk at having to do this.

      This is all null and void if the certification-required training isn’t brush-up, of course. But it’s worth pointing out that this sort of required-for-continued-certification stuff really is a boring formality more than it is access to new and useful information.

      Reply
    11. NotAnotherManager!

      Pulling people off projects is pretty drastic and unrealistic. I yank people off projects, we miss deadlines and we lose people with project-specific knowledge. I think these people’s behavior is ridiculous and ensure it had an impact on their evaluations and raises (we have a whole category on our evals for team work, cooperation, and mentoring, and I’ve zeroed people on it before when they pulled this kind of crap), but I don’t think most organizations are going to risk organizational projects to sit people in the corner over continuing education issues. Staffing tends toward the lean side in a lot of organizations, and firing them for insubordination would be more effective than sidelining them — at least then they could be replaced.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        It’s only for as long as it takes to give a casual, 5 minute talk. Once they’re done, they go back to their normal work.

        Reply
    12. designbot

      That’s a great way to punish the other people on those projects. Don’t do that.
      What I don’t understand though is why OP is resistant to the alternate they’ve proposed: they pay for the training themselves and use vacation days to complete it. They are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to avoid using a company benefit because it comes with a tradeoff they don’t enjoy. This is something they can do perfectly well without even informing you of it, so why is it even OP’s place to ‘let’ or ‘not let’ them do so? There are plenty of other benefits that employees choose not to use, this is just one that caught you by surprise.

      Reply
  6. Artemesia

    I would not divulge the stalker information unless it became necessary to have ongoing protection (and that would be after being hired) Stalkers are dangerous to people around the victim; if there are several pretty good candidates, lots of people are not going to want to hire the person who will bring a dangerous situation into the workplace. ( I realize this is grossly unfair to the victim and in this case the danger seems low since it isn’t on-going. I still would not mention it)

    Reply
    1. mrs__peel

      I agree. It’s sad to say, but (if I were hiring and knew that information) I would probably choose someone else due to concerns about the safety of other people in the building.

      (My office requires us to watch a “what to do in case of an active shooter” video every year, as part of our training. I just watched it recently, and it’s quite viscerally upsetting. I’m sure that would color my judgment, given that a lot of those situations involve stalking and domestic violence).

      Reply
    2. ChickenSuperhero

      Stalked LW, I’m so sorry you dealt with that. That’s utterly terrifying. I’m so glad you seem to be safer now.

      I work for a major corporation HQ and my field intersects with security; trust me, there are lots and lots of people with scary personal stuff going on. We just quietly give them a special parking decal close to the door and give them a security escort to the door if needed, and give the lobby guards photos of the scary person if applicable. This is not, sadly, unusual. That said, I would be surprised if any of the people who are dealing with Security on domestics had told their managers or co-workers.

      So no, LW, don’t tell them about your stalker, it’s not their business and it can easily become gossip. You’d rather be the competent person than the formerly – stalked person.

      Reply
      1. Victorian Cowgirl

        This is such a hard call to make and I struggle with it daily because we don’t have a security system at my office and I’d like to give the receptionist instructions in case the ex who’s been stalking me for over 3 years calls or shows up, but I don’t want to scare or involve anyone … and this leaves me less safe. I do regret telling management about the situation and I have never brought it up again, even when I thought I’d have to move to another town again.

        Reply
  7. I am not a lawyer but,

    OP5 might be coming from an employer like my govt agency – we are required to interview all eligible candidates before we hire. Fortunately HR generally limits the eligible list to 5 or fewer. But if I call you to schedule an interview and you aren’t available that week (with 10 days notice) you may no longer be eligible.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I’m confused. If you’re required to interview all eligible candidates, why are you able to limit the numbers? That’s interviewing the best candidates. All eligible = everyone who meets the job criteria, no?

      Reply
      1. Fine line

        It’s probably you must interview all those we send you even if the very first one is perfect.

        Reply
      2. EvanMax

        My understanding is that government agencies score candidates based on various factors, and then the “eligible” list will be the top X scores.

        It’s a specific definition of the word “eligible”, as opposed to the general one.

        Reply
        1. Anna

          That is precisely what they do, but they aren’t required to interview everyone who meets that baseline score. There are allowed to have a cut off. So for example if 19 people scored the minimum, they can still only interview the top ten candidates. But they have to interview all of them.

          Reply
  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, does your employer (or its sister organizations) have a policy regarding these efforts? I agree that it seems inappropriate / “a bit off” to send this kind of email to all organizations’ lists, but have emails of this ilk ever been circulated (by anyone) in the past?

    I’ve worked at places where it’s extremely routine to pass along GoFundMe-style information to support a staff member who is no longer with the organization (although, granted, those staff members left on very good terms), and others where this would be completely unacceptable/inappropriate. Even at the places where it was common, the emails were styled as “FYIs,” explaining the issue the person was facing and what kind of support they needed. I personally find those updates helpful, but I can see how they could be inappropriate or feel coercive.

    Reply
    1. Tuxedo Cat

      The only place where I’ve worked and crowdsourcing emails happened was when someone much more senior (and made way more money) to me and the other staff members did that; it wasn’t even an explanation for why she was out but telling us her distant relative died and the distant relative’s immediate family was running a GoFundMe campaign. We all felt obligated to give because she was the kind of person to check it (which she did).

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        That last sentence is kind of on you, though. You can say you don’t appreciate getting these, but nobody is forcing you to actually donate so that’s not a strong argument.

        Reply
      2. Ramona Flowers

        Sorry, I missed that they were more senior. But you can and should still say you can’t.

        Reply
        1. Tuxedo Cat

          Unfortunately, that was a toxic place where it wouldn’t have been met with anything good… Her immediate supervisor was like her best friend so going above her wouldn’t have done much. It was one of those situations where I could definitely see how some people who didn’t give but were quality workers were treated differently (not as well) but nothing was illegal.

          It’s one of the reasons I’m not there anymore.

          Reply
      3. sunny-dee

        Where I work now, stuff like that gets sent around fairly routinely. Sometimes it’s just informational (“So-and-so’s wife was in an accident”), sometimes it contains info on donations or other gifts like a GoFundMe or where to send flowers. It’s been done for people at all levels and very occasionally for people who have left the company but were here for such a long time that they have a lot of acquaintances still. It’s never looked at as either coercive or bizarre. (Obviously, other office cultures are different, but I just want to point out that there are a lot of places where this is completely normal and expected, not even sort of “completely out of line.”)

        The only possible exception is that my company has two all-company lists — one for formal, official company announcements and another for employee chatter. Sending this to the official list would have your manager tell you that was inappropriate use of the list; sending it to the other would probably result in a 1000 email thread.

        Reply
    2. Beezus

      I’ve seen a couple of things like this where I’m working now, but they’re few and far between, and they don’t bother me. I give or don’t give, depending on the situation or my relationship with the person affected.

      The only one I was ever annoyed about was a situation where someone in senior management had an incident that I’m sure was devastating emotionally, but that should have been a nonissue financially, unless they made some really risky decisions to not carry normal insurance coverage that most people would have. The person pushing for donations was senior to me, but junior to the affected manager, and the donations were to be made directly via her (not a GoFundMe or anything), and she was pretty pushy. It seemed self-serving, and I was annoyed that some of the people being pushed to give were temps and contractors who made farrrrr less than either the affected manager or the manager seeking donations. It also coincided with a fundraiser for a longterm hourly employee who had cancer and had to leave her job to pursue treatment, and I was annoyed that the manager’s fundraiser diverted attention and maybe funds from the more worthy (IMO) fundraiser. I just wound up pretending the manager’s fundraiser wasn’t happening.

      Reply
  9. dragon_heart

    Re: #3

    I had a weird interview where the HR person kept badgering me about a 1 month gap on my resume. What happened was that I was hired by a new company on November but they wanted me to start January of the next year instead of December the year before. I explained this to the interviewer and I said I took a month off since the holidays were also coming up. He kept asking me … but what were you doing during that month? No explanation would suffice, it seems that he wanted to know if I was working on freelance projects.

    Exasperated, I told him I was marathon watching all my favorite TV series on the couch 80% of the time that month. They didn’t hire me but it was due to the salary ( another rant ) and not the interview. Some interviewers are just weird.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I’m so sorry you went through that, LW3 – it sounds really frightening.

      Could you say you were temping after you moved somewhere new?

      Hopefully what dragon_heart describes here is not the norm. I would hope that if someone asks it’s less likely to be about what you did in the gap and more them wondering if you were fired from the previous job which is why you had nothing lined up.

      Reply
    2. Jerry Vandesic

      The easiest way to avoid this problem is not to put months on a resume, just years. e.g., 2011 – 2015. I’ve never had a problem with this approach.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        That’s what I do, but I was under the impression it was less likely to fly in the US because of how reference checking works there.

        Reply
        1. Jerry Vandesic

          I’m based in the US and have done it this way for twenty years. It’s never been an issue, either with interviewers or reference checkers.

          Reply
          1. Chocolate lover

            I once temped at a hospital doing some basic reference checks for the recruiters. One was absolutely rigid about me getting the months and would have a cow if I didn’t. The positions weren’t medical or particularly technical, so it seemed like overkill to me. I guess it depends on the place.

            Reply
            1. TL -

              A lot of hospitals just have the same employee policies for everybody, so what goes for the medical staff goose goes for the gander as well.

              Reply
          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            No, this isn’t a good idea.

            At best, it means the hiring manager can’t actually tell how much experience you have. (Were you actually at that 2012-2013 job two months or two years?)

            At worst, it makes it appear as though you are trying to hide information… which makes a hiring manager curious about what you’re hiding (job hopper? Fired after 1 month? Etc.), which isn’t a line of thinking you want to invite (even or especially if it’s not true).

            Reply
        2. Elsie

          Or plenty of international organizations, which often make you put the month and specific day—including the specific day you graduate from university (i.e. 2010 isn’t good enough, has to be 27 May, 2010).

          Reply
        3. overeducated

          Months get really messy/confusing fast when you have a lot of adjunct or seasonal work on your resume though. I got through grad school doing a bunch of different things, like teaching a course that ran different months the 3 years I taught it, or a seasonal job that was May-August my first year and June-Jan my las, but I didn’t have year round work at any one place. I just put “adjunct” or whatever and call it a day.

          Reply
      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Leaving months off is fine if it’s something like 2008 – 2013. But if it’s 2012-2013, I want to see months — because it could be two full years or it could be two months.

        Reply
        1. Mookie

          Can that vary on a single resume or does it have to be consistent? I suppose it’d look more uniform if they all had months, but I wonder what the custom is.

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq.

            I list months for all of my jobs except for the recurring seasonal one I’ve been doing for three years now (bar exam grader). After the job title I just put a parenthetical that says “seasonal by exam dates”. School-related experience I also list by term (i.e. spring, fall). I think so long as you’re being precise it’s okay to use what makes the most sense for the specific type of position.

            Reply
        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Whoops, didn’t see your comment before I made essentially the same comment above (I even used the same years and months in my example. Weird).

          Reply
      3. HMM

        Easiest, but less effective. As a hiring manager I want to know someone’s tenure is accurately. 2011-2014 could be 3 years or 4 depending on the breakdown of months.

        Reply
    3. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      I had someone do that. I had a gap of about 4 monthsbbetween the end of an overseas project and the job I ended up taking back in the US. In that time I:
      1. Saw all the things in the country I didn’t get to see because I was working
      2. Found a new job (time zones made this hard when I was working full time)
      3. Packed up myself, a dog, and 3 cats for an international move
      4. Found a place to live in a city I had never set foot in before
      5. Moved into the place I found

      The woman interviewing me had me detail week by week, and questioned me on, all my activities. And mind you, this was something like 5 years in the past. I turned down the job because it gave me the impression that I would have to justify and explain my every move on the job.

      Reply
      1. overeducated

        Geez! I had a 2 month gap just last summer because I was between two grants and I loved it. My week to week would look like “park, beach, visit family, park, beach, visit more family, beach, move 300 miles.” I suspect your interviewer would not be satisfied.

        Reply
        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          You would suspect correctly. She was not impressed with my sightseeing explanation of: because I didn’t know if I would ever be back again so I wanted to see it. She also seemed bizarrely skeptical that planning an international move took more than a week

          It was pretty clear that she and I were not a good match and I was surprised they wanted to hire me.

          Reply
      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        I had a 4 month gap when we moved for my husband’s job. We also had a 4 and 2 year old. I suspect I could regale them with tales of potty training of anyone ever really wanted details. So far, everyone has accepted my explanation of it taking that long to find a new position.

        Reply
      3. mrs__peel

        I would never be able to do that! I can barely remember what I did last week, most of the time…

        Reply
      4. Bea

        I want to encourage anyone put in that kind of grilling situation during an interview to end it if you’re uncomfortable and now know the job isn’t for you.

        Yes, I’ve blown a couple minds in the two interviews I’ve cut short with “I’m sorry, I hate to waste your time going further with this. I know this position isn’t for me, so I’m going to end it here.”

        I’ve been blessed only switching jobs when I’m equipped to do that. If it’s do or die, any job will do. Then I’d do it all differently. If it’s not a niche job and you’re in a good position seriously walk out when they act bizarre IMO

        Reply
    4. sam

      OMG. I was unemployed for 2 years – I can’t even IMAGINE how bothered he would be by me.

      I did spend a bunch of time helping my dad with his business, so I actually have that on my resume – under a separate section that is basically labeled “irrelevant work history” (it’s got a nicer label, but that’s what it means!). It’s basically a “just so you don’t have to ask how I spent that two-year gap in my “lawyer” work history.

      Reply
    5. LCL

      The general norms around job searching have changed so much since I was last job searching, 30 years ago. I have read so many heartrending stories on this website and others about how hard it is to find a job, even with experience. Post after post of persons being unemployed from 6 months to years after being laid off. Given this, why do HR people whose professional life has been in this tough job market expect applicants to account for every week? What the applicant was doing during that period of unemployment was looking. for. a. job.

      And back to the OP, the 3 month period was 10 years ago. That was 2007, the crash hadn’t happened yet but it had started. I would be suspicious of someone’s history from that time period if they had held more than one job and didn’t have any time off between jobs. It was hard to find a job from late 2007 on.

      Reply
      1. Snazzy Hat

        In the phone interview for the job I’m about to start, I was asked why I had so many temp jobs — four since Autumn 2014, with a ten-month gap between the second and third. I honestly replied “that was all I could get”, then explained I was looking for a long-term career. That satisfied the interviewer’s concern. Glad I didn’t have to explain that I applied for fifty jobs during the unemployment gap.

        Reply
      2. Fluffer Nutter

        I understand vetting the 3 month gap if it’s for law enforcement or a security clearance, but otherwise get a life. If your applying at a job where you just submit resume and cover letter it’ll probably never come up. Online application for gov’t job ugh- but AAM’s idea still works, unless again for LE and they should understand!

        Reply
    6. Stranger than fiction

      Yeah that’s just ridiculous. And for this Op it was ten years ago so that company that asked her was also being ridiculous so I’m not sure I’d want to work there.
      Also your story reminds me of my boss at last job. If I made a mistake, I’d just own it and apologize and not make any excuses because that’s how I am. But she’d grill me over and over about it asking what I’d do to prevent it from happening again and all sorts of things almost like she wanted me to argue about it.

      Reply
  10. Kara

    OP #5

    Totally normal. On the flip side, it’s normal for candidates to do this to interviewers as well. I recently pre-screened a candidate who seemed like a pretty good fit, and set an interview up for 1:30pm the next day. I received an email at 11:30am that next morning – two hours before the interview – saying that she had to cancel because she had accepted another position. You would think that she would at least want to wait to go through the interview with us and scope out the position to see if it was a better option than the offer she had received, but it is what it is. It happens just as often as I’m sure organizations making hiring decisions before thoroughly vetting their candidate list.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      “You would think that she would at least want to wait to go through the interview with us”

      Not necessarily. Why waste everyone’s time if you know you’d rather go with job A for whatever reason?

      Reply
      1. HMM

        I would go through the interview too. More information is almost always best imo – I’d want to either confirm that job A is the best fit for me, or if I did like the sounds of job B, know that I could compare the two offers and make the best choice possible. But I am admittedly a maximizer, not a satisficer.

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          Eh, it depends on the situation. I cancelled an interview (albeit not on the day) for a job that wasn’t in my desired field after getting an offer from somewhere I’d aspired to work for years. There would have been zero point going. So what I’m saying is: sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t, and without the full picture you can’t really judge someone’s choice.

          Reply
        2. overeducated

          I have canceled an interview because the place where I had an offer wanted an answer in a week, and there was no way the other place would have a decision by then, as they were just setting up in person interviews after a Skype round (this position drew out of town candidates, including myself). After asking about the timeline I withdrew, the math just didn’t work.

          Reply
        3. K.

          I think it depends. If the two positions are more or less equal, I’d go through with the interview, but if job A was clearly far better for me in a way that I knew job B couldn’t match, I’d accept job A and cancel the job B interview.

          Reply
        4. Kyrielle

          I wouldn’t bother in most cases. First, because if job B is just interviewing, they’re probably not going to have an offer on the table fast enough for me to reasonably compare it. Second, it’s entirely possible job A is known to be something I want.

          I am currently working at a company I very much wanted to work at (not a “dream job” but a job doing what I’m good at, with a great company, in a location that gives me a one-mile commute). When I interviewed with them and learned more about the culture and the specific team I would be joining, it only made me want to work more there. Their offer was higher than I had asked for, their benefits excellent.

          If the other place I’d been interviewing with had not already interviewed me and turned me down, if I had instead had an interview coming up, I’d have cancelled it. They were further away, and the work they were doing was less-interesting to me.

          If my current employer had rejected me and the other employer had offered, I’d have accepted it. Once my current employer offered, however, the other employer had no chance – I can’t think of anything reasonable they could have offered me that would have made me prefer them.

          Reply
    2. WG

      Interviews are explorations on both sides, not commitments. While both sides should operate professionally and in good faith, there are situations where it no longer makes sense to continue forward. The considerate thing to do at that point is end the process and not waste anyone’s time.

      Reply
      1. ChickenSuperhero

        Exactly. There was a touch of entitlement in the LW’s question that I hope comes from being inexperienced.

        Reply
      2. Anna

        Pretty much this. If the person knows they won’t accept an offer, there’s nor reason for them to go through the stressful interview process.

        Reply
    3. neverjaunty

      But the candidate had already ACCEPTED another position.

      I really don’t get this argument that she should have considered reneging on her agreement with Company A because you might have wanted to hire her. She was absolutely correct to cancel and not waste your time.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yes, there was a whole post here discussing whether it would even be ethical to keep interviewing in a situation like that. Certainly I’d be pretty upset as a manager with anybody who accepted our offer and then came back as we were getting ready to transition with a “nevermind, like somebody else better.”

        Reply
    4. Bea

      Personal story: I have a career doing things that every company needs. So I have had a decent amount of interviews when I’m moving on and I know frequently my initial feelings about a company based off their job listing and researching the place.

      My current place, we hit it off from the start. I loved everything and their salary was right where I wanted it to be.

      I’m not going to mess around testing waters and exploring other options there. So I cancelled follow ups with places and started immediately after my two weeks were up.

      I understand that as a hiring manager at Your Company you are happy to try to woo someone to work there, you want the chance but they’re gone, their heart could be in it already.

      Imagine going on a date with someone after finding a parnter you’re head over heels for, just because you already set the date? Not a good choice.

      Now if you accept because you need a job and that one is good enough. Yes, keeping options still open makes sense.

      Reply
  11. Mazzy

    #2 I’ve been to training courses that were so general that I didn’t really learn anything, but I had to make it sound like I got something out of it because my boss paid for it and I don’t want them to not support me going to training in the future. So I’d pick a random presentation or nuggets I could potentially learn elsewhere and pretended I learned them at what event or training or whatever. Maybe the employees are in a similar situation and afraid to say the thing is a waste of time?

    Reply
    1. SusanIvanova

      At Tiny Teapot Co, I went to a week-long InternationalBeverageMachine conference that had listed two Tiny sessions on the sample list. Turned out those were the *only* Tiny sessions; everything else was IndustrialCoffeeBarrels (ah, the days before websites that would list everything…), and even the Tiny ones were more skewed to How To Fill It From A Barrel. Yeah, that was an embarrassing trip report, but nobody else had known anything about that conference – we’d never had anything at all to do with IBM before – and at least we knew better than to go back. My bosses were sympathetic and decided that didn’t count against my yearly conference trip, so I got to go to a different one later.

      Reply
      1. Yetanotherjennifer

        That’s a good point. They may feel the training was pointless and they didn’t get any good information, but that in itself is good information for an organization to have.

        Reply
        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I don’t think that’s the problem because they want the option in the future of paying for conferences themselves instead of doing the reports–so that would mean they want to spend their own money on conferences they don’t think will be helpful at all. That seems unlikely (unless they want to go but not attend any of the sessions).

          Reply
    2. Tuckerman

      Me, too. Also, they might also not know how to distill a day off general information into a 5 minute presentation, especially if the info was not relevant.
      This once happened to me, so I focused on how the presentation did not address pressing issues in our industry, and what I wished they had addressed. This gave my employer information about the types of trainings we should be seeking out.

      Reply
    3. LQ

      I went to a training once I was really hopeful about when I went it. I felt like I really didn’t know what I was doing in this area and needed help.

      When I got back my boss asked me how it went and I said basically…turns out I am actually really good at this. That was a valuable thing to learn. I had one or two tiny tidbits, but mostly what I’d learned was everything they covered was stuff I’d figured out already and there was some stuff I knew that the instructors didn’t. I think random nuggets are often really good things to share, especially if they are useful. But knowing you didn’t learn anything is also useful in itself.

      Reply
  12. Ramona Flowers

    #4 Aside from the fact that it may cost money to access the training, honestly I think this is an area where you need to consider a) why companies provide or pay for training and b) the distinction between employees and contractors.

    If you’re an employee, it makes sense for the company to invest in training you so you have more skills and knowledge, and are more likely to be successful and satisfied. They’re not going to have the same motivation to invest in a contractor – that would be an investment in someone else’s business, not theirs. So I think you would need to make a case for why this would benefit you in your current role that you are doing for them.

    Reply
    1. Kowalski! Options!

      And legally, this may be one of those benefits that would hint at an employer-employee relationship, rather than a relationship for contracting FOR services. I don’t know how American law works, but under Canadian law, extending a benefit like training would be one of those gray areas that might hint at you being more than “just” a contractor, so it would be avoided if you were working here, it wouldn’t be rejection – it’d be protection for the client department.

      Reply
      1. nonprofit manager

        I am in the US, in California, and I would avoid this type of training for a contractor for this exact reason. It’s one of the factors of a multi-factor test that suggests employer-employee relationship.

        Reply
    2. AnonGovBoss

      Another consideration is whether you are asking to be paid during the training. In my office, contractors are paid at a different (higher) rate than employees because no benefits are included. If a contractor asks to spend time on a training, even if the training is no cost to us, the time they spend doing that instead of the work we hired them to do is costly. Asking to participate in the training on your own time might be a more reasonable request. It will depend on the culture of the office for sure.

      Reply
    3. Danae

      Also, you have to consider company norms. The company I tend to contract with draws a hard line on non-FTEs accessing FTE benefits, to the point where contractors are not allowed to attend any company functions whatsoever. (Exceptions are sometimes made for small team holiday lunches or launch parties, but there were several times when I had worked my tail off on a product only to be told that I shouldn’t attend the launch party–usually a cookout in the nearby courtyard or an informal catered lunch.)

      In that culture, even just asking to access FTE-only training would be a major faux pas that would probably result in a talking-to by your vendor manager (not your actual manager, but the manager from the agency).

      Reply
      1. AccidentalSysAdmin

        In re: #4, I would take the others’ suggestions into consideration, but I would ask to see if you could take the training, and even offer to do this on your own time. Our company had a similar situation recently where everyone was required to take a training session, and a certificate and continuing education hours were logged at the end. We have a satellite office that is barely staffed just two days a week by a contractor, and they asked if they were required to take the training or if there is something they should do. I recommended that they ask if they could – there were certificates / credits etc along with the knowledge gained and said this is something they could show a manager that they did on their own, to make a case to be added full time.

        As far as the company, if there aren’t legal or cost reasons they would probably appreciate it since they’ll benefit by the person’s training at a lower cost than a FTE.

        Reply
      2. mrs__peel

        “Exceptions are sometimes made for small team holiday lunches”

        I’ve had a few temp jobs where they took the full-time employees off to restaurants for holiday parties, and left us lowly hourly folk in the office with a few sandwiches. :(

        Reply
  13. SusanIvanova

    #1 is why opt-in social mailing lists are a good thing. Random chit-chat goes there and stays off the important lists. I had a filter set up so I didn’t even see it except when I had time for it.

    #3 – I’ve got a nearly year-long gap in 2006 and only one interviewer ever asked me about it. I was just baffled – “It was 2006? Silicon Valley wasn’t hiring?” Didn’t quite say “why is this even a question?” but the tone was obvious. The local variant ought to work for a 3 month gap :)

    Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Yeah, I’ve never been asked this actually, but my answer would be that I was looking for jobs full time. Now I may want to rethink that and say I was caregiving for the elderly…because whenever I’m between jobs my mother takes that as I’m open to run around for her all day.

      Reply
  14. JamieS

    #2 Is it the presenting or the fact they have to share information they have a problem with? Many people are very strongly averse to public speaking even if it’s just a few minutes with coworkers. If that’s the issue maybe a compromise like having them write out a summary that can be distributed or having someone (their manager?) talk to them privately and then that person relay the information would work. If it’s the latter then I’m going to speculate they either didn’t attend the classes, didn’t retain the information, or are outrageously petty.

    If either one tends to get loose lips after a few beers another option could be to instate Thursday Thursdays, get them liquored up, and then steer the conversation in that direction.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      Is it really “many people” though who have such strong aversions against public speaking that they’d rather pay for a company-mandated course out of pocket, take unpaid sick time, and “rebel” (to use OP’s wording) against their director? I’m not asking to be snarky but out of genuine curiosity, because that’s strongly against my lived experience.

      I’ve taken part in courses and classes requiring short presentations for over six years with hundreds of very different people and while many weren’t enthused or excited about having to do presenations (myself included), every single one of them did. At least in my environment, people’s aversion to public speaking stems from “I don’t wanna!” and the work and effort it takes to prepare a (however short) speech. Might be that some also experience anxiety but I’ve literally not a single time come across someone who’d rather challenge their supervisor than simply grit their teeth and do it. Maybe this is a cultural thing?

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Thank you Myrin, the insistence on paying rather than following the policy and the way the OP described them as contentious makes me think it’s more about a sense of entitlement and self-importance than about a fear of public speaking. I think the OP should still address the possible fear of public speaking, since it can’t be ruled out — some people get ornery when they get defensive. But those aspects of the letter make me lean towards these employees simply being prima donnas, and feeling that they can get away with setting their own terms regardless of policy. The OP can’t accuse them of that outright, but after offering reasonable accommodations, I think the OP should be prepared for them to be as insubordinate as they like, and be ready to deal with that possibility, too.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          “sense of entitlement and self-importance” – I’m glad you’re saying this because it’s the exact same feeling I got as well but wasn’t sure if I’m the only one. I mean, they “scoffed” at this policy and explicitly asked that it be removed because they don’t like it? They “do not have time to get a presentation together” when apparently nobody else had that problem? They continue “rebelling” against their director? Yeah, no.

          Reply
        2. Thinking Outside the Boss

          I was thinking the same thing. Most of the training we send people to costs thousands of dollars, and for someone to skip over “can I do my presentation by email” and go right to a confrontational position of using leave and paying for the training themselves makes me think that these folks are information hoarders or are in serious need of an attitude adjustment.

          Reply
      2. JamieS

        Is it the majority? No. However on a planet with 7 billion people I’m sure we can find enough who do that the average person would consider it many people.

        Aversions, similar to phobias, aren’t always completely rational so the actions taken to avoid them don’t always make sense. Also the employees offered to pay but that doesn’t mean they’d actually do it. If the OP had agreed to that, I wouldn’t be shocked if the employees then tried to get reimbursement.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          The popular wisdom is that surveys show public speaking as people’s number one fear, with death as number two. So I think this one is really pretty widespread–however, I also don’t think the behavior of these employees sounds fear-based.

          Reply
          1. JamieS

            I completely agree with that and if I were a betting woman my money would be on pettiness. However I don’t think we can discard the notion they have a fear of public speaking especially since it is a very common fear. Also, I realize this isn’t a universal experience but I know numerous people who have made self-serving excuses in attempts to avoid public speaking so them saying things like they don’t have time isn’t a major red flag for me.

            Reply
          2. Anna

            There’s also the fact that the OP didn’t give any indication there was a fear issue at play. Other people decided that’s probably what it is and have run off on a tangent based on that faulty assumption.

            Reply
            1. JamieS

              How would the OP know that somebody else has a fear of speaking without talking to them about it first? Nobody is saying there definitely is a fear issue at place. I think most of us agree it’s more likely the employees are just being obstinate. Heck for all we know OP has already explored that possibility.

              What some of us are saying is it’s one of several plausible explanations and might be something the OP would want to explore in further interactions with the problem employees and moving forward in general. Even if these particular employees don’t have that issue, it’s not completely outside the realm of plausibility OP’s company will at some point have an employee who does have this issue and, assuming it’s plausible, it would be beneficial to have some alternatives in place.

              Also, I think we should err on the side of caution when it comes to making assumptions about the motivations of 3rd parties based solely on what OPs write in their letters. While OPs are generally candid in their letters they’re still providing that information based on their experiences viewed from their own lens which means we don’t usually get the full story as it were.

              Reply
  15. Ramona Flowers

    #5 It’s understandable to be upset that you didn’t get a shot, but you weren’t entitled to one. Think of it this way, also: few companies are so desperate to hire someone that they’ll take a lesser candidate just to avoid waiting an extra week. I know it must feel like you’ve been cheated out of your chance to try. I would be torturing myself with the what ifs. But really they must have either been weirdly desperate to fill the position – or, more likely, they were reasonably sure they’d hire this candidate over you and didn’t want to waste your time or get your hopes up.

    I know you’re gutted. But do send a super gracious follow-up (I’m sure there are some good examples in the archives) and try to remember they might consider you for other positions in the future so you don’t want to burn that bridge.

    Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      +1

      I have gone back to a candidate we interviewed for another position several times, usually with good success. There are times when the degrees separating a first and second choice are so small, that the second candidate would easily have been the offeree in most other hiring cycles. I’m bringing someone in for a position next week that was the runner up for another job by a hair, and we reached out to them when we realized we had a position they’d be well-suited for.

      Reply
  16. Tuxedo Cat

    #5, getting interviewed when you can tell they have the candidate in mind (and it isn’t you) sucks. I know it also sucks to not get the chance to interview, but I’d rather people be upfront and not waste my time and getting my hopes up.

    Reply
    1. paul

      So much this. I appreciate people respecting my time, you know? If you’ve already hired and you know they’ve got 0 shot, cancel the damn interview. Yes, it’ll probably be upsetting to them, but will it be less upsetting if they realize they’ve been led around by the nose about actually having a chance?

      Reply
  17. Brigitte

    #4 Training is part of the 4 criteria the government uses to determine if a contractor is in correctly classified, so a careful company would not agree to this.

    The other 3 considerations are: setting work hours, providing or expecting uniforms, and providing work materials.

    Alone, one of these points is not typically enough to find that a contractor is wrongly classified, but taken together, they can get a company in hot water.

    Reply
  18. Bagpuss

    #2 would concern me as I would be wondering whether the people objecting had either not attended the training or had not understood it.

    If they have anxieties about presenting the information then offering them the option to provide it as a short memo instead of a verbal presentation.

    Given that they are arguing they don’t have time, I would also set very clear expectations – e.g. ‘You are not expected to relate the entire course, simply to give a brief summary and bullet point of any particularly relevant or useful information. It should not take you more than a few minutes to present, and if you prepare as soon as you return, when the details are fresh in your mind, it should not take more than 30 minutes to prepare’ (or whatever timings are realistic, based on your own experiences)

    But I agree that it is a totally normal and reasonable requirement, and I think you would be absolutely fine to make them aware that this is not optional.

    It may be that they are the sort or person who likes to hoard knowledge, but again, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to take a firm line.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      Agreed on all accounts. I appreciate others’ thoughts that the two employees may be anxious about a presentation but the whole vibe that I got from the letter is that there’s something slightly “shady” going on (like what you say in your first paragraph).

      Reply
    2. Academic Addie

      Agree. And if they hadn’t understood it, that’s useful feedback, too. Maybe then the company doesn’t send their junior teapot designers to this training in the future.

      Reply
  19. I hate MCLE

    On the continuing education point: I don’t know if the people in question are lawyers, but it sounds an awful lot like mandatory continuing legal education (MCLEs) for lawyers. And if that’s the case, (1) I completely understand where they’re coming from, and (2) frankly, their presentations aren’t likely to help the company that much.

    The reason is that, unfortunately, lawyers often do MCLEs outside of their immediate specialties based on availability. So, for example, if you’re an in-house lawyer at a teapot manufactuer, you may well do MCLEs unrelated to teapot law. Instead, you’ll claim credit for attending a local bar association workshop on “how to set up your own law firm.” Or perhaps a former law firm you worked at will offer online CLE about “trusts and estates litigation in tribal courts.” Or perhaps a local wine buff will offer an MCLE about local liquor licensing laws. Or an online provider will offer MCLE about “substance abuse in the legal profession.”

    Most of these would be of no benefit to the lawyer’s current employer, and frankly would be a waste of time for anyone in the teapot industry. For good or ill, there’s a “check the box” quality to MCLEs in the legal industry, and you’re really lucky if you find an MCLE course that’s relevant to the kind of law you practice. That makes MCLE something of a time-waster, and it would be even more of a time-waster to have to summarize an MCLE course for an internal audience. It would likely be a time-waster to that internal audience, too.

    I’d feel differently if the MCLE related to the teapot industry, and I’d definitely feel differently about garden-variety industry conferences, where a short report is absolutely in order. But the fact that these people (if they are lawyers) are offering to pay for their own MCLE rather than go through the time-wasting exercise is telling.

    Reply
    1. Regular commentator, anonymous actuary

      Ditto for actuaries.

      The annoying thing is that a certain % of my Coontinuing Professional Development each year has to be “external CPD” which, in practice means conferences that the profession puts on for us. It’s a stealth tax. I learn far more from private television study than I do from conferences. And what I do learn at conferences tends to be learned in the breaks rather than the talks.

      Having said all that, I’m with the OP on this one – the attendees need to report back. To show that they didn’t spend the whole conference boozing as much as anything.

      Reply
    2. Kvothe

      Could also be engineering, I have to log a certain amount of PD (professional development) hours per year to maintain my P.Eng. and typically you would never attend a seminar or anything that doesn’t pertain to the field you practice in so in that situation it would make a lot of sense to let your coworkers know what you learned. Also I’m in consulting so sometimes it might a fyi I have this knowledge/skill now so you can reach out to me if you need help in that area

      Reply
    3. sam

      I had been thinking about this on the “shadiness” points that people had mentioned above, but this point makes a lot of sense. I have to take these CLE classes as well – and while most of us do try to attend the most important industry-related events (SEC Speaks, recent developments in Securities Laws, etc.), usually there’s a mad rush near the end of everyone’s bar renewal “cycle” (in NY it’s two years) where you’re just trying to cram in as many credits as possible so that you can complete your certification, at which point you’re doing online classes that have absolutely nothing to do with your day-to-day work.

      Reply
      1. mrs__peel

        I also run into that end-of-the-year phenomenon for Ohio. (Our CLE has to be completed by December 31st every other year).

        I would love it if my employer paid for me to go to useful conferences in my field. I can’t afford to go on my own, sadly, and most of the places I’ve worked as a lawyer don’t cover conferences or more than a minimal amount towards CLE. (Maybe $200-$300– doesn’t go very far!)

        Reply
    4. Anon Anon

      Or if could be nursing, medicine, pharmacy, engineering, project management, or a host of other professions. Many professions have a requirement of CE to maintain their license.

      And I know many of them also require CE in specific areas some of which simply isn’t that useful.

      Reply
    5. CM

      That’s not my experience at all with CLE. I can always find relevant training, and would never attend a random CLE just to get credits. As I get more senior, I’m more likely to find that a CLE covers topics with which I’m already very familiar, but there are always new developments to learn about.

      Anyway, if the employees’ problem is that they don’t find the training useful, they should say that instead of just refusing to share the information. The manager might be able to do something about it, like look for another source of training, or at least reconsider the policy of requiring post-training briefings for the team.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        Or the very fact that it wasn’t relevant is useful for the other team members who will know not to take that course the next time it’s offered!

        Whatever the real reason is, the employees should say so, instead of “We don’t have time.”

        Reply
      2. Bagpuss

        In the UK the rules for lawyers have recently changed so we no longer have a fixed number of hours. Prior to that, my experience was that there were some people who would go on inappropriate courses because they had not bothered to plan and organise themselves to get relevant training booked. And as a manager I found that that to be a fairly good indicator of other issues with time management etc. Very occasionally you’d get someone who was one course-worth short on hours because they had had to cancel or the course they booked was withdrawn, close to the end of the year, but it’s not the norm, in my experiences.

        Also, I don’t know how it works in the LW’s company – everywhere I’ve ever worked the request for a booking has had to be signed off by a manager to approve both the training and the cost, to avoid that situation.

        (And if the training wasn’t relevant/ useful, then that in itself can be useful (if brief) feedback – if the training wasn’t as advertised then it’s helpful for others who might be planning to use the same provider or to attend a similar court to know that!)

        Reply
        1. mrs__peel

          In the US, it can get particularly complicated because some attorneys maintain an active license in multiple states. Each state has its own separate bar exam and licensing requirements.

          For example, I have to complete 24 hours’ worth of CLE credits every two years in a state that’s a four-hour drive away (12 of which must be in person). So the scheduling takes a bit of doing.

          Reply
      3. Lucky

        Same. I have no problem hitting my 15 CLE hours-a-year requirement with relevant courses, and I practice in a couple of somewhat specialized areas (IP, privacy, corporate governance). I could easily find one single nugget of relevant info to report to my team, while making the CLE materials available on our share drive.

        Reply
    6. LQ

      We have a lot of lawyers who work here, they have to attend something relevant (paid by us) and have to do a full on presentation at a brown bag lunch. (They frequently work together on them but everyone’s got to participate.)

      Reply
    7. neverjaunty

      Respectfully, as a fellow lawyer, I could not disagree more.

      The profession is awash in CLE on every subject under the sun. There are multi-day professional conferences (often conveniently held in vacation spots) for CLE programs. There is online CLE from national and local bar organizations and lawyer magazines and newspapers run “clip and return” quizzes. I am trying to imagine what area of practice is so niche that nothing is relevant to it.

      And even if CLE is boring or turned out to be unhelpful, a lawyer can still manage five minutes to explain “here is what I learned about rice sculpture easements” to their colleagues. Bluntly? If they’re lawyers and they can’t bring themselves to make a five-minute presentation because the subject matter is not captivating, they are in the wrong damn profession.

      Of course, there is also a rich tradition of lawyers signing up for CLE and then not actually attending, which would make it tough to explain to the boss exactly what the company paid for.

      Reply
      1. Lynxa

        In my state we are only allowed to do 4 hours online. The CLE offerings are sparse, and we also have to work around our personal schedules (the stupid things are almost never on weekends). I have taken CLEs on all manner of ridiculous things just to get my hours out of the way (particularly when I worked for a firm that made me pay for my own CLEs – then I was taking them based on cost).

        I could certainly whip up 5 minutes on the things, but it seems like a waste of time when I could just provide the materials to anyone interested. And if it’s only being done to prove I attended (which the Supreme Court can confirm because we have pretty stringent attendance policies) it would feel pretty insulting.

        Reply
        1. bridget

          There’s a chance it would be a waste of time, but most reasonable people who are not petty obstructionists would not threaten to burn a vacation day and personal funds to avoid a wasted five minutes. Also, they could request specific exemptions from the general practice when they occasionally go to a not-very-relevant course (“do you mind if I skip the presentation this time? I don’t think the environmental law seminar I attended would be terribly useful to our team of media distribution attorneys.”).

          Reply
      2. Academic Addie

        I agree. In my field, it’s pretty standard to go to a conference and see some talks, maybe even a majority of talks, that are not on your specific topic. Even info on the event itself is helpful – this specific subevent was good/not good. Not to mention the attendees. Knowing Wakeen has branched out to now doing some specific type of work might save us time in the future.

        If the even was truly not worth it, that’s good information. If employees are putting off important CLEs until the last minute, and finding nothing relevant available, that tells the company that maybe it’s time to shift to a system of quarterly or biannual responsibility for CLEs to make sure employees are at least looking to find better CLEs throughout the year.

        Reply
      3. mrs__peel

        Not every attorney can afford to travel to multi-day conferences. A fair number of employers don’t provide any reimbursement for such.

        I’ve spent my career in the government and non-profit sectors (not as a federal employee, but as a contractor). I’ve always had to pay for most of my CLE out of pocket, and many of my attorney friends are in the same boat. I have to find courses that I can afford, and minimize taking my (limited) PTO.

        It’s a tough job market, and a lot of attorneys these days have expensive CLE requirements with limited money and vacation time.

        Reply
      4. Anna

        And it literally makes no difference if they have independently decided it’s not related because their manager has decided it’s important for them to share an overview of what they learned.

        Reply
    8. mrs__peel

      I completely agree.

      I choose my CLE offerings based purely on (1) scheduling (due to my limited availability) and (2) cost (because I’m broke and have to take the cheapest ones). Most of the classes have no bearing at all on my actual work. It’s particularly complicated for me because I’m keeping up a license in another state and have to travel.

      I work in health care reimbursement, and I doubt my co-workers would want to hear a half-hour presentation on (e.g.) piracy and the law of the sea. But I could be wrong!

      Reply
      1. bridget

        Note that the OP’s company pays for these courses, so cost is not an issue. Plus, we generally give OPs the benefit of the doubt around here, so I think that we can safely assume that this policy and practice makes sense in her workplace and is not arbitrary and capricious.

        But the point is that even if these presentations are 100% useless, this is a totally silly hill for OP’s employees to be dying on.

        Reply
        1. mrs__peel

          Sure, I was just responding to the more general points about CLE in the comment above. I think the people in the letter are being fairly ridiculous.

          Reply
    9. Buffay the Vampire Layer

      Agreed.* Honestly, I try to take MCLEs in other areas of law than what I practice. We have so little opportunities as adults to learn for the sake of learning that I take advantage of the chances I get to learn about something totally new.
      *However, I wouldn’t push back on the presentation requirement. If the firm frowned on taking random courses I’d just suck it up and take relevant classes. Otherwise, I’d just present on whatever I learned.

      Reply
  20. nofelix

    #2 – the employees sound like they are hoarding knowledge and want to feel indispensable. It’s worth considering their job security; maybe they have good reason to try and protect themselves even if this is a poor way to go about it.

    Reply
    1. (Different) Rebecca

      I don’t know, I was envisioning something more along the lines of “this is boring to me, extends a thirty minute meeting into a forty minute meeting, no one is listening because you provide a donut tray and they’re squabbling over who gets the maple frosted ones, and I feel like it’s enough that I go do the mandated training–if you want a report, YOU go do the training.” I wouldn’t ascribe to malice or deceit what can easily be explained by frustration.

      Reply
        1. (Different) Rebecca

          Of course, a cheeky employee with a somewhat lenient workplace could make their point by just going straight over the top on their presentation: “And THEN, in hour 2, we had a coffee break! And it was the BEST coffee break EVER, because they had an entirely NEW type of danish. I didn’t even know they MADE lutefisk-boysenberry danishes, but here we are…”

          Reply
      1. Sarah

        Could be, but how often do all of us do a random 10-minute time-wasting thing at work? I just feel like it’s incredibly petty to get worked up over something that — even if it IS a waste of time — is still only wasting 5-10 minutes of your time!

        Reply
        1. nofelix

          Could be, but it sounds like the employees have wasted more than that amount of time already on the back and forth.

          Reply
      2. Rat in the Sugar

        Right, but offering your PTO and hundreds of dollars of your own money just to avoid that seems rather over the top.

        Reply
      3. Anna

        If my employer paid several hundred dollars for me to fly to Washington, D.C., attend two brief conferences, put me up in a nice hotel, and get extra training, I would not be too put out by sharing some of the things I learned at the next all staff meeting I attended. Because they literally are paying me to do exactly that. Wait…that’s exactly what’s happened. You’re attributing to frustration what really sounds like a super shitty attitude.

        Reply
    2. Person of Interest

      I completely agree with you nofelix – to me this sounds like the employees have the attitude of “this is now my knowledge and my training credit and if others in the org want it they should have to go through the full training like I did.” I’ve certainly see this attitude before when we’ve sent someone for specialized computer training for example (I mean like, Excel, not some super-job-specific piece of software).

      Reply
  21. Misclassified

    The combination of #2 and #4 reminds me of my old job where they mandated I attend certain CLEs that they paid for but then refused to pay me my salary for those days missed because I wasn’t in the office. When I asked why I wasn’t paid for those days, they said that they paid for the CLEs which cost more than my daily pay “so I actually came out ahead.”

    And then when there were other CLEs required to keep my license, sometimes they would pay me when I was out of the office attending them, and other times they wouldn’t. Then again, the times they wouldn’t was after I went to the IRS about them misclassifying me, so any little way they could hurt me, they would.

    Reply
    1. I hate MCLE

      Can’t you solve a lot of this problem by doing online CLE at home? You would never need to leave the office.

      Reply
      1. Misclassified

        I think their logic was like this (using fake-ish numbers):

        You make $200 a day.
        This three day CLE costs $750 ($250 per day).
        If you paid for it, it would cost you $750 but you’d get your salary, meaning you lose $150.
        If we paid for it, we’re paying you $750 that then is spent on the CLE. It is as if you actually made $150!

        It wasn’t sound logic. And since this was a CLE they mandated I attend, the proper thing would have been for them to pay for the CLE ($750) AND pay me my salary. But they nickel and dimed everything.

        Reply
  22. Hoorah

    LW5: I’m sorry you missed out on the job. Sometimes managers already have an idea of who is the preferred applicant. If they come across an amazing application and the interview(s) confirm their initial impression, it would be unprofessional of them to meet with you knowing they aren’t going to hire you over this other person.

    When we’re upset it makes it easy to deflect our emotions on the other person’s behaviour. In this case they did you no wrong – but of course it still sucks you didn’t get this job. It just wasn’t meant to be, and there are other opportunities out there. I hope you come across something great.

    Reply
  23. consultant

    “free training that otherwise would cost them hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some of the training is in the form of webinars/online presentations, which to my understanding wouldn’t cost the company another penny if I were to have access to them”

    My company (global consulting company) has something like this. Online courses, webinars, etc. Plenty of them on every possible subject.

    I would think that at least in case of online courses you exaggerate their value a lot. Even courses for certifications, like Six Sigma, aren’t normally valuable. Language courses aren’t good at all. Technology courses won’t teach you technology if you don’t have access to it, but even when I do, I found youtube videos normally much better quality.

    Reply
  24. WhirlwindMonk

    #5, while as other people have pointed out, it’s perfectly normal and reasonable for them not to continue interviews if they find a perfect candidate, I do think it’s pretty rude for them not to have let you know that until you contacted them. While you aren’t entitled to an interview, they did make a commitment to follow up with you, and should have as soon as they knew their search was over. Unfortunately, as Allison has pointed out before, this kind of rudeness is commonplace, so this is one of those places where you have to accept that it’s rude, but that you can’t really change it and just have to move on.

    Reply
  25. MommyMD

    Consider that the two employees who are so resistant to providing an informal five minute overview of the CE are not actually attending. It’s very easy to forge a certificate.

    Reply
  26. Trout 'Waver

    OP#5, I recommend sending the hiring manager and cc’ing HR at that company a thank-you note for letting you know promptly and also indicate that you would be open to being contacted about future positions at that company. If you’re gracious about this, you stand a good shot of landing on the short list for the next opening this company has. I’d send something like,

    “Dear Hiring Manager,

    Although I had hoped to join your team as a Teapot Glazier, I do appreciate that you contacted me promptly after making your hiring decision. I enjoyed discussing spout design and learning about your company. Please feel free to contact me about any future openings on your team. Please also feel free to share my resume and application materials with your colleagues if you think I would a good fit for any of their open positions.

    Thanks,
    Trout ‘Waver”

    Chances are that it doesn’t lead anywhere. But it can’t hurt.

    Reply
    1. Trout 'Waver

      Uh… I just realized I misread your letter and that you had to contact them for an update. In that case I’d replace “contacted me promptly after making your hiring decision” with “letting me know about your hiring decision” so as to not seem passive aggressive.

      Reply
  27. Anon Anon

    #2 – is it possible that the quality of the CE is poor? It’s tough to report on a session if it presents very little worthwhile information. Sadly, I’ve been to far too many conferences and events where the programming isn’t great. I could see if that is a consistent problem that an organization might refuse to pay for more CE, which if it’s needed for licensure, could get expensive.

    However, I also suspect that the employees in question may not be attending the programming. I work for an organization that offers CE, and it would be very easy to get the certificate of attendance but not actually attend.

    Reply
    1. Delta Delta

      So much this. I was once sent at great expense to a big conference on the other side of the country. When I came back, lots of colleagues asked about the programming. I didn’t want to sound negative, but in truth, it was 3 days of Death by PowerPoint in windowless rooms where, quite honestly, they could have just provided written information with the same effects. I just said something like, “there is some groundbreaking work being done in the area of teapots” and offered to share the materials if anyone cared to see them. Nobody did. It was awful. Meanwhile, I went to a conference yesterday that had a speaker so good that I want her to be my new best friend. I’d tell everyone who wants to hear it about her presentation.

      Reply
    2. LeisureSuitLarry

      I think this has something to do with the employees rather than the CPE. It would be no sweat to any employee to just say that the quality sucked. I’ve done it. And I’ve left feedback at conferences that said their presentations, topic choices, and/or speakers sucked. Frankly, I’ve been to very few conferences where the information presented was worth either the time or the money to see. For complex topics, it’s hard to get much info out of a 50-minute presentation.

      Reply
  28. SassyFrassy

    For 3, I wonder how well these white lies work now with some background checks. I used to work for a pre employement background screening company, and we would regularly find employment history that the applicant did not include.

    Reply
    1. Liane

      Remember, the question is about information left off a *resume* not an application or background check questionnaire.

      Reply
      1. SassyFrassy

        Oh, good distinction! So would you include the 3 month stint on your application and then hope for the best?

        Reply
    2. Trout 'Waver

      You’re not lying by leaving things off a resume, which is a very different thing from a background check.

      Reply
      1. LiveAndLetDie

        Exactly. Resumes would get unwieldy and nonsensical real fast if we were never allowed to leave things off them–all of us had early jobs that have little to do with our careers!

        Reply
  29. BananaPants

    #2, I differ from most in that I agree with your employees. If they’re paying for their own CEUs and doing them on their own time, why should they have to present to their coworkers?

    It’s not clear how you’ve worded your policy, but if it does state that you’re happy to pay for CEUs in return for a presentation, that implies that if the employee pays for their own CEUs they won’t have to give a presentation. If you want to make it mandatory that the company pays for the CEUs and employees must give a presentation on them, fine, but that’s not how your paraphrasing of the policy reads to me.

    I know a lot of people who have to do CEUs as part of their occupation and almost without exception, CEUs are a check-the-box sort of thing. Most aren’t learning anything groundbreaking from doing them. My husband has to get 20 CEUs every 2 years and to put it bluntly, once the specific requirements for CEU hours in safety and law are met, EVERYONE is taking, “Professional Networking for the Teapot Spout Maker” and “Resume Writing 101” CEUs just to meet the 20 hour requirement. (His employer doesn’t pay for either his state license or his certification renewal, and doesn’t pay for CEUs either.)

    I’m an engineer and in my field, prepping for a lunch & learn presentation can EASILY take days. I hate doing them because I still have to do all the rest of my work plus prepping a slide deck and having it vetted.

    Reply
    1. The Toxic Avenger

      Indeed – it sounds like if the company pays, then attendees give a brief summary to all.

      I agree that if CEU-s were a part of my occupation, but I did it on my own dime and my own time, then I wouldn’t give a summary. After all, if others want to learn, they can go get the training, just like I did.

      However, if the company is paying, I don’t know why the employees are being so stubborn. If they resent giving others the rundown when others didn’t take the time to get trained, that is understandable if they paid for it themselves, but that attitude doesn’t hold when the company paid. If they thought the mandatory training was a check-box waste, they should use their words and tell OP, “Look. I didn’t really learn anything and the only thing I gained was 10 credit hours. How would you like us to proceed with a summary in that case?”

      Reply
    2. Grey

      Yes. I agree with employees too for a couple of reasons.

      1. My work may belong to the company, but my education that I paid for does not. I’d be happy to answer specific questions if you ask and I’ll put my knowledge to use for the company. But a general presentation? No.

      2. When it comes to CECs, there’s no benefit to sharing what you’ve learned with everyone else. Anyone who needs to know what you’ve learned would still require their own CECs. And anyone who needs that CEC is already going to have a good idea of what your class is about. So why bother?

      Maybe it depends on the industry. I don’t know. But this sort of thing would be downright silly in my line of work.

      Reply
      1. The Toxic Avenger

        ^^This. If the employees are pushing back because they think it is silly for the reasons you stated, then they should be honest with OP, like I said above.

        Reply
      2. Trout 'Waver

        For #2, there are good and bad courses out there. Sharing could help your colleagues determine which ones are the most useful.

        It could also help junior employees without accreditation assist their senior colleagues. For example, if an attorney learns new case law at a legal seminar, she would want to share it with her paralegal so he could provide her with better draft documents.

        Reply
    3. Sara

      I think that they’re pushing back and saying they shouldn’t have to do the presentations AND should get the free classes. They’re just throwing the ‘we’d pay for our own’ as a pseduo-threat. At least, that’s how I read it.

      I’d call them on their offer to pay for their own classes. Those classes can be expensive, so really it’ll put their priorities in order. If they really really don’t want to do presentations, well the solution is there. I don’t think they’re even doing a slide deck – just telling people “we went to Resume Writing 101, and I learned these three things”. Maybe their classes aren’t great?

      Reply
    4. Fictional Butt

      I see where you’re coming from, but it sounds (to me at least) like paying for your own training is really Not Done at OP’s company. In which case, I think the offer to pay for their own classes and take vacation days is kind of inappropriate–they’re basically using vacation to get out of a job task (giving a presentation).

      Reply
    5. Cap Hiller

      Yes, if the employees say they are willing to pay (or reimburse) for the training and burn the vacation day, I don’t understand the resistance to just doing that. Even if they originally had the company pay, and now trying to get out of the presentation, why make everything more dramatic by holding them to it?

      Reply
  30. Jessesgirl72

    OP1: I hate gofundmes even for current coworkers in my own organization. It may be a one-off thing now, but not speaking up is the way habits start. Since your Supervisor agrees that it was inappropriate (just a difference on the degree of it) I think it’s worth addressing.

    Reply
    1. CanCan

      Exactly. Why wait until it becomes a pattern? If it’s not addressed, how is the employee expected to know next time that this is not welcome. Tell the employee one on one, and then let the others know that this is not acceptable (without shaming this employee – can be done sometime later so that it seems unconnected to this instance).

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        Indeed. It’s kind of starting already, only not as organized. There was a Miss Manner’s letter last week (or so) complaining that a friend had sent her a link to the friend’s coworker’s gofundme because the coworker’s stepmother had died. So some are passing these on to people who have no connection at all to the recipients!

        Reply
  31. Jessesgirl72

    OP2: There is certainly enough room for a dishonest reason for the employees to not want to share about the course, but I will point out that sometimes people who are really used to a strict 8-4:30 and no extra hours schedule get used to that, and maybe a little spoiled by it. They push back on any extra duties more so than the people who are routinely working 60+ hours, who are used to it. So while I believe you when you say it shouldn’t take them more than a few minutes to prepare (and they should do it, or face the appropriate professional consequences!) and it’s a perfectly reasonable request , your perspective on the angle of “we never ask anyone to work extra, so they should do this extra work!” doesn’t necessarily follow, in their minds.

    Reply
  32. Allison

    #5, I used to think that companies should follow through with whatever interviews they have scheduled, if only as a courtesy. But now I realize, a courtesy to whom? Interviews take time! The interview team takes time out of their days to meet with the candidate, someone needs to coordinate it, the interviewee takes hours out of their day to get there, and possibly pays to take public transit or parking fees – if someone is actively interviewing, maybe they figure that’s just “their job” right now, but they may still have limited interview attire, and may need to schedule interviews around other interviews. The hiring manager might still want to interview that person just to see all their options before making an offer, but their star candidate may be on a tight timeline, with an offer from another company, which usually makes hiring managers want to speed up the process.

    However, OP #5, you were effectively ghosted, which stinks. They decided not to interview a second time, but for whatever reason didn’t want to tell you that, and maybe hoped that if they stopped contacting you, you’d forget about them and move on without them needing to let you down. At least you got an answer from them, some companies that ghost at that stage in the process ignore followups like the one you sent.

    Reply
  33. Sue Wilson

    #2: I think your employees are being unreasonable.

    But I also think that if the employees can sign up for these CLEs without making you pay (and the CLEs don’t require association with a company to do) and they do, forcing them to give a presentation is ridiculous. The stubbornness would infuriate me, but frankly, there’s no phrasing of Alison’s scripts that makes people tell others what they did on their day off reasonable either. If they company is paying for the renewal fees, then you can say that not going to company-sponsored CLEs disqualifies them from the company paying, but otherwise, you’re going to have to suck it up. I would not appreciate a company trying to control the way I maintain my license either, unless the license was something the company was required to handle.

    I wouldn’t give them slack anywhere else, though.

    Reply
  34. Lynxa

    Are there industries where CEs are actually useful? I’ve been an attorney for 12 years with a 12.5 hour a year CLE requirement and I can count on one hand the number of CLEs I’ve attended where useful knowledge was imparted. If someone asked me to write a brief (or give a presentation!) on one, I’d be a little annoyed because the general feeling in the community (at least here) is “Okay, lets just get through this” instead of “Look at this information!” and it would be taking me away from actual billable work.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      I’m pretty sure everyone can agree that we’d prefer that our medical professionals keep up with the latest information. ;)

      I have a cousin who is a Vision Tech and she finds the continuing licensing stuff fairly useful. My MIL is an OB/GYN and she says some conferences are useless, but she really learns a lot in others, and you just never know until you get there.

      My husband is a Programmer, and he doesn’t have any professional requirements, but when he’s sent to a course… well, it’s about 50/50. Sometimes it’s so basic that he could teach the course, and other times he learns things.

      Reply
    2. LiveAndLetDie

      My husband has to do CE as a CPA and it’s meant to ensure that you’re keeping up with industry standards and not letting your expertise slide over time. I know his involve exams/tests, and not just attending a seminar and hoping it sinks in. I’m sure anyone who hires an accountant to do their taxes is going to be glad to know that people who have a CPA have to keep proving they deserve the designation. :)

      Reply
      1. De Minimis

        Accounting CE is useful especially if you’re in public accounting, since things are constantly changing. Most if not all states require a certain amount of the CE be in technical subjects, so you can’t just take a bunch of lightweight courses and have it qualify.

        It’s like anything else, though, you get what you put into it, and it’s possible to just kind of skim stuff and then use Ctrl-F when you’re taking the tests. You also can focus on more basic courses that don’t have a lot of new information and are just rehashing things from school. I think they’re still considered technical subject matter, but they usually just go over basic material.

        Reply
    3. JB (not in Houston)

      I’ve picked up quite a bit from CLEs over the years, but it definitely varies by course and instructor.

      Reply
    4. mrs__peel

      I went to *one* once that was truly fascinating and heartbreaking (about psychiatrists’ testimony and defending a woman with postpartum psychosis who had killed her children), but it had absolutely nothing to do with my practice area.

      Reply
  35. Natalie

    For # 3, I feel like I’m missing something – is it so bad for LW to say they took a new job that turned out to be a poor fit? They clearly stayed at their next job plenty long. And they don’t need to mention the stalker – plenty of people without stalkers have left a job quickly because it sucked.

    Omitting a job from a resume seems fine and normal, but omitting it when directly asked seems odd to me and tips more toward the “dishonest” end of the scale.

    Reply
    1. mrs__peel

      “I moved to another city” would still be honest in this situation, though, since that’s what happened. And relocating is a normal enough occurrence that it shouldn’t raise any eyebrows– people do it all the time for personal/ family reasons that don’t necessarily need to be gone into in detail.

      Reply
  36. Aunt Margie at Work

    LW 1: I can see why that feels off. At my company (large, international branches, financial) the company wide distributions lists are locked down. In my division (200 people), only the the assistant to the division head can send an email to the group. Only the assistants to C levels can send company wide. Marketing and business news comes from a specific email. IT has some designated people to disseminate to individual divisions, otherwise it comes from a specific IT address.
    I don’t know if it is because the technology became available or the technology became available because one too many people asked “where’s my lunch?” as well as a head’s up about a small threat in a specific geographic area…I wish I could share more. It’s not a bad thing, it’s quite hilarious. It’s also legendary, and I like my job :) so, to get back on track, you could talk to IT. Not to crack down so much as to create a policy so people know.

    Reply
  37. The Supreme Troll

    For OP#5, yes, I realize that finding yourself in a situation like that really sucks. But Alison is absolutely correct here. Your potential employer is trying to fill a job opening quickly, but as “perfectly” as they possibly can. In their eyes, the “perfect” candidate just happened to fall in their lap. I know that the timing of the second interview did not work for you, but, unfortunately, they are not under any personal obligation to you; they have to put the company’s best interest first.

    It not only would have been nice, but the right thing to do for your potential employer to have reached out to you proactively and explained the change of the situation, rather than for you to have to send an email and reach out first. But what the company did is totally normal, and I’m sure there are a lot of companies that would act the same if they happened to catch the “perfect” (in their eyes) job candidate.

    Reply
  38. Helen

    I have two thoughts about #2.

    First, giving a brief presentation about a class you attended is something my boss is really into as well.

    And I find all of these presentations a complete waste of time. I can’t really get very much information or use out of whatever the person who went to the class learned by their condensing a full day class into a few minutes. And I don’t think I’m alone there. It feels like a formality that sounds good in theory but really does not add anything to the conversation in practice. Some exceptions might be a class about new rules or regulations or something that we should be following, but generally, there’s a reason that the classes are all day and not 5 minutes.

    Might it be worth reconsidering the value of these presentations?

    Also, I’m not sure how you own the “work” of your employees time in the class. You own work produced by your employees that you’ve hired them to do, like if they create a software program for you or if you hire them to write a song or design a teapot. I don’t think you can “own” knowledge that they gain from a professional development class if they don’t produce something out of it, and that is especially true if they take a vacation day and pay for the class themselves.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      I have a contract that says my company owns all my intellectual property unless they waive the right ahead of time- on or off the clock. Something along those lines is pretty standard in tech- mine happens to be broader than I’d like, and most are more specific in how it relates to your work for the company, but you’re almost always going to find this is the case in certain industries/disciplines.

      So yes, the company definitely owns the work if they paid for the class, and potentially even if they did it on their own dime- but the last part, the OP isn’t trying to claim, anyway.

      Reply
  39. Opinionatedgal

    This person is out of touch. YOU postponed your interview window and they found someone else. They really didn’t owe you an explanation at all. Life isn’t always fair and move on. Try to look at it as a learning opportunity and not that you were entitled to a second interview you didn’t get. Perhaps put your best foot forward and be available for the second interview next time, even if it involves moving around your trip home–which sounds rather flexible.

    Reply
    1. Here we go again

      The company is free to hire anyone they want at anytime, but leaving candidates hanging like that is plain rude. They owe her a quick “Hey, we decided to go with someone else, so we are cancelling the next round of interviews. Best of luck in your future endeavors.”

      Reply
      1. LiveAndLetDie

        Agreed in a case like OP’s where they’ve made it through the first round of interviewing, the company should have called the candidate up and said, “Sorry, we’re no longer moving forward with your interview.”

        Reply
  40. Magenta Sky

    OP 1: I know this is my cynicism talking, but based on precisely how this former employee was toxic, how likely do you feel it is that there is actually a dead relative? That kind of scam is increasingly common in the Internet Age, because it is increasingly easy to do.

    Reply
    1. De Minimis

      Can speak from experience on that, we had a former employee basically scam us out several months’ worth of salary, due to constant illnesses and family tragedies. It was only after her resignation that a few of us decided to check out some things on social media and discovered the truth, that some if not all of it had been a colossal lie.

      Reply
  41. Kristine

    #3 – How unfair that you had to leave a job you loved and move away because of some jerk! (He was outside your bedroom window – ICK!) Stalkers make me so angry (I was a victim of it, too – the guy persisted for years) that I swear I’ve been thinking about starting a business that specializes in shadowing THEM and reports any illegal activities to law enforcement. I did study to be a private detective, then decided it was too boring. Process serving, disability fraud stakeouts, ugh – not exactly Charlie’s Angels. But now I’m older, more confident, very healthy, and thinking about a second career after retirement. I’d employ a sliding scale fee structure with a free first consultation, and the true reward would be pushing back against these creeps who know how to walk the legal line.

    Reply
    1. ChickenSuperhero

      If I had many millions, I’d hire a squad of computer forensic experts to track down all the doxxers and people who threaten awful things to women and LGBTQ folks on the internet, and find a way to prosecute them. That’s my dream. I could see us fitting in stalkers too.

      Reply
  42. Mitzy

    #2 – I wouldn’t be happy about this either, so I’ll share my thought process.

    I find these kinds of briefings to be a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time. I don’t want to listen to other people give 30 second sound bytes on what they learned throughout the day and I have no interest in being a presenter myself. If I believe the presentation will of value I’ll attend myself for the CEU; having a coworker give me a very general overview isn’t going to help me at all because if it’s something I really do need to know I’m going to have to do my own research anyway and time has been wasted.

    There are also times where the presentation attended truly was a waste of time and nothing was learned. Asking me about the presentation is annoying, but to insist I also come up with how that can benefit the company? Definitely not into it. There’s also the fact that sometimes the CEUs don’t fully line up with what I’m doing. I’m a Teapot Analyst, but if I attend a Teapot Repair class I get CEUs for that. While I learned a lot about building and repair in school, I don’t do it professionally and I have no idea what’s going on in the repair department so the information I have isn’t exactly useful; I really just went because I require 43 CEUs annually and I need to get them in.

    My boss asks for a report, but not in a mandatory, icky-feeling kind of way. She simply asks me how the presentation went during our morning greeting. It opens up a casual conversation where I can note anything of interest and she can do what she will with it. In this setting I’m more than happy to talk about what happened because it’s more of a bonding experience.

    If she were to tell me that it was mandatory to give a briefing in exchange for the company paying for it I would decline to take the stipend and pay for things myself in order to get out of it. Tell me it’s still mandatory because the company owns my intellect? There’s a 100% chance of me quitting.

    Reply
    1. I Hate MCLE

      The company should also consider how many human-hours it would waste on frivolous briefings about tangential subjects. Assume they’re lawyers in a 15-person department and licensed in a state that requires 10 hours of MCLE per year. That’s 150 MCLEs/year. If everyone gives a five-minute presentation, that’s 12.5 hours spent per year on presentations alone. Assume that each presenter also spends five minutes preparing the presentation. That’s another 12.5 hours per year, for a total of 24 hours per year spent in post-MCLE presentations.

      These assumptions are very conservative. In reality it takes longer than 5 minutes to prepare a worthwhile presentation, and presentations can run over if people ask questions or want to stretch their legs, etc.

      So, on conservative assumptions, that’s at least three working days per year spent on post-MCLE presentations — this in addition to the MCLE itself. OP’s company should ask whether this is time well-spent, or whether those three days could be better spent making money for the company.

      If the MCLE topics are tangential to the company’s line of work (“law of piracy on the high seas” at a teapot manufacturer?) it’s an easy answer. And if the company really wants to further employee education, it would be better of taking one of those three days and sending them to a seminar that’s on point.

      Reply
  43. Katie Fay

    5. Unfortunately, you took a risk by delaying your second interview: you risked them finding someone else before they talked to you.

    Reply
  44. Contrarian Annie

    #2 They are building up their resume to move on and don’t know how to tell you directly.

    Reply
  45. Catie

    LW #2, I think you answered your own question when describing the 2 workers: *Both are good at their jobs, but never go above or beyond.*

    Giving a recap is going above or beyond their daily tasks.

    Reply
  46. Meg

    #4 – I was a contractor for 5 years with 5 different clients before becoming a permanent full-time employee.

    Do not ask your client to pay for the training – Ask your contracting agency! They usually have an education/training budget. One of my clients had a policy where if the agency would pay the costs of the training (including travel, if needed), then the client would pay my wages for the time I’ve spent training. You might also be lucky to see if your agency would pay your wages for an eligible training. One of my agencies still paid me for training even though they didn’t get a bill from the client. If not, check to see if you accrue any PTO with your agency to use for your training day. Last but not least, maybe taking a unpaid day off, or see if you work four 10-hours blocks the week of your training or leading up to your training.

    Reply

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