employee wanting to learn a new skill won’t take no for an answer

A reader writes:

I co-manage a small business and I’m a manager over a very specialized department. I have one employee who was hired less than 3 months ago, and I am having a problem with her wanting to take on a position that she was not hired for, has no experience with, and that I do not believe she is capable of doing. She believes that she is ready to take on this specialized skill, but based on her performance in her department I do not see her doing this specific job and do not want to teach her because any mistake cannot be undone, costs the business quite a bit of money, and makes the customer extremely unhappy. She was very pushy in asking my other employee in this department to show her how to do it and totally bypassed asking my permission. My other employee has a hard time saying no, so caved in and began to show her how, which I quickly stopped.

I did talk to her about it, saying that we need her more in her department than this one and that we hire people with experience specifically for this department. I tried to deter her and tell her to concentrate on the job she was hired to do. However, she refuses to take no for an answer and gets very defensive about it. She has taken this personally and accused me of not wanting to teach her simply because I don’t like her. We have had the same conversation about this twice and she is persistent on wanting to learn this skill, I feel like she is undermining me and my other manager by assigning herself to this job without permission.

I do appreciate her ambition and will to learn, but this job is not the one we hired her to do and we do not need anyone else in this department. I hate disappointing people, but I am tired of her disrespect and sense of entitlement when I have told her no twice already. How do politely and professionally tell her that she is not cut out for this skill and that she needs to stop asking about it?

You need to get more firm and more direct with her, since she’s not responding to the words that most people would respond to.

Sit down and have a very clear and direct conversation with her: “Jane, this has come up a few times now, so I want to make sure that I’m being absolutely clear with you about this: Your job is to work exclusively on ABC, and it doesn’t involve X. While I understand that you’re interested in learning how to do X, the reality is that that’s not likely to happen in your role with us, because we hire people with specialized experience for that work. Since this keeps coming up, let’s figure out how to proceed. Knowing that you will not be doing X and that it’s not going to be okay for you to continue pushing for it, do you still want to remain in your current job?”

If she pushes back / argues with you / etc., then you say, “I understand your point of view. However, we need you doing ABC, not X. Do you still want to remain in your position, understanding that that’s the case?”

And if she still argues with you, then you’re going to need to say, “I’ve heard your point of view. However, my decision is final, and I need you to respect that. I hope you’ll decide to stay under those terms, but if they’re not acceptable to you, we’ll need to start talking about a transition out of the organization, because I need someone in this role who wants the position as it’s currently configured.”

If at some point in this conversation, she tells you that she’s willing to accept her job as it’s currently defined, then say, “Great. Going forward, I expect that you’ll focus exclusively on ABC and that we’re both on the same page about this.” However, if it comes up in the future, then revert to the language in the paragraph just above.

The overall idea here is to be clear with her about what her job is, that you don’t intend to change that, and that you intend to enforce boundaries around that — and that if she doesn’t want the job as you’ve described it, the correct course of action for you both is to replace her with someone who does want the job, rather than continually argue this point. You also don’t want to find yourself having this same conversation again in a month — so if it does come up again, you should move immediately to, “Is this job one you want, understanding it won’t change in the ways you want it to?” (And frankly, if it continues to come up, you might consider whether it’s time to make that decision for her, depending on how disruptive this is to your business.)

Last, if you’re inclined, it might be kind to explain to her what she would need to do to get a job doing X — either at your company or somewhere else — while making it clear that that’s not a path you’re prepared to offer her yourself in the foreseeable future.

Now, some people will probably tell you to consider giving her a chance and letting her try out the new area and see how she does. And that might have been my advice had she handled this very differently (such as saying, “Hey, I’m really interested in X and I’d love the opportunity to get more exposure to that area if it’s ever feasible” and then backing off). But at this point, she’s shown herself to have such poor judgment and lack of concern for workplace boundaries (and only three months into the job!) that that’s not the path to take. In fact, I’d keep a pretty watchful eye on her in general — someone who handles things this way is likely to be someone who has problems in other areas too, and you should be prepared for the possibility that this isn’t the only way in which she’s not a great fit.

{ 131 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT

    I don’t want to sound alarmist but your employee sounds like she’s going to trouble. Alison’s dialogue is perfect.

    1. Jamie

      It is perfect – you can memorize that and use it as a script.

      I also would be inclined to give someone a shot to learn if they expressed interest, but respected the boundaries. This is something else entirely – someone this pushy I wouldn’t give an inch on a mission critical task.

      1. KarenT

        My feelings exactly– this woman is far too entitled and sneaky. It sounds like she’s trying to turn this role into what she wants when it was made clear she is not entitled to do so. I also strongly agree with Alison when she says this employee needs to be monitored.

        One of the most important things a manager can do in developing young talent is to help them develop and learn new skills. However, in this case the employee hasn’t proven themselves yet and is doing this behind her managers back. Not cool!

    2. A Bug!

      I agree 100%. She’s ignoring a ton of very clear signals coming from all directions. And since I don’t get the impression from the letter that her work in her actual job is stellar, I’d be inclined to treat this as a “final warning” situation, and cut her loose if she continues to try to unilaterally expand her role.

      This isn’t a case where it’s a really enthusiastic, hard-working employee expressing interest in widening her skill set. It sounds like a “satisfactory” employee who’s uninterested in her current role and sees this other task as a shiny that she wants.

      1. Nyxalinth

        That’s the impression I get, too. Unsatisfied in her role, and unwilling to move on out of concerns for the job market, perhaps.

  2. Anon

    This is worrying. She seems very much like the type of employee who comes into an organization, tries to do everyone’s job in an effort to be a Superstar, screws up royally and then hops to a new job once the damage has been done, leaving the folks behind to clean up the mess. Follow Alison’s advice and keep an eye on her.

  3. Heather

    And within 3 months I would never, ever, ever express interest about training in a different position. Maybe at 6 months. Maybe. But probably not. That just seems bizarre to me.

    And I agree – I think she’s probably trouble. I have a hard time with people who don’t listen. It really annoys me.

  4. PPK

    Does the employee think her job is crap and the other job/skill is better? Maybe, along with the firm words Alison suggested, she needs a reminder about how important her job is and that the team really needs her to do that job and do it really really well. Hopefully that’s a genuine statement.

  5. Adam V

    Based on the fact that she went around your back to do this, claimed you had a personal bias against her, and that you stated “based on her performance in her department I do not see her doing this specific job” I think the conversation I’d be having with her would be a bit shorter:

    “Today will be your last day here.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I do think there’s an argument for considering that, largely because I just can’t imagine someone great doing this — it wouldn’t happen. And that’s an argument for ending it now and hiring someone better. (However, without knowing more context, I’m hesitant to say “yes, fire this person right now.”)

      1. Adam V

        The other thing that stood out to me was this line:

        > We have had the same conversation about this twice

        Given that this would the third time the OP is having to tell the employee “you need to be doing the job we hired you for”, I consider that another reason to just let them go.

        You’re right, though; if this was someone who was doing so amazingly well at their current job and was looking into X because they were thinking “I have some spare cycles and X is where the company needs help right now”, then OP would probably be saying to them “we’re going to hire someone to do X, but if you’ve got spare time can you look at Y?”

        Instead, it sounds like their work in A, B, and C is sloppy, causing the OP to want to keep her far away from X where mistakes are expensive.

      2. Andy Lester

        Without knowing exactly what OP’s discussions with Ms. Pushy sounded like, it’s hard for me to get behind firing her.

        Did OP say “You must only work on ABC”, in clear terms like Allison spelled out? Or did she say things like “Heather, please keep to your own work, OK?” and then walk away?

        I’ve seen managers who have been unable to clarify their concerns, where “I want to make sure this project gets done on time” has actually meant “Your job is in jeopardy if it’s late.”

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          I fail to see the distinction. Sure, it sucks when an employee doesn’t understand relatively clear instructions, but that’s still on the employee. If OP had said something wiggly like “I don’t want to talk about that right now,” or something, I’d understand. “Heather, please keep to your own work” is clear and explicit.

          Managers should always seek to be as clear as possible, and I’d tend to agree that one more conversation (with the word “fired” or “lose your job”) in it is warranted in this case. But since the employee has already responded with accusations of personal prejudices, the OP is under no particular obligation to bend over backward here… it was the employee, not OP, that made this situation adversarial.

          1. K

            I think the difference is that “Heather, do your own work” might be read to imply that when Heather is finished with discrete task A, she can then go set off in search of fun task X. Of course, a stellar employee who was good at picking up on any kind of signals would get what the manager meant, but I can imagine salvageable employees (particularly young and inexperienced ones) who wouldn’t.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              If it’s at the point where the employee is arguing with the OP and saying that the manager won’t let her do the work because of personal bias, I’m guessing that they’ve had a pretty clear conversation where the manager said no!

              1. Ariancita

                Yes, this to me is a major red flag. After only 3 months, she is being argumentative with the OP and accusing her of bias. I can’t imagine handling anything that way even after years somewhere, but after only 3 months? This person is not professional.

                1. Ariancita

                  And wanted to add: I think if this is her attitude and how she handles things, I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes over the OPs head (if there is someone above OP).

  6. Brandy

    Awesome advice! I’d also probably draft a formal letter expressing what was being stated in the meeting and the consequences of her actions continuing and have her sign it. Just so it can’t be said she was never told.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Opinions differ on this, but I’m not a big fan of having employees sign stuff like this — it’s not necessary and it can make things feel a lot more bureaucratic than they need to. Definitely document the conversation, but you can do it in an email to the employee summarizing what you talked about, or a memo, etc.

      (In case anyone is wondering, the purpose for documenting isn’t because there’s any legal requirement … but rather because if, hypothetically, the OP fires this person and the employee later claims she was fired because of her race/gender/religion/etc., it’s very helpful to have documentation of the performance issues and warnings.)

      1. SCW

        Plus some types of documentation are required by some employers–particularly places like the government with complicated grievance processes that require specific documentation to justify firing later on.

  7. Jamie

    Just out of curiosity – is this someone brand new to the workforce?

    If it were someone’s first job I’d still find it highly annoying, but I might have a more global conversation about how not to shoot your career in the foot.

    1. Adam V

      That’s a good point. Based on other things I’ve read here, there’s a lot of “be obnoxious to get noticed” advice out there for job-searchers, and maybe they’re still in that mindset.

    2. Worker Bee

      This!! Exactly my thought. As a young professional I also want to learn as much as I can. (But I do know the boundries) Maybe OP can help her see that she is too pushy..

    3. Kelly O

      I had this thought too. A lot of how you address this is going to depend on how long the person has been in the workforce, although I do think this should be handled quickly either way.

      If the person is new to the workforce, having a firm but kind conversation to the effect of what AAM said above – “I truly mean this, and you must follow this or consider your options” – focusing on the fact that this may run counter to all the “be an awesome employee” advice the employee is reading, this is an instance where trying to do more is not better.

      However, if the person is not new to the workforce and is instead just being stubborn about this, the conversation definitely needs to be stronger. Since it’s not the first conversation, I would definitely use the “if you can’t comply with this then we need to consider how to make your transition out” language.

      And I’m really sorry you’re having to deal with this, OP. It stinks when people cannot seem to understand that procedures and responsibilities are in place for a reason. The whole road to hell paved with good intentions thing comes to mind.

  8. PEBCAK

    I think it’s possibly worse that she is doing this at a small business. In a large corporation, there can be more opportunity to move around, and cross-training isn’t such a bad idea, but if her own department is small, they really can’t afford to have her unfocused on her actual role.

    1. Jamie

      I’ve found the opposite, actually.

      In larger businesses the lines of demarcation between departments seem to be well defined, but in a smaller business you can wear more hats because they tend to run leaner and if you show a talent and aptitude for something they want to realize the value from that.

      But that’s on top of what you were hired to do, not instead of what you were hired to do.

  9. Anonymously

    I have an entry level employee that’s kind of similar. When she started a few weeks ago, I gave her work to do that is introductory because she doesn’t know much about the industry. The work is meant for her to learn more but I hear every day how boring and dull it is. I also want to make sure I can see her skills and work ethic before she does the job that she applied for because that means more responsibility. I see this as a warning sign that she is complaining so soon!

      1. Anonymously

        I agree! What I said here: it is meant for her to learn and also see how she works. She keeps saying she has learned already (which she hasn’t in the short time).

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Hmmm. You might need to get more explicit and tell her why you disagree, and then explain that you’re concerned that she keeps telling how bored she is, and ask that she bear with you for a while, and remain positive. I’d be really concerned about the attitude of someone complaining daily — at any point in their tenure, let alone when they’re new.

          1. fposte

            To single out one point for more focus–I would explicitly address the complaining, too, and not just talk about the duties. It’s fine to request the possibility of a change, but to daily whine that you don’t like something? Oh, hell, no. The manager can nicely emphasize that we prefer to work in a positive atmosphere and we can all contribute to that, and that it’s unprofessional to daily complain about a situation that’s not going to change and that’s yours to walk away from.

            1. Anonymously

              Negativity breeds more negativity! She isn’t whining but bringing up how dull something is that is necessary in training does not help anyone.

              1. LMW

                Does the training perhaps need to be updated to be more engaging? That can also effect the rate at which people learn (I know if I’m getting trained on something and it’s really boring, I have trouble focusing and remembering). Did anyone else have that class in college where the professor went on long tangents in a monotone?

        2. Lisa

          People expect to be CEOs in like one-year and while some industries allow for rapid growth there is a beginning period in every job where you need to actively listen before trying to change things.

        3. Chloe

          While I can see your point about the complaining, I actually have some sympathy for your employee – she isn’t yet doing the job she applied for. If its her first job she’s probably pretty confused about why she isn’t doing it already.

          I think you need to give her more information – you say she thinks she’s learned already, but she hasn’t, so tell her how you know that she hasn’t learned enough. Give her some goals and a way to recognise her progress. Give her something to aim for, so that she can see the point of it all. Yes it would be nice if she just sat quietly and did all you asked, promptly and without complaint, but as thats not happening you need to change the way you’re approaching her. Or replace her. Your call.

          1. Jamie

            I agree with all of this, give her specifics.

            When I’ve had people complain about something being boring I have a standard speech I trot out about how all jobs have parts which are routine and not that exciting, but important. The best way to deal with them is to become expert at them and be as efficient as possible so they are basically mechanized…that way you reduce errors and have more time for the more creative/interesting parts of their jobs.

            I’ve also found that the best way to get those crappy jobs taken from you is by increasing your value to the point it’s no longer cost effective to have you doing whatever lower level work you hate. But that never happens unless you rock those jobs first – because if you excel they replace those jobs with higher level crap you will grow to hate (j/k kinda) but if you’re incompetent they eventually replace you.

            1. Lily

              This is also my strategy, but you’ve put it in words! I hope it isn’t plagiarism if I use them in the future?

    1. Good_Intentions

      Possible view from the employee’s side, which requires me to speculate and ask many questions. Please take it with a grain of salt, as I lack specific information for your particular case.

      Here goes:

      She could see your decision to delay giving her the tasks for which she was hired as a bit of a “bait and switch.” Just curious, does the work she views as “boring” and “dull” actually reflect what her job description was when hired? Has your new employee had any opportunity–real or simulated in training– to do anything more than remedial training work?

      You really need to provide a firm, factual explanation with a timeline for her to move forward. Otherwise, you might find yourself going through the same long, laborious hiring and training process with another applicant.

      Also, I must inquire as to why did you hire someone who knows so very little about your industry? Does your industry not have a plethora of qualified and available applicants who already have the knowledge your seeking to build up in your current employee?

      Let me reiterate that I just posted this as a different point of view for your position. I don’t know you, so you may have already addressed these issues.

    2. Spreadsheet Monkey

      Did you explain to her that this is an introduction into your industry? Did you hire her for “the job she applied for?” I’ve been on the employee side of this equation. I was hired to do a specific job, but when I started, they only let me do basic, intro-type admin work. I brought it up to my boss, professionally, but he just kept brushing me off. I wasn’t new to either the professional world or the industry.

      I agree that parts of every job are boring and dull, but you grit your teeth and just get through them. But it’s really difficult when you feel that you’ve been the victim of a bait-and-switch hiring, which is how I would feel based on your description of the issue.

      1. Elise

        That was my though too. Unless you specifically told her in the job offer that she was not going to be doing what she applied to do, this is a situation where the employer is the one behaving badly.

        1. Anonymous

          Thirded. If she was hired for a particular job and isn’t doing it, you need to tell her why and when she can start doing her job.

  10. HumbleOnion

    Excellent advice. I’d also have a word with your other employee, the one who has trouble saying no. You might give her some pointers about setting appropriate boundaries – even if it’s just saying ‘Boss doesn’t want me to teach you this anymore.’

  11. PEBCAK

    One side thing: I hope that nobody in the interview process told her that she’d have a chance to do X, at least not in any context other than “yes, we also do X here, that could possibly be a future path for you”. It doesn’t sound like that was the case here, but I’ve seen other people get into positions where they were promised one thing and given another, and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the other side of this letter if she wrote to AAM.

    1. Sasha

      This is possible. I remember at my last job, a woman was hired to be a trainer and started trying to run the department, claiming that she was promised the director’s position after 6 months by the guy that hired her. There was a huge blow-up (I had left the company at that point, but heard about it) and she was eventually fired. Is there any way for OP to ascertain this?

      1. PEBCAK

        Well, I was thinking of a more benign example. Let’s say I hired a developer, and she said her future goal is to manage IT projects, and I pointed out that many of our PM’s started out as developers. If, three months in, I found her at a colleague’s desk asking to be shown the ins-and-outs of MSProject, I would still need to correct that, but in a different way.

        1. Sasha

          Yes, that was a bit extreme. I see what you are saying though, my manager often tells people interviews that there is growth in the position in the way of X, Y, and Z. So I can see how it might be reasonable to discuss this type of growth during an interview.

      2. AP

        A receptionist I hired once told my boss that I promised her something (a salary review after six months, I think) during the hiring process that I KNEW there was no way I would have ever agreed to. Causing me to laugh out loud when he asked me. Did not make her look any more reliable! But sometimes you can be completely upfront with people and they still hear what they want to hear, even to the point of thinking it’s true and arguing the point later.

        1. twentymilehike

          But sometimes you can be completely upfront with people and they still hear what they want to hear, even to the point of thinking it’s true and arguing the point later.

          This times a million. I’d be tempted to ask her out right to reiterate what you said to her because it doesn’t sound like she’s understanding what’s being said.

          Real life example: My customers are told a time frame that their custom orders will be done in (say two to three weeks). I have tried many, many ways to make it very clear that the production time varies from two to three weeks, then we ship the order. I frequently get calls on day one of the third week from people who are vehemntly upset that their order isn’t already on their doorstep. They hear “three weeks” and then stop listening. It must be human nature …

          1. twentymilehike

            Oh, I meant “second” and “two” instead of “third” at “three” at the end of my little story. I’m on a roll today! Time for more coffee …

            I was also thinking that I get a little like this employee might … I get bored with my day-to-day duties, so I’ll take on new projects without instruction (I know, not apples to apples, since I’m in a position to do so). But part of it is that I’m largely alone and completely unsupervised. I don’t know if this employee has a lot of autonomy in their original role, but if that’s the case, she may be someone who needs to have someone checking in with her regular work on a regular basis; someone just to make sure she’s pointed in the right direction. It might be easier than going through the whole hiring process again and then see if she ends up adapting appropriately. Or maybe it’s just not the job for her.

    2. A Bug!

      While it’s something to consider I would be surprised if the employee hadn’t explicitly said “I was told I would get to learn to do X when I came in for my interview, why am I being told otherwise now?”

      1. Long Time Admin

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the HR person told her that. I’ve never known an HR person who knew anything about any of the jobs they were interviewing for.

  12. DA

    I’m wondering what is causing the employee to want to learn how to do this other position? Has the OP addressed this? Doing so may take care of the problem.

    In addition, has the OP addressed her employees poor performance in her current role? I don’t think that was mentioned in her letter, but she may want to focus on that issue as well.

    Get these two things done and it may help fix the problem itself.

  13. fposte

    I love the simple clarity of “she’s not responding to the words that most people would respond to.” That’s often a really challenging characteristic of a person (as we know from all the comments about co-workers who aren’t getting fairly broad “go away now” indications), and I think there’s often an understandable undertone of bafflement to the queries in such cases.

    But I also think that people who don’t respond to the words that most people would respond to are likely to be pretty hard work all along, so I hope she’s extra good to make up for this.

  14. Anon

    While I agree with the comments above, I also wonder if you have not been very clear in your communication to this employee.

    You say: I did talk to her about it, saying that we need her more in her department than this one and that we hire people with experience specifically for this department. I tried to deter her and tell her to concentrate on the job she was hired to do.

    It sounds like perhaps she hasn’t understood that your response is also based on her skills and performance.

    Especially if she is new to the workforce, she may believe that she is highly capable but hasn’t been given the chance to show it, and that she will wow you by taking the initiative.

    1. fposte

      He’s told her twice to knock it off, though. If she believes that he’ll be impressed by her initiative at doing what she was told twice not to do, that’s a kind of distorted thinking that no managerial communication can cure.

      1. K

        Hmm, I don’t know. The potential lack-of-directness (and it’s only potential; it could have been perfectly clear in person) pinged for me. Granted, it’s still inappropriate regardless. But it sounds like how this might have come off to her was “Study up on X and someday you can have the knowledge needed to do it!” Which would be fine if she was (a) doing a stellar job on her current responsibilities, and (b) not distracting other employees and potentially screwing up X as well. So both those things need to be directly communicated to her (which I thought Allyson’s script did).

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          While I totally agree that managers often aren’t direct enough, I can’t think of anything that would justify the employee accusing the manager of not wanting to teach her because he doesn’t like her. In this case, I’m pretty sure the problem is with the employee, even if there’s also room for the manager to be more direct.

          1. K

            That is a good point! I skipped over that in the reading because it’s that kind of day, apparently.

            1. A Bug!

              I had forgotten that tidbit and it really just cements my impression of the employee as a person who looks at the employee-manager relationship as an adversarial one, where she believes the manager’s goal is to thwart her success rather than facilitate it. Which makes me think she’s either come from some fairly dysfunctional workplaces or she’s the kind of person who’d do exactly that if the positions were reversed.

              1. fposte

                Maybe I’m feeling particularly merciless today, but my additional thought is that it while it doesn’t sound like it’s because the OP dislikes her, it wouldn’t matter if that was the reason anyway. Your boss gets to tell you to stick to your work when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do.

  15. Mishsmom

    Brandy mentioned this – and it’s such good advice – make sure there’s a formal letter following – or an email – something in writing. people such as this might try to take advantage, split hairs, etc. follow up in writing with her.

    1. Good_Intentions

      Mishsmom, I fully concur with your support of Brandy’s comment about documenting conversations with the employee.

      However, I would take it a step further and suggest both parties, employer and employee, each keep a written record. You would be surprised at the different ways two people can read the same conversation. It might shed some light on why the OP’s employee believes that she’s beings thwarted in her attempts to achieve her ambitions, while the employers sees her way of assuming more responsibilities as disruptive, disrespectful and cause for firing down the line.

  16. Krissy

    If I did not read this myself I’d say it was made-up–
    I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that the employee generally is dictating her own career path. Perhaps I’m spoiled or too logical but in general each new position even with experience there is a learning curve and should be clearly defined.. it will take x amount of time to be fully proficient in this position.
    It’s hard to believe just after 3 months she feels she has mastered her current position. I think in addition to the “”talk” it should include clearly defined goals and the expectation of performance in her current role. In the corporate culture that I’ve worked in the past, new to the work force or not- if a conversation has taken place and the employee continued on the path as if it did not occur. This person would be “cut”.. no room for hand holding.. this is just the start of your problems.

    1. Sasha

      I think it comes down to her personality, I have known people who are just the pushy types that are accustomed to putting this kind of tenacious pressure on people and getting what they want, even if it’s just a bit of your sandwich.

      1. Jamie

        I just had to try to explain to my husband why I was sitting here giggling to myself because the thought of people bound and determined to appropriate sandwiches is funny.

        So once again, trying to explain who you all are to a guy who has never visited a forum and doesn’t acknowledge the existence of non- corporeal people…then my youngest who was eavesdropping yells, from the other room, “mom and her imaginary friends…don’t try to understand…”

        Hee.

        1. Elizabeth West

          L o L

          I had to try and explain to certain members of my family that the people in my chat room are, in fact, real live people. Imagine how that went when I started dating one.

        2. AMG

          Btw, I already liked you before, but extra props for the Kiss Hello Kitty. Coolest thing I have seen in a while!

    2. steve G

      This is totally possible. You overestimate the length of time to become proficient in some positions. I once did order entry and knew how to handle 80% of the situations in 3 months, and knew how to get the answer the other 20% by that time. So after 3 months there, I totally wouldn’t have turned away new responsibilities.

      Second, this might not have been as rediculously crazy as you thing in person. Especially in environments where people sit in an open layout and get glimpses into what other people are doing and what projects are going around.

      I think that transparency gives people a false confidence (such as with the problem employee) to think they can step in and learn difficult tasks. After all, “Mr. X right over there does it. I just see him sitting at his computer all day, just like me,” even though you have no idea what he is actually doing at the computer. His head may be about to explode from the stress of the work; he may have taken 4 years of vba training to make the model he is doing,

  17. jesicka309

    Hmmm this is interesting. Young workers are always told these days to take the initiative, and that the way to get promoted is to take on the responsibilities of the job you wanted. It sounds like the employee is taking this sort of advice to heart.
    I’m interested in what her current role actually entails. Is it data entry? Personal Assistant? I know when I started at my current role, it took me three days before I could work independently, and two weeks before I realised that I had learnt everything there was to learn. I was heartbroken – it was supposed to be my big break, and it was data entry that a high school kid could do. I couldn’t accept that after 16 years of study, my first post-uni job only took 2 weeks to learn.
    I did everything I could to convince my supervisors to cross-train me across teams. It finally made them realise that their high turnover was *maybe* to do with the lack of progression and learning – hiring uni grads to do this sort of job was a bit stupid, if you expected them to hang around for years doing data entry. They’ve since started hiring back to work mums, long term data entry temps etc who are content in a stable role, and don’t want/need the learning and progression.
    OP, I know this employee is going about this the wrong way, but it couldn’t hurt for you to have a look at what her role is. Is she hearing from other staff ‘oh, no one EVER gets promoted in this place because they won’t train anyone’? While her work might not be perfect, is there a target level of ‘skill’ she needs to reach before she *can* begin to learn new areas? And finally, does she know she’s not performing top notch work? If she’s only three months into the job, she may have no idea what is average and what is stellar, and could have very misguided ideas about how well she is doing.

    1. Chloe

      I agree with this. Although the employee is being a total pain, especially in going behind her managers back to get training, for all you know she has all her friends and family telling her that this is how to get ahead in business and she needs to take the initiative, do the job she wants to have etc etc. She sounds really immature – suggesting the manager doesn’t like her is so unprofessional – but being immature is a side effect of being young, and she probably deserves a chance to remedy it.

      1. fposte

        She’s been getting a chance to remedy it, though, and she’s not doing it. I’m not saying it’s to a must-fire point, though I wouldn’t think poorly of a manager who opted for the three strikes rule and turfed her. I’m all for the OP trying one last time to walk her through the “You are not doing your job and will get fired if you keep doing this, plus stop bitching,” but she is currently waaaay too much work for her job, and it’s not the OP’s responsibility to ensure she pulls herself together. There’s only so much a manager can be expected to expend labor hours on, even it’s to combat an employee’s voices at home.

    2. AB

      “Hmmm this is interesting. Young workers are always told these days to take the initiative, and that the way to get promoted is to take on the responsibilities of the job you wanted. It sounds like the employee is taking this sort of advice to heart.”

      Perhaps what is missing from this advice is *how* to take the right type of initiative. You don’t go about it “totally bypassing the manager’s permission” as the OP described.

      The right way to go about taking initiative in circumstances like that is to talk to your manager: “I’m finishing my tasks early every day, and I was wondering if there’s anything else on the critical path of our department’s work that I could be helping with.”

      At this point, the employee could even have ask about doing X, but accepting the manager’s decision rather than insisting on having his/her way. This is a typical example of initiative without organizational savvy (understanding of the management’s viewpoint and the organizational boundaries of the workplace), which is not helpful to advance anyone’s career.

      1. jesicka309

        I’m tipping the employee is having conversations like this at home:
        Dad: So how was work?
        Her: Boring. I’m so sick of ABC!
        Mum: Have you asked Boss about doing X yet?
        Her: No, of course not. Boss has made it VERY clear that they want me doing ABC forever and ever.
        Dad: What if you just talked to the guy who does X? I’m sure he’d be happy to talk to you.
        Mum: Just take the initiative!
        Her: Yeah, X guy said that he’s been told not to teach me. I’m sure if Boss who hates me hadn’t done that, X guy would have trained me already!

        Parents should not be allowed to give advice… or at least bad advice that create entitlement.

        1. Lulu

          This. Still haunted by the spectre of a recent-grad new hire who felt that since she understood the basics of her job within a few weeks, she was due for a promotion. This was absolutely encouraged by her parents, who she would also call for advice when she ran into work-related issues! I tried to gently point out that since her parents were employed in a totally different geographic area (with different workplace norms) in TOTALLY different industries (with radically different ways of operating) and obviously different levels of seniority, they were perhaps not the best people to turn to for advice… never mind the whole parent-child weird suggestions dynamic.

          I do also agree with the cultural element – particularly with this job market, I think people are so encouraged to be hardcore go-getters if they want to succeed that the bar for “initiative” is perceived as higher and higher, and the whole effort can go horribly wrong with no guidance/experience as to the difference between being pro-active and being insubordinate. And no joke re: the “reality tv” comment! It certainly does feel like those who watch that programming are constantly being shown examples of people being rewarded for obnoxiousness…

          If this employee IS new to the workplace, it might help to just be really clear about the timeline/milestones for progressing (in addition to Alison’s advice about following directions!), so they realize they’re not doing themselves any favors by heading off the path – they may just just need some de-programming and time to mature a bit. It’s a little hard to get past the “you just don’t like me” thing, but I’ve been working hard to have at least a little sympathy for the demographic that’s been told they should be CEO by the age of 24.

        2. Adam V

          Hilarious!

          I can picture this. It’s too bad there’s no easy way to tell an employee “if someone gave you this advice, it’s dead wrong and don’t ever listen to them about work-related behavior again.”

  18. Steve G

    I think OP still needs to follow jesicka309’s train of thought. I’m picturing this as a simple job with not many challenges or variety. Maybe she is not even busy all day so is doing this partially from not feeling important.

    Maybe the AAM recommended talk could be had, but you compromise by giving the specialized work to a more senior staff member, and giving part of that staff member’s work to the problem employee.

    I’m recommending this because from the tone of the OP, it sounds more along the lines of something like advanced accounting/finance work, which will be spreadsheet based and teachable – not something where experience is 100% required, and the skills are hard to teach, such as “experience coordinating mergers and acquisitions.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      But you really don’t want to reward bad behavior — particularly this kind of demanding behavior after only 3 months on the job. Moreover, it sounds like the OP simply doesn’t believe that what the employee is requesting would be good for the business. The OP shouldn’t be pushed into giving her work he doesn’t want to give her — although, as I said at the end of the post, if she’d gone about it in a different way, he might have been more open to considering it.

    2. EM

      Whoa. I’d be livid if my boss gave some of my specialized tasks to a new hire with 3 months of experience and isn’t particularly good at her actual job. If “task x” is highly specialized and mission critical, I imagine the company would like to keep the employee who is currently in the role.

    3. Jamie

      I’m recommending this because from the tone of the OP, it sounds more along the lines of something like advanced accounting/finance work, which will be spreadsheet based and teachable – not something where experience is 100% required, and the skills are hard to teach, such as “experience coordinating mergers and acquisitions.”

      Isn’t it funny how when the specifics aren’t provided we tend to fill them in with our own? I do it too – when I was reading this it felt like someone hired to do order entry who wanted to learn SolidWorks and engineering drawing. Specialized skill, not easily taught…

      It just interests me how we fill in the blanks and that can sometimes color our responses. I have to admit I’m curious as to what the task is – because I’m trying to think of any task in which “mistakes cannot be undone” and outside of surgeon or trapeze artist I’m having a hard time coming up with one where mistakes aren’t fixable (albeit a pita).

      That would have no bearing on how I think it should be handled though – no matter the task the approach is pushy and unprofessional and needs to be addressed…I’m just nosy.

          1. FreeThinkerTX

            I was thinking along the lines of custom manufacturing with rare, hard-to-source, raw materials. One mistake, and you have to scrap the whole thing and start over… including finding new raw materials! It would be very expensive and would make the customer very unhappy (production time goes from, say, 3 months to 1 year).

    4. Kelly O

      By “compromising” you are basically teaching this person that if you’re not allowed to do what you want to do, all you need to do is be a royal pain in the arse, pester other people, and ignore workplace protocol, and someone will eventually give in to your “persistence.”

      It’s not a good idea for this company’s business practices. The employee has been told more than once to stop.

      And, quite frankly, I don’t buy the whole “this is too simple or easy” as an excuse for someone trying to take over another person’s job. Sometimes, a job does not have to be complex to require you pay attention and follow protocol. Because some things are easier, they tend to have more issues, since many people will assume they already know how to do it, and just breeze through. Mistakes made in those small, simple tasks can cause huge issues down the line.

      Never mind the employee is putting a coworker in an awkward position by trying to circumvent the boss and get training she’s not supposed to have. There are just a lot of red flags here that need to be addressed, not danced around delicately.

      If the OP’s employee had shown a little more tact, I might be more open to a different level of discussion. And as I’d mentioned before, if the employee is new to the workplace there can be that element to the discussion, but the behavior has to stop. Period.

      Not just for this OP, but for anyone else this person will work for down the line.

  19. Scott M

    Could I offer a suggestion?

    The OP might NOT want to use the phrases “remain in your current job”, “remain in your current position”, and “transition out of the organization”.

    These might be too vague for such an employee. You might need to use more blunt terms such as “lose your job”, ” terminate employment”, and”fired”. Lots of employees might not understand the ‘gentler’ terms.

    1. Sam

      Good point, considering that the OP’s previous conversations have fallen on deaf ears. Sounds like it’s time to be ruthlessly blunt.

    2. EngineerGirl

      Agree. ” I have told you twice to work on xyz an not D. If you do it again it will be viewed as insubordination and you will be fired. “

    3. Rana

      Yup. Whenever I was counseling students at the midterms, it was generally more effective (and kinder in the long run), to say “You are going to fail the class if you do not do x, y, and z” instead of “If you do x, y, and z, you have a chance of passing the class.” Students in that position almost always heard the “passing the class” part and tuned out everything else.

  20. skylark

    Is she overqualified for her position? Would the specialized skills, if mastered, put her in competition with or ahead of the managers? It’s cynical but it’s not unheard of for managers to keep employees ‘in their place’ as a form of self-protection.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m not getting that sense here, since the issue is really that she was hired to do one clearly defined job and has been told not to do Job B, but is continuing to push and refusing to take no for an answer — things that aren’t okay to do, no matter the context.

    2. Kelly

      I have to agree with skylark here. This seems to be common in retail and small businesses where there may be little or no difference in hard, specialized skills between managers and the people they manage is not that much. The big difference is the soft skills and the personal connections. The manager and the people who have been with the employer longer may have the edge. It’s cynical but it’s not in the manager or employee’s best interest who has been there longer to say that “Jane is doing a wonderful job with her tasks and is wanting more responsibility. I think we may have something else for her to do.” Instead, they will nitpick on the one or two things Jane isn’t doing as well instead of praising her for the many other things she does well. I do wonder if the OP would be as hard on an employee who has been there longer. It is absolutely a form of self protection for higher ups and employees with longer tenure to have one set of looser standards for themselves and one set of more rigorous expectations for newer hires who could be a threat to them.

      I’m in that position at one job. I know I can do my manager’s job as well as she can, but there’s no room for advancement. I know when I had my review it was an insult. She ignored the many things I did well and instead focused on the fact that she didn’t think I wasn’t enough of a team player. It’s hard being a team player when she hires people who don’t do what they are supposed to do most of the time and you have to pick up the slack for them. There was a chance when corporate decided to do a restructure in store management positions last year at 80% of the stores. At the time, I felt that it wasn’t enough of a change and that all of the managers, full time associates, and office staff should have had to reinterview for their positions. I still feel the same way and that a complete housecleaning is necessary in most locations.

      1. Lily

        I would like to say that an employee cannot, by definition, do her manager’s job well unless she is already doing her own job well. Because if she were doing her manager’s job, she would have to address her own performance issues! If you are doing your job well, have you suggested helping out your manager?

        I agree that it is very annoying to pick up after other people, but have you considered that this gets worse when you become a manager? As a co-worker you can tell yourself that Anna is ignoring you because you’re peers. You might be shocked to realize that Anna is also ignoring her manager, but the manager has to observe the training process and then the disciplinary process which both take time, as they should. The manager is not having a picnic either. I suggest that your manager may be more likely to see you as manager material if you help her out by being a good example or positively influencing the slackers.

  21. Elise

    She’s absolutely going about it the wrong way, but I can understand her frustration. Her goal is to do X. Companies require experience to do X. How is she supposed to get that experience?

    It would be very helpful for her if you were able to outline a path to the goal that didn’t require already having that experience — maybe you can point her toward employers or programs that are willing to train for that skill.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Or, if the issue is that the OP isn’t interested in training her because he doesn’t believe she’d be good at it, he could say, “In order to consider you a serious candidate for X, I’d want to see a sustained track record of great attention to detail / more diplomatic customer service / meeting deadlines / whatever the issue is.”

  22. Chloe

    I have to say, this is making me wonder how much annoying behaviour I indulged in as a youngester! Not to the extent of this person, but *possibly* there were times I didn’t do quite what my managers wanted because I thought I knew better. (But to be clear, I didn’t suggest my manager didn’t like me, or go behind their back: that does sound like career suicide to me.)

    1. Lulu

      I think it’s easy to forget how alien the Working World is when someone first arrives, and not everyone has had the benefit of learning-experience internships. In addition to the fact you’re often dealing with people that essentially just worked their way to the top of their field (… in school) who don’t yet realize they’ve been demoted to the bottom again.

  23. Amber

    I think that if the conversation goes well and she understands that she needs to do A, B and C but can’t do X then perhaps throw a carrot out there so you don’t kill her motivation. Tell her “If over the next few months you do great at A, B and C then you can also get trained on D” (D being something that the company needs and she is also interested in learning).

  24. FD

    As an aside, it occurs to me that this kind of thing is part of why it’s so important to hold at least some kind of job before you graduate from college (and preferably high school, IMO). I think we all make some stupid, unprofessional errors when we’re starting out, but there’s much more forgiveness for them when you’re younger and in more basic jobs.

    At least for me, I look back on some of the things I did when I was working my first job at a fast food place and wince inwardly at some of the missteps I made, despite good intentions and I feel a reasonably good work ethic. But they didn’t end my career because it was expected that people of my age and at that position were going to sometimes not know how to act in the professional world.

    I look at some of my peers whose parents never encouraged them to start working in high school, and I feel that it’s a real disadvantage to not have gotten both the experience, and the relatively forgiving environment for mistakes.

  25. Lucy

    I’m mid-career and I’m really disagreeing with many of the comments here. That surprises me, because usually I’m onboard. I do believe it’s up to each individual to manage and carve their own career path. I’m probably just giving the employee too much faith, but if she’s simply trying to expand her skillset… I see that as a win for both employee and employer. However, if she’s doing so to the detriment of her current position and harming her organization, then that’s a lose for all obviously.

    As a compromise, why not consider allowing her to shadow her preferred career path 1 day a month? She should have stressed in her interview that she likes variety, or learning new skills, or open to experiences in other groups, etc.

    Part of the reason is that I’ve been nearly in her position before. Not obnoxious about it and not discouraged from it, but I’ve seen that happen too. There are plenty of managers who have no desire to see their employees grow in their career. There’s also plenty of discriminatory managers messing with folks. In my last job, there was a male manager that worked to ensure all female employees remained in Customer Service. Most of the male employees moved on to Tech Support. If a female expressed interest or general geekiness with an inclination toward computer tech support, she was actively discouraged from that role using very similar language to this OP. But, as a young employee, that could very well be her appropriate career path.

    I mean no disrespect to the OP, but it seems most of the responses aren’t even trying to see things from the employee side. I don’t wholly agree with the employee either. She needs to back off and find a more growth oriented opportunity. If the OP organization really can’t handle that in their employees, then she does need to move to another organization sadly.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hmmm. I think the factors that other people are responding to are that the employee is only three months into her job; she was hired to do Y and not X; the company hires people with a different background to do X and doesn’t need anyone else doing it; the manager doesn’t believe that she’s suited for X; X is high stakes, expensive, and crucial to their business; and the employee has been abrasive and inappropriate. This isn’t a case where the employee was hired to grow into X and is trying to do that; she wasn’t hired to do X at all and has no inherent claim to it.

      I can’t imagine a generally good employee insisting on doing work outside their department when they’d been specifically told not to, let alone only three months on the job, and let alone engaging in the behavior the OP describes. I also can’t imagine a manager rewarding this kind of behavior in this kind of context — what a terrible message to send to the employee and to other coworkers who are watching!

    2. Lulu

      I can sympathize with what you’re saying, Lucy, as I’ve also spent plenty of time trying to find ways to develop when it was obviously not something my manager was interested in facilitating. I’ve also been & seen others hired for one thing and then required to do something totally different, to everyone’s frustration.

      For my part, the reason I’m not really siding with the employee in this case is that I’m taking the OP at face value when they describe the scenario: this person is 3-months-new and insisting on doing a job that they are aware is not theirs to do, to the detriment of the company, and is not only ignoring the manager’s *repeated* instruction on work priorities but handling it in a very unprofessional way. I’m trying to give some credit in case they’re just inexperienced with the workplace in general, but unless the OP is presenting a highly skewed version of the way things have gone down, I feel that the way the employee has behaved is just not appropriate. So I’m operating under the assumption that the OP did not just hear “you don’t like me” when what the employee actually said was “I’m frustrated that this job is not as you presented it, and would like an opportunity to add new skills and position myself for growth.” Although I’m fully aware that that sort of thing can happen, from the tone of the letter I don’t get the impression that this is the case here.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I hear ya, Lucy!
      I tend to think- that this woman is probably done with this job. Why?
      She feels the boss is not hearing her. (Skip the part about her not expressing her baseline goals.) And she feels the boss does not like her because of her murky lines between professional personality and personal individuality. Just because one’s professional behavior is annoying is not the same as saying that person is disliked. People are usually disliked for multiple reasons that play out over a long period of time.

      Professionally, nagging is never attractive. And it does make people duck in to small rooms to avoid hallway confrontations. This avoidance behavior combined with other behaviors can be construed as personal dislike. If she perceives herself as disliked – based on various non-verbal clues- she will decide she has to move on.

      It is too bad. It seems to me that all of this could have been avoided by simply saying “Boss, I love this company and I love my job. How can I grow here? What small steps can I take today to make myself a valuable employee?” So now the company is going to be out the hiring and training costs for her when she moves on and someone else needs to be hired.

      I have no idea what the job setting is- but I am picturing she works in the bookkeeping department and she is sneaking in to do BRAIN SURGERY. There are just some jobs out there that just do not lend themselves to spontaneity.

      I hope OP does some serious thinking about how to handle future situations. I look at Alison’s word choices and her directness. She has been through 100s of similar situations and has fine tuned her word choices as a result of all that she has seen. As supervisor I learned that I needed to be able to say the same thing three different ways in order for everyone to get the message. If I saw the same behavior a second time, I knew I needed to pick a different set of words. The previous set was not working out at all.

      1. Jamie

        I have no idea what the job setting is- but I am picturing she works in the bookkeeping department and she is sneaking in to do BRAIN SURGERY.

        This cracked me up. And if there is ever a scenario where someone besides a doctor is performing surgery on me I would want it to be someone from the accounting department. Calm, methodical, meticulous attention to detail.

        IT is going to be too aggravated and we’re used to most of the stuff we do not working on the first go round…don’t want one of my own poking around in there. Besides when something doesn’t work right we’re known to smack stuff.

        Operations will be too worried about big picture and EOM KPIs to focus on my actual life in their hands.

        HR will be frantically thumbing through the handbook to see what the policy says on operating on co-workers…while on hold with the labor attorney before proceeding.

        Engineering will prefer to design a new and improved me rather than repair the old one…that’s a death warrant.

        So basically if I had to trust someone with my life – it would be someone from finance. Just saying.

      2. Lily

        “As supervisor I learned that I needed to be able to say the same thing three different ways in order for everyone to get the message. If I saw the same behavior a second time, I knew I needed to pick a different set of words. The previous set was not working out at all.” Today, I said something for the third time and it finally clicked for one employee.

        Yesterday, I said something for the third time to someone else. I told her that if you want to discuss X, you will have to do Y and Z by A. I already said this in 2 emails addressed to the group and 1 email addressed to her, but some people need to hear it, too! I’m still waiting to see if her behavior will change, but I’m not worrying about it at all. My intention is to get her used to the idea that I mean what I say. If she shows up with just Y done, then I will ask her to schedule another meeting with me once she has Z done and end the meeting.

        It’s okay if someone occasionally doesn’t “get” something. But if someone continually doesn’t “get” it, then she takes up a lot of managerial time.

    4. EngineerGirl

      I could not disagree more strongly. The employee isn’t even meeting minimum performance requirements on her current job. Sorry, you don’t get stretch assignments until you perform well on your regular one. Plus, the employee is delusional if they think that they’ve mastered the job after 3 months. There is no way I would give them an assignment in a high stakes area if they are showing such bad judgement and poor work ethic in the current assignment. Opportunities are earned, not stolen.

      1. Kelly O

        This.

        She has only been in her current role three months. You really cannot “master” a position after three months to the point of being able to take on a whole other role, especially in something that has significant financial implications for the company.

        Initiative is good, but it’s like anything else. It needs to be in proper context and appropriate to time and place.

        1. Jamie

          I do think there are jobs you can master in less than 3 months – but rarely beyond entry level.

          I think it was a year for me until I felt I really felt comfortable with most aspects of my job. Closer to two before I felt like I totally owned it.

          Fake it till you make it totally works, btw. (Faked confidence, not skill…you can’t fake everything.)

      2. DA

        I agree. However, nowhere do I see anywhere with the OP dealing with the performance issues in the current job. The employee may not even realize that her performance sucks. If the OP would address these issues, it may refocus the employees attention and it may make that employee a much better worker. You never know until you deal with that issue.

  26. Lily

    I can understand that some jobs are easy and employees might be able to learn them fast and then do feel bored. Once the employee has mastered their job, I would then encourage cross-training, if possible, but maybe the employee who does X does not have the time to teach or the desire to get a foot into management by taking OP’s employee under her wing.

    However, I have also had employees who did not master their job and neglected their duties while they tried to take on tasks outside their job description. So, I can imagine the situation happening exactly as OP described, even if OP was perfectly clear! Like Alison said, “she’s not responding to the words that most people would respond to” and fposte said, “If she believes that he’ll be impressed by her initiative at doing what she was told twice not to do, that’s a kind of distorted thinking that no managerial communication can cure.”

  27. LMW

    My sister is a brand new supervisor (internal promotion, first time having direct reports and the people used to be peers) and she’s having a similar problem with one of her employees. This woman is not doing her own job well and was on a PIP when Sis got the new job. She’s since come off the PIP but keeps “meddling” (Sis’s word) with things that are out of her job description – doing deep, time-consuming research into areas way outside her job description to make sure all the details are right, bringing up outside-the-norm-scenarios in meetings to try to undermine Sis (making it look like there are problems they aren’t aware of/considering). Sis has talked to her a few times about it. But what really needs to happen is the employee needs to find a new job because her unhappiness in the current role is making her obnoxious.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Your sister also needs to be more assertive and direct with the employee, not leave it in the employee’s court to decide to leave on her own! Your sister needs to set clear boundaries with the employee for what is and isn’t okay and enforce consequences if those boundaries aren’t met.

      1. LMW

        I agree completely! I think my sis is awesome, smart and will probably be a great manager…but she’s so dang nice, being assertive in tough situations will be where she needs to develop. I have, of course, pointed her towards this blog for all the great new-manager advice.

    2. Jamie

      Pet peeve of mine – while I truly and genuinely appreciate feedback and when people bring potential issues to the fore, because I don’t see all pitfalls from my own pov, I HATE when people take this into the realm of the impossible, just to be difficult.

      Real life anecdote – in maintaining our website I check all updates in IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera – both desktop and mobile.

      Former co-worker: “What about Netscape?”
      Me: “No, I don’t test for Netscape.”
      FCW: I have a relative who is still using windows 95 and Netscape – so there are people out there still using it.
      Me: “If it turns out that there is more than one person doing this I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

      I HATE when people do this!

      1. fposte

        It’s sort of the failure equivalent of rules-lawyering, isn’t it? It’s so common that I’m surprised there isn’t a term for it. Possibility-lawyering?

      2. KellyK

        I’d reply that if someone’s still using Windows 95, their computer is probably old enough that the page is never going to load anyway, so they’ll never notice whether it’s compatible with their browser or not.

        1. Jamie

          That is probably why in the 4.5 years I’ve been updating and maintaining this site I have yet to get one complaint from any of the myriad (phantom) Netscape users I was warned about!

          1. Jill of All Trades

            They’re probably using a dial-up connection too! I didn’t know Netscape was even still around…

            1. mh_76

              Some of us can’t afford high-speed/DSL/Cable etc. *sniff*
              Yes, the various companies do have the low-rate teaser “deals” but the fine print says that the lower rate will disappear after 6 mos or a year and is only for customers who are new to their company. I already have cable and phone service through the 2 main companies that offer service here and I’ve heard nothing good about the third. So until I have the money, I’ll have to stick to being a Dinosaur in that respect. (and I’ve decided that the soon-to-happen smart iPad purchase trumps upgrading my internet service…there are lots of Sbux and the Library nearby for those times when I do need a faster connection…or I wait until visiting the folks and use theirs).

              1. twentymilehike

                Yes, the various companies do have the low-rate teaser “deals” but the fine print says that the lower rate will disappear after 6 mos or a year and is only for customers who are new to their company

                OT, but check with your local cable companies … I’ve been in this position, as well. The last time I moved I signed up for new service and they gave me a promo. I asked what the cost would be when the promo is over and they honestly could not give me an answer. They said it depended on multiple things. They told me that when the year was up, call them and they put you back on the promo plan. Weird, no? I wish they’d just make a reasonable fixed price ….

              2. fposte

                There was some AT&T deal with the state or utilities commission where they had to offer low-cost DSL. It was slow and it wasn’t promoted, but I had $15 DSL for well over two years until I upgraded to slightly faster DSL.

              3. Adam V

                Yet another reason I hope Google Fiber takes off – they have a plan with a one-time $300 charge!

  28. AMG

    This post is quite update worthy. I’m guessing Pushie doesn’t last very long at her job, but I’m curious to hear how it plays out.

  29. Anonymous

    Is it possible that this employee took this job with the hope of moving into another role? I think AAM has received this question in the past from job-seekers. This is a great cautionary tale for those who want to try this.

  30. Anon for now

    Please don’t overlook your X employee’s need for help in fending off Pushie. Most of us seem to be assuming you’ve told her that she cannot train Pushie. Have you asked her to send Pushie to you if she comes asking for training? Have you talked with her about her own workload, and the effects of training time for Pushie on it? Might she in fact be interested in training, and how it might be improved from the training she got – in the skill set, & in how it fits into your workplace? Is there something else in the pipeline for her that you’d be glad to begin adding to her own task list if she does have some free time ? And, have you told her she will hear from *you* directly if there comes a time when you might consider asking her to train Pushie on anything? Reminding her of the importance of her own work to the organization, & the quality of her work/attention to detail, etc, might help her say No to Pushie & any future requesters if she sees the need for particular qualities & an overview of the situation before letting random coworkers get sticky fingers into her system. I assume, too, that you have reviewed staffing & workload with her as part of reassuring her that Pushie isn’t going to be getting any part of her own job.

    I agree with the comments above that Pushie needs to be on a really short rein. Does she have qualities that make you want to help groom her? She sounds like a lot of work, & a significant disruption. Is she worth it?

    Good luck!

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