4 reader updates: a manager on another team criticized my work, toilet trauma, and more

Here are four more updates from readers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. A manager on another team criticized my work

I did take your advice and speak with my manager when they came back, and I tried to sound as manner of fact as possible. My manager did support me and ultimately it appears that I inadvertently walked into a bit of a nightmare in terms of intraoffice politics, one that was ongoing before I made the proposal. The proposal was quietly dropped, however since then another manager has reviewed the work, found the proposed process worthwhile and is resubmitting it with some modifications (the other manager is more experienced than I (and a pleasure to work with) and is adding some nuance.)

In the time since, for several other reasons, I have reconsidered my fit within the organization, and the differences in focus and approach between myself and the company. While I am extremely grateful for my time at my company, I decided that it was time to move on to an organization with some different approaches and focuses. I did get another position, and, in a bit of a twist, I’ll be developing the design processes and systems for them. This month should be my last month at my current company.

I’m thankful for the advice from you and all of the people who commented. It’s great to hear from other people, and I found the advice valuable in terms of dictating my approach and being more aware of potential personality conflicts.

2. The reader wondering who makes hiring decisions — HR or the hiring manager? (#1 at the link)

In late August, I interviewed for a full-time position for the State of Minnesota. About a month later, I was notified that I got the job and started shortly after receiving the offer. In my job, which is data entry, there are several different forms to input into the database. Each one is different, each one has different rules and procedures in how to enter the information provided. It’s more than just sitting in front of a computer and mindlessly typing.

My boss has told me that I’m doing fantastic because I quickly and efficiently learned how to enter each form, plus I’ve been entering twice as many documents with minimal errors. She told me that the number of documents I’m entering on a daily basis is equivalent to the average employee who has been there for six months while I’ve only been there for two. This is a great job, since it’s rewarding and I work with excellent people. Now all I have to do is pass this six-month probationary period…

3. The coworker who was always peeing on top of the toilet seat (#6 at the link)

I emailed and asked what to do about a coworker who was urinating on top of the toilet seat; well…things got worse before they got better.

It stopped for a couple weeks after she overheard us (intentionally) speaking rather loudly outside her office about the gross factor. However, when it came back, it came back with a vengeance. She stopped “sprinkling” the toilet seats and started just using the floor in front of the toilet.

Eventually, one person walked into the restroom and slipped and fell. Incident reports had to be filed, clinic visits etc. Not pretty. Plus the gross factor! Eww!

The VP came to our offices and was red faced mad, one email from him that pretty much said to whomever, you are a gross disgusting person in need of psychological help, do it again and I will personally hunt you down, embarrass you in front of the entire corporation and fire you.

It stopped. Go figure.

4. New hire quit after five days — should I alert her references?

As saw the comments on the blog, I realized I should’ve included more details about our field and the references I was thinking of. I explained this in comments at the time, but to recap: the references I was thinking of telling are two peers of mine in a pretty small field, and I tend to see them in passing pretty regularly. I was never thinking of cold-calling people I have no connection to. Since I always thank my colleagues who give me good hiring tips, and since I’d never previously had a hire fizzle out like this, I was thinking they’d want to know what had happened. I’d want them to do the same if the situations were reversed.

As it turned out, I didn’t see those colleagues (her references) for a couple of weeks, and decided after a while that it wasn’t worth bringing up. The woman who left our office has chosen a different-enough field that I suspect she won’t be returning to our industry, nor need those references. It was a pretty disruptive month for us, but after another search, I hired a great replacement and everything has been running smoothly ever since. Thanks for fielding my question, and for your help!

{ 61 comments… read them below }

    1. fposte

      I know–that would get you a “worst workplace story” here, that’s for sure!

      It does sound like the “perpetrator” (to use Bug’s great phrase) was a genuine pee terrorist and not just somebody with a cultural practice or germ phobia. I have to say, I’d find it very hard to work with somebody who apparently was deliberately splashing the bathroom with bodily wastes–not because of the germs, but because I think that’s a degree of anti-sociality that makes me highly wary and a wee bit (sorry) ragey.

      1. Yup

        I sat at my desk shaking with silent laughter over “peepetrator.” That was brilliant.

        And I share your rage at the anti-social implications, which is why I love the VP’s “I will hunt you down” email.

        1. Rebecca

          I love the VP’s response too. I wish more management would just step up and put a halt to nonsense instead of “oh, we need to get along, and be nice to each other, here, let’s hold hands and sing Kumbaya”.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I picture her saying it like that President Roslin moment in Battlestar Galactica where she says, “I will use every cannon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eye teeth to end you! I swear it! I’m coming for you!”

          1. Trillian

            Hah! I’ve added that one to Delenn’s “As you value your lives, be somewhere else,” and Ivanova’s, “I am the right hand of God” speeches from Babylon 5.

            AAM, how about a holiday thread of leadership, management, teamwork (or dysfunction), recruitment etc, in the movies and TV (and any other media)? You could start the ball rolling with your favourites (Hint, hint).

    2. AF

      I can’t even. I must’ve missed that original post but I can’t believe no one reported her and that she wasn’t fired. I can only begin to imagine what other horrible behavior she engages in at the office.

          1. Jamie

            If the OP is reading – did the company reimburse her for her clothing?

            I don’t care how clean you can get clothes, they’d be ruined for me. And shoes? They’d have to go in the trash.

            I guess technically not the company’s fault, but on the premises…I really hope she got something toward replacement cost.

      1. FiveNine

        I’m kind of surprised she wasn’t fired, either, after all that and then the injury and company liability. I mean, what does a person have to do to get fired there?

        1. Anna

          I think, even thought the OP was pretty sure who it was, it would be hard to take that to the VP. “It was so-and-so! She did it!” As it is, the VP didn’t know and was technically giving the guilty party a chance to hit the toilet or hit the road.

  1. Ann Furthermore

    #3: OMG. Just, OMG. I can’t even think of anything else to say other than OMG.

    Oh — here’s one thing — I’m glad it stopped.

  2. Zelos

    #3

    Egads, slot that one in as a contender for worst coworker. Just…wow.

    And yeah, I’m glad it stopped. o_o

  3. MR

    Slipping and falling in pee? That has to be the best update of all time. It’s going to be tough to top that in the future.

  4. Leigh

    Secret Santa sex toys, a woman setting back feminism by 50 years, peepetrators–this day of posts is the best Christmas gift you could have given us.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I have taken a very very rare day off of work in order to clean my house and prepare for holiday company and I can’t get off AAM instead.

      I leave for 10 minutes and something new and shocking has been posted!

    2. Jan Arzooman

      Agreed, this has been one of the most entertaining Ask A Manager days in a while! We had a peepetrator+ at my last job and I’m thankful that it’s never happened in my current office.

      Thanks and Happy Holidays to Alison and all.

    3. A Bug!

      This whole week’s letters have had some real, uh, gems. I think my faith in humanity has been irreparably damaged.

      1. Ruffingit

        Mine already was. Now, I’m considering volunteering for either suicide or that mission to Mars because living on this planet doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

  5. Jamie

    I had a physical stress response to #3 (although shouldn’t it have been #1 you know, ‘cuz it’s about #1…just sayin’ :))

    Seriously, I want to go around and hug each and every one of my female coworkers and thank them for using the toilet properly.

    I promise to stop getting aggravated at the one who splashes water all over the sink counter without wiping it up and the other one who leaves little bits of paper towel all over the floor. They are both forgiven.

  6. Nyxalinth

    The woman just peed on the floor, in front of the toilet? You aren’t a cat, lady Find another way to express your annoyance. Better yet, just quit. That’s the sort of passive-aggressive hostility that no one needs.

    1. BadPlanning

      It leaves me wondering about her motivation. Does she hate her coworkers? The company? Does she have some sort of weird toliet phobia?

      And I feel awful for the person that slipped and fell. Aside from the physical pain of falling, can you image filling out the forms? “I slipped on a wet spot” “Oh, did the cleaning crew not put out a caution sign?” “Uh no, it wasn’t that kind of wet spot…”

      1. Chinook

        I too am trying to imagine the forms for worker’s compensation and having to explain to them doctor why you fell. Personally, I would feel the need to emphasize that it wasn’t my pee I slipped in because I know how to aim. And I agree with Jamie, this woman deserves replacement clothing and even a day at the spa to thoroughly detoxify. If this happened to a coworker, I wold be taking up the collection because. EEWWW!

      1. Chinook

        Not, you cat – he showed his disproval of DH by sleeping with another woman by peeing in DH’s bed repeatedly. I love my cat!

  7. AdAgencyChick

    Thanks to #3, I will never again complain about people who don’t flush, because now I know how much worse things can be.

    I just have no words for the level of flabbergastedness.

    1. Rye-Ann

      I’ve never encountered pee on the floor in a bathroom, but at my school, people sprinkle/pee on the toilet seats ALL THE DAMN TIME. Half the time I go into a bathroom, I have to try more than one stall just to find one that doesn’t have pee on it. It’s very gross, and after seeing it so much, it’s gotten pretty old. :\

        1. Anna

          Agreed. For a long time I thought people were sprinkling on the seat and not cleaning up. Then one day I flushed the toilet and noticed a lot of splash from the force of the water in the bowl. I still dry it off, though, lest someone think I’M the grody grossington.

  8. Anonymous

    #2 – A good data entry person is worth their weight in gold! Some people just don’t get it, and when they enter data it is totally painful on my end trying to reconcile and work with it. OMG you have no idea!

    1. Another Emily

      I’m building my career on good quality data entry and data management. It’s very satisfying and I’ve contributed a lot.

  9. tango

    OH my goodness. What is wrong with people? Peeing on the floor, not flushing? Talking on their cell phones while sitting on the toilet doing their business? If people are so disgusting at work or in public, makes me wonder what kind of pigs they must be at home. I work in a professional environment but some days I shake my head when I leave the bathroom astounded by the restroom behavior of my fellow female co-workers!

    1. Jan Arzooman

      I was in the bathroom at work the other day and there was a lady in the stall talking about a job interview she’d just been on. I’m assuming she couldn’t see who had just come into the restroom, since she was in the stall at the end. I entered another stall, she came out of her stall to wash her hands, all the while still having the conversation, with no idea or concern who could be overhearing her. It’s possible she was a temp like me and didn’t care who knew that she was interviewing, but still, it was odd.

      I’ve come across bathroom talkers several times there. Some folks stand by the window just outside the bathroom and have personal conversations, probably because there’s better cell phone reception than at a lot of the cubicles — or maybe they think there’s more privacy there. But those inside the women’s room (and the men’s, too, I assume), can hear everything.

  10. One of the Annes

    The peeing in front of the toilet is just awful.

    I work on a floor with probably a hundred people and four stalls in the women’s restroom, and several times a week I’ll walk in to find pee all over the seat (and yes, it’s definitely pee and not splashed water from flushing)–makes me absolutely livid. It’s so inconsiderate. Although it’s slightly better than finding blood or smeared feces, which also happens on occasion. I just don’t understand what’s up with some people.

    Has anyone ever directly confronted a peepetrator? I think about it, but I’ve never been in a situation where I knew with certainty who the culprit was.

    1. Natalie Anne Lanoville

      The simple thing I wonder, that nobody seems to be able to answer, is… if you’re not going to SIT on the seat, why not lift it? We expect men to do that, why should women get to do something different?

    2. Not So NewReader

      Not sure if this qualifies because she was not a repeat offender.

      A person had an intestinal virus and the problems that one would expect with an intestinal virus. We explained to her that we all clean up after ourselves that is how we handle things here.

      Yes, it was a difficult conversation but there was no further problem.

      We were able to deduce who it was because of the time of day, who was in the building and because of other details that I cannot explain here. But we knew we had the correct person.

      1. FreeThinkerTX

        Back in the bad old days when I worked at Home Depot, it was quite common to walk into the ladies restroom and find one of the stalls sprayed with, ah, the symptoms of an intestinal virus. I mean, the toilet, the handle, the walls, the floor, the toilet paper dispenser. We shared the bathroom with our customers, so it could have been anyone. The employees were expected to clean it up, but I made it very clear that I’d walk out on the spot if they ever tried to make me do it. That job had enough humiliation built into it already.

  11. Sandrine

    Given the things people can do to toilets… sadly this is not the worst I have read about… or witnessed.

    I still shiver when I think about the work incident a few months ago.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Working retail, I have seen walls, floor and cabinets get “attacked”.
        People are amazing in what they think of to do.

        We had a store go out of business up here. The store was crazy busy with shoppers. I went into the dressing room to try something on and found signs all over. “These are not bathroom stalls. The bathrooms are located at the back of the store.”

        I. Cannot. Imagine.

        1. Sandrine

          Well…

          I go in to do my business as usual… but I notice… there’s a lot of red. On it, on the floor near it, not sure if there was any on the wall.

          I was scared and there was a collective roar of indignation once the ladies realized what had happened (before the cleaning lady came around).

  12. A cita

    About the pee on the floor, are we sure the woman didn’t have a disability? That seems more likely than an anti-social personality.

    1. Not So NewReader

      She stopped when she was told to stop. She stopped twice as a matter of fact. Which means she could control it.

      Once the VP said “no more” the problem stopped entirely.

      No, this was deliberate.

  13. Not So NewReader

    The VP in #3 is my hero.

    I have seen so many situations where a decisive leader was needed,
    some one that knows how to draw the line.

    1. Ruffingit

      Totally agreed. So many “leaders” have no idea how to handle situations where confrontation is an integral part of the solution so they don’t bother and/or they try to make the messenger into the problem. Poor management abounds so it’s nice to see someone who can deal with problems!

  14. Fred

    I didn’t know women did this. I’ve encountered plenty 0f men who never lift up the lid and pissed all over the seat though. I’m like, “Dude, what are you going to do when you have to take a #2?”

  15. Kitty

    I seriously believe the woman who peed outside the toilet is a major germaphobe. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s not emptying her bladder properly if she doesn’t squat! When she ends up with a bladder or urinary tract infection, maybe her doctor will straighten her out.

  16. Mary

    #2 — I just got a job near the end of August at the State of MN, too!! Congrats to you! I’m loving my new position, too, and am so glad to be out of my old job. AAM helped a lot.

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