meeting for training in a coworker’s home, I don’t like my boss’s comments in my performance review, and more

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

1. Is it odd to meet with a coworker in their home for four days of training?

My friend just came to me with a question we’d like you (and your readers) to weigh in on. The friend has a coworker hired 2 months ago, to work remotely from home. Friend has been mentoring the coworker from a distance by phone and email. Today, the friend’s manager asked friend to go to the new coworker’s home for four days for in-person mentoring. Friend would be staying in a hotel, but meeting with the coworker daily in his home (a set aside area).

What do you think of this and are there any advantages/disadvantages you can think of? If it makes a difference, we do have corporate locations near the new employee and the friend that they could meet in.

Yeah, it’s a little weird to spend the whole day in the person’s home. It’s likely to feel oddly intimate. That’s doubly true when there are easy alternatives. Why doesn’t your friend suggest that they make arrangements to work out of the nearby corporate location for those days?

2. When I ask for a raise, can I mention that I’m paying more for taxes and health insurance?

I’ve been at a private non-profit government admin-type corporation for 2 years. This is a close small work environment with little room for upward mobility. I was an intern prior to working here and after earning my masters degree I was hired back. I make a decent salary and great benefits, but nothing to get excited about. After my first year I received 2% COLA increase, then this year after mentioning “I’m prepared to ask for a raise,” I received a 2% COLA and 3% increase in pay.

This is where it gets tricky, because of outside factors: federal taxes, health care costs, etc., I taken notably less money in my paycheck each year, even after both raises. My review is coming up next week and I’m wondering if asking them to reconsider the increase in pay to cover the fact I’m taking in less money is justified?

You can mention it, but it shouldn’t be your sole reason for asking for a raise. It has to be in the context of you deserving a raise because of your outstanding performance. Otherwise, by your logic they’d need to give everyone raises across the board to keep up with taxes and health care changes, and while some companies do that, most don’t. Instead, I’d use this an almost side comment in the broader discussion about why you deserve a higher rate of pay.

3. My boss made subjective comments about me in my performance review

Today I had my performance review with my manager. He gave me the highest rating in the “Delivers Expectations” category. That’s great, but I wasn’t happy with some of his subjective comments in the review. My boss is aware of my desire to transition out of my current analytical role into a commercial position. So, in my review he wrote: “I would have liked to see as much enthusiasm for technical traning and development as she has shown for commercial job shadowing” and “I would prefer that she had more enthusiasm for lab developments and worked more closely with her lab partner but understand that she wishes to move to a more business-focused role. Should such an opportunity arise, she will be missed for her independant contributions to the analytical department.”

Later in the day, I approached him and expressed my concern about these comments. I told him that if this is supposed to be about my performance, what does my desire for a career transition have to do with anything? I did point out the positive things that I do like about the job, but I do have a right to want to progress my career.

He sent me the final copy, so he isn’t sure if the comments can be changed. We don’t even have an HR purson currently to talk to about this. I should have spoken up during the initial meeting.

I’d let this go, immediately. This is not something you should be battling over. It didn’t affect his ratings of your performance, and your manager is allowed to express opinions like this in your review. Trying to micromanage his commentary in this context will make you look like you’re missing the big picture and like you’re unclear on what is and isn’t reasonable for a manager to discuss in his commentary about your work and your role. Drop this, seriously.

4. I flew in for a rude 15-minute interview

Last week, I flew out to an interview for an assistant director position at a really wonderful organization and was really excited about it. They offered to reimburse me for my expenses, which made me think they were somewhat interested in me as a candidate.

However, when I got to the interview, things were not great. When I walked in the room and was introduced to the panel, they barely seemed interested at all, and I had to make the effort to shake everyone’s hand. They did not tell me about the job at all or ask me about myself and went right into reading 5 prepared questions off of a piece of paper. During this, no one would even make eye contact and the director did not speak to me until I asked her a direct question at the end of the interview. I’ve never had an interview like this. It took less than 15 minutes and when I left my confidence was zero.

I was really taken aback because I had driven four hours to the airport and flew three hours for less than 15 minutes. I do not know why they were willing to spend the money to fly me out if they were not even interested in me as a candidate. I know that I can never know what went on behind the scenes, but I feel quite confused about what happened.

When they call or email this week to tell me that I didn’t get the job, is it appropriate to ask for feedback? I would not be rude or bitter about it but I would like to know if I could have done something differently.

Sure, you can absolutely ask for feedback. An organization that interviews like this might not be the sort of organization to give feedback, but it’s entirely reasonable to ask.

As for what happened, one possibility is that it’s an overly bureaucratic organization with overly rigid hiring practices (it’s not unusual in government hiring, for instance, for them to be required to ask everyone the same questions and not deviate from their script — which is insane). Or they might simply be terrible at hiring. (They’re certainly inconsiderate; doing a 15-minute interview after someone flew out for an interview, even at the company’s expense, is rude.) Frankly, I wouldn’t even be so sure that they’re not going to offer you the job; employers who interview this badly can also be employers that hire people who they didn’t speak with for nearly long enough. Be prepared for how you want to handle that if it happens.

5. Asking a coworker to stop chewing ice

I’m writing to ask how I can ask a colleague to stop chew ice. We work in a small confined office and it’s annoying. I’ve tried politely saying “that ice is going to ruin your teeth”, she’s not getting the message. She replies “I’ve been doing this my whole life.” What do I do?

Yeah, you’ve framed it as concern for her, which allows her to assure you that it’s no problem for her. You need to be more direct and let her know that it’s a problem for you. Say something like this: “Jane, I don’t know, but the sound of ice being chewed is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Any way for you to resist it in the office?”

{ 111 comments… read them below }

  1. Elizabeth West

    #3–Those don’t sound like bad comments to me. They sound honest, and you got a good rating. I would read them as he is disappointed that you want to leave because he thinks your work is good and leave it at that.

    1. danr

      Yes, they are good and your boss is honest about your work. His last comment is telling … he’ll miss your good work.
      Evaluations will always be subjective unless you want them to be like the current educational testing in the schools. Just imagine taking a battery of tests every year to prove how well you do your job.

      1. Bea W

        Yes! OP should just let this go. OP’s career aspiration are relevant because part of any review process is setting goals for the next year and assessing career paths. These are not really negative comments that reflect badly on the OP. It is a complement to the OP that the boss is disappointed she is looking to m0ve on and he wishes she were more enthusiastic about the work in his department because she’s a good employee. The OP got high ratings, and this is a good review.

        The comments will absolutely be subjective. A lot of the performance review is your boss’ opinions and observations of your work, and those are just as important as objective measures. We’re dealing with people here, not machines. Observations about behavior on the job are absolutely part of the process and are just valuable.

        1. The Editor

          Just adding to the “letting go” vibe…. As a manager, if I had one of my reports complain to me about this, it would raise red flags in my mind that while she did see herself progressing in the company, she obviously is not focused on my current needs and the needs for which the company hired her. It calls into question her willingness to do what we need done now.

          There’s certainly a time and place for growth and transition, and I think a good manager is always looking out for their team on those fronts, but when I give comments like that, what I mean is “I need you here right now, and the fact that you keep looking at the proverbial greener pastures is a potential problem.” Sure, your manager should/could have been a bit more direct, but the intention was perfectly clear in my mind at least.

    2. CTO

      Agreed. Your boss gave you a positive review including some honest comments. They’re not insults. I’ve had this same situation come up in a past job–I was great at what I did, but my boss and I both knew that I was eager to transition to another side of the work. I appreciated opportunity to be honest with her and have her support when I was ready to make that move. So many people have to hide their ambitions for fear of being punished by their current boss. OP, your boss gave you a gift by opening the door to a conversation about your career progression. Don’t look that gift horse in the mouth.

    3. Vicki

      My view: your manager is unhappy that you want to leave his group and it’s coming through in the review comments. If all goes as planned for you, he won’t be your manager next year. Good luck with the transition.

  2. Response to Ice Chewer

    #5 – My Ex-MIL did this for years, and it turns out it was all caused by a health problem that hit her hard and hospitilzed her for more than a week. She was severly anemic, and the need for ice was from a severe iron defiency that she had had for years and years, now that she takes iron supplements, the need to chew ice all the time disappeared… There are articles online that you could mention to your coworker if you are close enough, so maybe she can find the reason for the ice…. Mentioning a concern, rather than an annoyance with it, may be the easier way.

    1. Random

      Really? I do the ice thing (not in the office though) and I have been told I have low iron/been put on iron supplements in the past.

      Hmm! Thanks for the info, i’m going to go look it up.

      1. Jamie

        Yes – and just one PSA because I can’t help myself, then I’ll stop.

        Anemia is very common in women, most common in teens, pregnant/new mothers, and peri-menopausal but all pre-menopausal women have a significantly elevated risk. I was first diagnosed with anemia at 14 and I never really thought about it. It was just something I had, like farsightedness, or migraines.

        It wasn’t until last year that it got so bad my doctors became alarmed and I learned that if it’s severe enough and untreated long enough IDA (Iron Deficiency Anemia) can kill you. It can cause irreversible organ damage – my GP and hematologist were both surprised that I didn’t have any damage to my kidneys or heart yet – because they expected to see both.

        After 8 weeks of iron infusions (oral supplements don’t work for me) I began to feel much better. I cannot tell you how much I had incorporated being tired and pushing through and just being fatigued all the time as part of my life. I didn’t even realize how much I was missing until I got my energy back.

        So, if you are an ice chewer I would beseech you to just get a simple blood test – iron panel and have them check your feritin level in addition to a CBC. It cant hurt to see where your levels are and for so many it’s a matter of supplements or a series of infusions which are no big deal.

        (On a shallow note, my hair looks SO much better and my skin is a normal color now since my iron is back in the zones of the living.)

        And now I’ll stop lecturing strangers.

          1. Jamie

            True – and my kids refer to you all as my “imaginary friends” which I kind of love – but makes me glad they don’t have the money to put me in a home. Yet.

            I just wouldn’t want people to see me as some harpy who runs around lecturing strangers on health and personal choices – although I kind of am in this post – but it comes from love. :)

            1. Elizabeth West

              Glad you’re feeling better!

              I have not checked my iron; that sounds like something I should probably at least ask my doctor about. I’m hypothyroid so am used to being tired but I never thought about that.

              1. Jamie

                It was thought I might be hypothyroid so they did tests – I’m not, but in women doctor’s usually check both because they manifest in such similar ways and people often have both.

                1. Elizabeth West

                  And sometimes, even though my thyroid levels are good and I haven’t had to change my dose in forever, I still feel tired and crappy. So the iron thing might be part of the problem.

                  Either that, or I’m just old. :P

                2. Natalie Anne Lanoville

                  Elizabeth, I’d encourage you to look further than “I’m just old…” – At 44 I felt all kinds of average after a life of dynamite, told myself the same thing. then decided to take on my health, now literally feel as good as I did at 21.

        1. Stephanie

          Tagging onto your PSA–get your B12 levels checked too! I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired and depressed all the time. Turns out I had pernicious anemia, where you can’t absorb B12 properly.

            1. Stephanie

              Actually, darker-skinned people too. Apparently the extra melanin protects against UV rays…and Vitamin D absorption. Even living in Arizona, I take Vitamin D supplements. =/

              1. Jamie

                Yes! This type is also very common in people of Greek and Italian descent. In fact my hematologist was the only doctor I’ve ever had that had me fill out specific ethnic information before being seen…because some types of anemia are so common in some ethnic groups and rare in others.

                He was good – guessed mine before he even read my chart. If he wasn’t a leading hematologist/oncologist he should be a psychic at carnivals!

          1. fposte

            And as long as we’re talking B12–if you’re on a PPI, like Prevacid or Nexium, those impair B12 absorption too.

            1. Jamie

              Weird bit of trivia – those types of heartburn meds also amplify the effects of stimulants. So if you’re taking ADD meds you do NOT want to hit the prilosec right before bedtime. Trust me.

              Helpful tip for the iron impaired – vitamin C with your iron heavy meals or supplements increases iron absorption 300% in most people. Can also increase the nausea associated with supplements, but when you’re eating that burger – a glass of OJ or other high vitamin C food consumed with it will give you more bang for your buck.

              And the tannin in coffee and tea blocks iron absorption so you want to avoid it 1-2 hours before and after iron heavy meals or supplements.

              And with that I will stay on topic.

              1. Al Lo

                Also, avoid taking iron supplements at the same time as anything with calcium. The calcium absorption and iron absorption compete with each other, and neither is as effective as it is if you’re taking them separately.

                And here’s my plug (as someone who donates blood and plasma on a regular basis, but whose iron is often right on the border of what the clinic considers acceptable): Floradix liquid iron supplement — the liquid absorbs more easily, it contains vitamin C to help absorption, and it’s easier on the stomach (tablets can sometimes do a number on me if I don’t take them with food).

          2. Felicia

            I have that too! It runs in my family to be B12 deficient. I was diagnosed with anemia at the same so both those things combined made me tired and depressed all the time.

        2. Laufey

          I am also an anemic ice chewer. I’m not severely anemic – I usually keep my iron up through regular diet modifications versus iron pills – but when I notice myself starting to unconsciously chew ice at work, I know it’s time to break out the spinach and vitamin C.

        3. Bea W

          I wonder what it is about this condition that compels people to chew ice. I’ve seen it before. It’s a real thing.

      2. Nikki T

        Yep, I had a coworker who had to chew ice all day. She found out, very low iron and started transfusions. Said she feels great and doesn’t need the ice anymore (I don’t know if she’s started back, she moved from next door). She said they told her the ice chewing was because of the very low iron.

    2. Del

      Yes, I had the same issue. I was an ice-chewer for years, and once I started taking iron pills, the urge to chew ice and any enjoyment I got out of it quickly evaporated.

    3. Jamie

      It amazed me how many people know this. For years when people would learn I was an ice chewer they’d tell me I was anemic, which I knew, but didn’t think was a big deal.

      After my second iron infusion the desire, which was far worse than nicotine addiction for me, totally and 100% gone. I see ice in my glass now and can’t imagine why I ever wanted to eat it, but before the beverage just got in the way.

      Hundreds and hundreds of dollars repairing the crushed ice feature in the doors of two fridges due to overuse.

      As awful as it is my hematologist says it’s the least objectionable form of pica – some people crave detergent, dirt, clay, chalk…to the same degree. At least ice won’t send you to ER.

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        Jamie, everything about this is so interesting. Do you have any idea why anemia and chewing ice go together? Is it that anemia creates pica and ice is simply the most available/easiest thing to obtain and it creates a psychological craving? Or is there something more at play?

        1. ChristineSW

          I too wonder why there is a connection. Verrry interesting. I have a friend who used to chew ice when we were in college. Kinda drove me a little batty. lol.

        2. Jamie

          I’ve asked my hematologist and he doesn’t even have a clear answer to the why about the ice. There is a theory that sometimes anemia can cause mouth sores and ice numbs the area, but I never had any mouth pain at all. It was a compulsive craving.

          I have researched this and would love to find an answer someday – because the truth is they really don’t know why. Cravings for things high in iron makes sense – but not ice.

          It’s actually counter intuitive, because as anyone who has had anemia can tell you they’re always freezing. I would be shivering in my bed with the thermostat at 73 under 4 blankets and my teeth chattering…and ignoring the hot tea whilst chewing ice.

          I will tell you if I ever feel the urge again I’m back on iron – because for many of us it’s a tell tale symptom we can take a face value.

      2. V

        +1 more for the possibility that this is anemia. My mom was an ice cruncher and her anemia was finally diagnosed after she told her doctor about her compelling desire to eat dirt. She claims that she never actually ate any, but she spends so much time gardening that I think she did.

      3. hilde

        “It amazed me how many people know this. For years when people would learn I was an ice chewer ”

        I think so many people know this because when you hear about it, it sounds so incredibly bizarre that it’s hard to forget.

    4. Elizabeth

      I think it’s better just to be honest, though of course in a kind way. There’s nothing wrong with also mentioning that chewing ice can be a symptom of anemia, but it feels passive-aggressive to keep framing it as concern for the ice-chewer when the real reason the OP is bringing it up is that it annoys him/her. I might not use the word “annoying,” as that could feel like an attack, but “The sound distracts me and I’m having trouble staying focused – could you stop?” is a reasonable request.

      1. Poster formerly known as Jane Doe

        yup, I agree. I have struggled with anemia for years, and when it is bad, I chew ice. But I agree, give her the info on the anemia, bit also let her know how grating it is for you.

      2. fposte

        Yes. The answer to “How do I ask her to stop?” is “By asking her to stop.” Telling her about anemia, expressing concern for her teeth–those aren’t asking her to stop.

        1. sharon g

          This. I had low iron that cause my ice chewing addiction. An easy, free way I found out about my low iron was when I tried to give blood. When they prick your finger & drop the blood in the liquid (I don’t know what that stuff is), it lets them know if your iron level is okay.

    5. inkstainedpages

      Yep, I have low iron too, and chew ice. At this point I don’t even need to go to the doctor for blood tests anymore because I can tell I need to go back on iron supplements when I start craving ice.

      Supposedly being low on iron can also make you crave eating paint, dirt, and other non-food items, but I’ve never had that. :)

    6. Dulcinea

      I disagree, I think, as Alison said, framing it as a concern makes it seem like its about the chewer, who has already decided that she doesn’t think its a concern and/or its worth the risk. Personally I would find those kinds of comments patronizing, like if I was eating a greasy burger and someone said, “hey, you know there’s a lot of cholesterol in that!” I doubt the letter writer is the first person to tell her it could ruin her teeth. Instead the letter write should explain that is is distracting and then the chewer can choose not to do it in the office out of consideration for the letter writer, regardless of whether chewing ice is in fact bad for your teeth.

    7. Felicia

      I was told about ice chewing being a symptom of iron deficiency too! I never had that symptom but I am on iron supplements after the doctor found out i was anemic, and she mentioned that as a possible symptom. It’s not necessarily why she chews ice, but its possible.

    8. LadyCop

      I immediately thought low iron…but this can still be difficult to express to some people. I often remind my Dad that his ice chewing may be a symptom of low iron, and he always retorts “but my mom always did it.” like it’s some endearing quality that he got from her…ugh

  3. OP #1

    Friend did suggest meeting in one of the corporate locations and the manager said “are you uncomforable meeting at his home, I’d be fine doing it, either you do it or we get someone else to do it”. So friend is doing it.

    I still think it’s weird and intimate and as an employee would never agree to go or have someone come to my home for 4 days.

    1. Jamie

      I think this is weirdly intimate too, and would be wildly uncomfortable.

      So did the boss even address why doing it at corporate, which would be normal practice in most places, isn’t an option?

      1. D

        I’m surprised that they didn’t have the new hire come to the corporate office, unless there is a really good reason that this person can’t travel. It also gives the new hire the opportunity to meet the team, build a rapport and put names to faces.

        I would feel really awkward spending even 1 whole day in a co-worker’s home office unless it was someone I knew well. I’m also surprised because it may not be something covered by insurance. For example, if you slipped and fell on the front walkway to the co-worker’s home, who would cover that?

        1. class factotum

          I just wouldn’t want to have to clean my bathroom and house to company (guest) standards for something like this. And worry about what to do with the cats. And have my husband, who works from home, be cranky because he couldn’t sleep late and would have to be showered, shaved, and dressed at the crack of dawn.

          1. Loose Seal

            This would be me too.

            Also, if I were the worker coming in to the home, I’d feel like I needed to ask permission every time I needed to use the bathroom or get a drink. It just makes for a really odd dynamic for the mentor to have to be a guest.

        2. the_scientist

          I hate to make this about gender, and I know I can be overly paranoid, but I’m a petite young woman (reasonably athletic, sure, but the general population has about 8 inches on me) and I can’t help but wonder whether the bosses would think to ask a female employee to spend four days alone in a male employee’s house. If I was asked I would categorically refuse, first politely and then….more forcefully. However, my experience has been that a lot of people (and most men) don’t think about personal safety to this extent…I had a former boss who thought nothing of having me come in or leave the lab late late late (midnight, one a.m.) and take the bus through an unsafe area of the city until our tech politely raised her discomfort.

          1. quietone

            I have to say, I wouldn’t be keen if the co worker was the opposite sex and it was my first in person meeting.
            But I work for a small spread out company and have worked from a co workers home for a week and had a co worker in my home for a week. Where I live, we have a proper office in the nearby city, but its 1 1/2 hr commute and doesn’t have a good working space.

          2. OP #1

            I brought up that point as well, but the boss is a woman and she said she’d be okay going and doing it because the employee appears to be a good guy *snerk*.

            I think there are all sorts of triggers people have (strangers in their space, going to strange places) that make this ill advised.

            The employee went to the office for a week when he started but still needs mentoring so they’ve concocted this. And we’re a well known, fortune 100 company with employees world-wide. I suspect HR has not been looped into this.

            I thought part of this may have been me though, because I’m only good with family visiting in my home for about 3 hours and then ready to let out my stomach, put on my pajamas and do what I normally do.

            1. the_scientist

              Yes, because the boss is comfortable doing it everyone else’s objections are totally unreasonable (/sarcasm.) If I were in this situation I might wonder about going to HR and saying something like “I’m concerned about opening up the company to potential liabilities by doing this, what’s your advice?” or something along those lines. But for me, particularly if it involved a male colleague, it would be worth standing my ground on.

            2. Sadsack

              perhaps going to hr about it and mentioning the liability concerns that someone above raised would be a good idea

            3. E

              I’m really confused as to why it’s easier to fly your friend to the employee’s house than it is to fly the employee to the office.

          3. Trillian

            The other tiresome aspect is the rumor mill. The one time I went to an opposite-sex coworker’s home to work on a crunch project – because we were way closer to each other than the office – I let a sensible friend know, but neither of us let out a peep at work, even to claim credit for going above and beyond the call of duty.

    2. Trillian

      Just setting foot in a coworker’s home would not feel like crossing a boundary; it would depend on the coworker and the home. If the coworker was someone I had a mutual understanding with around professionalism and boundaries, and the setting was appropriate for work – separate from the living areas, set up as an office, cleared for work, and no family members or others hovering over us – then I would be quite OK about working from someone else’s home.

      1. Tina

        I prefer not to spend 4 days in anyone’s home. That includes family and friends, much less coworkers. I don’t want to be in someone’s personal space for extended periods of time. I would not be ok with that at all, especially if there’s a local office nearby.

    3. MaryMary

      I’m wondering if there may be performance issue (or hints of one) from the work from homer. It could be that the coaching and mentoring your friend is doing via email and phone isn’t helping as much as management hoped (coaching remotely is really difficult) and some in-person training is the final step before a formal improvement plan. It could also be that management has concerns about the coworker’s productivity or work space, and they want someone in person to see what is actually going on.

      1. Ruffingit

        I think it’s more likely that he just needs in-person training because he was hired two months ago. That isn’t that long in terms of getting up to speed on what is needed.

    4. Ruffingit

      I think I’m in the minority, but I don’t find it that weird because the guy works at home and has an area set aside for his office. He was hired to work remotely from home. So train him where he works. I think I’d almost prefer this environment for training because it allows for a quieter situation than most offices have.

  4. Jamie

    As a reformed and former lifelong ice chewer I’ll say 2 things:

    1. I’ll bet a paycheck that your co-worker is anemic, although that’s nothing you can say to her.

    2. She needs to knock it off in public right now. I had an ice addiction for decades, and that’s not hyperbole, and several years ago when I got a private office the first thing that went through my mind was “yay I can chew ice at work.” But I never did it when anyone else was in earshot – ever – and when I shared an office I did it to and from work and at lunch in my car.

    And this is something I will never understand and can’t explain, but the teeth thing while true isn’t a deterrent. I hate the dentist, but I loved chewing ice more…I have two crowns on molars cracked due to ice chewing and even root canals didn’t stop me.

    My hematologist sees it ALL the time and he can’t explain it either – it’s so weird.

    1. Del

      Regarding your first point, I think there are certainly ways the OP can approach that, assuming they’ve got a decent relationship with the coworker. But it would have to be done very gently, and with an attitude along the lines of “Hey maybe you know this, but I just wanna toss it out there as something to think about.” Basically, with very little pressure and no followup.

  5. Stephen

    OP 5 should be assessed for misophonia by a neurologist while his coworker gets her iron levels tested by her family doctor. Then whoever’s condition turns out to be more medical gets to dictate the rules of the work enviroment.

    1. Jamie

      Ha! Dueling diagnosis! Although you don’t need misophonia to be driven crazy by ice chewing – it’s a horrible sound. :)

  6. wonder_aloud

    #1 – I don’t know what kind of environment your friend works in, but I know where I work many people work out of their homes and sometimes the point of the mentoring is to help them understand how to make that work for them. Also, because of the sensitive nature of the information we work with our computers are set up in a very particular way so they don’t work quite the same at the corporate office as they do in the home setting so if part of the point was to help them with issues they would only deal with in the home setting, it would be reasonable. I have to say that this is one of the tradeoffs to work at home, sometimes your home really has to be your office, co-workers and all.

    1. fposte

      Yes, this makes sense to me. They’re not meeting at the employee’s home–they’re meeting at the employee’s office, which happens to be in her house. If there’s a concern for safety, then that’s another matter, but I think mentoring somebody at her workplace is perfectly reasonable.

      (It might also be worth checking to see if the hotel where the friend is staying has a room they can use if the employee’s house really isn’t acceptable.)

      1. Poster formerly known as Jane Doe

        I agree with you. As long as the employee has a hotel room and isn’t being asked to sleep at the employee’s house/office, I don’t think the request would bother me. But, it is a good idea to have a back up location in case something is really off once they get there.

    2. hilde

      This is where my thoughts went, too. I know that I learn better in the environment with the surroundings I’ll be performing a task in. For instance, if I’m having trouble with a computer thing in Outlook, I’ll ask my coworker to come to my desk and walk me through it. I could go over to hers and ask her to show me, but I simply don’t retain it unless I’m in the environment I’ll be in when I need to do the task.

  7. Claire

    I hear you, #4. When I was job searching about three years ago, I took two days off my then-job to travel to New York City at my own expense to interview for a position. When the three interviewers entered the room, the first thing that was said to me (before even a “hello”) was, “This is going to have to be short.” While I could definitely see this organization being overly bureaucratic, their attitude sort of knocked me off my game right out of the gate.

    About 20 minutes later, the interview was over. I didn’t get the job. And I was okay with that.

    1. thenoiseinspace

      Same! I flew across the country to NYC on my own dime for an interview with one of the lowest-ranking team members that only lasted 15 minutes. At least OP didn’t have to pay for it!

      Also on the topic of #4 – I know I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: some organizations require that a minimum number of people are interviewed for the position, even if they aren’t real contenders. It’s a terrible practice that’s bad for everyone on both sides of the situation, but there it is.

    2. Stephanie

      Yeah, I flew cross-country for a job interview once (on my own dime) and the interviewers seemed barely interested in me and then proceeded to berate me for not having any experience in one aspect of the job. Mind you, I had already done a phone interview. I got an email rejection 20 minutes later. I saw the same position reposted about a year later (as well as that position’s supervisor), so I’m guessing I may have dodged a bullet.

      1. Lemon Tea

        Ditto on dodging a bullet #4.

        If you’ll allow me a moment on my soapbox, I think interviewing is a two-way street – not only is it a chance for the employer to see if you’re right for them, it’s also a chance to see if they’re right for you.

        And jeez have I had some which *cough* “weren’t right for me”.

        There was the one where I used up a day’s holiday to go to the interview because they really wanted a midday interview (as opposed to a morning or afternoon one, which would have only needed a half-day). When I got there, it turned out they hadn’t bothered to read my CV or even properly read my cover letter and, when they finally decided to read it during the interview, proceeded to act as if I had somehow wronged them by daring to turn up to an interview without what they considered to be proper experience…words fail me.

        However, I think my favourite one has to be this story. After travelling for four hours, the interviewer was five or so minutes late. Not a big deal – what was was her reasoning. “Sorry I’m late. Some people – *nods towards last candidate as they leave* – just ask so many questions.” When we arrived in the interview room, the tea lady was cleaning up the tea station and I think the interviewer’s comments went something along the lines of (can’t remember exactly – it was a long time ago) “I would offer you something to drink but you just can’t get the help these days.” You know those moments when you just don’t know where to look? Yeah, this was one of those. I genuinely count myself as lucky that I didn’t get the job. But, hey, at least it’s fun to rant about it on the interwebs!

        But, anyway, I probably wouldn’t bother giving feedback unless they asked for it, in which case I would be honest about it. I’d just chalk it up as one lost and move on.

    3. Vitriolic Vixen

      OP 4: 4 hours drive? Make sure the company pays you for the mileage too. I am glad they are reimbursing you though it’s too bad you can’t really make them pay you for your time.

      Last year I applied for a position with a company that often has seasonal work. I had 1 & 1/2 years experience in the field and followed the instructions to apply only for the job I felt most suited of all the jobs offered.

      I was so happy when I received a letter inviting/instructing me to attend an interview session with the company, (although something about the wording bothered me: “you must attend an in-person interview with a company Recruiter in order to be considered for a position,”) and after calling the company to ask about certain logistics, I used what little money I had to book a flight to the interview closest to my house.

      I was so excited! I actually had an interview! When I got there, I was the first person the hiring staff selected to speak with, (I was apparently brimming with enthusiasm) but when my interviewer pulled up my application, she frowned and said: “Sorry, we are not hiring for this position.”

      I said “I’m sorry? I applied for the job when it posted last Monday (it was Thursday), and I was sent an email inviting me to to this interview, I thought the position was open.”

      To which she replied: “You see, there is already a women who does this job, and we only open it in the public hiring system so she can apply and we can hire her back each year.”

      Said I in reply: “I don’t understand… I received an email asking me to attend this interview, stating unequivocally I could not receive consideration without it, called to ask about it Tuesday, and now… There isn’t even a job?”

      Turns out my letter asking me to interview was just really nicely written “form letter sent to every applicant, as a courtesy.”

      She then told me that despite any and all qualifications and experience one may have, or any letter one might receieve from the company (I showed her mine), they were only interested in interviewing and hiring for entry level at minimum wage.

      Unfortunately all the other candidates knew I’d flown in, and because the interviews were held in front of everyone, I couldn’t even retain any dignity by slinking away unnoticed. Best of all this woman acted like I’d spent the time and money flying in for the sole purpose of ruining her day with my questions. (After she told me there was no position, I was apparently not supposed to ask any.)

      Regardless, I did my best to be polite and thanked her for her time. Then I rode the public bus around until my flight home.

      A week later, I received another courteous (and completely unsolcited) note stating: “We have completed our review of your application. Unfortunately, you were not selected for employment at this time.”

      Well… D’uh. (Courtesy really sucks sometimes.)

      Frankly, even now I am not even sure what lesson I should have learned from this. I was so humiliated, I could not even bring myself to bug Alison to ask about it.

      So don’t feel too, too bad, OP# 4. I am glad to hear someone in the world is being reimbursed somewhat for their trouble, even if the interview was a bust.

        1. Vitriolic Vixen

          Thank you for your comment Rana, I know this reply is late in the game, but I just wanted you to know I appreciated it.

  8. BadPlanning

    For OP#1 — I assume the coworker to be met is a full time remote employee? And may not have a office at corporate? So if they both went to the corporate office, they may end up sitting in the cafeteria or some other odd spot? It sort of makes sense for an all remote employee — they’re set up at home so it’s easier to shadow/train at their home. Not saying it’s not awkward to show up at a strangers house for 4 days!

    1. OP #1

      There is def. room for them at any of our corporate spots, we have a lot of partial telecommuting going on, so people have desks at corporate spots.

      1. Z

        I wonder if it would be possible to find a compromise – say, 2 days at the employee’s home and 2 days at the local office. I think wonder_aloud’s comment above is insightful – part of the mentoring may have to do with helping the worker figure out how to make the home environment function as an office. Perhaps going there for 2 days would allow you to deal with the aspects that are work-from-home specific, and then you can take care of the other stuff at the local corporate office. Might your boss be more open to this solution?
        And I agree with others that this feels strangely intimate. Picking up on the past days’ theme, I feel like the co-worker might just end up asking me to a sleepover!

  9. Yup

    #3 –

    “I would prefer that she had more enthusiasm for lab developments and worked more closely with her lab partner but understand that she wishes to move to a more business-focused role. Should such an opportunity arise, she will be missed for her independant contributions to the analytical department.”

    That sounds like a compliment. If I saw that in my review, I’d think the boss was wistfully noting that while he would have preferred to move you forward on path X because your X skills are excellent, you prefer to be on path Y and he supports that. Honestly, it sounds perfectly neutral and properly managerial to me. Am I missing context or tone that makes it sounds negative to you?

  10. JC

    I’ve always been an ice chewer, and “it’s going to ruin your teeth” would not make me think that it annoyed the person saying it and would not make me stop. Knowing it annoyed someone WOULD make me stop, though.

    As a side note, I am aware that it’s a sign of anemia. Maybe this thread will be the push for me to get my iron levels checked!

    1. Response to Ice Chewer

      It may be helpful o know that my Ex-MIL had to have 2 blood transfusions from ignoring the issue for so long, and spent her 50th birthday in the hospital.

  11. Jess

    OP#5- I definitely think more directness is needed regarding the ice chewing. If I had been on the receiving end of your comment, I highly doubt I would have recognized that your expression of concern for my teeth was intended as a hint to to stop chewing ice. I probably would’ve taken the comment at face value and not thought about it again. Passive-aggressive does not equal polite. You can definitely make the request both direct and polite at the same time: “The ice chewing is really distracting me. Could you please stop?” Or, if that seems too harsh: “Is there any way you could stop chewing ice at your desk? It’s making it really hard for me to concentrate.” Also, I’d go about it with the assumption that your co-worker genuinely doesn’t know you want her to stop (i.e., be kind), not as if you’re frustrated because she still hasn’t stopped after your earlier hints.

  12. Becca

    Has anyone considered whether OP#1’s friends coworker is diagnosed with agoraphobia? They might not be ABLE to leave the house, and would that constitute as a disability?

    1. Jamie

      The ADA requires employers make reasonable accommodations.

      In this hypothetical, if the employer felt it was reasonable (and clearly the boss offered to go if the OPs friend wouldn’t – so there is a sign they feel it’s reasonable) then it’s reasonable.

      If a different company felt it was unreasonable to ask a coworker to go to someone’s home to train, I think that’s valid but what I think wouldn’t matter…it would depend on how the arbitrator or judge defines reasonable.

    2. PuppyPetter

      I wasn’t thinking agoraphobia but yeah, my thoughts went to there being some reason they work from home and that going somewhere else is not possible.
      Morbidly obese is one such disability. Caretaker for someone is another. Immunocompromised. Special needs/wheelchair bound/ making accommodations in a temporary space just not feasible. Simple transportation issues….
      So many possible reasons.

  13. Name

    #5 – I am one of those people who can’t read subtext. If someone frames a comment as concern for me I will thank them for caring about me. Not read it as “wow that’s annoying I am thinking only about myself not you”. So please just be honest and say what you are thinking instead of pretending you care about their teeth.

    1. fposte

      Yes, this is one of those situations where the reason the person hasn’t stopped is because she hasn’t actually been asked to, whatever the OP thinks.

    2. Ann O'Nemity

      Yep, I know what you mean. Passive-aggressiveness has a tendency to go right over my head, which usually makes the PA person even more upset. Meanwhile, I’m strolling along thinking everything is swell.

    3. Felicia

      I’m a bit like that too, and i tend to take things too literally. So i’m not going to realize you want me to stop unless you act me to stop. If someone expresses concern for me that is not the same as saying it bothers them and wants me to stop.

  14. MaryMary

    OP3, I try to come up with developmental feedback for every person I manage when I give a performance review. I’m a high performer myself, and find it frustrating when I have a review and don’t receive any feedback on how to improve. Nobody is perfect, there is always something we could do better. The feedback your manager gave you sounds a lot like something I would write for a strong performer where I’m struggling a bit to think of useful developmental feedback.

  15. Celeste

    #5: Get direct, but blame the small, confined office. “I’m having trouble focusing. In a bigger office I could move to a different spot, but since this place is so small, I was wondering if you can avoid it here.” I think it’s a better strategy than pretending to care about her teeth. I don’t know of any good way to talk to her about anemia causing her problem, because she doesn’t consider it to be a problem.

  16. PoohBear McGriddles

    #4 – Hate to say it but sounds like they were just going through the motions with you so they could say they interviewed X number of candidates. Although I guess it’s entirely possible they’re effed up enough that 15 minutes was long enough to determine you were a warm body with a pulse and that is all they hoped for. But for a director position that seems weird.

    #1 – I wonder how the manager’s significant other would feel about her spending 4 days in a male coworker’s home. May not be an issue, then again it may be. I can understand your friend’s apprehension, even if they’re both guys. Since this telecommuter needs “extra mentoring”, it seems like maybe he is having performance issues, so I guess management wants someone on site to see how he operates in that environment.

    1. Rana

      I suspect you didn’t mean anything by it, but this – “I wonder how the manager’s significant other would feel about her spending 4 days in a male coworker’s home.” – is a bit problematic, as it both implies that it’s reasonable to be jealous/wary of your spouse’s opposite-sex co-workers, and that the manager’s own feelings in the matter aren’t as relevant as her husband’s.

      Just an FYI. One can be concerned about the situation without bring spousal possessiveness into it.

  17. class factotum

    Interesting articles about cubicles that should not be a surprise to anyone who works in one. If everyone had an office, then maybe ice wouldn’t be an issue.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2014/01/the-open-office-trap.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/science/when-buzz-at-your-cubicle-is-too-loud-for-work.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0

    Researchers at Finland’s Institute of Occupational Health have studied precisely how far those conversations carry and analyzed their effect on the unwilling listener: a decline of 5 percent to 10 percent on the performance of cognitive tasks requiring efficient use of short-term memory, like reading, writing and other forms of creative work.

    “Noise is the most serious problem in the open-plan office, and speech is the most disturbing type of sound because it is directly understood in the brain’s working memory,” said Valtteri Hongisto, an acoustician at the institute. He found that workers were more satisfied and performed better at cognitive tasks when speech sounds were masked by a background noise of a gently burbling brook.

    1. Elizabeth West

      *installs gently burbling brook through the floor in her office*

      There, that ought to do it. :)

      I hear that about speech; I can ignore the elevator, typing, walking, etc. But when people are on the phone right near me, or socializing in their cube for a few minutes, I can’t concentrate. That’s where my noise-reducing headphones and a good instrumental soundtrack come in.

  18. SamV

    #4 I work in state government. At my first interview the format was fairly open. They had a list of questions but also branched out into other areas and I had a lot of opportunities to ask my own questions. After I’d been there about a year one of my coworkers left and I was able to apply for her job, which was a promotion. Because I was an internal candidate, apparently my union required a more restricted interview format for all of the applicants. At the second interview they had to go only by the list of prepared questions, and I was pretty much a shoo-in unless someone internal with more seniority had applied. I wonder if this was a similar organization and they unexpectedly had an internal candidate apply. That could very well have thrown a wrench in their anticipated plan of interviewing and hiring the OP. Maybe the awkwardness was due to frustration at still having to fly her out for the interview and waste all of their time when they knew they would have to hire the internal candidate.

  19. Anonymous

    OP5: Chewing on ice can be a sign of an iron deficiency, so it could be something that she’s feeling compelled to do because of that. Something to consider, and something that’s easy to remedy.

  20. Jessa

    Actually as someone who did work from home for years, going into the office is NOT the same. You have resources you never have at home, things happen at home that never happen in the office.

    You need to see the actual work set up. Find out where the issues are that you may need to make notes about. How easy is it to get onto the intranet from home. Heck some companies do not have the set up in the office. Unless your company office has setups exactly like the home setup, and many do not, this is actually a very good idea.

    The company is being sensible in putting the OP up in a hotel. But the best way to learn a job can be in the exact or closest to exact setting as you can. Heck, if I had the opportunity, I’d insist that the other coworker come to MY set up at least once, to give advice on it.

    1. Jessa

      ETA (but I can’t edit so additional here) Also tasks are not done the same way at home as in office (I worked for a company where we came in occasionally for training and the like.) The systems were not exactly the same at all. A big one was the fact that the office had actual phones, we had virtual ones at home. They were NOT the same, the method of making, taking, putting calls on hold, etc. was completely different. It’s different to put someone on hold to call a supervisor vs raising your hand for one.

      Although honestly when I re-think it, the other worker should come to the OP’s home, because issues should be dealt with on the OP’s set up. The companies I worked for, we used our OWN machines. Unless the company sends you out with equipment, your set up will not match someone else’s.

  21. Chloe

    Random comment about the ice- The need to do this can be a sign of iron deficiency. I used to do it, and when I introduced more iron into my diet per my doctor’s suggestion, the need to chew ice went away. I realize “Hey, I think you may have an iron deficiency” is not the type of thing you can just say to a coworker, so this comment probably wasn’t all that helpful, but I guess I wanted to convey that it’s something she may do because of an underlying issue (not that that changes the right to request she not do it in the office). That said, maybe she just enjoys chewing ice.

  22. teclatwig

    I did not expect to learn about anemia while reading workplace advice! This ice-chewing thing explains a lot about my early adulthood fatigue. I will keep an eye on my daughter, who has chapped lips (can also be a sign) and sometimes wants to chew my ice.

  23. Betty Jane

    #5, Ice Chewing. Does the ice chewer work in your department? Has her manager brought this concern up to her? If she doesn’t stop and is annoying you, bring it up to her manager. All employees need to have respect while working in confined spaces. You don’t need to beat around the bush, directly tell her it’s annoying. It’s similar to shaking ice in a cup to get the last of the melted ice, constantly annoying.

  24. Contessa

    OP#3 is lucky that her boss is allowing her to change job roles in the first place. As long as you’re still getting the highest rating, take it and be happy, because you get to transition into the job you really want in the end.

    (I’ve been trying to transfer for 6 months. It has not gone well. I would love to get comments like what OP#3 got instead of what I’ve been getting)

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