my manager wants me to lie to a new coworker, I’m mentoring a know-it-all, and more

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

1. My manager doesn’t want me to tell my new coworker that I resigned and this is my last week

Last week, I gave my two weeks’ notice to my company. At the same time as I gave my resignation, they were preparing to bring a new hire into our department. I realize that my resignation might be badly timed for them, but I’ve held firm even when presented with a counter-offer.

The new guy started today, and my boss has told me to speak to him as if I wasn’t leaving. My last day is Friday, and apparently they haven’t told him I won’t be there next week! What makes this worse is that the company was planning for the two of us to work fairly closely. I feel bad for this guy, because this company has a fairly consistent pattern of dishonesty. Apparently he was told he’d be working closely with me and they chose to let him keep believing it even when they knew I was out the door. Now I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut while they “get their story right.”

I’m not willing to lie to a coworker, and I’m sure not going to lie for this company, but I’m not sure it’s my place to tell him I won’t be around next week. Any thoughts?

Whoa. Not only is your manager wrong to ask you to lie by omission, but they’re not doing themselves any favors with the new guy either — come Monday, he’s going to figure out what happened and he’s going to be pretty damn unnerved to discover that your manager hid this from him. (Unless your manager’s “story” is going to involve you leaving without notice, either voluntarily or involuntarily — which is another thing I’d be worried about.)

How about saying to your manager, “I don’t feel comfortable misleading Bob about the fact that I won’t be here after this week. I need to let him know now. I realize you don’t want to freak him out so I’m glad to coordinate with you on messaging if you’d like, but I do want to tell him today.”

2. I’m mentoring someone who sometimes sounds like a know-it-all

I have been in my position for about 2 years now and have a “mentee.” There’s nothing official about this relationship; it’s just an informal setup our team does to help onboard new people who get hired. From an HR perspective, me and my mentee are the same level and position. I am not his superior, nor do I pretend to be. I am just a person who is more experienced and acts as his “guide” to the company and the job.

I actually think his attitude overall is great and thus far, he is meeting the job’s expectations just fine. No complaints from me in terms of his work ethic, quality, or general demeanor. However, (and I have had multiple peers confirm this) he has a habit of being, basically TOO helpful and it seems to come off like he’s a know-it-all. I know it sounds childish, but it’s actually very off-putting when other peers come to me or other senior analysts on the team with questions and he will interject with an answer, and not always correctly. I genuinely appreciate that he wants to help, but I also somewhat wish he knew his place (as dictatorial as that sounds).

Now he’s asking for a mid-year review and I hope to provide some kindly worded feedback. Do you have suggestions or do you think I’m way off base here?

“It’s great that you’re always so helpful when people approach our team with questions, but make sure that you’re not always so quick to answer that no one else has an opportunity to respond.”

And about those times when his answers have been incorrect — does he realize that afterwards? Hopefully someone is correcting the information in the moment, so he’s realizing that he’s not always getting it right, but can you pick up on any patterns in when he’s incorrect? If you can point out that he should double-check procedures he hasn’t used before, or proceed more cautiously when something involves another department, or suggest he get more experience in X before advising on it, that could be helpful too.

3. Managing people with higher risk tolerance than I have

I work for an adventure travel company in the pacific northwest, managing a group of guides who run sea kayak trips. I was formerly a guide with the company, and was promoted to a manager position about a year ago. Once our tours leave the beach, our guides are at that point running their trip totally independently as far as deciding whether or not to divert from their usual itinerary if sea conditions, weather, guest health issues become an issue. It’s a lot of responsibility; we hire experienced people and invest a lot of time into their training. Last season (my first as a manager), I dealt with a number of incidents involving several guides continuing with trips in situations where they patently should have cancelled, or at the very least greatly changed their itinerary (for example – continuing with a trip after one guest became so seasick he was throwing up, or paddling a large open-water crossing in bad weather with a group that included young children). I addressed the incidents with the guides in question; the feedback I got from one guide, whom I’ll call Paul, was that while he understood that I took issue with he did on the trip, Paul felt in control of the situation, personally knew he had the ability to keep the group safe if things went wrong(er), and hey, everything turned out fine in the end, and won’t the guests have a great adventure to talk about when they get home?

Paul is guiding for our company again this season. Being an attentive reader of your blog, the first lesson learned is that I need to be absolutely, crystal sparking clear on my expectations regarding in what situations the guide needs to get his or her group off the water ASAP. How do I do this without giving the impression that I don’t trust my staff to handle themselves in certain situations? I am a very risk-averse guide (probably has something to do with why I’m now a manager) and while I think I did an OK job of giving good risk assessment advice to the risk-adverse guides on my staff, I feel like I haven’t figured out how to be a good manager to the guide who, like Paul, are more risk-tolerant, and in most cases, much more skilled kayakers, than I am. I know that varying amounts of risk tolerance among staff must come up in other industries – banking comes to mind – do you or your readers have any advice for how to manage very risk-tolerant employees in a productive, non-micro-mangey sort of way?

This sounds like it comes down to what you (and the company) ultimately want to leave to guides’ own judgment and what you want to provide firmer direction on. Right now, it sounds a little bit like you want to leave this stuff to their own judgment, as long as their judgment matches yours — which is a recipe for frustration on both sides. So step one here is to get clarity for yourself around where guides do and don’t have leeway, and then make those parameters clear to your staff. If you want them handling situations a certain way, tell them that. If they have some freedom to judge for themselves, but only within certain parameters, tell them that and be explicit about what those parameters are.

But it’s absolutely okay to say, “While I realize that you have a higher risk tolerance in this area, the company does not, and in XYZ conditions, you need to change the itinerary.” The problem, I suspect, is with wanting them to operate that way but not saying it directly. (On the other hand, if you really do want them making those decisions themselves, then you have to get comfortable with that yourself. But even then, one way to do that is to get aligned on philosophy — if X happens, then we do Y because Z.)

4. My manager gave me unwanted and unhelpful help with the copier

I was adding toner to the copier as indicated clearly on the copier, which alerted me in the first place, when my site manager standing over me at the time attempted to assist me. Her instructions were definitely aimed at helping me, but she also did not allow me my process and made a mistake at the same time. Her instructions for putting toner in the copier were to slide the toner in, while clearly I know not to force in the toner canister. She’s behind me over my shoulder and I clearly said that if it does not fit, one should clearly not force it. She said I should say thank you for her help. I replied I would if I had asked for it. I took this position as I work independently in my position here. What to do?

Well, what you said could be either outrageous rudely and out of line or perfectly reasonable, depending on the tone you said it in. If you said it snottily or angrily, you were out of line. She’s your manager; you can’t be overtly rude to her. On the other hand, if you said it humorously or you have the type of relationship where you could point out that you hadn’t requested help without her getting offended, this could be fine. There’s no way to know which it was without more context.

Either way, as for what to do … I would suggest moving on with your day. This isn’t a huge deal.

5. When an online job application won’t let you move forward if you can’t complete a section

What do you do when an online application won’t move forward if you can’t complete a section? I’m sure I’m not alone in this one – the section asks for current employer and this section is marked with red stars as a “must fill in” item. The application won’t progress to the next section, which is job history, unless this first section is completed. Many people are unemployed and don’t have a current employer. So, what to do?

Write in “currently not employed” or “not applicable.” If that’s not enough, write in whatever other details you can make up (without outright lying) just to get through the form. (For instance, if it also requires your current employer’s address, it’s fine to write in something like 123 Main St., because when coupled with “not currently employed,” it will be obvious why you did it.)

{ 164 comments… read them below }

  1. Canadamber

    For #1, since you’re leaving anyway, why can’t you just tell the guy this week? I mean, sure, they might get mad at you or something (your managers), but you’re going to be gone after this week is over, anyway, so it shouldn’t matter. Unless they would end up giving you a bad reference or something, then maybe it does. /noob

    1. Artemesia

      If you don’t inform him, he will be told that you were fired or quit without notice and that is a reputation you don’t want. So he must be told — either by you or by you AND your manager — but he must be told. There is no upside for you in being dishonest about this. Tell him today.

      1. Canadamber

        That’s what I meant, is that the OP should just tell the new hire themselves. It won’t matter after they leave the company, anyway, right? And it’ll make it easier on the new guy knowing ASAP.

    2. Gjest

      Alison’s advice is good, but I’d be even stronger in my wording. Where Alison says “…but I do want to tell him today” I’d say something more like “I will be telling Bob today that Friday is my last day. I’m happy to have your input on my wording when I tell him, but I will be telling him today.”

      1. Mephyle

        I agree, you have to be definite about your intentions, otherwise how do you answer differently when the manager counters with “No, I don’t want you to do that,” or even “You tell him, and you’ll be in a load of trouble.”

    3. James M

      OP1 wrote that her bosses have a consistent pattern of dishonesty. I wouldn’t worry about burning bridges when those bridges are covered in snakes.

        1. HM in Atlanta

          I concur. Some time ago, I had a job where I gave a month notice to my boss. She asked me not to say anything, so she could announce it. Nothing happened. When I discovered that she hadn’t told the owner, I resigned to the owner. She did this to try to make it look like I left without notice. She had other staff who “just didn’t show up one day”. I wonder if that was her plan with me too.

          We did not keep in touch.

    4. AdAgencyChick

      OP, I’ve been there. As Alison suggested, I forced the issue with my manager — he asked me not to say anything, and after a week of my two weeks had passed by without that changing, I went to him and told him we needed to tell the team so they could plan around my departure. He agreed, and I still have a good relationship with this ex-boss. However, at the time the team responded to this by telling me not to say anything to the client! On MY LAST DAY, I again had to go to my manager and his peers and tell them, “They are inviting me to meetings for next week and I do not feel comfortable accepting those invitations, so the client needs to be told,” which finally produced an “AdAgencyChick is moving on to a new opportunity” email. Gah.

      I say be upfront with your boss about the fact that you’re going to tell, and unless your boss is a *complete* snake, it won’t affect your ability to get a good reference later. I think people are more likely to carry a long-time grudge about being lied to (as your boss might feel if you agreed not to tell, or he thinks you did, and you tell) than about being stood up to (if you tell him you’re going to tell and then do it).

      1. Tris Prior

        My company did that to me too! (Not advertising but a creative field.) I was not permitted to tell the client that I had quit, and meetings kept getting scheduled for after my leave date. It made me really uncomfortable to have to speak to Client as if I’d be there for the entire 6-9 month project.

        I never did get permission to tell them – my boss said that the company had won the project in part because Client wanted to work with me specifically and they were afraid they’d take it away if they found out. After I left, my email account was forwarded to my boss and I strongly suspect that she answered them as me so Client wouldn’t know. (Client was on the other end of the country and in our industry in-person visits were rare.)

        1. AdAgencyChick

          Drives you nuts how shady management can get when they’re afraid the client is going to be upset, doesn’t it?

          1. some1

            And delaying the inevitable since you have to figure the client will find out eventually and be more angry that they weren’t told.

            1. AdAgencyChick

              Sadly, sometimes they get away with it. Usually the idea is that they delay informing the client until a replacement has been found, so that at least they can say, “Jane left, but don’t worry, Wakeen here will take good care of you!”

    5. OP #1

      Hey everyone, thanks for the advice, and thanks for answering my question Alison!

      I wasn’t in the office yesterday but I am today, and I plan to force the issue. In fact they’re doing my exit interview today, so I plan to bring it up. As I speak, New Guy is in the cube next to mine and it’s really uncomfortable.

      At this point, I don’t think there’s any positive way to spin this to New Guy, and if it’s up to me to tell him, I’m not going to bother trying. He’s been lied to, plain and simple. I won’t bash the managers, but I will be direct.

      Someone brought up the issue of a reference from my manager, and that’s one of the things I’m really worried about. At least he sees that I’ve done good work for the company, and he went as far as offering to post a recommendation for me on LinkedIn. I’d like to not screw that up, but at the same time I’m not going to lie, either directly or by omission, to someone who’s been in this company less than a week. I’m trying not to get on a moral high horse, but this bugs me.

      Guess we’ll see how things turn out.

      1. Artemesia

        It is not like the guy isn’t going to notice next Monday that you aren’t there. What are they hoping to accomplish?

      2. Anonymous

        Why not just tell him that you’ve resigned, and let him draw his own conclusions? I don’t think you need to be explicit about the company lying to him part.

    6. Lisa

      I just left my company, and they were not going to tell my clients and it was just ridiculous that they wouldn’t. They were afraid they would want to follow me, even tho i signed a thing saying i wouldn’t take clients. I wouldn’t take clients, employees yes, I plan on doing that as soon as the agreement becomes moot in a year.

    7. OP #1

      So an update of sorts, if anyone is still reading this. My manager wasn’t in yesterday, so I spoke with the head of HR, who’s handling New Guy’s onboarding. She seemed surprised and said she already told New Guy I was leaving.

      Then, I spoke with my manager for a few minutes this morning. He told me he was going to tell New Guy I was leaving for “personal reasons”, and said he was considering making up a story, but decided against it. As if that weren’t story enough!

      I didn’t tell him about my talk with the HR Director. I wash my hands of the whole thing.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Given that the HR director is now in the loop, it might be satisfying to tell her what you manager said, as he’ll probably get in a little trouble for it (and watched on this stuff in the future).

  2. Is This Legal

    #1,
    Do we work at the same company?? Arr. I’ll go ahead and inform the new hire because it will prepare him or “awaken” him to take great notes knowing there won’t be anyone to ask.

    Three years ago I took a position and three people left the day after I started, I was told they went on vacation. Not cool.

    1. Elizabeth

      “I was told they went on vacation.”

      And they just didn’t come back? Was that ever explained? I’m reminded of the joke about the guy whose cat dies while he’s on vacation…

        1. Windchime

          Or the character on All My Children who went up in the attic to fetch his skis in the 1980’s and was never heard from again. It was if he had never existed.

          1. Anonymous

            Amnesia. It explains everything. It’s like the get-out-of-jail-free card for soap opera writers.

        2. tcookson

          I thought of Forrest Gump, too. “Vacation is when someone goes away . . . and they never come back.”

      1. Is This Legal

        Nope, I figured it after 2 weeks that something was off. It pissed me off cause thats a blatant lie. Oh and that should have been a red flag. I think that’s the worst company in U.S.

    2. Elkay

      The company must have wanted you to think they had a really generous vacation policy “Wow they’ve all been gone for six months, I’m looking forward to getting to use my vacation!”.

    3. Kim Jong-un

      Was your company in North Korea? That’s standard here.

      Some people at my door are coming to take me for tea. I hope it tastes good.

      1. Kim Jong Il

        No kidding. People in the USA complain about working for family businesses. They ain’t seen nuthin’ until they’ve worked for us.

    4. Laura

      This happened to me too, only about 2 weeks after I started. It took most people about 3 weeks to realize she wasn’t coming back.

    5. Broke Philosopher

      My first job out of college, I was told that my predecessor was going on vacation. He really did go on vacation soon after I started, but then he never came back–while he was still there, he trained me a little with his clients, who I was supposed to work with until he got back. I’m not sure if he knew he wasn’t coming back or if they just waited until he left and then fired him. Not a great start.

  3. Anonymous

    #3 I would sit down with your manager and discuss how the company assesses risk. It will help you to know if you are coming from the right direction, and how to proceed (either way)

    1. Artemesia

      Using their judgment is not working if they are taking unnecessary risks especially with little kids. The company needs to be clearer on guidelines for changing or terminating an activity and there needs to be good oversight/accountability on this. Paul’s ‘confidence’ won’t do the company any good when they are facing dead bodies and subsequent law suits.

      1. Dan

        Certainly the participants have all signed release waivers. OTOH, I ain’t no lawyer, so have no idea if those are worth the paper they are printed on.

              1. KarenT

                Lol! That’s why I shouldn’t read AAM late at night. Though I do hope no one gets shipwrecked!

        1. Liane

          Not in the USA. I am not a lawyer, but I am a low-level officer in a well-known costuming club. Our website’s FAQs have 1 or 2 on waivers. Shortly after the group was founded, the high level officers consulted lawyers about the usefulness of waivers and were told that legally (again in the USA), no one can waive that right. Applies to both those of legal age and parents/guardians signing for minors.

        2. Artemesia

          Release waivers may not hold up if there is reckless decision making by those in charge. But even if they do, ultimately the goal should not be to avoid lawsuits but rather to avoid catastrophe like say killing clients. EVen if there is no lawsuit, a drowned kid is still dead.

        3. Legal jobs

          Depending in state the release may have little value

          Its not a substitute for risk management

      2. minuteye

        Whether the company would be liable or not, it seems like a recipe for disaster not to have a clear policy in place. You leave yourself open to the risk-tolerant guides being overconfident, but also to the possibility of less self-confident guides being pushed into continuing the program by enthusiastic clients when their gut is to call it off. Everybody benefits from having the expectations set down on paper.

        1. OP #3

          Hello – OP#3 here – see below for what I mentioned about our operational guidelines and remit. And it’s quite rare for our clients to successfully bully the staff around here, though sometimes it’s amusing when they try. And I actually think that one reason where I as a manager went wrong last year was by tailoring my coaching more towards the risk-adverse spectrum of things, since that’s where I personally am coming from as a guide myself. The times I got in trouble was when I did something (or was pressured to do so by a former manager) that I wasn’t totally comfortable with, because I felt outside pressure to run the trip as advertised. I have tried as best as possible to alleviate that pressure for my crew. Basically, my big talking point last season was that if you’re not comfortable with the trip, call it or change it, and I will 100% support your call, and I’ll do whatever is humanly possible to give those affected clients a great experience doing something else. I feel like I reiterated this enough that for Paul and others, the take home message that they absorbed was more like ‘If you’re not comfortable, call it and I will 100% support your call – if you ARE comfortable, then everything in our remit is totally OK, and I will 100% support THAT call, too.’ It’s that second part that’s been tricky…

          And frankly, I *never* expected that some guides would feel that at ease in situations that would have me personally high-tailing it to the nearest beach.

          (And for anyone keeping track, we’ve never had a guest’s boat capsize in 6+ years of operation. Not like it’s carnage out there, guys. And I’m pretty committed to maintaining our dunk-free record…)

          1. summercamper

            I work in summer camping for teens, where our counselors take their cabin groups into the adjacent national forest for overnight trips. Our counselors, somewhat like your guides, have a lot of leeway to deciding if the overnight should be canceled due to inclement weather, bugs, illness, etc. While the risks here are obviously less dramatic than sea kayaking, I think some of the same principles may be at work.

            While we TELL the counselors that it’s OK to come in from the woods early if the kids are miserable, peer pressure from other counselors really counteracts this. The overall culture among the summer staff is “good counselors stick it out no matter what,” even though that’s not something the camp management ever says.

            We have the same problem with homesickness among our younger campers and their counselors – no one wants to be the counselor who can’t handle it, even though leadership encourages summer staff to seek help with homesick campers, even going so far as to spell out specific points where a counselor is required to seek help – but “doesn’t eat a meal” can be subject to interpretation (does three bites count? five? what about small v. big bites? etc).

            I would encourage you to consider what role peer pressure and ego may be playing in your guides’ decisions to persevere even in risky weather situations. Our camp isn’t great at this yet, but we’ve found it helpful to not just ALLOW counselors to ask for help or come in early from their overnight, but rather to CELEBRATE counselors who make these “wimpy” decisions. Similarly, we’ve tried to specifically screen for counselors who seem to have a good dose of humility and consistently put others before themselves.

            Again, sea kayaking with experienced guides is a lot bigger deal than college kids and homesick campers – but perhaps this perspective will be helpful to you.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              One step further than “celebrate” and “encourage” is “require” — it seems like the camp could make it clearer that this stuff isn’t optional if they wanted to, couldn’t they?

              1. summercamper

                oh yes, there are certainly specific situations where we can (and do) require counselors to end an activity or bring a homesick camper to the attention of their supervisor. And we have considered codifying the counselor response even more, but it gets complicated – some factors can’t be measured concretely (how bad do the bugs have to be before you give up on the overnight and return to camp early? 10 bites per minute? Three ticks per hour?) and other times, multiple small factors combine to create a larger problem.

                The fact of the matter is that, at some point, your staff does need to be able to make a judgement call. Counselors are required to notify a staff member if a homesick camper doesn’t eat at a scheduled meal, and we are required to send that camper home if they skip 2 meals in a row. But we depend on a counselor’s good judgement to notice the child who eats, but really just picks listlessly at her food.

                1. Legal jobs

                  A clear written code of behavior and reinforcing the point through training would be the best strategy according to what I have seen in deali g with issues like this

                  Judgment can be improved nyti using on helping others become better risk managers rather than expecting to cover every possibility

              2. summercamper

                oh, and another idea related to language – the OP is using really professional, neutral terms to describe the problem – “risk-adverse” and such. But perhaps in certain situations changing the terms might be helpful. It sounds like guides need to understand that this isn’t just a matter of competing styles and different approaches – it’s a matter of safety and regulations and sensitivity to the needs of one’s customers v. one’s own desire for adventure. I certainly don’t prescribe to a strict “the customer is always right” mindset, but even if the guy who puked professed that he’s happy with the way it turned out, I doubt he’ll be a repeat customer.

                1. EngineerGirl

                  This. I wouldn’t use “risk tolerant” for Paul, because there are clear incidents that affected the trip. Paul didn’t mitigate the risks, people got sick, children may have been put in danger.

                  Risks are things you mitigate. I’d say that Paul is taking chances, not risks – unless he can show why it was OK to do what he did. Were the clients happy at the end of the trip? Enthusiastic about coming back?

            2. OP #3

              This is great – I think celebrating would be a great tactic to take! Thank you! for the suggestion!

          2. Lynn Whitehat

            I bet your more risk-tolerant guides did hear you the way you think (“management will back me up if I AM comfortable”). I tend to be on the more risk-tolerant end of the spectrum, just to state my bias up-front. I think it would be helpful to be clearer both in your head and with your guides, when cancelling/diverting is required, and when it really is up to their judgment. And then accepting that sometimes their judgment will differ from yours.

            I know you said below that the standards about when they must not continue are already clear, all in terms of wind speed, water speed, wave height, and so forth. The kind of scenario I am imagining is, the standard is something like “we cancel if the water is running at more than 10 knots.” And then one day it is 9 knots, the guide wants to proceed, everyone is healthy and happy at the end, and you’re unhappy because some condition (that is not an official threshold) made you feel unsafe with it.

            TBH, I would feel kind of set up to fail in a situation like that. If you think 9 knots is too fast, lower the threshold to 8. If you think the water should have to be slower for tours with small children, have a lower threshold for those tours. If under 10 knots is up to my judgment, well, I made a judgment call and it turned out OK. I know you can’t codify everything, but the current situation seems a little mind-ready to me.

            1. OP #3

              As was mentioned above “…helping others become better risk managers rather than expecting to cover every possibility.”

              And it’s more the question is, if you’re in a boat, in the field, will you be able to tell the difference between 10 knots and 9 knots of current? Or 10 knots and 11 knots? It’s sort of like diagnosing a fever in a kid – you’ll get great results with a thermometer, but sometimes all you have to go on is putting a hand on their forehead and trying to get a sense of what’s going on. Our operating remit may say ten knots, but it is always in the field going to come down to a guide’s ‘sense’ of what’s ten knots.

        2. Artemesia

          And things can go wrong big time. Remember the Canyoneering incident in Europe a few years ago where a couple dozen people on an adventure trip died because leaders ignored very obvious signs that it was unsafe to proceed. There was a team building rafting trip in Canada a couple decades ago where several C level managers from a US company died.

          I once led a girl scout camp trip where the parent in charge of the canoeing expedition didn’t follow my directions to not take the novice 11 year old canoers out of the cove but instead got them into the middle of the lake where headwinds and currents made it impossible for them to return to shore. I had to actually get the emergency boats from a nearby military base to rescue them. Thank god, risk averse me who had made clear they weren’t to paddle outside the cove, had also insisted that each canoe have a lifeguard as well as the two girls. It had been a pain to find half a dozen lifeguards, but I sure was happy that they were there in each boat so I didn’t have panicked little girls doing something crazy.

          When you are responsible for people’s lives, risk averse has to be the position.

      3. De (Germany)

        “Using their judgment is not working if they are taking unnecessary risks especially with little kids.”

        Um, we really don’t know the whole story here. The OP admits that they are “very risk-adverse”, so we don’t really know whether the guide’s judgement is working fine or not.

        1. Chinook

          I have to agree because we don’t know about the skill level of the particular kids involved. My dad took us canoeing in (shallow lake) water as soon as we could sit up and I could paddle through almost anything. By age six, I knew how to flip a canoe and get back in and, as a result, my family would have had no issue with the situation the OP described. But, it is his call if he wants to make it something that should never happen as long as he makes it clear.

        2. A Cita

          I thought that too. We don’t have enough info. But then, I’m extraordinarily risk tolerant. Because of that though, I know not to bring others with me on my adventures unless they are the same because my risk tolerance isn’t normal. I could never be a guide for this reason. I would never put other people in the situations I put myself in.

        3. Anna

          We’ll never have the whole story so we have to go with what we’re told. And really management gets to make the rules. That’s why they have the titles. If OP 3 is not comfortable with the risks the guide is taking, and if it’s his job to interpret the company policies, then what he feels comfortable with the guides doing is really what goes.

    2. Anon from Oz

      # 3 – My first thought was that your insurance must be a nightmare ! Does your insurance policy give guidelines for what is acceptable risk-wise ?

      1. OP #3

        Hi all, here’s OP from #3. We do absolutely have some firm official guidelines in place as far as what’s acceptable versus not – expressed in terms of wind speed, wave height, and knots of current. However, while those parameters are very cut and dried, the fact is that in the field those parameters are all subject to interpretation. Our ‘unofficial’ company policy is to err on the side of caution in all circumstances – as in, it doesn’t matter what the wave height is if a guest is puking – in that circumstance it’s obviously too much for that particular person – but again, the idea of what’s considered ‘prudent’ varies from guide to guide. Some guides consider weather conditions on the high side of our remit to be engaging challenges – the, get people to overcome something that at first seemed daunting. And regarding insurance – yes, we of course have comprehensive liability waivers, which are pretty standard in our industry in this country. (I have also guided in the UK and NZ, where the emphasis is less on waivers, and more on a highly regimented system of guide training , licensing, and certification. Wish that the US industry worked more like this, but the fact of the matter is, it’s standard practice for most adventure outfits.)

        1. R

          I agree with AAM. It’s so important to make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of risk. This also should include your clients. If you haven’t let, you should consider the type of clients you usually serve and ensure that they understand your company’s policy. For example, if you offer packages that cater towards families, you might tell your clients at the start of the trip that there will be three “stop” points where they can opt to stay put and catch up with the rest of the group on the way back, or where another guide can pick them up and escort them back to the start point (or whatever makes sense logistically!) For more experienced clients, you might tell them up front that the trip will be going as planned, except in the case of very extreme weather or extreme injury, and they should be prepared for that. I think if everyone’s expectations are aligned, you’ll feel a bit better!

        2. Cath@VWXYNot?

          My brother-in-law manages instructors at a ski school and says that there is no waiver in the world that will stand up in court against the right lawyer…

          1. Legal jobs

            That’s not exactly true

            They can have dime value both in limiting luabilty in some states and with insurance coverage

            They just aren’t as useful as the sum total of risk management strategy

        3. KrisL

          It might be good to get the guides and some people who have to deal with the fall out from unsuccessful risks together and work on getting things more cut and dried in the field, too.

          If people could talk together and understand the other person’s point of view, that might help.

    3. plain jane

      #3 – an approach to training might be to come up with a number of scenarios, and have the team work through them, discussing the risks of moving forward, how to mitigate them and how to tell that they’re too high for the company’s comfort and when it’s really the person’s call. Also having them read up on case studies where well trained & responsible people made the right/wrong calls (e.g. http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=3364)

      One of the best things one of my managers ever did was get me to start noticing when my safety buffer was being eaten away and I was at risk if one more thing went wrong. Now people comment that I’m really good at noticing what risks might come up, and dealing with them ahead of time, or having contingency plans. (The visualization I have is of those sliding puzzles – you always need at least one square open.)

  4. Anon

    OP#4: let this go. And next time the toner needs replaced, politely – and sincerely – ask your manager to show you the proper steps. A little humility will do you well, even if your manager botches the task.

    You might consider why you feel so adversarial towards your manager, too. That seems a much larger problem than the toner incident.

    1. A Teacher

      What? Why would he/she ask if the manager already told him/her to do it wrong? I’m not saying the OP did or didn’t handle the response appropriately, maybe the generic “okay, thanks” or “I got it.” would be better but I wouldn’t be seeking out the advice of a manager that doesn’t actually know how to load the toner.

      In our building, one of the assistant principals will actually help us dismantle out copier when its being stupid–she’s been on the floor in a skirt helping us and it takes 3 people to figure out where the paper jam is. Another AP has no clue what he’s doing, when he tells us how to “fix it” he usually gets an “okay, got it…” or “um, yeah sure” response as we nicely send him on his way.

      1. some1

        Yeah, I don’t think the LW needs to pretend she doesn’t know how to do it, just say in nice or neutral tone “thanks for the input” and internally roll her eyes.

        Some people just aren’t worth getting in a power struggles over even when you are clearly right and they are clearly wrong (parents, in-laws, aunts/uncles) and bosses fall into this category.

        1. Anon

          Where did I say to pretend the OP didn’t know how to do it? A quick “Hey Manager, the toner needs replaced again. Last time you wanted to show me the proper steps – do you have a second to do that now?” is what I am suggesting.

          1. some1

            Because the LW *does* know the proper steps, and the boss does not, so imo this approach is unnecessary at best and could come off as patronizing at worst, if the boss thinks her employee is setting her up to prove she can’t change the toner correctly.

          2. A Teacher

            Again, why bring it back up? The OP doesn’t need instruction. I’d probably just do without asking and if the boss stood over me, it’d be “thanks I got it,” and if they persisted, “no, really, its okay I’m good.” You can get people to back off without being rude

          3. fposte

            Additionally, you’re then interrupting your boss who’s doing something else. I get where you’re going, but I think this happened because the boss was idly standing by and got the problem-solving itch, not because she deeply cares about toner.

          4. LV

            How is “asking someone to show you how to do something that you already know how to do” not also “pretending that you don’t know how to do it”?

          5. aebhel

            That…would be pretending that the OP didn’t know how to do it?

            I mean, I don’t ask people to walk me through tasks I already know how to do. It’s a waste of time, and if I’m only doing it in order to assuage someone’s ego, it’s dishonest apple-polishing.

      2. Anon

        Why? Because if the manager is wrong, it will become apparent quite quickly without the OP inserting snark and disrespect into the situation.

        1. A Teacher

          and if you’ve ever had a boss that’s “never” wrong this can also backfire on you quickly. Why put the boss on the spot like that? It won’t bode well for the OP.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          But it’s unnecessary. The OP knows how to change toner, doesn’t need help, shouldn’t be bothering the boss for something that isn’t the boss’s job, and doesn’t need to make this situation any bigger than it already was.

    2. Fiona

      I wouldn’t go so far as asking my manager how to do a task I’ve done before just to prove a point, but I do agree that both of the OP’s comments to her manager seemed on the curt, borderline rude side. (No matter how I picture it, I can’t make “I clearly said that if it does not fit, one should clearly not force it” come out humorously). To me, this line is almost as bad as “if I wanted your advice I’d have asked for it.” And it does leave me wondering if this isn’t the first time the OP and the manager have butted heads (or if the OP has pent-up frustrations that spewed over at that moment).

      Personally, I’d go with something like, “Thanks, but I’ve got this; you know how persnickety this machine can be about getting the toner settled in just right.” Then it becomes us against the machine rather than “I know what I’m doing and you don’t.”

      1. Jamie

        (No matter how I picture it, I can’t make “I clearly said that if it does not fit, one should clearly not force it” come out humorously)

        I was thinking the same thing – I can’t imagine a tone playful or neutral enough where that line isn’t pretty condescending and rude.

        And the second line would work if the whole exchange was playful banter. You’re doing something, I come by to “help” and mess it all up, in a joking way I mea culpa and then teasingly demand a thank you for all my non help and that’s tossed back – that’s fine. But other than basically a skit or total goof I don’t see how this doesn’t set teeth on edge.

        Sometimes people are annoying – we can’t always go around pointing it out with snarky comments.

        Oh, that if we could – what a rest my internal filter would get.

        1. Malissa

          “if it does not fit, one should clearly not force it.”–That’s what she said. ;)

          There’s the only way I can think making it humorous. (Yes, my sense of humor is dominated by my inner 12 year old.)

      2. aebhel

        At my last job, my manager and I would snark back and forth at each other like this, and it was all in good fun–but I’d been working there for quite a while and knew what I could and could not get away with saying. In most cases, though, snapping at your manager is a good way to end up jobless.

      3. KrisL

        Agreed. It’s tough to figure out how what the OP said wouldn’t be considered obnoxious and not the way to treat your boss. Especially if you want your boss to treat you well.

    3. OhNo

      I agree with the “let this go” advice, but not with asking the manager for help next time – as others have stated, it seems silly to do so.

      If other people forcing help on them is a thing that really bugs the OP, may I suggest coming up with some stock phrases to gently push away unwanted helpers? Things like: “Thanks, but I’d rather figure it out myself”; “I appreciate the help, but I want to learn how to do this on my own”; “I prefer to find my own way through problems like this first, but I’ll be sure to ask you if I get stuck”. Then just keep repeating these phrases until whoever it is gets the hint and leaves you alone.

      I’m also very much opposed to having people trying to force help on me when it’s not needed, but responding politely but firmly is much better than being even the slightest bit snarky. People like your boss do mean well, and they usually don’t realize that they are being annoying.

  5. BCW

    #3, I think you really need some kind of measurable guideline here. The problem, as you say, is not only are you more risk averse, but you are less experienced than they are. So just because YOU wouldn’t be comfortable or competent leading in certain situations, doesn’t mean Paul (or anyone else) is endangering customers. So maybe say if rapids get this fast, or waves are this high, you MUST cancel. But its really not fair to say that its their discretion, when in reality its only at their discretion if its what you would do.

    1. Anonymous

      Or perhaps some scenario-based training? I would imagine that it would be daunting to come up with a comprehensive list of measurable guidelines, especially when there are so many factors that add to or distract from a situation’s riskiness. Case studies (real or invented) might be helpful in advising the guides about the company’s expectations.

    2. Dan

      After reading a few comments around this, the OP doesn’t have the typical sort of management problem that AAM usually addresses.

      OP isn’t entirely sure what the rapids/waves level “should” be. And even then, OP says in a different post that even measuring this stuff is subjective. OP needs to figure that out, and THEN if the guides don’t comply, well now you have a “people” sort of management problem that this crowd loves to help with.

      1. OP #3

        Frankly, I’m thinking that Paul’s continuing employment with the company is part of the issue. My manager recommended he not be rehired (I manage but do not have hire/fire authority) and I specifically wrote to my boss’s boss over the winter with strong evidence that Paul had been leading other staff (not clients) on a personal trip into an area that was strictly, officially, and very clearly off-limits due to safety concerns. This was on his days off, but it was still something he was doing with company gear, in company operating areas, and in flagrant violation of official day off policy. I was really shocked when I found out he’d been asked back – hence my efforts to figure out what I can do this summer to improve things this summer.

        1. H. Vane

          It sounds like Paul’s judgment is faulty and he, specifically, needs to be curtailed. I don’t think this is an issue wherein you need new rules for the entire staff.

          It’s pretty unfortunate that you don’t have your boss’s boss’s backing (grandboss?), but you should be able to have a conversation with Paul clearly defining your expectations, which should clearly limit the amount of discresion you allow him. And then you should document any deviations from your established expectations so you can show your grandboss how Paul has become a liability.

        2. Anon

          When you say officially off limits – do you mean the company forbids staff going there on company time, or that the government says no-one should go there?

          Have you had safety concerns with any other staff, or is it really only Paul that is an issue here?

          1. OP #3

            The company forbids our staff going into this particular area because it’s a well-known local hazard, and we don’t want our people getting hurt. The land management agency doesn’t enter into it. If our staff want to go there anyway, they can use their own gear (not company gear) and they can launch from a public beach (and not from our camp) just like any other John Q. Public. For most staff this is a significant hardship, and that is very intentional on our part.

        3. EngineerGirl

          This is highly disturbing and validates my gut feeling about the situation. I would not have rehired him either. I’d do everything to make sure he has a short leash –
          No using company equipment for private trips (preserves the equipment, ensures it is in good and safe shape for clients)
          Document every offense
          Document any time he’s Out of Limit.
          Ensure all the other guides know about the standards too. A little peer pressure won’t hurt.
          Find strong guides that want to do it right and get them to act as influencers for the group – make it uncool to flout the rules. Is there some crusty old person that’s been around forever and everyone looks up to?

          Assess the impacts of Pauls behaviors and go to big boss. Big boss should know that accidents with company equipment will result in bad PR, and high replacement costs for any equipment. Also, will you lose your operating permit or lose insurance if Paul has an accident on these private trips? You need to get big boss to see the potential issues.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yep, that’s the issue to me. Is it a requirement or isn’t it? If it is, tell them that clearly. Right now, it’s muddled — they have discretion, but you’re unhappy with how they’re handling it. So either make clearer requirements or decide that you don’t want to — but if the latter, then you’ve got to change your own comfort level, not theirs. And if you can’t get comfortable with it, then that’s a flag to either revisit whether these should be requirements after all or seek more guidance from above you. (Meaning management, not god.)

      1. OP #3

        Thanks – and I think your sentence in your reply about ‘supporting their judgement only when I agree with it’ is definitely something I need to think about. As well as going over case studies and paddling-incident-based scenarios.

  6. anon all the way

    With regards to #1, when I gave notice to leave my old job, my manager asked me if I wanted to tell people or he wanted to do it. I said I would tell people on my own. Well, before I had even a chance to say a word, I had co-workers coming up to me saying, “I heard you’re leaving…” I’m pretty sure given where I was they started blabbing and were a poor manager to begin with. Not only did I feel completely awkward at that point, it made the last few weeks at the job unbearable even more so because I felt my confidentiality in leaving wasn’t respected. I feel even if you gave loyalty to the company, your manager ultimately doesn’t have a right to tell you how you want to say good-bye to people. You are leaving the company and it’s understandable why you want to leave on good terms and not burn bridges, but you should have that right to discuss on your own terms how you want to say goodbye. I don’t think it’s fair for a manager to limit your discussions if they aren’t going to respect you in the first place.

    1. Dan

      The manager’s first concern is the company, not you. He’s got to manage a transition plan, and that involves telling people you are no longer with the company, whether you like it or not.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, the manager is absolutely entitled to tell people and doesn’t need to respect confidentiality in leaving. His mistake here was making you think it was your choice!

        1. anon all the way

          I guess I expected after being an employee there for a long time, a little more respect towards my choices would have been honored.

          1. some1

            This isn’t like your mother-in-law blabbing about your [or your partner’s] pregnancy to everyone before you had the chance to share the news when ready — there are legitimate reasons your coworkers need to be told so they can plan accordingly.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yep — this is not an area where “my choices should be honored” comes into play. It’s a business issue and the manager gets to decide that people need to be told.

            2. anon all the way

              Unfortunately as I described below, they don’t believe in protecting any privacy. The situation you described actually happened at my former company and the employee was mortified!

        2. EvilQueenRegina

          Would you still feel it was the case that the manager was entitled to tell people before you even knew anything definite yourself? In my case it was that I was being moved to a different team in a restructure (not through my choice at the time), I knew I was going but not when, and a coworker asked me “Is it true this rumour I’ve just heard that you’re moving as early as January?” before anyone had actually spoken to me about my move date.

          (The explanation I was later given for this was that my move had been discussed in a corridor and someone – I never knew who – had overheard it and shared it with my old team, not realising I didn’t know yet).

        3. KrisL

          Right, but I hate it when people act like you have a choice when you don’t. I’d rather people be straight up about it, “I need to announce this.” or something.

      2. anon all the way

        While I understood that, I still think a little common courtesy especially since I gave over three weeks in leaving notice would have been nice.

        1. some1

          But it could be a matter of needing to tell people before you are ready. If I was your coworker and went to the boss and said, “Hey, it’s time for Anon all the way and me to register for that conference in May”, I’d rather be told “It’s just going to be you, Anon just put in notice” than be lied to.

          1. anon all the way

            Normally I would agree, if this company was run with any organization. Given how this company hardly planned for anyone’s departure in the 10+ years I worked there, no hiring plans were made to replace me, nothing about the future of the department was discussed with any of the employees except “so and so is leaving” and no contingency plans were made prior to me or any other employee leaving. It was and remains a complete mess. I’ve kept in touch with my former co-workers and no surprise here, not only have I not been replaced but my former supervisor left too shortly thereafter. Nothing was done. The place thrives on rumors and gossip and the only reason anyone else would have found out was to further these rumors and gossip. The only thing that ever happens at the company when employees leave is everyone else has to pick up the slack and believe me when I tell you, replacements come and go.

    1. JEC

      Speaking of which, I was wondering recently whether it would be feasible (going forward, at least) to include some sort of indicator on posts in which the OP does become involved in comments. There’s no doubt that whether they do or not there can be great discussion in the comments about the issues, but as far as the specific situation in the original letter, the comments can sometimes become a series of speculative arguments that can’t really be resolved unless more information is provided.

      Is that something that might be reasonable to indicate on future posts, or create a tag for? Like, if the OP comments within three days or something, it could get tagged?

      1. AdminAnon

        I love that! Hopefully there is a way to make it happen.

        Sometimes I’ll do a control+f search for OP, but a lot of times OPs use other terms (LW comes to mind) or stick with their standard username but indicate in the comment that it was their question. Not to mention the fact that the search results include every instance of the term “OP,” which can take a while to sift through.

          1. JEC

            That’s a really good idea, and I’m embarrassed that I never thought of it. I do try to search for “OP” or “LW” sometimes, but so many people address comments directly to the OP, or refer to OP in their posts, that it’s not all that helpful sometimes.

  7. some1

    I understand that #1 is really common in the hair stylist/beautician industry. My hair stylist moved to a new salon after her payroll check bounced twice, and she tried to notify as many clients as she could.

    One client who wasn’t notified called the old salon to make an appointment and was told my stylist stopped doing hair!

    1. Anonymous

      Ugh, this happened to me too.

      My stylist left for a new salon, but the old salon continued to allow customers to schedule appointments. When the customers showed up for their appts, the salon told them that the stylist had quit unexpectedly and was no longer doing hair. Then, the bewildered customers were directed to a new stylist.

      1. Windchime

        My salon tried to do this; fortunately, my stylist had the contact information for all of her clients and managed to call us to set up new appointments. I would have been really mad if I’d gone in for my appointment with A and was assigned to B!

        At a previous town, my stylist left and the salon didn’t let me know. Fortunately, my son was dating another stylist there and she was able to tell my where my person had moved to. The salon wouldn’t give me that information directly.

        1. some1

          Yeah, I can understand why the salon would not want to lose a client, but imo it’s worth the goodwill factor not to deceive people or refuse to say where the stylist went.

          In the case of my stylist, her old salon knew exactly where she was and it was less than a mile away.

      2. Ellie H.

        I happened to run into the person who cuts my hair in the parking lot of the grocery store, otherwise I would not have found out she was leaving the salon that I would go see her at!
        I sort of can understand why they do it because as I understand it, there are some arrangements in which the individual stylists are more like private contractors and they will tend to take customers with them. It’s not good for business to refer customers to another establishment. It still gives a bad impression to the customer.

      3. Anonymous

        Would you believe this once happened to me with (multiple) counselors in a psychiatrist’s office?

        On two separate occasions, I confirmed over phone, showed up for my appointment, paid my copay, and THEN was told that ‘So and so is no longer here, you’ll be saying New Counselor today.’ After the second unannounced switch, I left the practice. Don’t understand how this is considered acceptable.

  8. MR

    For #5, this is a huge issue with ATSs. While whoever designed the software is usually well intentioned, often times things are very user unfriendly.

    There have been many, many companies where I just was not able to apply and/or it wasn’t worth dealing with the headaches of their poorly designed/operating ATS. This may be one of those companies and you may need to decide if it is worth dealing with the hassle.

    1. Lynn Whitehat

      They do tend to be rigid. But I think AAM’s recommendation of just filling in what makes sense and moving on is a good one. They’ll figure it out on the other end. This is not a security clearance application, where every answer has to be the strict literal truth under penalty of perjury. A job title of “Unemployed” at your home address or “123 Main St.” is fine. (Security clearance applications have a little comment box under every question, exactly because they know you’re not allowed to lie and yet sometimes your situation doesn’t fit neatly in the little boxes.)

  9. Gail L

    #2… The way this is put is odd. Isn’t “know-it-all” the kind of phrase used when someone DOES know the answer, and is just really annoying about making sure you know it? I was taken aback when OP said the employee wasn’t always correct. I felt like it was a last-minute justification for feeling annoyed at him.

    I say this because you react differently to someone who speaks up with incorrect advice. The person who knows the correct answer replies and tells him he is wrong. And everyone moves on. At some point, he learns from this.

    Instead, OP is reacting to his style of speaking first and out-of-turn. And some people really need to learn to chill about that kind of thing, but it’s much harder to do in the moment because he’ll feel validated because he was right.

    I would actually have a conversation or training session with him about meeting and discussions. The purpose of the discussion isn’t always to elicit the information requested, but also to inform someone of what you are working on, loop them in, get their buy-in, make sure someone knows they are SUPPOSED to know an answer, etc. There are reasons we start conversations with certain people. And he needs to learn that sometimes it isn’t about having the right answer. Sometimes it’s about having the discussion. So before he pops up with an answer, he should be pausing to consider not just the information, but why the question is being asked, who it’s intended for, and if it’s his place to answer.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      I worked for someone once who thought he knew everything, when in fact he knew very little. So I would call him a know-it-all, because he was — in his own mind.

      It was a source of great aggravation for me, because if someone is arrogant and full of themselves, but has the skill/knowledge/whatever to back it up, the way they handle things rubs me the wrong way, but I do respect their abilities and expertise. On the other hand, if someone struts around and behaves like they know everything when in fact they know very little, they just come off as buffoons.

      1. some1

        This. I think of “know-it-all” a facetious term on it’s face, I’ve never used it to describe someone I actually thought had a wide-range of knowledge.

        1. Katieinthemountains

          Yes, I think it mainly refers to attitude in spouting information regardless of content veracity; otherwise, you’d say that the person was a great resource or very knowledgeable about the field if you liked working with him or her, or pedantic, long-winded, or mind-numbingly repetitive if you didn’t.

          1. A Bug!

            Yeah, when I hear “know-it-all”, I don’t picture a person with much more than average knowledge in general.

            What I do picture is a person who can’t resist answering a question even if it’s asked of someone else, and even if there’s someone present who is better equipped to answer. A person who answers authoritatively even when he or she isn’t certain of the answer or is in fact just kind of hypothesizing.

            There’s irony in that last bit. When you give wrong answers with the same air of authority you give right ones, then you’re actually eroding any authority you might carry on topics you do know well. If people can’t rely on your answers without first getting them corroborated elsewhere, why would anybody go to you with questions in the first place?

    2. Cassie

      Nope, a “know-it-all” is someone who (either consciously or subconsciously) wants people to know how “smart” they are and will pipe in to answer questions or offer their opinions without being asked. This kind of behavior is commonly seen in little kids who are bright/precocious, although some grow out of it (or learn to behave in a more socially-acceptable manner).

      People who are knowledgeable, on the other hand, aren’t responding to queries because they want to show how smart they are – they just have a lot of knowledge or experience in something and are sharing that with the listener.

      Of course, you can have a person who is both (e.g. me at work!). Or like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. Yes, he’s a genius and all that, but the manner in which he corrects/criticizes everyone, offers his opinions, and reminds everyone of just how smart he is all the time – that’s what makes him a know-it-all. I think I was a bit of a know-it-all when I was little, and I try to turn off those tendencies nowadays – nobody likes a know-it-all :)

  10. Adam

    #1: Why do companies even do this? It boggles my mind what the benefit of keeping someone’s eminent departure is, especially if the co-workers and clients are engaging with the leaving party as if they’re still there, sending emails about future projects, scheduling meetings they’ll never go to, etc. I can’t wrap my head around it.

    1. A Teacher

      My old company used to do it so they could spin a story of their choosing and then email the team while bashing said employee to the current staff, patients they were seeing, and even orthopedic surgeons we worked with. I watched it happen 4-5 times so when I resigned I went ahead and told my patients, contracts, doctors, and coworkers myself.

    2. Laura2

      My guess is that this happens mostly at companies where they have high turnover or know that employees are leaving because of the work environment. It probably helps redirect annoyance about the company toward the former coworker. Instead of their coworkers thinking “Good for Jane for getting out of here” they think “Wow, that’s kind of rude that Jane quit without notice and left me all her work!”

  11. Hope

    I resigned last month over an ethical breach by my management team. They wanted to discuss how to approach my client (their largest) but I had already called him, since I was scheduled to be on a plane with him the next morning. My email is still active, but luckily I followed another resignee’s lead and activated my out-of-office message before they turned off my access. I’m sure the story they are telling about me is not the truth, but at least I was able to contact my direct clients and tell them myself. Of course, this is easier given I worked from a home office and they are totally disorganized, short handed, and overwhelmed.

  12. AAA

    Re #2 – I’m somewhat of a know-it-all, if I do say so myself. And it’s one of the most helpful things I’ve ever been told as feedback.

    At my first job, during my exit interview, my manager told me that I could come off as trying too hard to know the right answers to everything all the time, and that this rubbed some of the people in the office the wrong way. At the time I didn’t take this very well (thinking that, if I had the right answers to a question someone was asking–why not share them?!) but it remains some of the most insightful feedback I’ve ever received about myself. I’ve definitely tried to internalize it in subsequent years and to temper my immediate impulse to jump in with a potential solution, especially weighing if there are others who might have more expertise or experience with a situation with whom I should consult, or at least get their word in along with mine.

    I would suggest broaching it by saying that, while you value his eagerness to contribute to solutions, you also value responses from others on the team who might have different information and experience to contribute. If he presses, I’d explain that sometimes his readiness to answer might inhibit some others in the group from contributing. Even if he doesn’t get it now, I’m sure he will value this feedback later when he can reflect on it.

    1. Anonymous

      You had an exit interview with your manager? I’ve only had an exit interview with HR. And I’ve never gotten any feedback, I’ve just been asked questions about why I’m leaving, etc, that were put onto a paper that I’m sure no one read.

  13. EngineerGirl

    #3 – I see a lot of miscalculations in play here, so am going to comment. Disclosure: I have SAR experience, have taught high angle rescue to the NPS, and am considered fairly experienced in my own sport. I have buried several friends because someone assessed the risk incorrectly. Yes, this taints my response.

    I take a **huge** issue with Pauls response:

    “hey, everything turned out fine in the end, and won’t the guests have a great adventure to talk about when they get home?”

    Here’s the fallacies I see:
    * The fact that something you’ve already had “incidents” says that Paul wasn’t managing the situation properly. His response is a form of gas-lighting. You don’t get repeat customers by getting them sick or scaring the tar out of them.
    * Paul may be able to judge a situation for himself, but should take a conservative assessment for others. Why? Because he doesn’t know them. He doesn’t know their psychology, he doesn’t know their abilities. Therefore he needs to back off, since he is playing with unknown unknowns.
    * Clients are newbies and are unable to assess the situation fully. They can’t know all the dangers or what it takes to get out of them. They may be comfortable, in grave danger, and not know it.

    Paul needs to learn that assessing risk for others is different than for himself. You need to get him to abide by the book. People like this are accidents waiting to happen.

    1. Anon

      What would be a good way for a more experienced guide to tell a less experienced manager that no, that really was within reasonable safety limits? Obviously ‘hey, it worked out all right’ isn’t it.

      1. EngineerGirl

        By being specific about the situation at hand. It was OK because of a, b, c. Educate the manager on the data they don’t know about and show them the method of assessing that risk. Let the manager draw the conclusion it was OK based on the additional data provided.
        It’s tough sometimes. I had someone over me that was terrified of heights. They would scream piercingly every time I was near the cliff edge (unnerving) even though there was no problem. This manager thought my skill set was the same as his even though mine was superior (and I had the achievements to prove it) I finally just avoided that person and worked with his boss instead (who fully trusted me). The first persons phobia limited their advancement.

      2. A Bug!

        There are a couple points to be made here.

        First and foremost, the guide is employed by the guiding company, and his decisions on tour are made on behalf of his employer. That means the guiding company gets to define what is an acceptable risk and where the limits are.

        Now, as far as your specific question, if the guide feels that his decision actually does fall within the reasonable safety limits as defined by the guiding company, then he needs to explain what his thought process was at the time he made the decision, so the manager has enough information to either agree or not.

        “It worked out” is an after-the-fact justification that says nothing about the actual decision, because the guide’s not psychic; and “I always felt in control” is too subjective to be meaningful, especially because the guide could be overestimating his own skills and those of his tour group.

      3. EngineerGirl

        “Hey it worked out OK” shows another dangerous fallacy thinking:

        It didn’t happen, so it can’t happen.

        Getting lucky is not the same as mitigating the risks. People can drive drunk and not get into accidents multiple times before they kill an innocent family. People can live all their lives in Tornado Alley and never get hit – until they do.

        An outdoors company’s reputation is crucial to its success. The ability to assess risks properly is a key part of the reputation. One crazy guide ends it for everyone.

    2. OP #3

      Thank you for your input – and that goes for pretty much for everyone who’s commented – I am taking notes for this season’s training period as we speak. It’s actually really nice to hear that the majority of commenters take this issue seriously, or that I am not alone in trying to figure out issues like these.

  14. lrs

    #3, who in their right mind with any kind of outdoors experience, would go into a wide open space in bad weather? I used to work at an overnight camp and lifeguard the open water, you do not go out in bad weather (even a sprinkle of rain), at all, especially with children!

    We had scenario training at the camp, which included flooding, fire, drowning, kidnapping, severe weather, etc. Thankfully I’ve only had to rely on the severe weather training, but because of the training I knew how my manager expected us to think in high stress situations. We also had a heavy priority of 1-their safety 2-their fun 3-your safety 4-your fun. Paul seems to have switched 1 and 2.

    1. fposte

      I think not going out in even a sprinkle of rain is a highly conservative policy, though, and it’s unlikely to hold in most coastal situations.

      1. lrs

        It is conservative, but we’re also not adventure based. Our open water was a mini river, so after every rain the current and depth had to be checked so that those light as a feather 10yo wouldn’t be swept away.

        1. OP #3

          I was actually using the term ‘bad weather’ as a stand in phrase for sub-par paddling conditions, since I didn’t think giving estimated wind speeds and wave heights would be particularly meaningful to the majority of AAM readers.

    2. Gene

      Here in the Pacific North Wet, if we kept the kids inside whenever there was “a sprinkle of rain”, camp would be just like staying at home, locked in the basement.

      Rain =/=bad weather.

      1. lrs

        Rain isn’t bad weather, but in flowing, open water with not strong swimmers it isn’t worth it. I could handle it, I hope one day my ids could handle it, but when liable, its not worth it.

        1. Anon

          Ah, you’re worried about river conditions changing fast due to rain, not the rain itself. As a conservative policy, that makes sense.

    3. A Bug!

      who in their right mind with any kind of outdoors experience, would go into a wide open space in bad weather?

      Almost everyone interacts with very powerful forces on a daily basis; it’s easy to lose track of how little it takes to turn a normal situation into an emergency if you don’t respect those forces. This false sense of security results in a lot of objectively risky behavior, and while the vast majority of this behavior doesn’t result in harm, even a near miss often fails to provide the wake-up call it should.

  15. Vicki

    Variation on #1 – the hiring manager is the one who is planning to leave.

    I was hired in late November by a manager who didn’t tell me he was planning to leave until he announced it to everyone else in December.

    Unfortunately, the project I was hired for wasn’t supported by anyone else after that manager left. :-(

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