manager wants me to buy our whole team expensive coffee, being paid double for doing two jobs, and more

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

1. My manager wants me to buy our whole team expensive coffee

I work part-time in a small department of four. My director (not in our department) and I were recently discussing some of my supervisor’s failings (which is a different issue) and one of the things that I mentioned was that she is often cliquish with the other full-time employee in the department, not sharing information with the part-timers and gossiping, etc.

One of my examples was that often (at least two times a week), my supervisor has the other full-time employee bring her Starbucks. Mostly this happens right in front of us with no offer to grab us some, and it doesn’t seem as though the my supervisor pays her back or gets the next round. It’s not really a big deal, but sort of annoying in the “gifts flow downward” aspect of business, plus, it’s just sort of rude and inconsiderate to everyone who is sitting right beside them. Not something I would bring up on its own, but as an example of this reflecting poorly on my manager because it seems like she is getting special favors from this other employee.

I guess my director talked to my supervisor because a few days later we were all given a small Starbucks drink from my supervisor and told we would get the next “round.” I didn’t really want a 500-calorie sugar and caffeine bomb at 4:30 p.m., but it was already bought, so I took it. Now the other part-time employee is upset because every third Friday, we are expected to bring in drinks for our department. Neither of us can really afford that on a part-time salary. In addition to this, if I go to Starbucks on my own, I get the evil eye, or if I go on break, my supervisor asks “Are you going to Starbucks?” I don’t really think I should have to buy my boss a drink every time I go to Starbucks, but I realize I am the one that started this mess!

How do I get out of buying my department coffee every month?

“I can’t afford to buy everyone coffee every few weeks, so I’m going to bow out of the rotation (and of course I don’t expect anyone to buy it for me either).”

And if your manager notices you’re going to Starbucks and asks you to get her a drink, say, “Sure, but I don’t have enough cash — can you give me enough to cover your drink?” or “Sure, I think it’s about $4” (or whatever their drink costs).

And if you just notice her giving you the evil eye for going, ask about it directly: “You look bothered — did I do something wrong?” Followed by, if necessary, “Yes, on occasion I treat myself to Starbucks. I can’t afford to buy it for everyone.”

Straightforward, not a doormat, and totally reasonable.

You also might mention to your director that whatever talk she had with your manager didn’t quite work the way she probably intended.

2. Getting paid for doing multiple jobs

I’ve had some success over the years doing the work of multiple people – whether personally producing multiple times the output of colleagues, or showing managers how to triple their team’s output, or increasing efficiency to the point where I could (if asked) take over an entire team’s workload. This would save my managers the costs of multiple employees, as well as their equipment and the space they take up in the workplace. Yet when I ask or offer, even when going a couple of levels up the chain of command, I’ve never found any enthusiasm for the idea. The people who would save money and could take credit don’t want a reduced team size; the people who don’t care about that particular team don’t consider the potential savings particularly significant at higher levels.

I’m good at finding these kinds of super-efficiencies, and I’d like to get paid for producing the work of up to 51 people (my record) at once, and usually doing it better. Even if I’m only doing the work of two people, it’d surely make financial sense to pay me both salaries and halve the costs of superannuation, equipment, and employee management. So why the reluctance? Is there anything I can do (or stop doing) to get management to save money by paying me more? I’m happy to consider working as a subcontractor or any other structure, but just can’t seem to get traction.

You can absolutely make a strong case for a raise, but it’s really unlikely that you’re going to get paid the salaries of two people (let alone 51); companies just don’t usually do that. The fact that they don’t consider the savings particularly significant at higher levels is particularly relevant here — if they don’t find them significant, they’re not going to be especially motivated to pay significantly more for them.

But absolutely ask for a raise — just aim for something in the 10-15% range (which is good for a raise), maybe even 20%, depending on how strong of a case you can make (in terms that they do find significant), not double.

3. How long should we give candidates to return calls about interviews?

What is a reasonable time period to wait for return a phone from a job applicant who we would like to interview for a position?

We are a very small utility company that needs to hire locally. We put an ad in the paper and received 11 applications. These were screened down to 5 for interviews. We called them all, either getting the applicant in person (3), or leaving a voice message (2) on their cell and home phones. One of these 2 applicants returned our call over four days later, after all of the other interviews were completed, and we found a good candidate to hire. I want to tell the applicant he was too late. Is four days reasonable to have waited for the return phone call to say this?

Sure. I’d always give people at least two business days, but you were moving quickly and had already found someone to hire. It’s fine to say, “Since we left you the message, we’ve already completed our interviews and made a hire.” The exception to this would be if he looked unusually strong and acknowledged the delay in getting back to you, in which case it would probably be in your interests to talk with him and see if he’s stronger than the person you were about to hire (unless you’ve already made that person an offer), since you want to hire the best person, not the fastest person.

4. I lied about graduating from high school

I was recently hired two weeks ago. However I lie and say I have an high school diploma. But the position requires experience of 2 to 3 years. And I have 14 years of qualifications. Can I be let go? It would be over 24 years since I’ve been in school. Can the employer request my transcript from the last school I attended?

They could fire you over that, and they could request proof of graduation or a transcript, but it’s pretty unlikely that they’re going to check on that after you were hired (especially for high school versus college). That said, I’d consider taking the GED just so that you don’t have to keep worrying about it and can get some peace of mind.

5. Phone call after interviews

I recently completed a phone interview and 2 face to face interviews the past 2 weeks. Two days after the last interview I received an email asking for a follow-up phone call to be scheduled next Monday at 5 p.m. – is that a good sign? I have never had a follow-up call scheduled after interviews or at 5 p.m.?

Don’t read anything into it. It could be that they realized they had more questions for you, or they want to tell you about some change to the job description, or they want to talk references — or even that they want to offer you the job or tell that they’re rejecting you. In other words, it could be anything or nothing. Don’t read anything into it or the time of the call.

{ 309 comments… read them below }

  1. Bend & Snap

    #2 so you’re essentially campaigning for multiple people to be laid off and you’re surprised this isn’t working?

    Nobody wants to cut team size. That’s because people generate ideas and ideas often generate revenue. It’s not all about saving costs, although heightened efficiency can free up people to do more valuable things. It doesn’t necessarily mean a pink slip is best for the business.

    You might consider how it looks to try to push people out and take their salaries. That behavior isn’t something I’d encourage on my team.

    I’m appalled by the tone of this letter.

    1. themmases

      Yeah, I found it hard to believe that that OP doesn’t see the problem here. You mean middle and upper management want to keep managing people? Managers don’t lay off over 50 people and reorganize their company because someone who must *really* not care about their colleagues wrote a macro?

      I’ve built efficient new stuff before that saved me or my coworkers time– I think a lot of us have. A normal reaction to that accomplishment is to brag to your boss, train your coworkers, and use your newfound time and credibility to plug for the project you hope will fill your new capacity. It’s not to tell your boss that all your coworkers should lose their jobs so you can earn double salary to maintain the machine that replaced them. That would make me wonder whether I even want to work with this person at all, no matter what they’re accomplishing.

      1. UKAnon

        Something was bothering me about this, and this is exactly it! I think that I was just baffled by *how* anybody does that. I would expect only the most inefficient organisation in the world to hire 51 people needlessly…

        Plus, even if you do manage to make 51 people seemingly redundant, what about when the machine breaks or the customer wants more time or orders ramp up and you need more hours? Sometimes having a little surplus labour is good for business to take the slack in busy hours.

        1. Ezri

          And with a team you have coverage for people to go on vacation / have lives. If OP is a one-person team doing the work of 50, I doubt she can take much time off at once.

          1. Lalaith

            And what if she gets hit by the proverbial bus? There goes the entire team. Some redundancy is good for business.

            1. Jady

              This is really important and generally a huge oversight in many businesses.

              Even if this person can do the work of 51 people, can they do that plus train 51 people to take over if they are gone? Do you want 51 people’s work all out on vacation at the same time? Sick at the same time? What happens if there is an emergency in Person A’s job that suddenly requires a huge amount more effort, which then causes a domino effect in all the other jobs not getting done?

              I think this person is way too full of themselves to begin with unless the job they are talking about is data entry and they managed to automate it somehow. But even then you don’t get paid for that work, the computer is doing that work now.

              No single individual (not even the absurdly paid CEOs of companies) are that valuable.

              You should be training the other employees how to do their jobs better with your magic and get raises based on being a good employee and a good coworker. Along with all your now more efficient coworkers.

              1. Turtle Candle

                Yeah. I’m on a team of four right now. Probably, if we maximized efficiency and cut back on not-strictly-necessary-but-nice tasks, we could get that down to two. But (in addition to the fact that there is value in not-strictly-necessary-but-nice tasks), that would mean that vacation, sick, FMLA, etc. leave for either of us would hamstring the team (God help us if we both got the flu at the same time….), and that if one of us quit or got hit by a bus or won the lottery, the team would collapse, and we’d be in the unenviable position of having to hire and train in a rush to cover the gap.

                Yeah, it costs more to have four people in the role when we could possibly bare-bones it with two, but the “extra” (not really extra, but you know what I mean) two people are so worthwhile given the fact that life does not always run according to perfect efficiency. Even if I could get one of them fired and double my salary (which is deeply implausible for all the reasons Alison said, and which I wouldn’t want to do because… I like my team members and work well with them) the extra money would very much not be worth the exponentially increased stress.

                1. Ad Astra

                  I have worked in an office where only two people knew how to do my job — me and my supervisor — and the supervisor quit a few months after I started the job. It was not fun. Please, managers, cross train your employees.

            1. Anna

              None. None industries. I think the LW is a bit out of touch with how efficient her improvements actually are as well as how businesses actually function.

        2. Koko

          Or what about when OP decides to move on to greener pastures and now the company has to find salary to hire multiple people again because they can’t find someone else who can match his output?

          This is the same reason gas stations raise their prices as soon as oil prices rise. They charge based on the cost to replace the gas, not the cost they purchased the gas at originally. Companies aren’t just looking at what you cost this year – they’re also looking at what it’s going to cost to eventually replace you. And my guess is a shark like OP won’t feel any particular loyalty to stick around.

      2. Katie the Fed

        This. All of this. And I have a nagging suspicion that OP isn’t offering as much efficiency improvement as she thinks she is.

        1. Big Tom

          I agree. Either the company managed to hire the 51 laziest people on earth, or the OP found a new procedure that could be taught to the other employees and (theoretically) increase output by a factor of 51. Unless the OP is a fed up Clark Kent, I have a hard time believing that they’re actually doing the same work as 51 other people as opposed to getting the same results in a different way.

          1. KarenT

            Agreed. Someone who thinks they have replaced the output of 51 people probably has a limited understanding of what those 51 people output. Streamlining one process (i.e., data reporting or something) very often represents a limited portion of one person’s job. I’m involved in multiple processes that could use some efficiencies or streamlining, and if someone came along and did it I would be very happy, because it would allow me to focus more on other parts of my job.

        2. themmases

          I was thinking this as well. Granted I just know my one field very well, but I do *read* about other people’s work a lot and the only situations I can imagine where you can introduce this much efficiency are: a) you introduce steam power to this company for the very first time; or b) you are missing something important about what these people contribute individually or a group.

            1. Creag an Tuire

              In that case, shouldn’t s/he be happy collecting one salary, then going forward in time to bask in the compound interest? That’s the -classy- way to make bank. Stop making the rest of us time-travelers look bad, OP!

              1. Natalie

                Or. collect the salary in 2015 dollars, and then go back in time and spend it when those dollars are worth a whole lot more!

        3. Laurel Gray

          Seriously, how could the OP possibly be this efficient and hasn’t had something to show for it by now? When the results she referenced happened, did management just say “Wow, you just satisfactorily completed the work of 51 people, thanks!” and that’s it? What is the motivation to be the efficient if there isn’t immediate reward? If I work in a department where we all make $50k and I am doing the work of 3 people, if I am still making $50k like my colleagues, technically I’m the silly one to go above and beyond simply for bragging rights. I say bragging rights because I don’t know how one would put that accomplishment on a resume/cover letter.

          1. Chinook

            “how could the OP possibly be this efficient and hasn’t had something to show for it by now? When the results she referenced happened, did management just say “Wow, you just satisfactorily completed the work of 51 people, thanks!””

            Exactly. What she may have done is free those 51 people up to do secondary tasks (or spend more time on their primary tasks) that were otherwise shuffled to the side in order to get the work done that has now been made more efficient. I personally have taken on a number of tasks from various people and am in the middle of automatizing other work that will save hundreds of hours for various people when it comes to paperwork which just means they now have more time to do the work that generates the paperwork and/or the work I have made more efficient no longer slips through the cracks.

        4. Melissa

          I came to say the same thing. I highly doubt that she is doing the work of more than 3 people, let alone 51. There might have been 51 people on the team doing similar tasks, and she might have done some or all of their tasks more efficiently, but that doesn’t mean she’s doing the work of 51 people.

      3. Stranger than fiction

        Yes, all this. Plus, why would any company go down to 1 person that can perform these functions and have no backup whatsoever and Op could never take time off again?

    2. A Dispatcher

      Agree. I think I’d be dumbfounded if any employee came to me all but flat out saying I should lay off team members like it seems #2 is doing. It would be one thing if let’s say Jane left, #2 was able to take over all of her duties and then campaigned for a raise versus the company making a new hire to replace Jane, but to basically suggest other people are expendable because you are oh so awesome, even if it’s true, that is not a good look.

      Also, unless it’s some sort of automation process or similar as suggested below, I have to wonder how feasible doing the work of multiple coworkers is over a long period of time. Sure, anyone can be crazy productive in short spurts, but trying to sustain that is a great way to burn out very quickly.

      1. Aphrael

        Even if they don’t burn out, they’re not going to stay forever. Who wants to hire 51 people at once to replace a departing employee?

        1. MsM

          Exactly. Or who wants to be in a situation where that one person is sick or even out on vacation, and nobody else knows how to do their work?

        2. blackcat

          I read this to mean that they found some way to dramatically improve efficiency, such as writing computer code that did the job of those 51 people. So it’s not like OP is doing all the work; they found some other way for the work to get done more efficiently.

          1. Anna

            But even if that were the case, it’s assuming the 51 people do only one thing. Code is not magic. Unless the LW has built an AI that can learn, it’s unlikely she’s written code for everything each one of these individuals do.

              1. Jake

                I read it the summer before going to college for engineering. Outside of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Player Piano influenced my thought process more than any other novel I ever read, if just by the timing alone.

      2. Saurs

        Also, unless it’s some sort of automation process or similar as suggested below, I have to wonder how feasible doing the work of multiple coworkers is over a long period of time. Sure, anyone can be crazy productive in short spurts, but trying to sustain that is a great way to burn out very quickly.

        Precisely.

        And managers — in most sustainable industries that aren’t fly-by-night start-ups — don’t want to court or encourage hyper-productivity, because the level of blinkered commitment is often accompanied by unproductive territorialism, competitiveness rather than collaboration, and (for most non super-humans, anyway) a good deal of predictable error. Employers are keen distributors of eggs-in-baskets; investing too much overhead, by way of payroll, on a single employee is bound in the long-term to be unprofitable, and investing in that same employee too many duties with no supervision is just poor risk management. It’s always better to divide responsibilities amongst a well-recruited team with its own individual strengths and weaknesses that can be observed, managed, and trained over time to produce similarly stellar results, than to invest resources in a single employee who, as Aphrael observes, can just as readily resign and throw a gigantic time-wasting and profit-sapping spanner in the works.

        What you’re proposing is bafflingly short-sighted and slightly distasteful, and framing it as you’ve done here will not gain you many accolades, at least among non-Randians.

        If you’re truly brilliant at sniffing out inefficiencies, however, it sounds like your calling is not heading up a one-person team, but in consulting work. And provided you’re also very good at reading people, that can be mildly profitable and very fulfilling for your type of brain.

    3. Marzipan

      Yes, I also saw this very differently to how #2 evidently does.

      #2, imagine if, on the long homeward journey of the Federation Starship Voyager from the Delta Quadrant, the holographic doctor had pointed out that it would be much more efficient to leave the entire crew on some convenient planet and have him pilot the ship back to Earth alone, since the ship could be run much more efficiently without the need for life support or food. Whilst technically true, this approach would be missing the point somewhat, and would introduce a new set of vulnerabilities which would ultimately be worse than those it remedied. I don’t think Captain Janeway would have said yes.

      Ultimately, it’s generally best to believe what people tell you through their words and actions. The clear message the managers (at all levels) are giving you is that they aren’t interested in this approach. So, if you want to work towards a raise, I’d suggest you start working towards something they actually are interested in. I have to ask, too, whether you’ve consulted with them on these ideas before devising them in detail? If one of my team came to me and said they had an idea for doing thing X and did I want them to pursue it, well, that’s great – I can say yes, or no, or actually how about thing Y instead? – but if they come to me having evidently already done a lot of work on thing X without asking first, my heart sinks somewhat because it’s likely I’m going to have to tell them I actually don’t want to implement it. So, my advice for you on what to do/not do is a) believe your managers when they tell you they don’t want to lay people off in the interests of efficiency; and b) find out from them what sort of efficiencies they are interested in, and agree with them in advance before getting too heavily into working on them.

      1. INFJ

        Yes. It speaks volumes that none of the higher ups are interested in OP’s ideas. Either these ideas aren’t as good as she or he thinks they are, or there’s other information that OP is not privy to that’s influencing the managers’ decisions.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          So true, your last comment. I’ve often been dismayed why an idea of mine is being rejected, only to find out (maybe years) down the road that there was some logical business reason/other plan that I just wasn’t privy to at my level.

      2. Jerzy

        +1 for that reference. Not only is it truly illustrative of the situation, but it makes my trekkie heart smile. :)

    4. Christy

      My very large government agency has a gains-sharing program where if you make a cost-saving suggestion, you get a certain percentage of the savings. It will get suggestions like “monitor breaks more strictly. If on average daily breaks last 17 minutes instead of 15 minutes, times 80,000 employees, with an average salary of $40,000, that’s an annual savings of $13,866,666, so the percentage I would get would be $2 million.

      Never mind that employee morale would tank and even fewer people would want to work here and the bad PR would cost even more than that. The suggesting employee is only thinking about himself and the money he could make. There’s no common sense or empathy involved.

      1. Melissa

        Even on a purely financial level, you’d have to take managers away from doing more productive work so that they can monitor their employees. Or you’d have to implement some sort of clock in/clock out situation, which would also cost money. The employee turnover would cost money, and so would the slow-downs when it turns out it’s the more productive/high-performing employees who can easily find new jobs and leave because they don’t want their boss begrudging them 2 minutes.

    5. AVP

      It’s also often the case that while these “super efficiencies” can increase a team’s output, or allow for reducing the amount of people, they’re often just not as good as having the people there in the first place, and the people responsible for the efficiencies never seem to understand why. Getting your numbers up does not necessarily equal the same quality of product, or quality of support, and scrimping in one area can mean that everyone else’s quality of life goes down – a lot of managers are trying to protect that, not get rid of it.

      1. Chinook

        “they’re often just not as good as having the people there in the first place, and the people responsible for the efficiencies never seem to understand”

        This is so true. I have put forward some efficiencies that could be done by computer program instead of hand by my coworker but he has pointed out that, on paper, this may seem like a good idea but he has yet to find a computer program that understands the nuances of what he does. Yet, he is the one who proposed the program we are currently implementing which ahs freed him up to look deeper into those nuances (and possibly automate them when we can figure out a cheap way to create a program that can deal with 50 variables at once) Automation is great 90% of the time but the 10% needs human reasoning and this can only be developed by dealing with the other 90% on a regular basis.

    6. Sunshine Brite

      The campaign is what gets me I think. Tone too, but really going to his supervisor, and then the next few levels up about this? That can’t reflect well on his ability to take feedback.

      1. MicheleNYC

        That was one of the statements that really stood out to me going above his direct manager to try to get the support/answer he or she wanted. Someone is really missing the big picture when it comes to business!

    7. Elizabeth West

      My mouth dropped open. Employees who are forced into doing the work of multiple people and getting paid peanuts are the ones who should get a raise first. Ask anybody who still had a job after the recession–there are plenty of them.

    8. LSP

      Monday mornings and this blog, yeesh! Put some of those claws away people :)

      #2 – keep working hard, ask for that raise, and don’t keep tabs on how much you save or could save your company.

    9. TootsNYC

      One reason I wouldn’t want to change my whole team’s structure because of the efficiencies you describe is because those are based on a single individual’s unique capability.

      What happens when you leave, and the Powers That Be don’t increase my budget?

    10. Alli525

      I was similarly appalled, not just for all the reasons already mentioned by the replies you’ve gotten, but also because I graduated in 2008 and I know so, so, so, SO many people in my year and the years that followed that are still struggling to find full-time, long-term work. When someone quits, you can almost see the C-levels’ brain-wheels turning to try to figure out if they really neeeeeeeeed to be replaced or if they can use that extra salary money to line their own pockets, to the detriment of the remaining employees’ mental health. And now we have a mole in the ranks! Ugh.

      1. Melissa

        I also graduated in 2008, huzzah, and aside from friends who struggled and are still struggling to find good long-term work, I also know many people from my year and the years that followed who are now forced to do the jobs of 2-3 other people because of layoffs and cutbacks. They are never happy about it, even if they are compensated well, because it usually means they work crazy hours and are expected to be reachable all the time. That’s why I was skeptical when the OP said she’s done the work of 3+ people, up to 51, because the people who really are doing the work of 3+ people are rarely this chipper about it.

  2. Adam V

    > I’d like to get paid for producing the work of up to 51 people (my record) at once, and usually doing it better

    Honestly, I’d really like to know what this person does, and *how* they manage to do the work of 51 people. It utterly stumps me as to how that’s even possible. Apparently the company could hire this person, have them work one week, and get an entire year’s worth of work done?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think there are some jobs where a top performer absolutely can get the results of 3-5 middling performers — it’s not doing the same amount of work as them (unless it’s something very straightforward, like data entry), but it can be the same results as them (think of something like, say, pitching stories to the media; if you’re great, you could definitely get as many placements as a handful of not-great people might all put together). 51 is far higher than I’ve ever seen though, and I’m interested in learning more from the letter-writer about what type of work it is!

      1. Bend & Snap

        That doesn’t mean they’re doing the whole job though. Media relations is one piece of PR. Nobody is going to can a whole team because one member is good at one thing. That’s crazy.

        1. Ann

          That’s what I was thinking, that the OP had automated or somehow improved upon one task for each of 51 coworkers and was somehow thinking that meant she was doing the jobs of 51 people. I don’t think I could even list every duty that 51 of my coworkers were responsible for, let alone complete them by myself!

        2. Ad Astra

          Yes, it sounds like the OP has found some efficiencies in one aspect of whatever her company does, but is forgetting about the light administrative work or brainstorming or client relations or whatever else those 51 other people are doing. Unless OP works in, like, a widget factory, she’s not truly doing the work of 51 people.

      2. Artemesia

        Or business development. There are a lot of small businesses foundering because of inept business development people often hired because they are friends of the owner or whatever. One reasonable good business development person could exceed the productivity of one or more bad ones by a factor of many.

        1. Today's Satan

          Yep, when I was in Sales, I definitely had multiple quarters where I sold a crap-ton more than the rest of the team. One quarter I actually did outsell at least 20 other people. But that doesn’t mean the other 50 people should be canned. While I was bringing in $30M (mostly through one really huge contract), the rest were bringing in ~$1.5M apiece. That’s a solid revenue stream that would be stupid to lose.

      1. Adam V

        That’s what I thought about too, but once it’s been automated, they could hire someone and tell them “follow these instructions; if something goes wrong, call OP” and in the meantime, OP moves on to something else that either a) can’t be similarly automated, or b) *can* be automated, and will result in repeating the cycle. So why would they continue to pay OP (and especially pay them *extra*) to do something that’s largely automated? If your job can be automated, odds are that in the end, people in your position are going to be paid *less*, not more.

        1. Ilf

          That’s exactly it. The reason why OP will not get paid that much more is, if what she did can be replicated, because it can be replicated, and if it cannot be replicated, because it cannot be replicated.
          If you want to get money out of any type of process improvement, you need to sell the process improvement, not your labor. And you still won’t get the exact equivalent of the improvement you sell, you will get a little less. What is the sense of giving you a dollar, when all I get is a dollar, when I don’t know you, and I don’t know if the dollar I get is not fake, and so on. Why take the risk?
          Also, when you’re so much better than your co-workers, the way to get your worth is to climb the ladder, not ask to be paid for 2 or for 51 jobs.

      2. zora

        This. It seems like a lot but I think it is technically possible in the right situation. I have worked in some places that are weirdly behind in their adoption of technology and missing some really big obvious upgrades that would do a lot of work.

        I don’t think #2 is necessarily exaggerating as much as some of you think, but I do think the tone is probably hurting her. It would help to think if there are other more big picture reasons they don’t want to lay a bunch of people off, just because some of the work has been able to be automated.

    2. LisaLee

      Unless they’ve created a way to automate (and well) some very simple tasks, I have a hard time believing they’re actually producing the same quantity and quality as 51, or even 10, individuals. Companies hire multiple employees for similar tasks because there’s a lot of downsides to one person doing everything.

      1. SystemsLady

        Maybe you could achieve automating the small bits of work 51 people do that directly affect what you’re doing (not their entire job), but even that’s quite a stretch…

    3. Adam V

      My actual guess is that they mistyped and meant to say “5”. 51 just seems so difficult for me to believe.

      1. LisaLee

        Naw, I think they meant to say 51, but I doubt that that’s actually their true output. There’s just no way.

    4. Graciosa

      I would also be very hesitant to make myself too dependent upon a single employee. The tone here seemed a bit more focused on getting credit for extraordinary individual performance than changing the standard processes in a way that is clearly both efficient and sustainable – with different employees, not just the OP – over the long term.

      Improvements that require one extraordinary individual to sustain – no thank you. I’m not going to get that head count back when you resign, retire, or even go on vacation.

      “Super-efficiencies” sounds like the kind of thing that involves more shortcuts and multi-tasking than error proofing. I’m worried about sacrificing quality for speed.

      Process efficiencies generally require a complete understanding of the full process to assess, including touch points with other functions or departments. As a manager, I’m going to have a lot of skepticism listening to someone who claims to be able to make such extraordinary changes – or I may have a better understanding of why your proposal won’t work than I’m able to share with you in a brief response to your suggestion. Small process changes are often better starting points, and might allow you to build some credibility.

      Finally, please don’t come in to my office and suggest I lay people off and give you their salaries. That one – wow.

      If you propose changes that allow me to make sustainable improvements in efficiency, I can think of other ways to make good use of the talent on the team to help the company. Suggesting that I discard that talent instead shows clearly that you assume that your co-workers have nothing to contribute, and that you don’t think management could come up with anything productive for them to do – insulting pretty much everyone in the company but you.

      This is not a good way to win support.

      I’m probably more naturally supportive of increasing process efficiency than this makes it sound, so let me make it clear that I think the approach is the issue here. There are good and bad ways to propose changes to improve efficiency, just as there are good and bad ways to ask for additional compensation. This approach is not a good one for either purpose.

      1. RMRIC0

        That was my reading, that the OP might have an overly high estimation of their abilities and isn’t being embraced by management because their approach might get more “work” done but it doesn’t produce the results management is looking for. That or OP is in like the most inept field in the history of mankind.

      2. themmases

        This is a good point about needing to keep one extraordinary person. I’ve seen people build really great things that fell apart when they left because no one else knew how to use it. I think as a general rule, the tools you build should be something the average hire into your job could learn to use and maintain. Otherwise, your employer is right back where they started when you leave– possibly with a backlog because no one could figure out how to use the tool.

        I once had someone junior to me inherit a “database” (really a giant Excel file) that I hated to maintain and turn it into an awesome Access database. However, none of the users in our department knew how to use Access– to the point that they would call me for help running the premade queries. I knew just enough to maintain it when she left, at about the pain level of maintaining the old version. Most people we would hire into that job are just out of school and only know Excel. The database is defunct. :(

        1. Creag an Tuire

          Although, TBH, that’s sounds like a problem with your hiring process — it’s not like Access is an obsolete or obscure program, and if you wanted to keep the database, you could make Access proficiency a job requirement.

          1. themmases

            In the sense that we should have stopped hiring brand new grads to manage an operation that was complex enough to need multiple such databases? I strongly agree. Not being staffed at a bare bones level so people could just learn the database would have worked, too.

            But the users in that anecdote were actually MDs, so it wasn’t particularly a hiring problem on their end– more like a process problem of why they were allowed in the database at all instead of requesting reports.

            The point of the story was more that it is not normal for new hires in that role to come in knowing Access, anywhere. They have other special skills that are more important, and just because a piece of software isn’t obscure doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to think that everyone will know them all.

      3. Ad Astra

        I am wondering if maybe this OP is so extremely task-oriented that she is struggling to understand success in any sort of relationship-oriented sense, and may be legitimately surprised that her numbers don’t speak for themselves. While many of us struggle to effectively quantify our contributions at work, this person is fixated on quantifiable results to the point that she can’t recognize other employees’ contributions.

        1. Graciosa

          This is fairly brilliant.

          I have known a few task-oriented individuals who were utterly oblivious to how they appeared to others in the office, or what impact they had on the rest of the team. The result was that they had absolutely no understanding of why their wonderful ideas were not adopted, or why they didn’t receive the recognition they clearly deserved.

          Relationships are increasingly important as you move up in the company, but they are not totally unimportant at any level.

          1. Ginger ale for all

            Yes. The phrase of “even when going a couple of levels up the chain of command” is another sign that this person is clueless about interpersonal office dealings. So they most likely received a no from their immediately supervisor and then went above their head to get another no and went above that person’s head for yet another no. Sigh . . .

            1. Ad Astra

              Yes, I suspect this person has no idea how bad this looks to a manager, or how upset her colleagues would be if they knew she was telling management to lay everyone off, because she hasn’t once considered the idea that relationships or perception matter.

        2. afiendishthingy

          Yes, and thinks of them as literally a waste of equipment and space. OP, I’m sure you’re a strong employee in many ways, but trying to convince management your coworkers are all expendable is not going to get you very far.

    5. BananaPants

      I had a summer intern who took what was around a 16-20 hour process and cut it down to around 10 minutes. No lie, the dude was freaking brilliant and did an amazing job. But 1) it was his entire project to improve efficiency and usability on this one process, and 2) it was one task that an engineer does maybe once or twice a year. We all find small improvements in our work that can lead to great time savings, but the idea is to automate things that can be automated so that we can do actual engineering work. If I’m not taking 3 hours to write a test report that can be automatically generated in 4 minutes, then that leaves me a lot more time to evaluate the results, plan changes, and try new things.

      People who are truly process innovators generally don’t want to be the one actually doing the task, they want to move on to the next process in need of improvement. Their value is in the efficiency and accuracy improvement itself, not in doing the work.

    6. Erin

      Yeah. I’m usually the first person to defend an OP or give them the benefit of the doubt, but this just seems really hard to believe and is rubbing me the wrong way for some reason.

    7. IT Kat

      The claim makes me wonder if the OP just doesn’t have a grasp of the full contributions of the rest of the team… or department, or division. I see no way of someone doing the work of 51 people? Even in some of the jobs that people have given examples of, I can see like 5 people, but not 51.

      Honestly, if an employee of mine came to me and said that they could do the work of even 5 people by themselves, I would be highly skeptical and unless the employee had a very well thought-out and knowledgeable plan, I would think that they simply were out of touch and didn’t realize what the rest of the team actually did. And even if they had a damn good plan that DID cover all bases, I likely would think long and hard about implementing it, for all the reasons other people have mentioned in the comments.

      And I say this as a high performer who HAS replaced multiple people by myself… and in two former jobs, my manager actually hired two people to replace me. Even then, I would never go to management and ask for double my salary or advocate for laying off an entire department. It’s just out of touch with business norms and for that matter, best practices. What if this employee did replace 51 people, then was hit by a bus on the way to work? What then?

      1. LBK

        Honestly, if an employee of mine came to me and said that they could do the work of even 5 people by themselves, I would be highly skeptical and unless the employee had a very well thought-out and knowledgeable plan, I would think that they simply were out of touch and didn’t realize what the rest of the team actually did.

        I think my initial reaction would also be heavily based on what I thought of that person as an employee to begin with – if this were a star performer, I would probably still be skeptical if they said they could do the jobs of the entire team, but I’d at least entertain the idea and maybe try to implement a few pieces of their strategy. The fact that the OP seems to be getting zero traction, not even partial, makes me wonder if she’s really earned the political capital through her work performance to be making these kinds of proposals.

        I also think I’d be pretty skeptical about being blindsided by an idea like this – thinking of how I would propose process improvements to my manager, I would’ve run a brief outline of what I wanted to look into or work on before doing any kind of intensive improvements. There’s no way I’d come to my manager with the finished proposal without ever mentioning the idea beforehand, especially if this wasn’t my main job – as a manager, I’d wonder how the hell this person had time to do all of this while still doing their full-time job (even if they were an efficiency master).

    8. INTP

      It also sounds like OP isn’t regularly doing this much work, just occasionally or just figuring out how it could be done in theory. Even if they are being honest about this output, I doubt they’d sustain the same productivity for months (or days) on end without burnout or fatigue. that is why companies keep multiple people on staff when one might theoretically suffice.

  3. katamia

    OP3: Wow, that’s really fast to have done interviews. I try to get back to people who contact me about setting up interviews within 24 hours, but if I were hiring I wouldn’t expect that from everyone. Four days seems a little slow to me to get back to you, but not heinously long, especially since most people are probably used to things taking forever. I’ve never scheduled an interview any earlier than the following week, for example, and I’m pretty sure I’ve scheduled a few that were two or maybe even three weeks in the future.

    I’m not saying you did anything wrong (especially since you’ve found someone you want to hire), though. I just know that if I got a call for an interview request, especially if the message didn’t say anything about the very short timetable (was that mentioned in the voicemail?), while I personally have a 24-hour rule that I follow, I cetainly wouldn’t expect to actually come in for the interview within the next couple days.

    Also, since it’s summer, it’s possible that candidate could have been on vacation and not gotten the message until later.

    1. T3k

      I’ve noticed many small businesses tend to hire fast. I think the reason for this is because they tend to be short staffed and need to fill in holes quickly or else everything falls apart. Like where I am now, it’s going to suck for them when I finally find a better job because they’ll have just 2 weeks to replace me or everything will slow to a crawl.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Related to this point about short staffing, a couple of small businesses have told me they don’t have the resources of larger organisations to have multiple interview rounds.

        1. Chocolate Teapot

          With it being the holiday season at the moment, I am finding that recruiters/employers are tatking longer to get back to me to set up appointments. If I get a call to arrange a meeting, the earliest it would be was the start of the week (Tuesday) to arrange an interview for the Friday.

      2. MJH

        Maybe your business should try to find someone like LW #2! Then you won’t even NEED employees!

        1. T3k

          Heh, my boss would probably like that… until that person left for greener pastures because she can’t afford to pay them a livable wage.

    2. Ad Astra

      I agree that OP3 did nothing wrong, and it would be fine to carry on this way if she’s consistently finding the applicants she needs.

      If, however, the quality of candidates isn’t what the OP hoped, or if a particularly strong candidate hasn’t responded within four days, it may help to follow up. Missed calls and voice mails are easy to ignore or forget about, the notifications sometimes disappear on people’s phones, and sometimes people — especially talented, already employed people whose skills are in demand — are busy. A second phone call gives you a chance to bring that person in, which gives you more options.

    3. Stranger than fiction

      Yes, on vacation was my first thought, or they were in the middle of reviewing another offer that they decided not to take, or something like that. Plus, was it four Business days or over a weekend? Agree with Alison, two Business days is good rule of thumb, but allow someone who goes slightly over the benefit of the doubt so you don’t miss out on someone spectacular. And yeah, that is very fast to interview and hire someone, wow, but I guess I can understand if they’re shorthanded because someone left, maybe even unexpectantly.

    4. Fast interviews

      I was interested in that letter because something similar happened to me. I found out about a job about a day or two after it was posted. I sat maybe two days on it to organize my thoughts, write a customized letter, & to have time to actually submit it. It turned out, they’d already hired someone. The entire process had taken them a week.

      I’m not sure I like the rush-rush hurry-hurry style of interviews, though I do understand that people do what works best for them. For me though… I have a life, and I appreciate when employers are respectful of it. My phone is not glued to my side and since it is summer, I will often be outside without it. When I go on vacation, my phone will often be turned off, though in the case of the OP, I would attempt to explain what happened if I were responding to someone’s interview request. It doesn’t mean I would expect them to change their process, but I would not want to be seen as having blown them off. In the past, I’ve even mentioned this in cover letters, just to be sure they understand my interest level.

      TL;DR: I wish some interviewers would be a little more comprehensive in their search, but if someone called me, I would try to get back to them same-day or early the next morning. If for some reason I wasn’t able to, I would try to explain why. If I had a logical reason and seemed contrite, I would hope they would at least be willing to talk to me. What I don’t like are interviewers so caught up in the process that they will not step back from it, even for legitimate reasons.

  4. AcademiaNut

    For the first OP, I’ll assume she meant 5 not 51….

    I agree it’s very unlikely that an employer will fire multiple people because they’ve got one superstar who is a very high performer. I also agree that asking your boss to fire a coworker and give you their salary is almost never going to go over well, even if you are a high performer.

    If the OP really is able to do the work for three or more people well over a sustained period, then it strikes me that she could work as a contractor, charge by the job (rather than by hour), do multiple times the work of an average person, and pull in several salaries worth of pay that way.

    If what she is doing is automating tasks to make processes more efficient, then that’s not really same as doing multiple people’s job. It’s a valuable task, but a different one.

    1. t

      +1. Taking this LW at face value, if you have a special ability to find efficiencies and cost savings there is a huge demand in the marketplace. You would make significantly more if you could consult and negotiate a percentage of saving as compensation.

  5. Graciosa

    Regarding #4, Alison is correct that they are not likely to verify this at this point (it’s possible, but not likely), however I don’t want this knowledge to encourage you or anyone else to do this in the future.

    I actually dislike it when companies require more education for a position than is really required, however disagreeing with the stated qualifications for a position does not justify lying about yours. It justifies making a pitch for why they should be changed. The employer may or may not agree, but an honest approach does not create an issue of integrity.

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler

      Yeah, to me, lying is a bigger issue than not having the level of education. If I found that out after the fact, I might not fire them on the spot, but it would really change my opinion of the person and I’d be worried about their integrity.

  6. De (Germany)

    I do feel a bit bad, but I did have to laugh a bit at the first letter – I can just imagine the boss’s thinking “so my part-time employees think it’s unfair that only one employee gets to buy me expensive coffee – sure, I know what I will do to rectify the situation, I’ll make *everyone* buy me expensive coffee”. The situation this is placing you in isn’t funny of course, it’s just… that’s an interesting thought process on the boss’s side.

    As for #2, if all people who automated processes got that kind of increase in salary, we’d have really, really insanely rich software developers everywhere. But we (usually) see that as part of our job, and often it’s done so that the people whose work we automate can do something else.

    1. UKAnon

      I think it says a lot about how the supervisor thinks! But I also think it says something about the director; their response to “my manager sucks” was to bring up the coffee… This sounds like it would have been better as a general conversation to start with, because it looks like the supervisor thinks that if they just work on the details without fixing the big problems that will be enough.

      1. Sunshine Brite

        Agreed, there’s a lot of ways the director could help foster the manager’s ability to support both the full timer and the part timers to get along together without the coffee.

        That said, a ton of places I’ve worked if someone’s doing a coffee run and are able to either cover it or get paid back, they pop around to everyone or send out an IM asking for orders before they go on break. I can see the manager coming from a similar environment and not being able to translate it well into her current role.

        1. OP#1

          Yes, I definitely got the feeling that the supervisor thought “problem solved!” I am so great for including these people in our weird coffee tontine!

      2. Jeanne

        You are right. The focus ended up being on everyone drinking coffee rather than the clique.

        1. Another Kate

          Agree. Unfortunately, I think this incident is a symptom of the supervisor’s poor judgment, and I’d be surprised if that poor judgment was limited to forcing coffee ’rounds’ on the entire team – and the fact that this action was taken in response to a direction to address what sounds like, at the very least, a perceived clique with some reports! I tend to think the OP will have more success in going back to his/her director as per Allison’s second suggestion.

    2. Elkay

      Also, who buys Starbucks without asking what the person wants? There’s too much risk involved in a Starbucks order for guessing.

      1. BananaPants

        No kidding. What if a person wants a black Americano rather than the Frappuccino of the month (with whip)?

          1. Vanishing Girl

            and I don’t even drink coffee, even the sweet dessert drinks. What a weird thing to do!

            1. Amy Farrah Fowler

              I don’t drink coffee either. I can’t stand the flavor of it. I don’t like mocha because it tastes like coffee. I won’t eat coffee flavored ice cream or tiramisu. That said, Starbucks has some nice non-coffee drinks. Teas and cream-based frappuccinos. If someone brought me a coffee beverage, I’d politely decline or give it to someone else.

              1. Turanga Leela

                But they stopped serving Tazo! I don’t even want to go to Starbucks anymore now that I can’t get my Awake…

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

          That’s me! I’m a “venti 5 shot Americano – no room” drinker.

          Last year during pumpkin spice season I got a tall latte, took two sips and threw it away. Due to some dietary changes, I can’t do anything too sugary or sweet these days :(

      2. Ad Astra

        If, for some reason, I had to select a Starbucks drink for everyone, I might go with a vanilla latte (iced in the summer) or something similar since it’s fairly plain Jane but a little fancier (and sweeter) than plain coffee.

        But really, I’d rather just take orders, because that’s a lot of money to spend on a drink when you don’t know if someone will like it (not to mention lactose intolerance or soy allergies or whatever else).

      3. Koko

        Seriously…the odds that someone would bring me what I want are slim. I only drink unflavored lattes or mochas, only hot, only with whole milk, and only without whipped cream. If there’s skim milk or whipped cream or flavor syrup or ice cubes involved I’ll just throw the thing away.

      4. Stranger than fiction

        I think that part was just her being snarky “here’s your darn starbucks, now drink it and shut up”.

    3. Brock

      On #1, I wonder if there was a two-person coffee rota between the two FTers that the PTer weren’t aware of, perhaps because the supervisor-bought round and/or paying-back typically happened when the PTers weren’t around? And maybe the message arrived (through a misunderstanding somewhere along the way, maybe the supervisor’s fault, maybe not), that the feedback came across as, “You’re being cliquish with the other FTer, for example, the PTer are unhappy that they’re not being included in the Starbucks rota”? So, the supervisor is including them now.

      1. OP#1

        I did consider this, but felt with the frequency that it was unlikely. Also often, the other full-timer’s kid would bring some for both the ladies. My director also said that she has noticed the woman bringing the supervisor drinks in management meetings.

        Obviously, there are other issues at work here, this was just the thing that I happened to mention when I was asked.

      2. not telling

        The coffee scenario sounds like a classic case of ‘be careful what you wish for’.

        OP assumed that the manager was buying his/her coworkers coffee when in reality they had some sort of exchange going on. Maybe the coworkers had handed over money in advance, maybe they repaid the boss later or in some other way. Regardless, OP wasn’t fully aware of ALL of the details before lodging the complaint. But OP complained nonetheless and now they got exactly what they asked for–inclusion. Completely, which apparently means giving AND receiving.

        I suggest OP return the favor that was given to them by buying the next round of coffee…and delivering it with a polite statement saying that they don’t wish to participate in the coffee circle going forward. And next time don’t assume that you know everything just because you see something.

        1. OP#1

          Actually, I don’t think that is true. As the supervisor who was complained about has yet to buy a round. Everyone is just buying her coffee now.

    4. Ad Astra

      I was sort of amused (and horrified, of course) by OP #1’s boss as well. Instead of seeing the Starbucks issue as an example of the problem at hand, the boss saw the Starbucks issue as the real problem, and came up with the most absurd solution possible. Maybe the director presented the issue in a way that confused the boss? Or maybe the boss is just clueless.

      I’m also a little concerned about how Starbucks-obsessed this workplace apparently is.

      1. MommaTRex

        What? Is there a problem with a Starbucks obsession? I’m not really obsessed, I just think about it all the time. And my workplace isn’t obsessed, but if you are going to Starbucks, could you pick something up for me? LOL

        I never minded bringing back Starbucks for my boss. He’d give me $20 at a time and I loaded it on to a card that was his, although it was on my account so I earned the stars. We figured that was a fair deal: I earned the stars while he got his coffee delivered (when I was going to Starbucks anyway).

      2. afiendishthingy

        Yeah, it is totally weird the director decided this was the solution to the team’s problems. It sounds like the OP listed it amongst other concerns but maybe this seemed like the easiest to address, but it sounds like there’s some bad management going on on more than one level.

    5. Daisy

      I don’t quite understand the LW’s thought process either. It sounds like what she actually wanted was for the employee getting the coffee to ask her if she wanted anything from Starbucks while he was going, which isn’t really anything to do with the supervisor. I mean, I get that it was supposed to be an example of their being cliquey, but it was a pretty rubbish one- the boss coming up with that bizarre solution is almost understandable.

      1. De (Germany)

        Employee: they are being cliqueish

        Supervisor: In what way, can you give me any examples?

        Employee: Hmm… They always get coffee for each other?

        Supervisor: Hey, you have to stop being so cliqueish!

        Boss: huh, what? What am I doing?

        Supervisor: well, you’re not including the PT employees in that coffee thing.

        Boss: Ah, okay. I’ll change that

      2. OP#1

        I was asked to give an example, there were a few more and this is what I have come up with. There were other more worthwhile examples; not giving clear instructions or deadlines and her getting angry when these mythical deadlines are not met, not getting back to me when requesting to go to the doctor’s office etc.

        Her remedy when the director said that our one on one meetings were not long enough was for her to discuss her cat and snowglobe collection.

        1. ImprovForCats

          Wow, that sounds like your supervisor is super-literal (like to the point of needing some hand-holding to handle basic communication), completely off on the moon, or else your director is giving her terrible feedback. I can squint and kind of see how someone could think your complaint about the coffee runs was you being excluded, but I can’t think of any rationally explicable way to take feedback about meetings needing to be longer and decide to solve the problem by talking about your cat and your snow globes. Unless, idk, you make snow globes for cats and her kitty is a consultant.

        2. Biff

          I think I had the male version of this boss. It was cringeworthy and is also following me around in a bad way.

          The team needed more cohesion, so he encouraged us to talk about our personal lives.
          The team needed more youth, so he basically banned us from discussing middle-aged concerns.
          The team needed more energy, so he harped on people to be happy.
          The team needed to be more inclusive, so we got discouraged from talking about any part of our personal life that didn’t fit some pre-determined narrative.

          I’m sure there are good intentions in there….

  7. Merry and Bright

    I think #2 has the makings of a TV programme somewhere.

    Seriously though, it sounds like the management are probably happy with the staffing as it is.

  8. Stephanie

    #1: The passive aggressive and financially imprudent thing to do would be to buy her a decaf drink. Or screw up her order. She’d never ask you to get her coffee again.

    But don’t do that. Listen to Alison’s advice.

    1. OP#1

      I really wish I had thought of this! But I will be taking Alison’s advice, don’t worry.

      I didn’t really realize I was being a doormat.

  9. Stephanie

    #5: I did this at my last job. It wasn’t a huge deal–they had a clarification question. I mentioned an interest in client work and the manager followed up to make sure I understood that there wasn’t any client work and if I’d be ok with that. I ended up getting the job.

    It could be that. It could be that another decision maker was unavailable (this happened recently for a couple of interviews). It’s nothing to get anxious about.

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      Also, if you’re employed full time during regular business hours, perhaps they’re trying to be considerate of your obligations and believe that at 5pm, you’ll be free to take their phone call in private. Or their schedule is booked up through 5pm and they want to make sure to call you that day.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Once we had two really strong candidates, we scheduled follow-up calls because they were dead even. We needed more information to make our decision.

      I have also made follow-up calls like Stephanie mentioned. We had an interviewee that mentioned the travel component that was listed in the job description (0-25%) and the idea of visiting clients in person. This was listed so people were aware that we may need to send them to client site on request, but I had Teapot Polishers that never left the office, so I wanted to make sure this person knew that they could work for years and never travel. I didn’t want someone to be disappointed after they were hired.

  10. KA

    Re: Lying about HS graduation – I agree that getting your GED for peace of mind is the right thing to do here. As an anecdotal/cautionary tale, I know a girl (through a friend) who recently got majorly burned by this same lie. She actually had a fake transcript done up and applied to nursing school. She was two months away from graduation when her lie was discovered. She was kicked out of nursing school and now is not a nurse, and it didn’t matter that she had several semester’s worth of excellent grades. She has nothing to show for her time.

    1. MK

      In my country, this would constitute forgery, possibly a felony. Not the behavior you look for in someone who, as a nurse, would have access to confidential medical information, not to mention drugs. Also, it’s probable that the requirement of a highschool degree to be admitted to nursing school is mandated by law, not simply the employer’s preference, as in the OP’s case.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Exactly, I don’t think most employers would even be checking a high school diploma for someone this long past high school…for a degree program, of course they would check (but don’t know why they waited so long)

    2. Sigrid

      A fake transcript? That’s impressive. When I applied to medical school, my transcripts had to be sent directly from the school, I would have assumed nursing school was the same way.

    3. Jeanne

      What a mess. If you can pass nursing school, you could pass the GED exam. The OP should find out when the next exam is and take it.

    4. Courtney

      I’m confused by this. If one can go to the effort of a fake transcript that’s good enough to pass for the real thing why not use their time to pass the GED?

    5. Ad Astra

      Oh dear. Lying about your education background in order to achieve more education is going to burn you far more than lying about your education to get a job where you don’t really need any specific education credentials. That girl learned pretty much the hardest possible way, I guess.

      I do know several people (distant family members and such) who never finished their college degrees but have had a degree on their resumes for years, and no one’s ever checked. Lying about credentials bothers me on principle (because hey, I really did earn a degree, and it wasn’t easy) but I didn’t realize it was such a career no-no until I started reading AAM.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        I think this used to be easier to get away with, but now with technology, internet/email, etc. it’s much easier for employers to check.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Exjob refused to hire someone who was otherwise very qualified because she had no HS diploma. She had years of experience in the job itself, but the requirement was everybody had to have it. We all thought it was bogus, but we couldn’t do anything to change it.

      Get the GED–then you never have to worry about it again.

  11. Apollo Warbucks

    #4 I think it’s crazy to ask for a high-school diploma when you have such extensive work place but that’s their prerogative. It’s not the lack of high school diploma that’s problematic but the lack of honesty and integrity that’s a deal breaker and will get you sacked without any notice or warning.

    24 years is a long time so it’s unlikely that you’ll get caught out but you never know when it might bite you in the ass. If getting you GED means you can answer the question honestly then I’d say go for it.

    1. MommaTRex

      Actually, a high-school diploma and a GED isn’t necessarily the exact same thing. The GED is an equivalency, but not the full diploma. Here in Washington State, I see that at the community colleges you can get your GED or you can still take classes and get a real diploma.

      I don’t think most employers would care, as long as you don’t lie. As is in, Q: Do you have a diploma? A: I have a GED.

    2. OhNo

      Agreed – it’s a bit daft to require a HS degree when you have that much work experience behind you, but lying about it might come back to bite you later. In this case, it’s easy to avoid by getting your GED as soon as possible (I know it will probably take some studying to get to a point you that you can pass it).

      If for some reason doing your GED isn’t an option (some people might have issues, like immigration, warrants, sufficient funds, etc.), then here’s my contribution: I know 2 people who never completed high school. Both of them lied about having their diploma; one of them worked for other companies for twenty years and currently owns their own business, and the other worked for a company for over thirty years and was only recently laid off and went into early retirement. So it can be done if you must – I just REALLY wouldn’t recommend it.

  12. Apollo Warbucks

    #1 Sounds to me like people take it in turns to get the coffee in rounds and the OPs comments to the director were interpreted as her wanting to be included in them, but Alison has some great wording for getting out of the round if you don’t want to be included in them.

    1. Anonfornow

      Current job asked for my high school diploma on my first day. I haven’t seen my HS diploma since I graduated HS many, many moons ago. The position required a college degree which was confirmed in my background check, but for some reason, the absolutely Byzantine HR policies dictated that they needed a copy of my HS diploma. After much back and forth, someone decided that my college diploma and transcript would suffice. Just the first of many things w/ HR that makes one wonder how they get by in an otherwise really good place to work.

      1. BananaPants

        My husband was enrolled in a non-credit vocational course that required a high school diploma or GED. The community college was initially unwilling to see his college diploma and transcript and insisted that he get a copy of his HS diploma until he talked to the head of the program and pointed out how absurd this requirement was.

      2. Judy

        My undergrad college transcript first entry is my high school graduation date and year.

        June 1998 Diploma, Teapot Technical High School, Hershey, PA, USA

        Or something like that.

        1. hermit crab

          Are you really from Hershey? (just asking because I grew up there!)

          And my college transcript has a line for that too.

  13. hbc

    #2: I may be wrong and you might be a genuine rock star, but you sound a lot like one of my former employees. Decent worker, better than average even, but obsessed with what everyone else was doing. He was sure he could do everyone else’s jobs better, whether or not he had even tried it. He had so many ways to improve efficiency, but they all involved pushing work or costs that he didn’t understand somewhere else. He would also let certain types of work pile up so he could be super efficient plowing through it in one go so he could say “I did three days of work in half a day.” No, he did three days worth of Task A in 4 hours, which maybe would have taken 5 hours spread out over the three days. He also still believes that he never made a mistake in his tenure with us, and claims credits for improvements he had nothing to do with or were vaguely stated.

    If it wasn’t for his attitude, he could have been a great employee. As it was, when he told me he was leaving for a better job as a tactic to get more money, I wished him luck and documented acceptance of his resignation within the hour so he couldn’t back out. His leaving was the one action he took that significantly improved efficiency (and morale.)

    1. RMRIC0

      You could color me unsurprised if this situation didn’t turn out to be in the same vein.

  14. Apollo Warbucks

    #2 What planet are you on? You seriously misunderstand how the business world operates and the value that you “less effective” co-workers bring to the table. Try pitching for even 2 or 3 times your salary and you’ll look completely clueless and out of touch.

    Having a single point of failure is not advisable, building in contingency and redundancy into business processes is best practice and it’s important for the business to have a wide knowledge base and a number of different employees with different backgrounds and skills, as they all bring something different to role. Budgets are set on head count so I can see why managers would be loathed to give up funding for their department.

    I’ve been in my new role about 6 months now and all the performance measurements that are reviewed look very favourable towards me, but they miss an awful lot of the nuances and subtlety that isn’t included in statistics, it would be utterly offensive of me to suggest that I could take on my co-workers jobs as well as my own and do it as well as them. Sure if they are both out of the office I can do some fire fighting and keep things ticking over, but not make any real progress on the longer term objectives of the team.

  15. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    #2

    While agreeing with the other posts here on the subject, I’m going to take a different tack and encourage the OP to consider carefully what she is so highly efficient at doing.

    You’ve said this is a knack you have, terrific. Now step back and consider areas where highly efficient people are remunerated for efficiency. It doesn’t happen in standard jobs. The most you can hope for in a standard job is a bump of x% in salary, and not triple digit.

    Piece work: piece work or freelance situations where you are paid per job, the efficiency goes in your pocket.

    Management: making other people, an entire team of people or an entire department of people highly efficient, that makes you money. Good management positions come with a bonus structure where your team meeting and exceeding goals puts money in your pocket.

    Rainmaking: that’s the motherlode of $$$ for efficient people. The most highly compensated people are the ones who bring business in either personally or by system. Compensation is directly tied to efficiency and effectiveness and you can have people earning many multiples of the next person because they are so good at their jobs.

    If your job is filing library books and you file 2x the books of the next person, you’re not going to make 2x. Stop and look at the big picture of how business works and plan where you put your efforts accordingly.

    1. Cat

      Yes, exactly. If you’re brilliant at automatizing and optimizing processes, you should be figuring out how to get paid for automating and optimizing processes (sounds like consultant work to me) rather than getting hired to do something, optimizing it, and then expect to get paid more for running the optimized and automated process long-term.

    2. to

      Thank you for adding some constructive advice! I understand why the commenters are dragging this person over the coals, because they are majorly off-base, but I think lots of ambitious people have had moments of feeling like their efficiencies aren’t being rewarded. Thanks for the new perspective.

  16. BananaPants

    OP #2, it may not have occurred to you that a company might want multiple people on a team or do do things via a more manual (versus automatic) process for reasons that have nothing to do with efficiency. Perhaps serving on a team like this makes for an effective entry level training pipeline, maybe they do it to ensure succession planning, maybe they’re getting a sweet tax break for employing a certain number of people in the area. We (and to some extent, you) just have no way of knowing for sure what those reasons are. You may be so focused on the efficiency improvement that you don’t realize you’re basically telling your boss that she should fire your coworkers and give you their pay – which comes across as being pretty mercenary.

    I also find it extremely hard to believe your claims of efficiency improvement. Maybe you can make some tasks 2-3X faster, but claiming 1 person can do 51 FTE just sounds kind of absurd. If you were really that good your employer would be better served by turning you into an efficiency consultant and having other companies pay for your services! Maybe step back and consider if you’re being a bit hyperbolic in communicating these efficiency improvements and it’s keeping them from listening to you.

    If you’re really coming up with incredible stuff then share with your supervisor, offer to develop standard work and training materials and train others, and reasonably lobby for a raise or promotion if the rest of your work warrants it. Whatever you do, shoot for an attitude of, “I think this will help the whole department work faster and more accurately”, not “You can go ahead and fire Jane and Wakeen now because I’ve rendered them irrelevant with my badassery.”

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I award you maximum AAM points for this quote:

      You can go ahead and fire Jane and Wakeen now because I’ve rendered them irrelevant with my badassery.” It was “basassery” that threw this over the top, btw.

    2. Sunshine Brite

      Something tells me they need the other 50 people to provide checks and balances on this employee’s work. It’s unlikely a person can do that much work without inaccuracies because of the human element.

  17. Cupcake

    The tone of letter #2 really irked me and makes this person sound like he or she is really lacking in self awareness.

    Sheldon Cooper, anyone?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I think it’s more a matter of missing the bigger picture, how people get compensated for their jobs and why.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Yes, office work isn’t paid on a piecework basis.

        When I was a kid I sometimes picked fruit in the holidays and got paid by weight. But office employers don’t pay by that sort of system – 2 people’s jobs = double salary, etc.

        1. MicheleNYC

          I did the same thing. Picking strawberries we got anywhere from $1.25-$2.00 a flat. Some farms even had a daily minimum that you had to meet. There were days I helped my sister to make sure she made her minimum so she could come back. I was very fast but not nearly as fast as the migrant workers. Some of them were incredible!

          1. Windchime

            I picked apples, pears and cherries. I think I lasted about a day picking pears. It’s the hardest work I could imagine. And yeah, you got paid by how much you picked in a day.

      2. Green

        There is clearly a lack of self-awareness (how one appears to others) and a lack of empathy (putting yourself in others’ position). Sometimes people are eliminated, and sometimes it’s the right thing for a business to do, but peers should never request/suggest that, and it should never be done with glee and without trying to consider “rehoming” those people on different tasks/departments first. This LW, in asking for the salaries of people he/she replaces, also thinks only in terms of hard “costs” (space–even though company X is unlikely to reduce its footprint–equipment, personnel overhead) rather than soft “costs” of losing people (innovation, client relationships or client service requirements, morale, community reputation, severance).

        I have the bandwidth to perform at least one of my colleague’s jobs but other than trying to be helpful and speaking up about my availability, I would never ever suggest that we need fewer people in our department. Because laying people off is a serious thing, for both a company and the people involved, and shouldn’t be done solely for short-term gains without considering both the long-term workflow expectations (even if you have people not working at full capacity in the short-term) and without considering the impact on the company and individuals involved.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Eh, I agree that it’s a “Spock mode” kinda of approach but if the OP had written about people being eliminated in her department and her now doing the jobs of three people, where’s 3x the money, commenters would just be helpful.

          I think the OP has a legitimate, albeit naive, question and it doesn’t mean she’s cold heartedly trying to throw teams of people out on the street.

          1. Green

            OP has apparently tried variations of this multiple times, at multiple levels in the organization. OP clearly thinks the savings are going to come from job eliminations, that OP is deserving of those salaries, and that the company will get the incidental savings so “everyone wins” (….).

            1. Bend & Snap

              I agree with this. Getting stuck with an increased workload after necessary reductions is WAY different than advocating for your coworkers to be laid off and the OP given part or all of their salaries.

        2. Me

          “Because laying people off is a serious thing, for both a company and the people involved, and shouldn’t be done solely for short-term gains without considering both the long-term workflow expectations (even if you have people not working at full capacity in the short-term) and without considering the impact on the company and individuals involved.”

          This. They’ve done this exact thing at my job–my dept has been cut in half since 2012. They’ve now started replacing some of them–with people 20 years younger, of course–but in the meantime there’s only 2 of us w/ experience left, and quality has gone completely down the drain. And all to save a little money, which was promptly paid out to the executives as bonuses? Dumbassery indeed.

    2. The IT Manager

      For #2, I was very surprised that Alison didn’t point the unlikeliness of what the LW was claiming in the same way Alison points out to someone who is now doing their work and the work of another employee that they are not doing the work of two people and should be paid double. The arrogance of the letter so awe-inspiring that I can’t feeling that this LW is actually completely unaware about what’s really happening. It’s possible to be really efficient but not that this one person was so efficient that they could do equivalent of the work of 51 people. If there’s that much inefficiency I don’t think there’s anyway that no one else spotted it. I suspect there’s other things the other employees do and the LW is not seeing it.

  18. Friday

    In regards to #2, is it really possible to be that efficient? I just don’t understand how one person could possibly do the job of 51 people.

    1. HRChick

      In my opinion, the OP has no idea what her coworkers do. She may have made one part of their job more efficient, but has failed to take into account that that is not what they do 8 hours a day.

    2. cardiganed librarian

      If I were actually able to do the job of 51 people, I’d be job hunting because any company with so many superfluous people is bound to go out of business soon!

      1. Afiendishingy

        Going to be an awkward interview when OP suggests the hiring manager fires their whole team and lets OP do everyone’s job

    3. Creag an Tuire

      I’ve come to the conclusion that OP is, in fact, a robot.

      OP, it will probably help if you don’t phrase your request as “The humans are in-efficient. They should be e-liminated.” It’s -very- unnerving.

      1. MsM

        But see, you didn’t read the first draft where they said “ex-ter-mi-na-ted.” They’re improving!

    4. simonthegrey

      Maybe OP can just brows reddit with the skill of 51 people who are only doing 2 hours worth of work a day?

      No, it’s way more likely that OP only sees people doing one task (for example, searching invoice numbers) and has created a program to match up those invoice numbers. That doesn’t mean those people should get fired; it means they are freed up to do whatever else their job entails.

  19. Erin

    #1 – Oh geeze, this is one of the things I hate most about work environments – that stupid things like this can snowball. You’d better speak up sooner rather than later before you get into this routine. Good luck.

    #2 – I’m sorry, it seems outrageous that you’d be essentially asking your boss to lay off entire teams so that you can shoulder all that burden. Even if for sake of argument you can do all that work, what kind of effect would that have on your mental and physical health? Also, even if you are perfectly capable of doing all that work, I’d think it’s likely the work would benefit from having a mix of different ideas and input going towards it. Kind of like getting another pair of eyes to proofread your paper, even if your paper is spectacular.

    #4 – I can’t imagine you’d get caught. But get that GED!! :)

  20. Michael

    #3: How about giving them a deadline? “Please give us a call by end of day Thursday to set up an interview.” Then everyone knows the expectation and the candidate wouldn’t be surprised if they missed the window.

  21. The Other Dawn

    RE: #4

    You can absolutely be let go for lying about graduating high school.

    That happened to one of my tellers when I was a teller manager years ago. She said she graduated high school and when the bank conducted the background check, it came out that she hadn’t graduated. She was let go immediately.

    Obviously, the bank should have done the background check before having her start (she was there over two months when they did the background check!), but she shouldn’t have lied, either.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I’m surprised they’re even checking on HS diplomas this far into someone’s career. I’ve never even seen it listed.

      1. The Other Dawn

        My teller was college-aged at the time, so it made sense to check at that time. But other times, I’m guessing it depends on the field. I’m in banking, so they’re checking for stuff like this, as well as doing a credit check, drug testing, etc.

  22. Katie the Fed

    #1 –

    Tread lightly with this director. Personally, I think she’s out of line discussing your manager’s issues with you. That’s not really appropriate. And it sounds like this didn’t work out terribly well. Director seems like she’s lacking discretion and sense of appropriateness.

    As a side note, I’d be really annoyed by this too. I only drink black coffee and starbucks’ coffee isn’t very good. They overroast their beans to take away all individual characteristics of the beans, so it’s all just dark, bitter, and overroasted. Ick. It’s an insult to good coffee.

    Signed,
    Your neighborhood coffee snob

      1. Afiendishingy

        Ew yeah, I used to live in the twin cities. Their hot chocolate is good though !

        1. Alison Hendrix

          Which is why 99% of the time I go to Caribou Coffee. Not a black coffee drinker, though (usually order a hazelnut mocha), but I do like their coffee better.

    1. Sunny

      I think the reason the director is like this is because she wants to retain me and wants me to know she is already aware of my supervisor’s issues. I have also not noticed her doing this with any of her other staff, but you have a good point.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      Their chocolate is harsh and bitter too, and not in a good dark chocolate manner.

    3. Stephanie

      Coffee snobs and black coffee drinkers unite! Yeah, their coffee is only palatable when drowned in a vat of milk and sugar (which is probably the point since they can charge more).

      Signed,
      The person who just drank the old Folgers at the office out of desperation.

  23. LizB

    #2, Everyone else has made some excellent points. I’d just like to add: what happens when you go on vacation? Is your department supposed to shut down for a week? What if you win the lottery and don’t need to work anymore? Do you expect your employers to try and hire five people at once to replace you? There are many reasons why having multiple people doing the same work can be good for businesses. Advocating for your employer to lay off the whole rest of your team is never going to fly.

  24. Tom

    #4 – You’re in a difficult situation now. At my friend’s workplace, someone was promoted from technical support to IT and it was discovered that he had not finished his degree like he had stated in his resume and interviews. The company didn’t do background checks for technical support roles but did them for IT, so they didn’t do the background check until the promotion. It was a case of the employee only being a few credits shy of the graduation requirements. The shame of it was: my friend said that the college degree wouldn’t have been required for the technical support role, and it wouldn’t have stopped the promotion, but once the dishonesty had been discovered, the employee was fired.

    Get your GED so that if this is ever discovered you’ll at least be able to say that you corrected the problem, and so that in future job searches you won’t have to worry about this. You could correctly argue that after this much time, it has no relevance to your ability to perform the job. But in times when there are many more applicants than jobs, companies start using unnecessary filters just to limit the number of applicants, and you want to be able to “check the box” without setting yourself up for unexpected terminations.

  25. JC

    #4 Sure, they could theoretically fire you or ask for your transcripts. But I have to wonder, who on earth can get copies of their high school transcripts, especially from 24 years ago? While I have had employers ask for copies of my college transcripts, I have never had one ask for my high school transcripts. I’d be surprised if anyone asked for them.

    1. Kelly L.

      I have a civil service job where a HS diploma is a requirement, and I did have to bring my transcript in. It was 20 years ago. (It was a blurrily scanned copy of the old printouts. Probably in cuneiform.)

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Haha. Similarly, I went to a trade school for a semester a few years ago and when I called my high school to initiate them sending my transcripts over, the recording for that dept. said everyone after ____ year press 1, everyone before ____ year press 2 for the archives! (Yes, I was option 2)

    2. Today's Satan

      I recently went back to college and I needed to be able to have my high school transcripts mailed to the financial aid offices of the two schools I applied (and was accepted) to. I graduated high school in 1985. The high school’s registrar’s office is set up for this kind of request.

    3. not telling

      Even in the cases where a school has been closed, their records are transferred to another facility that stores them and where alumni can request a copy. And these days, there are online records-checking services. For a few clicks and a few bucks, an employer can find out if you are lying without even discussing it with you.

      Now if OP is female, they may be able to get away with it for longer, as an employer may assume that she simply uses her married name. But still, the manager could do their homework and find the employee’s maiden name and search for that.

      As so many others have said, if OP has gone to the effort of lying all these years, surely the effort of getting the GED wouldn’t be much more. In the past few years I’ve been amazed at the number of applicants I’ve seen who lied and faked their way through the interview process for administrative positions when they can’t even type. It would take less effort to just learn how to type.

  26. Michelle

    #1 sort of reminds me of last Monday’s post about a manager being BFF’s with her employees. “Starbucks BFF Club” requirements: Buy everyone coffee on Fridays, whether you drink or like Starbucks. I love how everyone else got small drinks. I doubt manager ever got a small cup.

    We actually had a couple of people who started a “coffee club” of sorts a few years back. Mostly it was one guy who liked high-quality, delicious coffee and brought in his own beans and grinder. He would make pot and the club member would file in and get some. When they wanted coffee, they would go ask this guy to make some. When he started asking for contributions to help purchase beans, that club disbanded pretty quickly.

    1. Bend & Snap

      In college, I worked at a place that had a “water club.” We all contributed to one of those big water dispensers monthly. They started sending me bills after I quit.

      Still scratching my head over that one.

        1. Michelle

          Why do you think the director talked to the manager? I think that’s what got you roped into the coffee club. Maybe the Director thought you were jealous of the people who got coffee? I’m not saying you were jealous, but maybe the director though you were or that you felt the manager was playing favorites?

    2. Courtney

      We had an employee who bought candy to share for clients and staff. This was out of her own funds. Til a few employees started making requests. “Why don’t you buy those Hershey nuggets” and other suggestions for more expensive chocolates. She bought Hershey kisses, peanut butter cups and those would be eaten fast.

      It wasn’t long and she stopped buying any candy. Especially because those making requests weren’t offering cash towards the candy purchases.

    3. the_scientist

      I’ve worked at quite a few different places that had coffee clubs- these were typically labs, and they provided nothing, so you basically had to join if you wanted coffee- and they were ALWAYS an unmitigated disaster. The people involved in organizing them lost so much time tracking down the people who hadn’t paid and policing the supplies, because it wasn’t just coffee- it was also filters, milk, cream, sugar and all the other fixings. People who weren’t in the club were sneaking into the kitchenette and pilfering supplies for their own use. There wasn’t a lot of fridge space so it’s not like everyone not in the coffee club could buy a little carton of milk or cream to label and keep in the fridge, and if they tried, people would start pilfering that, too. Honestly, it would have been better in terms of morale and productivity for the lab groups to pool together a couple of hundred bucks each and supply coffee and supplies for the year!

      At my current job, we do have free coffee but we have chronic issues with milk supply. We always run out of milk by the end of the month because people use it for their breakfasts! I realize that this is the very definition of a first world problem, but I find it irrationally irritating.

      1. BananaPants

        We have an off-the-record coffee club and it’s run well enough, but the quality of coffee is not great. It’s not in a kitchenette so there’s little pilfering and the coffee is made in copious amounts but that’s about all that’s going for it. We had a colleague who used our communal Keurig for a couple of years and then switched to the coffee club – he came back a few months later because while it saved money, the coffee was basically sludge.

      2. Ann O'Nemity

        Yep, that sums up the coffee club I encountered in academia. Add in requests for more money because the supplies ran out and the subsequent petty squabbling about who’s drinking too much and not paying enough.

        1. the_scientist

          yes, this sounds just about right. My favourite was that if you wanted to use, say, only milk (I’m a tea drinker, so I don’t need the coffee or cream), you had to pay the full price to join the coffee club. It’s not like it was a significant expense and I get pro-rating would have opened up the door to even more petty squabbling, but I was a broke student and it just ended up being easier for me to bring my tea from home every morning. What’s that saying about the problems being so big because the stakes are so low?

      3. Jubilance

        At my first job, a lab environment, there was a community coffee pot and each cup cost you a quarter. Generally everyone followed the rules and paid up. I’m sure it helped that the folks in the lab had all worked together for at least 10 years and regularly socialized together outside of work.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian

        The coffee club that I partook in had “insider” members who purchased the coffee and supplies; there were only a few of them who were true members. The rest of us just bought coffee from them by the cup. It was on the honor system (they had a can by the coffee pot where people would put $0.50 per cup). It seemed to be pretty well-run; they were never out of anything. And fifty cents wasn’t a bad price for a cup of coffee.

      5. BeeintheUK

        Free coffee saves hours of employee time in faffing. Our office has solved the breakfast problem by requiring people to bring in their own milk if they want cereal, and it seems to work. Perhaps it’s because there is only instant coffee available so we all live in fear of the milk running out.

        I have to ask though, what sort of mad milk are you using that it lasts a month??

    4. Artemesia

      I went back and re-read the original post and couldn’t for the life of me imagine why the OP would complain about it on someone else’s behalf. If I were the manager I would have heard ‘they get Starbucks and leave me out’ and so the order was to ‘include the OP’. Now that they have, she is mad about it and so will have to humiliate herself by withdrawing from the rotation.

      Never complain about a managers treatment of a co-worker. There are times when you need to defend a subordinate — but let co-workers fight their own battles.

  27. Duncan - Vetter

    #1. This is a very unfortunate situation, as things didn’t work out the way you expected. If you do not want to leave work with an empty pocket, it is a good idea to talk about this issue with your manager (if this is possible), or with the director. I’m wondering what your colleagues think about this new idea. Maybe you are not the only one who finds it too expensive. Talk about this issue, and if the manager insists with this idea, make sure you ask to bring something cheaper.

  28. Beancounter in Texas

    To give OP #2 credit, though, perhaps s/he has some really good efficiencies to add, but is up against people who like Things the Way They Are Now. Or perhaps the OP is new on the job and while the enthusiasm is appreciated, has not yet observed How Things Are Done to contribute improvements constructively. (I’m very guilty of this when I land at new jobs. I have to write my ideas in a book and think of how I’d develop them. Then I wait for at least three months and revisit them to see whether they’d actually help. Many make the cut; some get scratched.)

    OP, it is easier to change whenever the inspiration comes from within, not when it is pushed on from the outside. I sympathize with you for wanting to instigate improvements as you see them, but inspire and persuade your superiors where they value improvements. Not everyone is motivated by money alone. Be patient too and accept that maybe they’re never going to accept your idea. That’s fine. If you really have a talent for improving processes, perhaps a career change that focuses on process improvement & efficiencies is for you! (I’ve considered it myself.)

    1. Graciosa

      Quality is a good option for this type of career. Also Six Sigma or Lean manufacturing. Credentials may help with credibility issues.

  29. Laurel Gray

    ” Yet when I ask or offer, even when going a couple of levels up the chain of command, I’ve never found any enthusiasm for the idea. The people who would save money and could take credit don’t want a reduced team size; the people who don’t care about that particular team don’t consider the potential savings particularly significant at higher levels.”

    Totally saying this without the intentions of piling on but this has such a goody two shoes ring to it. I wonder if the OP is aware enough to know that she may have stepped on some toes when she was “going a couple of levels up the chain of command”. I never had a boss who was enthusiastic or supportive of an employee taking an idea they shut down or weren’t too keen about over their head to their boss.

    1. Graciosa

      Very true.

      There needs to be a better reason for escalating multiple levels above your boss than “I didn’t like Boss’ decision” which is going to translate as “I know better than Boss does.”

      There are cases where this is true, but pointing it out is not likely to win any points for the OP. However, if multiple levels have rejected OP’s ideas, they may not have the value for this employer that the OP is hoping for.

  30. YandO

    Efficiency is an interesting concept, particularly because it is often measured based on how inefficient the person/process was prior to the current process.

    After taking over my job, I am able to complete in 20 hours what used to take the prior employee 40+. Portion of that is my ability/interest to identify areas of inefficiencies, coming up with and implementing new efficient processes, and being able to stand my ground with owners when they push for less efficient processes. However, a huge portion of my success (I would argue the bigger portion to be honest) is simply in the fact that previous employee was not suited nor was interested in the job (for very much understandable reasons).

    So, dear LW#2, you need a reality check. Even if it is true that you can outperform 50 people, it does not mean those people are not necessary to the business. And even if it does mean that, that’s NOT your call. If you feel you are not being paid enough and you want double your salary, then your options are: find another better paying job where efficiency is highly valued OR start a consulting business.

  31. INFJ

    #1 sounds like a major communication breakdown. Somehow “it’s a problem that my manager is cliquish and getting free coffee from her favorite is an example of this” turned into “why does Lucinda get to buy the boss coffee? I want to too!”

    Either the OP wasn’t clear enough about what the real issue is or the director has no clue how to tactfully handle situations like this.

  32. Kristine

    #1 – If your supervisor is ignoring you and buying other people coffee, thank your lucky stars.
    I prefer to be ignored than to be on the receiving end of “favors.” It always blows up into drama. Case in point: my former supervisor devised a “team building” event with sugary treats every Friday morning. Cue the competition between those who brought in desserts, the glares I got when I didn’t eat them (sugar tastes bitter to me and I have been avoiding it since a certain age), and the tantrums of the control freak Officezilla when people didn’t show up for these bashes “soon enough.” No, thanks.
    What are your career goals? Aim for those and keep out of the drama.

  33. SystemsLady

    #2: I could see working at the rate of 3 people or so (which definitely does not equal doing the work of 3 people in my profession – it simply means you get assigned to the projects with a faster timeline and, by the bonus calculation scheme, often end up with a larger bonus). I could also see coming up with an automation scheme to simplify the work of 51 people, but doing the work of 51 people? Hard to believe.

    I’d actually like to see a follow-up from this OP, because it’s hard to explain exactly why this comes off as arrogant and unbelievable without knowing what’s really going on. Alison gave good advice on the “you’re not going to get 51 salaries” front at least.

    1. SystemsLady

      Also, if anybody’s aware of that “10x engineer” silliness that went around, this letter definitely reminded me of that.

      (Industry engineers I know were not in favor of touching a claimed 10x engineer, whether by self or management, with a 50 foot pole, for the record.)

  34. The Cosmic Avenger

    And for #4, when you do finish your GED, I suggest you tell your employer the full story at that point. It might never come up, but if it did, it could likely get you fired even if you’ve gotten your GED. If you tell them that you made a mistake but you fixed it and now you want to come clean, you’ll have a better chance of keeping your job, and you won’t have this hanging over your head forever.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I’m not sure that the best idea, admitting to the lie is likely to mean getting fired. It’s poor judgement that’s got the OP in to this situation, but I’d be tempted to leave it alone and hope it doesn’t come up.

    2. Graciosa

      This is a little tough for me because integrity is really a big issue.

      If I found out that an employee had falsified credentials in order to get a job, that individual would be out of a job and permanently listed as not eligible for re-hire (which is a big deal for reference checks, even if that person no longer wants to work for my employer).

      I hate to feel that I’m discouraging a belated attempt at fixing this, but that’s honestly what would happen.

      Although I feel less conflicted about that position when I consider the fact that the OP would be basically just trying to relieve the guilt at that point – more a benefit to the OP than to the employer.

  35. Retail Lifer

    OP #1, if all rational things fail, you can bring your own travel mug to Starbucks for them to fill up. Then you can play it off like you brought it from home.

  36. JMegan

    #2 reminds of the letter writer who wanted a job as a “visionary.” I think that person was right out of college, whereas today’s OP seems to be a bit more experienced; and the previous letter seems to be about generating ideas while today’s OP seems to be about generating chocolate teapots. But even so, there are a lot of similarities.

    In both cases there’s the same sort of disconnect between what the OP has in mind vs what the company actually needs. So you’ll need to reconcile that in some way. And ultimately, it’s going to be a lot easier to adjust your perspective to match the situation, than to try to adjust the situation to match your perspective.

    This comment on the original letter was especially interesting:
    https://www.askamanager.org/2010/11/no-one-will-hire-me-as-their-visionary.html#comment-9269

    1. LBK

      I thought of that letter, too. This OP doesn’t seem quite so misguided about how the world works as that one, although I think a reality check is still in order. And at least this OP has a built-in path if, in fact, she is as good at improving efficiency as she claims – many companies do have process improvement departments or people, whereas “ideas man” is not really a position that exists at most places.

      1. JMegan

        Yes, exactly. Process improvement is an actual thing, and one that you can make a lot of money with under the right circumstances. But those circumstances have to include, first and foremost, being at a place that WANTS their processes to be improved. Otherwise, it’s a complete non-starter, as today’s OP is beginning to find out.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          Which is why there’s Consultant firms that companies hire to come in and examine their processes from top to bottom. It takes months for them to go through every department and understand what they do, before they can actually make recommendations.

        2. periwinkle

          If OP#2 has that kind of talent for process improvement, she should look into Lean/Six Sigma training and certification. I work for a huge manufacturing corporation and lean process is EVERYWHERE here – not just in the factory but throughout the whole business. A quick search on our careers page comes up with 75 open positions calling for that skill set, some at entry-level/early career.

          Yeah, if you’ve got the knack, you can make a career out of it (er, without the need to fire the rest of your co-workers).

    2. Turanga Leela

      Thanks for posting the link—I had never seen that letter! I worked with someone who was just like this, and it was frustrating both for him and us (his coworkers).

  37. Ad Astra

    Fun little story about high school diplomas and GEDs: In the ’90s, my mother went back to school at a community college, after working in law offices for several years, making more money than I make now, and realizing she wouldn’t be able to advance without some kind of degree. A key fact is that my mother had dropped out of school around the 8th grade.

    After a few years of success at community college, my mom transferred to our state’s largest university and continued succeeding in lots of higher-level courses. (She did have trouble with math and science courses, since you really need a decent high school background to pass those courses.) Somewhere during her senior year, I think, she got a call from the registrar asking about her GED date, since it wasn’t on file. Somehow, nobody at either school had ever asked for her high school diploma or GED.

    She ended up having to take the GED in order to stay in college, and passed with flying colors because, well, she was a dean’s list senior at the best university in the state.

  38. Kristine

    #2 – If you have that much game, do work on the side for extra money. I do. No one is going to reorganize the company around you, sorry.

  39. Retail Lifer

    OP #2, keep in mind that there’s a need for some degree of redundancy in a larger company. If there isn’t any, what happens when you’re on vacation, out sick, or quit? Instead of approaching your manager about how many people they can lay off because you’re so much better than everyone (which is exactly how you come across), maybe try the angle that you can increase efficiency and output if they try some of your suggestions. More people producing more stuff is certainly a lot more appealing than one person doing everything and running the risk of killing themselves.

  40. MLT

    #1 I have a different take on this than you do. You are complaining about cliquishness, and perhaps you have better examples of this, but this coffee-buying arrangement is not really your business.

    — You have no idea what pay arrangement they have regarding coffees, and you have made assumptions based only on what you have seen and overheard.

    —You have suggested that if anyone makes a trip to Starbuck’s they should be offering to do the run for everyone. This is not a fair expectation of co-workers. A person should be able to go get Starbuck’s and not have to be charged with the responsibility of getting everyone else’s funky order made correctly. It is quite normal in offices for people to pair up for coffee runs. Every time your boss wants coffee, she is not required to arrange for everyone to get coffee.

    — You have suggested that it is improper for a full-time employee to be treated differently than part-timers. Full-time people have greater responsibility and more awareness of what is going on in the business than part-time people by nature of the greater commitment in time they are making. Full-time people often get more of the boss’s attention than part-timers, because they do more work together.

    If you have particular information about inappropriate gossip, if the favoritism leans to something way more significant than coffee, if you can cite particular information that she is withholding from you which is impacting your job, then maybe it is worth bringing up to your director. But you’ve laid a pretty petty complaint and you made it to her boss. I’m not surprised she is a bit annoyed (though her reaction is definitely unprofessional).
    No one has handled this well, and I think that includes you.

    My advice would be to apologize. You could say that you think there may have been a misunderstanding caused by a conversation you had with the director about coffee and that you realize now that you overstepped a boundary. If pressed, you could say that you had allowed yourself to get frustrated about not feeling you were in the loop on things to the same degree that FT is, but after thinking about it you realized that this is natural given that they work together more hours than you do and that FT therefore has more responsibility. If you can afford it, you might offer to buy the next round of coffees, but let your manager know that you will be bowing out of the weekly run after that because it doesn’t work within your budget.

    1. OP#1

      I am definitely buying the next round, but letting them know that I am bowing out from now on.

      I did lay out more specific examples, which I am sure were relayed to my supervisor, but for some reason, she chose this one to focus on.

      I don’t feel the need to apologize, I may say that there has been a misunderstanding, but I haven’t done anything wrong. I think as women, we tend to apologize too frequently for minor, normal infractions. I am not doing that.

      1. zora

        I agree, I don’t think you did anything wrong. I think if the director still wants to worry about this they need to just be really direct to the supervisor: “None of your direct reports should be *paying* for your coffee. Ever. Even if you get them back later.’ That is just a recipe for disaster. If people want to offer to pick things up for others, that is one thing, but the boss should always be paying for her own treats. That is just weird.

        But I also agree the director should be focusing on more important issues with this supervisor, not the Starbucks drama. Sorry you’re caught in the middle of this, #1.

        1. Sunny

          I don’t agree with that rule. Yeah, if a manager has 40 reports, having a coffee buying thing with one of them is weird. But this is a manager with 1 full-time employee and some part-time employees. The manager and the full-time employee do have a different relationship than the manager and part-time employee does, and they can have a more generous relationship when it comes to coffee and snacks because they aren’t excluding any full-time employees.

      2. MLT

        I think she chose this issue because she is angry, and it was the one that felt the most petty. She is definitely not behaving professionally here, but she is probably angry because you went over her head to complain about her. People often react really badly when that happens. Maybe there is some serious dysfunction going on there, and going over her head was warranted, but talking to her boss about how she handles coffee buying is an overstep. The director should have been savvy/professional enough not to pass that part on, but she did.

        I think you might want to consider a wider view here, which is to identify the best thing you can do to make a difficult situation better. An apology acknowledges that you said something that she found hurtful. It acknowledges that you passed judgment on her coffee decisions, which it is really not your place to do. I understand you may disagree with this viewpoint, and please ignore it if you do. You know a lot about what is going on in your workplace, and I know very little.

        1. zora

          I think you’re mixing things up here. The OP mentioned this in a discussion of several things the supervisor was doing, and that was a discussion the director initiated.

          The director is the one who chose to focus on this one issues to the supervisor (we are all assuming, including the OP, because of what happened next, but it is a pretty good assumption at this point). In your explanation that would mean the *director* was angry when bringing this up to the supervisor? I don’t think that follows.

          And I don’t get anger in the OP’s letter either. I don’t really see who is angry. And again, I think the director is the one who brought this to the supervisor, therefore I don’t think the OP has to apologize. The director obviously already had concerns with this supervisor, so it is on the director at this point.

          1. OP#1

            To be fair, I am not sure that the director hammered home this point, or that is what the supervisor took from it. Knowing what I know from the two of them, I would suggest the latter.

    2. Sunny

      I agree with you. OP doesn’t want to be part of the coffee rota, so what was she hoping to achieve? Make other employees be less generous with each other? Why is that even a goal?

  41. anonanonanon

    #2: Everyone else has already addressed my thoughts about the letter, but I have to ask if 10-15% is actually the standard for raises? I’ve never worked in a company that’s gone higher than a 2% raise. It may be my industry, but a 10% raise would be amazing, but asking for something that high is never positively received.

    1. Jake

      10 to 15 would fly where I work for promotions or holding multiple positions. I got 10 for doing just that.

    2. Retail Lifer

      We don’t go about 3% here. In a previous job, my boss had to go all the way up to the Vice President to get me a 4% raise. 1 or 2% is usually as good as it gets.

      1. anonanonanon

        Ah, okay. I was just wondering if I was missing out on something since raises in my industry seem to be rare and when they do happen they’re around 0.5% – 2%. Thanks!

        1. Afiendishingy

          Yeah, in my field in this state nobody seems to get raises ever, and when they do they are pretty tiny. Glad I’m not the only one.

    3. Stranger than fiction

      I think the 2% raises are typical of large corps that do formal, yearly reviews with COL raises. Companies that don’t do formal, annual reviews, like the types I’ve worked for, give larger increases, but less often, and usually because since the last raise, you’ve taken on a significant amount more responsibility.

    4. Ad Astra

      That did strike me as a huge increase, but I come from an industry where I literally saw one coworker in four years (and two companies) get a raise without a promotion. I think she said it amounted to an extra $300 a year before taxes.

      To me, even a COL adjustment sounds luxurious, so I’m interested in what kinds of raises people in other industries expect when they’ve got a track record of success.

      1. anonanonanon

        At my last company, they gave us a “raise” that ended up not even covering 75% of the increased health insurance costs for that year. That was the only raise I got in four years of working there, and everyone got the same amount regardless of whether they were a top performer or not.

  42. BTW

    #4 – If it has been 24 years since you’ve been in school and you have a lot of experience then I don’t know why you are lying about it at all. I doubt anyone would put you on the back burner because you possess all the skills/qualifications but God forbid, never graduated high school. However, lying about it would make most employers think twice about hiring you, or in this case, keeping you. IMO, honesty is always the best policy. I really don’t think it is going to hold you back at this point.

    1. Retail Lifer

      I’d be careful about it. We have a bunch of “preferred” qualifications for various jobs here, but the only thing that is a standard, absolute requirement is tyou have a high school disploma or equivalent. Even if the employer gets over the dishonesty part, that might mean the OP doesn’t meet the minimum requirements of the job and can’t be kept on.

  43. NicoleK

    OP#2. Maybe look into the process improvement degree/field. Just don’t start giving out suggestions your first day on the job. Trust me, it will not go over well.

  44. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    #5 – I’m going to respectfully disagree with AAM ; I’d view this as a (generally) GOOD sign.

    If they have made up their minds to reject you they would have done so, not asked you to call on Monday at 5 and tell you then.

    How I interpret this? Your candidacy is likely still alive. You may not be their first choice; you may not get an offer. But if they want to schedule further interviews , there is still life in the application.

  45. jane

    Getting paid for doing multiple jobs.

    I have the same problem but i found a solution which is to justify the reason why they have to pay me extra.
    It takes a little bit of effort but well in order to do it i have to. I got a raise base on the number of extra task i did. Guess what. A good 25% increment of my monthly pay.

    Bosses like to give excuse of not increasing pay and often due to bad business and all. However as times goes by you realise you are doing much more than what you are pay for. You stop doing it and you find out soon you will be in the office where your superior will give you some talking.

    Why not get them to adopt solution to measure productivity which is how i manage to incept my bosses and slowly look at rewarding employees to do more. I try to find the list of solution i research and post here later.

  46. jamesC

    Is it sympl.us?
    My boss implemented that last month and i have been doing more than usual.
    I started to complaint on forum but at the end of month i realise i am paid more than usual.
    Afterall i guess at the end day we just want to be paid fairly.

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