update: our job candidates have to give “positivity presentations”

Remember the letter-writer whose company was asking internal candidates for a promotion to give presentations about how to foster positivity at work, all because of one person who’d been causing a lot of drama? Here’s the update.

I wrote in a month or so back about my office’s internal hiring process, which changed to involve the candidates creating a “positivity presentation” because one of them was causing drama.

Well, they are finally giving their presentations and they sound like they’ve been an utter flop. The goal was to get everyone in their department involved and working on these in order for the candidates to demonstrate their management skills, but people just aren’t going for it. I’m sure none of them are happy about being pulled away from their work to deal with this.

The dramatic coworker continues to wrench herself out of the running for the promotion, though. The position comes with an immediate 50% increase in workload and the dramatic coworker has been falling impossibly behind in her regular workload. They recently had a project day to deal with small tasks usually put off until their quarterly deadline. It’s the exact same task over and over again and each one takes roughly 15 minutes to complete. In an 8-hour work day, she completed 2.

I don’t understand how she doesn’t see that she’s coming off poorly to management and constantly proving she won’t be able to handle the responsibilities attached to the promotion, but she still somehow believes she’s going to get it. I’m just waiting to see if she follows through on her threat to quit when her coworker gets the promotion instead.

Thanks for affirming that this process is ridiculous, and thanks to the readers who commented as well!

{ 17 comments… read them below }

  1. Polka Dot Bird*

    “I don’t understand how she doesn’t see that she’s coming off poorly to management and constantly proving she won’t be able to handle the responsibilities attached to the promotion, but she still somehow believes she’s going to get it.”

    This one of life’s great mysteries to me too. My best theory is that they believe they should be promoted based on potential, not current effort.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      She did 2 tasks when she should have done 32. She figured she would get away with it.

      I will say if I did that at a job, all heck would have broken loose. Minimally, I would have been told to withdraw my application for promotion as I was not even in line for consideration based on my inability to control my own current workload.

      To me this is more of a story about managers who are afraid to, well, you know, manage. A good manager would not make their crew go through this. This has been going on for too long.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Totally agree with all of this. It’s so ridiculous and it would be helpful if just one manager would step in and say ENOUGH.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am guessing management is for some reason snowed by her and her personality and potential — hope the next update is not her getting the job.

      1. A*

        But this is exactly what I’m afraid the update will be. They’ve already imposed these positivity presentations rather than see the problem is her. They apparently haven’t dealt with her productivity issue. She believes she’s going to get the promotion and has made threats of leaving if she doesn’t — the fact that she hasn’t already been fired just makes it seem this company doesn’t know how to do the right thing.

      2. OP*

        Thankfully, things progressed exactly as I thought they would. Someone who not only maintained their current workload but proved they could handle the increased workload the position would demand got the job. As expected, dramatic coworker didn’t understand what the problem was with her performance, and she was pouty about it for a while. I think her threats to quit were pretty empty, but we’ll see what happens once everyone gets back from vacation and the promoted coworker takes her new position.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Someone who accomplishes 2 units of work when everyone else is accomplishing dozens should be encouraged to quit! In fact, I can’t think of anything that would foster more positivity than that! :D

        2. JessaB*

          OH thank goodness, I really was scared that pouty Penny would get the job. Glad the other coworker got it.

  2. Mirilla*

    Wow, yeah, I can see why people wouldn’t be giving their best efforts on these presentations. What a bunch of crap. I agree that this is a shining example of managers who don’t want to make hard decisions and who take a round about route to solving problems, which of course just ticks off the good employees. It also doesn’t solve the problem at all and just reduces morale and commitment to the company. Can you tell I’ve worked in a place like this? Taking one person’s problem and making it a team problem is a good way to implode your company from the inside.

  3. Clever Name*

    So, is your company making good hires using this method??? I can’t imagine that top candidates would be interested in spending time on a pointless exercise.

    1. Ruffingit*

      No kidding, if I was a top candidate in that place, I’d leave for another company that had more (or any) sanity.

      1. OP*

        The problem is the entire company, every department, runs this way and this is really the only place in our city you can work if you want to get out of food service and retail. It may be surprising to hear, but our department actually has some of the best management throughout the company. They messed up on this process, but at least the results were good.

  4. Harriet Vane Wimsey*

    Hi AAM—I know the ads are problematic (I got ones for the morning after pill!) But I want to thank you for the unread comments blue border. Awesome!!!!!!!

  5. sunny-dee*

    I gotta ask — did any of the positivity presentations mention having her leave? That would have been my (evil) recommendation right before quitting.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      That was my thought – I suppose you could frame it as increasing productivity by removing the negative influences.

    2. OP*

      Lol I didn’t sit in on them but no. While I think this would be funny, it would be a really terrible idea for the coworker who ended up getting the job. By the time they gave these presentations, there were only two candidates in the running (they’d only started out with four anyway), so there would have been no way around the fact that they were using mud-slinging tactics against each other. I think if that had happened, the management would have called off the internal search and gone with an outside hire.

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