the friend I recommended for a job pushed a coworker, how to handle goodbyes for a hostile employee who’s leaving, and more

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

1. Should I have a goodbye party for a hostile employee who’s leaving?

An employee of mine resigned today by walking into my office and saying “I am leaving. My last day is Friday.” When I asked her to come into my office and explain, she initially refused, saying that she was busy with clinical work. When I insisted and asked her why she wasn’t giving the standard two weeks notice, she seemed surprised that I was asking and then swore under her breath before storming out.

She has been a very challenging employee for me from day one (the rest of the team is very respectful). She is defiant when it comes to any type of authority and she is extremely defensive when she is given any type of constructive criticism, even when I try to present it as gently as possible. The previous manager of my department had similar issues with her. She is very good with patients, however, which is why I haven’t terminated her (I’ve come close).

In the past, when employees have left to pursue other opportunities, we will do a little goodbye party and purchase a small gift. I think this act of goodwill is beneficial for everyone, and even the department (one employee recently asked to come back less than a year after leaving). However, this employee did not give the courtesy of two weeks’ notice and was very disrespectful when talking to me. Should I still do something to acknowledge her departure? I’m thinking we could do a card signed by everyone on the team and a goodbye cupcake.

She gave you less than the professional amount of notice and refused to explain, then swore at you under her breath and stormed out of your office. I’d be seriously considering having her leave now rather than letting her work out the rest of the week. But if you stick with Friday, the most I’d do would be to circulate a card, and that would only be because of the optics with the rest of your staff if you do nothing.

This is someone who was openly hostile to you. Don’t give gifts to people who are giving you the finger.

2. The friend I recommended for a job is in trouble for pushing a coworker

I am three months into a new job, and my employer recently began interviewing for another position (let’s call it teapot auditor). I previously worked with a friend, K, for almost five years and he has been doing teapot auditing for several years. I suggested the position to K and recommended him to my boss, who is doing the hiring. K has had an interview with my boss, but a decision hasn’t been made (as far as I know). I was even invited to conduct the interview, but I declined as it was clearly a conflict of interest! I conducted some of the other interviews for the position, and I am sure that none of the applicants are as good at the job as K is.

Unfortunately, K was in an altercation at his current workplace where he pushed another employee. K is now receiving a week’s suspension with no pay. K hasn’t been apologetic at all, and this now concerns me as far as my recommendation to my boss. K is an excellent teapot auditor and has never been in a physical altercation before (but even once is terrible). Should I say something to my boss about this? Rescind my recommendation? I’ve already expressed to K that this is unacceptable, but I don’t know if K has taken me seriously.

Right now you’ve recommended someone who very recently pushed a coworker. So yes, absolutely say something to your boss. If she hires K without knowing this, and it later comes out that you knew about this history but didn’t say anything, your boss would rightfully be pretty unhappy with you.

K was your recommendation, and you have an obligation to update that recommendation now that you have new information. Your boss can then decide if that’s a deal-breaker for her or not — but she should be the one to make that call.

3. My coworker won’t stop leaning on me for help

I enjoy my job and my coworkers, but there is one who I’ll call Sansa who hasn’t proven herself to be an asset to the team. The problem isn’t her attitude (she’s actually really nice) – it’s her overall competence. For example, after a year of working together, she still has trouble using email, scheduling appointments, sending text messages, remembering phone numbers, or using the client’s preferred project management system. Her work is also full of mistakes and takes up to 10 or more revisions before it’s approved.

I’ve tried my best to be helpful. I’ve created visual aids and written guides for her, but nothing sticks. I’ve even stayed late to train her on digital tools and saw firsthand how she struggles to use Google. Yes, Google. I think that would be a surprising deficit for even the most entry-level of employees, but the thing is Sansa actually has more than 30 years of experience in our field and bills more than $100 an hour.

Our boss is aware of the problem. She has approached Sansa, but nothing has improved. Meanwhile, I’ve pulled back on helping Sansa, though she continues to ask me for help. She’ll say things like, “I don’t understand how to make a contact….guess you’ll have to teach me.” Is there anything else I can do?

Stop helping her. To some extent, you’re actually enabling the problem to continue, because by helping her, you’re preventing your boss from seeing the full extent of the problem. You’ve helped her for a year, and you’ve gone above and beyond in doing that (creating visual aids and written guides, which I’m guessing wasn’t part of your job). It’s time to back off and let your company decide how they want to handle the situation when they see it for what it really is.

You do note that you’ve pulled back on helping her, but you need to stop it entirely — which is going to mean saying no when she asks you for assistance. When she asks you for help, say, “Sorry, I’m swamped — can’t help.” Or “I’m busy, but check the guide I made you.” Or “I won’t have time for that this week.” If she keeps pushing, then say, “I really can’t help. If you’re stuck, I guess you should talk to (boss).”

It sounds like you’ve started to feel obligated to prop her up — but unless you’ve specifically been told that part of your job is to help Sansa, this isn’t your responsibility. It’s your manager’s — but it won’t fall back to her if you keep stepping in. From now on, consider yourself just a bystander.

4. I’m not getting the thank-you gifts that my staff gets

I am a manager of four. We assist another manager twice a year with work that requires extra hours. I work along side my staff, but this manager — who has made it known they do not like me personally — purchases gift cards and thank-you cards with company money for everyone but me. This seems petty, but I feel it is done intentionally. My staff members are compensated for the extra hours they work; I am not. I’ve told my supervisor, but nothing has been done. Should I overlook it?

Yes. It may be a petty move by the other manager, but you will look petty if you bring it up again. Managers often don’t get the rewards that their staff get; it’s part of being a manager, and the idea is that you should be getting compensated in other ways (such as a higher salary).

5. Forced to leave early so that I didn’t earn overtime

Can I be forced to leave early one day to lose overtime that I had no choice but to work the day before? I’m in Pennsylvania.

If I’m reading your question correctly, you worked late one day and then your employer told you to leave early the next day so that your total hours for the week didn’t go over 40 (since they’d need to pay you overtime if they did). If that’s correct — yes, they can absolutely do that, and in fact it’s very normal to do. Overtime is calculated based on your total hours in a week, so you weren’t really “losing” overtime from the day before; they were adjusting your hours so that you didn’t incur any overtime. (California is an exception to this; there it’s calculated day by day.)

{ 235 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    Any time someone writes and asks, “should I let it go?” When the other person is a peer or superior or anyone who you have no authority over, the answer is pretty much always “yes.” You want a reputation for being easy going/easy to work with, and you get that by not making an issue out of things when you have the option.

    1. Mike C.*

      There are tons of times when the answer has been no. All sorts of illegal and unethical behavior deserve additional attention but the folks writing in don’t realize it or don’t know how to go about it at the time.

      There’s a thin line between being easy going and being a complete doormat.

      1. Dan*

        I was thinking more about inter-personal things like perceived slights or annoying habits, not “big things” that the company would otherwise have an interest in. My thought process is along the lines of, “What outcome do I want as a result of bringing up X issue?” followed by, “How likely am I to achieve such result?” And then, “At what cost to me personally? How much harm do I suffer if I just let it go?”

        My thin line is probably deeper in the field than most; I’m only going to assert myself if I can get what I want with little cost, or if I’d suffer a great deal if I let it go. That is to say, if I’m not going to suffer much for letting something go, that’s likely the route I’m going to take.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Dan is probably right about when it comes to dealing with superiors or peers you don’t have any control over, it might be best to stay quiet about this. You really do have to pick your battles. OTOH, Mike C.’s comments about unethical or illegal behavior might rise to that level.

          The particular slight described by OP#4 all by itself does not sound like something that you should die on your sword for. If there are other slights you’ve had to experience in this job (perhaps from other people) on a regular basis, then it’s time to start looking for another job. The last place I worked at I experienced several similar slights, and many more. It was death by a thousand paper cuts.

          1. Raine*

            I just don’t see OP 4’s situation as even a slight. OP is the manager. The gift cards are rewarding the performance of the 4 people the OP manages. This is so very, very common. It is almost a disservice to in any way encourage the OP to continue in the mindset of seeing this as a slight, or personal, or something to be bitter about.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              I agree. Maybe the other manager really doesn’t like OP, and OP is the best judge of that given that she interacts with this person and we don’t, but I too thought this was a strange example of the problem given that OP is also a manager. Had she been just an individual contributor, yes, that would have been disrespectful, but not including managers in these employee appreciation gift things is normal.

            2. Green*

              Yes, here there’s a clear delineation between the people who got the cards and the person who didn’t. If Manager was writing in about how 3 of her employees got gift cards and one didn’t because the person didn’t like them and there was no clear delineation, there would be a different answer.

        2. Joseph*

          I like the thought process. I go through the same thing with a lot of these letters.

          For this item in particular, I’m not sure exactly what the expected response is anyways.
          1.) OP’s team assisting Different Manager (DM) during crunch season seems to be an expected part of the job. This is pretty common at offices.
          2.) DM is under no obligation to provide thank you cards to anyone – the fact they’re doing it for your staff is itself going above and beyond. Depending on how the office handles budgets, it’s even possible that the thank you cards are being bought out of DM’s personal pocket.
          3.) In many companies, DM would be well within her rights to expect OP (as team lead) to be the one responsible for thanking and compensating her team for their efforts via overtime pay, leaving early on Friday, whatever.

          Given all that, if OP makes an issue out of it, I can’t see any way it gets resolved positively. The best case scenario is that DM goes along, gives OP the standard $20 gift cards, but both the supervisor and DM are annoyed at OP. But the far more likely scenario is that DM gets irritated that an *optional gesture of kindness* is starting a controversy, so DM decides the easiest way to deal with it is to stop altogether – thereby screwing your staff members out of a benefit.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            That last sentence is key – OP’s griping about this may cause not only this manager, but also other managers throughout the company (because people talk), to stop recognizing the contributions of the staff. That would be disastrous for team morale.

          2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            My team often assists other groups in the company, and though I appreciate when one of my peers (department head) gives them something as a thank you, I would never expect anything, even if I am pulled into assisting with the project.

            My reward as a manager? Being able to ask from the same type of help from other departments when my team is in peak periods.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            So I’m with you except is this different manager above the Op? That may make a difference, and she does say she participates in this working late along with her team. Still agree it’s too awkward and not worth bringing up though.

      2. Rae*

        You are correct. I am a team player. I believe in helping someone under the gun, but human nature is such that for some people if you can get someone to do something for you, why not? My example is a very sweet lady who called me in a tizzy one day regarding a report she is obligated to generate. She said she didn’t have access to the system to generate it. I generated it for her as I have access. No big, helped my team member and assured myself she would make sure she received access. Fast forward to the next month (she calls me frantically again on the day the report is due). I was buried in my own obligations and firmly pointed out to her that I was happy to help but I could not drop everything and meet her timeline. She did get huffy, but I made sure to reach out to the site administrator and request access for her and I copied her on the response from the admin that she now had access. Fast forward again to the third month in a row. Now she knew I knew she had access, so she tried a different tactic. She mentioned to my boss that she needed this report and “suggested” I had helped her in the past. When he suggested it to me, I stopped him right there and said sir she has access and sent him the email from the site admin. Guess what? I haven’t heard about it since. Now this lady is a nice lady and a hard worker. But the bottom line is don’t assume that someone is incompetent because they may just be playing you. Help them once so you show yourself to be willing to help team members, but then take action the next time it happens to assure that person has the ability to do their job. Do it gently by saying, “gee I’d really love to help you, but I just can’t do this for you by your timeline.” If the person has adequate job aids and has had appropriate training, it is time to set some boundaries. But protect yourself at the same time.

  2. Augusta Sugarbean*

    #1 – This employee is a pain to the managers but good with the patients. How is she with her fellow employees? I’d say that should be the deciding factor for a goodbye gesture or not. There are a couple of awful, awful people that I have to work with. I have no interest in signing a card and neither of them deserve a cupcake, let alone a party. If she is liked by other staff, then it’s probably polite to give some sort of send off. If not, it’s not going to be great for morale to treat her like she is an exemplary employee.

    1. Copper Boom*

      I wouldn’t say that giving her a card is treating her as an exemplary employee, but I agree that she by no means deserves a party, which to me would signify exemplary. By not giving her a party when it’s usually done, you’re signifying to your staff their effort and attitude at work matter. Giving her a card requires little to no effort and just says that regardless of how she’s treated you, you can still behave in a decent manner.

    2. Bookworm*

      I agree; how this will be perceived by other staff members is in some ways more important than how it looks to her.

      But, then, given what OP describes, it’s hard to imagine that other staff members haven’t noticed that negative attitude….And there’s something inherently awkward about watching a company plaster on smile and feign goodwill where there isn’t any. That could be even more damaging for moral than just letting her take a quick exit.

      1. No Goodbye Party*

        These are all such good points, thank you. My gut feeling was to do something much smaller than what we normally do. @Copper Bloom – other staff members are aware of her attitude.

        1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

          Does she have friends on staff? One way to deal with this would be to ask them what they think she’d want. If the folks she’s close to agree she just wants out without fanfare, you can go the card route without guilt. If they think she’d want acknowledgement, and they like her and want it to happen, then you do the party. It’s not so much about the person leaving as it is the folks staying behind.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, but it’s a pretty bad message for people to see that you can treat your manager that way and they’ll still turn around at throw you a party. A card is fine — it says “I’m behaving civilly, if cooly” — but a party would make the OP look like a pushover.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Your last paragraph exactly. Op should in no way feel obligated. The person gave four days notice and is clearly disgruntled about something. The staff is presumably busy so why scramble to plan something. If I were Op I’d be more concerned finding the reason out so if anytbing needs to be corrected or addressed going forward she can put her energy toward that.

        1. No Goodbye Party*

          Thanks @stranger than fiction – I’m aware of her reasons for acting in this way – I’ve gotten some insight during meetings I’ve had to try to correct the behaviour. Unfortunately, the root of the problem is with her and not something external. She has the most incredible victim mentality I’ve ever seen. My approach has been to be consistent, logical, and fair – while she sometimes acknowledges my efforts and thanks me, her gratitude only lasts until I dare to give her constructive feedback. I can say with 100% certainty that if someone asked about her bad behaviour, she’d say that she had every right to say what she said and that she’s the only one who has the guts to say anything.

          1. Annonymouse*

            No cupcakes or party.
            It will either come across as:
            1) You can be an @ss hat and still be rewarded
            2) Hey everyone! Let’s celebrate crappy coworker leaving! Thank God!

            Your energy is better served trying to find a new staff member to replace them / ease the burden of leaving this is placing on the staff.

  3. Dot Warner*

    Re: #1, I hated my last boss’ guts and I still never would have treated her as rudely as this employee treated you. Throwing her a party will communicate to her and everyone else who works for you that you’re OK with this kind of treatment. Show her the door and hire somebody who can show you respect.

    1. Graciosa*

      A regular part of my job as a manager when an employee leaves is to indicate whether or not they are eligible for rehire.

      I think you need to give serious consideration to whether or not this individual should be eligible for rehire.

      I want to be clear that disliking someone is never an appropriate reason to flag someone as ineligible for rehire. In this case, the fact that she has been defensive and defiant with two different managers combined with the lack of notice is a clear, objective indication that this person does not adhere to professional standards of behavior.

      When you have an individual who behaves this way, sometimes one of the kindest things you can do for a fellow manager in the future is save her from having to deal with this if your employer provides the option.

      1. No Goodbye Party*

        Thanks, @ Graciosa. This is a good point. We don’t have that option and she won’t be continuing on in the industry (which is probably why she felt emboldened to behave that way).

        1. CAA*

          Do you have a personnel file for her? If so, you should at least add a note saying that she resigned without giving 2-weeks notice. You don’t have to announce it to her. Even if she’s leaving the industry now, new jobs and career paths don’t always work out. If there’s a note in her file and she re-applies in the future when you’re not there any more, you’d at least be notifying your successor that she was unprofessional in the way she left the first time.

          1. No Goodbye Party*

            Thanks, @CAA. I do have a personnel file and I’ve documented all of our encounters.

    2. Artemesia*

      This. If at all possible she should be sent home and locked out of computers etc yesterday — or asap and not allowed to work out the week. And if gone, well, no party is possible.

      And if that is not possible, I’d still do nothing. If anyone says anything it can be ‘she caught us by surprise and there wasn’t time to do anything.’

      1. No Goodbye Party*

        I can see your point, Artemesia. The employee works a clinical job within the department and doesn’t have access to anything that could really harm the company. She isolates herself from everyone else whenever she can. Without going into too much detail, I asked myself if I could show her the door without negatively impacting the care of our patients and I ended up deciding the answer was no. I will keep an eye on her charts to make sure everything was done correctly.

    3. No Goodbye Party*

      @Dot Warner It’s true. I’ve never experienced anything like this with an employee and I obviously struggled to manager her properly.

      She is much older than me and I wasn’t in a management position when she was first hired on, which is possibly why she felt she could get away with some of her behaviour. However, even the former manager, who’s style was more authoritative than mine is, didn’t know what to do with her.

      1. TootsNYC*

        …she felt she could get away with some of her behaviour.

        She wasn’t wrong, was she?

        I wouldn’t think that your age and your promotion are the reasons, though–she felt she could get away with it before, and she was right.
        the fact that she DID get away with it once, and then twice, then three times, then four times, then five times…is probably why she thought she could get away with it.

        1. No Goodbye Party*

          @TootsNYC: hard for me to elaborate too much without going into too much detail, but I can see why you would see it that way. I did address bad behaviour with her consistently but I probably should’ve seen the writing on the wall earlier.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think the seeds of this were sewn before you got there, when the earlier no-nonsense manager let her get away with stuff.

              1. No Goodbye Party*

                hahaha @fposte. @TootsNYC Yes, that didn’t help. I came into the situation as a first-time manager (and I’m a clinician by training) and so I struggled to establish expectations with her effectively. I certainly didn’t turn a blind eye; there have been several sit down meetings. It’s just that the meetings weren’t effective. Maybe if I had more experience they would have been.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  well, if there had been consequences,they might have been more effective. She had proved to herself that nobody would do anything negative that she cared about. She didn’t care about your talking to her; that was not a negative consequence. She could live with that.

                  But you didn’t cut her hours; you didn’t warn her that she’d be fired, and then fire her.

                  So she knew that all she had to do was put up with whatever it was you WERE doing.

                  and now you DO have to make do without her “irreplaceable” services. I think it will be interesting to find out whether you all find it that difficult to make do without her. I have a hunch you’ll say, “wow, I could have replaced her earlier after all!”

    4. Katie F*

      Yes, my last psycho boss was someone I hated with the fire of a thousand suns – but I still gave two weeks’ notice when I took a new job and performed my duties to the best of my ability until the day I was completely done. I would have LOVED to just walk out on him and his hostility, but I didn’t feel that was fair to the team at large.

      I agree – don’t throw her a party. Circulate a card if you feel totally obligated to do something. I wouldn’t even do that, to be honest. And if she asks/brings it up (“Everyone else who has left got a party – why don’t I get a party?!”), you can simply reply with, “Normally we have enough notice to pull something together. This time we did not have the time.”

    5. esra*

      I was going to say. I wrote into AAM about a manager who gave me actual garbage, and I still plastered on my professional smile when I said my goodbyes.

    6. Jennifer*

      My office throws parties for people who are leaving on good terms and ignores it for those who aren’t. This lady isn’t leaving on good terms.

  4. Engineer Girl*

    #1 I’m going to disagree with everyone. You don’t need to throw a party but cupcakes and a card would be a nice low effort thing to do. Take the moral high ground and rejoice that she will soon be gone.

    1. MK*

      I think a card would be fine; a civil gesture at the end of the employment relationship. But cupcakes would seem weird to me, after such a contentious notice.

    2. Momiitz*

      As unprofessional and rude as she has been, just no. Don’t reward her for treating you like a doormat. The employee may have been good with the clients but so are a lot of other people.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I agree! You teach people how to treat you. Bringing in cupcakes for someone who resigned with only a few days’ notice, got angry when asked why they couldn’t give more notice, and then cursed at their *boss* sends the message that other employees can treat the OP this way too.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I have to agree — providing a card is being civil, anything more is rewarding someone who actively works against rather than with their manager. However good they may be with patients, that is a huge workplace obstacle. I feel that giving her any kind of farewell send-off would actually hurt the morale of the remaining employees. If they’ve merely seen her attitude towards management, they may feel that their ability to work well with others is unappreciated if she gets treated the same as they do, but if she treats her coworkers the way she treats management? I’d very likely be looking for another job if I felt that my employer considered abusing your manager and your coworkers was not a performance issue.

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      I agree with Engineer Girl. If everyone else usually gets something besides a card, then it gives off a vibe of “I didn’t like that employee to begin with.” I’d bring in some cupcakes (which are really for the co-workers anyway) and a card and call it a day knowing you’ve done the kind thing and if she chooses not to acknowledge that then so be it.

      1. No Goodbye Party*

        Thanks @ Former Retail Manager and @Engineer Girl. I see your point. Obviously there’s context beyond what I could get across in a short e-mail. With that in mind, I’m going with just a card.

      2. Rahera*

        I’d quietly bring in some cupcakes for no particular/stated reason on the first working day after she’d left. (Who said that? :-“)

        1. No Goodbye Party*

          @Rahera – hahaha this is the best idea yet ;) As much as most of the people on staff would applaud it…I’ll have to just daydream about this one.

        2. Katie F*

          Ha, this is a great idea. Or doughnuts! Just pick up a dozen doughnuts from Krispy Kreme on the way in to work and say, “You know, the “Hot and Ready” sign was lit and I just couldn’t say no, and I thought, why not grab a few for everybody?”

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          I had a horrible boss who left the organization after I’d already fled. She heard through the grapevine that her staff was planning to hold a party after she left, and actually complained to her supervisors about it. But then, she was the kind of person who thought you could instruct others to like you.

        4. ECH*

          @Rahera: I think I had a boss who did that (it was tradition to have pizza for leaving employees’ last day). One of my co-workers asked if that was what was happening, and she said, “I got shushed.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I picture this employee taking the card and cupcakes and throwing them in people’s faces. I tend to think cards don’t hurt that much, but cupcakes make a big mess when you throw them.

      In a serious answer, OP, this person by her actions and word choices is telling you that she does not want anything from you. I think you are wise to give her a card and let the rest go. Your staff will quietly applaud your choice.

      1. ElCee*

        I agree. I would assume by her hostility that she would not really appreciate cupcakes anyway so it would just make everyone feel uncomfortable.

      2. No Goodbye Party*

        Thanks, my instincts say that the people on staff will support the decision to just do a card.

        1. No Goodbye Party*

          I’m not sure she has the capacity to truly appreciate anything, so you are right about the cupcakes :)

        2. TootsNYC*

          The other people who work for you are the only audience who matters.

          All you really care about is this: Will the other staffers be motivated or demotivated by whichever path you choose? If they are demotivated by seeing this employee’s leaving being ignored or her work seeming unappreciated, can you mitigate that by saying, “We didn’t have enough notice to plan the party”?

          You want your team to feel that they themselves, and their work, will be appreciated when they leave (which implies it is appreciated before they leave). And you don’t want them to feel that they, and you, are being taken advantage of by someone unpleasant.

      3. starsaphire*

        This (quite literally) happened at a Previous Job.

        Jeannie, the head of Teapot Quality, who had been Peter-Principled into a job waaay over her skills and knowledge level, was finally being eased out. On Jeannie’s last day, Sarah, the managing VP of the teapot division, got the whole teapot staff together in the foyer for cake. Presented Jeannie with a bouquet of flowers and a speech about how valued she was by the company.

        Halfway through the speech, Jeannie threw the flowers back at Sarah, covered her face and let out a super dramatic sob, and fled the room.

        So yeah, the “thrown back in one’s face” part is not unheard of…

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            Well, now you’ve got a low bar to reach. If that doesn’t happen, you’ll feel relieved!

            1. No Goodbye Party*

              @knitcrazybooknut – I guess we’ll see – the week isn’t over yet!

    5. fposte*

      I’m generally a fan of that kind of thing, in full knowledge that the person is going to be annoyed because they wanted to bitch about not getting a party and now can’t. But I think the short notice is an excellent out–“Got a card for Jane but I’m afraid there wasn’t time for cake because of how quickly she’s going”–and is reasonable when you’re still in the main throes of “I don’t want to spend money on this brat.”

    6. The Strand*

      Cupcakes and a card here would be signaling to the other staff members working for the manager.

      Whether to go in this direction would be a matter of what behavior the staff members had witnessed. If they saw not only defiance but the level of rudeness/swearing, I would not provide the cupcakes or card.

      1. No Goodbye Party*

        @ The Strand – I think I was the only one who witnessed her rudeness. However, no one will be surprised if I don’t do anything at all or only a card, since she gives off an attitude of superiority and unpleasantness whenever she thinks she can get away with it. I wish I could say all of the details to defend why I’ve kept her – as an outsider, I’d be seriously questioning my judgement – but I’m worried about anonymity.

        1. The Strand*

          Mmm, that would definitely complicate even just a card, wouldn’t it? Sounds like your staff wouldn’t necessarily be chomping at the bit to sign it!

          1. Petronella*

            Yes, I’ve had a couple of coworkers who’d been so unpleasant that I declined to sign their good-bye card. It felt good.

        2. Rater Z*

          While reading these comments, I am thinking that, if the others on the staff are rejoicing with you that the person is gone, it would be nice on Monday to bring in the cupcakes or a full cake to share with them. You could say it’s to show your appreciation that they didn’t kill her before she left,

          Some people bring joy when they come and others spread joy when they leave.

  5. Editor*

    #5: Overtime in Pennsylvania isn’t calculated on a daily basis, but on the number of hours total at the end of the pay period. Even if you were inconvenienced by long hours one workday, you aren’t guaranteed overtime for the hassle if your employer basically gives you comp time for the extra hours. Alison’s answer was right.

    It can be galling if you were hoping for the extra cash. The only time that is guaranteed is when the extra hours put you over 40 hours for the pay period used by your employer. I live in Pennsylvania and had one employer that had a pay period that began and ended on weekdays so that extra work on a weekend didn’t necessarily result in overtime. For hourly employees, the pay period is 7 days. If you had to report your hours for the pay period and then the short day was in the next pay period, then you are entitled to the overtime, so OP, if that is the case, maybe you want to add that detail so you can receive some more specific advice.

    1. Joseph*

      It can be galling, but AFAIK it’s the way it works pretty much everywhere in the US except California.

      It’s worth pointing out that a lot of employers view getting to leave early because you worked extra earlier in the week as a bit of a reward in and of itself – you get to get home a little early to spend more time with the family/netflix/whatever. This is particularly true if they ask you to leave early on a Friday, because it extends your weekend another few hours.

      1. knitchic79*

        This! I just got done with the third pay period in a row that would not end. This last one I was dangerously close to going into O.T. and was all but being shoved out the door lol. Take the extra time and enjoy it!

      2. Oryx*

        I’m one of those employees. Where I work, my employer is okay paying OT but as long as our work is done for the week and doesn’t impact anyone else, we’re allowed to leave early. I always opt for leaving early.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I still have PTO to use up before year-end, so I’ll probably be leaving early a couple of Fridays myself. If I don’t use anything above the roll-over limit, I lose it.

      3. Murphy*

        Back when I earned overtime, I always took comp time or time in lieu instead of pay (I’m in Canada, that’s legal here). I loved having the time off rather than the money that I would lose a chunk of to taxes anyway.

        1. Joline*

          Just a note – rules around overtime vary from province to province in Canada as well. In Alberta you can bank straight time if you have an overtime agreement but in British Columbia, for example, I think you have to still bank for people at time and a half (other than work averaging agreements but there are really strict rules – defined schedule, etc. – around that and more so you can have people working four days a week, ten hour days, or something) so there’s really not a monetary benefit to the employer – other than the fact that you’re pushing off payment for a bit.

          I was always happy to take time off in lieu when I was in BC – as it banked at time and a half. :P

          1. Murphy*

            Oh, for sure, but in the US it’s generally a blanket “no comp time rule”. Where I work (provincial government) we bank at 1.5 times (for those who get overtime) and that time gets paid out if you leave so you’re not losing anything.

      4. Grapey*

        I found that to be true when I worked hourly with teens and the college age crowd (including me when I was one of them!); however, most other adults looked forward to having the extra pay and predictability in their schedules.

        I’m no longer hourly, but at my stage in life I would look at this move as a jerky (however legal) one if they did it without asking.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Interesting — I really don’t think it’s jerky. It’s “we’ve budgeted $X for your salary, but we needed you to stay late yesterday, so let’s let you leave early today so that we don’t go over budget.”

          1. Grapey*

            Yes, and I get that from the legal side, but the requests for staying late were usually phrased like “We need you to work ‘overtime’ tonight.” (and not in CA where things are calculated by day.) This gave the message IMPLYING there would indeed be overtime pay and IMPLYING no schedule change the following day.

            If OP5’s manager implied overtime pay while NOT implying they wouldn’t need to work the following day, I consider that jerky.

            1. TootsNYC*

              yeah, the language is important. I think smart managers would say, “We need you to work later tonight,” and flat-out say at the time, “We’ll give you time off later in the week so it evens out.”

              I think saying, “so we, the company who is inconveniencing you, don’t have to give you extra money” is an ungracious way of asking for someone to chew up their schedule.

              But if you say “even it out,” it implies, “we’re giving you something back–time–you don’t have to work more hours” along with the “we aren’t able to spend more money” concept.

          2. Jadelyn*

            I’m with Grapey (but then, I’m from California, and that might color my expectations of the employer/employee relationship around OT) – basically, by having you stay late that day, your employer has *already* co-opted your time, including potentially messing up any plans you’d had for the evening. So then your employer sending you home early the next day feels to me like them taking advantage of you, having inconvenienced you to whatever degree the previous day and then not letting you have any benefit from it by skipping out on paying you OT.

            I think it depends on your view of OT vs time off as to whether you’d view the early day as fair trade for the late day or if you’d value the OT as a marker of “this time was above and beyond the usual expectation” instead. To me, a couple of unexpected hours off in an afternoon is not of equal value to losing out on part of my already-limited evening hours and possibly having to cancel on plans with family or friends, but I think that’s kind of a personal determination that people will have their own feelings on.

            1. Joseph*

              I can definitely see where some people wouldn’t necessarily think it’s a good trade-off. Given the short notice about “leave a couple hours early”, you’re kinda limited in what you can do with the time.

              That said, the reason my comment said *employers* consider it a reward is this simple fact: Regardless of whether you-the-employee think it’s a fair trade, your employer almost certainly does. And you’re unlikely to change that opinion.

      5. Mae North*

        California’s not the only one – Alaska and Nevada calculate OT after 8 hours a day, and some US territories do as well (USVI, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico)

  6. One of the Sarahs*

    Re #4, I agree with Alison re the gifts and thanks, but re: “My staff members are compensated for the extra hours they work; I am not” – I’ve no idea about exempt/non-exempt, so it could be a standard thing that’s completely normal, but if it was me, I’d be trying to find out, casually, what the situation is with other managers in the company is for working overtime etc.

    1. Jeanne*

      I read it more as them all being salaried. When they work late for Other Manager, he finds a way to compensate/thank them with gift cards. OP Manager works the extra hours for the same project but gets no gift cards. I have to agree with Alison you should drop it. It kills morale fast to hear your manager complaining about missing out on a thank you gift card. Managers are usually paid more, often get extra benefits like more vacation, and could get more perks like an office or more flexible hours or other things. Sure managers also have more responsibility. But if your employees find out you’re fussing because they got a small thank you and you didn’t, you’ve lost respect and morale. Is it worth it?

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        This. And besides, another manager showing appreciation to one’s team is typically fairly gratifying as the team’s manager. Your team is appreciated by another department, versus being taken for granted for that extra work. That will help you, their manager, in the long run, as they will likely feel positive and cooperative about pitching in again in the future. You weren’t given a tangible gift, but appreciation for your team is still an indirect benefit to you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Totally agree. I would be thrilled if another manager did that for my group. You take care of the people with me, it is almost better than if you take care of me. This is the way I view things in my personal life also.

          OP, while you have the right to feel whichever way you want on this matter, you can honestly say that you and the other manager BOTH value your team. So you have that in common. While you and the other manager may not like each other, she has to see that you are doing something right because she sees you have a good team. It is possible to dislike a cohort on a personal level and still agree that the cohort does good work or has a good team. This happens often.

          Honestly, if the other manager gave me a gift, I would wonder if she thought I was her subordinate also. Conversely, if I were the recipient of your team’s help, I would be saying positive things to TPTB about how well your team works. That would be my “gift” to you.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            “Honestly, if the other manager gave me a gift, I would wonder if she thought I was her subordinate also.”

            I thought the same thing. Since gifts in the workplace flow downward (usually), a gift from this supervisor in this situation might seem a little patronizing to me. I mean, I wouldn’t complain about it or raise any kind of a fuss, but I would probably pass the value of it along to my team, anyway (if it were a food gift certificate or something that could be shared that way).

        2. One of the Sarahs*

          +1 re the appreciation for my team being gratifying for me! Absolutely, and I’d be citing it in my end of year reviews etc. If the Other Manager really hated OP and was trying to do her down, Other Manager wouldn’t be praising the team and their work, she’d be bitching about them not being good enough, and so on.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I agree w Mallory Janis Ian, that appreciation to my team is a bonus for me.

          In fact, I would consider them as working for the other team through me, and I’d be trying to make sure they knew that *I* appreciated their extra work that makes us all look good.

          I never, ever think that I should receive any thank-you that my team gets. i get to boss them round; I’m not taking anything away from them, or jumping on their appreciation train.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. I would think of sort of weird to be compensated with a trinket or gift card by another manager. It would put me in the lower ranking category as if I were their minion.

  7. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #2: I agree with Alison on this.

    Physical altercations are never acceptable.

    You not telling them and your boss finding out about this through other channels would reflect very badly on you.

    This is not tattling, you’re not disloyal.

    K made a huge blunder and now has to live with the consequences of their actions.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I would like to know the other side of the story though. Maybe the other guy provoked him or bullied him til he couldn’t take it anymore. I knew someone that happened to.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        But that still doesn’t excuse K’s actions. If there was some kind of provocation that broke company rules (or the law), then the other party needs to face consequences, but it doesn’t make initiating a physical altercation okay.

  8. Former Retail Manager*

    #2….I would like more information, but doubtful I’ll get it. Was the person who was pushed up in K’s face, running his mouth, and had that person been treating K like crap for years and years and it finally boiled over, resulting in the incident and leaving the employer no choice but to take a “zero tolerance” stance by suspending K? Or…..did K just get upset and push the person over something that could have been handled differently?

    I’m sure many will say it doesn’t matter. I believe it does. Everyone has a breaking point. I believe the circumstances surrounding the incident matter. Also, if this person is a longtime friend and associate, as it sounds like, I assume that you know if he is quick tempered and this is likely to happen again or if this was an isolated incident. If it is truly isolated and this person has never shown any inclination toward this type of behavior in the past, then I wouldn’t say anything. If your current company does their due diligence this may come out in a reference check anyway. And if it doesn’t, that’s on them…you are not his keeper. If this person had major rage issues that had presented themselves on numerous occasions, that would be one thing, but pushing someone one time does not say rage issues to me.

    1. Colette*

      I disagree. There are other ways to handle someone who is “running his mouth”,and I wouldn’t want to work with someone who reacted physically. If the OP’s manager wants to hear the whole story, she can ask – but if the OP doesn’t mention it, she is putting her own reputation on the line.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I agree. There is never an excuse for bringing violence into the workplace, especially not, “Well, this person kept running his mouth.” Lots of people run their mouths all the time – you still can’t hit them. And I’d be questioning the judgment and professionalism of any employee who thought that was an acceptable conflict resolution mechanism.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I know, right? I picture the scene in The Office when Angela was running her mouth to Dwight while he was on a date with Pam’s cousin. They had been playing Whack-a-Mole, so Pam’s cousin, being fed up with Angela’s interference, slapped Angela on the forehead and exclaimed, “Whack!” I somethings wish we could do that in real life. :-)

        1. Sadsack*

          That is exactly the problem with the suggestion that maybe it was the result of years of abuse. In that case, I’d expect the person who did the pushing to be very regretful for taking that action and realizing it wasn’t an acceptable way to handle it. K is not regretful, according to OP.

      2. sstabeler*

        the issue is that the hitting a co-worker was out of character for the friend- and this is, as far as I can tell, the ONLY time the friend has punched a co-worker. effectively making someone a pariah over an isolated incident- especially when we don’t know of the friend had been provoked- seems exceptionally harsh. (plus, since we don’t know the circumstances, it’s also possible the friend didn’t throw the first punch, but the other employee went running to HR first.That would explain why the friend wasn’t regretful- he was defending himself, and may then be irritated at OP for seeming to say it’s unacceptable to defend yourself- and is an explanation that shouldn’t have any impact on said friend’s ability to work at the new workplace.(any workplace where you cannot defend yourself against someone punching you is not one I would ant to work in)

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          effectively making someone a pariah over an isolated incident- especially when we don’t know of the friend had been provoked- seems exceptionally harsh.

          It’s not about making anyone a pariah – it’s about letting OP’s boss have all the information she needs to make an informed hiring decision.

          1. Murphy*

            Right. As a boss, I’d be really concerned about bringing someone into my office that had a history of violent reactions. I’d be concerned it could escalate or that someone else could get seriously hurt. And even if physical violence didn’t show up again, I’d be worried about a personality that could get that heated and whether or not that would a) result in bullying behaviour in the office or b) just being a pain in the ass to have work for me if they’re going to react strongly whenever I tell them something they don’t like.

            I don’t want to argue with my staff and while I have no idea if this was a one off or the inevitable outcome of a hot-headed employee, I wouldn’t chance it.

            1. TootsNYC*

              not “punched”–pushed.

              Also: “a history of violent reactions.”

              From the OP:

              . . .a week’s suspension with no pay. . .

              Note that he wasn’t fired–so it may be that his employer thinks there were mitigating circumstances, enough to make them soften their punishment. They -could- have flat-out fired him. I’d include this fact.

              K is an excellent teapot auditor and has never been in a physical altercation before

              Again, this is information I would include.

              Also–it’s sort of a big deal that K is not remorseful, but at least one person here described a situation in which they might push someone and not feel bad about it in the least (if the person was physically crowding them and wouldn’t move).

              If I were the OP, I’d want to find out more about any context, and if I personally thought that had any bearing, I’d present it as well, perhaps to encourage the hiring manager to consider making further inquiries.

              But only because K is really good, AND that he has never been in any physical confrontation again. He has a very short–one instance–history of violence (pretty small violence) in the workplace.

              I would probably make the same decision: it’s probably not worth it. But I might be willing to have an open mind.

              The big problem would be if I asked K about it, and he didn’t have any regrets, or information about what he would do differently.

              He’d have to be markedly better for me to bother with the work of checking, though.

              1. Colette*

                You know, I’m not sure pushed is any better than punched, particularly in a work environment. And I’m not saying K should never work again – I’m saying the OP shouldn’t risk her own reputation to keep credible information about K from her manager. The manager can use her judgement to decide how much it matters.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Exactly. The hiring manager can probe for more information is she thinks it might be relevant.

            It’s not like only we are capable of realizing that there might be more to the story and the hiring manager isn’t. If there are extenuating circumstances, she can consider them.

        2. Minion*

          I may have read it wrong, but I thought K pushed the coworker, not punched. Some people won’t see there’s a difference, but I believe there is.

          1. Green*

            It’s still illegal and a huge liability in the workplace. Stealing a little bit of money is better than stealing a lot of money from your workplace, and there may be extenuating circumstances, but if OP knows of something like that and she recommended K, she should mention it and let the manager decide how big of a deal it is.

            Also, K is not at all apologetic. That’s really bad.

            1. Minion*

              I agree with you. I think she should definitely go to the hiring manager and let her know. If the hiring manager wants details or cares about extenuating circumstances, then that’s really her decision to make.

    2. roisindubh211*

      speaking to the boss gives them a chance to ask K that question and find out – is this a one time thing that will never happen again or is this how K deals with colleagues who annoy him?

      Even in the first instance, we would need to know what K tried that didn’t work before pushing someone – at some point you have to reach out to managers or HR and say “Hey I’m being bullied/got at constantly, how do we deal with this?” and if he hasn’t done so that’s a different kind of potential red flag, even if he’s not a normally bad tempered person.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes. Much like the applicant who is late to or misses an interview — it sounds like a dealbreaker, but sure, there exist some valid reasons why this could happen, and maybe you should hear them out. However, the very first thing out of their mouth should be an apology, then possibly a very brief explanation (“I’m sorry, I was in a car accident/had a family medical emergency/etc”) to show that they consider that an aberration a problem to be corrected or avoided. Someone who isn’t sorry for the way that their issues cause problems for their coworkers is waving a huge red flag that you should heed.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think we could come up with all kinds of scenarios where we would agree that the pushing someone was the reaction of extreme stress and probably not an ordinary occurrence.

      The problem with these examples is:

      1) The pusher remains unapologetic.

      2)It’s not OP’s decision to hire this person. But it is OP’s good word at stake here. OP has an ethical obligation to go back to the boss and give her the update. It’s up to the boss to decide to move forward with or without the pusher.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        This! I had a boss early on say, “your recommendation is your reputation” as a way to caution us to think before we recommended a friend for a job.

        The scenarios under how this happened are completely irrelevant. All that matters is that the OP recommended this person, now the know something that contradicts that recommendation (or they know their company would not like), so the best thing they can do to ensure their reputation remains intact is be upfront and truthful with their boss.

    4. Observer*

      I don’t know that this person has rage issues or not. But, pushing someone at work is so egregious that it doesn’t really make a difference.

      I’ve been at the receiving end of a workplace bully. I don’t think the issue was well handled, but one thing thing that was NEVER on the table was pushing or otherwise physically responding. (The bully eventually got fired when she did something really egregious in front of the boss.)

      The ONLY exception to the no touching rule is if you really need to defend yourself. Otherwise? No. It’s that simple.

    5. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      If your current company does their due diligence this may come out in a reference check anyway.

      Except, what happens when this comes out in the reference check and the LW’s boss assumes she knew about it and still made her recommendation?

      I’ve watched too many people’s careers get pushed back because someone they recommended turned out to be a bad hire.

      As a manager, I would ask the LW if they knew about this situation and give them a chance to explain. But looking around the office I can think of several department heads that would never give them the chance to explain and assume the worst.

    6. fposte*

      If the circumstances matter, then doubtless the hiring manager will explore them. It’s not up to the OP to hide information and thereby mislead the HM about her recommendation.

      The possibility of somebody getting a job does not trump all other concerns.

    7. Maya Elena*

      Yes! Thank you! I would have to know more about the situation to decide not only whether to tell LW’s manager, but how to phrase it. But if LW doesn’t think less of his friend’s character or competence due to this incident, I’d say nothing.

      As for folks in the “violence is never the answer” camp: there are rare but definite circumstances, such as protracted bullying, in which physical blows are not only understandable, but the just, proper, and most effective response.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        As for folks in the “violence is never the answer” camp: there are rare but definite circumstances, such as protracted bullying, in which physical blows are not only understandable, but the just, proper, and most effective response.

        Not at work. You want to get into street brawls? Save it for the streets. Whether we like it or not, there’s a certain amount of decorum one must exhibit in the workplace and you don’t get to just ignore those norms because someone is “bullying” you or whatever.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          If someone on my team laid hands on a fellow employee, that would be their last day in our office.

          I hire you and treat you like an adult, therefore you need to act like an adult.

      2. fposte*

        Not in the law’s eyes, and the law’s eyes are going to matter to anybody considering incorporating this person into their organization.

        1. Anna*

          Well, that’s not true either. The law isn’t going to arrest you for pushing someone who was already getting aggressive. If someone is in your face (as in intimidating you physically) and you push them away, you’re not in the wrong in the law’s eyes or anyone else’s.

          However, I doubt that’s what happened here since that would be an extenuating circumstance the OP would have mentioned.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Actually, I saw that exact scenario happen this weekend.

            The guy who was getting mouthy was giving his statement, while the guy who pushed him was handcuffed in the back of a cop car.

            1. Anon For This*

              Getting mouthy is not the same as standing over you and being physically intimidating. You can run your mouth all you want and if someone touches you they are in the wrong, but as soon as you invade someone’s personal space they can act in self-defense. You don’t have to touch them, but if you’re close enough to make them feel threatened, you’re liable.

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                IANAL, but if I remember correctly fposte is, I would caution you to read the comment below.

                In the situation I saw this weekend, the mouthy guy was chest to chest with the guy who swung. He clearly was in this person’s personal space making all sorts of threats, and even raised his arms a few times in a threatening manner. He walked away from the incident with the police officers business card and the incident report number, while the guy who pushed went to jail.

          2. fposte*

            As Not the Droid says, whoever makes first contact is generally the one in trouble, and the law will indeed happily arrest you for pushing somebody away. And if it turns into an exchange of blows after that, the person who shoved is the one with the honor of starting it.

            I think this is an important point, because I see a lot of people on legal boards who don’t realize this, and who don’t understand why they were arrested when it was the other guy who “started it.” But the law doesn’t worry about the social dynamics the way parents did when we were kids; it doesn’t really care if somebody emotionally initiated the conflict, it cares who made the first physical contact. (That doesn’t mean it’s an automatic arrest, of course; nothing is, and if it the other person had the sense to walk away at that point a DA is unlikely to care much about the incident.)

          3. straws*

            Yes, sometimes the bully gives you no choice, but it still doesn’t matter when the law/rule you’re applying is black & white. My partner was in a bullying situation and his bully got physically up in his face, “running his mouth” as Former Retail Manager described. He was not physical touched, but he was physically cornered and being verbally assaulted. He pushed his co-worker out of his way and left. And was promptly fired because he escalated the situation. He doesn’t hold this against his former employer because he fully understands a zero tolerance rule and considers this the price to get away from a bad situation. However, he’s not sorry that he did it either.

            1. Observer*

              I would expect, though, that he understands that this IS a big deal that needs explanation. K doesn’t seem to get it.

          4. Green*

            Words aren’t enough to justify getting into a physical altercation with someone. Whoever makes it physical first loses. We all understand the *desire* to “fight back”, but being effective in the workplace requires controlling your impulses. Getting to push your bully may feel awesome for a brief moment, but being disciplined at work, fired, or arrested is probably not going to feel that great.

      3. esra*

        there are rare but definite circumstances, such as protracted bullying, in which physical blows are not only understandable, but the just, proper, and most effective response.

        Not in the workplace, no. No matter how much you might empathize with someone, physical blows are never an okay response, especially not at work. (I’m not talking about self defense here, I’m referring to this and the above mention of bullying or getting in someone’s face.)

      4. Minion*

        I agree there are circumstances where getting physical is understandable, but not in a case of bullying only. I can’t just go punch someone because they’re being mean to me. Or…I could, but it would be wrong. Completely wrong.
        It would only be acceptable if the person were getting physical with me and it was the only way to make them stop.
        My husband was in that situation once, where a supervisor grabbed him by the arm and dug her fingernails into his arm. Even then, though, he didn’t shove, punch, kick, bite, or otherwise get physically violent with her. He turned and looked at her with an incredulous, I can’t believe we’re standing here right now with your fingernails dug into my arm, look. She let go and he went to HR. Now, personally, I believe he would have been justified to push her away from him. He saw it differently – after all, if he’d pushed her, what if she’d fallen and gotten really hurt? He was right, of course, but if my supervisor had grabbed me like that, I might have pushed him or her off me.
        Regardless, there are circumstances where violence could be the answer, but it’s so rarely the case in the workplace that you’d be hard pressed to find an incidence where it would have been justified.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Wait, no! Physical blows are not an appropriate response at work, unless it’s truly self-defense and you’ve been attacked. Even protracted bullying doesn’t warrant it.

      6. Observer*

        That’s simply not the case (assuming the bullying was not physical to start with) in the workplace.

        There are a LOT of ways to deal, but pushing is not one of them.

        Also, based on what the OP is saying, it’s actually highly unlikely that this case is even close to what you are describing. The OP indicates that K doesn’t think it’s a big deal, which says that this was not a move made out of desperation.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          The OP indicates that K doesn’t think it’s a big deal, which says that this was not a move made out of desperation.

          And that’s the part that would bother me the most – not that it happened (which is still pretty bad) but that K apparently thinks it’s no big deal.

      7. Elizabeth West*

        No, protracted bullying is not a good enough reason for physical blows. We’re talking about adults, not kids on the playground.

        Self-defense, such as if the bully pushed/hit first, maybe; if the person groped K, then ABSOLUTELY he can shove him/her away. If the latter happened to me, I might react like that and I would not be sorry in the least.

        But we don’t know why it happened, just that it happened. OP should say something and let her manager figure out what she wants to do.

        1. Maya Elena*

          It’s hard to say what sort of a workplace our subject is in and what kind of people he works with. (I’d love to hear what LW has to say!) Everyone’s advice is sound for 95% of possible cases, perhaps. But not 100%.

          Just like you would stand by your kid if he punched out a bully on the playground (even if he gets suspended from school for a week as a result), it just might be that the incident in question is a demonstration of courage on the part of our shameless shover, and not some kind of perversion or maladjustment.

          1. fposte*

            What makes you think people would automatically cheer their kid on for punching somebody? I really think you’re assuming a norm that isn’t a norm when it comes to assault and battery in response to words.

          2. Lissa*

            The only time I really could see it being courageous to shove/hit somebody is if you are *physically* defending yourself/another person, from a *physical* threat, in which case it’s a totally different situation, and would likely have been mentioned. Words escalating to physical anything is a really slippery slope and leads to stuff like “oh, he had it coming for disrespecting me!”

    8. Minion*

      While I agree that there could be a somewhat reasonable explanation for K’s behavior, I don’t agree that OP should keep her mouth shut.
      If it were me, I would tell the hiring manager what K had been suspended for, explain the circumstances if I knew them and let the hiring manager handle in whatever way seemed best.
      To me, yes there are times when pushing someone would be acceptable, but only if that person were getting physical with me and I had to push them off me. And I mean, physically touching me in some way, not just “running” their mouth. I would hate to think that I would never be able to find another job because something like that happened and I pushed someone and there was a zero tolerance policy in place which resulted in my firing, so that would certainly come up in any reference checks.
      But, just being angry and pushing someone out of frustration or anger or because they were in your face, but not physically touching you is not acceptable.

    9. Roscoe*

      I mostly agree with you. However, I do think since OP is the one who brought their friend to the company as a reference, its a bit different. If they just knew the person, but didn’t refer them, I’d say they didn’t need to tell them. But once they become a reference, and they are aware of this, its a bit different. With that said, if this person were my friend I’d be pretty annoyed. Mainly its because the friend told OP this information as a friend, not a potential co-worker. So it would suck to have something you told your friend in cofidence be used against you in trying to get a new job.

    10. Bob*

      I think sometimes people change their behavior when they are close to accepting another job. For example, we had a helpdesk analyst recently tell a user to go to hell. It actually wouldn’t surprise you that much if you knew this user but that is still never acceptable. Afterwards, I found out he is in the background check phase of another job. We suspended him and he never came back. OP’s friend could be the same way if he thinks the job at OP’s company is a sure thing. You often see someone’s true character when they don’t feel like they are forced to act a certain way anymore.

  9. Stephanie*

    #5: This is so common. My job does this as well–you can just leave early (or take a day off) to avoid going over 40. Our overtime pay is also calculated based on total hours per week versus each day.

  10. animaniactoo*

    #3 – What you have there is called “learned helplessness”. It sounds like she’s even stopped asking for help and simply stating that you need to do it. Google that for some more info in how it plays out. Your continuing help will not get her past this, it will only reinforce her conditioning, and at $100/hr she shouldn’t need this level of help (and she probably has the resources to get the real help she needs).

    #4 – I’ve gotta say that if this is your understanding of a petty slight that is actually a big deal, then I understand why the other manager doesn’t like you so much. The lack of comprehension about workplace dynamics and roles that allows you to consider that you should get a thank you gift card in this situation comes off as a sheer gall of entitlement. Right down to mentioning it to your supervisor *and* expecting something to be done about it. Who, btw – what did they say? Because it seems to me that’s the person who should have put you straight about this.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Agreed about the learned helplessness. This is not normal for a new hire. Most people that I have trained do not do what you have seen here, OP. Their usual pattern is that their questions become fewer and fewer and at the same time, their questions get harder and harder. This is because they have a handle on the everyday stuff and they are bringing over questions about the unusual stuff that has them stuck. Additionally, they do not ask the same question twice. Okay, maybe once in a while they do, but they do not do it often enough for me to notice.

    2. Menacia*

      I deal with someone very similar, in that he cannot make a decision to save his life and so relies on others to make the decision and makes sure everyone knows it was not his decision…”Per John, I am assigning this to Jane…” “Per Sue, I am making this change..” I’ve tried to push back on him to make the decision himself, or ask him to ask our manager, I’m done.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ugh, people who don’t want to take responsibility for the most trivial decisions really irritate me. Sometimes even the most lowly person on the totem pole has to make a judgment call, and I think when you do, you do, you need to own it. I can see polling other people for input when the stakes are high, but refusing to own your own decisions on mundane matters is frustrating.

        1. TheBeetsMotel*

          When this happens, it may be worth digging a little deeper and seeing if they’re dealing with a boss who blows up at the tiniest error being made by someone taking a decision into their own hands. A manager who cant allow for normal, reasonable and occasional human error in their employees tends to breed people like this.

          1. Menacia*

            Not the case with the guy I work with, we have the same boss, and she has no issues when we make mistakes, it’s just this this guy does not want to make a mistake, he’s afraid to. I don’t know who did this to him, but they certainly did a number!

          2. knitcrazybooknut*

            Or when procedures and processes have changed so much over time that the employee has whiplash. It can create an overdocumenting fearful employee.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think your response to #4 is overly harsh. Sometimes it’s not easy to have a reasonable sense of perspective when you’re so close to an issue and you could have made the same point in a much softer way.

      1. animaniactoo*

        True. I’m usually better about it, and my intention was to be softer about pointing out how the lack of understanding is coming across and causing others to view him. Apologies to OP for that.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I’m glad you understand how harsh that was.

          This is the kind of response that drives people away from bring their problems here. It was really rude. “Sheer gall of entitlement”? Not cool. That’s pretty insulting language.

    4. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I work with a Sansa. I finally started answering all of her “How do I do xyz?” questions with, “The same way I showed you last time.” Repeat as necessary. I also made visual aids and forced her to take notes as I showed her how to do something. After that, it’s not my problem.

  11. Katie F*

    #5, I’ve been told I had to leave early to avoid overtime about a jillion times in my working history. Yes, they can “force” you to leave. It never bothered me – I just looked at it as an unexpected two to three hours I got to myself in the afternoon to run errands or even hit up a bookstore and grab a coffee and a book and chill for a little while. It’s not really lost pay, it’s just not having to work those extra hours for the week.

    Think of it as an opportunity to relax a little bit!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yes, it does happen a lot. Back in the stone ages, when I calculated everybody’s time worked on physical time cards, it was my job to let them know how early they had to leave on the last day of the pay period to make sure they didn’t get into overtime. But we were talking 30 minutes or less. When you’re talking about bigger chunks of time, those late Thursday hours might mean a lot more to me than the hours I get back on Friday, especially if it was unexpected and I hadn’t been able to plan around it. So yeah, it’s legit. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to consider it a gift, or an opportunity to relax.

  12. Critter*

    I work with someone like the person in #3, although not quite that bad. They can’t understand how to do very simple things. “Save a copy of it to the drive” goes nowhere. You’d be surprised how often that happens.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This just baffles me. I understand the OP said the person has 30 years of experience in the field–does this mean she has been grandfathered in and people have just enabled her the entire time? “Oh, Dolores doesn’t have to learn the computer; Mafalda will do it for her.” And poor Mafalda is stuck covering Dolores’s pink cardigan ass for eternity.

      How does stuff like this happen????

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        Now I am picturing OP’s coworker as Dolores and I want her fired, no questions asked.

    2. greenbeans*

      Me too. I made the mistake of saying “file share” the other day and got a blank look.

      Feel ya OP #3. I stopped helping my software-challenged co-worker recently after almost two years of being her personal IT department. She unfortunately took it badly and stopped speaking to me for a while, although she’s warmed up a bit recently.

  13. eplawyer*

    “Don’t give gifts to people who are giving you the finger.” More AAM nuggets of wisdom.

  14. NicoleK*

    #1 A card is sufficient
    #2 Share the info with your boss. Your boss can decide what she wants to do.
    #3 Stop helping her
    #4 Like Allison said, at some companies managers don’t get gift cards as the company uses gift cards to reward non management staff
    #5 This is pretty common.

  15. Riding the Redline*

    #3 Is it possible that your coworker could have an undiagnosed neurological problem? This was happening to my Dad at his job (he worked in his field for 30+years). He couldn’t learn the new computer system (they gave him a year) and then had to let him go. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 3 weeks later. Not that this info would change Alison’s advice, but might give you slightly different perspective.

    1. Elle the new Fed*

      We don’t have enough information to armchair diagnose the coworker. Unless the OP knows otherwise, Alison has given very good advice to follow and as you mention, it wouldn’t change it anyway.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        This bugs me. There seems to be a rush on the internet to jump all over anyone that suggests a possible medical reason for a behavior. Elle has very nicely suggested we not armchair diagnose here. I just don’t view pointing out possible medical issues as the same *bad thing* that other people all over the internet do. A lot of people don’t know the warning signs of certain medical issues and don’t see their doctor frequently. It takes a helpful friend or internet commenter to say “hey, those issues sound a lot like Celiac. You should check in with your doc.” It’s not like the internet commenter is prescribing medication without seeing a patient.

        I’m also not saying we should excuse all behavior because of possible medical conditions but when an employer has an obligation to make ADA accommodations, it’s nice if the employer is aware of possible medical issues. For example, someone is coming in late all of the time. Instead of just disciplining them, a really great employer would say “hey, if there is a possible medical issue behind this, you can talk to HR about a possible accommodation.” Maybe the employee never thought about the medical side of it before. Just my two cents. I know I’m in the minority that thinks “armchair diagnosis” can be really helpful and not just hurtful.

        1. The Strand*

          Great point.

          I think the dx issue really does overlook how helpful it is to reconsider certain behaviors from a compassionate angle, as something a person can’t resolve without professional help or diagnosis. An old colleague of mine told me about someone on her team who had a body odor issue. It was because the guy had a horrible condition – burns. ADA accommodations would have been the right thing for the employee, and for the team, instead of making him into a pariah.

          And yeah, you know – sometimes people really are alcoholic, or suffer from anxiety, or post-traumatic stress, or OCD. It may be a coworker who first suggests, “It seems like you have a problem. Can I refer you to help?” I was especially impressed by a piece Norm Brodsky wrote about confronting some of his workers who were drug addicts (e.g. an administrative person who freebased every lunch time).

        2. fposte*

          I think it has to come with a suggested action, though. Otherwise you just end up with a list of possible medical explanations and no help for the OP.

        3. KR*

          Even if it’s a medical problem, it’s not the OP’s job to suggest this and I think a lot of people would not appreciate a coworker suggesting they have a medical issue because they don’t understand something (which might even be embarrassing for them if they don’t end up having a medical issue). It’s the employee’s job to make sure their manager knows that the situation isn’t working for them and to deal with their side of things.

        4. Observer*

          Two points here:

          An employer is NOT obligated reach out to an employee with performance issues and ask about possible medical issues and accommodations.

          Unless you are REALLY close to someone, or you are seeing objectively dangerous behavior, suggesting to them that they should get checked out because you think they are showing early signs of all sorts of things is a very bad move. Which is why an employer should NOT “go the extra mile” and reach to an employee with performance problems. Just make sure that it’s clear how to got the process of accommodation going, and make it easy to do it.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            (1) There are instances where the ADA imputes knowledge of a disability even if the colleague doesn’t report the disability.

            (2) Why is it “a very bad move?” I just don’t view it that way and I am open to hearing the other side.

            1. fposte*

              1) that’s about people in a wheelchair or other “obvious” disabilities, not about people bad at Googling

              2) because it’s inappropriate for a boss to armchair diagnose and risks legal problems if they have to take corrective action on this employee’s performance.

              That being said, yeah, I think anybody who notices a change can say “Hey, I’ve noticed this change. Worth talking to your doctor?”

              1. fposte*

                P.S. but not offer a diagnosis–just mention the change and the doctor possibility.

            2. Observer*

              As fpost says, that only applies to obvious disabilities such as someone in a wheelchair, etc. In fact the case law on this is absolutely clear about this.

              It’s a very bad idea cecause it’s intrusive, it can be offensive and humiliating and tends to feed a very unhealthy dynamic. No one wants to be at the receiving end of someone’s armchair diagnosis.

          2. The Strand*

            If someone is showing signs of something that is extreme, whatever it is – then the suggestion to seek help should be made by a manager or trusted work friend. There is certainly a line between “extreme” and “MYOB” territory.

            Once, I came into work with a bruise on my face, because I’d been in an accident over the weekend. People stared at me, but it wasn’t until I got to work that someone I worked with – another woman – broached the subject with me, asking quietly if someone had hurt me. That is, in my mind, justifiable, and I’m glad I had such a caring coworker. Someone who looks like they were involved in a domestic dispute, and repeatedly comes in showing signs of domestic violence, should be referred to EAP or other assistance.

            But following someone into the bathroom while they cry in their stall, suggesting they have a mental disorder or disease because they lost their cool = not OK.

            Suggesting privately that a person who is crying loudly every day on the job, may have a problem, may want to seek assistance = OK (notice that this again doesn’t mean suggesting a mental illness dx; but you might be aware it could play a part, and try to be compassionate).

            Monitoring someone’s diet, and sharing your thoughts on it with them, because you think they belch loudly = not OK

            Asking the supervisor to confront a person who is farting constantly, has overwhelming body odor, and making the workplace uninhabitable = OK – a potential medical issue is not only ADA-capable but hurting other employees (e.g.

            One of my colleagues used to talk about drinking until she blacked out, with no idea who or where she was when she awoke. That is a cue for suggesting outside help if I ever heard one. Whereas it’s none of my business if my colleagues smoke in smoking places, their cars and anywhere that they’re permitted to; if they bring up wanting to quit, or if they start blowing it in my face, then and only then would I talk about it with them.

    2. OP3*

      Yes, I’ve thought her behavior could be related to a medical issue or aging. But that’s none of my business, so I left it out. To me, the issue is her work habits, not her health.

  16. Nedra*

    OP#1: The good thing about this situation is that you have an obvious/logical reason for not throwing her a party even though you did parties at other times — she isn’t giving you enough notice. If anyone questions it, it should be pretty clear that folks who give less than 2 weeks’ notice shouldn’t expect people to bend over backwards to organize a going away party.

    1. KR*

      Yeah, even if the employee was otherwise a good employee and well-liked, if she only gave you until the end of the week that’s not enough time to organize a party/card/fanfare.

  17. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

    As I read #3, I can’t help but think of the post last week, where a coworker was dealing with a similar issue (google drive and MS Office).

    In the comments I recommended involving their manager (as I ask my staff to do) and this is the exact reason why! This coworker is now spending a good chunk of their time supporting this other employee.

    I understand that the LW says the boss is aware, but something that should have been up to the manager to handle has now been foisted onto this employee because they were helpful!

  18. Miss Betty*

    Re no. 5, I was under the impression that the company had required her to work late on Thursday then sent her home on Friday to avoid paying overtime (she says she had no choice but to work OT the night before). Of course it’s legal, but it that’s the case, it’s pretty slimy. If you’re forcing your employees to work late one night, the least you can do is give them the choice as to whether to leave early the next day or take the extra hours as overtime.

    1. animaniactoo*

      How is it slimy? If they genuinely don’t have the budget to pay OT for instances like that and it’s not necessary, as long as the OP is aware that such adjustments will be made when it happens, I don’t see that this is unfair to the OP – even if they had to hire a babysitter for a few hours to cover that night. Unless the company is basically abusing it and creating a situation in which Wednesday’s hours are a different long schedule every other week on last minute notice, then this is just part of the requirements of the job, and things happen.

      1. Miss Betty*

        If it’s a last minute order to work overtime (and that’s what I inferred from the comment No. 5 made about having no choice), it should be fairly compensated. Telling the employee to go home early the next day to avoid paying that time and a half for the last minute, mandatory overtime is slimy. It’s a way to avoid compensating one’s employees fairly. As other people have commented, it’s not just the pay – it’s the last-minute cancellation of the employee’s after work plans, the paying more for after-hours child care, even the likelihood that if you’re getting home at 9:00 rather than 6:00 (for example) you’ll probably just go through a drive-through rather than cooking supper – all those things.

        If a company truly can’t afford to pay for mandatory overtime, they need to be reviewing a lot more than the budget. If they’re sending the employees home early on Friday, they’re not getting any more work done than if they’d gone home at the regular time Thursday and worked all day Friday. Presumably there was an emergency. I’ve seen plenty of emergencies working as a legal secretary and I can guarantee that 90% of the time they’re due to poor planning, often on the attorney’s part. Attorney’s are the kings and queens of procrastination! (At least all the ones I’ve worked for.) I suspect a lot of emergencies in other fields are due to poor planning as well.

        Yes, it could be a one-off, something that will never happen again. In that case, I think they should tell their employees up front that they won’t be getting time and a half for the forced late hours but will be sent home early the next day. I think, generally speaking, when an employee is required to work last-minute overtime, they expect to be compensated at time and a half for it and not being up front about it is just wrong.

    2. the gold digger*

      Not to mention that those surprise hours that cut into my non-work time are worth more to me than hours I expected to be working on Friday. Not that I get OT, but if I did, I would want 1.5 hours on Friday for every hour I worked late on Thursday. When I have to work late unexpectedly, I have to scramble to re-arrange my schedule and things at home don’t get done.

      Not that I’m bitter about the job I had in corporate finance where I almost never got home before 9 p.m. (Which means it wasn’t unexpected – but still.)

      1. LabTech*

        This. The key is that the extra hours are unexpected. And if it happens frequently enough, it cuts into the employee’s ability to get a much done at home on weekdays.

    3. Oryx*

      So, it might be semantics, but the OP didn’t actually work OT the night before. She worked *late*, yes, but unless you’re in California, OT doesn’t kick in until you’ve worked above 40 hours for the week. But because the OP was sent home early on Friday, she was kept at 40 hours.

      There were no extra hours or loss of overtime here. There was a schedule readjustment. And even if the employer did send her home to avoid paying OT, there’s nothing wrong with that. Not all companies have it in their budget to pay OT and it’s why many companies require OT be approved in advance.

      1. Anna*

        Exactly this. OP worked late and then completed their 40 hours the next day before regular cutting out time. In no way have they been done a disservice.

        I mean, except that I totally think OT should kick in after 8 hours a day, but that’s not the case in most places so shrug.

  19. Roscoe*

    #1 While I don’t necessarily think this person is a good employee and “deserves” a party, I think you should do it if you have done it for everyone else. Does this person get along with the rest of the staff? If so, I definitely think it just looks really bad to have done this in the past, and choose not to do it this time. While I understand why personally you wouldn’t want to do this, professionally I think you should.

    #4 As Alison said, if you are manager, its pretty common to not get the same things your staff gets.

    1. No Goodbye Party*

      @Roscoe – this was my main worry and why I brought the question forward in the past. While I agree that I am running a bit of a risk in not doing what’s been done in the past, she also hasn’t done what has been done in the past (maintained a minimum level of professionalism, given adequate notice). She “gets along” with a couple of people, as in, she chats with them from time to time. However, several staff members have complained about her attitude recently. I think people will be able to connect the dots and will see that I chose not to reward her behaviour.

  20. LAP*

    “I think that would be a surprising deficit for even the most entry-level of employees, but the thing is Sansa actually has more than 30 years of experience in our field”

    It’s interesting to me that the OP seems to equate many years of industry experience with corresponding digital competence, because in my experience the opposite is often true. Technology has changed a lot in 30 years.

    1. fposte*

      Google has been around for 20 years. Not being able to use it is indeed a surprising deficit for a 30-year employee at a reasonably high level. So is not being able to problem-solve.

      1. Anna*

        Isn’t that a shock? I mean, when you pointed that out I was had a bit of a moment. “HOLY CRAP, it has been around that long!” But really, people who have been in industries for 20 to 30 years at this point have been doing their jobs since computers became common at the workplace and the Internet became widely available via the library if not in their home, so the idea they could just be “old school” holds less and less water.

        1. fposte*

          I was even more shocked to realize that Microsoft Word has been around for 30 years. (You’d think they’d have worked out the kinks by now.)

    2. The Strand*

      And in those 30 years that person may have fought valiantly against changes, or even insisted on holding onto a particular skill or software package that has become obsolete. We actually had someone roll back to a software package that is obsolete!

      Anyway, I know many great workers who are technophobic. I have also seen a few people behave in a passive aggressive way about new technology; the subtext being “uh, I don’t want to learn it so would you mind doing all my work for me?”

      1. LAP*

        “uh, I don’t want to learn it so would you mind doing all my work for me?”

        Yup, this is probably the first job she has had where she is expected to know this stuff. I’m not sure why it’s so controversial to say, either. Part of my last job was helping my boss with her iPhone. She has about 30 years of experience in her industry and she’s very knowledgable and personable, but she is still adjusting to the digital realm so she delegates as much as she can.

        1. The Strand*

          It’s more of an issue when someone is hired and told, “This is part of your job, you need to get in gear and be capable of doing this”, and the new hire resolves their lack of knowledge by asking someone else, not a direct report, to do their job for them. (And specifically, to do the job from now on, rather than train or help when they get stuck.)

          Worse if it is in a sneaky way: i.e. not bothering to learn what they need to know, waiting until the last minute, and then trying to fob off the work at that point, by saying, “I’m not good at technology, couldn’t you just do the whole thing for me?” One of my coworkers has been going through a similar issue with someone who led supervisors to think he had far more technical knowledge than he did, and is now asking my coworker to do his work for him.

          I’m more than happy to show anyone how to do almost anything, and I’m extremely patient when it comes to sharing my technical knowledge. Also, if I’m training you – you’re in the driver’s seat learning how to do it.

          Still, more than once I have had someone ask me to do tasks that have nothing to do with my job, even low level administrative stuff, because they didn’t bother to really learn or ask for help about their core duties. They focus on their perception of being a victim, forced to use technology they don’t understand, and since I’m not intimidated by the technology, they feel that they are completely in their rights to have me do their job for them. I know right away if the person doesn’t want to be in the driver’s seat, but actually wants me to do it “while I watch” – but actually spends the time playing with their phone, doing some unrelated task, etc.

          Again, I am making a big distinction between this behavior, and people who are asking for help, training, or emergency feedback, or even the kind of delegation you describe. (It’s still pretty bad if a senior person, eg in Roxanne’s story, isn’t really understanding what they’re doing.)

    3. animaniactoo*

      My technophobic extremely dyslexic godmother can use Google. And e-mail. Her contact list is in better shape than mine. She pays me to teach her how to do such things and yes she tends to lose some of it to lack of practice or my dropping lessons when my life interferes, but once she’s got it, she’s got it. Important things absolutely get learned and stay learned. What OP is talking about here is really basic stuff and if Sansa can’t get it learned and stay learned with the help of notes and visual aids and charts, I don’t believe at all that this is an issue of changing technology.

    4. Roxanne*

      Those 30 years could be at places where the culture was such that she could get away with not learning the technology. An example I worked with was a very lovely fellow who was a senior engineer (and therefore earned the “big bucks”) but who locked himself out of his computer while trying to change his temporary password from IT for his new computer. He never figured out his voicemail. He loved pencil and paper to do the engineering stuff (and everyone else was using CAD). Much of his career had been with the City, a unionized environment.

      While I don’t know for sure, I suspect it was very possible that someone else was tasked with all the technology stuff as stipulated in a collective agreement while he could just be the engineer. I have no doubt he was a fine engineer but once he moved to a private sector job where he no longer had a dedicated secretary or IT staff on-site (we were a small branch office and we were often left to our own devices), he was fumbling around badly. He had no concept of saving things on the network drive, put everything on the hard drive and when he was laid off (“too expensive”), the staffers inheriting his projects lost all the documentation when the C drive was wiped by the IT team as part of their protocol for returned computers.

      1. The Strand*

        Ugh! What a nightmare for the team.

        IT personnel need to be really proactive as well, because these kinds of folks are always in plain sight but frequently not considered. A couple of simple, periodic questions may ferret out things like that. (For instance, the many people at a former institution who saved FERPA-protected documents on a public drive that anyone, including student workers, could easily access.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yikes. I think if IT knew he had technology issues, it might have been a good idea to add “check the C drive for important folders” to their protocol! But they might not have known that.

      3. Observer*

        I think your IT people were rather careless. Part of the protocol for a returned computer should ALWAYS be to check the C: drive, unless the computer had been specifically set up to make it difficult or impossible to save to the C: drive (eg I’ve seen computers set up to have “my computer” point to the network drive, rather than the C: drive.)

  21. TootsNYC*

    Re: #3, colleague who needs to much help

    Remember that saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten”?

    My kindergarten teacher refused to tie my shoes for me. “You can do it!” “No, I can’t, you have to tie them for me!” Not only did she tell me I could too do it, but she said, I’m not going to tie your shoes, you can sit here until you tie them. And she walked off.
    When she came back, she was impatient. “You haven’t even tried? What have you been doing, just sitting here? Tie your shoes, we all want to go home.”
    I was so flamingly angry. She KNEW I couldn’t, and she wasn’t even helping me. And worse, she was impatient with me.
    Eventually, through my sobbing and complaining, I picked up my shoelaces. And, um, successfully tied my shoes.
    I vividly remember feeling really, really embarrassed, and recognizing that she had done it to me on purpose, and that she was right. And, even though I was still mad at her, and resentful, feeling a little grateful that she’d pushed me so hard, because now I could tie my shoes myself.

    I think you should not say anything so remotely helpful–especially not Alison’s “I’m busy, but check the guide I made you.” Because that just reminds her that you used to help her, and it’s a form of help as well.

    Start saying, “You mean you haven’t learned how to do that yet? It’s not that hard, I’m sure you could if you just tried on your own.” And as it goes on, drop the encouraging second half (which my Kgarten teacher did), and just say, “I can’t believe you haven’t figured out how to do that yet.”

    Start letting some of the shame and pressure have some effect.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      I disagree with the shame angle. It can be effective in the short term, but it’s incredibly damaging for any relationship, especially among peers. There’s nothing wrong with encouragement coupled with a refusal to help, but there’s no need to bring contempt in (which is what shame signifies).

    2. Observer*

      Actually, your kindergarten teacher was flat out wrong. Not tying your shoes for you was one thing. The impatience and shaming was totally out of line. But, at least, it WAS the teacher’s job to push you, and she didn’t need to worry about you having a collegial relationship with you. Talking that way to a colleague is a good way to develop a reputation as an obnoxious brat.

    3. surlywench*

      It would be so, so inappropriate, patronising and rude to speak to a co-worker like that.

  22. animaniactoo*

    Ooh. #3 – I just thought of one of my old go-tos from when I was a math tutor. Students frequently try to get you to do their homework *for them*, rather than learning the process. To get around that, you show them how to solve the problem, but using different material. Then you make them do their homework problem using the same process.

    So if you do help at all anymore, you can limit your help to “Okay, you want to create a contact. So you click here, and you enter Jane Doe’s information for living at 555 Maple Drive, phone #…” “Alright, now you do it for Ty Lannister”.

  23. I'm Not Phyllis*

    #1 I was going to say the same thing – I’d do it because of optics only. People do whisper if the big goodbye doesn’t happen, and they’ll wonder why. In fact, if you don’t circulate a card one of your other staff may do it anyway, but I would just for the sake of optics. You can focus on the fact that you only have to deal with it for a few more days!

  24. AK_manager*

    #5 – Alison, do you know all of the states that have a daily overtime rule? (That is, the states which consider anything more than 8 hours in a day to be OT) I know you frequently cite California, but it’s not the only one. I’m currently supervising people in several states, and want to make sure I know the implications of allowing them to work more than 8 hours in a day if we could logically shift one of their projects to another employee.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You should check this yourself to be absolutely sure, but I just googled and here’s the answer according to SHRM: “Currently, Alaska, California, Nevada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands all have daily overtime laws for working over eight hours in a day. Colorado has daily overtime laws for working over 12 hours in a day.”


      1. AK_manager*

        Your Google-fu is stronger than mine. I didn’t want to have to read each state’s DOL page. :) Thanks!

  25. drivesmenuts*

    #1 : Will you come to my job and throw me a “goodbye party”? I have been here 11 years and I am leaving for a new job next week. I am not even getting a card or anything from my work. And I am not even a hostile employee or anything!

    1. No Goodbye Party*

      hahaha @drivesmenuts – Wow, really?? I’m sorry to hear that. I think that, with the exception of employees who are truly awful, companies should put in a little effort. You sure did over the past 11 years, I’m sure! Good luck with your new job – sounds like you are moving on to better things.

  26. BookCocoon*

    Re: #3, I have this same problem with someone who’s been here a year. She constantly makes self-deprecating remarks about her head being a sieve, having her “senior moment of the day” (which happens 4x a day), etc. when asking for help. The problem is that they’re often really basic, one-sentence-response questions, so in the time it would take me to say, “Sorry, I’m really busy” I could answer her question — but it’s stuff she should know by now, or could literally look up on our website’s FAQ page! I’m frustrated at getting interrupted 10 times a day because she can’t remember the basic things she needs to know to answer the phone. If I try asking, “What do you think?” she looks at me blankly, and my supervisor has reprimanded me for losing my patience with her.

    In the first few months she was hired I met with our director about her frequently, but he had way more patience than me (since he’s never here and not the one who has to deal with her constantly), so as long as I admit that she’s learned SOMETHING he doesn’t care that it takes 20 times longer than it should.

    I don’t have a solution for #3, just commiseration.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Push her to take notes about this kind of rote basic stuff. And bookmark the company FAQ site. Review her notes with her to make sure that it accurately conveys what she needs to do, and then when she asks, you route her “Check your notes” or “Check the FAQ website”.

      Your goal is to get out of the middle. You don’t need to say “sorry, I’m really busy right now” if that doesn’t work for you. It will probably work better to stop her immediately after one of these interruptions and say “I need you to stop relying on me to be the manual for you. We need to find another solution for this.” Then you can talk to her about the note taking – let her write it up as simple documents on her computer that she can organize and consult at need. “How to…” “Transferring a phone call”, etc. The point is that her memory problems are hers to handle. You can help her create a system that will work for that, but it’s so that you can point her to relying on that instead of you.

      1. BookCocoon*

        Yeah, I suppose I should be a bit more forceful. I just know in our company culture how that would end up reflecting badly on me, so that’s why I’m hesitant.

        I have step-by-step directions with screenshots for using our primary software program (for use of all our staff). I’ve sat with her and tried to watch her follow the directions, and I literally had to remind her on every single step to read the directions because she kept trying to guess on her own what to do next and almost royally screwing everything up with our internal processes. I don’t know how she functions day to day.

        I also make her take notes on everything but then she “can’t understand” the notes later.

        1. Observer*

          This is where Alison’s scrips comes in handy. And, do look your manager in. As in “I’ve really trying to help, but I’m at a point where I can’t get my work done and help her too.”

          1. BookCocoon*

            I guess that’s where I’m stuck — it’s not preventing me from getting my work done because I’m a very efficient worker, and it’s a rare day that I’m so swamped I can’t be interrupted at all. It’s more of an irritation that I’m getting asked the same questions over and over and over again and she’s just relying on me always being here to answer her questions, and it just seems ridiculous that in order for her to follow a set of directions I have to literally sit there and read them out loud to her. It’s not that I can’t get my work done, it’s that it’s really not my job to be her personal memory and tech support.

            1. Observer*

              It’s not that you can’t be interrupted at all, but that you are being interrupted SO OFTEN. It’s disruptive and takes you away from the stuff you should be doing (and maybe could do more of if you weren’t spending so much time on her – not just in the direct help but the repeated interruptions).

        2. animaniactoo*

          1) Have *you* reviewed her notes to make sure they make sense? I’m asking this because when I’m tutoring somebody who has known issues like she does, I review their notes to make sure that when they consult them, they’re going to make sense to somebody who is essentially “starting from scratch” in that moment.

          2) Any possibility of documenting to your director that the issue is not getting better overall – what improvement there has been is minimal – and it’s impacting your daily workload? i.e. for every question, you have to spend 1 to 2 minutes getting her sorted out and then it takes you a couple of minutes to reset yourself on what you were doing before and pick up the thread? And that all this adds up to 45 minutes or so by the end of the day where literally all you are doing is assisting her and getting back to work? Every day?

          I mean, your director may feel that’s a worthwhile use of your time and then you’re SOL, just asking if it’s a tactic you’ve tried to highlight the impact.

          1. BookCocoon*

            1) I’ve tried, but if there’s one tiny thing I miss that isn’t covered by the notes she gets completely thrown and can’t problem-solve her way out of it. Or she just loses the notes. That happens a lot.

            2) For a while at the beginning I was tracking every single interruption and then providing him with a weekly summary (average interruptions per day and most concerning lapses). Then things seemed to be slowly improving, and we stopped checking in about it, plus my workload lightened up so it was less of an issue to take time to help her out. Also the director was asking me questions like, “Have you seen ANY improvement at all?” “Is there ANYTHING she can do now that she couldn’t before?” and I had to say yes. So his standards seem pretty low…

            1. animaniactoo*

              Hmmm. I wonder if it would be worth documenting differently:

              10:24: Asked how to create a contact

              10:55: Asked which menu had the “hide row” option. Referred her to notes, she can’t find them.

              11:13: Asked who to call for help with a printer jam. Referred her to notes, she could not determine if this is a maintenance issue or hardware-call-IT issue.

              Just a one-day sample vs a whole week, and then approach with a mindset of “We haven’t talked about this in awhile, and I’m not sure you’re aware of how little progress has been made. When we talked about it before, your standards for improvement didn’t seem very high to me, so I’m not sure if you want me to keep handling this, or if there’s some other approach here. Personally, this is pretty frustrating for me to deal with day in and day out, and I’d appreciate it a lot if we can revisit this setup.”

              1. animaniactoo*

                fwiw, part of the reason I’m suggesting a one day capsule like this is that sometimes it’s easy to overlook the *frequency* and “jolt” of the interruptions if you’re looking at the big picture “12 interruptions today, most concerning was…”. When you’re looking at a line-by-line, it may be easier to get a sense of the overwhelm of revisit revisit revisit revisit.

Comments are closed.