how do I tell my boss to fire our new hire?

A reader writes:

I have a coworker who was hired about a month and a half ago. She works very closely with me and I’m unofficially her supervisor – I have done almost 100% of her training, I’m responsible for reviewing her work, and it is expected that she comes to me with questions before going to our boss. Our company has a 60-day acclimation period and I think she should be terminated at the end of her 60 days, if not before. I don’t think she’s a good fit for the position – she makes too many mistakes, she doesn’t have strong enough skills, and she doesn’t work fast enough. It has been frustrating to train her and my work life has been pretty miserable since she started. This isn’t my first time training someone in her position and I don’t think it’s my fault for improperly training her.

I’ve gone to my boss twice to talk about the problems I’ve had with her, and my boss has told me to be more understanding since she’s still new and learning. I’ve documented everything that I can, but I’m worried that the next time I go to my boss, she’ll just continue to tell me to be patient while my new coworker is still learning. My boss seems to hate the hiring process and I don’t think she sees my new coworker as that big of a problem. What’s the best way to convey that I strongly believe that she needs to go?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago. You can read it here.

{ 207 comments… read them below }

  1. Amber Rose

    I hope you’ll have a similar conversation with the new hire at some point. Not that her job is at risk since that’s not your call, but that you keep seeing X and Y happening and that’s a big problem.

    1. DreamingInPurple

      Yes! Ramp-to-productivity speed is different at every company, so she needs to know that she has fallen behind. Some places will expect you to be an expert by the time your probation ends, others won’t, and it really depends on the company and the nature of the job.

    2. Laurelma01

      There is one thing that I have found with some people, you need to take them through the steps and have them write out the steps / notes themselves. They retain more data that way. Also, when they ask you a question … they need to make notes of your response vs coming back to you with the same question.

      I would document what concerns you have, what she needs to address, what improvements the individual needs to make to succeed in their role. Have that meeting with that individual, regarding those issues. And document it. You can also ask the employee how they plan to address the problems you are seeing, and make less mistakes. Have them write out what they need to do improve, address your concerns. Sometimes that exercise in itself will prompt a change. They may just need to take an additional few seconds here and there to think through the process, versus rushing (assuming that’s an issue). Easier to catch an error if you slow down a few seconds before submitting your work.

      Ask your boss about putting the employee on PIP, and extending the probation period to 90 days. Sometimes people will start job searching once that happens. Might take care of your problem.

      1. Ralkana

        “There is one thing that I have found with some people, you need to take them through the steps and have them write out the steps / notes themselves. They retain more data that way. Also, when they ask you a question … they need to make notes of your response vs coming back to you with the same question.”

        This is my current problem. I spent a couple of days training someone earlier this week, and I noticed that both he – and the person I previously trained for this position, who lasted a grand total of about six weeks – don’t take notes unless I specifically say, “write this down.” Like, I just threw eighteen complicated processes at you and you took half a page of notes? If someone is training me on a process, I’m taking step by step notes, and screencaps if I can!

        1. Ops Training

          That is annoying, but I wonder if these processes are documented or is the new hire expected to document them for themself through their notes? I work in training for one department at my company, and I’m seeing new people crash and burn in some departments the time because they get overwelmed with undocumented (or poorly documented), complicated processes. If there is no knowledge base or no easy-to-access, straightforward documentation, sometimes we aren’t giving them the tools they need to help themselves succeed.

          For many people, starting a new job is terrifying and overwhelming, and there is only so much people can absorb and embed. If we can reduce cognitive load by providing them with the right tools and setting expectation, that can allow them to focus more on practicing how to do things properly. Not saying this is the case for you, but I’ve been fighting this fight for a while where I am and it kind of depresses me.

          1. Kiki

            I agree. Though it would be great if you could walk an employee through a complex process once and they would take notes that perfectly help them execute the process in the future, that’s not realistic. If there’s a complex procedure, there should be detailed documentation that employee notes should be supplementing– the employee should not be in charge of documenting the whole thing during their training. A new job is deeply stressful because you are learning SO MUCH. Not just the processes and tasks, but people’s names, passwords, where the bathrooms are, etc. Also, as a new employee, it can be difficult to know what will be the one detail you’ll wish you wrote down.

            1. Been There, Done That

              I was going to say. If the work is that intricate, procedures should already be in place and the newbie given a copy of it, with the chance to add their own notes but not have to write out the whole thing.

          2. Anonymity

            I have a coworker similar to what OP describes. There’s documentation complete with screenshots for their process. The coworker took expansive notes on top of that. Was cross-trained by multiple people over the course of days (the process has some moving parts but it’s not one that requires a 40 hour week of intense training because it doesn’t vary all that much and it has built-in error-checking). Still performing at about 50% of what everyone else does; it’s been months now. Still asking the same questions. I’m guessing this is closer to where the OP is coming from than that OP simply hasn’t figured out that this new hire needs something done differently.

        2. it's-a-me

          I have stopped taking notes altogether at my job, and it has significantly improved my information retention. I found that every time I tried to write out notes, I would completely miss the next part of the discussion while writing, and have no idea what to do.

          So everyone is different. And like others have said below, a lot of processes should already be documented, not rely on each person to write down their notes – which can lead to issues down the way if they have copied or interpreted incorrectly.

          1. Wintermute

            This is a HUGE HUGE HUGE issue in IT.

            Your notes never change. The actual system’s implementation will, sometimes rapidly and frequently. IF your notes are for Widget Manager 7.5 and we upgrade to Widget Manager 15.2 then they might be “worse than wrong” they might be actively misleading or cause you to go down a garden path of “oh it doesn’t HAVE a ‘widget connection manager’ button, I’ll have to find one, which leads you to logging into the old software version because it’s still on your desktop, and from there it’s a huge waste of time.

            We actively tell people not to take notes on specifics. Either it’s something you’re not allowed to write down (passwords, usernames, admin accounts, internal IP addresses) in which case we have a secured repository program for that (think an industrial variant of KeyPass, Lastpass, or their kin, with revision control and ‘check out/check in’ functionality), will potentially change, in which case we have our SOP repository and procedures folder.

            THe other problem with extensive notes is when policy changes you might be working off an old document. My last job was often very reactive. If a small problem was missed suddenly alarms that were “no big deal” become mandatory callout, notification and monitoring. Relying on old notes about what can safely be ignored is a hazard to your career.

        3. Laurelma01

          Yep … I keep coming back to you with the same question. Even when they have notes, they prefer to ask. Some are too lazy to even use the company website to look up a phone extension sometimes. They are unable to use the tools available. I’ve had one person years ago that keep coming to me and I got mad and asked if I was a walking and talking phone directory.

      2. Melonhead

        “I’m unoficially her supervisor” – sounds like the LW has no real authority to document/warn the new hire. A bit more understanding and/or patience may be called for here, along with some friendly conversation along the lines of, “Am I giving you the information you need? Am I making my instructions difficult to follow? Please let me know whenever something is not clear”

    3. tinyhipsterboy

      Agree–please please please please let the new hire know that it’s a big red flag. I got fired from a job within a 90-day probationary period, forcing me to pay back $300 worth of provided uniform-designated funds, with the only warning being my boss asking if I liked the job. Don’t be that manager: even if you’re unsure of if actual firing will happen, you need to let her know it’s a possibility so she can improve and/or prepare for financial hardship.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        If you’re being forced to pay back ANYTHING, they’re a bad business and don’t have your interest in mind at all. You got screwed but that’s a huge red flag before you even take a job.

        1. tinyhipsterboy

          Yeah. The company itself DOES take care of employees (my co-pay for my psychiatrist appointment was literally $0!), but it’s really sketchy to do that. They gave me around $300 on a Visa giftcard specifically for uniforms (needed to submit expense reports for it), and the condition was that it’d be garnished from my wages if I quit or was terminated before the end of the 90-day probation period. They fired me literally less than a week before that date. Ugh.

          That’s off-topic, though; my point is that if a job is on the line, the employee should explicitly be told so instead of being blindsided by getting terminated.

  2. Eeyore

    If your coworker can’t tell how much you dislike her, I’d be surprised. Part of me thinks you may be part of her lack of success because you are so convinced that someone who has been at a new job for 1.5 months isn’t doing things fast or right enough for you.

    1. Rainy

      It’s also possible that OP’s dislike is actually making coworker worse at her job when OP is around. It’s really hard to do your best work when you know that someone is sitting in close proximity despising you.

        1. Laurelma01

          I do not understand a two month probational period either. Most places are 3 months to 6 months. The state is 1 year, which I work for. To me, that’s not enough time to be trained. Especially if it’s detailed & has nuisances.

          1. Rainy

            Or if there are parts of the job that will only happen 1-2x in the 60 days. I once had a job where there was an important but infrequent task that I had trouble with after being in the role a year…because it only happened once a year and the last time was slightly before my hire date.

            1. Laurelma01

              You should have seen what I forgot after being out 3 months on short term disability. Some the things I knew automatically just weren’t there. Took me about another 3 months to relearn a few things when I returned. I would start to do something and would totally forget the next step.

      1. CastIrony

        I used to work for a boss that was so critical that I did worse when he watched me do a task! Maybe anxiety has a role?

      2. JokeyJules

        I lived in the special sort of hell that is the person who trained you/manages you hating you. I swear sometimes I’d misspell my own name just because of nerves.

      3. Snark

        It’s a hell of an unreasonable stretch from this letter to “someone is sitting in close proximity despising you,” and I think this comment says a hell of a lot more about you than it does about anything OP has given us to consider.

        I really wish people would take themselves a little further out of their responses and take a dispassionate approach.

        1. Spencer Hastings

          I agree — these things are true in some situations (I’ve certainly experienced them), but I’m not convinced that they apply to this particular LW.

          There’s also the gap between “what you would say to someone in your organization, to their face” and “how you describe it to Alison” to think about. Sometimes there will be a letter where the person’s disdain for someone just drips off the page, but this didn’t strike me as one of them. This LW says that the experience of training the new hire has been “miserable”, but I don’t get the sense that she has any personal animosity towards her — I can believe her that the experience of trying to train someone whose skills just aren’t there would be a miserable one.

    2. MassMatt

      I don’t agree, the letter was quite factual and didn’t get into personalities or likes/dislikes, and the LW says she has trained people for this position before.

      Employers have probationary periods for a reason, generally the amount of red tape required to terminate someone afterward goes up dramatically. If the new hire isn’t working out it does no one any favors to have her continue in a role where she isn’t suited.

      This is yet another situation where the person doing the training/supervising has to do all the work and take the responsibility but has none of the power to make a decision.

      If your boss trusts you enough to train multiple people in this role then he should trust your judgment when you tell him someone isn’t working out.

      1. ISuckAtUserNames

        I agree. If she’s trained others before and has a good sense of what types of mistakes they should be making at that point or how fast they should be working, and this person is way off from previous employees it seems reasonable she’d bring that up.

        She’s not saying she expects the newbie to be perfect, just that she’s not performing as well as she should be by that point.

      2. LQ

        Agreed, if OP had never trained anyone I’d think not knowing how training worked or new people or what it took was far more likely. But if OP has trained people to be successful before then I think you do need to trust that OPs judgement.

      3. AnonEMoose

        This is where I land. Yes, the OP is frustrated with the new hire, but based on the other contents of the letter, frustration seems like a reasonable response to the situation. OP says nothing about her feelings toward the coworker as a person, just about her work.

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, it’s entirely possible to like someone personally, but be frustrated with them in a work context for various reasons.

        Maybe that’s a factor in the new hire’s performance. But it seems more like the poor performance happened first and the frustration came later.

      4. Les G

        With you on this one. Writing fanfic about how OP is champing at the bit to find mistakes in this new hire’s work is both totally speculative and unfair to the OP. Maaaaaaaaybe she personally dislikes this woman so much she is making her life miserable, or maybe she just…meant exactly what she wrote?

      5. Où est la bibliothèque?

        Everywhere I’ve worked with that 60 or 90 day probation period, it’s been pretty…nominal? They’ve basically been in place to make sure that the boss is giving solid, scheduled feedback. Firing someone at 59 days wouldn’t feel any different from firing someone at 61 days. LW may be overestimating how much importance others (boss included) place on them.

        1. Kathleen_A

          Well, it wouldn’t make a difference at any place I’ve worked, but there are places where it does make a difference. Such places tend to have very clear and often rigid rules about How Things Are Done. And in such places, the procedures for pre-60 day firings are different than post-60-day firings.

          1. SusanIvanova

            Also recruiters might only get paid if the person makes it past the 60 days, so if you fire someone on day 61 you’re out the recruiter fee.

        2. Jen RO

          I don’t know what country OP is in, but in my country it would be way, way, way harder to fire someone at 31 days. Basically, at day 30 it’s ‘sorry, it’s not working out’; from day 31, it’s two consecutive performance improvement plans of 3 months each… and even then the risk of employee suing is too high so most times they are just offered a large severance to quit.

          1. londonedit

            Yep, in the UK it becomes much more difficult to fire someone after a probation period. Unless it was a case of gross misconduct, you’d have to go through a process of verbal warnings and written warnings before you could fire someone for performance-related issues. Where I work, during my probation period it was two weeks’ notice on either side; now that I’m out of probation, I have to give three months’ notice and my employer can’t get rid of me without concrete evidence of poor performance (that’s been addressed via the procedures I mentioned before) or without making my role redundant (which comes with its own legal ramifications, a consultation period etc, and they wouldn’t then be able to hire someone else into the same role, because it’s the job that’s redundant rather than the person).

        3. LJay

          At my company, it is more difficult to fire someone after the probation period.

          After the probation period, everyone in the chain of command up through the C-Suite needs to agree to the termination, and there must be documented write-ups etc prior to reaching the termination stage unless the behavior was egregious.

          Prior to the probation period ending it’s just, “Things aren’t working out, sorry” and a termination meeting with the manager and HR.

          Though 60 days does seem short. Ours are 90, 180, or 360 days depending on the department and position.

          1. CynicalMarsupial

            Now for the facts:

            Not 60….

            8 days total

            No written procedures in place

            Long periods of information/lecture and “trainer hovering” aka pointing/instructing do this, now do this, now do this. No time to independently run through tasks.

            No “knowledge challenges” during downtime (where trainer briefly gives a situation and then asks “do you know what to do in that case?”)

            Work done on day 2 not checked until day 6 and 7, then “corrected” as if the information had not since been learned and demonstrated without error in other instances.

            Not informed of crucial cultural aspects of the site such as informal team meetings prior to start of shift each day.

            Not formally introduced to key personnel

            Expected to perform 2 or 3 Client-facing operations simultaneously “for training purposes”, as the new person, in the time taken for one task to be performed by more senior staff.

            Asked trainer, in private so as to not appear to be challenging her authority, to please not be held to this standard as one operation at a time was customary and what all others were doing, citing that two or three things at once promotes rushing which promotes errors. *

            Was also observed holding an ice pack in between customers, but not while helping them, so as to not interfere with pace of work. *

            *event occurred the day prior to termination, reason given upon arriving at work in the morning: “it’s just not working out”. No official warnings given.

            Final paycheck was “inadvertently” misplaced for two weeks, then “found” amid outgoing mail after several phone calls.

            1. RoosClues

              Day 4: one owner announces out of the blue, into the far wall, in front of customers, “I WISH I COULD INJURE MYSELF AT WORK SO I COULD STAY HOME FOR MONTHS ON END LIKE SOME PEOPLE’

      6. henrietta

        And ‘trust [my] judgment’ should be, imo, part of the script the LW uses with her boss. “I’ve been doing this a while, and now have some expertise. New Hire just isn’t suited. Please let’s cut our losses before too much else is lost.”

      7. epi

        I agree. There was nothing personal in this letter that I saw. I bet that it would hurt to read a letter like this about oneself, but that doesn’t make the OP’s comments inappropriate or mean that they couldn’t be true. And while some people do get nervous and do worse once they are aware they’re not doing well, that doesn’t mean it’s the OP’s responsibility to pretend everything is great. Actually, I would feel pretty upset if someone thought I was doing so poorly at my job, they thought I should be terminated, and hid that from me. Especially for an incredibly patronizing reason, like not wanting to make me nervous.

        The OP would be setting their coworker up to be blindsided if they pretend everything is fine, while privately expressing serious concerns to their boss. There is absolutely nothing helpful or kind about that behavior.

        If I were the OP, I’d focus on documenting the specific problems caused by this new employee. Are there measurable consequences to the new person’s poor performance, or benchmarks that other new hires met when trained by the OP, that this person has not met? If the differences are truly not that large, the OP will see that for themselves when documenting and can decide whether to change their approach from there. If the differences are significant, it will help them make the case that this isn’t just new hire stuff.

      8. Burned Out Supervisor

        Agreed. I’ve worked in my field for a very long time and you pretty much know who’s going to “get it” at some point and who’s never going to get there. I’ve trained a new hire like this and it’s extremely frustrating (I’d spend the entire day with them going over a relatively straight forward process and then when I would check in with her the next day it was like it never happened). Honestly, there are some people who are very “black and white” and struggle with the gray area or are habitually slow workers because they’re terrified of making a mistake and spend too long on a transaction. If you need someone who is comfortable working independently with most of the knowledge needed to do the work independently with the ability to make logical decisions based on the information they have on hand or the job is volume/time based and they’re not showing any improvement it’s better to cut them loose. I don’t think it’s dislike that’s coming through from the OP, it’s just frustration that they feel they’re spending time training someone who’s not the right fit for the role and they’re wasting their time. Also, if this employee stays on, it’s possible that their poor performance could make the OP look bad to others (FTR, this is not fair, but I know people who think this way).

      9. Elizabeth West

        Agreed—I don’t think this is about dislike or disgust. That seems like a huge leap to me, and unnecessary extrapolation from the OP’s letter, which Alison has asked us not to do.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Eh, maybe. But it’s often very easy to know in that amount of time that someone isn’t right for the job, and the OP is in a better position to know that than we are.

    4. MLB

      Considering the OP has trained others successfully, I think she’s a pretty good judge of whether someone is getting it or not. If she is showing her frustrations towards the newbie, that’s probably making the issues worse, but it’s not the only problem here. Some people just don’t have skills for certain jobs, and you can usually figure out who those people are rather quickly. It’s not about them being experts in their new position immediately, but about the ability to pick things up and continually improve.

      1. Adlib

        As someone who has trained people for every single job I’ve had, this is very true. It’s pretty easy to pick out who will work out and who won’t, either due to the job tasks or work habits in general.

    5. Being PushedOut

      ^This!
      I’m always forgiving on new people coz we’ve all been that person, haven’t we?

      1. AnonEMoose

        Forgiving is one thing. Assuming that the OP is essentially bullying the new hire is unkind and unhelpful.

        Being understanding is great…up to a point. But keeping the new hire in a position in which she is clearly struggling isn’t kind or fair to the new hire in the long term. Much kinder, from where I sit, to have a conversation with her about how things are going, give her some opportunity to improve, and let her go if it continues to not work out. Because then she can find a position that will hopefully be a better fit, and the company can find someone who will do better in this one.

      2. Snark

        When I’ve started new jobs, I’ve made one-off mistakes, I’ve guessed wrong, I’ve needed help….but I’ve never been accused of not whipping on things hard enough, not being skilled enough to do the job, or not being attentive enough to what I’m doing such that I made excessive mistakes.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I have, but it was a manager who didn’t want me in the job–he wanted to work with his buddy. So he made up some reasons to fire me and then hired his friend. How do I know this? Because someone who knew him told me about it later, and said he’d bragged about getting rid of me.

          But in all the years I’ve been working, this has only happened to me once. I wouldn’t say it’s common at all.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Everyone loves to root for the underdog and make it seem like the trainer is the problem.

      It’s obnoxious to say the least. There are a ton of people who are hired for jobs they cannot preform properly and no matter how much training they are given, they cannot grasp the concepts required to preform the job correctly.

      Throwing it back to the letter writer is both unkind and unhelpful.

      1. AMT

        Yep. Sure, in some highly specialized jobs, it might take months to evaluate someone’s performance, but it’s pretty easy to figure out when someone doesn’t have basic job skills (e.g. writing, time management, attention to detail). These aren’t things you can reasonably be expected to teach someone, either, so I don’t blame the LW for wanting to cut her loose.

      2. Burned Out Supervisor

        Agreed, if you’re in a job that requires extensive use of websites and the new hire barely knows how to open a web browser (actual person I’ve had to train), you pretty much know you’re in for a slog.

      3. Lissa

        yeah, I didn’t see anything here that would suggest the LW is the problem – I mean sure it’s possible but some of these replies seem kinda mean, either that or just assuming that there’s no way the employee could be bad, which seems odd – is there really no scenario where the employee just isn’t a good fit that people think it MUST be the LW? Every time it’s the trainer…?

    7. Anoncorporate

      I thought this too. Also, something I noticed in my experience is that what is considered “fast” differs widely across employers. I really hope the OP is clearly communicating expectations to the new hire, including that fact that the new hire is not meeting her expectations.

    8. Snark

      That’s a fair comment, but after a month and a half, you should have a handle on basic daily tasks sufficient for someone to draw a conclusion like this. When I was a month and a half into my new job, I was still drinking from the fire hose but I could take care of basic, routine stuff to a high standard and quickly. I think a month is sufficient to determine whether someone is picking up what you’re laying down.

    9. SheLooksFamiliar

      Came here to say this, Eeyore. I hope I’m not making the wrong inference, OP, but you do seem to dislike this new hire – at least, you have very high expectations of her that might not be reasonable for someone so new in your organization.

      There’s a reason why many companies have a 90 or even 180 day review of new hires – their company gives the new hire too much to learn, too soon, and too fast.

      1. Snark

        I think it’s reasonable to dislike – or at least, not be effusively warm and forgiving – of someone who is making your work life unpleasant because they’re insufficiently skilled, make mistakes, and drag their feet. And if she has trained others, I am inclined to trust that her expectations are calibrated – and if expectations are high, I generally do not view that as a problem.

        We are asked to give OPs the benefit of the doubt. I’m disappointed that so many posters are not doing that, and are rewriting the scenario as advice column fanfic where the person asking us for insight is actually the villain. It’s not a great look.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar

        I read these comments and you all made good points – I must have been more pessimistic than usual when I posted. OP, if you’re reading this thread I apologize for reading too much into your letter.

    10. Blueberrie

      I think that’s an unkind take. I work at a job where you have to learn things fast because it’s the nature of the work. Nothing ever stops here. If you can’t learn how to do the really critical parts of the job within 30 days, you’re in a lot of trouble. Everyone makes mistakes, of course, and there are nuances that take longer to learn, but those fundamentals need to be picked up fast.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood

      I don’t read this as dislike. I read this as someone who sees that the new hire *really* isn’t getting the hang of it. It’s a shame to have to believe it, but I’ve seen and heard stories.
      Long ago a new hire was let go at the end of the probationary period because she couldn’t remember procedures — heck, she couldn’t remember how to get to the bathroom after a week. And that was a whopping 60 feet away around 2 corners with landmarks.
      I also worked with someone who was asked to make space in the overstuffed “llamas to zebras” filing cabinet when we got a new one: “Llamas to teakettles” and “teakettles to zebras”. Unfortunately she moved chunks of files between drawers without paying attention to the way they were organized…you know how you take a stack from the back and put it in the front of the drawer below it? She got that backwards. Or sometimes she did it twice, but reversed the order of those files. And then there was the guy who made prank versions of a critical new product document… and didn’t realize he’d overwritten the real one until he released it.
      Incompetence is real, folks.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Oh and then there’s the *electrician* I heard of who didn’t think his color-blindness was worth mentioning to the factory that hired him…. the electrician hired to replace him found so many crossed wires he was nicknamed Sparky.

        1. Mrs. Fenris

          OK, OMG. Color blindness runs in my family and a couple of my male relatives have washed out of careers because of it. Heck, my son is an apprenctice pipefitter and I asked him recently, “hey, you do remember you’re a bit color blind, right? Do you ever have to do anything important that’s color coded? Because you need to not really trust your own eyes. ” I would think electrician would be one job you would self-select out of in a hurry.

    12. tinyhipsterboy

      Eh, it really depends–it’s entirely possible the new hire is clueless, or knows there are issues and doesn’t understand the severity.

  3. Mrs_helm

    I’d add something like “it would be better for us as a business to hire someone who is already proficient with X and Y”. If you know there were other applicants with that skill, point that out. Also, maybe “an applicant who already has skills X and Y would be ready to work independently sooner than new hire will”.

    1. Ops Training

      Agreed! At my job, someone with no office experience whatsoever was hired for a complicated data-entry and setup role that has a 1 year time-to-proficiency (loads of exceptions, audit trail, dealing with banks, etc). Her team leads have been visibly annoyed that she’s not “getting it” since her second month. As a result, she’s stopped asking questions and is nervous and unhappy. If they wanted someone who was up to speed sooner, they should have hired someone with some relevant experience.

  4. Lupin Lady

    What do people think about this kind of “unofficial supervisor” set up? I know it’s common, but I’m curious to see how people have included it in their resume either as the supervisor or the employee for references.

      1. Cordelia Vorkosigan

        And in the rare cases when it’s actually the case, I think it’s a terrible idea. It means you have the responsibility but not the corresponding authority. It’s an awful position to be in.

        1. MassMatt

          I agree that it can be a terrible position to be in but in some industries it’s very common. A former employer of mine had a byzantine process for hiring and promotion, roles would go unfilled for months, meanwhile the supervisory work would pile up. Some executives seemed to view it as a strategy, “show me who is already doing the job and hire/promote them”. My own boss for several years (a VP) waited 18 months for a title change and longer for the salary increase.

          If someone says they supervised without having a title, ask probing questions about their responsibilities during the interview, and check their references. It is possible the candidate is padding their resume, it’s also possible the candidate is exactly the kind of go-getter that takes on additional responsibilities most employers say they want.

        2. designbot

          It’s the norm in my field where people have a certain seniority and are expected to supervise teams, but don’t have hire/fire abilities. They are expected to contribute to those conversations, and may even advocate for their juniors’ advancement or compensation, but don’t have the power to make it happen themselves.

        3. Glitsy Gus

          This is the exact boat I’m in. I’m essentially supervising a team in all but name and while they’re good folks who generally do good work, should there be an issue with someone I can’t really deal with it myself and I have to basically play telephone by communicating the issue to my boss so she can deal with the employee. It’s a waste of time and energy.

          Plus, I’m not paid for all the extra work and responsibility, I’m also not getting the title to show my experience, which is getting to be a problem for me.

      2. Les G

        In this case, my read is that while OP isn’t the supervisor, she’s the person who has had the most chances to observe this new hire’s work.

    1. ArtK

      “Team lead” is the term I’ve used. Responsible for assigning and assessing work, but not for direct management — reviews, personnel issues, etc.

      1. MLB

        At my last company Team Lead was an actual position, and they did act as a supervisor between the team and the manager. There were generally several team leads under each manager depending on the size of the department. But you’re either someone’s supervisor or you’re not. If you can’t be involved in designating work and discipline, you’re not a supervisor.

        1. LQ

          But I’ve definately had roles were I was responsible for assigning and assessing work and even professional growth (if the people on my team grew or not was part of the job I was responsible for and could have been fired for) but not discipline or hire/fire. I think it’s really fairly common to separate those roles out.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House

            Same here. What it usually meant was I responsible for directing someone, but if they refused to follow my direction, my boss would have to handle the consequences part.

          2. Anna

            I worked in this sort of set up. My lead could assign work, give us an idea of what priorities we needed to focus on, give us deadlines (that usually came from management) and basically oversee our day-to-day, but could not discipline/hire/fire anyone. But it was up to them to provide information if firing or discipline was coming up. It worked out really well. I didn’t have to deal with a nutty manager most of the time, and my lead was really good. Downside was that she was also by the book to a fault so when I asked her for a reference after HR had said the company could no longer give them, I couldn’t get one from her, the one person who knew my work the best.

      2. Cordelia Vorkosigan

        But team lead is an official position, right? Not an unofficial, “here, you can deal with the day-to-day responsibility but I’m not giving you any kind of real authority over your co-workers” situation.

        1. Frozen Ginger

          Yes and no?
          Like my company has officially titled Team Leads, but we also use “team lead” colloquially. Like my Team Lead is in charge of ~25 people, then there are project team leads who are in charge of like 6-10 people, and then there’s me, a “team lead” of a team that’s literally me and one other dude.

        2. Cobol

          In my profession it’s fairly common to have somebody who manages a particular account, including workflow and performance (even with higher ranking people assigned to the team), and then separately manage direct reports who may or may not be on said team.

      3. ArtK

        I don’t think it matters whether the job is official or not. It is a very common role. In some places it does have a title and in others it’s just what a more senior person does. Don’t get hung up on titles. If you want to put something on your resume, mention all of the duties you took on and what the results were.

        I just checked my resumes and I never used that as an official title in the experience section. I was “Senior Software Engineer” or something like that. But I list things like “Assigned and monitored tasks performed by team members” or some such text. “Provided input on team performance to manager for annual reviews.”

        1. Mazzy

          This is where I ended up when I went through this. I put “Sr. Coordinator” and “hired and managed two Jr. Coordinators” because those were the titles, and I let people ask about it, if they care. I figured it was best just to go with the truth.

    2. TC

      I was one for a bit — the previous team lead had moved on and I was the most experienced. It caused a bit of a rift in the team (there were three of us) because I hadn’t been there the longest, (upon reflection) I wasn’t really the best at it and, most of all, the informal-ness of it meant that I had no real sway on how things got done. I jumped at the chance to move teams when the opportunity arose. I don’t intend to list it on my resume when time comes, I think I would just mention my successes as a part of the original role.

    3. BRR

      I basically hate the entire concept of an “unofficial supervisor.” It’s often part of the whole responsibility without authority thing. What happens a lot is like what’s going on in this letter, the LW has the headache but can’t do anything about it. It’s like seeing something is on fire but somebody else is holding the fire extinguisher and won’t use it.

    4. Less Bread More Taxes

      I currently have an unofficial supervisor. She’s a coworker that I can’t stand for multiple reasons. During the hiring process, I wasn’t told that she’d be involved in training or anything like that. In fact, it wasn’t until I was at the job for three months that I was told I’d be continuing my training with her and that she’d be doing my one-to-ones from now on, even though she has no actual authority over me. It’s weird.

    5. ISuckAtUserNames

      I’m in that position now wrt to someone we hired right around the new year. She was an internal transfer, so not new-new, but the expectation is that I will mostly dictate her day to day responsibilities and get her up to speed. I would be her supervisor officially, but corporate hierarchy only allows so many levels.

    6. OhNo

      From the places I’ve been, the “unofficial supervisor” is usually code for something else that might not be resume-worthy – usually either “trainer” or “senior colleague”.

    7. Remote Worker and Dog Lover

      I don’t like it. It’s really hard to supervise someone functionally without having any power to directly address performance issues. I’ve mentioned it in my resume before.

    8. Dust Bunny

      I’ve been an “unofficial supervisor” and basically it meant I had some responsibility but no authority *and also not enough training/support* to do the job well, so it always makes me suspicious.

    9. Anoncorporate

      This is the structure in my workplace. Basically, your manager tells you to train new hires on certain tasks without it being a formal assignment or title. I’m generally happy to help people, but my compensation totally does not reflect this added leadership role I do as part of my job.

    10. Ruby

      Have had heaps of experience in the fake supervisor role numerous times and now I’m a real supervisor. Fake supervisor the worst because you deal with all the bad behaviours and training issues bit have no real authority except to tell higher-ups, who don’t seem to care.

    11. Elizabeth West

      Depends–some places with project teams have team leads. They aren’t really managers and have no hiring or firing responsibility, but they do have some discretion over the direction of a work unit and in assigning tasks, training, etc. I saw them in manufacturing and food service as well.

    12. Emily K

      I usually frame it more task-specific, like, “Coordinated the efforts of XYZ employees to…” or “Directed XYZ employees in the production of…” or “Trained new hires in XYZ…” instead of using managed/supervised terminology, even if there is a lot of overlap between coordinating/directing/training and managing/supervising. The non-overlapping area – the part where you do formal performance assessments, make decisions about hiring/firing/raises/employment terms – is a big enough area that I worry about creating a misleading impression if I call what I do managing/supervising with anyone but my direct report.

    13. Anon Anon Anon

      I have been there, and it was always because something wasn’t running the way it should be – a manager had left suddenly, a manager was doing something inappropriate, there was an overall lack of leadership, etc.

      I once trained a new hire only to find out that she was higher up in the org chart than I was. This caused mutual feelings of anger and resentment. It happened because our manager hired her right before leaving and didn’t explain to us what the other person’s role was (we worked in different cities and never met face to face). And I actually had more experience, at least in some areas. So she had questions and I taught her stuff. But then she was upset about having been taught things by someone lower and I was upset about the way she treated me afterwards and the lack of any kind of credit (pay, thank you, anything) for training someone when that wasn’t in my job description. I was putting in a lot of overtime to bring her up to speed. The company had a very rigid structure so there wasn’t much that could be done about it. I kept trying to get along with her and she kept being mean and extremely condescending, trying to put me in my place and throw her weight around. Eventually, I left.

  5. Rusty Shackelford

    Since you’ve already successfully trained other people in this position (if I’m understanding correctly), it seems like you’re in a good place to say “every other teapot painter I’ve trained has been able to do x, y, and z at this point, and she’s struggling with all of those.”

    1. Crystal

      Yeah, I think bringing up past examples of where trainees have been might be the only way for this to work.

    2. Academic Addie

      I was thinking this, too. And it might be a good idea to formalize this, and cover it with the trainee at the start, so they can self-assess as they go. I train people in a highly technical field, and I do have some benchmarks that I expect trainees to meet. Obviously, they still make mistakes, but if they can stop, think about it, and hit the benchmark (even if they need to look at documentation), that’s fine.

    3. designbot

      That’s what I was thinking as well. By this point I would normally be able to count on her to do the following things: (list, list, list), but she still requires more supervision from me. I’ve trained people and am not generally impatient with the process; I am telling you that this is going poorly compared to the usual training progression.

  6. Peaches

    Obviously we can’t know just based on the context, but it concerns me a little that OP says that the new hire “doesn’t work fast enough.” Are you setting the standards of “fast enough” to be in line with the fact that she IS still new?

    1. Midwest Writer

      Interesting question. Or maybe OP is super fast at the work, but a slower pace is actually considered normal for an average employee?

    2. Coffee Bean

      Given that OP has trained other New Hires in this role I assumed that she would have a good feel for how much time it would take a New Hire to do things.

      1. Anna

        Eh, I think it’s too vague. If OP needs to take examples to her boss to present the issues, “not fast enough” isn’t going to be very helpful. I worked with a woman who said I didn’t work fast enough when what she meant was to her liking. It wasn’t that I didn’t get my work done; it was that I didn’t get in a time frame that she preferred. Our relationship was similar to this one where she was training me and acting as my “unofficial supervisor,” so when I heard that she thought I was slow, I wasn’t all that worried. If she had said we had to have X number of boxes of pencils counted in Y time and I was only getting through half of them in that amount of time, that would have been more useful feedback.

      2. Cobol

        I’m not saying this is the case here, but…. it depends. Some people who are fast value speed above all else, so they value what they do well. So they could have trained people previously who are fast, but this new hire brings something else that’s just as important to the table.

        There’s nothing to say this is true in this case, just that OP’s manger is not going along with OP’s assessment.

    3. Someone Else

      I’ve been in a similar position to OP before and while talking to a stranger (or advice columnist) I might just say “not fast enough”, when I took it to the boss what I actually said was “We expect people in the role to be able to do Task X within 3 hours. Every other person we’ve had in this role in the past four years was able to get to that average within their first six months on the job. In their first three months, they mostly hovered around the 4 hour mark. This person has been here six months and her average is 7 hours. That’s not acceptable and not sustainable and we’re losing money every time we have her to Task X based on what we charge for it.”
      I didn’t bother bringing up that my personal average is less than an hour, by six month for me was just over an hour. It didn’t matter that I’m REALLY fast. Even compared to everyone who isn’t me, this person was way way way behind.
      And I’m simplifying the example here too, because basically ever measure I had of ever common repeatable task, this person was slower at everything but giant margins.

      So, I might be projecting, but learning from the above (where it took eons for that person to be let go), I’m very on board with OP making her concerns very well known now, while still in the probationary period. I didn’t really fully express my concerns until much later because I was worried my expectations were unfair because I was a high performer. But I knew within a month that person was probably not up to the task, and they dragged the rest of us down for over a year.

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

      I think if you’ve trained before, you know. I had trained two folks, they took at most 4 hours to make the edits to our requirements – the Llama herding document. The third person? 3 weeks for the same kind of changes, and when he brought it back, he’d edited in his own ideas (get rid of Llamas, use chickens) and NOT made most of the requested changes. (didn’t track his changes, either, fortunately I kept a copy of the original so I had a roll back point).

      You know when it is faster to do all their work yourself, that they are a bad hire. In my company, when I asked to not have to work with #3 and why, they assumed it was me (despite my examples) because I am fast. They moved him to another team (sheep herding) where his documentation was also a mess. It took over six months to terminate him. He was a contractor. But word had gotten around and no one would use him.

      The lousy manager who was actually in charge of him? Still there.

  7. LaDeeDa

    I think you need to have a conversation with the new employee. You have to figure out where the block is- is it really a skills issue, is it a training issue, is it a communication issue? People have different communication styles and she may not be learning in the style that you are training. Is she expected to take notes and document for herself what she is being told or is there a manual? Often when people are tasked to train someone, they may not do the task in a sequence that makes sense to someone who is unfamiliar with your system/processes. People will often jump from task to task, start something and then stop with an “Oh I forgot to show you this first…” and it can be confusing.
    If you are feeling impatient she may have reached a point where she is nervous to ask you clarifying questions.
    Your assessment may be 100% accurate, but I think it is worth exploring how the employee feels her progress is and ask her what areas she feels uncertain about and what can be done to help her move forward. If there is a 60 day probationary period I would expect that there would be check-ins with the employee during that time. No one should get close to that 60 day mark and be surprised they are being let go.
    This will also help your case with your boss if you do still feel like she isn’t a right fit for the position.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes

      I agree with this, but if OP already doesn’t like her, that conversation is going to be super biased. Someone other than OP should be discussing that with the new hire.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, I don’t know where that’s coming from here and above. She’s pretty factual about what the problems are. Those are real problems that you can easily observe at this stage in someone’s tenure.

        2. Less Bread More Taxes

          She says “It has been frustrating to train her and my work life has been pretty miserable since she started.” I read that as a general dislike since no one should be miserable at work because of one person after less than 60 days, but of course I could be wrong.

          1. ArtK

            For me, 60 days of trying to train someone and seeing no improvement would make me pretty frustrated and unhappy. Especially if my boss kept saying “try harder” and ignoring the issues.

            1. AnonEMoose

              Yeah, this. At this point I’d be more annoyed with the boss for not listening that I would be with the coworker for not learning. Some people just really struggle with some things. And really, would it be kind or productive to keep coworker in a position in which she’s struggling?

          2. AnonEMoose

            I can’t speak for anyone else – but I can be frustrated with someone in a given situation, but not personally dislike them. I’ve trained people before, and it is frustrating and demoralizing to be trying to train someone who just doesn’t seem to be getting it.

            I generally enjoy training (although, being an introvert, I find it somewhat draining), but when someone is just not catching on, it IS frustrating. It doesn’t mean I think they’re a terrible person in any way.

            I just think that jumping to “well, you clearly hate New Coworker, and you’re making her so nervous that you’re causing her to make mistakes…” is pretty unkind to the OP.

            1. Emily K

              Yes, I have a colleague who isn’t in my management chain but I have to work with frequently and we are physically seated near enough each other in our very large office that I chat with him a lot more than other colleagues, and I genuinely like him as a person.

              I still groan internally about half the time I have to actually work with him because he is bad at his job. But there was a decently long period of time where I was frustrated but hadn’t written him off as hopeless yet and continued trying to correct and have pattern conversations to nudge him in the right direction. My spidey sense about his fitness for the job started tingling around month 6 and it was about month 18 before I completely gave up on him.

          3. Les G

            Someone certainly could be miserable at work if their time is now taken up by correcting someone else’s mistakes instead of doing their own job, yes.

            Why are folks studiously avoiding giving this particular OP the benefit of the doubt?

            1. Où est la bibliothèque?

              I think commenters are confusing “trainee might feel disliked if she heard this feedback” (or “I would feel disliked in her position”) with “LW actually dislikes trainee.”

          4. Asenath

            I don’t see being frustrated with a situation, or even with the new hire’s lack of progress as being the same thing as disliking her personally. I’ve been frustrated with some aspects of the behaviour of lots of people I like.

          5. Snark

            What? If I had spent two months teaching someone who was having multiple issues, I can easily see being miserable, and I can easily imagine many people having a similar reaction.

          6. Lavender Menace

            A month and a half is a long time to work with someone who consistently is performing below the mark, especially if your own work is dependent upon them. It’s not surprising at all if the OP feels frustrated and miserable, especially if training this employee takes up a decent chunk of her time.

          7. Doodle

            That’s not dislike. That’s a factual description of what’s going. I have several decades worth of experience in training and teaching. I assure you, it’s entirely possible to be frustrated training someone who is just not learning well enough for whatever reason, and not dislike them. In fact, it’s possible to find them to be delightful, and still frustrating.
            It sounds like OP’s work life is miserable because she is spending so much time on this trainee and not seeing results.

          8. pleaset

            The “dislike” is because of the poor performance. It’s not the poor performance because of the dislike.

            Think about the order.

  8. BRR

    I think showing your boss examples of mistakes that are continuously happening would be useful in this situation. I would maybe approach it as this is still taking up a significant amount of your time and it’s impacting your workload (if this is true).

      1. Perpal

        How is there an update in 2014; it didn’t say this was an archived post? I think that one is unrelated.

      1. Someone Else

        Alison mentioned recently that she didn’t want people circumventing the “all links go to moderation” process by linking stuff in their name, and if it continued too much she’d disable the ability to put links there. So, maybe that happened?

    1. epi

      I don’t have a place to enter a personal website anymore, but if you search the site for “how do I tell my boss that our new hire needs to be fired?” the update will be in the first handful of results.

      The OP did document the mistakes and their impact, including the pretty strong statement that it would actually be easier to do both of their work herself. The coworker was let go, and the replacement is a big improvement.

      Soooo basically the OP was right. She had specific examples to support her opinion of the coworker’s performance, examples that were compelling to their boss. And they were able to hire someone else who could meet the standard set by not only the OP, but previous people the OP had trained.

  9. YoungTen

    I cant help but feel sorry for her. Shes probably nervous and can sense your attitude. I know how annoying it can be to deal with somone who makes mistakes. But Is getting rid of her and starting the process all over again really the answer? Does she have other qualities that could be worth giving her more time? Does she have a teachable personality? I understand she makes mistakes but does she own them? Does she have a good disposition? I understand you may be low on patience, but she may be one of the most loyal people you come into contact with. Many people would stick with a company that gave them the extra chance. Sometimes pepople may need more thatn 8 weeks

    1. AnonEMoose

      So I have to ask…why do you have so much sympathy for the new hire, and none for the OP? Because that is an attitude I’m seeing from quite a few people here, and I find it puzzling.

      Because as I’ve said…I don’t see evidence for all of this dislike for the new hire that so many people are assigning to the OP, and it seems pretty unkind to the OP. Yes, OP is frustrated…but in her shoes, wouldn’t you be frustrated? OP says nothing except that she is frustrated and that this situation is making her work life unhappy, but personally, I think that’s entirely understandable.

      OP also has training experience, specifically for this position. Sometimes, no matter how hard a person tries, a particular position is just not right for them. That’s not a reflection on their value as a person, in any way, just that different people have different strengths. And maybe, in the long term, it would be better for the new hire to find a position that’s a better match for the things she does well.

      1. BRR

        Yeah I’m really not understanding why so many people seem to be reading that the LW doesn’t like the new hire and goes against the commenting policy of taking the LW at their word. The LW has trained people before and is incredibly likely to be able to compare this hire’s progress against others.

        1. Cordelia Vorkosigan

          Same. Yes, OP says she is frustrated, but trying to teach someone something when they’re just not getting it is an inherently frustrating position to be in, for both parties concerned. OP saying she was frustrated doesn’t imply anything to me about whether or not she likes/dislikes her trainee.

          1. Blue

            It also doesn’t imply that OP is taking her frustration out on the coworker. It’s possible that it’s seeping through (if I were her, it definitely would be), but that’s not necessarily the case. I was close friends with the person in charge of training for my last office, and she could remain non-judgmental and approachable even when a newish person was asking a variation of the same question for the 30th time and she internally wanted to throttle them. People should be giving OP the benefit of the doubt, here.

            1. pleaset

              After some time the OP should be judgemental. Not, perhaps, on day 1, but after some time.

              And after that time, the OP’s judgement is that the person is not suited for the job. That’s important, especially if it’s true (which it probably is).

              We have to be “judgemental” at work sometimes. It’s important.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

        I’m with you, I’m not sure why everyone’s vilifying the OP I didn’t read anything in the letter that indicates that this is anything other than a new employee not suited for the job.

        If we (global we) take the position that it’s ok for an employee to realize in the first 2-3 months that a position isn’t right for them, shouldn’t we also accept that an employer (in this case trainer) can realize the same of an employee?

      3. YoungTen

        Not sure what part of my comment you have to ask about. Its pretty clear my stance. Thats what makes this comment section so great. We can all have our opinions. My personal experience leads me to this position.

        1. AnonEMoose

          Our personal experiences are all we have, really. But I don’t think your position is in any way supported by the content of the letter.

          I have experience both of training people (and of having them work out well in the position, and not) and of being fired from a job for things not working out. And it’s not fun on either end when someone doesn’t work out in a new position.

          But I don’t think it’s fair or kind to assume that the OP has malicious intent, which is basically what you’re assigning to her.

        2. Snark

          Your stance has no basis in the letter. Where are you getting “she might be loyal” and “what if she has a teachable personality” and stuff? You’re making it up! This is advice column fanfic.

        3. biobotb

          AnonEMoose asked *why* you’re giving all the benefit of the doubt to the trainee and not the OP, and you did not explain that part at all. (And based on the update, getting rid of her and finding a replacement was exactly the solution needed.)

    2. Autumnheart

      The trainee wasn’t hired to show up and have a good disposition. She was hired to do a job. She can’t do it. It’s time to fire her. There’s literally no reason to continue to employ dead weight, and tons of reasons not to. It doesn’t mean the trainee is a bad person who can’t be a good employee, but *this* job clearly isn’t the place for her. The faster OP’s boss fires her, the faster the trainee finds the right job.

      1. Emily K

        Yes, this. It’s similar to the people who wonder why employers won’t take a chance on an unproven employee with a lot of potential….seemingly forgetting that the employer’s goal is to run their business providing a product or service, and they hire employees in service of that goal; their goal isn’t to create great jobs and award them to deserving people. They hire the person who is best positioned to help them meet their business needs.

        Maybe this new hire could muddle through and do an acceptable job with lots of support and coaching and patience and hand-holding. But that doesn’t make keeping her on and providing all that scaffolding the right decision for the business, whose primary goal is to get its products/services out the door and keep their customers satisfied, not provide employment to someone.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It vastly depends on the errors, are they the same or different ones? A sunny smile and “sorry!! My bad!!” is a nail under the fingernails when you are on your 12th error in the day. I adored a former report as a human but he couldn’t proof his work. Data entry errors in 50% of his order entries when 75% of his job he was hired to do was processing orders.

      More than 8 weeks of training sounds like a nightmare. I recall someone who wanted a month of training for a warehouse picking job. Needless to say, he wasn’t cut out for a single person ran warehouse setup we had running and was let go within two months.

      If you can’t do a job in their training period allotted, the fact is you aren’t suited for the job.

      Not suited for A Job in A Place doesn’t mean you’re bad, that you’ll never find a job anywhere ever or anything but we are all different.

      You can’t keep trying to hammer the square peg into the circular hole because the square peg learns differently and the rude circular hole just isn’t flexible enough…

    4. Snark

      Ok, on a personal level, feel sorry for her, but ffs, can we please stop giving the LW the gears and take what she’s saying on face value?

    5. pleaset

      “But Is getting rid of her and starting the process all over again really the answer?”

      Yes. It is.

  10. Mr M

    I was hired a few years ago as a fitness facility mechanic from another industry to maintain & service fitness equipment. I was assigned a fitness center & was supposed to be trained by the only other fitness mechanic there. It became obvious to me after the first few days that he hated my guts. He asked me several times a day, why I wanted to work there & openly mock me in front of members. I realized later that his constant texting while watching me were probably have texts to our boss. The end finally came after about 6 weeks when he taught me this elaborate, but wrong way to change a belt on a treadmill. Then when the boss was in town, invited him to come over. He had me change a belt on a treadmill while he watched. My boss watched me do it with an alarmed look on his face, while the guy who taught me laughed. Boss asked me where I learned to change a belt like that & when I pointed to my trainer who was still laughing, he shook his head & I realized he had deliberately trained me wrong to get me in trouble with our boss. I felt like a scene in an old cartoon where that character turns into a sucker. Without saying a word, I put my tools back in my toolbox and walked out the door without saying a word or looking back. My face felt burning red…

    1. LaDeeDa

      WOW! If I was the boss I would have felt horrible, and I would have fired that guy on the spot not you!! Best you got out of such a weird and toxic work culture.

      1. Mr M

        It’s obvious to me now that the daily harrassment was to get me to quit. Why, I’m still not sure. When he realized I was determined to succeed at this, he planned a somewhat elaborate ruse to get me fired & humiliate me in the process. I can STILL see that look of contempt on his face whenever he would look at me…

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      That is terrifying, not only because he was such a horrific bully but he could have gotten you, others or the machines hurt in the process. What a vile person and I’m sorry that the boss seemed to just accept that jerk was fit for the job. My bosses would have fired anyone who was so grotesque in their actions. Hazing isn’t acceptable.

      1. Jennifer Thneed

        And the jerk trainer might well have been fired. We know nothing of what happened after Mr. M. walked out.

  11. The Man, Becky Lynch

    My first response is to ask you if you have tried to work with her to find out how she learns best.

    It sounds like your boss isn’t good at hiring people, she hates the hiring process and is the person who is throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick. Been there, done that. You can only let her know the errors that are happening and the processes that she’s not grasping.

    Sadly in my case, my bosses have been too stubborn to listen to me. So I just dealt with it, I left the jobs not to far afterwards and guess what, once the boss had to train them or deal with their errors without me fixing them, the person was fired within weeks of my departure.

    My best advice is to dig down deep inside of yourself and not take this personally. Detach yourself. Continue to be kind and understanding to her at all costs.

  12. Anoncorporate

    Some information that’s missing from this letter is whether the OP had been communicating directly and clearly with the new hire. It depends on the job, but at least in my workplace, 1.5 months is, like, no time and new employees are still learning the ropes and making sense of everyday logistics. (We don’t really train people, just throw them in to the pool and see if they swim.). Those of us who are more tenures collectively pitch in to coach new hires to get them up to speed. Some things we try to clearly communicate to new hires is 1) What is expected of them and what is considered the benchmark for success; 2) what’s considered normal and acceptable in our office culture, and 3) any insights into personal quirks of managers and anyone else they will be working with frequently. A lot of this is done to make up for our poor manager who does not communicate the above points whatsoever, causing confusion and uncertainty among everyone. If I felt like someone was genuinely unskilled for the job they were in (something I haven’t experienced), it would definitely show at the end of their probationary period without me saying anything.

    1. Susie Q

      I agree with this. OP sounds like “I’ve always trained people XYZ so it must be new hire’s fault” without analyzing the potential that her trainings are not as good as she thinks. I did a temporary assignment on our company education services team and that really opened my eyes to how to properly train/adjust training for different people. The reason we do this..different people bring different skills and benefits to a team.

  13. Fired

    Could your dislike of her be the issue, OP? If she’s having trouble with a few tasks and is taking a big longer, are you being impatient with her, which in turn might make her not perform as well?

    I am only saying this because I lost a job recently because of a situation where I was training for a new job. The person training me wasn’t fond of me and it showed greatly. She would treat me horribly when mistakes were made, even to the point of screaming at me. This had a domino effect of things going wrong.

    I am wondering if this is the case…

    (Side note: I did go to the person above her, who is the owner of the company and nothing he did rectified the situation. His answer was to fire me, because he didn’t want to upset the long time colleague, who was retiring anyway. Glad to be the hell away from that situation. I’ve found something much better!)

    1. AnonEMoose

      Ok, seriously, lots of people here are suggesting this, and it seems very unkind and unfair to the OP.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        I feel people protecting so loudly…they had terrible experiences where they are like Fired, treated horridly and let go.

        Whereas others who have witnessed bad hires before understand that most likely OP isn’t doing anything wrong…it’s a bad hire.

        Like did this hire lie or exaggerate their skills?! I’ve seen it happen many times. They say whatever needs to happen to get a chance. Then when brought in, they type with hunt n peck at 5 WPM and can’t open an internet browser…but they say they’ve worked extensively with computers for 97 years and can answer 586 emails within half a day! Just like they did at Last Job!

        1. LGC

          I mean, you and anon are right that the comments are giving LW a lot of heat and a lot of us are projecting our own experiences. But I actually picked up on a touch of dislike in the letter myself, and I think Fired brings up a good point – if the LW treated the new hire with the same tone she wrote her letter with, that probably made things worse.

          (Huge caveat: this is a person who wrote in to an anonymous job advice column about having to train an underperforming hire and not having any formal authority. Obviously, and understandably, she was frustrated.)

          But I don’t think Fired was unkind to question the LW’s behavior here – that could have been an issue!

    2. Fired

      I was fully qualified for the job. I had worked in a Teapot shipping/receiving office before in a different industry. They had a different set up. The person training me literally would only half train me on things or purposely give me wrong information. Seriously, I overheard her tell one of her friends at work about the crap she was pulling on me.

      I definitely didn’t lie or exaggerate about my skills. I was very honest in my interview about a few things that I didn’t know in regards to that position such as the program they used for shipping/receiving and the industry was new to me. Basically besides a new program and industry: there were very similar processes to do the actual job from a previous one I was at for over 10 years.

  14. Xarcady

    At one job, I was a Team Lead. Did not have hire/fire capabilities, but did have input. And I trained all new hires in the department (and did some training for all new hires in the company). By the time the employee I am about to write about arrived, I had trained about 15 people for this position.

    One new hire was given a special, one-off task by the owner her first week, because of a certain skill set she had, that we did not hire her for. She did a great job, so the owner got a really good first impression of her. Unfortunately, she did not do so well in her day to day work.

    Basically, the first two weeks she was great. And then she got worse. Things she was able to do in week 2, she could not do in week 4. I had no idea what was causing this. I retrained her. I got someone in her same position to work with her, thinking maybe my training style just didn’t mesh with her learning style. Nothing. She remained mediocre at best, and pretty bad at worst., unable to remember from one day to the next how to do certain very basic parts of her job.

    I discussed this with the owner at the 1.5 month mark and the 2 month mark, as we had a 90 day probation period. 2.5 months in, I strongly recommended that we let her go. The owner disagreed. I asked the owner to check with the other person who had trained her, who also felt she would never catch on to the job. Nope, she was staying.

    About 9 months in, I think the owner got a clue that things were not working out, after the entire team had spent countless hours correcting her mistakes and doing half her jobs for her. But she was not fired. Instead, I got the worst performance review of my life because I “had done an inadequate job training” her and “had not been able to bring her up to her full potential.”

    I tend to believe the LW. Sometimes you can just tell that someone isn’t going to work out in a job. My advice to the LW is to be pretty blunt with her boss. Make it clear the employee isn’t learning. And then ask something like, “So, going forward if we keep her on, she will only be able to produce about half as much as the other team members and all her work will need a QC check. How do you propose we work that into the team schedule? Do you want everyone about to QC her work, or just me? If it’s just me, it’s going to take about an hour a day. So I’ll have to hand off some of my work to someone else. What do you propose handing off and to whom?”

    Make it clear what the impact of keeping this person on will be and make it clear the boss needs to figure out how to deal with that.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Please tell me after that sandbagging BS review you found a new job. That’s toxic sludge right there.

      1. Xarcady

        Yes, I did. Took about a month. The owner’s face when I gave my notice was a mixture of stunned and frightened–I was working on a large job for our most important client and my last day was two weeks before the deadline. There was no one to take my place, as everyone else was flat out with multiple projects. The owner had been ignoring my requests to hire more help for a year.

        Actions have consequences. Treat me unfairly–I will not stay around for more.

    2. Elizabeth West

      That totally sucks. And now they had a person in a job where she was going to struggle. That kind of thing makes everyone unhappy. What a terrible boss.

  15. Artemesia

    Never wait till day 59 to fire someone when it is clear they are not working out. I have seen people get pushed past the probation period and then be impossible to fire and then you are stuck with the incompetent indefinitely. This is particularly bad in a government position. If the person is not catching on and doing good work after reasonable patience,time and training then a serious conversation needs to be initiated with the boss about letting her go before it becomes very hard to do so.

  16. Anne

    She’s talked to the boss twice already about the employee’s performance. Seems like she knows OP thinks it’s important but does not agree. A third time within the span of 6 weeks seems like overkill.

  17. Liberry Pie

    I was in this situation once. A new hire was needing to be told things too many times and having trouble balancing different tasks. I asked if we could extend his probation (not sure what that would’ve accomplished, but I wanted to send a signal that he needed to shape up). I remember my boss’s boss saying to me, “I know you wanted a superstar, but not everyone is going to be a superstar.” He wasn’t doing anything that would’ve been fireable if the probation period had been over, he just wasn’t great, and that was disappointing and frustrating. He stayed on and remained frustrating, but I still think the point made sense. Some people are just not going to be great, and there’s a distinction between “not great” and “should be fired.”

  18. GreenDoor

    Is there a quantitative way to compare the new hire to others you’ve trained in the same position? Like, are you able to say “By 3 weeks, others have been able to do X, Y, and Z but new hire hasn’t even mastered X, let alone Y and Z” or “By 4 weeks in, other hires have been able to complete Task J in 15 minutes and she takes almost 45” I mean, can you give your boss specific context for just how poorly the hire is doing?

    If not, try being more frank. I’d say something like, “I know how frustrating it owuld be to have to re-post and re-hire all over again, but wouldn’t that be better than keeping on someone who works considerably slower than (rest of team) or who clearly doens’t have the skills we need?” I mean, spell it out that the pain of rehiring is less than the pain of keeping on an employee who lacks what you need.

  19. Ginger

    I’m definitely giving the OP the benefit of the doubt on this one. The last thing an employer, trainer, or HR wants to do is hire someone, train them for a few weeks, and then have to turn around and start all over again. It’s time consuming and expensive. I’m in HR and we’ve only had to do that once in the 15 years at my job. We hired someone that we weren’t 100% sure about but she knew some of our employees so we gave her the benefit of the doubt (lesson learned there!) and hired her. After a few weeks, her supervisor met with me and said it just wasn’t working out for many of the same reasons that the OP describes. She said it was like every day was the first day for this person and she wasn’t grasping even the most basic tasks. This supervisor has trained many employees so I trusted that she knew what she was talking about.

    We met with the new employee and tried to be as kind as possible when telling her it just wasn’t working out but we wished her the best. Sh*t hit the fan though…later that day, at 4:55 on a Friday, her husband came up to our office and demanded to speak to either the supervisor or HR. Fortunately our security guard told him that we were both gone for the day. On Monday at 8:00 am, he’s calling and yelling at me over the phone, demanding to know why she was terminated, that he wanted to speak with our CEO, and threatening to sue us. I told him that we don’t discuss employment decisions with anyone other than the employee, he would not be speaking with our CEO (at least not through me), and we would respond to any lawsuit that came our way via our own attorney. To be honest I was pretty worried for a while that he would retaliate in some way but fortunately we never heard anything else from either of them.

  20. Rainbow Roses

    So many comments blaming the OP or saying it’s because the OP dislike the new hire.

    It was probably just not a good fit. There doesn’t have to be “villain” in every story. Sometimes nobody is to blame. I doubt anyone is perfect after only three months but they usually understand the basics by then. If this person wasn’t even getting the basics to build upon, it’s best to let her go so she can find an environment where she can thrive.

    Anyway, a commenter posted a link to the update above. The new hire was let go and the OP said the person who replaced her worked out really well.

  21. Cassandra Mortmain

    I train new hires on my team, and for what it’s worth, I’ve found the 6 week-1.5 month mark — exactly where you are — to be the roughest point. For the first 3 weeks, we’re so happy to have a deputy llama groomer, and I had such low expectations of what they’d be able to do going in, that it seems like things are great. Then around the six-week point, it doesn’t feel to you, like the established employee, that they’re new anymore (even though they are!), and all of the things they DON’T know and CAN’T do are suddenly really frustrating. Usually around the 10-week mark, they take another big step up, and that’s the level where they’re going to be for awhile. (Our probationary period is 90 days, and by day 90, I can usually guess pretty accurately who will be doing well 6-12 months later.) But that month between Week 6 and Week 10 is often really rough, even with people who end up doing great.

    I am not saying your hire is going to end up doing great — I trust your judgment on this! A couple of things that might help. I am always very clear with new hires about what we’re focusing on in the training period and what they need to do by the end. (I work with writers, so it’s usually “You need to be able to do X and Y kind of writing in Z amount of time, meeting XY specifications. Even though it will eventually be part of your job, you don’t need to pitch your own projects or write to X length; we’re going to focus on the essentials first.”) I will also sometimes make a week to week plan with their manager: by the end of week 2 they need to be able to do this, by the end of week 5 do this, by the end of week 10 they should be doing most major components of the job with help from me as needed.

    Allison’s idea of describing exactly what’s going wrong and the effect it’s having is a good one. I hope someone is also being clear with the employee (either you or her supervisor) that this isn’t normal. It’s possible she thinks this much correction or feedback or whatever you’re doing in the moment is just how your industry works.

  22. Rez123

    This is tough. I hate to imagine what my manager/team lead though of me after 60 days. It takes time to learn, unless she obviously lied in her CV. Usually in situation like this the feelings are one sided. I think the new employeee knows that she is not doing great. I’d have a coversation to see how she feels and then go from there to see if the feeling is mutual or if it can be improved

  23. Jennifer

    I feel your pain because I honestly hate training new people, especially when you’re expected to do all of your normal work on top of that. It sounds like you’re stretched thin and tired of her coming to you with questions. If that attitude is coming through when she approaches you, she may try and fix issues herself instead of talking to you which may be the reason for some of the mistakes. 60 days isn’t very long. Can she be assigned to someone else? Do you really want to start this entire process over with someone new?

  24. Helena Handbasket

    It’s very surprising to me that so many people think it’s impossible to judge a new hire’s fitness after a month and a half. I think you can usually tell within the first week! Not that you’d expect them to have all the specific skills and knowledge, but: Are they grasping things that are explained to them? Are they asking good questions and following up if they don’t understand the answers? Are they making forward progress, so that the questions they ask today aren’t the same ones they asked yesterday and the day before that and the day before that? Do they have a good attitude and work ethic?

    I am currently dealing with a situation like OP’s, and it’s a tremendous frustration. My team knew pretty immediately this guy wasn’t going to work out. It was like we were supposed to teach him calculus and he hadn’t grasped arithmetic yet. But our management took the “give it time, more training, etc.” line. Now it’s over a year later. We have been reduced to making up fake “training exercises” for him to do all day, because there’s no way he can do the actual work. Guess who picks up the slack (as well as having to help him with his fake exercises)? I just can’t understand the attempt to make the OP the bad guy here.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Omg he’s still there with training exercises after a year?!!?? What a waste of revenue for a seat warmer.

  25. Jennifer

    I read the update. I guess a lot of people are identifying with the trainee instead of the OP because most of us remember how terrible it can be to start a new job and no one wants someone to get fired, especially if they don’t sound like a bad person. But if you can’t do your job, you can’t do your job. Sounds like things worked out for the best.

    A lesson not to be too hasty when changing jobs. I know two people who were let go from jobs after less than two months because they were so desperate to leave a toxic work environment they accepted their first offer without a lot of consideration.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      But how was their job after they were let go? They should have been eligible for unemployment benefits and given a full job search to get another opportunity lined up.

      You can’t count on every job working out. The first few months always sucks for me and I’ve never been let go.

      It’s the Devil You Know vs the unknown options.

      I don’t want to discourage anyone from getting out of an abusive job because maybe you’ll get cut loose.

      Sure. Maybe I’ll also die alone if I leave a bad partner but that’s not a reason to stay perma miserable or risk your health.

      1. Jennifer

        I’m not sure about the unemployment thing. I think it depends on the circumstances. They both ended up finding new jobs but seeing that was scary to me.

  26. KoolMan

    ” This isn’t my first time training someone in her position and I don’t think it’s my fault for improperly training her”
    I am little split about how the good the OP thinks of her training methods. Assuming others learnt quickly doesn’t mean her training is foolproof. Might be the other persoans have had some experience.

    “she makes too many mistakes, she doesn’t have strong enough skills, and she doesn’t work fast enough” That the OP decided even before 60 days. I am turning towards the OP isn’t such a good trainer as she assumes herself to be.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yawn.

      The update was the woman being let go at day 60 and the new person caught on great like the others before The Dud.

      The OP is not the problem. Not everyone can be taught do so any given job.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

        +1. After 25 years in my business – it is crystal clear when someone has the skills and the work ethic, and when someone does not. I am not a trainer, but I actually have had to train multiple people. I’ve reference one of the two in my comments elsewhere here, that was impossible. Lied (clearly) on his resume, and clearly was both incompetent and slow. And did not listen.

        That does not mean that I should be attacked for not being a good trainer. The 30 some other people who attended my (volunteer) brown bag sessions where I shared my knowledge, were grateful. The last two I trained and mentored, gave me thank you plaques and a lifetime-I’ll-keep thank you letters that still warm my heart when I look at them.

        But the two unfortunate ones? A complete failure and I won’t own the fact that some jobs are not a good fit for some people.

    2. Ceiswyn

      How long do you think it takes to tell whether someone isn’t any good at the job they’ve been hired to do?

  27. Indie

    If the boss isn’t going for it, I’d ask her for a timeline or a fixed number of suggested training ideas to try before giving up on employee. You need an end point to look forward to.

    Nobody is going to be patient under instructions to ‘make it work no matter what’ but if you get an agreement that employee has to be able to do x and y, if not z by (date) and that there are only so many training things she can try to do. So if traditional training isn’t working by the halfway mark then she can shadow Colleague A, or sit in on meetings for Project B or go on course C (or whatever your boss suggests you add in when you make it clear the standard training isnt reaching her as it does others). If other people see the same problems you can use their voices with yours.

  28. SAM

    Oh wow… had the exact same experience with the person we hired 1 year 3 months and 23 days ago. Why I am being that specific? It has been a nightmare since she began.
    I was beyond understanding for months. She took copious notes. We have discussed, reviewed, and gone over some things hundreds of times. She is super nice and tries… but is awful. She makes mistakes that are costly and stupid, again and again. My boss says he talks to her, but nothing changes. My boss is super nice, but avoids conflict at all costs.
    Our office is closing, and she asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her. I did, but all it says is that she enthusiastic and willing. Her resume is a plethora of lies and exaggerations… and I am just so happy I won’t have babysit anymore.

  29. Jen

    I have trained about 2 dozen people and you can tell pretty quickly who will work out and who won’t. We had a standard ramp up. In the first week you do X documents a day (roughly) then Y next week and so on. I had one trainee who would get “bored” in the middle of a case file and go onto something else, then jump back. It took her three times as long to so things as a result. I told her multiple times this wasn’t a good strategy. I would even sit with her and watch her do a whole file to try to keep her in task. She just couldn’t hack it. She took up.most of my day when I was simultaneously training two other people, who were all keeping their pace, with various levels of quality. Her speed and quality were the worst and I began to dread getting drafts from her. I totally get OP, it was demoralizing. I swapped trainees with another trainer and he couldn’t make a dent either.

  30. LGC

    Okay, so no one is going to care about my $0.02 cents, but here goes: This letter was a surprising rollercoaster.

    My first read on it was – yeah – to question the LW. A lot of this is my own priors – I work in a very non-traditional work environment (a work program for people with disabilities and I have completely blown my cover), so a lot of the time when someone isn’t getting something, my first assumption is that I might not be explaining it in a way they need it. (And my second. And my third. And so on…)

    To be serious, a lot of the time when someone doesn’t seem to be getting something, my first impulse is to have someone else explain it, and whenever there’s a consistent failure, to re-examine my own methods. I can easily get very technical, and I know a lot of people might not have the time to nitpick whatever issues I have in a huge training manual. (And I try to be aware of that, but I like having someone else check to see if I’m missing anything.) Obviously, that isn’t always the case, but one thing I picked up on in the original letter was:

    This isn’t my first time training someone in her position and I don’t think it’s my fault for improperly training her.

    There’s always a first time for everything. It might not even be that the LW was objectively wrong, it might just have been wrong for the trainee.

    Then I read the update, and that kind of changed my opinion on this a little bit. From the initial letter, it sounded like the LW was frustrated because the trainee was just struggling to learn (which in and of itself can be – and is – frustrating, but can be worked with), but once she mentioned the trainee’s attitude, that changed my mind. (Granted, that could be because of a personality clash – which I’m not going to cover here because the other 170-odd comments already deal with that). I can personally deal with “incompetent” employees a lot better than adversarial ones (that is, ones that are resistant to learning) – mostly because if someone is just bad at picking up skills and willing to work at it, you can get them to an acceptable level eventually. And it sounded like the employee was a little hostile, at the very least.

    But I digress.

    I don’t have much to add to the letter otherwise, but…at least for me, I’ve found that things work best if I don’t present it as knowing better than my boss what to do. So, in a situation like this, I’d shy away from suggesting termination at all (as Alison suggests). It really depends on the manager, I think – some might be more comfortable, but I feel like it’d be a power play. And in this case, you really do have to be careful – termination is bad for everyone involved, even if it’s justified. So I think you don’t want to sound like you want the person to be fired ever – just that you think they should be fired. (It’s kabuki, but basically, you don’t want to sound like you’d be happy if they were fired because firing even the worst employee is unpleasant to do.)

  31. Kathlynn

    I have 2 coworkers. Both of whom I thought should be let go due to being a bad worker after 3-6 months. They weren’t let go. One of them is my favourite person to work with now. The other I still hate working with.
    I feel so guilty for wanting the awesome coworker fired. But I’ve made sure my boss knows how much I like working with her (begged my boss to schedule her with me because she listens to me and works well on my shift. And on one particular shift, asked if she could get a positive note in her paper work for superstar work.)

  32. MattKnifeNinja

    OP…

    I feel your pain.

    When I’ve been in a similar situation with a coworker who just will never really get it, no matter how much scaffolding you do it’s either..

    Like a PP said, “not everyone is a superstar” is the higher ups current philosophy, with a huge helping of adulting is hard. The boss is willing to have a barely competent employee, because it’s a warm body and avoiding not being nice is a top priority.

    OR

    This employee is a friend of some higher up. Clover is someone’s bible study buddy, cousin, BFF friend from elementary school and their life is a tire fire. Clover needs a job, and someone managed to get it for her. You have a better chance hopping to the moon than letting her go.

    Document everything to CYA when Clover really mucks it up. You can do one last look at is Clover marginally competent, or is this like training squirrel to fly the Space Shuttle? Meeting the bare minimum isn’t great, but for some bosses (not you), that’s fine. If Clover is the squirrel trying to fly the Shuttle, AND is a BFF of a high up, you have my sympathy.

  33. Helena Handbasket

    There are some jobs where (1) some people will NEVER be able to be competent, no matter how much training/help/etc. you provide and no matter what “style” you provide it in, and (2) it is usually easy to identify those people quite early on.

    This seems pretty obvious to me. Surely we can all think of professions where we know we would not be successful.

  34. kiwidg1

    This probably won’t be the most popular comment here, but in 30 years in the training industry, there is always at least two sides to every story. Good employees do not always make good trainers, for example. Someone with years of experience can forget how overwhelming it is to learn a new job, culture, people, and environment. As a manager, I want to know what the trainer tried, if different approaches were used, and exactly what the problems were. Expecting someone to not make mistakes is unrealistic. Does the trainee show improvements in not making the same mistakes? There are so many nuances here that the letter can’t explain, so I don’t think there’s one good answer.

    Documentation of the training observations, however, go a lot further than anecdotal stories.

  35. EasyCheesy

    I was recently in a very similar situation with a new hire and it was clear within the first few weeks that she was not a good fit for the role. My boss thought she was doing great, but that was partly because I was providing so much help and coaching, and correcting mistakes, and running interference when there were problems. (Which I normally do for new hires a little bit in the early days–just not to the extent this hire required.)

    Finally, and I know this isn’t really an option for everyone, I just stopped patching the holes, and once it started personally impacting and inconveniencing my boss I was given the go-ahead to let the new hire go. But the shoe had to pinch the right foot before it happened. (My boss later apologized to me and I feel like this won’t be an issue going forward.)

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