I manage a friend and it’s going badly, coworker eavesdrops on my phone calls, and more

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

1. I manage a friend and it’s not going well

Six months ago, I was promoted to manage my division of seven people, one of them a close friend who I have known since we were in college almost 10 years ago. She was hired a few months after me, on my recommendation to my boss. During my interview for the promotion, my boss mentioned that she was concerned that my closeness with this friend would prevent me from managing the division fairly and effectively. I was able to convince her that there would be no problem. On getting the promotion, I met my friend for coffee to let her know that things will change between us at work, but not personally and she seemed fine.

However, since the promotion, my relationship with my friend has gone downhill, to the point where we no longer communicate, except for work-related issues. She constantly challenges what I tell her to do, and we have had to involve HR twice now to mediate. It got to a point where I wanted to ask if it was possible to have her managed by my boss, but I was concerned that would raise red flags regarding my management.

She constantly asks me to approve ridiculous requests – for example, everyone has a telework day, she wanted three days. She also stated that she would like to add her commute hours to her work hours, so if she spends three hours commuting she only has to work five hours in the office. On another occasion, while approving her timesheets, I noticed she entered eight hours sick and one hour work time and I asked her to reduce the sick hours by one, since we don’t get overtime, and she accused me via email of trying to get her to commit fraud.

Now employee reviews are coming up, and I am anticipating a battle on my hands with her. What do you advise I do 1) regarding the reviews to make them as painless as possible and 2) generally to continue working with her?

I should mention that the manager position is new, and was created because my boss did not want the added responsibility of managing my team and needed to delegate to reduce her workload.

Well, the thing is … your boss was right when she raised concerns about your ability to manage a friend, and she would be right to see this as a red flag about your management now. I say that not to berate you (you’re human and allowed to make mistakes), but because to handle this effectively you’re going to need to be really honest with yourself and with your boss about what’s going on and how it happened.

You have an employee who constantly challenges your direction and makes ridiculous requests that reflect badly on her judgment, and who you’re ready to throw up your hands about rather than have to do the admittedly unpleasant work of managing her.

The thing that feels like it’s missing from your account is the recognition that managing her doesn’t mean dealing with her behavior as long as she keeps it up. Managing her means that you need to lay out very clearly for her what you expect of her, where she’s falling short, and what needs to change if she’s going to stay in her job — and it means you need to create real consequences if that change doesn’t happen. It sounds like you haven’t done that — maybe because she was a friend, or maybe because you’d be hesitant to be that assertive in managing anyone. But you need to do it. It’s a fundamental part of your job as a manager.

First, though, you need to go to your boss and tell her that she was right when she raised concerns about your ability to effectively manage a friend (and to be clear, your boss probably said that not because of any special doubt about you, but because it’s an inherently hard/impossible thing to do). Be honest — tell her that you’ve let the issues go on too long, and that you’re at the point where you’re questioning whether the employee should even stay in her job. Make sure you’ve got your boss’s back-up on that, so that when you talk to the employee and start holding her accountable to reasonable standards of behavior, you can act with confidence and authority. Ideally, you’d use your boss as a resource here, to help guide you through the process of laying out clear expectations and holding people to them, if that’s new to you (which it sounds like it might be). Yes, your boss created your role because she didn’t have the time to manage your team — but you can still look to her for guidance and advice when you need it. (And if she’s at all a decent manager herself, she’ll want you to do that.)

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Should I get written instructions when I’m doing something new?

I am somewhat new (eight months) on a job, and I’ve been increasingly frustrated at the lack of clear instructions/processes for certain tasks in this department. For example, l was recently given a task with seven steps at an off-site event. I was given a very brief 3-4-minute verbal run-through of the steps, and thought I had it down. I followed through with the steps I thought I had understood, but come Monday my boss lets me know that it wasn’t done correctly. I get that it was my fault for not following correct procedure, but I’m wondering if it’s reasonable to expect written instructions for this type of task? It’s a recurring task that only is performed 3-4 times a year, and this was my first time doing it. My boss was not there, nor was the person who gave me the quick verbal instructions, otherwise I would have confirmed with them that I was doing it correctly.

The types of incidents above happen frequently here, where I’m hardly given any training or instructions and then expected to carry them out on my own. The mistakes I’m making are mostly administrative and generally logical (such as putting money in the general safe instead of the specific project safe, or collecting the financial reports instead of the collection reports), but occasionally I will make a mistake regarding numbers or details — which I’m happy to change when called out and have taken steps to prevent the same mistakes in the future, such as double or triple checking my work or writing down instructions as I get them.

For context, this is my first job out of college and the workplace is already pretty dysfunctional in other ways (clique-y and exclusive culture, ethical issues that are borderline illegal, frequent lying from my manager, and a general lack of procedure). I’m already searching for a new position, but I want to make sure expectations for more thorough and/or written instructions/training are in line with other entry level positions. I’m tired of constantly feeling like an idiot at this job for things that I feel I should be getting more training on.

It’s pretty common to get verbal instructions rather than written instructions, with the expectation that you’ll write them down yourself needed. Take your own notes and then repeat back your understanding of instructions to the person giving the instructions, so that they have an opportunity to either confirm or correct them.

It sounds like there are a bunch of problems at your workplace, but verbal instructions are pretty normal.

3. My coworker hovers and eavesdrops while I’m on the phone

I currently work in a dreaded cubical space. Conference calls that take up at least 3-4 hours of each day are already a pain with traffic constantly in and out of the restroom nearby. To add to that, my coworker who works about seven feet from me has the tendency to eavesdrop on all of my calls. Literally every time I get off of a call, she will ask a question pertaining to something I discussed. I have even had her hover over my shoulder in the middle of the call! I’m a very private person and don’t like to discuss things on my calls, especially when they are sensitive. How do I deal with this?

When she’s hovering, ask the person you’re talking to hold on (or just mute yourself if you’re on a conference call), look back at her, and say, “Did you need me for something?” Act as if of course she wouldn’t just be hovering for the sake of eavesdropping so she must need something from you. Do this a few times and it’s likely to stop, but if it doesn’t, then be direct: “It’s distracting to have you hovering there while I’m on the phone. If you need me, can you come back when I’m done with this call?”

And if she asks questions about your calls that she truly doesn’t need to know: “Why do you ask?” or “Some of my calls are sensitive, and I try to respect that confidentiality” or “It would take a while to give you all the context and I’ve got to finish something up.” And if you’re up for it: “I know it’s tough working in a crowded open space like this, but when you ask about things you overhear me say on the phone, it really underscores how little privacy we have. It’s a lot easier to work if we can maintain at least an illusion of privacy.”

4. Should you include company locations on your resume?

I recently referred an acquaintance with an education background for a position within my organization. When she shared her resume with me, none of her previous teaching positions listed included a location, despite her having worked in several positions across the country. I was familiar with her frequent moves, many of which came from work in volunteer corps, and asked her to add locations to her resume. She told me she had just removed them all after a friend in communications told her not to include them. As a communications professional myself, I was flummoxed. She had worked full school years, some multiple, in each of these jobs. To me, the variety of locations shows flexibility, initiative, curiosity, and it’s easier for hiring managers (I am sure there’s more than one “John Adams High School” out there). What’s standard practice here?

Typically you’d put the city and state of the employer. That’s not because multiple locations show “flexibility, initiative, and curiosity” (most interviewers aren’t going to think that), but because it can be relevant context for a prospective employer. Locations help verify that the company actually exists.

You don’t have to include locations, especially if you’ve worked for all local companies in the area you’re applying in. But it’s pretty standard to include, and if your employers aren’t recognizable names, most hiring managers will appreciate the context.

5. Following up when an employer mentions they might create a role for me in a few months

I recently had an interview — the best interview I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out. The company was apologetic in my rejection call and stated that it was close but the other candidate had connections that I didn’t (new to the area). They also told me that they were considering creating a position for me (which was also discussed in the interview) but it would be a few months before they would know/move on anything. It’s been a few months but I’m not sure how to follow up on this. I’ve looked up a lot of examples of follow-up letters but nothing seemed quite right. Any tips?

Email them and say something like this: “Hi Jane. I hope you’re doing well! When we last talked in November, you mentioned that you were considering creating a position doing XYZ that you thought I’d potentially be a match for. At the time you mentioned that it would be a few months before you’d be ready to do that, so I wanted to check back and see if you’ve made any decisions about it. If you do decide to create that role, I’d love to talk with you about it.”

{ 322 comments… read them below }

  1. AcademiaNut*

    For #2 – what I would do in a similar situation is take notes while being given the verbal instructions, recite back my understanding of what needed to be done, and ask if I was missing anything. If the problem is that you’re not remembering the instructions correctly, then this would solve it. If the problem is that you’re not actually being given correct or complete instructions, then that’s the real issue, not verbal vs written.

    1. valentine*

      OP2: For the odd time you don’t have note-taking tools or the speaker won’t wait for them, contact them before you do the thing: “My understanding is task x requires steps 1-5. Please let me know if I’ve missed anything”.

      1. MommyMD*

        Always carry a little notebook and a pen. If allowed, you could also take pictures of the steps with your cell phone. I do that sometimes.

        1. JulieCanCan*

          Or if you don’t have a pen and paper handy, use your phone’s “note” or “Reminder” features.

          In most new jobs, you should be taking tons of notes. I just started a new job a month ago and I’ve already gone through an entire 2-subject college-ruled notebook with detailed procedural notes. Granted, my job is director level and is comprised of 75% financial responsibilities and 25% holy mother of God what have I gotten myself into I am in so over my head responsibilities (I’m also practically twice your age and have been working for longer than you’ve been alive) but this just shows that almost every job at every level will require intense note-taking. I’ve Never had a job that didn’t involve tons of detailed note-taking during the first 2-3 months. I wouldn’t be able to function without my notes!

          1. Tarra*

            You’re also more likely to learn the procedure if you take the notes yourself rather than being given instructions.

            And of course everyone learns differently. The LW may find written instructions helpful but some people – myself included – learn by watching and doing so there isn’t one right thing employers ‘should’ be doing.

            1. JulieCanCan*

              But if you’re in a new position where there aren’t written procedural instructions on how things work, it’s pretty important to take meticulous notes for your own self-preservation and learning. Unless someone has an incredible memory and can literally remember everything they’re told, note-taking is crucial. I personally have an atrocious memory and rely heavily on my notes for the first 3-4 months of every new job. I’d fail otherwise.

              This way you can at least refer back to what you have written down; ideally every piece of information and instruction you are provided is SOMEWHERE in those notes.

              I’ve never in my career had a job where note-taking wasn’t a constant activity during the first few months. It would be heavenly not to have to worry about writing every single thing down, but part of my learning process is going through the motions of writing processes down and having to think about the steps from A to Z regardless of how small the task.

          2. Blue*

            Even when I’m not brand new, I find it helpful to have a small notebook that lives on my desk. I’m a prodigious note-taker, so I like having it within arms reach in case something comes up. And people are used to me carrying it around or saying, “Hang on one sec; let me just grab some paper so I can write this down.” If I never got the directions right or messed up the process anyway, people might not have the patience for it, but since that’s not the case, no one complains about delaying for five seconds so I can be as thorough as possible.

          3. Jennifer Juniper*

            OP2: Carrying a notebook is good optics. It makes you look more competent and professional.

            1. irene adler*

              Good optics or not, I’m always with a pen and a sheet of paper or notebook. Bit of a running joke with my co-workers.
              Never know when I’ll need to jot something down.
              Keeps things from falling through the cracks.

              1. wittyrepartee*

                I need more dress pockets. This would be nice to be able to do, but my shoulder needs a rest from my purse.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  I use a pad holder and hold it in my arm against my hip. It has slots for extra pens and a pocket for other documents as well as the notepad.

            2. Tedious Cat*

              My ever-present notebook was actually mentioned on my written performance review as a positive. It’s not why I carry it, obviously, but people notice.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          And it can be bad optics not to be prepared with a pen and paper. I had a project team member who would show up to the weekly client call for a project that he was the primary “doer” on, and would not bring anything but his phone. He occasionally typed a note into the phone, but he counted on the meeting minutes to remind him what to do. I’m fine with people using laptops, tablets, or their phone, but only if it means you are not waiting for me remind you again to do what I already told you to do during the call.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I have also found not having pen/paper can make instruction-givers nervous, too. I generally advise my newer folks to carry a pad and pen with them and to always take one into a meeting where someone is giving them directions. Even if they have a fantastic memory, it makes the assigner feel better if you’re jotting down details, particularly if they’ve not worked with with someone before.

          2. JulieCanCan*

            Omg that would bug the crap out of me. I don’t think I’d be able to bite my tongue – “where’s your pen and paper?” would be my first order of business!

            I have 3 notebooks: one for financial scribbling/money-related issues, one for procedural notes, and one is my “to-do” list notebook. It took a minute (ie: 5 weeks) to figure out exactly how I needed to organize myself in this new position, but I’m feeling like a well-oiled machine at this point.

    2. RichieRich*

      OP#2 Or use a voice recorder if you can? I just realised I was being gaslighted and depicted as non reliable by my boss for 2 years. The instructions to do Red got changed systematically to “should have done Black liek I told you”. Luckily, 2 new persons joined the team and started the reporting the same behaviours and patterns. So now I know I’m not crazy and I haven’t been losing neurones. So now, I am “just” super stupid from 9 to 5 after a law degree, an MBA and a perfectly fine 4 years work experience before this job.

      1. Aveline*

        This is a great idea, but not if you are in an all party consent state. Even if you aren’t, most people don’t like being recorded without their consent, so it’s best to ask unless the relationship is already toxic or you need evidence of a something someone else is saying. Neither seems to be the case here. So recording could burn up political capital OP doesn’t have to spare. As you had in your case. Otherwise, the risks are high and there are alternatives.

        Generally, recording a conversation should only be done in lieu of notes if there’s a darn good reason. Otherwise, the risks are high and there are alternatives that get her to the same point. If she just takes notes and sends occasional recaps via email, she’s better off.

        Alternatively, she could approach her boss and offer to document common tasks for the future newbies. That is, she offers to use her learning curve to create an informal training manual for the company.or course, if she’s in a place where the work culture is contra formal procedures or everyone would want input on every task, that would not work either.

        1. Aveline*

          PS She can always asked to report just for the purpose of going back to her desk and writing down the steps. A lot of people are amenable to being reported if they know it’s going to be used only to take notes in there after deleted

      2. ChachkisGalore*

        Oh man – I might have worked for your boss (probably not actually, but still…). It was absolutely infuriating and I really did start to doubt my own sanity/competency. It was also so frustrating when others repeated ad nauseum that I should be taking better notes (obviously that’s the best place to start in terms of advice, but it was frustrating as someone with an actually toxic/abusive manager).

        Whenever I got verbal instructions from that boss I would immediately go back to my desk and send an email to the boss detailing the instructions. Honestly – it did not change his behavior at all and the one time I tried to point out the conflicting instructions it just like didn’t seem to penetrate his brain (I don’t know how else to describe it). It did, however, prove to myself that I wasn’t an idiot or “easily confused” (as my boss was fond of calling me).

        1. Roy G. Biv*

          Yep. I think I worked for his brother. My boss at OldJob regularly waffled between, “Well, maybe that’s what I said, but it’s not what I meant,” and “You should already know how to do this (task I had never heard of before),” when giving instructions. He was the VP of our office, and accepted NO responsibility for his behavior. I do not miss him.

        2. Saucypants*

          Haha, once had a client who would send us emails asking to do something and then when we did it, he’d get upset and tell us he never told us to do that. We’d forward the email he sent us back to him and he’d claim that he hadn’t written that email.

        3. Michaela Westen*

          “didn’t seem to penetrate his brain”
          I’ve seen that many times both at work and outside of work. It seems to be denial. When a person doesn’t allow their self to understand they’re behaving badly, they don’t have to address it.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I used to joke that my (gaslight-y, abusive) father has a magical filter that runs down the timeline about 30 seconds ahead of him and just filters out anything that’s not praise or agreement. You could try a million times to call him out and he just…wouldn’t seem to register it.

            Seems he’s not the only one. Sounds like an unfortunate number of people have that filter turned on.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              My father is like that too. I had to draw the conclusion either he was delusional, or I was.

        4. Kathleen_A*

          My current boss does this sometimes, too – but only sometimes. Figuring out when to let it go and when to oh, so politely challenge her on this is a pretty delicate calculation.

          1. TardyTardis*

            I noticed that one of my bosses was a lot better at remembering what she’d told me to do once I started running everything through email…

      3. Jennifer*

        I agree with you. Sometimes managers change their minds about the procedure after the task is completed. I think that could be what’s happening with OP2. Sometimes you need official procedures/policies written down and signed off on by management for this reason. When this doesn’t happen, the rules sometimes are “make it up as we go.”

      4. Cercis*

        I was a temp in a job where the woman providing my supervision was very insecure. Any time I started doing a good job, she’d start giving me bad directions. I didn’t realize it at first, but another temp pointed it out. Because I was a temp, they didn’t want to give me email, but I asked for it saying that we had a communication problem and I needed help to determine where I was misunderstanding. As soon as all directions were handled via email (sometimes I had to email her to say “to confirm our conversation, I need to do x, y & z”) the bad directions stopped happening.

    3. anon*

      I always make handwritten notes when I’m following a procedure as my company is the most steps-laden place ever, with tons of new computer tools to learn and processes.

      That said, it’s so easy to think you have written down the instructions completely and until you’ve tried them out you can’t rely on them. For example, one of my instructions I wrote was ‘Enter date’. I realized only when I was doing the process myself I didn’t know if I meant today’s date or the ‘date of service’.

      So anyone berating you for not writing stuff down has to realize that it’s not really until you’ve written your own instructions, and tried them out as well to get rid of the bugs that you’ll be any good at a task. Which is why formal written instructions are the gold standard really. They should be idiot-proof – and we’re all pretty much idiots the first time we do a process.

      1. anon*

        Oh an in addition – in medicine we have a ‘see one, do one, teach one’ saying.

        Unless you are capable of teaching a process to someone else you don’t really ‘know it’. Bosses and trainers often think the end point of training is the ‘see one’ part, but that’s not deep learning and so mistakes will be made inevitably.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Agree, detailed instructions are the best and we try to do those as much as possible. Unfortunately we have a different issue on our end where some people don’t bother to read anything and just ask us/each other, esp when those instructions are emailed (“Oh I don’t read the emails”).
        It IS a collaborative culture, but cmon due diligence has to fall in there somewhere.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        Yeah, I write procedures. I don’t consider them completed / checked until I’ve trained someone using them and added in the answers to the questions that came up during training.

        1. not really a lurker anymore*

          I like to test mine out on someone who’s not familiar with the task or software.

          1. ChachkisGalore*

            I had an intern last summer and I did quite a bit of this with them! I made sure to be very clear that I was not testing their ability to do the task, I was testing our written operating procedures and that I wanted their input in updating these procedures. It seemed to work well and they had some great ideas for making the docs even more “dummy-proof”.

        2. A tester, not a developer*

          In our department, we call that ‘idiot proofing’. :)

          I’m known for being an excellent test idiot – I will follow the instructions exactly, even if they make no sense or contradict each other.

          1. Lucy*

            I’ve done this for my husband along similar lines. Apparently “oh wow” is not a compliment.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Seconded on the reciting back to your instructor before proceeding – even if you didn’t have the chance to take notes at the time (or if you realize your notes are insufficiently detailed), contacting the person training you/giving instructions to double-check you understand everything is a way better idea than going from memory.

      I currently have two trainees – one of them has a habit of asking me many, many questions before she proceeds with any task; the other seems more self-assured, but also keeps handling tasks incorrectly (i.e., she’s following procedure for scenario B even though it’s actually scenario D; I understand where she got the idea to do B, but wish she’d either learn the difference between B and D). While it is of course time-consuming to answer the first trainee’s many questions, that is far preferable than having to correct the second trainee’s errors.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I would even take it one step further. This won’t help in the moment, but afterwards, create a document with instructions and have the person who gave you the instructions approve the steps. That way you’ll have it for the future, and others can use it as well. I know personally if I only do things a few times a year, I can’t remember every single step in a process, so it’s good to have the document as a reference.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Yes, and if you do share it with others, especially new trainees later on, that can be a neat little ‘taking-initiative’ thing you can point out on your self-evaluations and whatnot – see, look, I created documentation that was useful! (You’d probably want the approval of a higher-up before making this anything time-consuming, of course.)

      2. History Chick*

        Yes, I was coming here to comment on this exact thing! It doesn’t sound like the company has key process documents, and you could work to start building that library. It would help you in the future, other employees who might be in the same boat, and also be something you can add to your resume in the future.

      3. peachie*

        This is what I was going to say! Detailed written instructions often only exist if the person actually doing the task takes the time to document them. (This will also be much appreciated by the next person in the role, and it will make your life easier if you’re the one to train them.)

      4. Proxima Centauri*

        This is killing the continuous improvement person in me. Yes, verbal instructions are “normal” but causes issues like this. If you have a procedure, it should be documented. That way you anyone who has to do it has the proper producer. This minimizes mistakes and saves time in the long run since you don’t have the back and forth of “This is what I heard. Is it right?” every single time.

        1. Rachael*

          Yes! The banker in me is screaming “why aren’t there procedures?!” LOL. Also, it sound like the LW is taking notes, but the person relaying them is not telling her the small details, like which safe to put things in. I have been in many situations where an experienced person omits the small details because they are second nature to them and they genuinely forget to tell the person.

          1. Twill*

            I agree! I am not in finance, but in the health insurance industry where I have worked for 20 years, processes are documented! It used to be in actual Processing Manual that sat on your desk, then later online docs. But if these tasks are done regularly, it would blow my mind if they were documented somewhere!

        2. Someone Else*

          I’m of two minds. If it is a complex multi-step process where even each step has details that MUST be a certain way, absolutely, always document. But where I work we found (after a huge initiative to document everything) that after certain smaller tasks were documented, on the one hand, yay now anyone can do it, but on the other hand, whoa nelly did we have a rise in learned helplessness. Now it’s not necessarily BECAUSE we documented everything. I’m sure we could’ve done other things to mitigate this if we’d caught it sooner. But the fact remains, what was intended to “it’s documented here so you can reference that while you’re new and still getting up to speed, but we do actually need you to know this moving forward, you shouldn’t have to look it up every time forever” somehow turned into a boatload of new hires looking everything up forever, and therefore taking 2x-3x as long to do everything, and not being able to discuss these things on their feet, and…it was a giant mess.
          So on the one hand while I am a fan of documenting procedures, I think there are certain things that might be so fundamental it’s worth training, and having staff repeat back, and making sure they know it know it if that’s the long term goal. And I don’t think that’s always unreasonable. Plus in some of these situations the stuff is still documented, but it’s documented for the trainers how they should train on it to make sure the newbies get the same messaging.

          To OP2 I’d say, as others have, consider the context in which the problem has come up.
          Is it a situation where they said “put it in the safe” and assumed you knew which safe when there are several, without having ever mentioned it? Then you should ask for clarification, not even on the task itself but on the overall safes protocol. (The person telling you to put it in the safe might’ve thought you’d previously been trained on safe-usage in general and thus didn’t think they needed to include that when training you on Task A because the safe question is not specific to Task A, it’s specific to company-wide safe usage) The issue in that example is insufficient info on both sides.
          Is it a couple of steps and you missed one or reversed one? Take notes and confirm back with the trainer you’ve got it right.
          Is it 8-15 steps or more? That should probably be written down somewhere for everyone.

          It’s not foolproof but if you keep in mind the context hopefully that will help you in terms of figuring out if a situation is reasonable or not. It’s also probably not going to be a blanket situation where they’re always reasonable or always unreasonable in how they train you. It’ll probably be a mix.

          1. ooo*

            As a general rule, even if there’s good documentation, an experienced person should run a newbie through even simple tasks at least once (with the documentation in hand). Documentation isn’t meant to be a substitute for training. They go hand in hand.

            1. Someone Else*

              The scenario I described did involve lots of real human training. The trainees just somehow got it in their heads not to bother trying to retain info because they could always look it up. It was a confusing situation to say the least. They kept thinking/saying “I’m doing a good job. I follow the docs every time and so I know I won’t make a mistake.” Meanwhile, they made 2x the mistakes the class before them (who’d had the same human training but no docs) did by the same time after hire, and took 2x as long to do the same tasks. And didn’t seem to believe they weren’t doing well when told as much. In retrospect it was also a bunch of bad hires, but it did give new perspective on the importance of people knowing when they need to KNOW something vs just knowing where to find the instructions. We’d intended to emphasize “if you can’t remember, it’s ok, you can look it up” and it turned into dependency, and if they’d been forced to retain it would’ve been a bit more obvious sooner who wasn’t up to the task vs who was being lazy.

          2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            Yeah but if people are continuously referring to the documented procedures over and over, and not being able to retain the information, that’s a new problem in and of itself. Training should be done with another human initially, with documentation as back up.

            1. ooo*

              100 percent agreed. It just doesn’t seem like the learned helplessness described is the fault of the documentation.

        3. ooo*

          Absolutely true, but (while OP2 should definitely be taking notes regardless) it’s kinda stunning how actively resistant management at dysfunctional companies can be to standardizing and documenting procedures. The higher-ups don’t just not feel like doing it; they push back on the suggestion that it be done at all, ostensibly because it would constrain people’s creativity or take too much time, when the opposite in both cases is true. It’s a good litmus test for what kind of employer you’re dealing with.

        4. Bostonian*

          Yeah, you could also get 2 completely different procedures depending on who you ask. When I worked in a lab in which all that really mattered was the end result, you would get trained differently depending on who was training you.

        5. Anonymeece*

          Yes, exactly. Particularly as this doesn’t sound as if there was a miscommunication or OP wasn’t taking good notes, but that the boss/whoever is in charge of this didn’t specify all the steps and then was upset that OP didn’t know them. Written procedures would correct this!

    6. MCMonkeyBean*


      Also, I think while it is *normal* not to have written instructions, OP is right that it is certainly better. If OP is able to create her own documents with instructions that can be used in the future that is a great thing to talk up in your year end evaluation. There has been a huge push for documentation at my company in the last few years and I have started trying to create my own for everything. It took me nearly a year to figure out how to put together understandable documentation for one category of assignment I do that has a bunch of sort of connected pieces and when I finally had it done it was the highlight of my annual review. And if there is a small process that comes up regularly enough that we all need to know how to do it but rare enough that most people forget how between each time, those are great things to document for easy brownie points :)

    7. Works in IT*

      I’ve been using every situation we run into that hasn’t been properly documented with written instructions to hone my technical writing skills. We get documentation, and I get the ability to say “I am in charge of writing and updating process documentation for my department” on my resume.

    8. TootsNYC*

      #2–no written instructions

      This is an opportunity for you!

      Take those notes–be thorough, and review them with your “instructor” as you’re going along.

      Refer to them as you go along doing the task, and make notes about places where you can improve the wording, or there’s something that would be helpful (like, “the screen will say X” or something) to a rookie* doing this for the first time.

      Then type the list out, print it, and hand it over / post it or file it somewhere.

      This is how you build the skills and visibility for the step up to management.

      *I think it’s really valuable to have a rookie, or a near-rookie, build or vet these kinds of instructions. People who’ve done the task before often ellide things.

  2. Jasnah*

    OP2: When I was in your shoes, it was because there were no general policies in place, and everyone had developed their own “best” practice. It was helpful for me to confirm whether this was a general rule or a Sales Dept rule or Dave’s rule, when I was told I’d been doing things incorrectly. Also taking my own notes so I got numbers and details right, so then I could say “well Dave taught me to do 3xyz, not 1xyz, is there a reason for this difference?”

    My company was such a mess that nobody could explain why one procedure was done this way but on Tuesdays it was another way, but at least having my own notes made me more secure in my own knowledge—it wasn’t that I was stupid or forgetful, it was that the company was a mess! Verbal instructions are pretty normal but there’s no reason you can’t write them down.

    1. azvlr*

      I could have used this advice when I first started at my current job!
      I came from an organization that was very standardized, so it didn’t occur to me my new job would not have their act together in the same way. There was a lot of “tribal knowledge” about processes. They simply hadn’t thought about how or why they were doing a thing. Asking questions forced them to think about it and communicate clearly. I often got ambiguous answers because they had not defined it for themselves.
      When I tried to apply previous direction to new and incongruous situations, I asked a lot of questions. I got told that I should be more autonomous, sometimes after spending an hour or more trying to find the answer that would have take a simple phone call to solve. At the same time, I got chastised when I got it wrong. What was really going on was that they had not bothered to identify the problems and felt self-conscious that I was calling it out to them.
      Not really gaslighting, but I was still left with a lot of doubts about myself from this experience.

      1. Jasnah*

        This was exactly my experience. Eventually I learned that this was an issue they knew about and were trying to solve with cross training, and I guess eavesdropping on calls/psychically becoming aware of what others were doing?

        Personally I work much better with standardized processes, so the work environment was not a good fit for me. And as you say, it did a number on my self esteem because people acted like I was the problem for not knowing how things should be done. For some reason that place had a lot of overwork and turnover.

  3. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – One of the big differences between university and work is the amount of responsibility you are expected to bear. At university you are given specific institutions and a lot of guidance. At work… not so much.

    I’d suggest investing in a notebook where you can write everything down. You may later want to create procedures for the rest of the team. It’s a great way to add value to your team.

    But verbal instructions are pretty normal for basic operations.

    1. LQ*

      This is a really good point. And I’d say that my experience, at least, has been the further you move past entry level the more responsibility you have. These days my boss doesn’t give me directions on how to do my job at all. It’s just…figure it out. And barely even direction, that’s on me too.

      When you’re in college you go on trips that are from your classroom to the bathroom and there are directions and they’ll give you a tour. As you get into entry level jobs you get directions and sometimes they’ll scratch on a napkin the landmarks within town you need to get to. And then you get to mid level jobs and you’re going to a different town but you know the name of the town and you’re expected to google maps it and figure out the road construction. And then you get past that and you’re told, go…eh south. Where? Who knows! How far? That’s on you.

      I’m a little nervous about the next step which I assume is, “You’re supposed to tell me where to go.”

    2. Lisa*

      Yes, I was coming here to suggest that LW2 record this procedure in a way where they can access it repeatedly in the future, and where other team members can reference it. Any time I start a new job I start a doc that acts as a “handbook” for my role. It’s useful to me because I don’t have to ask how to do something multiple times, and my managers and colleagues are always happy to have it once it’s time for me to move on.

    3. Magenta*

      I think that might be a US/UK difference. The amount of guidance we receive drops considerably after our GCSE exams which are taken at age 16, by university we are pretty much expected to turn up and get on with things. If anything I received more guidance when starting new jobs than I did at university.

      I would be horrified if a new person started with us and didn’t make notes.

  4. Someone Else*

    #1’s friend is very confusing. It doesn’t seem like her performance issues or the management issues are happening because of the friendship. Maybe initially she made her outlandish requests because she thought the friendship would get her some extra perks? But once she got a no, continuing to do this makes it seem like she has absolutely no judgement at all, nor sense of the company’s culture. I wonder if she were doing anything like this with the previous manager also? If so, that person will probably not be surprised to hear about it now. Although on the same hand, when they had that “will there be difficulty managing Friend” discussion…could’ve given a heads up that Friend was already having performance issues.
    I’m not discounting #1 needs to do some unpleasant managing here, but the friend’s behavior just makes no sense to me whatsoever. Like in an “have you ever had a job before?” way.

    1. CastIrony*

      I had a worker I supervise once say that now that her friend was [also] a student manager, that she could get away with anything when it was her friend’s turn to manage!

      That could be the case here. I hope the manager friend, who seems to be managing for the first time, can learn how to put a stop to it.

      I also would like an update to this.

      1. valentine*

        I would expect a friend to be on their best, most professional, behavior so as to uphold my reputation and to lead by example. If not, that would kill the friendship. It doesn’t sound like OP1 has bolded the lines or told this person to stop doing outlandish things. (Is she too literal? Was she sick 9-5, then worked 5-6?)

        1. Asenath*

          I would hope a friend would be on their most professional behaviour with their friend-who-is-boss, but there are friends who really think that they can get away with murder because they’ve got a friend in management. And in this case, it doesn’t sound like OP has found an effective way to take charge. She appears to be trying – TWO periods of mediation, plus that bit where the friend wanted to claim 9 hours in an 8 hour day (8 as sick and one as working), when overtime is not allowed? And still, OP is looking to make feedback time as painless as possible, and not saying that maybe this isn’t working at all, and the friend might have to shape up or move on. I think Alison is right – make sure the boss is on line, set expectations, and, this time, enforce consequences. And not more mediation, it’s a valuable tool, but it doesn’t seem to be working in this case. It might come to firing the friend.

          1. WellRed*

            I think the fact they’ve been in mediation twice ( in 6 months no less!) Is a bad sign. Mediation is not a typical thing at work. The friend does not want to be managed by OP.

            1. Genny*

              Agreed. My understanding is that mediation happens when there’s something like an EEO complaint (or to address a problem that’s heading into EEO violation territory before a complaint is made). What LW is describing sounds like a manager who needs to manage.

              LW, I get why you want the review process to be painless. Very few people like confrontation or conflict. However, it’s your responsibility as a manager to set and enforce standards within your team. If your having trouble doing that more broadly (i.e. addressing other, more subtle issues on your team), you may want to look into management/leadership classes.

              1. Jen S. 2.0*

                “What LW is describing sounds like a manager who needs to manage.”

                Agreed. A manager should not need mediation to tell an employee to cut it out. Awkward or difficult conversations are part of the gig, not something to hand off because you’re trying your best to avoid them or be nice.

          2. AMT*

            I’m not understand what the mediation was for in the first place! LW tells the friend to do something, friend says no or otherwise pushes back, and the response is to request mediation? Unless I’m missing something major (and I’m taking the LW at her word that she isn’t a horrible bully or anything), this is a pretty clear-cut case of insubordination. It’s a management issue that HR doesn’t need to be intervening on.

            1. AnnaBananna*

              It could have been the friend who requested mediation…we don’t have enough info to know.

              That said, OP’s friendship with this woman is OVER, finito. Knowing that, it’s time to coach this woman out of the office because she’s turning into a cancer, and her behavioral issues will start to seep into the rest of the team, if it hasn’t already. Sorry OP.

              — Someone who once went through what you’re going through

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. I managed a friend for many years and we had no problems at all. We both understood that our friendship was left at the door when we’re at work. There were a couple times I had to discipline her, which had nothing to do with the friendship. These were things like a procedure that was done incorrectly or not at all and we lost money. Same as any other person I managed. She never took advantage of me and I never went easy on her just because we’re friends.

          It seems to me like OP hasn’t actually done anything at all to manage her friend. It seems as though she’s just hoping her friend will suddenly realize she’s taking advantage and it will go away on its own. Based on the friend’s behavior, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

          1. smoke tree*

            I can imagine in a lot of cases it would work out this way, and this is probably what the LW was expecting and hoping for. But unfortunately, I think when you sign up to manage a friend, you have to be prepared for the possibility of having to fire that person if necessary, and as in the LW’s case, you may see a side of your friend’s personality that you might not have expected. Power dynamics can do weird things to friendships.

        3. VictorianCowgirl*

          Exactly! I had an outside-work friend who was promoted to my direct supervisor, and we had several conversations about how we’d transition and how we’d behave in the office, and we stuck to it, because we cared about each other and respected each other. There were some awkward moments but we made it through, nothing huge. Most of the time I advise against true workplace friendships for the many reasons not to get that close to your coworkers, but this one was the exception and was built over years of working together.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        In one of my high-school jobs, a coworker (who was brand-new) loudly bragged that he could get away with anything because the owner/boss was a family friend. He was gone by the end of the week, because he wasn’t doing a good job and the boss wasn’t going to ignore performance issues based on being friends with the kid’s dad.

        Pre-existing friendships require everyone to be on their best behavior, not their worst.

        1. MRK*

          The “well they’re a family friend so I’m off the hook” always makes me laugh because my parents were always the first ones to tell someone to give me a swift kick in the butt if I was messing up.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I picked up on that too. It seems like the friend hopes to take advantage of the friendship and get perks. The OP is trying to behave professionally and treat everyone equally.
      One of the big problems with first time management is not coming down hard enough (or too hard) when performance problems arise.
      I’d really raise this issue to get instructions on how to handle it.

      1. EPLawyer*

        The OP is trying to maintain the friendship. Which is not much of a friendship if the friend is taking so much advantage. As others have said, a friend should be making your job easier not harder.

        OP this person is not your friend any longer. You need to manage, including telling the person in no uncertain terms that your friendship does not give her special perks at work and if she continues to resist feedback you will need to terminate her. Then do it.

        The performance review is going to be uncomfortable. There is no way around it. It’s part of being a boss managing a difficult employee.

        1. Lance*

          ‘As others have said, a friend should be making your job easier not harder.’

          The (somewhat) interesting thing to me is, this could be just what the non-manager friend has in mind… only not at all the way anyone here is thinking, nor any remotely reasonable way (cutting her work hours down just because of commute time? what?).

          But yes, this is a time to really step up and manage, and lay out clear expectations (no more of these unreasonable requests, making it very clear that she will not be receiving any special perks, and taking a close look at her actual job performance besides; it’s not referenced in the letter, so I can’t tell if she’s a good, average, or poor performer). Also seconding people to loop the boss in, both as a matter of ‘this is what’s going on’ and because he has management experience, and can serve as a good learning resource to that end.

      2. uranus wars*

        I agree with this. It’s often a struggle as a new manager, throw in a “friend” who is being difficult and it just amplifies that. I agree with Alison’s advice to be transparent with manager, make a plan and stick to it.

    3. Beth*

      It sounds to me like the friend initially assumed she would get some special perks out of the situation, and then developed a bad attitude when those perks didn’t materialize. It’s pretty far out of hand now, but it sounds like a gradual buildup of Friend pushing, OP turning them down but not enacting any real consequences, Friend pushing again and going a little further this time, and so on.

      I wouldn’t assume that the “difficulty managing Friend” conversation reflected on Friend’s performance pre OP becoming their manager. Even very experienced managers would be hard-pressed to manage a close friend without either showing favoritism or losing some of the closeness they used to have with their friend; that’s an extremely difficult situation for a brand-new manager, even if everyone involved was an excellent employee and went in with the best of intentions. Personal friendship and professional management don’t mix well.

      1. Someone Else*

        That’s not what I meant. I was saying, if old Manager had concerns about friends managing friends, of course that’s reasonable and something to discuss, but if he promoted OP anyway, had the friend had existing performance issues, old Manager should’ve given OP a heads up about once she were officially promoted. We don’t know if she did, and if OM said nothing about it I’m guessing she probably didn’t; however if she did have existing issues and OM didn’t pass that info along, OP was a little bit set up to fail here.

        It does sound like possibly the friend tried repeatedly and failed to get perks and thus developed the bad ‘tude afterward. I just think it’s dumb of that person to try repeatedly for said extra perks. Like your friend gets promoted so you assume you can get away with murder? OK but then after a couple asks you find out you can’t, you adjust and treat them like any other manager if you’re a reasonable person. Thought it was going to be one way but oops it wasn’t, revert to professional norms. I mean, I realize if most people were rational and reasonable this site wouldn’t need to exist, but the friend clearly has crap judgement.

        1. Nessun*

          Sounds like the old manager was OP’s boss. So that may have been part of where the “can you manage her” concern came from. If so, OP’s manager was remiss in not fully explaining what to expect managing Friend. I agree, asking for things like commute time paid shows a lack of understanding how work works, and her requests are bizarre enough for a full time permanent employee that I’d assume she’s just a handful for anyone that manages her. OP should definitely look to her managed for guidance, and discuss the issues soon.

    4. Jen S. 2.0*

      Underscoring a point Alison made: OP1, your boss did not express concerns about you managing a friend because she had doubts about your skills personally. It wasn’t a knock on you as an individual.

      She brought it to your attention because it’s extremely difficult for ANYONE, even great managers. What’s happening is normal.

      I doubt your boss will be surprised when you confess that it was harder than you anticipated to manage your friend and ask for help, and again not because she doubted you or your skills, but because … this is what happens when someone tries to manage a friend. That goes double or triple for a green manager promoted from the group into a new position over her peers.

      You protested, so she just let you learn it the hard way.

      Now, I’m not victim-blaming. You thought that your friend would be reasonable, and so if you just did everything right, it would be fine. But don’t compound the problem by trying to hide it because you think there’s some secret solution that everyone else knows, and which you can find without involving your boss or firing your friend. At this point, you should pull your boss in sooner rather than later, because trying to pretend everything is fine because you don’t want to look bad in front of your boss is going to backfire as well.

      It doesn’t make you look bad to ask for guidance and support, even when it was your misjudgment that caused the need for it.

      1. Not Australian*

        Even doing everything right is no guarantee that things won’t go belly-up, of course – and, while the OP could maybe have done things differently, the worst mistake she’s made is actually to trust someone to behave well and then been let down. If she can present it to her manager as a lesson learned, and ask for guidance, it will show that she’s prioritising the work over the friendship, which is probably what the manager would like to see.

      2. Emmie*

        I wonder what OP’s prior view of her friend’s working habits were like. It would help OP if OP saw the friend as someone with a professional work ethic who was good at her job. This could help OP in her convo with her manager. OP could explain how her friend’s performance is different from her prior experience; explain how she prepared her friend for the role; explain how she handled the friend’s performance issues; explain that she and friend are no longer friends outside of work to maintain professional boundaries; ask about friend’s previous performance issues; lay out a suggested plan for addressing those issues and explain that the friend may complain; and ask for your boss’s insight and buy in. Because of the history between OP and manager, OP can help herself by explaining these things.

      3. I'm Not Phyllis*

        I would also bet that your boss already knows. If you have had two mediated conversations with HR in under 6 months, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had given your boss the heads up. She will be expecting you.

    5. Lynn Whitehat*

      I definitely know people who would abuse the heck out of this arrangement. Some people have an antagonist attitude toward work, like The Man will do his best to keep you down, and “obviously” friends and family should work together to screw the Man right back. But oh no! OP1 is “forgetting where she came from” and “turning her back on her friend”! The fact that OP1 has responsibilities now is nowhere in their worldview.

    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I am with Someone Else here in thinking that maybe management was already having trouble with Friend before OP took over as manager and that the “are you sure you can manage Friend” conversation was Old Manager’s way of hinting at the issues. If that is the case, then Old Manager should definitely have clued in OP about the issues when OP was promoted to manager. And I think Allison’s advice is spot-on: try managing Friend the way you would anyone else with such issues (and yeah, Friend doesn’t seem to have any idea how the working world works; getting paid for commuting time? Nope nope nope) and see what happens, then if you’re still having problems loop in Old Manager. Old Manager will see that you are at least trying to manage Friend and that Friend isn’t responding properly, and will hopefully be able to help you out.

    7. TootsNYC*

      #1 managing a friend

      I wonder if anybody sat down with the friend and said, “Can you be managed by your friend? Us higher-ups will be watching you, too.”

      But yes, our OP needs to do with this woman what she’d do with any employee. Though, I’m wondering what I’d do with a employee who did these sorts of “probing the boundaries” things. They’re all just so over the top! And they’re requests, which of course you say no to. And they don’t have anything to do with her actual job duties.

      I guess I’d be telling her directly to knock it off, and then I’d be going to HR or someone to discuss whether I can take disciplinary action on this sort of thing.

    8. T*

      She may just need to be fired. I had a friend who got along well with his coworkers, then got promoted into his boss’s position when the boss retired. His friends suddenly didn’t want to do their jobs and were constantly testing boundaries, kind of like what children do. He ended up having to let someone go for insubordination before the group he managed finally got under control.

      1. AKchic*

        This is what I am thinking too. How does this “friend’s” actions affect the rest of the team? Because they are seeing these actions, the mediations, the constant push-back and then lack of consequences and left wondering if there actually *are* any consequences for insubordination, rudeness, potential time fraud, and outright disrespect, and then will be left wondering if that attitude will be directed toward them at some point (if it hasn’t already been directed toward them if they aren’t acting the same way in solidarity of “friend” or have made any kind of disapproving noises/looks). OP1 can’t be the only person in the line of fire, or the only person to have even noticed these actions.

        If one person is toxic, then others will be infected in some way, if only a low-level “I’m miserable dealing with this constant power struggle and I’m low-key looking for another job in a better environment” kind of way.

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        Sometimes it’s well worth it to end up letting one person go if they are really toxic and over the top, because everybody else gets their act together real quick. It sucks to have to go to the extreme, but it’s often short-term pain for long-term gain.

    9. selena81*

      i wonder if there is anything missing in the story: like maybe the friend expected a promotion herself, maybe the 2 of them had a history of ‘joking’ that if one of them got promoted she’d let her buddy slack off, etc

  5. CastIrony*

    It seems like OP#1 is trying her best, but working with friends is extra hard!

    I hope their boss helps them.

  6. LGC*


    The advice on letter 1 is spot-on, and I don’t think there’s anything that needs to be added to it. Except…it sounds like the letter writer is new to management themselves, and I think they’re afraid that they’ll sound like they can’t do the job if they admit their friend is being a jerk.

    That’s not the case! At the end of the day, even if LW isn’t handling it effectively, it’s the friend that’s being a jerk by demanding special (and unreasonable) perks. I normally really dislike the language of “X got herself fired” because it removes any agency from management, but…yeah, this is really her doing.

    With Letter 2, I’d have to ask – the company sounds dysfunctional and like they don’t handle mistakes well (i.e., they’re just telling the LW they did it wrong instead of providing context), but how major are these mistakes? I can imagine getting the wrong report or putting money in the wrong safe could be major issues.

    At any rate, I think it’s nice to provide written instructions, but 1) it’s not mandatory, and 2) sometimes people won’t bother because there’s no guarantee they’ll be read. (I actually had an incident with an employee last week where I gave him a list of how to do something and he just shoved it in his back pocket and ignored the instructions. I had to tell him to read the list in front of me, and it was only then he realized that he didn’t do things the way I needed him to.) The company does sound like it’s run by evil bees, but even an evil beehive can be right about some things.

    1. LGC*

      There’s actually one detail I missed – and it’s surprisingly large: two of the big “fights” in Letter 1 could be tied to the friend’s commute. If I were a betting man, I’d say that the request for three telework days per week (which…on its own isn’t banana crackers, but sounds like it’s well outside of the company norm) and the request to have her commute time counted as work time (which is generally banana crackers) are related – it sounds like the friend has a long commute (which…I feel her pain, I have a long commute too) and abused whatever connections she had with LW1 to mitigate it (which makes her a jerk).

      Aside from being a jerk, it may not make sense for her to stay in this job if she really doesn’t want to commute three hours each way four days a week.

      (And yes, I used the J-word a lot. The friend might be a lovely person otherwise, but right now she’s behaving terribly with regards to her job.)

      Finally, with the reviews: I don’t think you want to do them one-on-one, especially in this case. (I’m not sure what the norms are for your company. However, it sounds like if you give her a review that’s anything less than glowing, she’ll react poorly – I mean, she accused you of fraud when you told her to follow sick leave policy.) You might totally blow up your friendship regardless, but you should acknowledge that 1) she’s been a terrible employee and 2) this is also difficult for her to deal with. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but I think that if you think about it that way it might make it easier to deal with.

      I’ve usually co-supervised, so I’ve asked my co-supervisor to read over my reviews when they get a chance. You might want to ask your boss to read over your performance reviews in your case – I know she’s Busy, but sometimes you need to force Busy people to stop for a second and deal with what sounds like a major situation.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yes friend is being a jerk, but this is mostly on OP. Like Alison said, she’s human, and going to make mistakes. And yes, her friend is trying to take advantage of the situation. But as a manager, it’s up to OP to set boundaries, and let friend know the consequences of her actions. She should be doing the same with everyone on her team, and it just makes it more difficult with this person who happens to be a friend. Most companies won’t allow relatives or SOs to manager each other, and this is exactly the reason why. Managers and subordinates can be friends (like actual real true life friends) but ONLY if both people are mature and reasonable, and this friend is neither one of these things.

        1. LGC*

          Maybe I’m being WAY too sympathetic to the LW, but…just because LW has (most of) the power in this situation doesn’t mean it’s all on them. The way I read the letter, they WEREN’T giving in to the friend, so they should be given credit for that.

          The main issue, I think, is that the LW is afraid to ask for help because they might seem incompetent. That’s…valid (I admit I thought the LW started out a bit sure of herself that this wouldn’t be a problem), but it’s also common to new managers. I still ask my boss for support sometimes, and I’ve been supervising at my job for nearly five years. (Honestly, given what I’m responsible for, I’m basically managing. But I digress.)

          You’re also right in the assessment of reporting lines. And that’s on both the LW for saying it wouldn’t be a problem (way too often, it IS) and…actually, the boss for allowing it.

          TL;DR – yeah, as The Boss LW1 is responsible, but I’m not quite reading it as a failure to set boundaries.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, it sounds like the OP is saying no.

            I do think, though, the OP needs, preferably with the guidance of her boss but without if that’s not available, to have an overall come-to-Jesus conversation with this employee. Employee’s expectations are out of whack, and it’s looking like time for either a formal PIP or a general counseling of “maybe this job isn’t for you, and if you think it is, I’d need to see the following improvements.”

        2. TootsNYC*

          how would you handle this, even if it weren’t a friend?

          A subordinate comes and says, “I want to telework for three days,” and you say no, of course.
          The same subordinate says, “I want my commute time to count as work,” and you say no, of course–and maybe laugh at them gently. I mean–really!
          The subordinate puts down sick time and work time, you ask her to change it, and she accuses you of time-card fraud, and you say, “no, this isn’t fraud; I’ll get HR to call you and explain why it’s not.”

          But how do you handle the sheer volume of boundary-testing requests?
          I guess you call her in for a convo specifically about this–NOT part of the review–and you say, “You are pushing all these boundaries, and you need to stop.”

          I wonder if our OP needs to be a little tougher and to feel less pressure coming up from below. If you have all the authority, it doesn’t matter that someone is mad because you won’t let them do what they want.

          I call it “channeling my inner daycare worker.”

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            I honestly wouldn’t do anything different for a non-friend from what I said above. When a subordinate is trying to push for things that aren’t allowed, manager needs to set boundaries, and let them know what will happen if they cross them. Sure these are just requests, but they’re outrageous, ridiculous requests that I doubt any manager would approve.

            I also think OP needs to realize that this friendship may be doomed. Her friend seems very unreasonable, and is not going to take the criticism well. I realize that it’s easier said than done, but OP needs to do her job as manager and take the friendship out of the equation. She needs to constantly ask herself “How would I handle this with -other team member-” and not give friend any special treatment.

            1. TootsNYC*

              manager needs to set boundaries, and let them know what will happen if they cross them.

              But what boundaries would you set? The person (friend or not a friend) is just asking, right?
              Are you really going to fire someone for asking to work extra days from home? For asking to be paid for their commute?

              The manager IS holding firm. She is not giving her friend any special treatment.

              I mean, I think she needs to say, “Look at all these things you’ve asked of me. You are out of line. Knock it off.”
              But I can totally see a relatively new manager not knowing how to handle these specific things, whether it’s a friend or not.

              1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

                You keep answering your own questions. Not sure what you’re looking for from me here.

                Friend is crossing the line, and OP needs to have a conversation with her. She also mentions friend challenging everything she says, and needing HR to mediate. OP needs to explain what’s acceptable, and provide the consequences of doing what’s not acceptable, then (and most importantly) follow through with mentioned consequences.

            2. Jen S. 2.0*

              Agree that OP also needs to accept that the friendship likely has run its course. Sometimes when your relationship with someone changes, you find out (…or can’t keep ignoring…) new things about that person that fundamentally change your relationship from the ground up. Plenty of people have found out that someone was fine as a coworker but not so much as a friend or boyfriend; or great as a friend but not so much as a neighbor, et cetera.

          2. WellRed*

            I feel like in this case, I’d be saying something along the lines of “I feel like you are trying to take advantage of our friendship with all these outlandish requests. What’s going on here?” Just….name it.

          3. AKchic*

            It doesn’t sound like the commute is 3 hours each way, but 90 minutes each way. That’s not the worst commute for some of us. And truly, if the “friend” doesn’t like the commute, she has had plenty of time to look for a different position with a different company that is closer to her home, or alternatively, look for housing that is closer to work. We all make choices in life. I used to live two blocks from my office. Then my office bought a new building and it was within 2 driving miles. Eventually, I needed to make more money and changed jobs. No more walking for me. Then I moved. I went from a 2 minute commute to a 25 minute commute to a 40-70 minute commute (depending on traffic, in the winter it can be longer depending on how bad the snow/ice is). Commuting is the price of living in one place and working in another. The only way you don’t commute is either working strictly from home, or living next door/across the street/above your work place.

            1. LGC*

              …good catch! I mistakenly wrote three hours each way instead of three hours round trip (which is what I should have said). I mean, it’s still a long commute (That’s about what I do daily and I’ll admit it’s a lot), but not a six hour round trip.

              At any rate, I think the commute could be used as an entry point if the LW wants.

      2. Letter 1 Writer*

        Most of the commenters are right regarding the fact that I am new to management, so I receive the advice on how to be more firm and consistent. What was more surprising is her attitude, which I was not expecting from someone who I considered a friend. I have started to document our interactions in written form so I can use that to support her review. And I will ask my boss to sit in for her review just to prevent any accusations of bias.

        1. TootsNYC*

          by “attitude,” do you mean her tone of voice when making these request, and responding to your denials?

          I’m wondering if having your boss sit in will work against you. Sometimes that subtle message that sends is, “She doesn’t have any real authority; only her boss does.”

          Though in this case, I think having your boss say, “I am watching how YOU react to having your friend as your manager. Your manager is holding the line nicely and expecting professional work from you; you are the one who is not behaving professionally. And yes, these requests are unprofessional.”

            1. Anonymeece*

              Agreed on this point. I had a problem with an insubordinate employee and part of the problem was this person didn’t respect my authority at all. My boss, trying to help, started talking to them, but that just crystallized this impression that I didn’t have any authority to this person.

              You’re thinking on the right terms, of wanting to prevent any appearance of bias, but you may want to bring this concern to your boss if you’re thinking that Friend not respecting your authority is part of the problem and see what boss suggests.

            2. TootsNYC*

              I had an employee who was herself a manager; she hired freelancers to help her with the area that she had responsibility for. She (Amber) was their boss.

              One freelancer started asking me questions about things, and I’d answer, thinking that she just wanted an explanation, or hadn’t thought of her question when she was by Amber. We were a pretty collegial place.

              Then Amber came to me and said this woman was coming back and saying “Toots said something different.” I didn’t have any intention of contradicting Amber! And I only said something because she asked me.
              So I started saying, “What did Amber say about that?”

              Eventually Amber came and said, “I’m going to fire her from this assignment; I overheard her on the phone with people and she was really out of line. But I don’t want her running to you; I’d like you to sit in and essentially say, ‘Amber has the authority here–she is making this decision and I am backing her in it 100%.’ So she can’t come running to you.”

              It worked! But that was because I sat behind Amber, Amber ran the show, and I said, “Amber has my confidence. This is her call to make, and I trust her.”

        2. Close Bracket*

          > What was more surprising is her attitude, which I was not expecting from someone who I considered a friend.

          I wonder if in her mind, her requests are completely reasonable. That is, this might not be a case of her thinking a friend will give her these unreasonable concessions; this might be a case of her believing a friend will give her these completely reasonable concessions or that any reasonable boss would give her these completely reasonable concessions. If you approach this from the perspective of “Here we have the delusional employee in her native environment” rather than “I can’t believe my friend is being so difficult with me,” you might see different ways to approach her. And do change your approach before the review. As another commentor noted, there should never be surprises during a review.

          Good luck!

        3. LGC*

          To be fair, LW1, I don’t think anyone would have expected your friend’s behavior, because your friend is – quite frankly – acting banana crackers.

          (Or translated into non-AAM speak, she is out of her everloving mind.)

          To touch on something TootsNYC brought up – I actually did think about the optics (because it’s something I actually deal with myself), and…like, I don’t think you need the authority so much as you need a witness. This isn’t something I say lightly, but the red flag for me was that she accused you of time card fraud already for…asking her to fill out her time card like a normal person.

          Basically, I think that you should be honest in your performance review, but if you’re honest she’s very likely to take it poorly. And I don’t think you can avoid it so you probably want to CYA.

  7. M from NY*

    OP2 Since this keeps happening, take notes then email trainer (per training today, these are steps required to complete task X). Please confirm or advise if I’ve outlined correctly.

    Some shortcuts are so engrained that people forget to explain all of the steps when it’s time to train others. As your office doesn’t have an official procedures book for your position see if this is a “take initiative” project you can work on. Worse case scenario you have notes to leave next person and give standard 2 week notice.

    1. Artemesia*

      I remember a job I had early on where the boss just handed me a pile of documents in an obscure foreign language and told me he needed them translated immediately. No information about how to get it done. Getting it done was my problem. Lots of work is like that. It is on you to figure out what the steps are and then confirm your understanding of them with the person tasking you; it is not odd for a newbie to do this; it is a problem for them to forge ahead without knowing what they should be doing.

      1. Birch*

        The problem is when there are specific parameters that aren’t communicated. I don’t think we have enough info to say whether that’s the case for OP, but if OP is being told e.g. by their own example, “put the money in the safe” without specifying which safe, it’s not reasonable to expect OP to be able to read minds. If the parameters matter, they have to be part of the instruction, otherwise it should be assumed that it’s OK to do it in the way that makes the most sense to the person doing the task.

        What bothers me more about that letter is that no one checked in on OP’s training. That’s sort of the necessary endpoint for training, isn’t it? Otherwise it’s just assuming 1) your training is perfect, which not even remotely true for most managers, or 2) the trainee is able to spot any issues and has the confidence to speak up about them, which can’t be true if there are crucial missing parameters that the trainee won’t know to ask about. It could be that OP’s 7-step task mistakes could have been avoided by OP taking notes, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if they just didn’t have all the necessary information. Most people aren’t good at teaching things that are routine for them and leave out information that seems implicit but actually needs to be stated during training.

        1. Artemesia*

          Being a grownup on a job means you take the initiative to sort this out. If you organize your steps and don’t know which safe it is, then you ask. In 45 years in the workforce I never had a job where I didn’t have to figure it out myself; I know there are some jobs with clear procedures and perhaps this job should be one of those, but lots of jobs expect you to do what it takes to figure it out. Of course sometimes you get it wrong, but if you take notes, work out your strategy and confirm it with the boss the first time you do something and again if you come to a fork that you hadn’t anticipated, you will reduce the number of time you make mistakes. This is the time for ‘gumption.’

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yes, this is what a lot of my jobs looks like. We talk about problem solving, reflecting instructions, and confirmation communication in interviews and at orientation. Some things have detailed procedures, some things have checklists, some things you just have to figure out, present a solution, and get confirmation that that’s what needs to be done. If you’re waiting for an attorney to send you detailed, written instructions, you’re going to be waiting a while. :)

      2. Eukomos*

        That’s the easy version of this, though. The boss doesn’t care how you do it, they just want it done. As long as you show back up with the translation in hand you’re good. This problem stems from getting projects where the procedure is important as well as the result, or where your boss sees the results of each step along and wants them all done a certain way. Unless it’s obvious that only one procedure will work, you need a way to find out what the procedure is and to remember what you find out, without taking up too much of your boss’ time. This is why I much prefer the “here’s a project, come back when it’s done” approach, but that’s not always possible to get.

    2. Cartographical*

      This is good advice. I had exactly this problem in a job that was, of all things, documenting how things were to be done. The project management and documentation materials and software were all home-grown, thus the need for custom documentation but it also meant that the existing group already knew all the ins and outs whereas I was new.

      Yes, you’re responsible for working things out for yourself but that can and should include asking for confirmation when you need it. Taking notes lets you gather all your concerns and if you don’t want to feel like you’re coming across as less competent it’s perfectly fine to phrase it as “I’m taking X steps to complete this task — any reason I should do it differently?” Asking specific, structured questions can prompt your seniors to recall all those bits and pieces they wouldn’t remember off the top of their head like “plug-in Y doesn’t play well with database Z” that are just part of life that they’ve internalized and work around automatically.

      Bonus to keeping notes? One day, likely sooner than you think, you’re going to be the senior person in the arrangement and it will save you (and everyone) so much time if you can say: “let me get my notes from when I was starting out.”

  8. Lil*

    ugh #2 is what i’m currently dealing with after a reorganization left me with responsibilities i have no experience in. my manager (recently promoted into the position, therefore a lot of her duties were transferred to me) will assign me a task, and when i ask an initial question after trying to figure it out for some time, she’ll just go “oh actually you’re supposed to do this…” and then show me the whole complicated, unintuitive process on how to do this thing.

    like… there’s literally no way i could have figured out how to do that on my own. and i’ve wasted so much time trying to initially determine how a task is done rather than her (knowing that i’ve never done task in x program) showing me from the outset. and it’s not like she says “let me know when you’re ready to do x and i’ll walk you through it” but rather she’ll follow up to see if i had finished, and when i tell her i’m lost, she then shows me the process. extremely frustrating

    1. Beth*

      Next time she assigns you a task that you’ve never done before, let her know upfront that you’re happy to do it but you’ve never done it before, and ask if there’s a guide on the proper procedure. If she wants you to try to figure it out, she can tell you that–but there’s a good chance she’ll just take five minutes and show you how, and you can cut out most or all of the time wasting.

      1. Lil*

        most of the time they’re things i’ve done, but slightly differently, or they seem simple enough that i don’t ask, but it turns out there’s a specific procedure for it.

        for example. she assigned me the task of setting up Y on the website when previously only setting up X, so i set it up as i normally do. There was no reason to believe it would be a different process, until she showed me the very specific and somewhat convoluted process of setting up Y. i have no problem with the process, but there’s no conceivable way i would have known that on my own. i don’t have a problem with the processes and i always get it right away, it’s jusy frustrating that she doesn’t articulate that This Specific Instance is different than how i’ve ever done it, so talk to her before i begin working on it.

        she also has a “take a stab at it” approach for things that are very much black and white administrative things. like “take a stab at creating the guest list for the gala” so i take a stab and she comes back with “oh actually, we create the list based on who attended x event during x trade show” which like… why am i taking a stab if there’s already a specific process in place? creative projects, sure, but these are things with processes already in place

        1. Close Bracket*

          Perhaps you could say something like, “Before I take a stab at it, is there anything specific that I need to know?” If she says no and you repeat the cycle, you can say something like, “This is what I had in mind when I asked whether I needed to know anything specific. When there is already a process in place, I would prefer to follow that than to set us back doing the wrong thing.”

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            This is what I was going to suggest. I like the post from somewhere above that as a person grows into new and more advanced roles, the onus starts to shift to the employee. In the example of the I normally do X, but I’m being asked to do Y. A great way to phrase it is. “I’ve never done Y, but when I do X I blah blah blah… Is there anything different that needs to be done”

          2. Artemesia*

            or ‘before I take a stab at it, how was it done last time? Are there records or can you describe the process to me?’

        2. Beth*

          In that case, if this is a frequent issue, maybe phrase it as “Is there any particular procedure for setting up Y, or should I just do what I do when setting up X?”

          If it’s not a frequent issue, it might just be that this is how your boss does things and it’s easier to suck it up than try to preemptively address it. But if it’s wasting a big chunk of your time, asking upfront can save a lot of that.

        3. Jasnah*

          Oh man that is exactly how my old job was. Ultimately I realized that information was so siloed in each person’s brain that nobody knew how to train someone, let alone someone with a different style of working than them (my style is not “try, fail, learn” but “ask for details/procedures upfront and get it right the first time”). You might just need to get very comfortable with doing things wrong over and over and over…

          1. Jaybeetee*

            My present job is like this too – the word “silos” has actually been used. My manager has acknowledged that she was overworked when I first started and I didn’t get enough training. Plus everyone I work with has been here for a decade or more and have acknowledged they forget what I don’t know. Plus Nothing Is Written Down Anywhere. A colleague from a different team emailed me a link to a user manual back in December I hadn’t heard of – because my team have all been here so long they never use it and likely forgot it existed. Around the same time, I found out about a spreadsheet that would have also made life easier.

            I’ve been working on a long-term project that I’m desperately trying to finish out, but I keep having to circle back because of realizing I did things wrong. I’m not going to say none of it is my own fault, but it stinks and I’m worried I look bad/stupid now.

        4. Samwise*

          Now that you know a lot of these tasks work this way, get the directions up front.

          If she says, “take a stab at it,” you can push back gently: “I like to be sure things will work smoothly from the start, could we see if there’s already a set procedure? Who would I ask about that?”

    2. valentine*

      When she assigns the task, why not ask her to show you how to do it? Is this ask vs tell? Does she think you’d ask if you didn’t know, whilst you think she’d tell you if she didn’t want you trying to figure it out yourself?

      1. Lil*

        it’s assigned in a program, so all i see is what she’s typed, like “Register the llama groomers for the May training”, which seems simple enough, but then there’s always some caveat like “you actually need to create a separate registration for each person, because accounting won’t cover the cost of the whole group because it’s in X country”. these are all things that are simple enough for me to retain for next time, but it just seems like these caveats come up ALL the time and end up being a huge waste of tine, rather than her just noting it in the first place

        1. Close Bracket*

          In that case, you need to proactively approach her for more detail. Either call or stop by her office, whichever is the norm in your workplace.

      2. Birch*

        I don’t think ask vs. tell applies here because Lil had no reason to think Y would be different to X. I too have had this situation and it’s so frustrating when you’re not given a complete training and then punished for doing it the way you knew. You can’t know what you don’t know–it’s really on the manager to make sure the employee has all the information they need if a task has to be done a certain way.

        1. valentine*

          I don’t see how your reason isn’t ask vs tell.

          it’s really on the manager to make sure the employee has all the information they need if a task has to be done a certain way.
          But the manager doesn’t have to do that. Lil’s going to have to ask and possibly ask each and every time she’s assigned something because manager is into this stab nonsense.

          Lil, what if you sit down with her and see if it’s worth going through maybe three things at a time that have specific processes, so you’ll be ready to go when assigned and so you can write a manual to stop others suffering as you are.

    3. Crivens!*

      No advice, just commiseration. I’ve been dealing with this as well and it’s incredibly demoralizing.

    4. Samwise*

      Start by sitting down with your manager and getting all the info at the beginning. Set up a meeting — however long you think it will take, don’t underestimate — let your boss know BEFORE the meeting what the meeting’s for, take a notebook (or laptop/tablet, whatever works best for you), and take notes. At the end of the meeting, recap the instructions, ask if you missed anything, then go get started. If anything becomes unclear, ask your boss for clarification (in person, email, etc). The manager can’t know what knowledge is in your head, and if there are no written procedures, you have to ask before you start. Otherwise you can end up flailing, wasting time and resources, getting frustrated…just ask at the beginning.

      After you finish the task, write up the procedure clearly, with notes on any obstacles to watch out for, that kind of thing. Share it with your boss. Keep a copy for the person who takes over your job when you’re promoted!

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I do, too. This is not normal friend-is-now-my-boss challenges, this is asking for special treatment and not accepting that friend-is-now-my-boss. Asking for three telework days when one is the norm is inadvisable, but asking for COMMUTE TIME to be counted as work time is so beyond the pale, I don’t know why anyone would want this “friend” on their team.

      2. Batgirl*

        Absolutely. I worked in retail through college and didnt give a crap about the job. However I was very aware I had been recommended by a friend (a new manager) and didn’t want to make her look bad or regret making the recommendation.

        The friend in this scenario, is not a friend and needs a swift managerial kick in the pants. OP sounds like she has a good boss to go to for guidance on that.

  9. Beth*

    #2: My advice is to always write it down when people give you these kinds of verbal instructions. If you can, write down the steps as they’re told to you, and if you can, read them back quickly to confirm you’ve got everything down right.

    This is useful for a couple reasons. First, verbal instructions are fairly common–though your current workplace sounds dysfunctional in other ways, this isn’t one of them. Many places have written procedures for especially high-stakes or complex processes, but writing down every step for every little thing is realistically not possible; at some point, especially for repetitive tasks and lower-stakes things, people do things by memory or write out a rough guide and figure out the details via word of mouth or trial and error. So, it’s good to get in the habit of managing these kinds of instructions for future jobs.

    Second, that way if you do what you’re told and it turns out to be a serious error, you can refer back to your notes and say something like “This is how I was told to do this, but it sounds like that’s not completely correct. Can you briefly go over the rest of steps with me and make sure they’re in line with current expectations? I want to make sure to get it right next time.” That shows that you’re doing your best to learn and being responsible. For the record, this isn’t likely to be worth it for every single little thing; if it’s something like “You should have named that file name in this format rather than how you did it,” just make a note of that and move on. But if it’s something your manager is actually upset about, it’s really nice to be able to show that you’re taking your work seriously and the problem maybe predates you.

    1. TootsNYC*

      third benefit:

      It makes the “instructor” slow down and be more focused and detailed.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      I second everything Beth is saying. I am somewhat involved with internal training and quite frankly, I consider it a red flag if whoever I am training is *not* taking notes.

      Since I’m typically running full-day long training events, I do hand out papers, but it’s more like a brief outline of the topics we’re covering with space for them to write their own notes.

  10. M from NY*

    OP1 reframe your approach by accepting that your co-worker is not your friend. A friend would step up and help you shine in your new position not be so problematic that HR has to be involved.

    Be honest, if this behavior was happening with anyone else do you have tools to address? If yes then do so. If not, sit with your boss and address before your failure to manage causes you to lose your job. Get ahead of this as you don’t want HR or others on your team to bring to your bosses attention first.

  11. voyager1*

    #1 Your friend is jealous of your promotion and wants you to fail. Not only that she is trying to undermine you. Cut her off as a friend and get her off your team however possible. Hopefully you have the ability to fire her.

    1. Margaery Moth*

      That’s a really unfair assumption. Not every woman is jealous of a woman in another successful position! To me it sounds like the boss knew her friend was a difficult employee to begin with…

      1. seller of teapots*

        Not every woman is jealous of another woman’s success, but *this* woman certainly sounds jealous. Since her friend moved into the promotion, she’s provided a laundry lists of absurd requests and is no longer speaking to OP. Perhaps it is subconsciously motivated, but the (non)Friend certainly seems to be attempting to actively undermine OP.

        I supposed it’s possible that she’s not jealous, and is just a crap employee, but then the boss should have been more upfront/hands on about the situation.

      2. TootsNYC*

        To me it sounds like the boss knew her friend was a difficult employee to begin with…

        There’s no indication. A smart boss would have have that same “will you be able to manage your friend” convo beforehand.
        And if the boss DID think the friend was a difficult employee, he should have shared that with his newly promoted manager; and he should have had a convo w/ that employee.

        The thing is, this woman is being kind of smart. All these things are thing that don’t really get reflected in her job performance.

        Part of me wonders if she’s asking these things just to mess with the OP, if she knows the OP won’t be letting her telework two extra days or get paid for her commute.

        But she wants to create a dynamic where she can claim to have a grievance against her friend, the new manager. “You didn’t let me…”

    2. MommyMD*

      I agree the friend is either jealous or disgruntled that her friend is now manager, or both. It sounds like she’s being willfully uncooperative. I doubt she would behave this far out of line with a different manager. It sounds personal.

    3. JayNay*

      I’d be careful with that assumption. What I’m taking from this though is that Friend had some different expectations about what would happen once OP became their manager. I think it’s fair to include that in the conversation. OP could say something like, “It’s possible you expected me to give you more leeway than others on the team, but I need to be fair to everyone. I really can’t do that. I will have to put on my manager hat at work and be your manager, and put on my friend hat outside of that.”
      I think phrasing it that way might help in clarifying that you’re not being mean to her as a friend, but you’re acting in your professional management capacity. Then try to adress the issues that arise on that more neutral ground. Someone pointed out above that some of the problems seem to be connected to Friend’s long commute, so that could be something to start with. be really clear that you can’t give her perks that other people don’t get and that you have to be fair to everyone.
      That said, I’m really glad you all are reinforcing how hard it is to manage friends. I worked on a team of 5 once where 3 people were very, very close friends. It was a very, very bad idea and made for a really dysfunctional work environment.

      1. TootsNYC*

        it’s not even really about being fair.

        it’s about: the things she’s asking for are against company policy, don’t work for the company’s goals or her position, or are flat-out illegal.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      That’s a pretty big reach. I think it’s more that friend thought she could get a way with a bunch of stuff that a normal manager wouldn’t allow just because they’re friends.

    5. LGC*

      Eh, I don’t know if it’s at DTMFA levels yet (although it might be closer than I’d like). And I think your read and solution is…harsh and simplistic. I think the LW cares about her friend, and the problem is related to her work – and cutting ties with someone is hard for a lot of people!

      1. fposte*

        I might dump her as a friend, though. What the employee is doing is a shitty thing to do to a friend, and I’d lose respect for her.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, IMO it doesn’t really matter if she’s doing it to sabotage friend, or because she hoped to “profit” off being managed by her friend – it is not good behaviour regardless of why she’s doing it!

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        If your employee will not take instructions from you to the point that HR mediation is required, that’s past DTMFA time. I’d have been done at the request that commute time count as work because that’s so far out of the boundaries of normal that I’d question the person’s judgment overall. Piled on top being non-compliant and difficult? Done.

        (I do also wonder what “HR mediation” looks like. My head of HR is compassionate but no-nonsense. If an employee required their intervention to carry out instructions from a direct supervisor, that wouldn’t be mediation, that would be HR saying, “You were asked by your supervisor to do X by Y deadline. Why are you not doing that?” I might get feedback from HR based on the employee’s comments/feedback, but HR doesn’t have a lot of patience for flat-out refusing to do job tasks your supervisor assigns you.)

        1. voyager1*

          Yeah the twice to HR was big for me. I am surprised by the folks feeling I am being harsh and overthinking the friend’s motivation in my first comment. This is while situation is way off the rails, the LW has to regain control. I don’t think a PIP is going to work, this friend probably would try find little ways getting around anything that is not exactly worded or whatnot. I stand with what I wrote earlier, let her go.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            It kind of surprised me as well. I’d generally like everyone to succeed in their role, and I’ve had some great people that just needed some help getting back on the rails… but LW’s friend is not being manageable (or interested in being manageable?), and I am at a loss as to how to turn that around.

          2. LGC*

            Personally, the reason I said you were being harsh was because you said to “cut her off as a friend.” Mostly because I 1) think the bar for cutting people out of your life should be pretty high (but YMMV) and 2) I don’t know if LW1 necessarily wants to take that step.

            To be fair, I don’t know if the friendship would survive anyway, since there’s a lot of toxicity from the friend and LW1 might have to fire their friend to resolve this. But I don’t know if ending the friendship entirely would help the LW much.

    6. Psyche*

      Although this may be true, it is not the only explanation for her behavior. I think it is just as likely that the friend is feeling burnt out by her commute and trying to find a way to make better (and being completely unreasonable about it). Regardless, her motives don’t really matter, her behavior does.

  12. Close Bracket*

    First, though, you need to go to your boss and tell her that she was right when she raised concerns about your ability to effectively manage a friend.

    It’s not clear to me how much of OP1’s difficulties are bc she is managing a friend and how much are bc the friend is a difficult employee and OP1 is a new manager. One thing we don’t know, and OP1 doesn’t know, is whether the boss had similar troubles with the friend.

    Being a good anything involves recognizing when you are having trouble in a certain area and asking for help. OP1 did that by writing in here, but I think she should be honest with her boss about some of the things coming from the friend and ask for the same kind of advice she would ask for regarding any employee who thinks she can charge commuting time as work time.

    1. Lip mask*

      It doesn’t matter. Since OP is having problems with the friend and OP’s boss was concerned that OP would have problems managing her friend enough so that it was a reservation in promoting Op, so if OP doesn’t acknowledge that she was wrong in assuming she knew how to manage her friend then it would look like OP doesn’t have a good grap of the situation.

      1. sunshyne84*

        The old boss may have assumed that OP knew how difficult her friend was being. I don’t think she was wrong to assume she could be a good manager if she had no idea her friend was behaving this way. They probably had a normal relationship prior to.

      2. Close Bracket*

        It does matter bc the approaches will be different depending what the actual problem is.

    2. Mels*

      Agreed. This isn’t about a friend, this is a new manager who doesn’t know what to do in the face of ridiculous employee behavior.

    3. Willis*

      Agreed. From the letter, it doesn’t sound like the OP is cutting Friend any slack or approving any of these ridiculous requests, but it does sound like Friend was trying to take advantage of the OP and is now being a deliberate thorn in her side. I agree with the advice to discuss this situation with OP’s boss, but I kinda feel like this would be the same with any terrible employee. OP needs to know what tools she has to get the employee to shape up or get out. (And wouldn’t OP’s boss already know this is going downhill, assuming she’s aware that HR has had to mediate issues between these two!?)

      1. Colette*

        Would the OP be putting up with this stuff if the person doing it wasn’t a friend? The friend aspect definitely plays into this, and the OP should acknowledge that to her manager.

        1. Psyche*

          Even if the OP would put up with this from anyone, the friend aspect definitely affects the optics of the situation.

        2. TootsNYC*

          but if a non-friend employee was doing this sort of stuff, what exactly would you do in response?
          You’d say no each time, and right about now you’d be sitting down and saying, “You need to stop with this asking for exceptions to company policy.”

      2. Dust Bunny*

        We don’t know if the OP is cutting the friend slack or not. You don’t have to go along with an employee’s absurd demands to be cutting him or her slack: If the OP is tolerating silly behavior past the point she normally would, in part because they are friends, she is indeed cutting the friend slack on the basis of their friendship. (We don’t know that this is the case, but the general tone of the letter seems to be that the OP is confused about why somebody who claims to like her would be such a pain in the neck, which suggests she hasn’t drawn the boundaries she needs to with the friend)/

    4. TootsNYC*

      I agree that it’s not clear that it’s about being unable to effectively manage a friend.

      If I were the OP’s boss, I’d place ALL of this on the subordinate, not on the manager. I think these are hard things to address and nip in the bud–they’re requests, manager said no, and hey–what’s the problem?

      I think I’d need some help figuring out how to handle that even if it wasn’t a friend doing it. It’s just close enough to the border that it’s hard to say “This is really wrong.”

      It almost might need a “I thought we were friends, and you’re making this really weird–you need to knock it off” conversation first.

    5. Letter 1 Writer*

      I tried asking my boss if my friend has this same issues when my boss managed her, and the response I got was “she has always had difficulty in understanding work norms” which did not tell me anything, and since this was at the beginning, I did not want to press further, which I should have. But at the time, I thought I could manage her without help from my boss. I do plan to meet with my boss before the review period to let her know what has been going on. Hopefully she does not hold the fact that I did not let her know earlier against me.

      1. Batgirl*

        Okay there you go. Sounds like your boss was tactfullly saying she has always been a PITA.

        I think that’s good news because it’s not like this oddness was caused by your promotion (either by your leniency or her expectations); you just need to ask for help and guidance in nipping her usual PITA tendencies in the bud.

      2. AKchic*

        This is actually good, and gives you leverage to say “you weren’t specific in your warning to me”. Your boss literally didn’t give you any real warning at all. Your boss gave you a passive hint that basically said “I think you might have trouble just because you’re friends” not “look, I’ve had specific problems and you should know about them since you’re taking on this position” and your boss literally left you holding a broken garbage bag leaking expired milk all over the floor and hoped you wouldn’t, all the while asking you before handing you the bag “hey, you good? you got this?” and then running before you noticed the leak.

        Your “friend” has been a problem for a long time. Now it’s time to use your boss and HR to correct the problem, and that might mean letting your “friend” go and because of how this “friend” has pulled back and was willing to risk your job/career, you may want to drop the friendship too.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I think you can take this to your boss right now–don’t wait to try to link it with the review.

        And as for not bringing it to you sooner–you sort of did already, no? That’s when she told you “she has always had difficulty…” And remember as well: the first one was a one-off. The problem is that she’s asking repeatedly for even more. So it’s understandable that you didn’t realize you had a bigger problem until the pattern was really clear.

        But it is, so take it to your boss now. And try to find out what it is you CAN do. Because saying “Stop doing this” is just not very effective with someone like this.

        The other thing is to just not mind her attitude.
        Let her be pissy about this kind of stuff. Make it clear to others on your team that she’s not getting these things she’s asking for; be firm in making her meet deadlines, etc.; and they won’t be blaming you.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        This may actually give you just the opening you need!

        “You mentioned to me that Guacamole Jane had difficulty understanding work norms when I took the position. I’m finding that that has continued under my leadership, and I’m not sure it’s going to improve. In the past few months, [give examples of unreasonable requests and not doing what you’ve asked requiring HR involvement]. Can we talk about whether or not it makes sense for her to continue here?”

      5. Close Bracket*

        > “she has always had difficulty in understanding work norms”

        Oh, that totally sounds like a “yes.” Your boss handed off a difficult employee to you, and the added component of “she’s a friend” is just making things worse. Yeah, ask your boss for help. Be specific, and ask things like, “when you said Friend had difficulty understanding work place norms, is asking to include her commute time as part of working hours the kind of thing you meant by that?” Your friendship might take a hit. I’m sorry about that.

      6. Mellow*

        “Hey boss, I’d like to re-visit a conversation we had about Friend “always [having] difficulty in understanding work norms. As her boss, I’m also finding that to be the case, and I wanted to talk with you about some solutions I can use/have thought of to address the situation.”

  13. Artemesia*

    #5. Assume you will never have a job there and continue your search without hesitation. I know someone for whom a job was in fact made a few months after they came in second for a job; so it can happen. But mostly it doesn’t and it is best to just put it out of your mind after you decide when to follow up. Do that simple follow up , but count no chickens. And don’t slack off on the search.

    1. MommyMD*

      I agree. These at-the-moment vague promises of future positions are rarely realized. And the more time that passes, the less likely.

      1. Artemesia*

        And the person who made the promise almost certainly forgets it immediately; it is just softening words. Not always. But usually. And while the job is big in our brain, it is often at the ‘who are you now, have me met?’ level in the hiring manager’s brain as he has moved on.

    2. Doug Judy*

      This has happened to me a few times and it’s never materialized into an actual job. With one of them I even took a temporary job because I was sure they were going to offer me something in the next few months. They never did and I had to scramble when my temp job was over. I ended up in a poor fit job out of desperation, which took me a long time to find something because I didn’t want to settle again. Along that job search I was told a few times “We love you and plan on expanding our staff in 3-6 months” I thanked them but that was the extent of it and kept applying and eventually found a position I like. If one of those other places did reach out now, I’d decline.

    3. Allison*

      This. A similar thing happened in my last job search, they wanted to bring me on but there wasn’t an open position and they needed to get approval from the higher ups to create an opening. It didn’t happen, and eventually they ghosted, and I got a new job a few weeks later.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I agree. Don’t be counting on this.

      HOWEVER: Treat this company, and these interviewers as though they are people who said, “We think you’re an excellent candidate.”

      Stay in touch, loosely. Send them a holiday card. Every six months or so, drop them an email to touch base. If you get a promotion or change jobs, drop them an email and end it with, “I’d love to work with you someday.” If something comes up (a success for you at work; an article you’ve read) that reminds you of them, or the topics covered in the interview, email them a short email about it.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        This would only be if she still wants to work for the company. If she gets a different job she’s happy with, I would let it go. You never know what the future will lead to, but if you’re happy in your current job there’s no reason to do this.
        Working for people who make careless promises wouldn’t be my first choice.

  14. Mels*

    LW #1, to get this on track, the first thing you need to do is re-think your goals. They should not be to make reviews as painless as possible and keep working together. They should be to make the review honest and clear, and be prepared to let her go if she can’t act like a professional.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      Exactly. She is not your “friend” during work hours. You are her manager and she is your subordinate.

    2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      The only thing I’d caution on is that reviews shouldn’t contain surprises. The point of reviews is not to save up all the infractions and then unload, it’s to recap and restate what should already be on the table.

      In other words, it sounds like the OP has quite a few things that she’s already addressed with the employee, so that should be included and we don’t know how the employee’s work is outside of the weird requests and bad attitude. However based on what was included in the letter the employee should probably already be on a PIP.

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Second, third and fourth this. You need to have a conversation that will be painful. It will be painful to tell your friend that she is being unprofessional, that she is sabotaging herself and disrupting the department. It will be painful to hear that you are the source of all her problems and she never did anything wrong and you suck at your job, or whatever BS she tries to spin the situation with.
      Your goal is to remain professional, not friendly.

  15. ChemMoose*

    #3 – I’ve been reviewing resumes for an open position and some of the resumes don’t have locations. Most of the companies in my field have multiple locations and each one has a different specialty. It would make it much easier to connect job descriptions to companies if locations are included. Additionally, it comes across as weird and looses credibility.

    That being said, misspelling the name of a city might be worse.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      This has happened to me. Apply for a job assuming it is at headquarters downtown. Get details about the interview at 6 PM the day before. Oh look! It is at their branch office in BFE. I’m still not sure whether they’re trying to trick me, or they think it’s obvious, or they don’t think it should matter.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Yes, some companies where I live moved their headquarters out to the burbs and by doing that select for people who live in the suburbs and like to drive everywhere.

    2. TootsNYC*

      “loses credibility”

      In magazine articles, we always give the city for the people or companies we interview or mention. That’s so the reader could find that person and check to be sure they’re real, and that we did interview them.

      You may never do it, but you know that you COULD. Sometimes in the age of search engines and hyperlinks, I think we could do away with that. But it’s still important.

  16. Shoes On My Cat*

    OP#2-if you carry your phone, ask the person if you can record their comments so that you (this is key) won’t waste their time by writing everything down while they are waiting. Most people in a time crunch will appreciate your thoughtfulness. If not, carry a little notebook and jot down as many notes as you can. Either way, go back to your desk and immediately create a rough training module for yourself of The Task. Email it to person and ask if you missed anything then get started while you wait if it’s time sensitive. You can always go back to fix something you missed if they get back to you and if they don’t (& this company sounds like people are too frazzled to, but hey, CYA), you haven’t lost time. Then update your module with new information as you go. Later on, these modules can often be leverage for promotions or reminders of accomplishments for your resume. (Being me, I added ‘created by Shoes’ in the footer and password protected the document so no one could take credit for my work) It’s very normal to get training on the fly like this, and also normal to think you’ve got it in the moment only to lose some pieces when it’s not so fresh. That is why it’s so important to make your notes ASAP. I tend to get distracted and the info sieves out of my brain with even ONE interuption. So I have a habit of holding my thumb and forefinger together until I am actively making my follow-up notes. I won’t talk, look at friends, etc on my march back to my desk and my managers and colleagues know that’s my signal for “Can’t talk, gotta make my notes” As they tend to benefit, they go along with my system. And not just ThisJob and LastJob. I’ve got a niche rep in my industry for these kinds of manuals as well as competency -because of the manuals I can refer to when I do Things. I learned the hard way to not rely on memory for any work I do less often than weekly. And even then, I have a manual until it becomes rote! Heck. At LastJob they wanted us on this new computer system that was a sh*tshow. It had already been rolled out nationally and we were the 8th or 9th training group. There were quite a few details that NEEDED to happen to make it work with our present system. The presenters, the professional presenters and the people in charge of developing and rolling this out STILL DIDN’T HAVE A CHECKLIST!!! And I’m talking about over 20 steps to link all the elements. So I made one and kindly shared it with them. During the training. In front of boss & Great grand Boss. They were impressed at how hard I worked to understand the system and I ended up getting professional kudos. Make this a habit. If there is a training manual, great!, but for most jobs in your lifetime you will only have the training manual you made yourself.

    1. Auntie Social*

      And that manual will help the next person to have your job, after you’ve been promoted.

      1. Indigo a la Mode*

        Documentation for knowledge transfer is so valuable. I schedule an “admin day” every few months for my team and one of the tasks on that day is to document some process in Word or as a Loom video for the sake of future teammates. It’s especially good for those things that only happen once in a blue moon and that nobody ever really remembers entirely (who was the contact for that hotel who knew which vendor booths were near outlets? which company do we use for sales trifolds vs. the one we use for business cards?)

        OP, if you have downtime to transcribe processes like that, it might be a good idea to bring up the possibility to your supervisor. I’ve found that the newest person – i.e., the person who had to learn the process most recently – is often the best for that task.

        1. Birch*

          This is such a good idea! I try to document everything and encourage others too, but too often it falls by the wayside in favor of more pressing tasks. Now I’m thinking of making a “catch up on documentation and organization morning” with doughnuts and coffee…..

        2. Sarah*

          Being the person who, while learning a process, has asked, “Do we have an SOP for this? Should we?” has made me a very popular employee amongst management in past organizations. You learn the process, you learn to write an SOP (which is a deeply valuable skill), the department has a record of how something needs to happen, and you can test it each time you do the process and ask about improvements (“We have to go into this program 3 times, but we only add a little information each time – should we wait until the end?” which lets you either make a change to help improve things or learn the reasons behind why the process is structured the way it is, which is helpful in and of itself.)

    2. MP*

      Just one thing to keep in mind – you seem to need really detailed step-by-step notes, but others don’t. I had a coworker like you and she spent a lot of her time making detailed notes on procedures, always with lots of screenshots and multiple tabs where each one was a separate step. When I took on her projects it was really difficult for me to figure out the point of things – just so much little detail that it honestly was almost impossible to follow. Forest for the trees issue. I would have to spend a fair bit of time figuring out the point of all her meticulous steps (she never bothered to add that, just all the tedious steps) before I could actually do the project. I left much better and simpler documentation (getting rid of her noisy garbage). She always thought I was lazy because I didn’t leave step-by-steps, just a basic overview; I honestly thought she was pretty dumb because she needed such detailed instructions.

      1. Ange*

        That doesn’t mean your coworker was dumb, she just learns differently to you. Plus, what I’ve learnt from training people in my current job is that a lot of people need step by step, and that what seems obvious to someone familiar with the process, can be very difficult to follow for someone who isn’t. I make “step by step with pictures” instructions for other people, because I want my instructions to be usable by someone who’s been dropped into the job with no training, not because I can’t do my job without.

        1. Birch*

          +1 don’t make assumptions about how other people’s minds work. And lucky are all the people who have never had to redo work because of missing but crucial training information.

        2. Asenath*

          Another issue can be that if you have a lot of inter-related tasks, doing Step 3 in Job A might seem like a pointless waste of time until, 6 months later, you come to Step 6 of Job B, which requires the date from Step 3, formatted as specified in Job A.

          But basically, yes, make notes (I much prefer written to oral/recorded, but people differ on that) and run them by the person who gave them to you to confirm. And once you’re thoroughly familiar with the work, you can adjust them if needed.

          1. anony-Nora*

            The best training I’ve had at my current job (which involves a lot of fiddly little steps for reasons that are not always immediately clear) started with giving me a brief overview of the whole process so I could see why the work reached me in the state it did and why I had to do my part a certain way for folks down the line. That coworker made detailed instruction sheets and when something seemingly minor would be important later she’d say so and explain why. Having since had training under a coworker with a much less thoughtful and organized approach to teaching just makes me appreciate the better training even more.

            1. Kitryan*

              Yep! I wrote up a bunch of docs for my job and they almost all start off with a brief paragraph that contextualizes the task and then gets into the screenshots and detailed instructions- and I train that way too. However I sometimes can’t provide the training docs to some people as in order to learn the task well they need to write up their own how-to. But in those cases I will review it for them once they type it up, and they always get multiple shots at performing the task where I’m either sitting next to them or reviewing after.
              A coworker has great step by step documentation but never gives context so people don’t know what purpose the task serves or how to deal with non standard requests, all they know is how to follow these specific steps. I would occasionally quietly ask if the trainee wanted a little background on the job, casually, and most were very happy to have it as they had no idea what they were actually doing, even if they could perform the task.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, at my company step-by-step instructions with pictures are highly valued. I’ve been trying to make more of those and send them out to the team for pretty much anything that people regularly ask me how to do. It is always highly appreciated by the managers.

          And most of the assignments that we have are repetitive and when someone first takes them over it is standard to just do all the steps without trying to understand “the point” because we don’t always have time to talk about why we do all of those things. Then when things slow down we can dig into the “why” more. But IMO the instructions *should* be more about the “how.”

      2. Shoes On My Cat*

        MP, please consider gentling your framing! Different strokes for different folks! Some people just need a memory jog and have a process to complete that is intuitive, and that is great! I’m not a genius but the ‘intelligence/culture’ tests I’ve taken confirm that my book smarts are well above average, so I can confidently state that I’m not dumb–& I need the step by steps. It makes me faster and mistake-free when it counts. Another value to me is, I can get interrupted to help a colleague or take a call or juggle a few projects on split screens as my processors gather info, etc and then jump right back into the process without missing a beat. Plus, having put together a step by step process makes it easier to handoff the task at some point and minimizes the inefficiencies of training. (Waiting for someone else to type and practice before moving on to the next part makes me antsy as my mind starts going off about my remaining work and then I get brusque with the poor trainee to try to hurry them along. Not fair!!) Instead trainee has my notes and can come & ask. Much less time! Of course, if someone wanted to edit my document to ADD a ‘streamline how to’ like your preference, sure! My question would still be, how successful were 10 trainees using said notes. For my purposes, the mistake-free elements for our daily high dollar volume business and the efficiencies in training my replacement for certain tasks so that I could do more interesting work made the extra work very worthwhile

        1. pleaset*

          This framing was awesome – open and truthful about how each side viewed the other critically:
          “She always thought I was lazy because I didn’t leave step-by-steps, just a basic overview; I honestly thought she was pretty dumb because she needed such detailed instructions.”

          But y’all seem to have skipped the fact that MP was mildly dissing both sides and jumped on him/her.

          1. Annette*

            You missed something too. Her way was “better”. No opinion just stated as fact. Ditto “garbage.” Sign of immaturity.

      3. Annette*

        Did it occur to you – maybe her documentation was better. Either way it’s a matter of preference.

      4. peachie*

        I have documented processes like that… sorry! For me, I often did that because there were confusing or unintuitive steps that people new to the task might miss — I didn’t personally need to consult the notes, I just wanted to preempt some confusion/mistakes when handing the task to someone else. (Yes, Brad, you DO need to click all these extra buttons to change contact information! I KNOW you think you found “an easier way”!! But you didn’t!!! THAT’S WHY I GAVE YOU SCREENSHOTS, BRAD!!!!)

        1. Sarah*

          Ohhhhhhh your parenthetical comment is giving me flashbacks. I had to create documentation to offshore some reporting processes a few years ago and my first test run I noticed something funky when I checked their data and they told me “Oh, we didn’t copy and paste values like you said, we just did a normal copy paste because it was easier.” Well, yeah, I know that’s easier, but THAT EFFS WITH THE FORMULAS AND NOTHING WILL CALCULATE CORRECTLY. It would calculate correctly the very first time, but never again after that. Which we wouldn’t have known until it was too late to go back and pull the correct data. Which is why you have to do that one particular step that one particular way.

          Sometimes doing it the fiddly way is actually necessary. Sometimes it’s not. But you don’t know until you ask WHY it’s being done in such a specific way.

          1. just a random teacher*

            If possible, it’s really nice to include a little “why?” sidebar for steps like that in the documentation if they’re particularly likely to have unhelpful shortcuts taken.

            In my career, there have been plenty of times where yes, something needs to be done in exactly the fiddly way I’ve been shown, but there have also been plenty of times where the person training me just didn’t know about (or wasn’t comfortable with) a certain technical tool or workaround and so was doing it “the long way” even though it would be fine for me to do it more efficiently. (I’m one of those people who is fine with things like using the command line and writing scripts or excel formulas to automate routine tasks, so if I’m being given a task previously done by a non-programming-type person it’s reasonably likely that I’m comfortable doing technical things they’re not, which means it may or may not make sense to optimize the process around my skillset depending on a bunch of other factors.) Also, the need for workarounds and longer ways to do tasks can change with time and software upgrades, so knowing that the reason we need to enter the data x way rather than the shortcut y way is because z process gets broken otherwise also means that we can see if that data entry process can be changed now that we’re using q instead of z for that further step.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            I’ve created an Excel macro for Paste Values so I can do it as easily as regular paste.
            The only thing is, you can’t Undo something done by a macro so if there’s a chance I’ll want to undo it, I have to do it the long way.

            1. Sarah*

              I love this! I will definitely have to try it now – this was back before I was as fluent in Excel, but now I would absolutely try to use a macro.

      5. TootsNYC*

        When I took on her projects it was really difficult for me to figure out the point of things – just so much little detail that it honestly was almost impossible to follow.

        I prided myself on my checklists and procedural memos I created for an earlier iteration of my current job.
        They were used by people completely new to the process and by people who had been using them for awhile, but who were only with us for four days out of every month (so, familiar yet not always).

        My goal was to write it so that someone really familiar with the process could use it as a checklist without details.
        AND so that someone who’d never done it before had ALL the little tiny details. (and so that someone really familiar with the process could easily find that ONE little detail they’d forgotten)

        I used headers, bolded words, bulleted lists…

      6. down with bad documentation*

        I’ve never been angry at documentation for being too detailed (Ctrl+f is my friend), but I have experienced so many “overview” pages and my first thought is never a charitable one…usually along the lines of “I hope they weren’t this lazy writing the code for the product, either”.

        From experience I’m guessing your coworker had to explain simple clicks to people and figured putting it on a page would be easier than having them flail around. It’s not completely on the doc editor to determine if their edits are better and simpler, it’s mostly on the audience.

        (Maybe you will continue to be the sole user for the page you re-wrote, but years of experience tells me you’re going to be rewriting that, or adding links for the next person that is looking for more than an overview.)

      7. Michaela Westen*

        Oh, I knew there was something that bothered me here. I take step-by-step notes and use them.
        Not so much screenshots because they weren’t a thing yet when I was learning computers in the early 90’s. Instead I did/do an outline format with thing, indent first step, indent second step, draw arrows to the next step, note keystrokes, etc.
        This is convenient because you don’t have to be at a computer to do it. I usually handwrite it.
        So it doesn’t bother me if a stuck-up person thinks I’m dumb because I do this – I think it’s smart because I can almost always do the thing correctly after one explanation, and I become the go-to person for the things I’m doing. Very good results from my method. :)

    3. quirkypants*

      Being very thorough with documentation AND making it accessible will typically make you look good. Not only did it make a previous employee here look really good while she was here, after leaving, I am often reminded of how awesome and contentious she was for making notes. If she ever needed a reference down the road, she’ll get an amazing one!

      A couple additional thoughts, though:
      – If creating thorough documentation is very time intensive, check in with yourself if it’s interfering with your ability to the rest of your job/tasks. If it is, I’d clear it with your boss to make sure that you’re both aligned on the value of documentation vs. completing your daily work. There is often a difference in the amount of time required to make your own notes vs. creating documentation that others can use.
      – To the OP, in some organizations, password-protecting things like documentation for common tasks is going to come across as really bizarre. If it’s password protected so people can’t even open it up, it’s going to look like you’re not a team player. If it’s password protected so people can’t edit, that’s a little less of an issue but could still might look odd, kind of like oddly possessive and maybe even a bit paranoid…. as someone’s boss, if they sent me a file for documentation that was password protected I’d probably ask them to remove it so it’s something that could be used by the whole team. That said, we really value collaboration. In some cultures, that may be completely fine (it seems to be working for Shoes) – so feel that out!

      1. Michaela Westen*

        If someone is concerned about people changing the directions, they could keep a master copy on their own drive – and protect it, if they feel the need – and put the user copy on the shared drive.
        Then the master copy can be used for reference if necessary.

      2. Shoes on My Cat*

        Thanks Quirkypants! I forgot to mention I password protect against changes, not against opening or printing since the point was to share! Unfortunately LastJob had ‘seasons of dysfunction’ depending on the management personnel changes and I got hit with one too many bosses and colleagues taking credit for my work-as in presenting it under their name. Most people didn’t try to make changes to the training docs, so it never came up with them, but the few that did and confronted me already were well known poachers so it was quite satisfying. In a healthier workplace, you are right, I wouldn’t need to do that. Truly glad you got a healthy place!

    4. TootsNYC*

      I learned the hard way to not rely on memory for any work I do less often than weekly. And even then, I have a manual until it becomes rote!

      I use my manual/checklist even AFTER it becomes rote. Partly because I am always editing it, and partly because I don’t want the responsibility of missing something important.

  17. Rez123*

    #4 “To me, the variety of locations shows flexibility, initiative, curiosity” but to other hiring manager it can mean lack of commitment, inability to stay in one place, no desire to put down roots, flaky and risky employee. This is what makes this whole CV and job application thing is hard. I do agree putting down location. My previous employer had 200 locations in 80 countries. that being said, I personally don’t think not having the location is the worst CV crime at least in my experience. But I really hope we can get rid of this idea that variety of locations is positive or negative, sometimes they are just places where you managed to find work.

    1. Jasnah*

      Yeah, I agree it can be practically helpful to know where someone worked, but it seems quite speculative to me to assume that locations worked says something about one’s personality. I suppose moving around on purpose to seek adventure could tell you something, but there are so many reasons people choose where to work that I’m not sure you can reliably read this as good or bad. I’m sure there’s someone who’s worked in their city all their life who is more flexible than me—I’ve worked in two countries and I’m not a go-getter!

  18. Sir Freelancelot*

    OP1: your friend isn’t a friend. Real friends don’t try to take advantage of you trying to grab more perks for themselves. This person is seeing you as a pass for doing whatever they want. Just treat them like any other employee in your team: praise them if they’re doing well, reprimand them when they’re not following the rules, held them accountable for their action, and never ever let them use the card “I thought we were friends”. You’re not friends in your office, you’re two employees who are risking to jeopardize your jobs.

    1. Rebecca*

      I think the OP also needs to look at this from the perspective of the other members of her team, as in, how do they see this relationship? Is the OP’s friend appearing to get perks and special treatment they’re not? I worked in a situation like that, there was a lot of resentment because the manager’s friend never had to meet the same standards the rest of us did. It went on for years, until the manager was finally shown the door, and her friend was left go shortly thereafter. OP, go to your boss and get this straightened out as soon as possible.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        This happened to me at my first long-term job. One of the bank tellers was friends with the teller manager and we all knew it–the teller even lived with her while she was getting divorced. The fact that they were friends was no big deal, but the fact that the teller took advantage of it and the manager let her is what WAS a big deal. When the teller manager went on vacation, Friend would sit in the huge conference room ALL DAY by herself, eating breakfast and lunch and talking on the phone with friends and family. She would tell us that if the branch manager asked where she was, or if someone asked for her in general, tell them she’s in a meeting. She would also take two-hour lunches and disappear randomly during the day. I got fed up and mentioned it to the teller manager when she got back from vacation. She seemed annoyed, but ultimately she did nothing and it continued on. It really killed my morale and I no longer did anything extra. I just came in and did my job and went home. Luckily I moved on to another branch.

        1. Rebecca*

          This sounds really similar, in my case, the friend was really loose with hours (we are non-exempt) and at the time, we filled out manual time cards. Our manager just initialed the time card, knowing full well she wasn’t at work during all the times listed. It was frustrating, especially since the rest of us had to account for our time, like if we had an appointment, we had to make up the time or use PTO, but this person didn’t do either – and still got paid.

      2. TootsNYC*

        it sounds like the OP is NOT giving her friend extras.

        but the friend keeps asking for them.

    2. LGC*

      I get the sense that…that’s what LW1 is trying to do. (Granted, I’m a little more sympathetic because I’ve been in LW1’s position. As to how that played out: I’m going to be in the friend’s wedding in a couple of weeks.) The way I read it, they have shot down the friend’s requests for unreasonable perks, at the very least. The problem is, it sounds like the friend doesn’t have that same investment in either the job (obviously) or the friendship (because you are absolutely right about that).

      On that note, I think it’s possible to have friends who are terrible coworkers. I’d never work with my friend again, but we’re still pretty close! It’s just that I learned they were…much more of a flawed human being than I thought at first. (And they learned the same thing about me.)

      1. Letter 1 Writer*

        @LGC, I am glad that you were able to separate work from friendship in your situation, and that is what I tried to do with the coffee meeting before hand. But in my case, it just did not work out for some reason. The issues started immediately I assumed my new duties. I hated having to get HR involved, but I was at a loss of what to do. One of the other commenters mentioned that her issues were related to her commute, which I agree with. One of the things she wanted me to do was allow her work 5am -1pm, since we had a flex policy, but I couldn’t approve that because majority of her customers work between 9-6, which means either I or the other teammates would need to fill in for her when she is off. And I also told her that would mean that I have to approve anyone else with such requests, and I couldn’t. FYI, she is not the only person with a long commute. Two of the other teammates have the same amount of commute drive, except that they are single and she is married with kids.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Wait–she knows that her customers work between 9 and 6–and she still asked to work 5am to 1pm?

          That’s just ridiculous.

          It is now time to privately and officially roll your eyes at her. She’s being ridiculous, and I think your only mistake has been to treat her seriously by answering her requests with explanations, etc.

          (also–are you going to be there at 5am, or 6am, or 7am, or 8am, to make sure she’s at her desk and busy? No, I don’t think so)

          But this:

          And I also told her that would mean that I have to approve anyone else with such requests, and I couldn’t.

          is actually NOT true.

          It is OK to give some people different schedules, assignments, and even perks.

          1. Kitryan*

            LW may mean that if it was ok for the friend to have that schedule, then it would be difficult to refuse a similar request from another person who performed the same role and possibly was a better performer, since then it really would look like favoritism. But I agree that if, for example, a top performer whose role did not require them to be in the office requested an additional WFH day, granting that request wouldn’t mean that it had to be granted to everyone.

            1. valentine*

              It was a good opening for, “As your work schedule is unlikely to change, is this a role you can excel in and that you want to continue?”

              1. TootsNYC*


                “I cannot change your hours. Maybe this job isn’t for you; maybe it’s time to move on.”

  19. Delta Delta*

    #4 – I’m not sure I even understand this question. Someone got advice they shouldn’t put locations on their resume? I suppose if their jobs were all clustered in a certain geographic region with well-known companies that might be ok. But otherwise it seems odd.

    1. Leta*

      I don’t know LW’s situation but I’ve heard that advice for people trying to get a job in another state or country. So, your work experience isn’t linked so clearly to one geographic area.

      I really really doubt it’s very effective advice though. I think most would just think it’s odd and they’ll figure out you don’t live nearby very quickly. So, not advocating for it. But I have heard it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        When I’m presented with a resume that doesn’t include something that would normally be included, it often makes me wonder what the person is trying to hide.

        1. Samwise*

          Yep. Location, dates of employment, job title, education (most jobs we hire for require a master’s degree).

      2. Allison*

        It really isn’t. Omitting your location just prompts whoever’s reading the resume to cross reference LinkedIn or social media pages. It’s best to say “I live in X, but I’m looking to move to Y because [reasons],” and specify if you don’t need relocation assistance. You could also assure them that you have full availability to travel for interviews when needed.

      3. ExcitedAndTerrified*

        The only other reason I can see this happening might actually make sense for OP #4’s friend – If your resume includes work exclusively, or almost exclusively, for employers where the geographic location is baked into the employer information. For instance, for someone who has worked mostly for municipal governments and divisions thereof, it might just be redundant information. If my resume says “Director, City of Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department,” or “Principal, City of Springfield Elementary Schools”, I might omit location information, especially if I was looking to conserve some space for achievements or the like.

    2. Asenath*

      I agree. I think it would look very odd not to give the locations of former employers – unless, I suppose, they were all major businesses in the same city, but that’s clearly not the case here. I don’t know whether or not it’s an advantage to demonstrate that the applicant has worked in various place – it was for me, once, an advantage that I’d worked abroad. It just that leaving it out almost looks like you’re trying to hide something about your past by making it hard for the employer to check with previous employers. Especially schools – a lot of schools in different areas have similar names and aren’t well-known outside their immediate area, so it doesn’t seem to mean much if you say that you were employed at Regional High School or Lakeview Academy, with no location information.

  20. NCKat*

    As I am hard of hearing and I have troubling hearing instructions, I make notes and read them back. My team has learned this is the best way to ensure accuracy – to make sure I understand what they need and go from there. Also, written notes can be used for process documentation, which can be imperative in an audit or in training someone else to do your job.

  21. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    A working relationship where you’ve had to use mediation twice to work things out with your employee (“friend”) is a work relationship that’s not working, regardless of previous friendships. Put her on a PIP and make it clear, she has to shape up or she ships out.

    It’s one thing to hope for perks if your friend is now a manager (like, say, you don’t get on her case if she’s a few minutes late or first pick at fun projects – and I’m not condoning this!); it’s another to ask for things that are not normal work perks for anyone! Commute time counts as work time? On what planet? Sick eight hours but still adding an hour of work? Why?

  22. bluephone*

    Oh man, the dreaded “conflicting resume advice” dance. Last year, I someone offered to look over my resume (a version of which had been previously checked by Alison and that I’d used to successfully get my current job so like…it obviously wasn’t terrible). They tore it apart until I felt like the stupidest person to ever stupid. Several months later, in preparation for a job application, the person who’d told me about the opening (and whom I’d worked with previously) offered to look over my resume–and (gently) advised me to undo everything the previous person had suggested. And had some diplomatic-but-not-impressed thoughts about that person’s opinion on resumes (including her advice that I shouldn’t bother listing my master’s on my resume because she’d never heard of the school anyway*). So I don’t really have any advice for LW #4 but I sympathize with their friend’s job hunt!

    *….It was the University of Pennsylvania. It’s an Ivy League school. It includes the Wharton school of business. Their medical school was the first in the America, before there was an America. Even if someone mixes it up with Penn State University, they will most likely have heard of it.

    1. Falling Diphthong*


      You draw up an important point, though, which is that the people giving awful resume advice, or awful any advice, don’t send up a warning by framing things tentatively and admitting their lack of knowledge–no one has ever been more sure of how to obtain the unobtainium than someone who once half-read an article on obtaining unobtainium.

      It’s why Alison’s blog exists–because the standards to give extremely confident advice on how to impress employers and get hired turned out to be “is alive and/or able to create text on a screen.”

    2. Lily Rowan*

      So that school thing should have been an indicator to you that maybe that person’s advice wasn’t the best, but I know it can be hard in the face of such confidence!

      1. bluephone*

        I know! On the one hand, I knew they were full of it about this particular piece of advice but on the other hand, I wasn’t having much luck with my job hunt, I was pretty insecure about my career history and career prospects, etc. So it was easy for me to fall into the trap of, “omg [this person] must be right, what was I thinking, sending out a terrible resume,” etc.
        Anyway, job hunting sucks, that is all.

  23. ENFP in Texas*

    “She also stated that she would like to add her commute hours to her work hours, so if she spends three hours commuting she only has to work five hours in the office.”

    Um… no. Not only “no” but “what color is the sky in your world? NO.”

    That’s not how this works, and to think that she’d even float it as a suggestion because you’re “friends” is ridiculous.

    You’re not “her friend”, you’re “her pass to outrageous things that no sane adult would consider”.

    Do you think she’d suggest this to a manager she wasn’t “close friends” with? If she wouldn’t, then she’s trying to take advantage of your relationship. If she WOULD, her sense of reality is so skewed that you need to have a serious discussion.

    She’s not “your friend”, she’s your subordinate and you’re her manager.

    1. Alfonzo Mango*

      It’s truly such an outrageous idea to float past a boss I would love to hear more about her reasoning, lol.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I kind of wish OP1’s reaction to these requests was, “Why do you think that’s reasonable?” Followed by, “Would you ask that of a manager who wasn’t me?”

        But I’m guessing the reasons would be “Because I want it” and “Yes, and I have” (depending on what exactly OP1’s boss meant with the hint that this employee had difficulties with business norms from the start)

  24. Allison*

    When I’m sourcing passive candidates on LinkedIn, company locations are helpful to me. Not necessary and not red flags or deal breakers, but helpful. If they’ve done a lot of work in or near this city, I figure it’s likely they’ll be interested in continuing to work in the city, whereas if they mostly work way out in the suburbs, that won’t keep me from sourcing them but it wouldn’t surprise me if they had no interest in commuting into the city for work. On the other hand, if it seems like they work in a completely different area for every job, I’d wonder how much longer they’re really interested in living where we are, or whether they might want to move somewhere new shortly after getting the job, and it may not be possible to transfer them to another office or let them do the job remotely. Again, it may not prevent me from sending their profile for consideration if they have the skillset we’re looking for, and again, these are passive candidates and not applicants so they’re held to different standards, my point here is that from the company perspective, constantly moving around could actually be a cause for concern.

  25. Rusty Shackelford*

    #3 – Ugh. I was in a similar situation once, in an open office situation where you couldn’t help hearing every phone call, but one (and only one) person always had to comment on my calls. I finally snapped and said “could you at least PRETEND you’re not listening to every phone call I make?” Don’t let it go that far.

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      If you can’t pause a call to say something to them, you could try turning and looking directly at them and raising a questioning eyebrow, or making a ‘whats up’ motion. And make a face to indicate you think it’s really strange they are hovering over you. The more you outwardly act like they are being weird the better.

    2. Jennifer*

      #2 I think the issue here is more that they aren’t giving clear instructions in general. My job can be like that. We have asked to get certain procedures in writing bc people are being told different things by different managers and being chastised when they are just doing what they were told.

      I would suggest writing it down and then getting a manager to sign off on it somehow. Maybe sending it to them in email form and asking for confirmation. I get how irritating this can be.

  26. Kiki*

    LW 2: If taking notes doesn’t solve the issue, I would ask if there’s anyway for people to run through the process with you. People often forget that one errand has a bunch of tiny steps, some of which won’t be obvious to a newbie. Usually when people actually have to do the task they’re telling you to do, they’ll realize they need to provide more details, like that there are multiple safes or that the storage closet you’ll need to go into actually has a key code you may not know yet.

  27. Samwise*

    OP #2: I’ve been working for 45 years, so this is not a newbie thing! While the person giving directions ought to be sure they are clear, complete, and understandable (they should check, verbally, but not everybody does), it’s your responsibility to ensure you do understand. Never assume that you’ll remember. Write down the directions, ask for a paper or emailed copy of the directions, ask questions, stop the person giving directions (politely) so that you can write down the directions.

    It’s just like college, in fact. If your professor gave an assignment and you didn’t understand the directions, it’s on the student to ask for clarification. Because if you don’t tell the prof/manager/trainer you don’t understand, they very often have no way of knowing.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It’s especially true if people have worked there for many years and OP is new (both to company and new to office work in general). The long-timers often just assume the person knows what to do and/or what they mean. I also suggest trying to find yourself an office ally, such as a long-term Admin who can point you in the right direction if your manager isn’t good at process details.

      I had the VP ask me to pay large dollar invoices and I didn’t even have access to the AP system or authority to get said invoice paid (nor was it my job function to do this). They didn’t care, they just wanted it done. Fortunately, the long-time Admins knew what to do.

  28. Grey*

    she entered eight hours sick and one hour work time and I asked her to reduce the sick hours by one, since we don’t get overtime

    Minor point, but sick time doesn’t count toward overtime. You need 40 hours of actual work before overtime kicks in.

    1. LQ*

      Yeah, but it might be that they get paid for sick and paid for work so you’d want to only say you did 8 hours in a day between the two otherwise you’d be getting paid for 9 hours in the day when you didn’t do 9 hours in a day and it might just be a …I don’t know how else to phrase this phrasing. Because that might be how I’d phrase that and what I’d mean was a heavy sigh and a 20 minute explanation. (This exact 8 hours sick and 1 hour work and boss telling me I couldn’t have OT on that day happened. I was just sick and messed it up. I’d gone home after working an hour and so had “taken the day off” and just tiredly put in 8 hours of sick.)

    2. LGC (I swear I'm not LW1 honest)*

      I think it wasn’t perfectly phrased but…the friend wanted to get paid for more hours than she was scheduled to work. She’s supposed to be paid eight hours a day, but she put down 9.

      It wouldn’t count for OT purposes, but when I’ve had employees leave early due to illness (or when I’ve had to leave early because I’ve been sick), we can only file for the rest of our scheduled workday.

    3. Me*

      I expect it’s something like this:

      I am salaried, however I have to keep a time sheet and time off equating to below 80 hours in a two week period requires I use PTO. If I work 80 hours (or more) despite being off for any reason, I do not need to use my PTO. I can, but why on earth would I subtract from my PTO when I don’t have to?

      Now, if she’s hourly, I’m not really sure how that works. I do know that where I am you have to physically work 40 hours to recieve time and a half pay, up to 40 hours actually worked, regardless of PTO, it’s just straight time. But still, that would mean potentially paying out 48 hours a week.

  29. Czhorat*

    For OP2, I’ll agree with most of what was said and add that, as a more senior employee, I would take issue with someone getting a 7 step set of instructions from me and not taking notes.

    This is a very understandable first-job mistake, but the other commenters are right- most jobs don’t have written procedures for everything.

    1. Kiki*

      But I also think it’d be incumbent on you, as a senior employee who knows you’re about to list off seven steps to a new employee, to suggest that LW 2 take notes.

      It’s a common mistake for anyone having their first job, but it also seems that the LW isn’t being set up for success by her boss and fellow employees

      1. Czhorat*


        If they didn’t, I’d probably pause and say something like “I’ll give you a minute to run and get your notebook before we continue”. That saves a bit of face and should send the message that they ought to be taking notes without phrasing it as a demand. If the employee is hint-resistant then it becomes time to get more direct.

  30. Talley*

    I really feel like the problem for LW#2 is more bad training than it is not taking notes. She should certainly be taking notes, and if she’s not now, she should start. However, if she’s never given the inormation, ie: keep the $ in this safe, rather than that safe, notes are not going to help. Being able to contact someone with questions might help, although it sounds like that wasn’t even an option. But there are issues that simply can not be guessed ahead of time: running with the example above, why would there even be a project safe if I’m supposed to put the $ in the general safe? Or if it’s the other way around, was she even aware of the existence of the project safe? Even if the problem is woefully inadequate training, notes will help her to professionally & politely stand up for herself: “Oh, thank you for letting me know! Let me check my notes. It looks like which safe wasn’t specified. I’ll make a note so it’s done correctly the next time. How about I type this up for future reference?”

  31. boop the first*

    #2. I feel for you! I am definitely the type who carries around a notebook and takes photos when I don’t know about something. But some people are just really really bad at instructing. My current job had the worst “training” experience I’ve ever had, partly because the work itself requires a bit of skill.
    Boss would say do step 1, step 2 and step 3. He would stand there and watch me do exactly that, saying nothing. After I’m done, he would tell me that I forgot step 2a, step 2b, and that the tool I used wasn’t his preferred and thus I had ruined everything and was incompetent and went on a long lecture about how he doesn’t have time to train anyone (even though most of his day is spent standing and scrutinizing anyway).
    Even now, whenever he enters the room my anxiety piques and morale takes a little dive. Sometimes, it’s not about verbal comprehension or proper notetaking. Sometimes people withhold important information and blame you.

    1. Shoes on My Cat*

      Boop 1, I feel you! Sounds like your boss was doing a bit of a power trip. Possibly because he doesn’t have good management skills and came up with that crap to intimidate his staff rather than earn respect? It’s a pattern I’ve seen in more than a few workplaces so perhaps? How is he as a manager training aside?
      For a mostly unrelated but happy endind story: I had one boss at LastJob who hated my guts. She assigned me work that was outside my current job then refused to train me. Set me up to fail and the worst part was that is was going to impact our company too, quite publicly. Well, once I figured out she made sure the rest of the team wasn’t going to help I WENT ON THE COMPANY INTRANET. Hah! She didn’t know it included training modules. I pieced my work together between that and previous knowledge of our system and the pieces that got dropped at first were resolved by colleagues in other departments who I had helped in the past. So then I figured out the solutions for those things behind the scenes so my extra-departmental colleagues wouldn’t have to keep picking up the slack. Then I didn’t share with my department the shortcuts I’d learned from the intranet and by reaching out to other colleagues at other locations, and how to resolve problems in operations I’d been alerted to. Not my usual MO but Tit for tat if you are working that hard to be an arse. So all she knew was she set me up to fail and within six months I was as productive on the new tasks as her fastest person and getting nominated for Employee of the Quarter by other departments! Because my assignments went the smoothest for the operations teams. And after it got to the point where I realized that it couldn’t get any worse even if there was retaliation, I went to HR with copies of nasty emails, emails where I pleaded for training and was denied, emails where she admitted that I was working on tasks outside my previous work, plus representative training binders for comparison. Life got much smoother after that, then she transferred out of management and I did a private happy dance. Oh, and made my processes available to my colleagues in a polite, professional manner. (I am petty enough to still savor the exclamations of “there was a shortcut?!!!!”).

  32. stitchinthyme*

    Related question on locations of previous jobs…on my resume I just tend to put the city and state of each job. However, more than once I’ve been asked for the street addresses of previous workplaces on a job application. The problem is that some of the places I’ve worked either no longer exist, have been bought and/or changed names (sometimes several times), or they no longer have an office location at the address I worked at. Do I look up their current address (if they have one) or use the address I worked at? If they changed names, do I put the name they had when I worked there, their new name, or both? (The latter question also applies to the resume.)

    1. Close Bracket*

      Most of the jobs I worked at are still at the same physical location with just a new company name. I use the address of the physical location I worked at. For the name, I put the name of the company I was employed at with the new name in parentheses: Old Name (now New Name).

      There is one job that relocated to another state. I no longer reference that job bc it was so long ago, but if I had to list that job, I would list the location I worked at on my resume, and use the current contact information for that company on my application. If there was room, I would make a note that I worked at a different location. That job kept the same name, though.

      I just had to list a company that is out of business on my security clearance forms. I gave the contact information that was current while I was there and noted that I didn’t know whether any of that contact information was still good bc the company was out of business.

      I hope other people weigh in. I’d like to see other approaches.

  33. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    I’m really confused about putting location on a resume, as I have never heard that before. Even in Alison’s post on resumes didn’t include that:

    “Work history, listed in reverse chronological order (for each job, list your title, the employer’s name, the dates you worked there and a bulleted list of achievements)”

    So…where do you put it? Could folks post suggested formats of how they format the above elements of work history? Thanks!

    1. stitchinthyme*

      I usually do something like:

      Teapots Ltd., Springfield, IL, January 2005-April 2008
      Teapot Coordinator
      * Job duties and accomplishments

      If I had multiple titles in the same company, I’ll list them under the company name, one per line, with the dates I held each title.

  34. NaN*

    OP #2, at my job if I ask for written instructions for a task, the answer is usually, “You’re right, we should have documentation for this. Why don’t you write it up for the next person once you get it figured out?” And then I don’t have time, and neither does the next person, and thus we have no written documentation of complex tasks for new people.

  35. Directorof1*

    For letter 1, the friend’s behavior sounds like it would be a constant hassle for any manager, regardless of the reasons for the employee to act that way. So would OP have trouble managing the BEHAVIOR regardless of the employee? If so, its not a friend issue, maybe it’s inexperience as a manager and could be framed that way to OPs boss.

  36. CBH*

    OP#1 most of what I wanted to say has been said above. I do think your friend thought she would get some extra perks when you became manager and is rebelling when you said no.

    What gets me is the actual requests the friend is making. Regardless of the relationship you have with your boss these requests are outrageous and not realistic in any scenario on a day-to-day basis.

    I’m thinking out loud and I am NO WAY indicating a manager should treat anyone differently…. But let’s say OP is friendly, easy going as a manager an extra perk to ANY employee would be similar to don’t worry about being 5 minutes late due to traffic. Friend is trying to rearrange a benefits package and is throwing a tantrum that here previous relationship with OP is not getting her an unofficial VIP status

  37. Jennifer*

    #3 When she is hovering, is it possible to just put the caller on mute, turn to her and ask if she needs something? Sometimes that puts them on the spot and gets them to leave. If it doesn’t, Alison’s script is good.

    1. willow*

      Ugh, my mom used to do this, back in the “land line with a cord” days – who was that? what did they want? what were you talking about when you said Jersey cows? I don’t like that person, she’s a bad influence. Gah! It was MY phone call! Sometimes I would go downstairs to talk, and that was almost worse, because she had no verbal cues to react to, so I got a different kind of third degree.

      Until about five years ago I had trouble talking on the phone at work if there was someone nearby who could hear me!

    2. 2horseygirls*

      Or a spray bottle – works well with my cat.

      “Oh, I’m sorry! Did I spray you? Sometimes I use my call time to just spritz my face to wake myself up.”

      Blinking innocently helps too.

  38. Never*

    #4 Related – if you’ve worked outside of the US (and are currently inside), what is “the city and state” specificity equivalent? For instance, I went to McGill, and I’ve just been putting Montreal, QC. Do I need to slap Canada on there too?

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I would add Canada. I’ve worked abroad and on my resume (which is targeted at US-based companies), I list city and state for US-based roles I’ve held (Chicago, IL) and city and country for non-US based roles I’ve held using the English name of the location (Florence, Italy). I’ve never had a Canada-based role, but I would add province as well (Montreal, QC, Canada). This reduces the risk of confusion on the part of the person reading the resume. And yes, while most people in the US know that Montreal and Toronto are in Canada, it provides consistency that addresses locations that may be confusing, as there are Florences in Italy & Kentucky, Londons in the UK & Ontario, etc.

    2. fposte*

      I would add the country to non-US locations. McGill is a wobbler because it and Montreal are pretty well known, but province codes aren’t well recognized in the US and there are Montreals in the states as well.

  39. The Ginger Ginger*

    OP #1 – You could also frame this as “I’ve been trying to address this behavior as it comes up, but now it’s clearly a larger pattern that needs to be addressed. Here’s what I’ve been seeing (give some examples). Since it is continuing to this degree, I’m concerned that it means Employee is not actually suited for this position. You were initially worried that I’d have trouble managing Employee because of our friendship, and I see now how valid a concern that was. I’m thinking X is how I’d like to proceed. Can you offer advice or insight there? Does that seem reasonable?” You could also ask if this kind of behavior was typical before your promotion, or if it’s new since you’ve been in the role.

    You’re not necessarily saying too much different here than in Alison’s advice, but it does highlight the efforts you’ve made to this point. But that only works if you feel you’ve been handling the individual instances as they’ve arisen to a reasonable extent. If looking back now, you think you HAVEN’T been doing that, then I would just go with Alison’s wording.

  40. Jennifer*

    #2 I think the issue here is more that they aren’t giving clear instructions in general. My job can be like that. We have asked to get certain procedures in writing bc people are being told different things by different managers and being chastised when they are just doing what they were told.

    I would suggest writing it down and then getting a manager to sign off on it somehow. Maybe sending it to them in email form and asking for confirmation. I get how irritating this can be.

  41. T*

    #1 at least you see the ridiculousness of the situation and pushed back. Your boss may have seen something in your “friend” that she knew would be an issue down the road. I had a boss hire someone she was friends with, and it was the biggest nightmare. Her friend got special treatment such as accruing extra vacation days by working overtime, got paid 8 hours to spend the entire day at a cake tasting for her wedding, and literally did no work for 6 months while planning a wedding at work. It was the grossest misuse of special treatment I have ever seen. Give yourself some kudos for recognizing the issue, but it’s time to get your boss involved and take steps to either reign this person in or let them go.

  42. MissDisplaced*

    #1: I’m sorry, but your “friend” is taking advantage of you and is out of bounds. You need to go back to your manager ASAP and tell them what’s going on.

    #2: Yes, it’s common for people to quickly and verbally run through what they want. You should take your own notes. However, if you want a written confirmation, it should come from you. After you take your own notes, write them up and email them to the parties in charge. This helps both confirm what you heard and gives them a chance to add if something was forgotten. This is especially useful if you have demanding bosses or people who ramble off things without giving a clear procedure. Just be factual and straightforward (not apologetic).

    Something like
    Teapot Event Planning: I will proceed with the following steps and process for the planning and following-up after the Teapot Event. Please contact me if there is anything additional I need to add.

  43. CupcakeCounter*

    #1 Yes your boss needs to know immediately. I would recommend meeting with boss before your employee’s review and laying out what you want to do and have them attend the review with you since ideally you will be transitioning this employee to them.
    You gave it a good faith effort but need to admit that due to probably a combination of being new to management and what appears to be a terrible friend/employee it isn’t working out like you’d hoped and need your manager to step in and assist.

  44. Granny K*

    LW3: You could also try, for really confidential/sensitive calls, to book a conference room (and close the door) or book the calls when you can take them from home, if you’re allowed to telecommute. If this continues to be an issue, I might also ask my manager for a cube move; it’s a hassle but may be worth it.

    Hang in there.

  45. Bazinga*

    OP2, when possible, I would write down the instructions, then email them back to the person. “This is what I understand the process to be. Can you please review and let me know if I missed anything?
    You maybe can’t always do this, but even sometimes it’ll help.

  46. Lighthearted Musical Numbers*

    OP3, I sympathize hard on the open floor plan + potentially confidential calls… I had to make calls to customers outside our company to discuss SOX level details (think Gov’t Reporting at a legal level…) literally a row or 2 away from our company’s rep for my reporting. Our company’s rep wasn’t supposed to know what we were moving for the outside customers as legally, we HAD to try and treat them the same.
    I ended up having to move to communicating by email and instant messaging only to keep him from trying to overhear and get us in major trouble with legal…

    (Situation’s been since cleared up; our department got moved to cubicles on an entirely different floor. But it took almost 6 months to explain to the right people what the issue was and how bad it would be if an audit found out)

  47. Shannon*

    Re: #4 – including locations of employers on resumes. (Upfront: I am a professional Resume Writer). Yes, I agree with Alison. It’s standard to include the city and state.
    A few additional notes:
    — The state is one time isn’t not just OK, but actually preferred to abbreviate on your resume (ex: use FL instead of Florida)
    — but use the current (and CORRECT) 2-letter capitalized state abbreviations (FL not the much older “Fla.”)
    — Remote/work-at-home / travel positions: you can either just say that as the location “Remote Employee” OR include the location of the office you report to (if your boss is in Los Angeles, CA, list that WITH “Remote (Your Job Title)” so it’s clear you didn’t reside in Los Angeles (BTW, “LA” is the correct abbreviation for Louisiana, so careful, don’t abbreviate “LA” for Los Angeles!)
    — last note: do NOT include the full address (the street address with zip or include the zip at all) It’s simply over kill and unnecessary text when resumes are all about using the limited space you have wisely.
    Hope that helps someone!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      One small note about this — the two-letter state abbreviations (FL, etc.) are actually postal codes, designed to be used only in mailing addresses. Most style guides still recommend using the actual abbreviations (Fla.), although I think the Chicago Manual may be one exception to that. I do think the abbreviations (Fla.) look more polished than the postal codes, but no employer is going to reject you for using one over the other; either is fine!

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Oh, good! I hate the two letter postal codes on anything but mail, but that is almost entirely because I can’t keep the M- states straight. What did Maine do to anyone to end up ME? At least the Os and Ns make sense.
        (My industry’s style guide also uses abbreviations rather than postal codes, so the only place I see them is mail/shipping addresses.)

        (I would obviously NEVER reject a resume for using correct postal codes, but, given my choice of what I’d like to look at, full state name (exception: D.C.) > abbreviation > postal code.)

  48. LizM*

    #2, I had a supervisor who would sometimes miss steps when she gave verbal instructions.

    A couple things helped:
    – Keeping detailed notes, and emailing her those notes with something that said, “It’s my understanding these are the steps you’d like me to take. Did I capture this correctly?” That gave her an opportunity to add any missed steps. It was also a CYA for me in case she didn’t correct herself.

    – Start developing written procedures. This depends on your workplace, obviously it’s not going to go over well in some places if the new person comes in and starts putting out written instructions. But for tasks that weren’t done frequently, or that were just my responsibility and not done by others in the office, I created a folder on our shared drive called something like “Process”. When I had a new process, I took the notes I’d sent to her verifying the process, confirmed those steps actually worked, and then saved them to the folder. I figured having it all in one place would help me when I had to do it next year, and would help my eventual replacement when I moved on to another job.

  49. Hamburke*

    I’m late to the party

    #1 – PTO, vacation, holidays and sick leave don’t count towards hours worked for the overtime count under FLSA so don’t sweat that one. Don’t worry about preserving your friendship with this person – they’ve shown that they don’t care about it by trying to take advantage – plus, those requests are pretty ridiculous, I can’t imagine anyone would think that any sane manager would approve such things.

    #2 – This is my 4th job where I have spent time writing a training manual – it helps me really know my job (I put a bit of the “why do it this way” in my instructions) and it makes it easy to handover tasks when I either outgrow my position or move on from the job. I’m in the process of adding or converting a lot of my current job instructions to work-flow charts where I can to figure out how I can streamline my processes (where do I need to make decisions or get input – can I find a better info source). I took my own notes when I was first learning and then typed them up to have them in one place and update easily when something changes. I was on vacation last week and just printed the “how to’s” for each client for my boss with a daily checklist of what I do. The handover took 30 minutes including the time it took me to print and write the calendar out. Additionally, one of our clients decided to hire an in-house office manager/bookkeeper and I was able to hand over the instructions and workflow to them without much issue. I do want to say that I have made process mistakes even with my detailed notes especially early on – in one case, I missed a huge step that made all the difference in accurate reporting and I had to fix 6 weeks of work on this client! It sounds like your office is fast-paced – it does seem a bit dysfunctional that you would be given quick instructions and have no one to check in with but not completely out of the ordinary especially since you’ve been there 8 months. Start taking notes, keeping a notebook on you all the time, read back the directions you are given and ask questions when you need clarity. You might still make mistakes but you can refer back to your notes the next time you have to do that task.

  50. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

    For #2:

    This is what documentation is all about.

    No, seriously, it is the height of arrogance for people to throw detailed verbal instructions at you when you are new and expect you to remember them all perfectly, even if you are taking notes.

    To people saying otherwise: You would understand why making that assumption is very wrong if you have or had any issue with memory, for the following reasons:
    1. What if they left out a step when they told you? How would you know? (People who are trying to sandbag new employees will do this – I’ve had it done to me.)
    2. What if you transcribed a direction wrong? How would you know if you didn’t already know how to do it?
    3. What if you can’t take notes and listen effectively at the same time?
    4. What if your memory is so bad you can’t understand the second instruction while trying to remember the first long enough to write it down? (I have literally had this happen.)

    Documentation of even simple tasks is useful. If there are several steps that are not easy, or have a required order, document it. Not everyone is 22 and has a perfect memory. Plus, it makes training newer people easier.

    I routinely tell people who try to give me long chains of verbal instructions that I won’t remember it – because I won’t. Head injuries do that.

    Quite frankly, I consider the assumption that people will remember a lengthy set of verbal instructions to be ableist as heck. Please, stop expecting it.

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