my coworker won’t stop doing my job, despite our manager’s direct orders

A reader writes:

I work very closely with my coworker, “Linda.” She and I do not have the same job, but we often have duties that go hand in hand so we feed off of each other in our respective roles.

Linda’s job involves her sitting at a desk with a lot of client interaction, whereas my job involves me moving around a lot and being mostly out of sight. Linda is supposed to stay at her desk for the most part (apart from using the bathroom and short breaks) because she has to deal with client correspondence almost constantly.

The problem is that Linda hates sitting at a desk for long periods of time, and this leads to her constantly getting up and doing other things that are not her job but involve more movement. Mainly, she will often get up to come do some part of my job because it’s the closest thing to what she does.

If Linda notices something that needs to be done that would normally be in my wheelhouse, she is supposed to just tell me. However, more often that not, she will just do it herself. This has been getting both of us in trouble.

First, our bosses get upset when they walk by and see Linda is not there, especially if a client is waiting. Second, it often looks like I am just not doing parts of my job and Linda is having to pick up my slack (when really she is doing things by her own choice that I’m not even aware of).

We have both recently been scolded about this. However, when our manager was talking to us, all Linda kept saying was, “No, I can’t do that, I’m sorry. I can’t just sit still all day so I’m going to get up and do other things. That’s just how I am.” (My manager is very passive and people with stronger personalities tend to jerk her around.)

Linda is a nice person, and she really is a good employee. She is efficient and does not slack off (even though she leaves her desk a lot, she always comes and finishes everything before leaving for the day). However, I have no idea how to get her to back off of my job and just stick to her own!

I get it because I know sitting in the same place for long periods of time is not fun for her. But I really need her to stay in her own role and leave mine alone. I’m not worried about “territory” because I don’t mind her helping out when needed, I just hate it when she does some of my duties without me even knowing and then it looks like I’m slacking.

Speaking with our manager has not helped because, like I said, Linda just says no and that she’s not changing anything. My manager is very passive and Linda can be strong-willed, so I highly doubt that my manager is going to step up here. She mostly expects us to handle and manage ourselves (which I understand for small things, but on things that actually need her intervention, she refuses). I know this is largely a problem of ineffective management but, since it looks like my manager is just going to let Linda and I figure this out for ourselves, I’m not sure what else to do.

I’m at my wit’s end about this. Is there some way I can politely tell Linda to please back off? I don’t feel like I can tell her to stick to her job because I’m not her boss, but I just want her to let me do mine at least.

So when your manager told Linda to stop doing your job, Linda flatly refused and your manager was just … fine with that?


You have a serious manager problem here.

But if you haven’t yet tried talking to Linda about this extremely directly, that’s step one.

The next time you see Linda doing your job, say this: “Please stop doing that. That’s part of my job, and I need to do it myself. If you see it needs to be done, you can let me know, but you shouldn’t do it yourself.”

If she resists — says she can’t sit around all day or whatever — then you should say, “That’s something you should talk to (manager) about, but I’ve been told I can’t let you do this for me.”

Because you said that Linda is strong-willed, you might need to be just as strong-willed as she is. That could mean standing there and saying, “Linda, STOP.  You’re directly violating clear instructions we’ve been given, and I need you to stop.”

You also might need to have your own big-picture conversation with Linda where you say, “You have a habit of doing my work for me, and I need you to stop. I understand you like to keep busy, but you are directly harming my professional reputation when you do that. If you’re bored in your job, you should talk to (manager), but it’s not okay to continually step on my toes after I’ve told you to stop.”

All this said … if Linda is as strong-willed as you say and your manager is as weak as she seems, it’s possible Linda won’t give a fig about your stance and will ramrod her way into whatever she feels like taking over. If that happens, then your choices are to escalate it above your boss’s head (which may or may not make sense to do, depending what that person is like and how much autonomy they give your boss with this kind of thing) or to one of those other managers you mentioned were getting upset (depending on their roles) … or accept you’re going to have to live with it.

If you do just have to live with it, then it’s important to protect yourself against future scoldings over it. You’ll need to let your manager (and probably those other managers you mentioned) know you’ve tried to stop Linda from taking over your work and she’s flatly refused. You should also ask your boss how she wants you to handle Linda’s refusal. Given how passive she is, my guess is that she won’t have any concrete steps she wants you to take, and at that point you’d all end up just living with Linda calling the shots (which is ridiculous but seems like it might be the case). If that happens, you should still continue to keep your manager updated. For example, you might need to send emails like “FYI, I’m not the one who handled X this week — Linda did it while I was doing Y. I asked her to leave it to me, but she refused.”

And definitely stop worrying about people being upset that Linda isn’t there when they walk by her desk. Let her take 100% of the fall-out for that, since it’s the only thing that might actually get your manager to budge.

{ 229 comments… read them below }

  1. Close Bracket*

    Second, it often looks like I am just not doing parts of my job and Linda is having to pick up my slack (when really she is doing things by her own choice that I’m not even aware of).

    Who are you hearing this from? Just your manager or from the other bosses as well? I suggest doing damage control on this with the other bosses, if that’s who you are hearing it from. Keep telling them that Linda does your stuff without your knowledge and that you have spoken to both Linda and your manager about Linda’s tendency to do this. Choose your words carefully, of course.

    Don’t worry about Linda getting up from her desk and wandering around. Don’t worry about her doing jobs that are not what she is supposed to do. Worry only about the fact that she does your job and that it’s harming you. If Linda wants to get up and wander about doing this or that, that’s not your problem, as long as the “this or that” is not stuff that she is taking on without telling you.

    1. Important Moi*

      I wondered this too. Has anyone actually said this or does OP think this is what’s being said?

      Example from work life: In the past, I worked with a rude teammate. I assumed others thought I was either rude too or not standing up to teammate. I was wrong on both counts.

    2. Lynca*

      I second some damage control. You need to make explicitly clear that Linda is just doing things when she is up wandering around and not even telling you about it. Part of the damage control needs to be telling Linda that she’s getting you in trouble because she can’t stay in her lane. If she is nice, maybe she will understand that she’s jeopardizing your job through her actions. If not, CYA because you don’t want to get caught up with how this is going to fall apart. At no point should they be blaming you because they can’t manage Linda.

      I would also give you permission if your manager tries to get you to police Linda (which I feel like they might try to put on you) that you push (as politely as possible) back on that hard.

      1. valentine*

        maybe she will understand that she’s jeopardizing your job
        Linda probably thinks that, since her own job’s safe from the doormat manager, so is OP’s, and she may be right, though it wouldn’t surprise me if the manager only has a backbone when confronting OP.

        My concern would be that the manager will take the easy route of unofficially giving Linda both jobs and making OP Linda’s random desk cover. I’d be appealing to anyone who could prevent that, but I might try to transfer for leave because a manager who fails to mitigate an insubordinate employee can only harm me.

        1. Artemesia*

          This is an easier solution than managing so seems likely to me too. If I were the OP I would look to see if she might transfer within the organization. If that is not feasible, good time to be looking elsewhere. This does not look like it has a happy ending for her. Easier to force her to cover the phones and reception desk than to manage a recalcitrant employee they have demonstrated they will not manage.

        2. Devil Fish*

          Just because manager is spineless doesn’t mean they can swap Linda and OP’s jobs with no issues. OP didn’t say anything about their specific qualifications vs Linda’s and it seems like they’re doing a lot more than just the parts of the job Linda is taking over when she’s sick of sitting down (wtf did she think covering the desk was going to mean when she took that job?).

          Linda sounds like one of those people who’s all “Oh don’t worry about it, it’s fine!” while they’re breaking procedure and encouraging others to go along with it because she somehow hasn’t been smacked on the nose with a newspaper yet.

          OP needs to match that big dick energy next time they’re both getting scolded by manager for sure:
          * “I didn’t have anything to do with X request, Linda did it without my permission while I was working with Fergus on Project Y.”
          * “I’ve told Linda to stop doing my work while I’m away from my desk but she refuses.”
          * “There’s no way for me to prevent Linda from doing my work that comes in while I’m away from my desk assisting coworkers in other departments. You and Linda need to figure out a way for me to do all of my own work, since I have no control over Linda’s actions.” <— I know this feels rude but it super isn't.

    3. Bertha*

      I did wonder, who does this look bad to? If her manager knows Linda has this problem, then her manager certainly can’t (or at least shouldn’t) be faulting her for this type of behavior.

      1. Tom (not THAT one)*

        Can`t? Shouldn`t?
        If your behavior in ANY workplace goes against direct orders – a good manager should be faulting the employee. Unless it`s a medical thing – but then employee should tell manager or HR so that employee is covered.
        (And, it might help to inform colleagues that ‘ due to a medical reason, i cannot sit down all day’ (no need for details).

        But just blurting ‘ i cannot do this’ without reason? My response would be ‘ well, find another job where this isn`t a requirement, here it is, so follow the office rules and your direct orders, or feel free to leave’ .

        (I think i would not make a good manager :) )

        1. Tom (not THAT one)*

          Oh.. read too fast – of course manager should not fault OP of course.
          Linda however is a problem – and will remain a problem until manager manages to grow a backbone.

      2. Kes*

        I agree the manager presumably knows what’s going on, I would assume OP is worried it looks bad to others in the organization, ie they might think that Linda is away from her desk because she has to do OP’s job because OP isn’t, rather than what’s actually happening which is the reverse, OP isn’t because Linda is because she wants to get away from her desk.

        If the result of Linda’s actions is that it looks to people like OP isn’t doing their job, that’s a problem. Maybe suggest to Linda she would be happier in a different, more active job? (bonus points if there’s an open position elsewhere in the org you can suggest to her)

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Big problem here — when Linda does some task assigned to OP and does it wrong, it’s not LINDA that will get in trouble.

      1. CAinUK*


        To Linda: “I realize you’re bored in your own job, but if you keep doing things assigned to me we will have a problem. I can handle all of my tasks by myself, I have my own schedule for doing them, and I don’t need help. Thanks.” I don’t care if it is blunt: she is ignoring direct requests, and it is making it look like you’re not doing parts of your job. Fight blunt with blunt here.

        To any/all managers: “I don’t know why Linda keeps doing this. I’ve asked her to stop, I can handle all of this myself quite easily every day and don’t want her help–it actually makes things harder for me and means customers are being ignored in the lobby.”

        My approach might be aggressive, but people who tend to say “Gosh, I don’t care if I am stepping all over people’s toes I’m just SO EFFICIENT and AMAZING that I thought I would do that thing since OP wasn’t doing it” are not necessarily nice or good-willed. She is ignoring her job, making you look bad, and disrespecting weak management…there is no good outcome here for your day-to-day unless you nip it in the bud succinctly, I think.

        1. Devil Fish*

          Blunt and aggressive are different things. Your way is blunt but mostly fine. :)

          I would probably leave out the “we will have a problem” because it can sound a bit threatening and also it doesn’t seem like management is going to back OP on this so they have no leverage to make it a problem beyond the petty personal drama it already is and who wants to waste that kind of energy at work.

          OP should also consider how much and how often they might actually need Linda’s help (it was mentioned in the letter but is it really sometimes or is this purely hypothetical?) before saying they can manage all the work by themselves. Nothing sucks like setting a clear boundary and then immediately having to backpedal because of something else coming up.

    5. Elbe*

      The LW mentioned that she was ‘scolded’ about it, so I imagine that the feedback was given then.

      Honestly, though, I would be surprised if Linda was throwing her under the bus and claiming that the LW’s work wasn’t getting done. Should could be framing it as a necessity in order to justify why she’s not doing what she’s supposed to.

      1. Close Bracket*

        OP received the feedback then, but that doesn’t tell us whether her manager thinks she is shirking or whether her manager was passing on feedback from the other bosses, who think she is shirking. That’s what I am getting at. Does OP’s damage control need to go only to her own boss or to the other bosses?

        1. PollyQ*

          Given the manager’s extreme passivity with Linda, I’d bet good money that they complaints are coming from elsewhere. Alison asks us to take LW at their word. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve her statement that this is causing problems for her on a wider level.

    6. sparky*

      This is great advice – worry about your own job. But seriously, worry about your own job. As I read your letter, my concern is that she’s trying to slowly take your job by pushing you out.

  2. Been there done that*

    Looks to me like Linda and the job are a bad fit. Or, she can’t sit still because of some physical issue. OP, since your manager is passive, you might need to confront Linda to see what her problem is, and together, craft a solution. Bottom line is: How can you best serve the customers and make your company look good and excel?

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I bet Linda doesn’t really care about the customers, the company or her coworker though. Linda is all about Linda. So crafting a “how can we work together to succeed?” message is probably going to fail on the basis that Linda doesn’t care if the OP or business is harmed by her actions. Opening the door of “what can WE do…” may result in Linda just deciding she likes the OPs job better so she’s decided to switch…k thnx bye. The only way to get her to stop is to make her understand that she will harm herself if she continues. The manager(s?) really need to lay that out for her — Linda’s job is on the line if she continues to walk away from the customer service desk. Empty threats or plea deals from her coworker aren’t going to dissuade her as long as she gets the reward.

    2. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      Would it help Linda to have a cordless headset/microphone so she can walk around while she’s on the phone? Or is she speaking to clients in person?

      1. Been there done that*

        I kind of feel for Linda, since sitting for hours would cause me great physical pain. My response is biased, I guess. But I like the headset idea.

      2. Jadelyn*

        See if management can get Linda a sit-stand desk, maybe? My team got those this year and it’s been great for letting me unkink my back periodically during the day – I have a tendency to stay at my desk unless I have an actual need to be somewhere else (meeting, bathroom, etc), meaning I’d just sit most of the day. Having a sit-stand desk lets me get a bit of movement without feeling like I have to come up with a reason to be going anywhere else.

        Though as you say, it depends on what kind of client interactions she’s having.

      1. nonymous*

        I’ve known people who legitimately can’t sit for a workday. The two that stick out in memory have confided in me that when they sit their brain starts ruminating on past tragedies and they have issue focusing on the task at hand – it’s almost a pathological interpretation of coping with a difficult situation by staying busy (that can be healthy as long as other steps are taken to resolve the root issue). They were both very intelligent women who got limited in their career trajectory by life circumstance, so legitimately the daily work did not keep their brains fully occupied.

        Is there something physical that Linda can do at her workstation? The sit/stand desk might not be enough, but maybe they can reconfigure the space and set it up for Linda to do some grunt-work tasks right there? Copying and collating or preparing files for off-site storage come to mind. If she is able to circle back and get everything done, she may legitimately be bored. If OP handles this well she could offload some annoying tasks in exchange for new projects that would be worthy of a promotion or raise.

      2. Larina*

        Came here to say this! Obviously, it’s not OP’s job to find the solution to Linda’s issues, but suggesting to the passive manager that maybe another desk option for Linda might help resolve this could be one approach to this, on top of all the other good advice.

    3. Inca*

      I’d even go as far as, sometimes try to use people’s strengths and see if something can be done with them. Not even for the customers, but just for the people involved (OP and Linda.) Just find a way Linda can do most of her job and have some opportunities for moving around.

      It’s not on the OP to fix that, btw, I’m not suggesting that, so OP, this is mostly side ranting. But sometimes I’m also amazed at how everything is viewed from the perspective of howthe system works and how the jobs are divided and how it should be done, trying to have actual humans (who are varied by nature), be neat replaceable identical parts. And muscling people in or discarding them if they aren’t a perfect fit, and not just accomodate it.
      With the term accommodation I know it brings all the connotation of ADA, and… it’s still focuses so much on the system and rules and shoulds and official accounts, rather than just make accomodating as need arises.

      (More side ranting. This is also medicalising people unnecessarily, with all cost, economical and human, that it brings. Many issues don’t need to be an issue if we’d try to accomodate (neuro)diversity as part of life, school and work.)

  3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    There are actually two manager problems here.

    Manager Problem 1 is that your boss is not stopping Linda from doing your work, which is something she as a manager must do.

    Manager Problem 2 is that she is not evaluating why Linda is struggling to do her own work. Is Linda just not a fit for the job, and should be let go? Were the directions regarding Linda’s job not explained to her correctly? Was Linda told this was an entry-level position and if she proved herself she could get promoted when that just isn’t the case with the job? Is the workload for this receptionist position so light that it is excruciatingly boring? Are the butts-in-seats requirements of the job ones that many people would struggle with, say there’s really no downtime for running to the bathroom or getting a drink of water until it’s an Emergency? (I have had jobs like this, where they plop someone in a closed room for 6 hours without a bathroom or meal break. They are cruel.)

    1. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I agree. The boss needs to figure out what would enable Linda to do her work – HER work, not the OP’s. Would a standing desk help? Would a regular break schedule help? If Linda is saying straight up that she can’t sit at a desk all day and her job requires sitting at a desk all day, something has to give – and it can’t be that Linda just does other peoples’ work because that suits her better. It may indeed suit her better, but that’s not the job she was hired to do.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        THIS. Sit/stand desk is a wonderful thing.
        (Who remembers the “concierge” letter from a few months ago? Sounds like it would work for Linda!)

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        This is what I came here to suggest – a standing desk or other thing right at the front desk where Linda can get her move on without abandoning her post.

        Linda’s gonna Linda and your boss is not going to boss, time to get creative about channeling that energy.

    2. Close Bracket*

      Yes, Manager should solve Problem 2. Solving problem 2 is not rewarding bad behavior, as others have expressed. Solving Problem 2 is creating a job that Linda is engaged with and does.

      1. Artemesia*

        I am sure linda has a good idea on how to do this — give her much of the OP’s job and have the OP sit on the desk half the day.

        1. CM*

          That might not be the solution to OP would prefer, but it legitimately could be the right choice. We obviously don’t know all the details of this, but if you’ve got two roles on your team and one of them’s okay while the other one sucks, you messed up your job crafting.

          My first thought when I read this was honestly that maybe they SHOULD just give some of those tasks to Linda, and arrange it so she doesn’t have to abandon the front desk for too long in order to do them.

          1. nonymous*

            > maybe they SHOULD just give some of those tasks to Linda, and arrange it so she doesn’t have to abandon the front desk for too long in order to do them.

            I think this is spot-on. If I were OP’s supervisor I would find work to reassign to Linda and use OP’s freed capacity for other tasks that make my team look good (position us for raises, develop relationships and organizational visibility, quality/process improvement). Since OP mentions her boss is passive, she may have to work with Linda to manage up. Both Linda and OP could get a promotion out of this (or at least OP could build up her CV to move on in 3 – 6 months).

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            “if you’ve got two roles on your team and one of them’s okay while the other one sucks, you messed up your job crafting.”

            Why is that a logical conclusion, vs. person in role X not being a good fit for the role as designed? If someone can’t or won’t fulfill their responsibilities as written, it doesn’t mean that the entire team needs to be directed.

            1. Jadelyn*

              This. It’s not “one job is ok and the other sucks” – there’s no indication that Linda’s job is objectively crappy. She’s just a bad fit for it, which is neither a judgment on the job itself or on Linda – we’ve all got jobs out there that we’d be a bad fit for. Being a bad fit for a particular role doesn’t make someone a bad employee overall.

              It’s entirely possible to separate tasks out to a couple of different roles on the team, producing very different roles, without either role “sucking”. I feel like this is shades of “everything has to be the same in order to be equal”, like both jobs have to be structured similarly or else you’ve messed up your job crafting, and that’s just not the case. It’s more important to craft the jobs in a way that makes sense with the team’s workflow (and it’s hard to tell if that’s the case here since we don’t know the specifics of what they’re doing) and then get people into each role that fit the requirements of that role, than to re-juggle responsibilities to produce two similar roles.

          3. Mr. Shark*

            But the problem here is that if Linda starts doing part of OPs job (like she has been doing), then who is doing Linda’s job? The OP may not want to do any of that as well, and why should she, when that wasn’t her assigned job, especially when Linda doesn’t want to do it.

            Why does Linda’s preference to *not do her job* win out over OP’s preference to *do her job*??

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      I agree.

      The boss needs to find out what’s going on beside Linda just being Linda.

      I had kids in school get brain breaks, where they could get up and walk around. If it wasn’t a mentally engaging, preferred task, you could see them check out and start doing random stuff like cleaning out their desk.

      They weren’t horrible kids.

      My teacher friends cannot make a diagnosis about a kid, only manage the issue. So…

      Standing desk, sitting on a therapy ball, or a brain break. When the squirrellies hit maximum capacity Linda can rearrange the stuff on the bathroom counter, check if the printer needs paper, any small task that isn’t on your list, but might make Linda feel important.

      I personally don’t think it’s a “I can’t sit still because it hurts”, just by how Linda responded. She responded EXACTLY how the kids would. I can’t be quiet, sit still, but see I dismantled the pencil sharpener and unclogged it. I didn’t do what I should have done at the time, but see, I did this good thing here.

      It’s redirection. I think your boss isn’t that big of a door mat not to put it in place. Linda ain’t changing. Your boss won’t get a spine transplant. Your boss should be thinking of tasks Linda can burn off energy with, but it may be dumped in your lap.

      I’ve had Linda type kids and work with Linda type adults. Even if you go full bore ham on them, they don’t get it. “But see all the other good things I was doing, when I wasn’t at my desk.”

      Also find out who is saying you are slacking when Linda is squirrel brain around.

      Good luck!

  4. Luna*

    Use your own strong personality to jerk your manager around. Tell him that you are not slacking off, and you will continue to do your job duties; and if Linda continues to work ‘your turf’, so to speak, you will not be painted with the same brush. And since your manager refuses to do the job of a manager, you will have to tell Linda to back off.

    1. Dee*

      I’m not sure “be equally as unprofessional with your manager as Linda is being” is the way to go, as tempting as it is.

        1. Red Wheelbarrow*

          Apart from the “since your manager refuses the job of a manager,” which is one of those true things you probably wouldn’t want to say aloud.

          1. Close Bracket*

            Yes, the wording needs to be carefully thought out, but the sentiment is not unprofessional at all!

            1. BRR*

              It’s advice I see often. When passive managers have one strong personality causing a problem, instead of fixing the problem they take the path of least resistance.

          2. Luna*

            I don’t mean you tell the manager, “You aren’t doing your job, so I’m doing it for you.”
            Just that, in general, the manager is refusing to do the whole managing thing. And I see nothing wrong with OP telling Linda, “Look. The boss already told you to stop, and now I’m doing it myself: stop doing my work duties; especially without informing me.” I mean, isn’t that one of the things Allison often goes for? Coworkers talking and discussing with each other, usually trying that as a first resort, before bringing in the manager. Not quite the case here, though, since the manager already attempted something.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Standing up for yourself with your manager is not unprofessional. With the proper phrasing it would be fine. OP was “scolded” for something that is not hers to control. If Linda is doing OP’s job without them knowing about it, there’s not a whole lot they can do about it. I would first confront Linda directly and tell her to knock it off (in a professional way of course). And then I would talk to my manager about the “scolding”. If manager isn’t going to manage Linda properly, they have no right to scold OP over this, unless OP was asking Linda to do the job for them. And if nothing changes, I’d speak to grand boss .

  5. Anon25*

    This is a time to start documenting – every time. You can start emailing yourself (for time stamp) or keep a notebook. Everytime she does this, write down when she does your job and the words you use to ask her to stop. Then, bring to your manager the next time you are called out for it.

    1. Samwise*

      I would email the manager every time. I would NOT wait to be called out. Make a record for yourself with all the details, then email the manager the summary, which is something like, “Linda worked on the Teapot Grooming today; I told her again that she is not to do my job. Could you please assist me in getting Linda to stop doing my job.” [you can word this better, but that’s the idea. Every single time.]

      You might even cc Linda — not sure if that would be wise?

      When you get called out by your manager, refer back to these emails; then send a summary email that corrects the calling-out [Hello Manager, Just want to summarize our meeting about Teapot Grooming. Details. Thank you, LW]. When you get called out by other managers, explain to them in person that Linda attempted the Teapot Grooming without your permission and that you have asked her numerous times to stop doing your work. Follow up with an email summarizing.

      You’re going to have to kick this upstairs at some point. Or find another job — either elsewhere in the company, or at another employer.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        “I don’t know why Linda created a Teapot Grooming report and sent it to your team. That is my job, and I did not ask her to do so. Mine will be ready on Wednesday afternoon, when it is normally sent out.”

      2. Jadelyn*

        Off-topic, but I love the crossed streams between llamas and teapots to result in Teapot Grooming. I’m picturing a happy teapot making contented sounds as someone takes a toothbrush to it or something…

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      No covering for her at all when people ask. If she’s away and it isn’t her scheduled break time…she’s not where she’s supposed to be. Go around asking if anyone has seen her. Page her on an intercom if applicable. So far people only notice if they walk past — make sure they notice every time. I recommend making this ALL about Linda walking away from her desk and/or leaving customers waiting, not about her doing the OPs job. One of the possible problems is that if she’s so efficient at doing her own job and many of the OPs tasks is that the management might decide they don’t need two people.

      1. Devil Fish*

        Except it sounds like OP has a job that regularly takes her away from her own desk to get large portions of her own job done?

        I would not start policing Linda’s away-from-desk time, that just takes time away from OP’s real job and makes her look like she’s trying to get Linda in trouble (which is true but have some subtlety for godsake).

        If OP notices clients waiting, she should go to the manager and say “There’s a client waiting at reception and I’m not sure where Linda is. I’d take care of it but I’m in the middle of [task] for [department]/on a way to a meeting/on a phone call.” (Yes, I would put someone on hold to go find a manager to cover reception to get Linda in trouble. I’m petty like that.)

  6. Archaeopteryx*

    “I can’t sit at a desk all day” “Well, Linda, that’s what you were hired to do.” There, OP’s boss, I fixed it for you :p

    1. BookLady*

      Has anyone suggested getting Linda a standing or sit/stand desk? That may not be feasible and doesn’t solve the root problem of the manager’s spinelessness, but it might be a way to cajole Linda into being happier to stay at her desk.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is where my mind went. I have a standing desk adaption now and I don’t have the “I can’t sit all day” feelings anymore. I got a balance board and dance around to music if it’s some downtime, etc.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Note to self …must…. not… make…. comment… about…balls…
        Drat. I failed.

  7. AngryAngryAlice*

    You know, when I scold my cat to stop eating plastic/scratching the furniture/licking books (lol wtf)/reaching for my food while I’m eating/etc., I imagine that if she could talk, her response would be something along the lines of, “No, I can’t do that, I’m sorry. I can’t just behave all day so I’m going to get up and get into your things. That’s just how I am.” And sometimes the only way to get through to her is to spray her with water until she runs off and resigns herself to doing the job she’s supposed to do: sleeping, eating (her own food – not mine!), shitting in a box, and meowing at birds outside the window. And it’s wild, because despite her previous protestations and determination to do what she wants even though she knows it’s wrong, she proves to both of us that she CAN obey the very simple rules if need be.

    Now, I’m not saying that you should spray Linda with water when she misbehaves… but you shouldn’t rule it out as an option, either.

      1. AngryAngryAlice*

        I come from one of those crazy cat families with many generations owning a multitude of cats… and I can say with complete certainty that a. a cat will never stop acting like a cat, but b. that won’t stop me from asking. Once in a blue moon, they pleasantly surprise me and jump off the counter before I have a chance to spray them. I guess that’s all I can hope for, y’know? (Still, all 15 of the cats that I’ve had behave better than Linda!)

        1. Works in IT*

          One of my kittens has learned that if she obeys the first time when I point at the floor and say “DOWN!” she will be rewarded with bits of potato chip.

          Surely Linda is better at following directions than a cat? And if not, she is an employee, and employees can be let go for refusing to do the job they were hired for.

        2. Alli525*

          The writer Nicole Cliffe recently had a funny tweet thread going about the difficulty of training cats. She said she put tin foil in the baby’s crib until the baby was born – the cat tried jumping in *once* and then never again. Another person said they put double-sided tape on their kitchen counters to train their cats to stay off and they’re apparently terrified of the counters now.

          Cats, man. I’m getting one soon (first time ever, my mom hated them when I was growing up) and can’t wait to figure out all its foibles.

      2. Not Sayin'*

        Right? My experience — they stop while you’re watching. Turn your back… leave the house… all bets are off.

        1. Arya Parya*

          That’s my experience too. They’re not on the counter when I’m there, but I sometimes see paw prints….

        2. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

          This is why I never bothered trying to train my cats to stay off the counters. One is too old, really, to try it very often (she’s almost 19!) but she’ll do it every now and then, and the younger one is 7 and still does it. I figure that’s why we have lysol wipes if we need to use the counters to prep. Clean the counter beforehand, then go for it. I mean, whatever, I don’t really care; Mango (the youngin) has a lot of energy and needs to do cat parkour once a day to get it out. Comes with having a cat, far as I’m concerned.

      3. SQL Coder Cat*

        I recently found out that my 17 year old cat does not, in fact, stay off the forbidden kitchen table. He just hasn’t gotten caught by me. My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t discipline the cat for it, and they have apparently been in cahoots on the ‘don’t be on the table if Mommy’s around’ plan.

        1. AKchic*

          The cats are allowed on the dining room table. The dog is not.

          Guess who frequently gets caught on the dining room table on the security cameras when the humans aren’t home? You guessed it. The 50lbs black lab / coonhound mix.

        2. Ramanon*

          And that’s the problem with spraying- cats aren’t dogs, they don’t go “water is consequence for action,” instead they go “water is consequence for action when human is present” and just mistrust you instead of recognizing that they’re not supposed to be on the table.

          On the other hand, I tried clicker training my cat, but she picked up “noise=treat” way too quickly and started activating the clicker to demand treats from me whenever she wanted. I’m not sure where you win with this one. Tinfoil?

        3. SMH RN*

          I had to break it to my mom none of her 3 cats stay off the table when I moved home for a bit…they only stay off when she’s home. Took them 2 minutes to figure out I didn’t care lol

      4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        On the other hand, the moment you define “being a cat,” there will be cats who rebel at the definition and absolutely must be Different.

        … I still miss my old boy who loved car rides and would heel like a dog.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m sorry—I know this shouldn’t have elicited this response, but just the thought of spraying Linda like a cat made me LOL.

      1. Phony Genius*

        I may have LOL’d harder. I thought you wrote “the thought of spaying Linda like a cat.”

      2. PeteyKat*

        Tell Linda “NO” while spraying her when she is doing your job. I cant get the visual out of my head. So funny…

      3. Hills to Die on*

        Please go get a spray bottle for Linda and report back. If she tells you to stop, you know that the only acceptable answer is to say, ‘I’m sorry but I can’t do that. It’s just how I am.’

      4. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Some months later, one of OP’s other coworkers asks her, “Why do you have a spray bottle on your desk? You never use it for anything.” OP replies, “Just a little reminder for myself.”

    2. MistOrMister*

      I will put up with my cat looking me dead in the eye and then knocking stuff off the counter because I love her. I don’t love any of the Linda’s I’ve worked with and I’m not sure I could stick to anything as benign as water spraying with them. Haha.

      1. Pipe Organ Guy*

        Evidence that the earth is not flat: if the earth were flat, cats would have pushed everything off the edge by now.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I try to only have things on the counter that are either too heavy for them to push or that aren’t likely to break when they are pushed off the counter. I have 3 cats.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          If I see that my cat is in “going to push X off the table” mode, I put something in front of him to push off the table, so that what gets pushed off isn’t my breakfast.

    3. Third or Nothing!*

      I’m allergic to cats so I have a dog. When I discipline her I say “UH-UH!” in a very loud stern voice. Imagining doing this to a misbehaving person is pretty entertaining.

    4. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Just so you know, spraying a cat with water is cruel. Cat behaviorists strictly state don’t do this. Physical punishment isn’t the way to train anyone, including humans.

      1. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

        Yeah, I don’t do this — rare exception is fighting, because you cannot safely separate two fighting cats if you want to keep your hands. But in the normal course of Don’t Do That behaviors, I just move them from the thing I want them to stop messing with and give them a toy. Problem solved.

      2. PeteyKat*

        No it doesn’t work – I’ve had many cats over the years and currently have 2 cats. The one cat I tried it on (Buddy) just knocked the bottle off the counter (yes he jumped back onto the counter to knock it off) and he chewed off the knob thing. He was a good cat. I miss him everyday.

    5. Jadelyn*

      I’ve been known to tell some of my coworkers that I’m going to get a squirt bottle and spray them like I do my cat whenever they do [thing that’s getting on my nerves] – it’s always joking and taken as such, but still. One of these days, I’m actually going to turn up with a squirt bottle and see what anyone says.

  8. Phony Genius*

    Having experienced other employees doing my job when they shouldn’t, the best solution I found was to do my whole job anyway. Even if it duplicated whatever the other person did. I made sure that the people to whom this work was being submitted knew that they should only accept it from me, and ignore the other work. Eventually, they will raise the issue to the point where your manager is asked from above why everybody is getting two versions of all this work, and she’ll be forced to do something that she doesn’t want to do – manage.

    1. Not a Blossom*

      That’s a good idea, but it only works if it’s possible to submit 2 versions or to do it twice. That isn’t an option in every system or for every task.

      1. Bee*

        Yeah, I’m picturing something like a library here, where if the books have been shelved…the books have been shelved.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          I was picturing something similar but in like retail or warehouse — the OP does restocking or fulfillment of orders. When an order or return comes in, Linda is supposed to handle the customer at the counter and supposed to hand off the task to OP to complete, but instead she goes and re-shelves or pulls the order herself.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Also, Linda is supposed to tell the OP if something needs done. If OP has no way of knowing that in some cases, without Linda doing her job, OP cannot proactively do what they don’t know is needed.

        1. valentine*

          Maybe OP can find other ways to know what needs doing and convince the manager to forbid Linda to do any of OP’s work, because cutting her out completely would at least remove OP from the line of fire.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I assumed it was something like “client contacts Linda, whose job is to handle client contacts, and requests X (which is part of OP’s job)”. If that’s not the case and Linda’s position can be cut out of the flow of work to the OP, that would be ideal.

    2. pony tailed wonder*

      I wonder if arranging with the manager to supervise Linda would be feasible? So when Linda leaves the desk, the letter writer can chase her down and get her back on the desk?

  9. Mary*

    Does Linda definitely know that it’s a problem for you, OP? I’m wondering whether in Linda’s head, your manager wasn’t very pleased about it, but when she pushed back your manager was like, “oh cool, whatever then,” so she’s basically regarding it as permission to carry on. It’s possible that she’ll ignore you / pushback on you just like she ignored your manager, but it’s possible that your manager’s “direction” was so weak that she genuinely thinks it was more of a suggestion.

  10. t*

    Also, something like a standing desk may help Linda with her need to move. She can stretch out a bit but still be available at her desk…

    1. Autumnheart*

      That is a good idea. I was also thinking something along the lines of OP covering Linda for 5 minutes every few hours so Linda can go do a lap around the building or something. There’s no reason Linda should be doing OP’s tasks, but I don’t see why Linda can’t get up and walk around a few times a day.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        I was thinking the same thing – granted if OP doesn’t want to do that I don’t blame her for not volunteering this; but I do wonder if having someone relieve Linda for specific times during the day (aside from lunch/bathroom breaks) would alleviate the issue (and that’s assuming that its a job where most reasonable people would be needing to get up and move); additionally maybe Linda needs more ownership over a task as well, so maybe giving her a downtime duty would also help.

    2. ACDC*

      I was expecting there to be a sentence right behind that saying “Management got her a standing desk but she isn’t using it.” I agree that this is a very logical accommodation that isn’t very expensive.

  11. Kiwiii*

    Linda is overstepping incredibly and it is absolutely okay to respond to her as though she is overstepping incredibly.

  12. mobuy*

    Just a possibility (only if you want, of course), but is there an hour a day that you could switch positions? Give a small task to Linda that will have her moving around, and have you sit at her desk? It might make her happier and if you have a sitting-type task that you have to do, it would be a win-win.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      That would be the perfect solution for a good coworker. But she isn’t. You have greater faith in Lucinda than I. She will take that hour and the tasks and raise OP. Lucinda was told not to this and she still did it. OP was told not to have Lucinda do her work. Giving Lucinda the ability to say, “But OP told me to do this,” will not end well. She needs to hold strong, not give in.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yep. I bet $5 that Linda just won’t give OP’s job back if they switch. Plus, Linda is being a jerk – switching positions is positive reinforcement of negative behavior.

    2. LilyP*

      I like this idea! I think your best bet for success here is finding some way to channel Linda. There has to be *something* she can stand up and do that’s not your work — could she cross-train on some other task? Tidy or organize something? Decorate the office in a scheme that rotates weekly? Take long walks? Run errands for the office? This does not have to be an effective use of her time (she and your boss are clearly past caring about that), just something you can fit into the request “Linda, I understand that you need to move around but it’s really disruptive to my workflow and [fill in other impacts on *your* work here]) when you do XYZ instead of asking me. Could you try doing [other thing] when you need a break instead?”

      1. The Boy Out of the Bubble*

        As The Original K. notes above, this is rewarding bad behavior.

        Also, Linda is *supposed* to be at that desk to field clients. All of these options involve her not doing her job.

        1. Close Bracket*

          You can frame it as rewarding bad behavior. Or you can frame it as crafting a position that Linda will succeed in. You get to decide.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The goal isn’t “find a way for Linda to succeed no matter what,” particularly when she’s shown she’s this difficult, resistant to direction from above, and crappy to peers.

            1. Close Bracket*

              That’s not OP’s goal, no. But that’s not the point. The point is that everyone has choices in how they frame things, and some framings are more likely to lead to a positive outcome than others. Saying, “No, Linda can’t change her job duties [to something unspecified bc I certainly never said OP had to give up any of her duties, nor did I say that OP was in charge of changing Linda’s job duties] bc that’s rewarding bad behavior” is not likely to result in a positive outcome.

              1. Delphine*

                I think that depends on what you see as a positive outcome. Some people wouldn’t see placating a disrespectful colleague as a positive outcome. Linda was hired to do a job. If she can’t do that job or needs other things to do, she needs to talk to her manager. The OP does not need to channel Linda’s energy into anything.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Right — my point is that I’m skeptical Linda is someone you should be trying to retain.

                  On the other hand, her manager clearly isn’t going to manage her (or manage her out) so…

              2. Name Required*

                A positive outcome for whom, though? OP doesn’t want another job or Linda’s job. She wants Linda to stop doing her job. Suggesting “let Linda do your job” as a solution to “how can I stop Linda from doing my job?” and then chastising people about their “framing” when they fail to see how that solves the problem is strange.

          2. valentine*

            No one should take from OP to give to Linda. Disliking your job doesn’t obligate your coworker to surrender theirs.

              1. Devil Fish*

                You keep saying this, but it seems like maybe you should read your initial suggestion again and try to consider why so many people interpreted it that way instead of arguing your intent?

                (Hint: This many people “misunderstanding” indicates you may not have said what you were trying to say as clearly as you thought. It happens! It doesn’t warrant being this defensive.)

          3. The Original K.*

            At the expense of the OP’s job? Why should Linda, who has proven to be difficult and insubordinate, be rewarded at all, let alone at the OP’s expense?

            1. Close Bracket*

              I never said anything about the expense of OP’s job! In fact, I’ve repeatedly said that OP needs to make sure that whatever Linda does when she gets up and walks around, that’s not OP’s duties. Which is the exact opposite of saying Linda gets a change at the expense of OP.

              1. CAinUK*

                Supporting you here that you never said to give Linda any of OP’s tasks. It was a kind suggestion to find something for Linda to do so she wouldn’t be sitting all day. I think the point we are making is: Linda is SUPPOSED to sit all day, at a desk, because she is serving customers there. So if she can’t do that, she can’t actually do the job. Hence why bosses are upset when they walk by and she isn’t there.

                So sending her on errands or walks or to decorate the office still won’t help because it would involve her leaving her post. And, as other say, it would be everyone trying to find a way to make Linda’s life easier when, really, she hasn’t shown that she’s a cooperative, stellar employee who deserves that much consideration.

          4. mobuy*

            I agree on the framing. You can say “Grrr! That Linda! She’s such a pain and the manager will do nothing!” Or you can say, “Linda will not stay at her desk all day, and Manager won’t make her. On the other hand, I could let her do [part of job I don’t love] and I could sit at her desk for an hour before lunch (or whatever). This gives me a specific time to do [sitting task] and she can move around and hopefully sit at her desk the rest of the day.”

            Given that OP’s manager sucks and isn’t going to change, she can choose to either work with Linda’s quirks or be frustrated by them.

            It’s possible that Linda will take advantage, but it’s also possible that Linda will be grateful to OP, the manager will be grateful to OP, and OP will be happier and less frustrated. Of course, OP has to make this decision based on her knowledge of the players involved.

          5. Observer*

            The OP is Linda’s manager and it is totally NOT her job to take this task on. In fact, it would be a major over-step because is involves suggesting tasks that are neither in the OP’s nor Linda’s purview – and the OP has not idea on whose toes this will step on or whose workflow this will disrupt. There would be something incredibly ironic (in a bad way) with the OP essentially doing what shes complaining about Linda doing.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          Right. Whatever you set up for Linda means that she’s not doing the job she was hired to–be at her desk for clients. That does nothing to help the situation, except keep Linda from doing the OP’s job.

      2. JSPA*

        If what Linda handles are not individual requests that get resolved instantly, but rather, a series of interactions, it’s not really feasible to switch (even if OP wanted to, which OP may not want).

        However, if Linda’s tasks really are doable in small chunks, and if OP is amenable, I suppose OP might ask the boss if OP could do Linda’s job for 20 minutes, twice a day, during which time Linda would have some other set (but less sedentary) duty. Ideally, one that OP doesn’t love, anyway.

        But frankly, my guess would be a) Linda’s job is best done as a 1 person job b) Linda doesn’t enjoy it c) Linda is angling for OP’s job, by trying to prove she can do it better than OP, and perhaps badmouthing OP. In which case, OP can either fight harder or plan on leaving.

        The most sympathetic option is that Linda would do fine if only she had a standing desk, and OP could back Linda up on needing one. (Not highly likely, but maybe Linda literally can’t sit for long.)

  13. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Lucinda is no more a good employee than the boyfriend of Dear Abby LW “he’s a great guy, but…” is a good life partner. She doesn’t do her assigned work. She screws up the workflow of her coworkers. She lets them take the heat for it. She tells her manager what she is and isn’t going to do.
    Treat her like the problem coworker she is. You spoke to her, she told you she didn’t care.
    Now it’s your manager’s problem. Make it one.
    “Hi, remember how we met earlier and I was reprimanded for “letting” Lucinda do my job? I never asked her to, I’ve told her to stop. She won’t. Can you handle this, please?”

    1. Lance*

      Yes. Linda has qualities of a good employee, in that she gets her work done (not entirely sure how, if she spends chunks of time doing not her work, but I won’t question it) and can be efficient about it… but good employees don’t flatly refuse a directive. Good employees aren’t insubordinate. Linda is not, in the end, a good employee.

    2. Luna*

      It seems the manager really can’t handle this, so I’d rather the question be phrased as, “Will you please take care of this?” Because then it sounds less like wondering if the manager’s noodle of a spine will actually stiffen up enough, and more like they are putting the ball into their court: handle this.
      Otherwise, OP might have to go for the even bigger fish and point out that Linda is refusing to do her job, keeps doing parts of OP’s job (without informing her), and that discussions with the manager have already not yielded results.

  14. Llellayena*

    I agree that there’s a management problem AND a not-right-for-the-role problem. If you’d be ok with this and the two roles are related enough, can you offer (to your manager first) to split the duties of both roles? Say, Linda takes the morning at the desk and you take the afternoon. Only suggest this if you’d truly be ok with this solution and if your roles can be interchangeable in that way (if your role is more highly paid and taking the desk is a step down, I would not suggest this). But this would give Linda a more active day (and you a chance to get off your feet if you wanted that) and reduce the opportunity for complaints because no one is manning the desk.

    1. Not Sayin'*

      I think it’s charming that you believe Linda will take back the sitting portion of the job in the afternoon. Alas, I have a darker view.

    2. Liane*

      There’s a bunch of “Linda might need this goodie, that goodie, or other goodies to do her job.”
      Nope she doesn’t–GOOD employees who can’t sit still don’t ignore instructions, neglect their tasks, steal others’ work/credit, etc. Yet we have folks here who see nothing wrong with rewarding Bad Work Behavior.

      Once Linda stops thinking the office, if not the world, revolves around her and develops a LONG track record of doing ONLY her job and staying out of everyone else’s lanes–then some thought/effort can be put into making her job more comfy/easier.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I think this is where I come down, too. Linda didn’t respond to her boss with “It’s hard for me to sit still for long periods of time, would you be able to provide me with (standing desk/under desk bike pedals/other thing that might help) so I can get my job done and still get a little movement in at the same time?” She just flat out said no. It’s not OP’s job to come up with what might help Linda do her job.

        1. nonymous*

          I think that’s a bit harsh; when I mentioned to an acquaintance that my entire team got sit/stand desks at work she was flabbergasted that was even a possibility. Her company was still using the old 80’s behemoths they picked up at the surplus store. I think there’s quite a spectrum out there with respect to how offices are furnished, and Linda may or may not know what options exist. Really, the marvel that my acquaintance expressed made it clear that it was a “mind.blown!” moment for her. Could Linda be in the same category?

          OP asked for advice on getting Linda to back off, and the simplest solution may be to pass along a script that Linda can use to get what she claims she wants (not to sit so much) since the supervisor is so hands-off.

    3. Observer*

      Why are you suggesting that OP takes on the job of managing Linda and her bad behavior? The OP has enough to do without having to manage Linda and make the role fit for her.

      1. Llellayena*

        I’m not saying she should manage Linda. I’m suggesting an alternate solution that benefits the company since the manager seems unable to manage Linda (which would be the ideal solution). Sometimes the only solution with a decent outcome is a compromise. As with most compromises, it’s not ideal for either person, but it does solve the original issue. However, the compromise should not come at the expense of the LW’s happiness in the role, which is why I stressed that she should only offer if she’d truly be ok with splitting the role.

        1. Observer*

          The fact is that restructuring the roles IS a management task. It’s really not the OP’s job. It winds up being a lot of work which is not fair to put on the OP.

        2. D'Arcy*

          But your “alternate solution” doesn’t actually benefit the company; it only benefits Linda, and requires the OP to grossly overstep her authority. If OP actually did what you suggest, she would basically be pulling a Linda on her own manager, and would probably deserve to be fired!

    4. Luna*

      Why should the office bend over backwards to somehow accomodate Linda? She was hired to do this specific job, and if she says, “Well, I just can’t do that.” then she’s got the wrong job, and they need to look for a replacement. This isn’t a case of her requiring or even requesting reasonable accomodations for medical or disability reasons; she just bluntly doesn’t *want* to do what she was hired for.

      1. Hey Anonny Nonny*


        I detest event planning. Lucky me, I work for Sales (and other business units) and events are…well, let’s just say we have a lot of events.

        This would be like me shoving all off my event planning on the receptionist – who is entirely capable of doing that planning – but it would also take away mightily from her actual job of being the receptionist.

        I don’t *like* event planning but that doesn’t give me the right to say, “I hate event planning, I’m not doing it even though it’s a major component of my job, so I’m going to make the receptionist do it and you can’t stop me, hey nonny nonny nonny.”

        Some of the suggestions in this thread would be like me doing just that – and then the receptionist having to come up with ways so that I don’t have to do event planning.

  15. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Is there any possibility to split the two roles between yourself and Linda? That is, some of your move-around responsibility officially go to Linda and some of her client-facing, butt-in-chair work goes to you. That way, there are clear lines of who is responsible for what (so you aren’t seen as a slacker, “Oh, we’ve changed things up, so that’s part of Linda’s job now”) and Linda doesn’t have to sit all day.

    I realize the ideal solution would be your manager and Linda doing their darn jobs (i.e. SpinelessManager manages Linda out, because it’s a poor job fit or Linda stops being insubordinate), but that doesn’t seem like it’s on the table. Compromising, if it makes sense for the work, might result in a situation that you are less unhappy with.

    Though, you’ll have to manage the communication clearly so everyone understands it’s NOT about you not doing your work, it’s so you don’t lose Linda (with the subtext being that SpinelessManager refused to do her job and manage, so you had to manage instead).

    Side note: Linda would infuriate me as a colleague (and would have my deep sympathy as a friend). Your manager only gets fury. Do your job, people!

    1. Kix*

      I don’t think the jobs should be split up to accommodate Linda’s refusal to do her job as expected. She was hired to do her job and should not have the option to have the job restructured to meet her expectations. If the job isn’t working out for her, perhaps it’s time to find something else.

      Also, OP, she is not a good employee. She is insubordinate and your manager is doing no one any favors by avoiding it.

      1. Adlib*

        Exactly. I’d be upset if my job was suddenly changed because my manager was terrible and my coworker refused to do her job and/or listen. I’m honestly surprised people are jumping to this because…would they want to split their job with someone else that was being difficult?

        1. Yuan Zai*

          Even beyond splitting the job now…rewarding Linda has long-term consequences for the LW…and they’re not positive.

          When Linda ends up getting recognition for doing the thing, Linda gets the raise or bonus or promotion that should have gone to the LW. This has happened to me and this has happened to every single person I have ever met (and this is quite a few people) who allowed someone to take over their job in this way.

        2. The Original K.*

          Right! “Linda doesn’t want to do her job and I don’t feel like making her, so I’m giving her yours” is terrible management. Or non-management, rather.

    2. Marissa*

      This was my initial reaction, but then I wondered if Linda isn’t doing this to be pushy until the boss gives up and trades their jobs. It’s hard to tell if a compromise would quell the situation or if you give Linda an inch, she takes a mile.

      1. Tammy*

        Side note: A friend of mine who’s a retired lawyer and a retired mediator likes to say “a compromise is where you agree that neither party is going to get what they want, and you’re fighting about how to divide up the resentment.”

        And I agree with others: Why SHOULD OP compromise? Why should Linda be rewarded with any part of what she wants for being insubordinate and overstepping the role she was hired to do?

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I don’t like the whole idea of splitting, for the reasons others have responded.

      But, maybe it is unreasonable to have Linda locked down on her desk all day? Sitting at my desk all day is kind of my superpower, but as a wife and mom to some folks who have ADHD, I get that it’s not for everyone. Could they get Linda a standing workstation? Could they reasonably add another break to her day? I think she’s probably a bad fit, but if the manager won’t fire her, perhaps these are alternative options that would keep her on task and out of OP’s business.

      1. Observer*

        So, I agree that the OP could suggest a sit-stand desk. But that is the ONLY thing that the OP should be doing in terms of managing Linda or trying the help her be a better fit. Any significant attempt to manager Linda or change her job is just way more work than the OP is being paid for.

        It’s also not likely to work, but it is likely to create significant problems for the OP.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Ok, but Linda was hired to sit at this desk all day. Her job is “sit at this desk and do these tasks.”

        If she can’t sit at the desk and do those tasks, maybe she should look for another job and the company should hire someone else who can sit at the desk and do those tasks.

        It’s not unreasonable for the company to expect that she do the job she was hired for!

        1. D'Arcy*

          Indeed. I don’t understand why so many people are trying to push this idea that being at a desk is unreasonable and that Linda’s *grossly* disrespectful, aggressive behavior should be excused because she doesn’t want to be at the desk.

          If she couldn’t handle a sitting desk job, she should not have applied for a sitting desk job. There is absolutely no excuse for her overt refusal to do her job — it would have been absolutely reasonable for her manager to fire her *on the spot* for overt insubordination, if the manager wasn’t a complete pushover.

  16. 99 lead balloons*

    If after you tell her to stop doing your job she pushes back and whines about how she can’t sit at a desk all day, you could say, “That sounds frustrating, however, I need you to find other ways to cope that do not involve doing my job duties and to work that out with Spineless Manager. When you do stuff like X, Y , and Z, I need you to realize that it directly harms my professional reputation and has caused me some pretty serious consequences.”

    After that, I say channel Bob Newhart’s “Stop It!” bit.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Yes, this is a good response. OP’s only problem is her own job duties. If Linda can other ways to work off her need to move around while ensuring that all needs are covered, including the client desk, good for Linda! She should do that! The only thing OP needs to ensure is that Linda stops stealing her job duties. (note: a solution where Linda steals someone else’s job duties is not great, but that’s not OP’s problem to solve.)

      1. Tisiphone*

        I wonder how much of this is that Linda would rather be doing the LW’s job instead of her own. I won’t go so far as to say that Linda is trying to take over LW’s job by the back door, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that’s what’s going on.

        Suggestion: Ask the manager if there’s anything you can do to secure the work direction from unauthorized personnel. If Linda whines about wanting to get up and move around after telling her to stop, tell her you want to do your own work – all of it – that’s just the way you are.

        You can play the “That’s just the way I am” card, too.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Yes, just because the annoying co-worker won’t sit at a desk doesn’t mean they have to do your tasks. It’s the manager’s responsibility to have the conversation with the co-worker about not doing the receptionist job, but you have enough reasons to tell the co-worker they can’t do your job.

  17. Amethystmoon*

    Wow. You need to draw a firm line in the sand and every time she tries to step over it, don’t let her. You could try rushing and doing all of your duties before Linda feels the need to get up, but I’m not sure she won’t just get up earlier. Sounds like Linda needs to find a different job.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I would even use the thought of all that extra stress that would go into trying to finish everything before Linda could get to it as motivation to draw that firm line with both Linda – for doing your work for you – and manager – for blaming you for ‘letting’ Linda do it for you. Personally, I would absolutely NOT tolerate being scolded for something 100% out of my control (Linda’s behavior).

      I was unclear whether the blame was coming from the same manager who won’t stop Linda from Linda-ing. If it’s different managers blaming, I would clear things up for them immediately with the straight facts of “Linda has been told not to do this, yet she continues. My manager is aware and to my knowledge has not corrected this. I am doing what I can to make sure my work is done correctly, but I cannot prevent her from continuing to interfere.”

      If it’s the same ridiculous manager, I would point out every time that Linda has been directly told not to do this multiple times and she refuses to stop, and ask for a new solution.

  18. Mia*

    I’d also send Linda emails so you have it in writing that you’ve asked her to stop. That way you have it in writing and can prove that you’ve requested this. It might not fully help if your manager has no backbone but at least if Linda tries to say that you never spoke to her about it, you’ll be able to prove her wrong. Good luck to you, OP, this would really be frustrating.

  19. Person of Interest*

    Since you said you don’t mind her help when you actually need it, maybe you can just direct her efforts in a way that’s more useful to you. You could request that Linda ask you if there is a task she can help with when she has some downtime or is up from her desk, rather than just picking something from your list that she likes and doing it . And you could always push back if there’s nothing you need help with by asking first, “Do you have any clients waiting for you? Maybe you should see to them first and then check back with me.”

    1. WellRed*

      I think she might need to get away from letting Linda help. Draw a bright line, it’s easier to keep the boundaries from blurring.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        It doesn’t sound like she’s letting Linda help, it sounds like Linda is helping regardless of whether she is being let or not, and management doesn’t seem to care. That’s not a good thing.

  20. Adlib*

    It doesn’t sound like the OP really wants to do this though. It also has the effect of reinforcing to Linda that her refusal to do just her job will be rewarded. OP said they appreciate help when needed but wants Linda to “stick to her job”.

    I think OP needs to follow Alison’s advice and dig in to counter Linda’s strong will (which only sounds strong in that she says no and manager backs off, doesn’t sound like she’s yelling).

    1. Adlib*

      That was supposed to be nested, but it applies to all the comments already here about splitting the roles.

  21. Engineer Girl*

    I’d be more blunt. When Linda says she just has to do things, say “Stop sabotaging my work!”

    Because anything less will not get through.

    If she protests, remind her that you are getting reprimanded because of her actions.

    1. Turtlewings*

      “remind her that you are getting reprimanded because of her actions” — this is the key thing, for me. How heartless is Linda, to keep doing this knowing she’s getting OP in trouble?? If emphasizing that *you are getting in trouble because she does this* doesn’t make her stop, then you tbh you need to get out, because you have not only a spineless boss but a coworker who will go out of her way to hurt you.

      1. Elbe*

        Yeah, I think it’s pretty bad, too.

        My first idea was that the LW should encourage Linda to take up vaping, so that at least she’d have something else to do on her breaks besides the LW’s work.

        Seriously, though, Linda could just do nothing on these breaks and stop dragging the LW into her problems. Unless there’s some way that she could be under the impression that she’s being helpful (which I doubt at this point) she’s clearly making a choice to make herself look better by being “busy” even if it makes the LW look worse.

        1. valentine*

          They’re not breaks. She’s shirking her duty. She’s required to stay at the desk. She could have asked for projects to do there or invented her own. She can always tell the manager, “No, I’m going to knit while doing jumping jacks.”

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Linda doesn’t care because, even though Linda is also getting reprimanded, she knows the manager is too big a wimp to do anything more.

      3. MatKnifeNinja*

        I have work with Linda type people, and they have huge blind spots to those statements.

        They see it as I’m bored….doing your job (helping you out)….good thing. And that’s as far as the thought train goes.

        You start telling them how it’s hurting you, they flat out don’t get it.

        My boss is the King of getting bored and meddling. All I can do is gently redirect him away from my pile of crap I have to do. I’d love to have a WTH show down, but that’s how he is with everything in his life.

  22. Mockingjay*

    The fact that Linda does have to help the OP sometimes exacerbates the situation. OP should clarify specifically what parts of the job Linda is allowed to touch and instruct her very clearly NOT to touch anything else.

    1. Luna*

      It didn’t sound like Linda *has* to help. It sounded like OP *appreciates* getting a helping hand when her job gets very busy.

  23. GreenDoor*

    So Linda gives a strong-willed “no” and gets away with it because your manager can’t stand up to that? Seems to me, what’s good for the goose can be good for the gander. Can’t OP go in and be just as strong willed and say something like “Linda is consistently doing my work when I leave to handle other tasks. I MUST INSIST that you do something about it.” Put that on repeat every time Linda crosses into OP’s lane. Manager will either have to pick which one of the strong willed employees to kow-tow to….or continue to do nothing and deal with the inevitable chaos.

    1. montescristo1985*

      The problem with that approach is you have one employee pushing you to do something, and one not to do something. Not doing is easier. So you end up with chaos.

  24. Elbe*

    If Linda knows that the LW was scolded for this (it sounds like they were part of the same conversation), then clearly she’s fine with getting other people in trouble in order to get what she wants. The good news is that the LW’s manager is so weak that the LW probably will never face any real consequences, even if she is blamed for Linda’s actions. If the manager tries to fire her, she could always just say “no, that doesn’t work for me” and carry on.

    If Linda and the LW are paid about the same and if Linda’s job is something the LW would want to do, the LW could also suggest that they officially combine the roles so that they would each take shifts at the desk. It would at least formalize what is already happening and it could give the LW some control over what she’s held responsible for.

  25. 3P7*

    I don’t know if this is possible, LW, but I’d be sorely tempted to put my work in a locked drawer and/or password protect my files so Linda can’t just take work. Claim workspace security. But I’m petty.

    1. Close Bracket*

      I once placed all my data on an encrypted thumb drive rather than the shared drive to prevent a particular someone else from taking it and analyzing it. In this case, though, OP says Linda does parts of her job that she didn’t know needed doing. I’m thinking along the lines of the library example, like Linda shelved some books that OP didn’t know about rather than OP locking away all the books to be shelved until she can get to them to prevent Linda from shelving them for her.

    2. BRR*

      I was going to suggest something similar. If possible, set up the infrastructure to prevent Linda from doing your work. I wouldn’t event claim workplace security. Linda needs to be told as directly, but still professionally, to stop.

  26. Wintermute*

    Do you, by chance, work in a lawyer’s office with a pair of guys named Nippers and Turkey, and Linda wouldn’t happen to be named “Bartleby” in real life would she?

    Because the only boss I’ve ever HEARD of who was this accommodating of outright insubordination is from a Melville short story, seriously.

    1. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      Kudos to you for the Bartleby the Scrivener reference! That
      story doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves.

    2. False*

      But Bartleby is the hero of that story… Am I the only one here who thinks Linda might also be the hero in this scenario, too?

      As aluded to above, what negative impact is this actually having on OP? Was she actually scolded or was she simply there when their boss talked to them both about what was happeneing and Linda said “I’d prefer not to”, but somehow thinks that reflected poorly on her? The irony here is that if OP acted more like Linda, there would be no issue; if the manager is indeed such a pushover, all OP needs to do when “scolded” is say, “Sorry, that’s not my problem, its Linda’s”, walk away, and continue on with their day. If there have been no consequences for Linda, what consequenses could there possibly be for OP here?

      Think about all of this from Linda’s perspective: if her and OP’s jobs are so “linked” and Linda seems capable and willing to do OP’s duties, was Linda perhaps under the impression that she was being hired to do OP’s job, but then shuffled into doing desk work under false pretenses? In that context, her passive resistance does indeed seem heroic.

  27. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    My immediate thought was that (given that Linda also presumably knows how passive and ‘ineffective’ the manager is) she hopes that by continuing to step on OPs job like this, that eventually the manager will go for the conflict-averse ‘solution’ of splitting the 2 jobs between the OP and Linda so that they would each do a portion of the sitting-down-work and a portion of the running around. Then (Linda hopes) once that’s been established, she would just take over an increasing proportion of the running-around work…

    1. Luna*

      As the employee in OP’s position, that would so annoy me, I might even suggest to look for a different job — and when the manager offers this ‘solution’, OP could just say, “No, I am not doing that.” and then hand in the resignation. Good luck and have fun finding someone who will do Linda’s job, while Linda is now busy doing *all* of OP’s job *and* had better manage to still do the job she was initially hired for.

  28. Pilcrow*

    Others have given suggestions for pushing back or re-arranging work, so I’ll focus on this:
    …Linda notices something that needs to be done that would normally be in my wheelhouse…

    How is she noticing these tasks? Can you hide them from her? I’m thinking she can’t do what she doesn’t know about.

    If you have a physical in-box that she’s picking stuff out of, try to lock it away when you’re not at your desk. If it’s stuff on your computer, make sure you lock the screen every time you’re away.

    I don’t know what kind of work you and Linda do, so I realize this won’t help for something like she’s re-stocking shelves.

    1. Approval is optional*

      I wondered about that.
      Is is possible for you to change systems or the like LW so Linda can’t ‘find’ your work, and when you need her assistance it’s up to you what, and when, you allocate to her? For example can you change from a system where work is left in paper form for you to collect and process to an online system? It might not be possible – as Pilcrow said -but might be worth exploring. If you can build some efficiencies into the new system – either for you, or for other employees for whom you do work, that would be a bonus. And if Linda complains and your manager tells you to stop – though she seems far too passive to interfere – just say ‘no’!

  29. LQ*

    I guess I’d try something a little different. “Hey, Linda, I really appreciate that you want to get up and walk around, totally get that. But I need you to let me do my job, I’m worried about my job, that it seems like I’m slacking, and I need you to stop doing my stuff because it makes me look like I can’t. Get up and take a walk or get stuff from the printer, totally get the need to move thing. But I really need you to let me do my work.”

    If I had a bad relationship or thought she was actively sabotaging I wouldn’t, but if she is generally decent but set in her ways I’d try this.

  30. Bostonian*

    I think you’re assuming that because you know your boss won’t do anything about Linda’s behavior, you can’t have a conversation with her about it.

    You still should! You still need to communicate to your boss that Linda’s doing your job because she wants to, NOT because you’re not doing your job. Ask her how you should handle it in the future, because of course you want Linda to her own job and you to do yours!

  31. Elenna*

    Sounds like it would be better for you if Linda went for a walk and did no work instead of walking around the office and doing your work. Any way you can suggest that? Or at least respond to “Well I can’t just sit down all day” with “then go for a walk or something and stop doing my work”? It doesn’t solve the problem of her not greeting clients, but that sounds like a Linda problem and not an OP problem.

    OTOH, I imagine Linda probably justifies this to herself as “well I’m still doing work, so it’s fine” so she may resist not doing work. Maybe make a point of calling it out so she (and any other bosses that are affected) know that it’s not actually fine?

  32. voluptuousfire*

    I see Linda deals with a lot of client correspondence. I’d presume this is by email. Why doesn’t she see if she can get a laptop (if she’s using a desktop) and is still able to work but not necessarily at her desk? I can understand her itch to get up and move about when you’re expected to be at your desk most of the day. Why not see about that laptop and if she has to have access to a phone, see if she can forward the calls from her desk phone to a Google Voice number or to her email?

    This way she can work anywhere in the office and still do her work without issue.

    1. Sarah N.*

      I was actually assuming this was more of a reception-type position, since it’s noted that clients are often waiting by her desk. That suggests to me a situation where clients are walking up without appointments and there needs to be a person physically there to meet with them. Given that, it sounds like this is just not a good fit for a person who does not like physically being at a desk.

  33. PollyQ*

    Given that Linda’s explicitly said to her boss, “No, I won’t do my job or stop doing LW’s job,” I’m dubious that anything LW says or does will get through to her. LW, I recommend that you start looking for another job, either within this company or elsewhere, because I don’t see this ending well for you.

  34. Buttons*

    I would try appealing to her as a coworker– “Linda, I know sitting at a desk all day is torture for you! But (manager) is already upset that you are doing some of my work, and it makes me look bad. You can’t do it anymore.”

    I would also suggest she look into a stand-up/sit down desk. There are versions that just sit on top of an existing desk, mine was less than $200 from CostCo

  35. Auntie Social*

    Does anyone else in the office have anything that they hate doing, they’re behind on, or that Linda can do ahead, like preparing new client files, doing mass mailers, or helping the office manager by making admin files for the year 2020? Every office has things like that that can be brought to Linda’s workspace.

  36. StaceyIzMe*

    Your boss has already had a conversation with Linda and it didn’t work. You might be better off doing two things: a) start looking for a new job NOW (either new company or internal transfer), because this is unlikely to resolve well and b) go right ahead and escalate it- expend whatever political capital you have with the Big Boss and Other Bosses, because it’s interfering with your ability to just DO your job. Document, document, document… (including going back and reconstructing every situation that you can recall or piece together where this has occurred, context/ witnesses/ outcome and feedback into management of your role, and any new instances ongoing). It does sound as if you might also have been remiss in being firm with Ms. My-Way-Or-The-Highway. You might have to channel a little bit of the stern schoolmarm to get your point across.

    1. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

      This. Linda is obviously going to continue right on steamrolling, she needs to be escalated up the chain, and out of her job, since she obviously doesn’t want to do her job and leave OP’s job alone. Nope, no more compromising with this person. At all.

  37. starsaphire*

    I’m… trying to imagine how various bosses I’ve had would react to me just up and saying, “No, I don’t like doing (job I was hired for) so I’m gonna do (job with more interesting tasks) instead!”

    I can’t see it flying, tbh, and I’m flabbergasted that Linda thinks she can — and apparently does — get away with it.

    Sure, there are accommodations the OP’s boss could make, but the OP’s boss didn’t write in — the OP did. Which is important for us to remember.

    OP, if you’re still here and reading, several good suggestions have been made about 1) setting a clear boundary with Linda (assuming you haven’t already) and 2) documenting and sharing with your manager every time Linda ignores your request.

    If you’re worried that you’ll get scolded for this again, it would be helpful to have a list of notes with dates and times that Linda took over your tasks without your asking for help / without your knowledge. And then say, “What should I do about it?” each and every time. In other words, manage your manager into managing.

    Generally good advice above, but remember that it’s not your responsibility to manage Linda; it’s your manager’s. And if the solution (if there is one) ends up rewarding Linda and punishing you, then you should probably think about updating your resume.

  38. voyager1*

    I think your only option is to get some of your duties switched over to Linda. You need to approach your boss about this and present it as a solution to “the Linda won’t sit still” problem. I get why you LW want to her stop but that isn’t going to happen with a passive boss. If you can get that then you can decide if you are willing to live with that set up.

    The only other option is to move on. But even the above might help your nerves while you are job searching.

  39. Seriously?*

    Linda has a 40 hour desk job and doesn’t like it, so she should find a different job. Duh. But not OPs problem. OP, not sure how assigments are given to you by different people, maybe dropped on your desk? I recommend tjst you email every single person, high and low, who brings you work, from the mucky-mucks to the assistants and tell them that Linda is coming to your desk when you are there, taking the work asigments off your desk and never even telling you about them. Use the worl stole if it feeks right and be ckeat that you never knew the assigment existed because of her theft. Say that Linda has been instructed to stop secretly taking and doing your work by both you and your manager and she refuses to stop. Ask that people either give you projects via email or at least email or tesk you that it was dropoped off. Include your manager in the email. Then when you get an email and realize Linda took it, go to her, ask her loudly if she took it, demand it back, then email every single person that she did this. Each time.

    1. Close Bracket*

      That is awfully aggressive. Surely OP can find an approach that isn’t outright hostile.

      1. Sarah N.*

        Linda is being outright hostile, though! It IS hostile to refuse to your manager’s face to do your job and to continue to steal work from your coworker after being repeatedly, directly asked to stop doing it. Since the manager won’t act, the OP may need to start being as direct and clear as Linda is about how unacceptable the situation is.

      2. Seriously?*

        It feels appropriate to me. Say they work at Burger King: Linda is the cashier who takes orders and OP works the grill. Between orders, OP goes to get more buns. Linda takes an order then leaves the cash register. ignoring the growing line and makes a Whopper with the wrong toppings and a cheeseburger but fails to make the two fillet of fish sandwhiches and three burgers with extra pickles. OP comes back, restocks and fills the next series of orders. Customer with wrong incomplete order complains and shift supervisor yells at OP, who didn’t even know the Linda-stolen orders existed. This happens every day, Linda refuses to stop and OP continues to get blamed. I stand by my recommendation to OP.

  40. nuttysaladtree*

    > I just hate it when she does some of my duties without me even knowing

    Ask management get Linda to exercise the common courtesy of asking before (or at least telling you she’s doing or has done)? I don’t know how feasible this is, so I’m wondering if this is worth a shot once you’ve exhausted all other options.

    (I say get management to do it because I think you should focus on stopping her, period.)

  41. KR*

    I know this isn’t OPs job to solve this problem but I wonder if this could be helped with a standing desk for Linda, her sitting on a yoga ball, or one of those bicycle things under the desk? It sounds like it might help if she didn’t have to actually sit at the desk all day but could move around.

  42. LGC*

    Oh my God. I’m SO sorry.

    Linda is a nice person, and she really is a good employee. She is efficient and does not slack off (even though she leaves her desk a lot, she always comes and finishes everything before leaving for the day).

    I have to disagree. Part of being a good employee is not just getting your work done, it’s also being cooperative. Point blank telling your manager no is…not that. Repeatedly disobeying orders because you are a unique butterfly is DEFINITELY not that. She might be good at her tasks but she is not doing her job.

    (I’m a little touchy about this because one of my own employees is being a bit of a jerk in a similar way. As in, I told her not to do something immediately in clear language, she apologized for doing it, and then she went back to doing it right after. But that’s my baggage.)

    So, yeah. If I were feeling any sort of charitable to Linda, I’d suggest reorganizing your jobs. It sounds like you work in some sort of customer service job where she’s the “receptionist/help desk” and you’re the “gofer” – and honestly, that setup DOES stink for her! I get why she doesn’t want to be stuck behind a desk for her entire shift. But at this point, she’s burned a ton of capital imo.

    (And yes, this is petty of me. But she basically coated the bridge in napalm and lit a match.)

    That said…ugh. I feel like because Linda is competent at her job and can be pleasant at times, she’s a bit of a missing stair and people are just working around her because no one thinks to fix the problem. You have my permission to toss both her and your manager under the bus.

    (…note to self: do not AAM while cranky. Or at least while crankier than normal.)

  43. Scion*

    Linda is not a good employee. Her job involves being available to clients, and she just isn’t. She also just ignores (!?) direct orders from her manager!

    The bigger problem is the ridiculous behavior by your boss. I would absolutely go to your boss’s boss. If I were them I’d absolutely want to know if my employee were completely abdicating their management responsibilities like this.

  44. Anat*

    I wonder if Linda has ADHD, and has requested an ADA accommodation. That would explain a lot. Why she can’t sit still at her desk job — in fact, she may be able to do her desk job as well as she does only with breaks doing something else. Why her manager isn’t more insistent: what looks to the OP like insubordination may actually be Linda reminding him that she needs an accommodation. And in fact the OP wouldn’t know anything about it, because the manager isn’t allowed to share this information.

    It’s still unacceptable for her to take the OP’s work without permission, of course, and it’s still poor management to criticize the OP for it. But in this scenario Linda is less a bad employee, and more an employee trying her best to do the work with the brain that she has. And the best solution might indeed to to recognize this and switch who does what for a small part of the day. Or find something else for her to do that’s not sitting still. And of course standing desks, as people mentioned.

    1. Devil Fish*

      No, if Linda requested accommodation their manager wouldn’t have pulled them both into a meeting to discuss getting the work done. That makes no sense unless getting OP on board is part of the accommodation, in which case Linda would need to also be on board with that and it would have been mentioned at the meeting.

      If the manager was incompetent enough to pull two people into a meeting to discuss one person’s ADA accommodation without that person’s permission, there’s no way they would be competent enough to not share that with the person they inexplicably invited to the ADA accommodation meeting.

      The meeting only makes sense if you take the letter as fact that 1) Linda is being insubordinate because she’s not a good fit for the job and 2) the manager is letting her because they’re terrible at management. (Or Linda could be an ET who’s not fully assimilated human values yet! And the manager is another ET that doesn’t want her to get fired because this workplace is really their spacecraft and their sleeping pods are in the copy room and it would be really awkward to have to let Linda into the building after hours if she didn’t work there! This also doesn’t change the advice to OP, so is irrelevant.)

    2. MatKnifeNinja*

      I wrote further up about Linda, but since you brought up ADHD, that would be my absolute go to spot.

      She’s bright, does her job when everything is clicking, but when the brain needs better stimulation Linda will do anything other than what she should.

      My boss does this exact same thing. He messed up the newsletter we should send out, under the guise of “helpful and wanting something to do.” He’s got plenty on his plate. That day his brain said nope!, hence FUBAR newletter.

      Also, Linda acts like my boss and the other kids I had with ADHD, when confront with an issue. They run their mouth without a brain filter. I’ve had to say to my boss, “Do you really mean…”

      Half the time I don’t think he hears what he says, especially in a less than, happy person to person exchange.

  45. Kix*

    Maybe OP needs one of those locking document boxes where people can drop the assignments and only OP has the key. That should stop Linda in her tracks.

  46. Zin*

    I have ADHD. I can’t sit still at a desk as all day. Early in my career I specifically opted out of desk jobs even though it meant accepting lower paid work at first because I know I couldn’t sit all day at a desk. There are many ways I manage my issues with this but none of them ever included refusing to do my job, doing my co workers job instead or taking work that wasn’t mine without asking. I have a good job now that still doesn’t require I spend all day at a desk and earlier this year I refused a transfer because I didn’t want a job that made me spend all day at a desk!

    This isn’t an ADHD issue, it’s a Linda being a bad employee issue.

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      But you know you have ADHD.

      My boss was diagnosed at 50. Before then, he burned through 16 jobs before starting his own business.

      I’m 55. There are plenty of people plus and minus 10 years my age that have ADHD, and were never formally diagnosed. There lives are semi messy dumpster fires.

      Not everyone who has ADHD grew up with a 504 plan or an IEP. Parents refused, didn’t care, didn’t have the money, or the school pushed back and said their kid was fine, so no diagnosis.

      I bet if you look into Linda’s life, it’s all running rough shod over everyone, with her being clueless about the fallout.

      Before I throw Linda into the crap employee bin, I’m willing to entertain the idea she’s unaware how’s she’s coming across. I have to social skills translate tons for my boss, because what is blatantly obvious to 95% of people here, he doesn’t see it. He’ll say he understands, but he truly doesn’t when you explicitly telling him blow by blow what is happening.

      Glad you figured out what works for you. That’s not an easy thing to do.

      1. Sarah N.*

        If Linda wrote in, this would be great advice for her. But the OP has no standing to suggest to Linda that she might (MIGHT) have ADHD, much less that she attempt to get diagnosed, start taking medication, etc. etc. The OP can only deal with the actions Linda is taking, which are severely impacting her ability to DO HER JOB, as well as her reputation at work. At a certain point, the reasons for that aren’t something OP can do anything about — she simply needs the behavior to stop so that she can complete her tasks and rehabilitate her reputation among supervisors at her company.

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