my new employee says he won’t help a coworker, my boss suggested I cry, and more

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

1. My new employee said he won’t help a coworker

Today I had my first 1:1 with a new employee. At the time he was hired, we were filling two roles, one at mid level and one at entry level, and they both started last week. He did not interview well enough to earn the mid-level position, but we offered him the entry-level role as we thought he’d be a good fit and he accepted. However, today it was clear that he is upset about being at a lower level than the rest of the team and indicated that he would not help the other new employee since they were at a higher level than him. I had them doing initial training together, as the technical skills are the same, but the higher level candidate has soft skills that this disgruntled employee lacks. Today he asked how soon he could be promoted, and when he could shadow a team whose work is well outside the scope of the role for which he was hired.

Is it reasonable that I’m a little miffed? I want to support all professional growth opportunities, but when I said it wasn’t possible for him to join them within a year (there’s a one-year mark for promotion considerations), he was shocked. What is the best way to reset his expectations? Am I crazy to expect him to work on the team that hired him?

You should be more than a little miffed — you should be thinking seriously about whether or not to keep him. He told you at your first meeting that he will not help a colleague. Who announces that to their new boss?! That’s squarely in “whoa, we may have made a mistake in hiring him” territory.

I’d seriously consider cutting your losses and parting ways now, but if you don’t want to do that, go back and tell him that it’s not acceptable on your team to refuse to help colleagues, that the role is X and not Y, and that you’d need to see excellent performance and teamwork from him for at least a year before you’d even begin to consider promoting him — and that what you’ve seen so far is drastically out of sync with the approach you’re seeking from team members. Ask him whether, in light of all that, he still wants the job. If says yes, keep a very close eye on him from now on. If there’s a second issue in the next few months (and I would bet money there will be), be ready to end things at that point.

2. My boss suggested I cry

I work in a small department of 10-12 middle- to older-aged women (I’m the youngest at 45) who report to a younger male manager. The environment is full of tension and is a smidge toxic. There is no accountability for poor behavior (often excused with “that’s just how Brenda is….” or “Megan works better with men; don’t take it personally”). I do my best to avoid the drama but coworkers often stop by my desk to vent. It’s distracting, energy-sucking, and flat out annoying. I’ve employed all of the “I’m busy” techniques (pretending to get a phone call, nod while looking busy smashing at the keyboard, putting up signs, wearing giant headphones, or simply saying “sorry, busy!”) and nothing seems to work. I reached out to my boss for guidance/ideas. His advice: Cry. “Crying will drive people away,” he says.

Literally, WTF? This is horrible advice right?! So how do I keep coworkers away? And how do I respond to my boss’s “cry” advice?! Is it sexist? Wrong? Right?

Cry??? WTF indeed.

Yes, it’s sexist. (I doubt he’d tell men to cry.) And I don’t even understand how it’s supposed to work — someone comes by your desk to talk to you and you just … start crying? I mean, he’s right that it will drive people away, but no, this is nonsensical, horrible, sexist advice that reveals your boss as an utter ass. If you want, you could go back to him and say, “Your advice to cry when coworkers are trying to vent to me really bothered me. It doesn’t seem like advice you’d give to a man. Is that how you’d handle this — by crying?”

As for what to do about your coworkers, based on what you’ve described it sounds like the only thing that will work is to be very direct. When someone stops by your desk to vent, try saying, “I’m on deadline and can’t talk” or “I don’t want to gossip so I’ve got to cut you off” or “hey, I really don’t want to hear this kind of thing.” And if they keep talking after that (!), try the suggestions in this post (which are for really over-the-top talkers, which your coworkers are).

But also … do you want to stay there? It sounds horrible.

3. How can you tell if a recruiter is worth your time?

I’m wondering if you have any advice on how to tell whether a recruiter is just indiscriminately gathering resumes or actually might send you out for interviews. This winter I was looking for work, and ended up talking to a bunch of recruiters (some because they reached out, some because of job listings that turned out to be “hypothetical” jobs posted by staffing agencies). They brought me in to their offices to meet and spent a lot of time calling me, and not a single one of them set me up with an interview — most of them never even told me about an actual existing job. I ended up finding a job on my own.

A recruiter just reached out to me out of nowhere, and I’d be interested in hearing about other jobs but don’t want to take off work and jump through hoops just so this guy can add another resume to his stack. He didn’t even know whether I was currently employed, which is odd because my current company/position is listed on LinkedIn and Facebook (visible even if you’re not my friend). So I stopped responding to him. I’m not desperate for a job but I am keeping an eye out for something good so a real recruiter would be of interest to me. Any tips for weeding out the time-wasters?

You can try asking explicitly, “Is this interview for a specific job that’s currently open, or is it a more general interview in case I’m a good match with something in the future?” Some recruiters will lie about this, but a lot will answer honestly.

You can also ask for specifics about the job they’re recruiting for. A good recruiter will be willing to give you details about the job; if they’re not, that’s a sign not to waste your time.

4. Can I ghost my former colleague?

I’m a freelance contractor. For about two years, I was contracted by Joe’s company to assist with marketing. Joe was my main point of contact and I worked with him closely, communicating daily. He was incredibly difficult to work with — disorganized, unprofessional, making minor challenges out to be emergencies. He would call me multiple times a day, every day, despite my best efforts to push him towards email and rein him into regularly scheduled meeting times. By the end, I was fairly certain that the reason he relied so heavily on me was that I was doing most of his job for him. At the end of two years, I politely opted out of renewing my contract with his company. Lo and behold, Joe was let go shortly after.

This should have been the end of things, but it wasn’t. Joe continued to call and text me on a regular basis, wanting to “catch up” or pitch me new freelance ideas we might work on together. This is someone I never want to work with again, but for the sake of remaining professional I would acknowledge his messages and send a polite “Thanks, but I’m not looking for new projects right now” or something along those lines. I would have thought that after a few of these “thanks but no thanks” notes a person would get the message and let it drop, but he continues to contact me.

Would it be completely unprofessional to ghost him and just stop responding? One on hand I feel like that’s warranted, but on the other hand, I have never explicitly told him “please stop contacting me.” To be clear, he’s not someone I feel threatened by or anything, just a person I found terrible to work with and don’t want to remain connected to. Saying “stop contacting me” so bluntly feels a bit aggressive, and I would hate for that to get back to other professional acquaintances we share.

There are situations where just not responding can be more polite than “stop contacting me.” I’m generally a proponent of being direct, but when someone is missing pretty clear signals you’re not obligated to spell out a difficult message if doing that might mean he’ll complain about you to mutual contacts.

You’ve already turned him down a bunch of times. You’re fine just forgetting to respond to future messages from him.

5. Should I have been offered a phone interview since I’m six hours away?

I work in higher education, in a student affairs role. I recently applied for a position located in another state, about six hours away. I’m a bit overqualified for the position, but it’s a state I would really like to move to, so I’m willing to take a small step down if the salary is reasonable. They contacted me for an interview almost immediately after the job posting closed, which was encouraging and exciting! However, they asked me straight off to come to campus, and based on the scheduling options they gave me, it appears that this will only be a one-hour interview. I followed up mentioning that I live six hours away and asking them to point me in the direction of convenient hotel accommodations. I kind of expected that they would respond suggesting a phone or Skype interview for this first round, rather than making me drive 12 hours round-trip for a one-hour interview that is likely just a screening conversation. I realize now that I should have directly asked for that, but I was worried about coming off too demanding at this stage in the process.

I have interviewed for several other positions at other universities, and if travel was required they always started with a phone or Skype interview in order to save my time and their money (although nothing has been said about reimbursing me for my travel costs). Then, if the initial screening goes well, they have invited me to campus for a longer interview. Based on what I’ve read on AAM, it seems like that is standard for many industries, not just higher ed. Is this a red flag? My excitement about the interview is gradually getting drowned out by my dread of the 12 hours of driving ahead, for a position I’m not even sure I want yet!

It’s not inherently a red flag, although it’s a bit weird. But they probably just took you at your word when you asked for hotel recommendations.

As you’ve already realized, handling it that way was a mistake — you should have directly asked, “Since I’m a six-hour drive away, would you be open to doing this first meeting by phone or Skype?” Asking for that now, after the interview has already been scheduled isn’t ideal — it risks making you look a little flaky or like you didn’t think it through. But when you weigh that against a 12-hour roundtrip drive for a one-hour interview for a job you don’t have many details on yet, it’s probably still worth it. If they didn’t explicitly say it’ll be an hour and you’re just surmising that from context, one way to do it would be to inquire based around that — as in, “Could I check with you about the length of the interview? I’d initially assumed this was a longer interview, but looking at your original email, I realize it might be a one-hour meeting. If that’s the case, I wonder if you’d be open to doing it by phone or Skype instead since I’m driving in from six hours away? I’d of course be happy to travel to you for a longer interview if we move forward.”

{ 476 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, it depends on the institution, but it’s not a red flag. It’s just higher ed.

    1. OneWomansOpinion*

      Really? I’m in higher ed too and I’ve never had to travel t0 campus for a first-round interview. In fact, even local or internal candidates do a phone screen for the first round just so the playing field is level–to the point where it’s not unheard of for a candidate to talk on the phone with someone a few offices down the hall.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Obviously my experience is limited, but I’ve seen both conventions (not forcing a person to travel in the first-round v. expecting them to travel to campus), and I’ve seen wide variation between departments, bargaining units, etc. This leads me to believe that although it’s not a considerate practice, it’s not so far beyond the norm that it’s a red flag. If this weren’t higher ed, I would find the expectations OP faced to be much more problematic and concerning.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I’ve never worked in education, but most of my interviews have been in person, with only a smattering of phone interviews first. I don’t necessarily consider this situation a red flag mainly because OP was not up front about wanting a phone interview. It’s not clear to me if the school knew they were coming from 6 hours away before scheduling the interview, but if not, it seems quite reasonable that they hadn’t planned or budgeted to reimburse travel and hotel expenses. And then, again, the fact that OP didn’t explicitly ask for those things or a phone interview, it doesn’t seem to me that it should be held against the people at the school for not knowing that’s what OP was hoping for. I’m sure it also depends on what position one is applying for. As someone on the admin side instead of the legal professional side at a law firm, it would actually not even occur to me to expect my expenses to be reimbursed if I travelled to an interview.

          1. Kendra*

            They may very well have just assumed that if she was applying for the position, she was already planning on moving there for another reason (maybe that her partner had recently transferred, or that she had family in the area?), and that if she needed a phone interview, she’d mention it. Also, some people who consider phone interviews to be a disadvantage, or who prefer not to use the phone much for whatever reason, are less likely to offer it as an option in general, because they themselves would rather do the 12-hour drive.

              1. PrgrmMgr*

                I’m absolutely a face-to-face conversation person. I do phone screens to pretty much confirm applicants are on the same page as me for salary expectations, but I can’t imagine doing a longer phone or skype interview unless there was an extraordinary candidate that wouldn’t be able to meet with me locally at first. I’m in my 30s, so I don’t think I’m a luddite, in person meetings are just how I work best.

                Some people in my field have started trying to do Zoom & Skype meetings, and 90% of the particiapnts don’t turn on their cameras. It ends up being an online conference call.

                1. Questionly*

                  I just read a study (sorry, wish I could remember where) where on average, in-person interviewees get consistently ranked higher than kype/online interviewees.

                  For that reason alone I’d probably prefer in-person too.

                2. datamuse*

                  I’m in higher ed and most of the searches I’ve participated in have been nationwide, so we pretty much have to do phone/video screens for the first round. Finalists come to campus at our expense–but we can’t afford to do that for the initial screen.

            1. AnnaBananna*

              I would also consider that the person scheduling the initial interviews isn’t someone with a lot of power, and wouldn’t immediately think ‘I wonder if they’d prefer a phone interview’.

              I wouldn’t red flag it until after the OP hears back about the skype/phone preference.

          2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            I think I never had a phone interview in my life (I’m in Germany), unless receiving a call from a headhunter and chatting a few minutes about a position they try to fill counts.
            I have done a number of video conferences to sell a project to an overseas client where I would be the lead consultant – similar but not identical.
            So it’s not always a red flag and not a given in all industries and regions.

        2. Senor Montoya*

          Yep, 100% agree. I’ve been in higher ed in a variety of positions, from faculty to academic-non-faculty to admin-non-academic for a really long time, different kinds of institutions — this is spot on.

          OP 5, you sound keen to move to this state — think of this as an opportunity to do some recon about the institution and about the state.

        3. Catsaber*

          Agreed, conventions can vary widely between departments/colleges at a single university, to the point where it almost seems like different companies. My boss always does a phone screen first, even for local or internal candidates, but I’ve seen other departments that require in-person interviews for the first round no matter where the candidate is. That also depends on the role – typically lower level roles will do a phone screen first, but they definitely want to meet higher level candidates in person (like dean, AVP level).

      2. Sparrow*

        Most of my career has been in student affairs, and I’ve worked at four universities and interviewed at more, all across the country. The only interview process I’ve been part of as a candidate or interviewer that didn’t start with a first round phone or skype interview was for an internal promotion to a position that was pretty much created for me. If OP has had similar experiences, I don’t blame her for being taken a bit aback.

        That said, I agree that it’s not necessarily a red flag. If they’re in a large city, they may typically have enough local candidates that they’ve never really thought about the inconvenience factor, or the person arranging the interview might not’ve felt they had the authority to offer an alternative without discussing with the committee, or they’ve just always done hiring this way and haven’t thought to reassess. I think it’s definitely worth following Alison’s advice to see if something else is still possible but, personally, I’d pay close attention to the administrative culture of the office during the interview. There are lots of possible reasons the interview process is structured this way, and a couple of them could be reflections of a culture I, for one, wouldn’t want to work in.

      3. College Career Counselor*

        In my experience, most higher ed interviews will do a phone screen first, then invite few finalist candidates to campus for a half/full day interview process. The fact that they are bringing everyone in might mean that they’re rigid in the process, that they only have other local candidates, that they have very few applicants, or that they’re thoughtless.

      4. PopJunkie42*

        In my current higher ed job, my very first interview was a 4-hour meeting with about 20 different constituent groups (students, faculty, staff). It was kind of bonkers that they jumped straight into that, without even a phone screening, but being here now I think they were kind of desperate to get someone hired quickly and I definitely met all their requirements. They also didn’t call my references, which is a hiring practice I’m going to start up now that I’m here. There’s a bit of dysfunction but it’s mostly a good department. Some places are just bad at hiring or have their own priorities behind the scenes.

    2. LivingMyLife*

      I’m in higher ed and have seen everything from phone interview to Zoom as a screening interview. Normally, hiring teams are very accommodating, but it depends on what they normally are used to be doing. For my current job I didn’t even have an on campus interview, just two Zoom interviews. I had already visited the city and campus earlier in the year, so I knew what to expect. For me, it would have been a 12 hour drive one way – not really feasible. I would ask for a Zoom or Skype interview. Good luck!

    3. BRR*

      I wouldn’t say it’s just higher ed. When I’ve experienced this, it’s an employer with a hiring procedure that doesn’t have phone screens or does what should be done in a phone screen in person.

    4. beentheredonethat*

      Word of caveat… “higher ed” covers a lot of things. It could be an adjunct position, a faculty position, an administrator with a title, a secretary, a facilities manager. In some cases an in-person interview would be very appropriate, in other cases a phone screen would work out fine.

      The real hallmark of higher ed, in my experience, are old-fashioned and kludgy HR processes that take forever.

      1. Sparrow*

        In my experience, anyway, phone (and occasionally skype) interviews are the norm in first round interviews for student affairs positions, which is probably why OP was so thrown. The next round is ordinarily in person, though I’ve twice been offered student affairs jobs from universities that let me do my final interview over skype because I was in a different part of the country. (For one of those, I got the offer within about 3 weeks of submitting the application, and I was shocked that a university hiring process could move that fast, ha.)

    5. Dainty Lady*

      My husband had to fly across the country for a 90-minute first interview. It was awful and ridiculous. Fancy U must have spent so much money, just to hire their internal candidate.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      It’s not a red flag that they didn’t read your mind. I know you meant to alert them to the inconvenient distance by asking about hotels, but it could have easily been interpreted that you are eager to travel for the interview.

    7. Steggy Saurus*

      Yeah, kinda depends on the position too. It’s possible, given that OP5 is “a bit overqualified,” that it’s a low-enough level position that there is only one interview. It might be worth going back to the HR rep and asking if it’s a one- or two-round interview to determine whether or not pressing on the phone interview request is warranted. Just a thought…

      1. Hope*

        This is what I’m thinking. I know at my higher ed institution, phone screens are only done for faculty and director-level admin, unless the candidate pool for the staff position is AMAZING and you’re trying to whittle down. Staff positions are usually just one interview, and student affairs is almost always a staff job, not faculty.

        Fewer interviews is the only way you can somewhat thwart the “it takes forever to hire” problems of higher ed. This is not a red flag at all.

        1. Sarah N.*

          I agree with this. Faculty interviews or very high-level staff interviews at my institution are very lengthy affairs that would involve a separate phone call and then 1-2 days on campus, but lower-level staff positions are just one interview of 45-60 minutes. They might follow up with someone if there was really a need to, but mostly there would just be the one interview. I think OP would be at a significant disadvantage to have that one interview be over the phone, so it makes sense to travel if they’re truly interested in the job…I think this is just one of those things that sucks about trying to relocate by finding a new job first (versus moving and then job searching, which can be easier in a lot of ways, although obviously is also risky).

    8. Rach*

      Yep, I posted this below – at my university (in the UK so maybe slightly different) the norm is for one one-hour interview plus maybe an Excel test or something for professional services staff, with no phone screen. Obviously the process is different for academics. We do sometimes do Skype interviews but not that often.

      1. sacados*

        Well, I think it probably makes a big difference that you’re in the UK– if only from a logistical perspective since there aren’t a whole lot of places in the UK that are 6 hours drive away from each other!

        1. Helena*

          Mate, it can take six hours just to drive across London if the traffic’s bad. There are plenty of places more than six hours drive away from each other.

    9. Bunny Girl*

      Yep I saw this attitude in higher ed. too. I had one associate director that couldn’t believe that people wouldn’t fly halfway across the country with a week’s notice on their own dime to take a job that paid just over 29k a year. He said it showed they weren’t really committed to getting the job. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to live where some of these people’s head is at.

      1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

        I wouldn’t expect anyone to fly across the country to interview for a job paying $29k but I also would much prefer a local candidate for a job at that level and wouldn’t really see it as the kind of job someone would move across the country for in the first place.

        1. Veronica*

          It would be only if they wanted to move there anyway for other reasons like their spouse has a job there, or they have family or friends there or want to live there for some other reason.

        2. Yes I'm a consultant*

          Also, on the business world a week’s notice is plenty of time for a cross country trip. I’ve just been told I’m taking a 10 hour flight for work om Sunday!

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I’m a hard agree with Alison on this one. It sounds like this is someone who really doesn’t want the job he was hired for and who lacks the sense to realize how to get the job he wants. Entering a new job with this massive chip on your shoulder, going out of your way to be unhelpful, and immediately asking how to get out of the job you’re in are all significant red flags. Put all together? It sounds like a disaster.

    Alison’s script is right on, since it gives him a chance to realize how much he’s sabotaging himself. But I think it’s important to come up with identifiable performance metrics so that you don’t allow him to linger if this is not a mutually beneficial situation.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      Yeah, sounds as if he is both very inexperienced working with others and entitled. A very blunt talk is in order; if that doesn’t work cut your losses and find someone else.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Ideally, when he’s 40 this will be the first of the hard knocks that turned him into the responsible adult he is today. He’ll post on AAM about the ridiculous attitude he brought to his first job and what he learned when they promptly fired him.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          Unfortunately I don’ think he’s fresh out. If he applied for a mid-level, he probably has some years of experience, just not enough actual experience to qualify for the position.

          1. LunaLena*

            I wouldn’t be too sure of that. There are definitely some college grads out there who think they’re so exceptional (if they were top of their class, for example, or if they got an advanced degree) that they think they’re ready for a management or mid-level position right out of the gate. I knew one who had a degree in museum studies, and was planning to be the curator of a specific type of museum in a specific part of the US. He wasn’t willing to settle for anything less than a high level position that would put him on a fast-track to being a curator, which was why he had been mostly unemployed for a couple of years. His fiancee (who was my co-worker) took care of the bills. I asked her if maybe he should at least volunteer at the kinds of museums he wanted to work at, and she said he refused to do anything of the sort because he had to keep his schedule open in case someone called to offer him his dream job.

            1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              I’m with you. A few years ago Boss hired a young man with no experience in our field, although a couple of years in a related field. Boss took an instant liking to him and put him in a lead slot, but he didn’t do too well in it. (In fairness, Boss gets no points for making expectations clear to anyone.) I think he was glad when the lead slot rotated to someone else. Within a year, he applied for a job that was higher level (though not management to) Boss’s. I’m surprised they even interviewed him, but I’ll bet it set up the expectation he at least had a chance. Of course the job went to a much more seasoned and experienced executive type. Young man left within a year for a job with a competitor that was a little bit higher level than the one he left, and we heard within 6 months that he wasn’t there anymore.

              OP doesn’t say what “help” the entry-level hire is expected to provide to the midlevel team member. Is the entry level acting as an assistant, or is he expected to do the same work midlevel is doing? That can be touchy, depending on how it’s done. Hiring someone for a lower level position and then expecting the benefit of higher level skills you aren’t recognizing isn’t a good way to treat anyone. If this is preparing them for promotion, that needs to be spelled out. Hiring an editor and a proofreader, for example, and expecting the proofreader to do editorial as well with no clearcut upward path wouldn’t go over well.

    2. Kendra*

      I’d even go so far as to assume this isn’t going to work out, and from there decide what he would need to show you to change your mind (which should definitely include helping all of his coworkers!!). Then, lay that out for him, and ask if that’s something he’s able/willing to do. If the answer is anything but “yes,” take him at his word, and let him go; it’s kinder to both of you that way. You won’t have to deal with a massive morale problem, and he won’t be stuck in a job he thinks is beneath him, growing more and more frustrated.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        I would just cut him loose at this point. This is not a good hire and there WILL be more problems.

        1. Senor Montoya*

          Maybe. If he’s young or newish to the work world, though, I’d go with Kendra’s advice.

          1. pally*

            Agreed. If he can get his act together and become a good employee that is better than going through the hiring process again. But don’t let things go too long.

            1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

              On the other hand, if LW lets him go now, they may be able to just go back to their candidate pool and talk to some of the runner-up choices. Whereas if they wait they’re more likely to have to go through a whole new process.

        2. Josie*

          This person is BAD NEWS. I would cut him loose NOW. Not to sound all crazy/paranoid, but he sounds like he might be *real* trouble down the road if he is exhibiting this much hostility at the first meeting. I am DYING to know what his references said…I sensing there’s a foisting going on! (SEE: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 9, ep 1)

      2. vlookup*

        I like this! I think this mental framing would help OP be really clear about the seriousness of the problem.

      3. AuroraLight37*

        I think this is probably the best approach. It makes it crystal clear what he’s got to be doing, and if he won’t do it, then I’d look for someone else who isn’t going to be a little rain cloud of resentment in the office.

    3. snowglobe*

      This sounds to me like he thinks if he just gets his ‘foot in the door’ then he can leverage that into a shot at the job he wants. I’ve seen plenty of advice that suggests that strategy. But once he realizes that he’s not going to get the other job for a while, he will definitely start looking elsewhere (he may even still be interviewing with other companies). I would not be surprised if he leaves pretty quickly, even if the LW doesn’t fire him.

      1. Observer*

        The “foot in the door” advice is not great, but you wouldn’t expect it to lead to this behavior. Because the idea is that you get your foot inthe door then show them how AWESOME you are. You don’t do that by acting like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

        I also would NOT wait for him to leave on his own. What makes you think he’s going to find a job that he considers fitting for him any time soon?

        1. Veronica*

          When I was young and clueless I didn’t understand the details of the “foot in the door” thing, and he might not either. I’ve also seen others who didn’t understand this.

        2. Massmatt*

          Yeah I can’t remember whose rags-to-riches story it was (Carnegie?) but someone went from shoe-shine boy to mail-room gopher to sales and wound up being a huge captain of industry. The point of his story was not that he just did the menial jobs with half-assed resentment, it’s that he worked hard to exceed expectations with every job so wherever he went people saw he was capable of more. I bet Andrew Carnegie gave a great shoe shine!

          1. Wintermute*

            the Peter Principle can work for you if your natural competence goes all the way up to the boardroom.

    4. Banana Pancakes*

      Yup, this sounds squarely like a situation where, “Slow to hire, quick to fire” seems appropriate.

    5. RC Rascal*

      Take advantage of the probationary period and cut your losses. This will not get better. Plus, it is going to take a lot of your energy to manage this guy.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        Yes. I’d add that if OP 1’s employee is refusing to help people on a higher level, I wonder what the employee thinks “work” is.

      2. oh yikes.*

        This 100%. I’d say start being very clear and direct right now about what you expect in terms of tasks, attitude, and collaboration. Lay out some clear benchmarks and expectations that can be reviewed right before the end of the probationary period. And keep your standards high. Unless he does a complete 180, I’d be prepared to cut him loose.

        I feel like this sounds so cold, but really you’re doing yourself and your whole team a disservice if you don’t nip it in the but. I’ve worked at orgs that just pass negative employees around or let them fly under the radar…it’s toxic and dysfunctional, sets managers up for a tough road, and is very unfair to the high-performing employees you actually want to keep on your team.

        1. JayNay*

          I wonder if OP was clear on why the employee was not hired for the higher-level position. It sounds like they interviewed jointly for both jobs, and maybe new employee thinks he got short-shifted with the lower level role.
          OP said that the other candidate has “more soft skills” than this person and therefore was more suited to the higher role. For the lower level employee that may not be obvious. So to him it could look like he was offered a lower level job even though he’s just as qualified as the other person, and now he’s expected to help that other person out on top of that. Honestly, I’d be put off by that too.
          So do make sure you communicate clearly to him why he was hired for X and not Y, and what he needs to succeed in X.

    6. Matilda Jefferies*

      Same. I was involved in hiring a person like this once, and it was a disaster. She applied for a library tech job with a Master’s degree, then when she got the job she made sure everyone knew how massively overqualified she was. She resented having to report to me – we’re the same age, and I have the same degree she does – even though this was made clear in the interview. She resented having to do library tech work, which she saw as beneath her – although again, it was clear throughout the process that this was the job, and certainly nobody forced her to apply or accept it.

      In her first week, she made the other library tech cry. In her second week, she tried to get her position reclassified, and refused to take instruction from me or tell me what she was working on. I can’t remember how long she eventually lasted – certainly not more than a couple of months. I would anticipate the same outcome for you in your situation. You could have one serious conversation with him about the job requirements (including teamwork!), but I would start getting ready to terminate him regardless. Good luck!

        1. Hope*

          They can be, but daaaamn, it sounds like this person did everything she could to make it easy to fire her. Normally people like that have the sense to wait out their probationary period.

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            She actually quit, but I’m sure we would have fired her if she hadn’t – my boss was not the type of person to put up with that kind of crap! Also we weren’t actually a library, just an organization *with* a library. But she was pretty special, regardless…

    7. londonedit*

      Totally agree with PCBH here. I mean…isn’t half the point of a lower-level employee to support/help those higher up in the hierarchy? I have a lower-level employee on my team – I’m not her boss, but my job is at a higher level than hers, and while it’s not as if I’m constantly asking her to do things for me (and in reality we all support each other when we can) it’s still the case that if I or anyone else on the team needs help with a project, part of her role involves providing that help. It would be hugely inappropriate if she were to refuse to help another member of the team.

      I could *maybe* understand it if this guy was the higher-up employee, and he was making a fuss about being asked to assist co-workers lower down in the hierarchy (still, it wouldn’t be great, but you could sort of understand where he’d be coming from in a ‘Hang on, I was hired as a Senior Teapot Maker, why am I being asked to help the assistants?’ sort of way) but as it is, he’s just making it look like he doesn’t want to do his job. His attitude is especially shocking seeing as he’s only been there a week.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        **I mean…isn’t half the point of a lower-level employee to support/help those higher up in the hierarchy?**

        Not necessarily. It depends on the job. We have staff who do client service and contract fulfillment, and they would not be ideal to “help” higher ups with whatever. Nor would we want them to, because they are needed to do what they were hired to do. Being in a lower level position does not make you someone’s assistant.

    8. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      OP #1, I think you should go back to him and ask to revisit the conversation. And then cry. If that’s how he thinks you should respond to a colleague disrespecting your time and good will, then there you go.

    9. Elle*

      I wonder if there wasn’t a clear, transparent conversation to begin with and he was under the impression that the midlevel position would stay open until he could move into it or something, or he’d be immediately put on a promotion track, instead of it being a possibility.

      Either way, I agree it’s a red flag since he won’t be happy in his role and isn’t willing to do what he needs to do to prove himself

    10. Horseshoe*

      But I don’t understand why OP was asking him to assist another new coworker if he *is* a lower level than that coworker. I get that it’s a bad reaction, but I’d be pissed too if I was hired as a junior and then immediately asked to help a senior. I think maybe I’m interpreting this differently than everyone else commenting here though–I suppose OP just wanted them to both work on the same project, but my first thought was that the employee was sort of told “Hey, senior doesn’t know how to do X, can you help them with it?”

      I worked at a place where we hired someone with less experience than me who was constantly having junior staff do his work for him. It was terrible.

      1. Librarian1*

        I’m guessing it’s a position where they’re doing the same type of work and maybe even working on the same projects, but the junior level person is doing lower-level tasks and the mid-level person is doing mid-level tasks. It’s possible to assist someone and not be doing the same level of work they are doing.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        In my organization, every new hire goes through some generic training regardless of level. We are a specialized field and there’s a basic level of knowledge about our work that you cannot acquire from outside. The new hires go through together as a “class” regardless of what job function they are ultimately destined for.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        This really depends on the roles. Plenty of junior and senior people work on the same things on my team. They’re expected to have the same base level skills, but the senior person also has other higher level skills (or may just be faster at doing some things). There may be many tasks where anyone could do it and who takes it depends on workload or other factors. If suddenly something came up that was time sensitive and only the senior person could do, but they had been working on something anyone could do, the “anyone” task is going to get bumped to a junior person. That’s normal and not indicative of the junior person doing senior work. It’s just distribution.
        Plus they’ve both been there a week, so probably neither is fully ramped up on either of their jobs yet. They’re probably both doing softball stuff and learning the processing specific to this employer. So one helping the other – one week in – probably has very little to do with skills they came in the door with and more to do with “you’re both new and doing new people things”.
        What you described is a problem, but doesn’t sound like what’s happening with the OP’s staff, or even if it might happen, it’s too soon to tell at this point if that’s the case. Plus the junior employee’s got a chip on his shoulder is he brustling one week in.

  3. Maria Lopez*

    OP#1- It sounds like you hired this person at entry level but then had him training at mid-level skills and expecting him to help the person you hired at the same time at a higher level and presumably higher pay. Can you clarify a little more why this person is expected to help someone who should already be more skilled? Are these “soft skills” better social skills?
    Just taking the letter as is I can see why you AND the new employee are not happy.

    1. OneWomansOpinion*

      I’ve never heard of only having to help colleagues who are less skilled or paid lower than you. I mean, we don’t know exactly what the “help” was, but openly refusing to help a colleague at any level is insane. Being collegial is a baseline expectation even at the entry level.

      1. Lady Kelvin*

        In fact, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t expect a more junior person to help the more senior person. In my world, the senior person leads the project and the junior person assists. Otherwise you end up with the junior person doing higher level work.

          1. whingedrinking*

            At first I read that as “assassinating” and I thought, “Wow, you guys must deal with some complex problems if murder is the best solution…”

        1. Parenthesis Dude*

          It depends on what he’s being asked to do. If he’s doing asked to do lower level work and in that way help out the mid-level employee, then not doing that should get him fired. If he’s being asked to do the hard work because the mid-level employee can’t do it, then I understand where he’s coming from. Especially if the mid-level employee is doing less than him.

          Of course, refusing to do the work is a good way to get in trouble. But if you’re doing more than an entry level person should be able to do, I’m not sure whether it would be cutting off your nose to spite your face to fire him.

          1. Observer*

            Any time someone *refuses* to do the work, you have a problem. The problem here is not that he’s saying “I can’t do thins stuff, it’s too complicated”, in which case you’d really want to think about what’s reasonable and realistic. He is saying “I WILL not – unless you give me what I want.”

            Nope to the nth degree. I don’t care how good his technical skills are. People like that are TROUBLE – in bold and with sparks flying.

            1. Maria Lopez*

              The problem is that the letter is unclear and only from the OP’s point of view. Of course, the OP is the one in charge, so that is important, but I get the feeling it is not a case of the new hire being as over the top bad as it seems. Especially if the new hire really is mid-level in skills and the OP just didn’t have the budget to hire two mid-level employees so is justifying it by saying that soft skills are lacking.

              1. Observer*

                You are making up a lot of stuff that is not indicated in the letter. It doesn’t really matter WHY the OP chose the hire Junior into that role – the fact is that Junior accepted it and is not refusing to do the work because they want a better role. That’s just unacceptable.

                As it happens, the OP has added some information, which really indicates that Junior is major trouble.

              2. Kt*

                I have to say, the letter writer’s description indicates some of the many ways that soft skills are lacking. Someone with soft skills would help cheerfully, document all the good work they’re doing, make a case in three months for a promotion or more interesting projects, cultivate relationships with other teams, and be moving up in no time. Refusing to help and asking about a promotion without demonstrating any competence… Yeah.

                1. Yes I'm a consultant*

                  You seem to equate “soft skills” with being a doormat. Should a woman being sexually harassed accept that treatment “cheerfully”?

                2. Librarian1*

                  How is accepting a lower-level position and then refusing to do any work “being a doormat” or at all the same as sexual harassment?

                3. somanyquestions*

                  Consultant- I have no idea how you could possibly leap so far to get to that conclusion. Wow.

                4. Anonapots*

                  @ Consultant I had no idea that being a person who works well with their team is the same as being a doormat. I have been doing this wrong the entire time.

                5. Kt*

                  Yes I’m a consultant, I’m a woman in STEM. I’m giving the advice that has worked for me. I don’t understand how documenting my successes, advertising them to my bosses & the C-suite, making sure my name comes up when discussing our big projects, etc is being a doormat. Am I supposed to punch someone instead? Talk shit about people? Be belligerent?

                  I prefer being good at what I do and being respected for it.

              3. Massmatt*

                ALL letters are from the OP’s point of view, it is a basic truism of letters to advice columnists. We are asked not to second-guess facts as presented.

            2. catsup*

              i disagree with this. if it’s work for a higher position, work in addition to what’s expected i think it makes sense to refuse if you’re not being properly compensated. for example, if it’s a task that usually falls to mid level employees but the entry level employee is being asked to take it on(not just once or twice to assist), that’s an issue. is the entry level employee being paid the same as the mid level employee during training? if not, i can understand why he’d be reluctant to devote time and effort away from to help the mid level employee(there should be another person the mid level employee could turn to and i’d expect the mid level employee to provide guidance not the other way around)

              because if the employee was hired for a lower position but is doing a lot of work delegated to other roles, he might see it as being underpaid and not valued.

              1. Sarah N.*

                But this person JUST STARTED. How would he even know what the typical work is for his position or anyone else’s?

            3. Parenthesis Dude*

              Based on the OPs later info, I agree that there’s an issue. But you know, it sucks when you’re in the situation where you’re better than the guys ranked higher and still getting paid less. I wouldn’t do what he did, but I can understand the desire to do so.

              1. Anonapots*

                Based on what? The two people had two different skill sets and each position needed different skill sets so they offered the two different positions to the people whose skill sets most closely matched what they needed. I’m not sure how you’re getting junior employee is better at job than senior employee, but didn’t get the position.

              2. Sacred Ground*

                There is nothing in the letter that indicates the junior worker is better at anything than the senior worker. The letter says the opposite in fact, that their tech skills are roughly the same but that the senior worker has other skills (call them “soft skills” or call them leadership skills) that the junior worker lacks. Junior worker is expected to “help” the senior worker, which could be anything from helping them with an unfamiliar program, to doing menial data entry while senior does coding, to doing the coding so that senior can focus on other goals. In the end, it doesn’t matter: you’re on a team, you do what you can for the team. Want an early promotion? Do the work and show you deserve it. Don’t just demand it as your due. And don’t even ask when you’ve been on the job for ONE WEEK.

                Dude was offered and accepted a lower role on this team than the one he applied for. Dude is, only one week into this role, refusing to do the work the team requires of him and is already looking for a way out of this role (asking about promotion, to shadow an unrelated team). This is, again, ONE week into the current role. OP would be best advised to let this fool go and hire one of the people who applied for THIS job, presumably they actually want THIS job and will be willing to perform the work of THIS job.

        2. Door Guy*

          If they started at the same time and there is base knowledge that needs to be imparted, it can make some sense. I started the same day as another worker in a position 2-3 levels below mine, and we had some joint training where he assisted me in learning parts of the computer system because my training track had me learning other things first, while his jumped straight into our computer programs as that is where he will do most of his work.

          I also got to train 2 of the owners on a new proposal system as it launched 3 weeks after I started, so I got tasked with figuring out how it all works (it is VERY different than our old one) and then once I had a firm grasp they brought me in to show them how it works.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, this is more the type of thing I was picturing. I see a lot of comments talking about how they would be irritated about doing a bunch of higher level work, but this guy’s only been there a week! He can’t have done much work at all yet let alone a ton of stuff at a higher level.

      2. Zip Silver*

        I can see why the employee is irritated. OP completely glosses over the details, but it sounds like the junior employee is better at the technical skills than the senior employee. As a Millennial, I’ve been one of the main people that my GenX and Boomer direct coworkers lean on when we make technology changes, which I’m fine with because they’re colleagues and I’m on the same pay band. If I were being hired at the same time as somebody else and got passed over got a job in favor of a Boomer who needed constant help with the technical aspects of the job? I’d be very irritated.

        Then again, if it’s something like sales where soft skills are the most important thing, OP’s choice make sense.

        1. Ico*

          I really didn’t read it as him being better, but more that they were both being trained in something new at the same time and the OP wanted them to work together and help each other.

          1. Zip Silver*

            Like I said, OP completely glosses over the details. We’re supposed to take letter writers at their word, but there wasn’t a whole lot of word to take.

            However, I have a hard time imagining somebody announcing, unprompted, that they will not help out a coworker. If I were a betting man, I’d reckon that OP asked the junior employee to help the senior employee with the technical skills, and the junior employee pushed back.

            1. Lance*

              From how I’m reading the letter, OP seems to be saying that they have the same level of technical skills; the now higher-level co-worker just had better soft skills (which… well, judging by this particular hire’s behavior, I can’t say I’m surprised). I’d personally be more willing to bet that the help was with some work in general so the higher-level co-worker can prioritize other things, as others suggest.

            2. Antilles*

              I’d reckon that OP asked the junior employee to help the senior employee with the technical skills, and the junior employee pushed back.
              Even if you’re right, this is still a serious problem.
              First off, this is fairly normal. I’m in a technical field (engineering) and it’s often true that the junior employee is better on a raw technical level or with the current software than a more senior employee. But beyond entry-level, it’s never about raw technical skills – the more senior roles have all sorts of other things that go into it like project management, dealing with clients, etc.
              Secondly, the whole point of a team is to share knowledge and have different skills. You don’t get to say “this is my expertise and I will not share it”. Especially since he would presumably be getting training from more senior people on the non-technical side of things over time too.

              1. suzy q*

                LOL! You *shouldn’t* get to say “this is my expertise and I will not share it” but somehow there are employees out there being allowed to do exactly this. And then the solution from above? Sharing expertise pitched as a mentoring opportunity so that maybe they’ll come around…

              2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                Not sharing expertise isn’t exclusive to technical skills. I’ve worked with more than one information hoarded who wouldn’t tell you anything just to protect their personal fiefdom. So if Mary’s out sick and the main client needs help, where’s the file? If Joe’s on vacay and a maintenance issue comes up, who’s the correct vendor?

            3. Lillibet*

              Well, I’ve had plenty of experiences with a certain type of person, usually a male from a middle-class background, who thinks they are better than they are and should automatically be in the leadership track from the time they leave college.

              I can very easily see that this man expected that he should just automatically get the better job and is unwilling to budge b/c he feels slighted.

              If I were a betting woman, I’d lay serious money down that it was young male entitlement rather than a junior-senior skills gap.

              Also, I’ve seen plenty of times where the skills the junior thought they had over the senior weren’t important.

              Finally, one can learn technical skills a lot quicker than one can learn soft skills. Companies are now realizing that and putting more “promising” young candidates in leadership track over more senior people with technical skills and no potential to develop soft skills and management skills.

              So, just b/c junior might have a technical skill and senior doesn’t, that doesn’t mean junior should not be junior. We have zero idea what the company values most in these positions.

              1. AKchic*

                I had the same thoughts. You cannot discount soft skills in leadership positions. Yes, they need technical skills, but technical skills can be learned. Soft skills are something that aren’t always so easily attained.

            4. Ro*

              I agree. If they did say flat out no then Alison’s response is spot on. But what if what they really expressed was hesitation or confusion.

              Ok, you just hired someone else at a higher level (so clearly they are more experienced) but you want me to train them. Huh??

              1. Observer*

                There is absolutely nothing in what the OP wrote to back that. They are BOTH being trained by SOMEONE ELSE and the OP, separately, want Junior to help Senior. Both of these are perfectly normal. Anyone who is going to push back and say “I’m not doing that” is trouble.

              2. Anonapots*

                Y’all might need to go back and read the letter again. It says nowhere that the lower level employee is training the higher level employee.

              3. PollyQ*

                A person in a higher-level role most likely has a variety of experiences, skills, and aptitudes that the lower-level one lacks. That the lower-level employee is asked to help to train the higher one in one particular area does not mean that the higher-level one shouldn’t have her job, nor that the lower-level one “deserves” a better position.

                (And once we introduce “what if” into the letter, we can assume anything at all, to the point of meaninglessness.)

            5. Summertime*

              Regardless of the details of junior and senior employee’s technical skill levels, I think the red flag is the way junior employee handled the pushback. It wasn’t in a respectful way. If senior employee were in fact weaker in a skill than junior employee, junior employee could have said “In training, I noticed that I seem to have more experience with Skill A than Senior Employee and that he may require more support than a senior employee normally would on this particular skill. What is your expectation when it comes to the level of support I need to provide to Senior Employee on Skill A?”

              This way, Junior Employee is pointing out that Senior Employee may have a deficit that is unexpected for someone his level, will require additional training or support to get to a higher level, and initates a discussion of how feasible it would be for Junior Employee to be supporting Senior Employee all the time when the assumption is that Senior Employee can be self sufficient.

              But what Junior Employee actually did is put his foot down immediately that he can’t support a teammate.

            6. Observer*

              Even if you are right, it’s utterly and completely inappropriate. You do NOT get to decide who you are going to help and how much skill they need to have to “deserve” your help.

              Think about this – if he had written in and said “I’m annoyed that I was hired at a lower level than my coworker, but I need to help him with this technical stuff. I’m refusing to help him till the boss promotes me. How do I get through to my boss how unfair this is?”

              What do you think Allison would tell him. First and foremost, she’d be telling him to DO HIS JOB. More kindly than that, but pretty clearly. And she’d also point out that being collegial and helpful is PART OF THE JOB. Again, without the caps and all. But still.

            7. Aquawoman*

              You’re ignoring a lot of what the LW said. I don’t see the answer changing much even if you took out the refusal to help a colleague. He asked to be promoted immediately, was “shocked” that it would take a year, wants to shadow another group, and is generally being utterly clear that he has zero interest in this job. It is a pretty persistent problem the way people with technical skills think they should be promoted on technical skills alone, when often mid-level positions require working with people, and that’s why you need to be able to work with people, an ability this guy does not appear to have.

            8. Anonapots*

              OP doesn’t “gloss over” anything. She provides the relevant facts. Something you should be very careful about is how important soft skills are in all jobs. ALL jobs. Because soft skills aren’t only about how you interact with your clients, they’re also about how you interact with your coworkers. I cannot even begin to tell you how many hiring managers I’ve spoken to as part of my work who specifically call out soft skills as the #1 thing they find applicants are lacking and the #1 thing they worry about for new hires. Soft skills cover a very broad range of things, including, but not limited to, walking into your boss’ office your first week on the job and telling them you won’t help the person they hired for the position you wanted and announcing you won’t help them and you want a promotion.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          It can also be the case where both the junior and senior position have the same technical requirements, but the senior one also involves client facing duties, or managing people or projects, or greater responsibility and judgement. So it’s completely possible that the junior employee is equally qualified for the technical part (or even better than the other employee), but not qualified for the non-technical parts.

          And the thing is – he accepted the junior position. He could have told the company that he wasn’t interested in it, but once he accepted the position he needed to do the job he was hired for in a reasonably pleasant fashion. Refusing to do things, visibly sulking because he didn’t get the job he wanted, and immediately campaigning for a transfer are all evidence that his soft skills really are dreadful and he can’t be trusted in his current job, let alone the more senior position.

          1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

            “He accepted the junior position”
            That’s the strange part! If he really believed the junior position to be below him, he shouldn’t have accepted it. If he accepted because he had no other options… that would be a clear signal that it’s not the right moment to be difficult. Clear for a reasonable person, at least.

            1. pally*

              Maybe he thought that, once on board, management would quickly realize their “mistake” and promote him to where he “should” be job-wise.
              Seen that one before.

              1. Observer*

                You would think that if that’s what he’s after, he’d try his best to really be a shining light. You know, get everyone talking about how AWESOME he is and isn’t it a shame we didn’t hire him for a better position. Sulking and being difficult and uncooperative is NOT a good way to get what you want.

          2. RC Rascal*

            The employee is demonstrating a lack of judgement, lack of organizational savvy, & issues with self awareness. These are all skills that develop with time & are necessary for higher level roles.

          3. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

            RC Rascal put it well too. ^^
            He clearly took the job because he thought if he got his foot in the door, he was all set. There’s also no requirement that he be promoted after only a year, just that’s the first opportunity. For every day he sulks and fails to perform up to basic expectations at this lower level, he delays his promotion. It’s like dressing for the job you want. He needs to dress his mind as well. If he can’t see that he has to impress people with performance and not just his existence, he won’t last long anywhere.

            1. EPLawyer*

              Oh I love this “He needs to dress his mind as well. ” Such very good advice for ANYONE. Inner and outer prep.

          4. Ro*

            Yes he accepted the junior position. But nobody said he’d have to train the senior person. If I was him, it would make wayyyyy more sense for me to be learning from the senior person.

            1. Ughhhhh*

              Nowhere in the letter does it say the junior hire was asked to train the senior hire. It just says they both attended the same training (pretty common with on-boarding in many institutions… they are probably getting familiar with the company’s software)… and separately that the junior hire refuses to ‘help‘ (which I read as report to… or do work delegated to them from) the senior hire.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Yes, I don’t get where people are thinking the junior is supposed to train the senior? Nor is there anything like “junior has to assist senior because otherwise senior can’t do his job.” People are reading a whole lot into the letter that isn’t there. It’s perfectly normal for a junior person to assist someone more senior, and that doesn’t usually involve the junior person having to show the senior how to do his or her job. That’s how hierarchies work.

                1. londonedit*

                  Exactly. I work with someone who has ‘assistant’ in their job title. I do not have ‘assistant’ in my job title. I’m not their boss, but my role is at a higher level than theirs. Part of their job is assisting the team, and that means assisting me, and if they had a problem with that, it would be extremely odd.

              2. Joielle*

                Yuuuup. I think people are really projecting their own experiences! I get that it could be frustrating, as a junior person, to feel like you know how to do the job better than a senior person, but that is not at all the situation here.

              3. LCH*

                same, i read “help” as in do tasks the more senior employee might not have time to do because they are working on more senior stuff.

            2. Observer*

              It would be nice if you didn’t make stuff up. Nowhere does the OP say that he’s training the more senior guy, and nothing that the OP says even implies it.

              1. londonedit*

                I think the confusion is coming from the ‘I had them doing the initial training together’ line, but that doesn’t say the junior guy was training the more senior one. I read it as ‘we sent them both to our initial training session’, and I’m guessing OP1 now thinks maybe the more junior employee was pissed off about that because he took it to mean his skills were the same as the guy at the higher level. ‘Hey wait, if we’re both doing the same training, how come I only got the crappy junior job??’

                1. Joielle*

                  Yeah, this. I imagine they have some sort of “new hire orientation” training that both of them attended. Which makes perfect sense! Both employees are new to the company and presumably need to start from scratch with some company-specific information, or maybe it’s just more efficient to have them do the same training even if the more senior person already knows some of it.

                  The senior employee has better soft skills, so will end up doing higher level work, maybe more client facing or something. But they both need basic training to start with.

                  I don’t think this is unusual or hard to understand, I think the junior guy is just an entitled jerk (and maybe sexist – the OP commented that the junior one is a man and senior is a woman). Personally, I’d give him one serious conversation about his expectations, and if he didn’t make a 180 degree attitude adjustment after that, I’d get rid of him… but I’m particularly disinclined to deal with entitled dudes, so YMMV.

          5. AuroraLight37*

            Exactly. He took the position on his own. Now he’s mad he can’t automagically convert it into the position he wants less than two weeks after starting.

          6. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            One could reasonably ask how the junior position was presented to him when he accepted it. We’ve seen plenty of postings here from people who accept Job A and find they’re being shuttled into Job B and saying “this isn’t what I signed up for. I accepted a junior teapot polisher job but they have me doing midlevel teapot polishing while telling me I’m not qualified for that job.” If the entry level is designed to lead into midlevel, is there a clear path for that?

            1. Sarah N.*

              I mean, it sounds like there’s a path, but this guy is expecting the path to be accellerated to the extreme. OP made it clear that promotions could be considered after a year, and the employee apparently balked at that. I feel like it’s a perfectly normal policy to have employees not transfer/be promoted for a year after their initial hire. It doesn’t mean there’s no path to advancement, it just means the company actually needs people doing the junior-level work and can’t have employees only willing to do it for 2 months before they want to jump to something “bigger and better.”

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I agree with you ZS.

          In my first years working there were many, many times where *I* had to train the new boss. This comes up often enough that it merits taking a second look. I never got compensated for training others. And basically my workload doubled as everything just took longer. The thanks I heard was “put up with it”.

          What companies fail to realize is that a sense of indebtedness builds up for the trainee. And sometimes, not always, that trainee can decide that they will never have equal footing with their trainer. There is always a sense of “I owe you for going out of your way. You never received any acknowledgement from the company. So that makes my sense of indebtedness even larger.” I had it happen several times where new bosses said, “I will never be your boss because YOU trained me. I will always feel that some how you are higher on the ladder than me.”

          Additionally, people realize they are being training by lower people and they can see this as a yellow flag.
          “Wait. The company just orders us to train random people without acknowledgement or additional pay/consideration?”

          OP, I understand you from the boss perspective, it looks like insubordination. But I also understand him, he has probably been through this a few times before and is very much aware of how companies use people in this regard.
          I used to push through it by feeling sorry for the new hire. The new hire deserved real training from someone with a perspective that was broader than mine. Instead, the new hire got me.

          I know this is not a popular opinion. However, I would like to point out that companies get what they pay for. Too many times low paid workers are left to train people who can be making significantly more than the trainer does. This leads to training gaps, resentments, a misplaced sense of indebtedness and many other issues that can be difficult to unravel later on when other problems come up.

          I remember walking into one job on my first day. I was to work with three people. I walked in the door and all three people said, “I am not training her. I don’t get paid for this.” No one even pointed to where I could put my coat, nor did they even say good morning. I almost walked out before I even started the job.
          But because of of my own experiences with lack of gratitude/acknowledgement from management, I actually understood these 3 cohorts. There is no way to account monetarily for the numbers of dollars wasted as I just made myself busy with something/anything before eventually someone decided, “Gee, maybe we ought to train this employee.”

          1. Let's Bagel*

            These are all fair points, and I’ve been in similar situations, but LW says that the junior level and mid level employee were hired and started at the same time and s/he has them doing training “together,” so it can’t be that the junior level employee is being asked to train the mid level employee in the way you’re describing.

          2. Lillibet*

            It’s very different if you are an established employee who was skipped over. That’s not the case here.

            This is a new hire when accepted this position knowing he would be junior.

            Practically on day one, he makes it clear he things he’s “above” the position he’s working in.

            This shows not only entitlement, but condescension towards LW and her ability to decide who is best in what roles.

            Your situation is actually apples and oranges.

          3. OneWomansOpinion*

            Unless you were working for free, I’m guessing you WERE compensated for “training” others. I don’t think spending a few hours showing a higher-up how to use, say, a computer program that you know like the back of your hand really merits a raise. It happens all the time that people at a lower level have certain technical skills that others lack. It also happens all the time that people are grossly under-compensated and that leads to resentment, of course it does! But tbh the people in your last paragraph sound like huge jerks and I’m guessing their attitudes held them back a ton.

            1. Colette*

              Agreed. Training other people to do a job you know how to do is a normal, expected part of many, many jobs – and resenting having to do it will (and should) hold you back.

            2. Yorick*

              I agree, those 3 people in the last paragraph were way out of line. And training a new employee is not at all something that should change your pay. Regularly leading a training for many employees might be an addition to your role that warrants a pay raise, but showing someone how to do something real quick and being the person to answer their questions is not.

            3. Washi*

              Totally agree. I’ve had to train multiple supervisors on both computer systems and on the specifics of the programs I was working on. But that doesn’t mean that I should be the boss! They always brought years and years of experience, an MBA/other higher degree, and leadership skills that I do not yet possess.

              I always took being asked to train as a huge compliment. For new high-level staff, it means that my boss thinks that I will represent the department the best. For training peers, it means my boss thinks I’m so great that she wants my peers to do things the way I do. Training was a way that I established myself as an informal leader and go-to person in my department, so while I didn’t get preemptive training raises, I did get raises later in part because I was seen as a subject matter expert.

            4. KayDeeAye (formerly Kathleen_A)*

              While I don’t have a truly technical job, I am nonetheless far more tech-savvy than my boss. I and other coworkers help her with technical stuff all the time. But so what? She’s the boss because she has other skills that I lack (including some that I have, to be honest, no intention of acquiring. I’ve been a people manager, I’m not very good at it, and I don’t like it.)

              And refusing to help a coworker? Flat-out refusing? That’s a firing offense right there. Since this guy sounds as though he’s pretty new to the workforce, I think I agree with those who’ve said he should be given a stern talking to, some lessons in Getting Along in the Workforce 101, and another chance to redeem himself. But if that doesn’t work, he needs to gooooooo.

              1. Sarah N.*

                Totally agree with this. I’ve regularly helped my boss with computer/technology stuff and it 1000% does not mean I am more qualified than her or that I should have her job. (For the record — she has way more experience, qualifications, etc. than me, and rightly so, as someone who has been in the business for decades longer.) Helping your boss figure out some stupid new software the company made everyone start using does NOT mean the boss is incompetent or that the person doing the “helping” is somehow uncompensated or undervalued.

            5. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yes, I am baffled by the number of people here who think that training coworkers should merit extra compensation. That is a very normal part of a job! Just as people should have helped to train you when you started. Unless you are an hourly employee and this training puts you into overtime I would never expect that helping to get your coworkers up to speed should come with extra money.

              When I got a new manager once I had to train her on what I worked on as it was something she didn’t have any experience with and she would have to learn it to be able to review it. Did that mean I could do her job? Of course not! It means I was good at *my* job, and understanding what I do would be part of her job so I needed to help her with that. Did it mean I should get extra compensation? No, it was just a normal part of my job. In the end she was one of my favorite managers.

          4. beentheredonethat*

            Too often, people get “cast” in jobs rather than hired carefully. When a lower-level employee is expected to be able to magically fill in the technical or competency gaps of a higher-up employee, that means that the people who were responsible for hiring for these jobs, don’t really have a handle on the jobs themselves. All they know is they need an assistant director who reports to the director and that Annie seems to have the exact look-and-feel of someone who should fill (their limited conception of) the role of Assistant Director. If Assistant Director Annie is really supposed to know and be comfortable with Program X as part of her duties, that needs to be in the job description, not just assumed. And not just shoved off onto her secretary (also not in the secretarty’s job description).

            This happens all the time, but usually it’s women employees who are being asked to cover this skills gap, and women tend not to complain. When young white males get put into this position, they WILL complain.

            Not saying that this particular employee doesn’t need to be let go… but there’s a huge amount of shadow work that goes on in any organization that never appears in the job descriptions of Assistant Director OR secretary.

            1. Colette*

              Sometimes the critical skills for the job are not the technical ones, and it makes more sense to have someone else do the technical part of the job, even if they didn’t do it for the last person in the job. Job descriptions are not unchanging lists of duties – the work will move around as the people in ht jobs change.

          5. CupcakeCounter*

            I legit got hired for my first post-college job because I had experience with the system being implemented that the existing employees did not. This was a very junior, entry level position and I became the super-user, trained my whole team as well as several people we work with regularly, and wrote the process documents for my team.
            And they trained me on thousands of other things.
            Helping and training colleagues, both junior and senior, has been apart of every job I’ve ever had. When dealing with custom systems, industry nuances, etc…there isn’t any other way to train than with people who are currently working in the system and doing the job. All this push back that coworkers shouldn’t be training and helping each other is shocking to me.

            1. Door Guy*

              I’m the acknowledged “expert” on our new proposal and estimating system that came out shortly after I started. I basically had to piece together and trial and error my way through since my computer didn’t even HAVE the old system on it (it was ordered and set up after I started). Thankfully for me, I didn’t have a lot of super tight deadlines requiring it, as well as times specifically set aside for expanding knowledge on it. I’ve had to train people who have been at the company 20 years+ simply because it is so much different than the old system even if all of the entry fields are the same(ish).

              *It basically went from a 2-page system where page 1 was just putting in all your estimate info and page 2 was filling in the proposal fields, to a website that requires navigation, everything has it’s own page, or tab, or drop down, and can end up doing tons of backtracking through menus and pages you were already in if you miss something. This was pushed out by the company we work for, nothing we asked for.

            2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              *And they trained me on thousands of other things.*

              I’m sorry to say this doesn’t happen everywhere. It frequently isn’t a two-way street of everyone sharing so everyone can get ahead.

          6. Emily K*

            The story in your last example, I’m wondering – was this a retail/service job of some kind? I kinda get that vibe because I could have totally seen that happening when I walked into Pizza Place or Funky Clothing Shop on my first day, the manager is the manager of the whole store and is maybe not that organized and so the first people you see when you walk in the door are 3 front-line employees. Whereas my office jobs, my manager would have just been the manager of my team, so they’d hopefully be expecting me and not as likely to be busy putting out a fire as a store manager would be, and they’d be the one to greet me and orient me/set expectations for the day before I met any of my colleagues.

            In the retail/service world, “trainer” really is a distinct role with higher pay, usually a stepping stone to a salaried manager position. Because the service work is largely unskilled and training is skilled work, there’s a clear divide where trainers fall on the management side of the divide vs the rank and file employee side of the job. Minimum wage employees are virtually never expected to do skilled work, including training, without being bumped up a few dollars to some kind of lead role.

            In a majority of white collar jobs, even entry-level roles are skilled work, so when you ask an entry-level employee to teach a higher-grade employee something, you’re not asking them to take on skilled work that is categorically more advanced and valuable work than their core duties. You’re just asking them to exercise a different skill set that has roughly the same monetary value as your core job.

          7. Observer*

            You seem to have had some really bad experiences. Refusing to even show someone where to put their coat is NOT a reasonable reaction to ANYTHING you have described.

            In any case, none of that is relevant here. The fact is that there is NO indication whatsoever that the Junior guy is training the senior. On the contrary, the OP makes it clear that they are BOTH being trained by another person.

          8. Aquawoman*

            Wow, grateful for my team. I lost several staff in the spring, essentially doubling their workload and now they are very active in helping train our new employee, and I have never once heard them say any of this is not their job or they’re not paid for it (although I did get them a small bonus).

          9. vlookup*

            I didn’t get from the letter that the junior employee was training the more senior employee, but even if that were the case, that seems really normal to me! I have trained a new manager before and in my current job I had my direct report train me on a lot of our department’s processes.

            I see this as a sign of respect rather than an imposition: I wanted to communicate to my report that I trusted her expertise (she had been there awhile and had a lot of valuable institutional knowledge!), and use the training as an opportunity to learn about her work style, pain points I might be able to address, etc. It seems bizarrely insecure for a manager to feel like they couldn’t manage someone who had trained them.

          10. Sacred Ground*

            I don’t get that. If training new people is part of the job, then that’s the job. If one feels one isn’t fairly compensated for their job duties, go find another job. Don’t just refuse to do the job and expect to keep it.

        4. LKW*

          I have a team of people younger than me, I regularly ask them for help with technical things, grunt work things, preparing plans and presentations, all sorts of work. I also am the one that navigates the work with the client and says “no” where my junior team members can’t do that as easily. I help the client focus on the task at hand instead of going off in all directions. The soft side is not just sales, it’s cat herding, negotiation, escalation and a ton of collaboration. I do a lot of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” where I need a sever bounced or a report reviewed asap and I’ll have my team throw in a change control for free.

          A tech team that can’t communicate, negotiate and collaborate rarely delivers what the client wants. If I have a team member that can’t function as a team member – I’m not keeping that person around.

          1. LQ*

            Soft skills are definitely critical. I work with technical folks, I’m often the least technical in the room. And the technical skills matter tremendously. It’s fairly frequent that the lead on the team might not be the most technically skilled, but the person who will be able to do the actual work of leading best. Leading is nearly all soft skills. Getting people to do work without having them report to you so you can’t just demand that they do the work but have to help them see why it is important and all of that. Talking to the client and telling them that they are absolutely being absurd while still having them walk away happy (and yes that’s sometimes a sales role, but a lot of times not). Getting all that done is critical to a project’s success.

            Excellent technical skills are critical, but to move to a higher level position often, most of the time even, requires a lot of soft skills. I’m not buying that it’s totally fine and this dude should have been given a senior role. He’s clearly lacking all the soft skills of just understanding how work works.

        5. Washi*

          I’ve been in the designated tech helper position too, but this is definitely not where my mind went when I read the letter!

          “Help” could mean doing data entry to support the senior person’s project, or taking on one component of a larger product that the senior person is responsible. In my experience, it’s more common for the lower level employee to need to “help” a higher level employee (because the senior employee is delegating tasks to the junior one.) That and the fact that this person is asking about being promoted after a WEEK indicates someone with exactly the kind of poor soft skills referenced by OP in the letter.

        6. Jamie*

          Why are you making this about age?

          I’m a Gen X who has been director of IT at multiple companies for over a decade – I drove technology changes with which some caught on quickly and some struggled, every generation in each category.

          The implication that younger equals more savvy with workplace technology is by no means universally true and it’s problematic that the myth exists.

          1. Lillibet*

            Also, the higher up one is in an organization, the less they need the detailed technical skills and the more they need higher-end management skills. I know several CIOs and fortune 50 companies. Most of their technical skills are outdated. They don’t need those skills. They need to know how to manage people who have those skills.

            Not to say that Gen-Xers and Boomers don’t have those skills. A lot of us do.

            Both the presumption that there’s a generational edge and that the skills is absolutely necessary are wrong.

            1. NW Mossy*

              Bridging from that, work will be delegated down to the lowest level where it can effectively be accomplished – this is a bare fact of most organizations. Even when those higher up the ladder have the skills to do lower-level work, it’s typically not the best use of their time to do so.

              Also, delegated work is the #1 most effective way to help someone grow into more responsibility. Being able to do more challenging work with the support of someone higher up helps you build your resume to eventually move into that type of a role yourself. It’s a much better strategy than whatever the guy in OP 1’s letter thinks he’s employing.

          2. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

            There’s also nothing in the letter to indicate that the two new hires are any particular ages. I’m a millennial who also works in IT, specifically in software implementation/roll-outs (hi, Jamie!), and there are people who have trouble with hard and soft skills in every generational group. Entitlement, which we’re definitely seeing in the letter, can certainly rear its ugly head at any age.

            1. Jamie*

              Oh, I know it wasn’t in the OP, I was responding to ZipSilver’s comment in this thread. And Hi!

              1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

                I knew YOU knew that- I was just adding on to what you already said to ZipSilver. :) It’s really interesting to see how the stereotypes shake out though- I’ve definitely run into times where people would say, “We have a really young team, everyone will pick it up with no effort,” or “This group is a little on the older side, so they’ll need more hand-holding,” and it…just doesn’t work that way.

        7. CheeryO*

          This doesn’t track for me. I work in a STEM field (not something like software where the technical skills ARE the job, but not even remotely close to sales), and I have a lot of coworkers in their 50s and early 60s who are terrible with technology, but their experience, decision-making skills, and ability to get things done are absolutely invaluable. It’s worth it to have me spend 15 minutes now and then reminding them how to attach a file to an email, or running something through a software program for them, and the fact that I’m doing that doesn’t mean that I deserve a raise or promotion.

        8. Psych0Metrics*

          I’m curious what ‘help’ actually means in the context of what OP1 is talking about- is it more like providing project support or is it providing skills training to the mid-level employee? Having to train another new employee at a higher level than me on technical skills would irritate me as well, but everyone should be expected to provide support on projects.

        9. Maria Lopez*

          You had me until the Boomer and Gen X comment. It is more likely that the younger person will get hired as a NEW hire because they will be cheaper, but as with all generations from the beginning of time, they think they know everything. And just a FYI, it is the generations before the Boomers that overall lacked the technical expertise. The Boomers started the work world at the beginning of the tech boom and are often more knowledgeable than younger cohorts who know how to work systems but don’t know how to build systems (like knowing how to drive a car but not knowing how it actually works).

          1. Veronica*

            Haha, yes in the 90’s I was often the only person who could fix the printer because I was the only one who understood to turn it off and wait 30 seconds for the buffer and memory to clear. :D
            It works with computers too!

            1. Flash Bristow*

              *snork* Some people are scared to do that in case they break something or lose something.

              True story: when I was just starting at uni and relying on my bf’s computer, he was out at a lecture, I was typing away. It got slow so I rebooted. Well I must’ve leaned on the keyboard or something because it came back up in a kind of safe mode where you got the default interface, as if it was brand new.

              I freaked. I found my last pennies, jumped on the tube (3 stops and a panicky 3 minute walk at the end), went to uni, hunted down my bf, practically crying. (This was before mobile phones.)

              I was all “I’m so sorry! But… I think I’ve killed your computer! I rebooted and… It’s all gone!”

              I was amazed when he burst out laughing. But then he took me home and showed me what I’d done, and an ordinary reboot would resume things. I felt so silly but also so grateful!

              So if you’ve ever had an experience like that, you might be scared to turn it off and on again… Particularly if you’re older or unfamiliar and don’t know what will happen.

              Still, was it nice to get a minute away from your desk now & then?!

              (Btw, I’m the one who got a degree in the end… In computing! :D )

              1. Veronica*

                Yes it was!
                The computers were still working, so if documents were lost from the queue they would just re-send them.

          2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            Another thing worth mentioning is that Boomers and GenXers have long experience in advancing from one system or application to another as the technology evolves. (I’m still mourning a certain program because it was a great little workhorse without being loaded down with bells and whistles no one ever uses.) One major gripe I have in this regard with my current employer is that, while they’re quick as a bunny to bring in the Latest Hot Thing, they barely give you a minute to get oriented to it so it’s constant catch-up until the Next Hot Thing comes along.

            1. Veronica*

              Yes, I loved MS programs in the late 90’s. They did only what I asked them to, nothing more. No Word trying to insert bullets or numbers or formatting where I don’t want it. No Excel changing cell colors unexpectedly. I missed that for years.
              Now I turn off most automatic formatting in Word and insert my own bullets, numbers and indents. It’s the only way to get it right.

        10. PlainJane*

          Agreed… that “soft skills” thing sounds off to me, like one of those “I like him better than I like you” excuses.

          1. Anonapots*

            I can guarantee that it’s not an excuse. I work with hiring managers. Every six months I sit down with groups of them and talk about what they need. The number 1 thing they talk about is a need for soft skills, which puts me on edge because soft skills come from experience and, sometimes, personality. They’re really hard to teach, but that’s part of my job. When *I* read the lower-level person’s soft skills were not up to the other person’s, I knew exactly where the OP was coming from.

            1. PlainJane*

              Except that to me, most of the “soft skills” sound like things like “likability” and “social skills”… which can actually be important things, but can also be, “Ew, he’s weird and I find him off-putting”… which are way too easily applied to someone who isn’t neurotypical.

              1. Sacred Ground*

                Or its as simple as “able and willing to work as part of a team, collaborating and cross training with others as an essential function of the work.”
                I’m amazed at how many people here don’t even recognize this, let alone value it.

          2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            Yes. What exactly do you (employer X) MEAN by “soft skills?” You need to be more focused and not just toss that term out as a generality. Do you mean negotiating? Schmoozing? Finding information from other people? Scoping out potential new clients? Listening for the question behind the question?

        11. wayward*

          Not enough information to tell what’s really going on here, but occasionally blowhards can convince non-technical managers that their skills are far better than they actually are and get promoted ahead of more competent coworkers. In that situation, I can see why the coworkers wouldn’t be eager to help. But it’s generally smarter to be politely unhelpful, rather than outright refuse. Like “Oh, sorry, I have no idea how to clean up the mess that so-and-so made” (even if they know full well).

    2. Daffy Duck*

      Not the OP, but soft skills are usually: communication, teamwork, interpersonal skills, flexibility, work ethic, problem-solving skills, and leadership ability. Some people are naturally better/more aware of how they come across to others, but they are definitely skills that can be learned.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Respectfully, soft skills also include the manager’s ability to see things from a perspective that is not their own. In supervising people there were many, many times my ONLY inroad to a situation was to try to piece together what something looked like from the employee’s perspective. If someone helped to train a new hire I framed it as they were doing me a favor because they did not get any other acknowledgement from any where else. Managers need to constantly be thinking of how their employee might be viewing the situation.

        Too many times it comes up, “Train this person! I will not thank you for doing it, but if you don’t do it then I WILL write you up for insubordination.” Managers can benefit from having an attitude of gratitude. It’s funny/odd you know because I routinely thanked my people where appropriate and their reactions changed dramatically from what the previous supervisor had to deal with. Same people but different reactions. Simple verbal acknowledgement for extra effort goes a long way.

        1. Washi*

          But where are you getting that the junior employee was asked to train the senior employee? I don’t see that anywhere in the letter! Help could just mean that Senior delegates a piece of their project to Junior.

          1. OneWomansOpinion*

            Yes, this! And even training can mean totally different things. When I’ve heard people grumbling about having to “train” someone who’s higher up, they’re not talking about planning and implementing a three-day new employee orientation. It’s more like, “I took two hours to show someone this office-specific process or in-house software, can I get promoted now?”

          2. Yorick*

            I agree. Not So New Reader is bringing their past experience into this. The junior employee was definitely NOT asked to train the senior employee. They started at the same time, and the junior employee had been there a short time (a week?) before the conversation LW wrote in about.

            1. Maria Lopez*

              The way the letter is written it is unclear if the junior employee was asked to train the senior employee. That was the purpose of my first comment, that it was unclear, but so many commenters are making the assumption that it was. And perhaps the lack of clarity by the OP is what is causing the problems going forward.

              1. Yorick*

                The letter says they’ve both been there a week and that they were in training together. I don’t see what could suggest that one of them is training the other.

              2. Jennifer Strange*

                It’s really not unclear at all? It says “I had them doing initial training together” which reads as they were trained at the same time. There is no lack of clarity on the OP’s part.

        2. LQ*

          It’s odd that you think that this OP who didn’t just fire this dude and move on lacked gratitude, but then again the dude didn’t actually do anything that was worthy of having gratitude. The dude showed up (which is the actual bare minimum) and then refused to do work.

          Of course a manager would acknowledge and thank, but I’m not seeing where you think there’s a severe lack of that from the OP, I’d guess they were fine, so it’s odd to try to call them out for not being grateful enough.

          1. Maria Lopez*

            There are a number of reasons to not just fire the guy, and it certainly sounds like OP should, which is why I think there is a lack of communication going on here rather than it strictly being the new hire’s fault. Instead of just taking OP’s word as gospel I am trying to see how the new hire might be seeing things.

            1. Lance*

              I’m really curious: how does the way the new hire sees things make any difference here? The fact is, he’s stated he doesn’t want to help, he’s already, barely into the job, requesting a promotion and to shadow for a job beyond what he was hired for, rather than focusing on the job he has and making a good impression.

              Action is greater than intent, and this new hire’s actions are not speaking well for them.

        3. Colette*

          Training is one of those things that pays off when you are applying for higher-level work. It shows interpersonal skills and teamwork. I wouldn’t consider it insubordination if someone didn’t want to do it, but it would definitely affect my view of their work and potential for advancement.

          1. Door Guy*

            It’s the approach on this employee that mucked it up and is pushing it into insubordination. There are definitely people that are better suited towards training than others, and knowing and acknowledging that gap can be beneficial. The key is you need to bring it up BEFORE they are expecting you to do it.I know I’m not the best trainer in the world. I’m most definitely not the worst, but it is assuredly not one of my strong skills. When I was in a position to potentially become a field trainer at my last job, I declined even though it would come with extra money. It didn’t affect my chances for advancement as I was promoted a few months later into a managerial position.

        4. somanyquestions*

          The LW didn’t imply that he was asked to train the other person, at all. You’re creating whole other letters.

          Besides that, if someone is asked by their supervisor to train someone, why is that so unreasonable? I’ve trained so many people through the years -and it wasn’t my job, it was just as a co-worker- and never, ever considered it odd or out of line. I mean, I was being paid, y’know? And my supervisor asked me to do something, so I did it. Why turn this into some convoluted psychological thing? It’s part of a job, people should do their jobs.

          I really don’t get why people are twisting themselves into pretzels to excuse this guy’s ridiculous behavior.

        5. Observer*

          Well, the OP is definitely TRYING to see this from the New Guy’s POV. But, honestly there is nothing there that merits consideration unless the OP left something significant out. There is no indication whatsoever that the Junior guy is training Senior guy. In fact it looks like neither is training the other – they both received training from someone else.

        6. Anonapots*

          Maybe, but that’s 100% not what’s happening here since the junior employee is not training the senior employee. Please reread the letter and let this go.

    3. Quincy*

      I took these roles to be something like Consultant and Senior Consultant. They both have similar tasks but the Senior Consultant will be working with more strategic customers or have more responsibility.
      It wasn’t clear from the letter if the entry level employee was actually asked to help the mid-level employee or if they just announced they wouldn’t. Maybe the entry level employee has more experience in a certain software than the mid level employee so was asked to help. If this is the case, I expect the soft skills the mid-level employee has outweigh the software skills which is why they got the higher role. Lots of training for new starters is the same regardless of level so I don’t think its fair to say the entry level person is training at a mid level, it could be something like Salesforce or Jira.

      1. Emily K*

        Something like Salesforce was my first thought, too. Even if you know Salesforce, every company has their own way of using it, so there’s a learning curve for any new hire. But the more experience you have with it, the easier it is to adapt to a new company’s way of using it.

        And the thing is, “using Salesforce” isn’t anybody’s job. It’s software that supports the sales and marketing work you do. Being skilled at Salesforce is a “nice to have” when hiring these kinds of roles but it doesn’t mean you’re a more qualified marketer or salesperson just because you’re adept with Salesforce.

        Likewise knowing how to use Excel doesn’t inherently make you a statistician, knowing how to use a POS system doesn’t make you good at customer service, etc. There are lots of roles where you do need to be able to learn to use software, but as long as you can learn it, it’s perfectly reasonable you might be more skilled at the work the software supports than someone who knows the software better than you, and would this make sense for you to get the senior role.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      I would expect all team members to help (assist) other team members. That’s what team means.
      Everyone has strengths and weaknesses so it’s not unheard of someone helping someone else. That doesn’t mean that the helper has a higher skill set than the helpee.
      The new person sounds like a real entitled piece of work. There’s usually a LOT of Dunning Kruger that comes with that attitude. They are so lacking in skills that they don’t recognize talent in others.

      1. Lillibet*

        There’s often a lot of internalized social expectation and prejudice. I’ve seen young men think they should have the position over young women, white people think they should have it over POCs, American citizens think they should have it over immigrants.

        I have no idea if that’s at play here, but it’s common enough to consider.

        Too many Americans just expect that they show up and everyone will recognize their brilliance and what they are owed.

        This dude is so focused on what he feels he is owed, he doesn’t see what he can or cannot contribute.

    5. MistOrMister*

      I am not seeing where you get that OP has the new employee training above his level and that he’s expected to help the person who got the higher role. OP said they’re training together because the technical skills for the roles are the same. Therefore, it makes sense that they would be trained at the same time rather than having each employee trained separately – that would be a waste of time and resources. It sounds like the angry employee is saying if the senior new employee asks him for help on anything (which, sometimes you go to a fellow trainee because maybe you forgot something or know they know how to do something and don’t want to bother the trainer or other long time employees. Its very normal to do that!!) he is going to refuse simply based on their titles/seniority. That is not ok. Unless someone is having you do their work for them under the guise of getting training or coming to you for help on things they should know and have been trained on 500 times, there is rarely ever standing to refuse to help them. And in this case there is none at all. You don’t accept an entry level role and then walk in grumbling about how you’re below everyone else and that isn’t fair. If it would bug you that much, you don’t take the role in the first place!!! And being mad that it will take a year for promotion seems silly. It is not unusual for places to have policies where you won’t be promoted before 6 months or a year.

      1. Lillibet*

        Even if he’s expected to help, there’s nothing wrong with that.

        Everyone at all levels of a business should be expected to pitch in and help. I’ve seen CIOs mop up spills b/c the junior was out sick and his team needed to focus on a crisis. I’ve seen the intern help the CIO with a weird glitch on an app that no one else knew how to fix.

        My experience is that people who say “not my job” without any reason other than wounded pride don’t last long. It’s ok to “not my job” if you are a woman or POC being asked to do uncompensated kitchen work, planning work, etc. It’s not ok when it’s work you would be doing if promoted and you refuse just because you don’t think you are in the correct position.

    6. Mystery Bookworm*

      So this obviously depends heavily on the job, but I’m happy to give an example from my own experience.

      Let’s say you have a team that say – builds websites and online content for brands. In this case, both the Supervisor and the Specialists know how to make the content. But in addition to helping with the websites, the Supervisor also works on a lot of big picture details, such as co-ordinating with other teams, assisting on sales calls and negociating good prices with vendors. If we didn’t have a Supervisor who was good at these elements (which often fall under soft skills) then there would be nothing for the people with the hard skills to do, since no one would be bringing in work.

      Now let’s say the Supervisor leaves and a Specialist leaves. So, it’s good to make sure that the Supervisor understands how to create content and work with the tools (the hard skills) but ultimately you need to make sure the Supervisor knows how to manage and build relationships, since that’s the foundation the rest of team can create for. You might find someone who has the technical skill level that a Supervisior needs, but they lack the soft skills (they’re combative, maybe, or they’re timid and don’t bargin well – who knows?). They could be a good fit for a Specialist role, and you hire a different Supervisor.

      Maybe this new Specialist winds up being familiar with Cool Software, which is a great addition to the team – no one else is familiar with Cool Software! Even the new Supervisor isn’t familiar with Cool Software. This is actually a great opportunity for Specialist to work on those soft skills that he doesn’t have – he can share his knowledge and do training. The thing is, knowing Cool Software isn’t enough to make him a strong contendor for the Supervisor job, because no amount of hard skill will make up for the soft skills the supervisor needs. (It doesn’t matter how good your product is if you can’t build the relationships that will cause people to manufacture and pay for it).

      The reason the Supervisor is paid more is because ultimately, their role is more important to the company (and probably more difficult).

      1. Grey Coder*

        This is exactly what I was thinking. The technical skills involved in the initial training may well be something the Specialist will be doing all the time but the Supervisor will be doing less often, because of the Supervisor’s additional responsibilities in client management, etc. It absolutely makes sense for the Specialist to help the Supervisor in this case, and it doesn’t mean the Specialist should get a promotion because of it.

      2. LKW*

        Yup- this is how I was thinking it as well. I can talk basics around particular software packages. I know their quirks and limitations. I do not necessarily know how all of the bells and whistles work. My younger team mates who spend their days in the guts of the system, can tell you how the cogs and wheels work.

        1. Door Guy*

          Precisely. When I get the chance (or when I’m needed) I go out in the field and assist my techs. I have very little technical knowledge of installing in a real world setting (I know the individual parts, but have never assembled them) so I’m learning their job as increasing my understanding will help me in my more day to day duties of quoting or answering questions on the phone, but I’m not expected to be able to hop in a truck and go run a full shift. I’m typically out there simply because they need a 2nd pair of hands due to size of material, not because it’s a job that needs 2 installers.

    7. Harper the Other One*

      There are lots of reasons two people of different levels might be training at the same time – including if there’s standardized company on-board training, a new software or product roll-out, and many other possibilities. I don’t think we should assume they’re having someone in an entry-level position train higher.

      If it’s his first 1:1, presumably the employee has only been there a few months at the absolute max, and likely shorter than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were still on training for systems/procedures/etc.

          1. Lance*

            The OP said the lower-level co-worker is supposed to help the higher-level co-worker. You’re insisting pretty heavily that this means ‘training’, but there’s really no indication of that.

            1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              Unfortunately, we don’t know the nature or extent of the technical “help” he was asked to provide. By some people’s lights, it might have actually parsed out to be training. Or not.

          2. Beehoppy*

            They both started last week. They are both going through being trained by someone else together.

          3. LQ*

            I mean, I randomly was sitting next to a commissioner at something when he was brand new and he was struggling with getting the stupid idosyncratic system we were putting into place working. I was able to lean over and help get him to the next step.

            I was helping my …boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.
            That didn’t mean I should be the commissioner!!!

            1. Emily K*

              “As you’ll see on my resume, I taught the Mayor how to filter junk email from his inbox, which he was totally unable to do on his own. Keys to the city, please.”

              1. AKchic*

                “As you can see, I unjammed the copier for the Chief of Police, so make me the new chief, thanks.”

          4. Colette*

            If he’s skilled in the area, why wouldn’t that be OK?

            Training would be one way for him to demonstrate that he has soft skills, which will help him get a higher-level job in the future. There is no downside for him to do it.

          5. Yorick*

            There is nothing in the letter that says he’s training anyone. What made you think that was the case?

          6. fposte*

            I think people are getting stuck on the fact that training is also mentioned in the letter. However, what the OP’s junior employee is balking at isn’t training, just helping another employee. All my employees have to be ready to do that from the get-go, as do I, and I think that’s pretty standard.

          7. Blue*

            NSNR, I think you’re reading (and responding to) this sentence I had them doing initial training together as the employee being asked to train other people; it sounds like he’s the one receiving training for the job he just started.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Holy cow, how the heck did I miss that?!

          Yeah, this guy is probably not going to work out.

    8. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Help is such a general term. But if you’ve been hired for a team, then team members help each other.

      Help could mean, please work on this section while Bob works on that section. It could be data entry. It could be programming. It could be please do this research so we can really make the presentation amazing for the client. It could be SO many things and an opportunity for the younger staffer to improve his soft skills.

      As a secretary, often my software skills in Office are much higher than the project managers I work for. Sometimes we train together for certain projects. They certainly earn more than me. Should I refuse to help?

      Refusing to help is never okay unless there are very serious reasons for doing so. The way it was put in the letter, it’s like the employee is sulking. I’ve seen this behaviour in pre-teens and it’s unfortunate this employee has not yet outgrown it.

      Waiting a year for promotion is very common and reasonable. I’m getting a vibe of “But this isn’t what I want, this is how I want to change it, so change it.” You have to prove yourself first.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There’s a difference between helping and being assigned to train someone. I will help anyone I work with on any thing that comes up. It’s a motto I live by. However, training itself is much more intense than a random help. And it does require preparation which is even more time. And my own work is sliding if I am training someone.

        1. Antilles*

          First off, where are you getting that he was assigned to train someone? This section (emphasis mine) doesn’t sound like he’s been asked to perform intense technical training:
          “However, today it was clear that he is upset about being at a lower level than the rest of the team and indicated that he would not help the other new employee since they were at a higher level than him. I had them doing initial training together, as the technical skills are the same, but the higher level candidate has soft skills that this disgruntled employee lacks.”
          Secondly, even if it *is* training, I don’t see how that’s relevant. Hoarding your knowledge is not reasonable in a functional team. If it’s a logistical issue like a lack of time or too much other work, then sure, you can and should make that legitimate objection (from there, the boss decides whether to re-prioritize training over other stuff or not), but that wasn’t his objection.

        2. Yorick*

          Please stop commenting on every thread that he’s training the senior employee. It’s clear that’s not the case. They’re in training together, and the employee has been there one week.

        3. Yorick*

          Also, if your manager has asked you to train someone, that training IS your own work. So your work will not be sliding. If you have other urgent things to do, sure, you can remind your manager. But your manager may think it’s more important for you to show something to someone else and have you get back to your normal work later.

          1. Witchy Human*

            And even if your manager has made an illogical decision, your options are to 1) follow their instructions, 2) politely question them and then take no for an answer if you need to, or 3) find another job.

            There’s absolutely no situation where it’s appropriate to sulk and refuse to do the work.

        4. Observer*

          I’m really puzzled that you keep on insisting that the Junior guy is actually training the senior guy. Not that that is necessarily a problem, but when there isn’t even any indication that that’s what is happening? It’s just very, very weird.

      2. knead me seymour*

        Yeah, the interns at my company will help me with my projects–but that’s “help” in the sense that they’ll take on some part of the project that I don’t have time to do myself, not “help” in the sense that they’ll show me how to do parts of my job. I’m assuming the kind of help that’s required of this employee is more of the former type.

    9. Newington*

      Yeah, I thought this too. I once temped in a job for months, got good at it, interviewed when it became available as a permanent position and missed out to an older person. The organisation kept having to get me back in to do things for them, setting up Excel sheets and the like. I found out much later that they ended up getting fired after a bunch of serious mistakes. I didn’t say anything because I liked the people and it was a charity, but it’s understandably insulting to be asked to train someone who’s paid more than you for a job you’ve been told they’re better at.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        In context of your story, yes.

        He was not asked to train the older worker but to help him. Helping can mean, let’s get this big project done together, not necessarily help the older worker with the technical stuff (which he supposedly already knows).

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, I’m surprised by the reactions here. I’m sensitive to having to constantly help out others with technology, which was the worst part of my last job….but I see absolutely no evidence from the letter that the senior employee is older or struggling with technology!

          1. Jamie*

            Yes, the inserting of age as needing help with technology is insulting and I’ve seen first hand over the course of many years, an unfair stereotype.

            1. Maria Lopez*

              Especially as I have noted earlier that being able to run a program is not the same thing as understanding how the program is put together. So many people think they are “good with computers” when what they really mean is that they know how to turn it on but not how to write code. Before I retired I trained so many much younger people in our systems, and found the age distinction to be meaningless. Many employees thirty years younger had keyboarding expertise, but had a really superficial understanding of how hardware and software work beyond basic programs.
              Maybe I’ll live long enough to see the current Millenials (I hate that term) laughed at by their progeny as being so old and out of date.

              1. AKchic*

                Millennials already ARE being laughed at in terms of technology.

                Examples: typewriters. The younger Millennials don’t even know what it is. Floppy discs. Same issue. I’d frequently get talked down to in larger offices about “older” equipment as if I didn’t know what the items were (I learned to type on a 70 year old typewriter, and still own it).
                Newer technology. I still don’t understand Snapchat. My kids have tried to explain it to me. Tried to show me how to use it. I still can’t figure it out. It just confuses me.
                However, I did teach my kids how to program a VCR clock and they thought that was pretty cool in a “we probably won’t ever use this, but at least it’s throw-back knowledge” kind of way.

                Everyone is going to have knowledge gaps. It’s not necessarily a generational thing, but a personal thing. We all learn things as we have a need for them. Nobody learns everything there is to know in the world.

                1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                  And unless you’re doing the social media in a communications department, what does Snapchat have to do with paying invoices? (Just watch, someone will tell me!) There is SO MUCH technology, and nobody uses every bit of it to do their job.

                  A millennial (the term he used to describe himself and his peers) who used to work in our office assured me most millennials don’t know Excel because that part of the work is being jobbed out to India. At his former employer, yeah. But not in our office.

            2. J.B.*

              The two youngest and only two female members of the team got tasked with taking notes and helping with email because we were both young and female. I didn’t love it because they were grunt things (not that I complained) but it said a lot more about supervisor’s attitude than his age.

        2. Quill*

          Yeah, it may mean “please go through this massive stack of old papers and highlight the parts that refer to Project Z,” or “I need you to help set up a rack of teapots to dry” or “could you fix this erroring excel sheet?”

          Which is all stuff I’ve done in a junior role… because I didn’t have meetings to go to / my project was less time critical, etc.

      2. snowglobe*

        Nowhere in the letter does it say the new employee is being asked to train the supervisor. He’s been asked to ‘help’ and has refused. Help could mean background research on a project the supervisor is managing, or any number of other things. There is no reason to assume the new employee is ‘underpaid’ for the help he is being asked to provide.

        1. S-Mart*

          I’m not even sure he’s been asked to help. To me it read as a preemptive refusal.

          New employee should be welcoming the opportunity to help. That’s a good way to show people beyond your supervisor how much you’re worth, and builds the connections you will need to eventually advance.

      3. Newington*

        Other people’s replies to my comment are fair – I’d read it as “Disgruntled turned out to be better than their superior at the same job” (possibly because of my experience!) but now that OP has clarified I’ll withdraw that. It could be the way Disgruntled wrongly sees it, though.

        1. Door Guy*

          After a week it’s hard to say you are “Better than your superior”. Even in the original letter it was made clear that the decision was made based on other skills (the soft skills) than the one they were similar at (the technical skills).

          1. Sacred Ground*

            I know right? I need more than a week before I’m convinced of my own ability to do my job, let alone someone else’s.

    10. Rachel*

      OP1 here, both hires are in their 20s- so no Boomer technology gaps here! The training was 1 week new hire program- we have a lot of proprietary tools that are unique to our company that neither would have used but need to become familiar with to do their roles. Summary: I have a team of 20 employees and while they are all excellent technicians/engineers, I have two lead foremen who wrangle the cats and drive our work efforts. I know they will be leaving within the year. My mid level hire was brought in with the future looking intent of filling that supervisor role, she has a lot of team building experience but is from an adjacent industry so she needs to learn the details of our networks. The other (disgruntled) employee had no team leadership experience, and had only worked in our industry as an independent contractor. I can see why he’s confused because he doesn’t have these details and all he can see is someone who never worked in our industry got a better job than him, but I also don’t feel like I should have to justify my team building strategy to a hire who’s been here a week.

      1. Lance*

        To your last sentence: I agree. If he was someone high-level and particularly desirable, certainly, it would be worth justifying why things are the way they are… but as it is, with him showing such an attitude and being in a lower-level role that would, ultimately, be easier to replace, the focus should be on getting him to focus on the job he accepted, and work up from there.

      2. Lillibet*

        I’d cut him loose. Seriously.

        Even if it’s just that he thinks she’s an outsider and he’s not, there’s a lot more going on that could be seriously bad optics, not the least of which is the gender component.

        Also, he’s going to absolutely flip his lid if you promote her to the higher role and then not put him in her role. Given how horrible he has been within the first week, it’s not likely to improve.

        Is there some reason you are invested in keeping him? Does he have some highly-desirable skill set? Connections to the wider client community? Golfs with your boss?

        1. Lillibet*

          The one thing you might say, if you want to try and save him is this: “I understand you came to us from the consulting world. That world can be very different than how our office operates. In our office, we value a teamwork approach. Helping others isn’t just an expectation, it’s a requirement. If you are unwilling to do that, the we should discuss how we are going to transition you out of our organization and find a replacement.”

      3. Antilles*

        I can see why he’s confused because he doesn’t have these details and all he can see is someone who never worked in our industry got a better job than him, but I also don’t feel like I should have to justify my team building strategy to a hire who’s been here a week.
        If he was being polite and earnestly inquiring, then I would say you should go ahead and explain it. But you don’t owe him an explanation. Given his snippy and disgruntled attitude, I don’t think he’d truly listen to the explanation even if you bothered to try.
        There’s a huge difference between “I am confused about this and want to learn more about the reasons, because I really want to grow here” and “no, this is garbage”. You’re under no obligation to help someone who comes in with the latter.

        1. ampersand*

          Exactly. There was a reasonable, professional way to approach what may have been confusion on his part, but he skipped that part and went straight to the nuclear option.

      4. Jamie*

        so no Boomer technology gaps here!

        I know I’m becoming redundant … but I’m incredibly disappointed to see so many commenters here who are usually pretty aware so cavalierly throwing around false stereotypes even in off hand comments like this.

        Enforcing these biases does hurt real people who are in the work force. It hurts real people interviewing for jobs by perpetrating the notion that youth = better at technology. When it comes to ERPs, CRMs, etc. there is no knowledge with which younger people are inherently imbued.

        It would be nice if people would keep in mind that actual people are harmed by this stereotype every day.

        1. Quill*

          My junior year of college taught me a ton about how a lot of people exactly my age are BAD at computers. I mean, they have a cultural awareness of them which makes them look capable until they have to do anything.

          “But I can’t have a virus, I have a Mac!” – A variety of business majors I had unfortunate run-ins with.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, I think young people do tend to be a little better with whatever the social media platform du jour is but that doesn’t necessarily transfer to specific computer skills or vice versa. I don’t really understand TikTok but I can use vlookup, and for a lot of Gen Z, it’s probably the opposite!

            1. Quill*

              I went to college with a Windows Vista laptop and a lot of experience troubleshooting it because I played The Sims 2.

              I ended up the computer diagnoser in my dorm. “Yeah, that’s our antivirus, it sucks” versus “hardware problem” vs “Okay, you have to delete the temp files and disable java…”

              Most people in my major were competent! And then I took my required econ course and met business majors who legitimately thought it was impossible to get a virus on a mac, that *everyone* had some sort of mac specific program and didn’t save it compatibly with anything else, and one legendary individual who thought that scanning a printed document as a PDF would spit out a Microsoft Word file that they could then edit.

            2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I worked with a college student a few years back who was in her early 20s. She could barely do a simple Word document or Excel chart. “Hahaha I am SO BAD at computers, they’re so hard.”

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            Yup. When I was teaching college freshmen, and only 4 years older than they were, 95% of them thought they knew *everything* about computers and would very confidently say that they were Advanced in all Office products.

            Until I had them bring in their laptops & do a very simple Excel graphing exercise, and maybe 1/10 of them could input the data & put it into the right graph, with axis labels.

            We get told a lot that since we’re Young Folk (TM) we must be good at computery, technological things. Old Folk (TM) are told they must not be. Both are ridiculous. You’re good at things, surprise surprise, that you know & are familiar with, chances are. There’s no Technology Gene. Could I ever get our Direct TV crap to work? No. I hated having that many remotes and I could never switch over to my flippin’ GameCube. My grandfather? Builds computers. Knows a ridiculous amount of things about a variety of softwares & hardwares. He’s who I call when I manage to flip my work screens and now my mouse won’t go between them and oh dear lord what did I do halp.

            Add me to the list of people disappointed by some of the immediate assumptions on this letter in this post. There was no age given. There was no mention that Jr was actually training Sr. In fact, all the letter said was “help”, which in my reading of the letter really sounded like Jr & Sr were hired at the same time, went through the initial training together, and now Jr is expected to contribute to the team work, which is coordinated? delegated? by Sr, and Jr is refusing to contribute to any work that ‘touches’ Sr. Sr was hired for their soft skills, which Jr did not have (and obviously doesn’t, based off of being there for a *week* and refusing to work with people and asking for a promotion). Age has no part of this – soft skills & maturity do.

            1. Anonymous at a University*

              Oh, God, do I know this well. I have so many college students who are decades younger than me and have absolutely no idea how to attach a file to an e-mail, silence a phone that keeps beeping loudly in class, change the font size in Word, load paper into a printer…I could go on. Meanwhile, some do it just fine. And some of my older, non-traditional students need help with the same things and others do them very well.

              People who don’t know how to, say, send an attachment usually pick it up pretty fast when I show them, which is great, but the idea that all younger people are “digital natives” racing into the future on a wave of technology and leaving the older people helplessly behind is laughable. Knowing how to text or how to use [Facebook/Tumblr/take your pick] does not make you a genius on a computer.

            2. Indigo a la mode*

              *raises hand* Late-twenties woman here who is definitely the biggest technophobe in the family. My mom started the first e-commerce platform at P&G and my dad is a Principal Program Manager at Microsoft.

              It’s funny to me that we’ve fixed, I dunno, 50 as the age where people can’t possibly have the ability to understand technology…when people who are now in their fifties and sixties literally brought computing as we know it to us all, and people in their NINETIES (or older!) were human computers and programmers before that.

              1. Jamie*

                My dad would be 97 if he were alive today and he was a programmer in the ’50s; he met my mom when he hired her as one of the women to feed his code via punch cards into the mainframe. He started as a programmer when most people didn’t have the slightest idea of what that meant.

                He knew a thing or two about tech.

              2. ampersand*

                Just curious: What did you learn in high school re: using computers/software? I’m 10 years older than you and there was a big push when I was in high school to learn how to use MS Office, and then I had to use it throughout college for various assignments.

                1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

                  We learned to program in BASIC. I hated it. In college I learned to program in, what, Pascal maybe? and hated that. Still hate coding. I *understand* it well enough, I just don’t LIKE it and will avoid it.
                  My father, of the “Silent Generation”, taught himself LISP, COBOL, various iterations of C, Pascal, Assembly language, and went from social work in academia to working for a series of tech companies, including Texas Instruments, Dell, and AMD where he retired a few years ago.
                  I love Excel, though :D
                  It’s not an age thing.

              3. Fikly*

                My grandmother is 94, and was an active Facebook user until her vision got so bad a year ago that she stopped being able to read a computer screen, and up until a decade ago was teaching the computer classes at her community in Florida. So, you know. seconding the older people can use technology idea.

                On the other hand, my sister, while interning, taught her boss how to copy and paste. Not just the shortcut, the entire concept.

                1. Veronica*

                  In case you didn’t know, there are programs and things to help the visually impaired. I’m sure there’s something out there that would help your grandmother continue to enjoy Facebook, if she’d like to.

              4. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                I came to computers/desktop publishing from computerized typesetting and went nuts at first because the computers didn’t do things my specialized equipment had, and the quality sucked.

                BTW, my 80-something uncle literally died at his computer.

            3. TeacherTurnedNurse*

              Yes, this!! I am in my late 30s teaching college freshmen in an online classroom. What I find is that my youngest students are very competent in the use of their phones, specifically, but that they often do not have basic computer skills like attaching files, creating a PDF, or even navigating an online course platform.

              My wife and I, while the same age, have entirely different computer skills because of the households in which we were raised and the relative prevalence of computing in my field vs hers.

              Youth does not automatically equal technical competency.

          3. Richard Hershberger*

            This is a normal progression with any tech. In its early phase it is very touchy, has a primitive user interface, and requires constant trouble-shooting. People only bother if they have a strong external incentive to use this tech, or are enthusiasts by personal proclivity. Anyone using the tech understands how it works out of sheer necessity. Then as the tech improves, it becomes less touchy with a better interface and better reliability. It therefore becomes more widespread, now being used by people with neither the need nor the desire to look under the hood and putter around in there.

            “Look under the hood” is not a metaphor. I just described early automobiles. They were a real pain. It wasn’t really until after World War II that you could function as a driver without also being a mechanic. The US Army had an advantage during the war that between automobiles and farm tractors, it had a lot of soldiers who had grown up in the late “touchy” phase, with the equipment good enough that it was widely used, but bad enough that using it required mechanical expertise. So when all those farm boys were now driving trucks in France, they knew how to keep the trucks running. Nowadays? The days of shade-tree mechanics are long past. And this is a good thing: modern cars are safer, more efficient, and longer-lasting than their predecessors. But you can’t fix them at home even if you knew how.

            Computers are in this late stage. If you used a computer back in the Reagan administration, you were almost certainly a total nerd. Non-nerds were perplexed about what was the point of them. There used to be discussions about how Mom could put all her recipes on the computer. This argument was unpersuasive. (In reality, even back then much of the point was to play computer games. We had a pretty strong gut feeling that this wouldn’t persuade Mom either.)

            So nowadays the average person knows how to use a computer in the same way they know how to drive a car. This doesn’t mean they can do a brake job, or even change the oil, much less rebuild, well, anything.

            1. Sacred Ground*

              “But you can’t fix them at home even if you knew how.”

              Not actually true. The tools have changed somewhat, what with computer diagnostics. You need a decent code scanner to diagnose problems, computer controllers and sensors have to be replaced rather than repaired, but otherwise an engine is still an engine.

        2. Anonymous at a University*

          People here seem to push back fairly hard if someone stereotypes younger people as entitled, stupid, etc. It is disappointing to see that there are people who’ve gone the opposite route and have decided that younger people are the skilled, special, put-upon ones who are always having to deal with stupid older people being bewildered by technology. Reversing the stereotype doesn’t make it true.

        3. Emily K*

          Seriously. My mom, a boomer, took computer programming courses in the early 90s before she turned 40 and has worked as a software developer ever since. Perhaps it was true in the mid-late 90s that a lot of boomers hadn’t encountered technology yet, and because they weren’t digital natives their learning curve took longer to get off the ground than a younger person who’d grown up using computers. But for pete’s sake, computers have been standard office equipment for almost 30 years at this point and most of the active workforce age group would have started working with computers before the midpoint of their career. (Not for nothing, UX has also come a long way since the 90s, and while you still encounter terribly designed software from time to time, on the whole there’s more idiot-proof user-friendly stuff out there that you can figure out just by clicking around than there is esoteric, clunky stuff that requires a user guide to learn how to navigate.)

          The people for whom computers weren’t a thing until they were already in the sunset years of their career….their sun has set. They were Silent generation members, the youngest of them are rounding 70, and they are (nearly) all retired and/or dead by now.

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            I work with people going into retirement and many of them are in their 70s and intend to keep working, while the retirees I work with are aged 50+ to 90. A lot of the older retirees, who can’t get out easily, depend on their computers to communicate and handle all kinds of personal business. I’ve gotten more than one acerbic earful from some “sunsetter” who can’t believe they have to fill out a paper form for a function we don’t offer on the website (usually for security and confidentiality reasons).

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree, Jamie, thank you. I’ve never allowed millennial stereotyping here, and I’m not going to allow Boomer stereotyping either. Cut it out, y’all.

          1. ...*

            Also most Boomers are like….70…. so a lot are literally retired. It seems these days that Boomer means “older person who does stuff I don’t like” and Millenial means “younger person who does stuff I don’t like”. Gen X is turning 60 this year! Your 51 year old colleague is decidedly NOT a Boomer!

            1. Emily K*

              You’re right on the 51 year old being an Xer, but Boomers are still around at work – they’re post-War babies, roughly 1945-1965, making the oldest ones 75 and the youngest 55, so many have retired but some are still 12 years away from social security.

        5. RD*

          I agree, not the best language to emphasize my point that they are in a similar age range. I added that comment due to multiple threads questioning if there was an age/tech understanding gap.

      5. Witchy Human*

        The first couple weeks are when (reasonable) people are on their best behavior at a new job, and trying their hardest to impress.

        A few months in, how is he going to react to something that rubs him the wrong way? What else (and who else) is he going to dismiss as beneath him?

        Even if you have a This Is Serious conversation and he improves for a while, the attitude and lack of soft skills are probably never really going to change.

        1. AuroraLight37*

          This goes along with my Theory of Dating. In the first few months you’re trying to present your shiny self, and look as good as you can. If the person you’re dating does things like hit on the waitstaff/be rude to the Uber driver/be less than nice to you,* it’s time to end things.

          *Obviously you don’t date people who do these things at any time. But if they’re showing their behind when you’re two dates in, it’s only going to get worse.

      6. Blue*

        Hi Rachel! Thanks for updating us! I was wondering what the word “help” in this sentence meant.

        However, today it was clear that he is upset about being at a lower level than the rest of the team and indicated that he would not help the other new employee since they were at a higher level than him.

        Is it just general working together, picking up tasks? Or taking delegation or direction from the senior employee? Or more focused teaching/training? Or an option D?

        I think his behavior has been a problem regardless, but since there were a few different readings of what the help would entail, hoping you can clarify.

        1. Yorick*

          After a week, I don’t think there’s any way “help” would mean more focused teaching/training. The bosses wouldn’t know what Senior needs training on, or what Junior was qualified to train people on!

      7. Door Guy*

        I was brought into my current job in a similarish situation. The VP who directly managed 2 locations had announced his retirement at the end of the year (back in January) so they started hiring for a manager to replace him at one location when no internal candidates were qualified/interested (it was posted internally first with no bites, he already had a successor at the other location).

        I got hired, spent the majority of my time working directly with the VP or his other successor and he has slowly but surely released more and more duties to me until September when he pulled back almost completely. He still comes around on the same schedule but it’s more of an oversight and adviser role instead of an active training role.

        There were definitely some rumpled feathers when I was brought in, since I also came from a different field and had to learn our products basically from scratch, but I wasn’t hired because I knew how to do doors, I was hired because I had proven managerial experience running teams of field workers, scheduling and administrative skills, and problem customer dealing skills, as well as the technical skillsets they were looking for (in this case troubleshooting and installing in the field).

      8. CM*

        This makes it a little clearer to me. Different people have different ideas about how career advancement works, and the grumpy new hire probably DOES feel like not knowing anything about the industry should be disqualifying, and doesn’t really understand that promotions into a management role are often mostly about soft skills rather than hard skills — or he understands that but doesn’t think it’s fair. So, from his POV, you hired someone less qualified than he is for the role he originally wanted and are asking him to tutor that person to bring them up to speed, and it feels really unfair.

        It’s always a pretty dicey proposition to offer someone a job at a lower level than they applied for. They’ll probably say yes, because they need a job, but it’s not what they wanted and they’re going to be thinking about how soon they can get promoted into another role. Hiring someone into a lower level job at the same time as you hire somebody else for the higher level job makes it even worse.

        So, I actually think it was a mistake to offer him the lower level job at all because it makes the power dynamics super difficult, especially for somebody who has poor soft skills in the first place. But that’s already been done.

        At this point, I would have an honest discussion with him about how likely he is to get promoted and what the timeline would look like for something like that to happen and then, ask if he’s willing to stay in the job knowing that. If you want to be really kind, and if he’s skilled enough to be helpful in this position, maybe offer to let him stay temporarily while he looks for something else.

        I actually wouldn’t make this about his willingness to help someone else, because that’s not what the main issue seems to be. It’s about him not wanting the job he accepted and how the two of you are going to navigate that.

        1. KayDeeAye (formerly Kathleen_A)*

          Hmmm, I don’t know. Flatly refusing to help a coworker is a pretty big deal, and the sooner this guy finds that out, the better it will be for everyone, including him.

      9. CM*

        #2 — Is there any chance it was a joke? I started laughing when I read it, and I can think of ways of saying it that sound pretty funny. I can even picture myself saying something similar. I have kind of a dark, sulky aura and, “Just cry. Everyone leaves you when you cry,” is the kind of thing I might say, ESPECIALLY if the situation didn’t warrant crying.

        I mean, it sounds like a bad place to work either way.

    11. LizB*

      It sounded more to me like they hired him at entry level and then had him training at entry-level skills that their new mid-level employee also has to have. Every mid-level or higher-level position I’ve had, I’ve also needed to know how to do the entry-level employees’ tasks, either so I could manage them effectively or so I could cover when needed.

    12. Observer*

      On the contrary, not only is this not unusual, this it TOTALLY normal.I’m in a high skill position, but I have someone with lower skills to help me. Either because I don’t have the time to do the lower skill stuff that’s part of a given project, it’s something I would normally do but the “lower skill”person could do it, or because I need an extra pair of hands to deal with some aspect of the project. That’s how this stuff works.

    13. Anonapots*

      The LW said that the first part of training is for both of them and then they’ll split off while the higher level person gets more focused training. That’s a fairly standard way of doing onboarding. Soft skills generally refer to things like knowing you shouldn’t go to your boss on your first day and tell her how unhappy you are and that you’re unwilling to help a higher level coworker. They aren’t impossible to teach, but as someone who has to teach them, they are incredibly difficult to teach and what the LW describes screams at me that she will not be able to get this person where they need to be.

    14. Kiwiii*

      Being more skilled in certain areas, doesn’t mean someone’s more skilled overall. At OldJob, I was an admin but had a knack for systems, so they’d often train all of us on a thing and then I’d answer questions and/or troubleshoot for everyone because I’d pick the tasks up several times faster than the rest of our team. I certainly wasn’t in any place to do their jobs and I don’t think I’d have ever imagined not helping them with theirs.

    15. knead me seymour*

      My read was that they both have similar technical requirements, but the higher level position also includes project management or something along those lines–hence the need for better interpersonal skills at that level, although both have the same technical skills. It sounds like this was pretty clear to the employee when he was hired.

    16. Librarian1*

      Maybe they’re both being trained on something that’s considered lower-level and then then the more senior person will be trained on more advanced things later. Or they’re being trained on the system the company uses or other things that are specific to the company that they both need to know regardless of level.

  4. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #2 Sounds like something from The Office. Funny on TV, but in reality it’s just horrible.
    The fact that you’re even asking if this is wrong is worrying. You’re being conditioned to believe this is normal. It is absolutely not. Your boss is an idiot. You really need to find something else.

    1. OP#2*

      OP#2 here. Agreed. When I said the “advice” out loud to myself, I really thought I was going crazy. And you’re right – when someone makes you question your sanity, it’s time to bail!

      1. Sara without an H*

        Good for you! Alison has a lot of good stuff in the archives about cover letters and resumes that you may find useful.

        May 2020 find you working somewhere else for sane adults!

        1. Antilles*

          Also, provide an update once you do! Always enjoy a good “hey, I successfully escaped intact” update.

          1. Flash Bristow*

            Yep, normally I find “thanks for the advice, but I (or the cause of the issues) left before I could put it into practice” a bit of a letdown (although I enjoy and appreciate any kind of update, of course) but in this case I *really* hope you manage to escape soon, OP#2, before your sense of normality is allowed to be distorted any further!

            So please do keep us posted. I also hope you have a leaving interview with manager’s own boss, so you can convey just how crackers things were!

            (If it’s with manager himself, sob gently. Progress into open crying… Then loud wailing and beating fists on the table, followed by suddenly straightening face and “I’m sorry, you were saying?”)

      2. Decima Dewey*

        I was going to say you should cry–at home after work, because you have a boss who thought crying would solve the problem.

      3. Observer*

        Yes, it’s time to bail. If you can’t afford to leave without something lines up, please start looking and in the meantime, keep reading stuff that helps you retain some sense of what a reasonable work place looks like.

        The idea that your boss told you to cry is just jaw droppingly nuts. Please remember this! The problems is NOT you, it’s your workplace!

      4. Flash W Bristow*

        Yeah. Well it’s crackers advice. It comes over as both “make people feel awkward and run away” and “make use of the cliché of being a weak emotional girlie”. Both of which are a hard no.

        Assuming he was being serious (!) I’d have two other problems. Firstly, I don’t cry when I’m upset; I get angry. I only cry when I’m utterly frustrated and can’t see a solution and my body can’t find any other outlet for it because everything else, including anger, has been used up.

        Secondly, if I do cry, I go away and do it in private. I used to hate the girls at school who would drop tears the second they didn’t get their own way, and the mother hens of the group would gather round and pet her and say “oh nooo, what’s wrong?” Before, of course, giving in to whatever the crier originally wanted. (And I guess that’s a risk at work too if you really do cry at your desk – instead of scaring people off it could attract the fussers, gossipers, and mother figures!) Just no all the way!

        No, for me I find crying to be something private. I feel that for me it’s a sign of weakness and the sooner I can take a break and calm down, the sooner I can reset and get back to where I was.

        So I guess, while typing this, it’s come to me: I’d look manager in the face and say “I don’t think so. Crying’s not my style” with an optional “I prefer solutions”.

        Sure, everyone acts differently, but telling someone to cry at work? Sorry, I forgot my stage tearstick. I’ve still got supplies in my sarcasm bag though.

        I hope after I’d answered the manager would say “ah. Ha! I was only joking…” and leave it at that. But OP#2, you know your manager, I don’t…

        Let’s hope it never recurs, they sound like a bit of a nightmare!

      1. Hobbit*

        My first thought was that the boss was being flippant, but regardless of if he was serious or not, I’d start polishing up the old resume. Best of Luck, sending positive thoughts.

        1. Jaydee*

          That is the only thing that makes *any* sense. If the boss was trying to be funny and just…wasn’t.

  5. Don't get salty*

    #4: You have every right to end a relationship with whomever you choose for whatever reason (as long as it’s not your children who are still under your care). You don’t have to wait for permission from someone else to tell you that it’s OK to leave.

    It sounds like your former colleague was not only inept, but was a massive drain on you even after you stopped working with him. He seems like the kind of person who, when he recognizes that someone is willing to help him and doesn’t set firm boundaries, he will siphon every last drop of your energy until you are a shell of yourself.

    1. OP #4*

      OP #4 here. You hit the nail on the head. This is exactly what my husband said, but I’ve been trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. I should have known this to be the case by how much lighter I felt as soon as I didn’t have to work with him daily anymore. I’m very glad to read Alison’s answer.

  6. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP1, you hired him because you thought he’d be a good fit but it seems his soft skills / understanding of workplace norms are more lacking than you realised.

    If this is his first job, or he’s worked in dysfunctional environments before, he may well have a poor understanding of how the workplace functions, but he may also just be an entitled asshat.

    I’m wondering whether you, during the interview process,
    – explained why he was being offered the junior role and not the mid role
    – communicated the role requirements in terms of interaction with colleagues and not just technical skills or hard outputs
    – discussed the company culture and how much value is placed on teamwork, collaboration, etc
    – explained what “excellent” looks like for this position, since I am guessing he’s not an AAM reader and won’t have asked this himself ;)

    Whether you did or not, it’s definitely time for a discussion of what he and the company can reasonably expect from other, and what the company would expect to see before investing further in him by e.g. moving him to a more responsible role. And that’s not just “wait a year” but demonstrate to *other* people’s satisfaction that he is the best person for whatever that new role is.

    I think this conversation is essential, and his response to it will let you know whether to keep him on, under close supervision, or show him the door.

    1. Doug Judy*

      Far too many people think after X amount of time they will/should be promoted. That’s not always the case as performance is a factor, but the needs of the business also come into play. Someone may be a stellar employee but a higher level position isn’t available or needed.

      I really think OP is going to have to let this person go (or they will leave on their own) but in the event they stay, make it clear that any promotion discussion is very premature and they need to focus on learning the job they are currently in.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        And apparently, far too many people think that a week is enough time to be considered for a promotion. And by “far too many,” I mean this one dude.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Clarity is so important. If he lacks the soft skills, tell him what exactly those soft skills are. Don’t just say, well promotions wait a year.

      Granted this guy is already agitating for a better role. It’s clear he is not going to be happy long term in this role. You have to decide how much time you are going to invest in him. If you don’t want to invest in someone who informs you at his first 1:1 that he is not going to help a co-worker, whatever form that help might be, you might not want to invest a whole lot of time. But if you do, be explicit on what you need to see from him. Not just technical work, but those soft skills.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Hard agree here.
      There’s not enough in OP’s letter to convince me the guy is a loser. Definitely go back to square one here, OP and make sure that he understands this is part of his job. To me it reads that the employee thought that the company felt he had the qualifications to train people so therefore he probably figured he should be showing more interest in advancing himself.

      1. EPLawyer*

        where are you getting that he is training anyway.

        A few people have said that. Nowhere in the letter does it say he is training anyone. The letter specifically says they are being trained together as they started at the same time. Hire 1 is not training Hire 2 and Hire 2 is not training Hire 1. Then at the first 1:1 after ONE WEEK at the company, he informs OP that he will not help other Hire. Nowhere does it say he was asked to train Other Hire. He just said this out of the blue. With no detail as to what help meant.

      2. Yorick*

        He is not training anyone. They were in the same training getting trained together at the same time. He was not leading the training.

    4. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      +1 to this comment. I think if he really doesn’t get it, it is fine to say “we have a no assholes policy” and “we don’t hoard knowledge here, we work as a team”. In this case it might be a good exercise to also assign this employee to become the expert on this system and have it be encoded into their job description that they teach any skills to other colleagues when asked. I’ve been assigned “subject expert” tasks before, but even if I make the world’s greatest manual, people still sometimes need a person who is “in it” most days to get the best use out of a tool no matter how simple the interface is. OP can also definitely find another candidate who would be a happy to do this and who isn’t hung up on a first in, first promoted system of their own making.

  7. Language Lover*


    I think whether or not it’s a red flag depends on the specifics of the role. You mention this is a bit of a step down from your current role. How much of a step down? Is it kind of the role where they might not feel a need to do a widespread search to fill? For instance, a university might do a national search for a tenure track professor or head of student affairs but might feel a local candidate pool is sufficient for an administrative assistant role or an academic advisor. Therefore, they may not have been thinking they’d need travel funds for candidates.

    This would also apply for the number of interviews there will be. Are you sure this interview is the first round of interviews or is it the only round of interviews? I’m in higher ed too and have experienced both. Many positions where I work are filled after only one interview (not counting a brief HR assessment they might do before bringing someone to campus.)

    It’s worth clarifying these questions. If there will be more interview rounds, it might be worth seeing if you can do this first one via phone or Skype; however, if it’s the only one, there’s value in making the trip.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I was thinking the same thing re the level of the position potentially having something to do with no plans being made to pay for travel. As well as the fact that OP never asked about any possible reimbursement. Although, if it was a position where they regularly would pay to bring someone out, I would assume once OP mentioned driving 6 hours and needing a hotel that they would have started talking about their policies and how OP would get their money back, or they’d make,the hotel reservations or whatever.

      The number of interviews is also a very good point. A first interview by phone is one thing. But I agree that an only interview remotely is really not ideal unless logistics prevent an in person interview. You can pick up so much more by body language and expressions than you can by voice alone. And getting to see the work environment is a plus. You can’t tell if a place is a rat infested death trap through the phone…

    2. CheeryO*

      Yes, this is a great point. I’m in state government, which shares some of academia’s weirdness, and we don’t do phone or Skype interviews, at least for entry- and mid-level positions. There is no need to, because there are plenty of local candidates and people within driving distance, and because we only do one interview before hiring, since there is some initial screening built into the application process. If someone were interested in moving here from a different state, they would be expected to travel on their own dime. It sucks, but it’s just part of navigating the bureaucracy. Getting hired is the hardest part of the job.

    3. RP*

      I had something similar happen for an interview across the country. They wanted to bring me in for a 1 hour screener and explained the travel budget for this position was $500. I explained that I would utilize all the budget on that one hour trip when factoring in a flight. I asked for the first round to be done via skype. The school had said they had never done one before. I explained I didn’t think it would be worth either of our time or their resources to fly me out for a one hour interview and suggested they save the funds if they wanted to bring me out for a final round. We did the skype and they brought me out for the second round which cost me4575 with hotel and flight. So in the end sometimes presenting options can work in your favor.

  8. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP2, I think it’s less relevant whether this is sexist, and more relevant that it demonstrates managerial incompetence. Presumably if you were a man, he would have given you different, but just as pointless, inappropriate advice, while still doing nothing about the problem. Tbh, with a manager like this, I’m not surprised your colleagues are unhappy.

    I’d be updating my CV. Or resume, whatever is geography relevant.

    1. Kendra*

      Yes and no; if it’s sexist, but a totally isolated incident in that regard, it’s just a (rather large) red flag. If it’s sexist, and part of a general pattern of sexist behavior, it may be time to start considering legal action. Only the OP knows; they didn’t share enough details for us to tell.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        I didn’t mean to imply that sexism isn’t relevant but rather that there is a bigger problem here. If OP’s boss is sexist but in other ways a competent manager, the sexism can be addressed specifically with him or with HR. If he’s just completely useless with some sexism sprinkled over for good measure, which is what I gather from the team dynamic and his unwillingness to address the issues, there’s no hope and it’s time to move on.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Yeah, I’m getting a strong “managing would be so much easier if these damn employees would stop bugging me!” vibe from the boss. Maybe it’s sexism, maybe it’s just universal misanthropy — either way, it’s a boss problem best solved by not being his direct report.

          1. OP#2*

            OP2 Here – that’s exactly what it is…instead of making people follow office policies, he has everyone work around the bad employees. And if you bring a legitimate concern about the bad employee, it’s always “well, that’s just how she is…work around or ignore it” – and that’s word for word actual “advice”. When the bad employee is damaging relationships (both internal and external), creating toxic situations, and borderline targeting/bullying – it needs to be managed but it’s written off as competitive women drama.

            1. knead me seymour*

              Gotta say, it sounds like this guy’s condescending and dismissive attitude toward women is driving a lot of his awful management. Clearly he doesn’t think women are capable of being held to a professional standard. Time to get out of there.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          “Completely useless with some sexism sprinkled over for good measure” perfectly describes one of my former coworkers, lol.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ya know, I hung my head in shame for a moment there.
      There have been many times on this blog where I have pointed out that we are supposed to cry, crying causes chemicals in the brain to be released that help to keep the brain healthy.
      The differences between the statements are: 1) I add more context/words so hopefully the person can see more of my intent. I would, and I have, say it to men as freely as I say it to women.
      2) I am not a boss or a cohort whose role is it to help SOLVE the problem. For people actually IN the situation telling a person to cry is not ever an appropriate response to a workplace matter. I have never once said this at work although I have said it many times here.

      1. Reba*

        Well, I think you are telling people to cry for the natural, emotional processing… Not to cry on command to try to manipulate their over involved coworkers into leaving them alone!

        1. Reba*

          I mean, i don’t think the boss in the letter was giving serious advice, either, just being an ass.

            1. Reba*

              Wow, this guy has a horrible idea of how human beings work. It sounds like he doesn’t take women seriously AT ALL. He thinks you should fight drama with drama?

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                Yeah, this sounds like a classic case of “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change,” Sorry, OP#2, it doesn’t sound like there’s anything you can do to change the situation. All we can do is offer our sympathy and support and wishes for best of luck in finding a job in a workplace that isn’t covered In evil bees!

    3. juliebulie*

      Right. I think it’s sexist, but more to the point, it’s stupid.

      Going a bit further, I would remove the “you wouldn’t say this to a man” (in Alison’s much more elegant phrasing) part of the script and just ask if this is something Boss would do himself.

      I also disagree that crying would necessarily get people to go away. Some people would be all over you trying to cheer you up. Which is problematic in its own way…

      (And then there would be a letter on AAM “every time I talk to my coworker, she bursts into tears and I don’t know why…”)

      1. juliebulie*

        Meant to say that the “you wouldn’t say this to a man” would just make him defensive. His replies are useless enough without him getting defensive too.

  9. Kristin*

    OP2, did your boss explain how you’re supposed to cry randomly and on cue? Will you be keeping a tupperware of onions at your desk? Taking time to,discreetly watch a sad video? Squeezing lemon juice in your eye? I mean, WTF?? Logistics asisde, this is horrible advice. But I am picturing you going back to the boss and asking for pointers on crying just to see if it flusters him. And then, what kind of crying bouts should you be having? Will you be crying silently while staring at your coworker? Wailing, gnashing your teeth and ripping your clothes? Loud sobs? I am kind of tempted to suggest a full on fit including falling to the floor and maybe pummeling or kicking said floor just to see how the boss reacts. Then if he complained you would get to say, but you TOLD me to. However this is probably a bad idea and looking for a new position might be the better way to go. Hopefully something works out!

      1. MistOrMister*

        How do you apply them without anyone noticing? Maybe do a “hey what’s that over there???” and then apply with an eye dropper when they look away? :)

      2. Quill*

        Since I can cry at the drop of a hat (someone shouts in my vicinity? The eyes leak!) I volunteer to be the supplier of these fake tears.

    1. T3k*

      lol, I was thinking they could conjure up the Futurama episode Juassic Bark about Fry’s dog. That gets me every time.

      1. MistOrMister*

        Gawd, that episode!! It should have come with a fricking warning label. I haven’t watched Futurama since because I’m afraid they’ll sneak it in on me again. That poor puppy…

        1. noname*

          They did a follow-up many episodes later with a happier ending because so many People found it too much.

    2. Eliza*

      There’s a product that actors use when they need to cry for a scene. It’s like a lip balm stick infused with menthol; you apply it under your eyes and the vapour irritates them slightly and causes you to cry. Obviously, what OP needs to do is buy a few of these, expense them to the company, and let the boss explain to accounting why his employee needs a tear stick as a business expense.

      (OP, do not do this.)

        1. Agnodike*

          The only brand I know of is Kryolan – the product is called Tear Stick, I think – but I’m sure there are others.

          1. Quill*

            Burt’s bees has a mentholated lip balm… but usually I cry when I put it on my lips if they’ve dried out too much. It stings!

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m picturing OP#2 bursting into obviously fake tears every time a team member gets within 2 feet of her in order to gain a reputation – as a crazy person no one should approach, ever.

      That could work but would likely not have the effect the boss expected.

    4. Just Elle*

      Honestly, I read it as more of a joke than an actual suggestion. Basically “I’m so sick of you women coming to me with your ridiculous drama, I’m just going to start giving you equally ridiculous advice.”

      …not sure if that’s any better, but I have to believe this guy knows that crying isn’t an actual solution.

      1. Washi*

        Same. Crying on cue makes very little sense as a real suggestion and unfortunately a lot of sense as a sarcastic, sexist remark. Which gives the OP a view into the fact that her managers probably sees OP’s frustration with the poor behavior of her coworkers as “girl drama.” If I were the OP, I probably wouldn’t bother saying anything in an attempt to keep a good reference and just try to get out asap.

      2. OP#2*

        OP2 here – I don’t complain to him often (try to interact as little as possible). He may be frustrated with the drama (and I wouldn’t blame him!) but there are still good employees in his group. Not all of us are part of the drama…

        1. Just Elle*

          Yes, but a sexist person would lump you all in together rather than see you as individuals capable of independent personalities and actions.
          I’ve certainly seen it before.

        2. KayDeeAye (formerly Kathleen_A)*

          Yes, and poor and ineffective bosses often like to lump people together. It’s sooooo much easier to say “My team is disfunctional” (or whatever the problem is) “because they are all losers and whiners” than it is to actually decide what the exact problems are (and problem people are) and figure out actual solutions to the actual problems.

          1. Kendra*

            And, honestly, this type of boss is sometimes slightly less horrible when they do that; when they actually bother to view their staff as individuals, that’s when you get absolutely rampant favoritism, and the environment gets even MORE toxic.

    5. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      Silly girl, don’t you know womenz cry on cue to get what they want?
      /end of sarcasm
      But, seriously, I could see the manager making this assumption, which makes it way worse.

    6. Mainely Professional*

      I can burp on cue, maybe burping into these women’s faces, or just hissing at them would work better than crying. /jk

    7. OP#2*

      Those are great suggestions!! If I don’t respond to other comments, it’s because I’m busy rolling around on freshly squeezed lemons, crying on the floor, and kicking the walls!

      1. valentine*

        Don’t forget to pound the floor with your fists and threaten to hold your breath.

        Part of me wishes you’d asked him to demonstrate, but he might’ve drawn more from his bottomless well of sexism.

  10. AlmondMilkLatte*


    It’s generally unwise to employ the same techniques one might use as a child or teenager at work in a professional setting! The last time I cried to get something I needed/wanted was at 19, in college!

    I have always stunk at math and had to take stats, but wasn’t able to get accommodations for a learning disability/anxiety in time because I had not thought of it until I got a D on the midterm! So, I asked my professor, a very nerdy but kind older guy, what I should do. Got upset and started crying- turns out tears were this guy’s kryptonite, and I got a bit of extra time to take it in a separate room unofficially so I would have what I needed in time (also didn’t feel safe getting a Diagnosis because of Helicopter Mom and forcing me to sign a FERPA waiver).

    Then, knowing this, next semester when a classmate was struggling with his class, I said, “not the greatest idea, but try crying? He hates it and will help you out to make it stop!” That’s so far removed from this toxic work environment though! When your office is acting like teenagers it’s a problem.

    1. Just Elle*

      Ugh. I once cried actual genuine tears because my professor was a total jerk face and was going to fail me on a technicality and I was going to lose my scholarship…. not like, dramatic tears, just so-frustrated-a-tear-slips-out tears.
      He reported me as a suicide risk and I had to spend midterms week in the school counselor’s office convincing them I was fine instead of doing the actual work that would actually get me out of my messy emotional state and keep me from failing college.
      He still failed me.
      Hate that stupid jerk face.

      1. Quill*

        Here, I have extra hatred you can use for him!

        I spent a good chunk of junior year crying in the instrumentation lab, where we kept 1) the good tissues 2) one of the senior lab assistants’ puppy when she visited.

        I miss that dog, but NOT my courseload.

        1. Just Elle*

          Omg lol, love this. “You know you had a hard major when… you know where the good tissues are kept.”

          1. Quill*

            I was the absolute disaster trying to double major in a science that already had an impossible schedule (Environmental science takes classes from each discipline but so many of the required ones were only available fall semesters!) and a humanity. I didn’t even hang out with my cohort because the rest of them were all (sensibly) ecologists, but I had to take water and life because chemistry.

            I will always respect my O-chem professor though, he just randomly opened a class one day with “so hey, when I was in the Navy I had a pretty gruesome near death experience. I’ve got PTSD – it’s a lot better now than it was, it’s been 40 years – but anyway my office is open if anyone is struggling.” And then he started us predicting electrons.

            Suddenly there were people who spent time in his office and I know because I was one of them.

    2. Senor Montoya*

      Just in case any students are reading this: know that even if mom forces you to sign a FERPA waiver, you can take it back / revoke the waiver at any time. And you don’t have to tell mom, either.

  11. Robert California*

    I agree with ghosting this guy. Clueless people don’t respond to social cues or don’t care. You’ve been very polite.

    1. Marthooh*

      I don’t think this guy’s clueless. He’s clinging desperately to his meal ticket. OP should drop him like drop him like a ball and chain at the jailhouse door.

  12. Cheluzal*

    2: crying most definitely will get bossman uncomfortable but I’ll bet it’d backfire and have the whole gaggle of women around you, trying to console you or something.

    1. OP#2*

      OP2 here – that’s exactly what would happen and the very women that I was trying to get rid of would only bother me more!!

  13. Another Sarah*

    UK readers, anyone else immediately think of that Smack the Pony episode where she starts crying to get them to use her business plan?
    (US – it was a 90s sketch show starring Sally Phillips – Shaz in Bridget Jones. Watching her have an obviously fake meltdown to get her male coworkers to do what she wanted was hilarious. Not so much in real life…)

  14. Just Elle*

    OP 3: With recruiters, I’ve started having to aggressively remind myself that the definition of sanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    I have a very unique skill set, so I keep convincing myself that these recruiters must be genuine because who the heck reaches out for someone with such unique skills unless they have an equally unique opening… right? Nope.
    Most recently, I had a recruiter who’s recruiting company seemed to specialize in my skill set reach out. Based on the location given, I knew exactly what the company was and that there was no way on earth I’d be caught dead working at that radioactive dumpster fire.
    I replied and said, I most certainly am not interested in this position, but I am interested in a change to industry x if that ever comes along. She replied, great, some of my colleagues specialize in that industry, let me pass your resume along to them. Next day, she calls me, we go through the whole 20 minute phone interview, and she goes, “OK, I think you’d be an AMAZING fit forRadioactiveDumpsterFire, can I put you in the for the job?” I was so angry. I said, rather sharply, that I am only interested in industry x. And she said, oh, well we don’t have any openings for that. Sigh. They just seem to be such a dishonest lot.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      There’s a handful of recruiters who really understand my field, and I already know who they are. 99% of the time, it’s some 21-year-old recent college grad asking me if I’m interested in a job way beneath my current level, wildly mismatched to my experience, or often both!

      1. Quill*

        I have a hall of fame for terrible recruiter cold calls.

        “Teach Chinese in China” is on there. (I’m an american. I speak english, and to a limited extent spanish.)

        Other all time greats:
        “Work Opportunity in Antarctica” (boy would I like to know if that was an autocorrect…)
        The job that fucked up the formatting and told me that the *shifts* were 40 hours.
        “You appear to be highly qualified for in our Fortune 500 company client”

    2. UX How Does it Work?*

      Hard same. I think that I’ve had the best work by setting my expectations from the first conversation. I’m not rude or anything, more like:

      “Thanks so much for reaching out! I’m interested in hearing about new opportunities! The sorts of positions that I am looking for offer [perks you need/flex time/whatever else you need] and pay at a range of [pay range]. Do you have anything that fits the bill? Thanks again for reaching out to me!”

      That way they don’t waste my time OR theirs.

      1. Just Elle*

        I like this idea. But I’ve tried it, and they still say yes, and then you send their resume, and then they act surprised you aren’t thrilled about their way-below-ask pay that requires relocating to Nowhere, North Dakota and isn’t remotely related to your abilities…

  15. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

    OP1, I wonder if you’ve communicated clearly to your new hire what he is supposed to do. And what is the help he is refusing? What I’m sensing is the ‘why in hell am I training my supervisor/boss/senior when he/she makes oodles more than me? I’m not good enough to have that job yet I’m good enough to teach it to someone else?” These are legitimate feelings and it’s not something you have any control over. You really need to sit down and go over expectations and roles with your employee. If help means he is supposed to teach the senior, I’m curious if you told him that when he was hired. When lower level people end up doing their bosses job/teaching their new boss, etc, resentment is common.

    1. Beehoppy*

      They both started last week. They are going through new hire training together being trained by someone else. The entry-level guy isn’t doing the training, I think he was just asked by mid-level guy for some help in as aspect of the training they were both receiving.

      1. WellRed*

        +1. He’s also asking for promotion to a completely different team. He’s been there a week. A week.

    2. Important Moi*

      I agree. Training versus helping with a task? Either way if you’re supposed to know something, I have to “help,” and you’re higher up on the org chart, I have resentment.

      Just fire him because he’s never going to be okay with helping someone higher up on the org chart. Whether or not he should be okay with that isn’t the issue. You need someone to do a job and he’s not doing it.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s the technical aspect they’re learning right now. Not their actual jobs in this case.

      I had someone who was an assistant think they could do my accounting job because they showed me how to do data entry in the system when I arrived.

      Being able to show me how the system works in terms of “this creates a new record” and “this is your search key.” was what the training was for in that case. Since it’s the same technique for different aspects including order taking and such.

      Whereas my actual job isn’t just inputting data by any means.

  16. Senor Montoya*

    OP #5. It is not weird, and as you are a current student affairs professional I’m kind of surprised you don’t know that. It’s higher ed. They may never have done phone interviews for screening before. The search committee chair and/or hiring officer may like to meet candidates right away. They might have a compressed hiring schedule (money for the position may go away if they don’t hire pretty soon, for instance) and not be doing a big first round screening. Or all sorts of less reasonable reasons.

    1. Senor Montoya*

      Oops, hit submit too soon!

      I’d always take an in-person interview if you think you are fairly to very interested in the job. You will get a lot of info that way you can’t get in a phone interview (just checking in at the office reception and looking around will give you useful info). You will have an opportunity to walk around campus and perhaps talk with other people about the dept. What do students think of them? what do folks who look like employees think of them? Do you have any contacts at that institution — set up a coffee or stop-in-the-office quick meeting. I’ve done those things — very enlightening.

      1. Margaret*

        OP #5 here. My current role is my first professional experience out of school (I’ve been here about 3. 5 years). Since I started in my current position, I’ve interviewed at 3 or 4 other institutions and I’ve also had a lot of friends and colleagues go through their own hiring processes. If it wasn’t a local position, the first step has always been a remote interview. Perhaps that’s unusual but it’s the only thing I’ve seen in this field before now! I don’t have an issue with an on campus interview at all, and I don’t even mind paying my own travel costs (although this is the first time I’ve encountered that as well), I was concerned that I’d be doing that travel and spending that money for a 1-hour conversation that could just as easily happen on the phone. I was operating under the assumption that there would be several stages to this process (again, that’s what I’ve seen before), but from what the interviewers said it seems like this will be the only interview. I only met the people who would be my boss and grand-boss. I wasn’t really given the opportunity to see much of the campus or speak with students (unless I wanted to corner them outside the building on my own, which didn’t seem like a good idea). I walked around campus on my own for a while after the interview but wasn’t offered a tour even of the office where I’d be working. But I liked my interviewers and like what I learned about the role, and from research I’ve done on the institution it seems like it would be a good fit. So I don’t know – I guess we’ll see if I get an offer!

        1. Hope*

          I think it just varies from institution to institution, but the process you went through this time looks much more like everything I’ve seen and heard of at most institutions (including leaving you to look at the campus yourself).

          I’d argue it’s more unusual that you’ve had so many remote interviews, but some places will do that if they have the time (with staff positions, there is often less time because they’re trying to fill a position someone left) or if most of their pool is applying from out of state. But any time they’re inviting you on-campus interview for a non-faculty position, it’s probably a safe assumption to make that this is THE interview.

          Good luck–I hope you get the position if you decide you like it!

        2. Senor Montoya*

          OK, didn’t know where you were in your career journey! So, welcome to the wonderful world of academia and student affairs!

          You can “corner” students and staff/faculty on your own — I’ve gone to the student union for instance, looked for a likely group (three or more people — it can feel creepy to approach an individual), and said something like, “So, this may sound kind of weird, but I’m thinking about working at Gigantic State U in the Tutorial Center — would you mind talking for a minute or two about what *you* think of Tutorial Center?” If people seem hesitant, I say, “No worries, I know it’s a busy time! Thanks anyway! Have a great day!” But quite often people have things to say. You don’t need to introduce yourself, either — “I’m thinking about working at…” is sufficient context for your purposes.

          And I would definitely see if you have a direct contact, or if someone in your personal network or circle can make a connection for you.

  17. Rebecca*

    #2 – This part really stuck out for me “There is no accountability for poor behavior (often excused with “that’s just how Brenda is….” or “Megan works better with men; don’t take it personally”).”

    I too work at a company where management excuses toxic behavior with these excuses, especially the “that’s just how Brenda is” phrase. Personally, I’m sick of it. Basically, management is too lazy to address bad behavior, so they expect everyone to tiptoe around the problem employee because [reasons]. At my company, there is a “Brenda”, and you never know when you’ll receive a reply-all nastygram with multiple managers copied, with snarky comments about your job performance or just a rant in general. I’ve even gotten an apology from her manager for “Brenda’s” behavior. It meant nothing, the behavior continues, and it adds to an already stressful work environment. I get a decent paycheck and have good health insurance, so for now, I’ll put up with this, but I’m always on alert for any new opportunity.

    OP, you need to decide if you want to live in the bee hive, endure getting stung repeatedly, or look for a new job. And the crying advice? Just wow, I have no words about that. I doubt he’d tell a man to handle things that way!

    1. OP#2*

      I think we must work at the same company! Disappointing that this is a professional, degreed workplace/workforce. I expected more…..

    2. pally*

      Same thing here. But my “Brenda” is a man.

      Management blames the guy’s prior employer for inculcating his bullying behavior. Yet its been 30 years since he worked at his prior employer! Yes, for 30 years this guy’s actions have been excused. You’d think in that time someone could have worked to change this guy’s ways. Nope.

      1. starsaphire*

        My “Brenda” was male too. I never knew when my “good morning” was going to get a “good morning” in return, or an “I was here until 11 PM fixing something that YOU screwed up!” shouted at me across the atrium. (Hint: It was almost never my screwup.)

        I went into our shared boss one time in tears because “Brenda” had yelled at me, in public, in front of several co-workers, for something I didn’t do. I closed the door and said, “Can you do something about ‘Brenda?’ He’s really being an asshole to me today,” and explained what happened.

        Boss shrugged and said, “Well, ‘Brenda’ IS an asshole.” And that was the end of the conversation.

        Ah, OldJob. *eyeroll*

    3. Junior Assistant Peon*

      “you never know when you’ll receive a reply-all nastygram with multiple managers copied, with snarky comments about your job performance or just a rant in general.” – This sounds exactly like my company! When I was new, I learned the hard way to never ask questions and avoid copying anyone on emails! I’ve been the target of many a reply-all saying something along the lines of “Haha, everyone look at Peon, he just asked a dumb question!”

      1. Rebecca*

        Exactly! Literally, this person’s building could be on fire behind them, and I would not comment. I don’t ask questions or suggest better ways to do things any longer, because I don’t want to deal with the nonsense that follows.

        I will say, the next time I get a nasty gram from her, I’m going to copy everyone I can think of and call her out on it. Really, I’m past it. Way past it. For me, this is worth burning the bridge. I’m too old for this shit.

    4. Lauren*

      I was recently told that our toxic employee was let go, but the company only told her and let her find a new job while she still worked here. SVP basically said ‘if people were more adult with dealing with her, then…” Seriously, the whole company had issues with her, you fired her – granted with a soft landing, but its our problem not the toxic person who belittled every person she encountered. The excuses are infuriating. Why is it our problem to fix our behavior??? I don’t get people.

  18. Sabina*

    OP 2: Crying to drive people away? Might work. But…have you tried vomiting? Projectile vomiting usually does the trick.

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      Works like a charm on my husband. Every time our daughter so much as gags he’s racing out of the room.

    2. juliebulie*

      Projectile vomiting is rough on your insides. I’m sure a dribbly puke will do just as well, plus, less spray (since you are at your desk you want to limit the mess).

  19. Salmon Dean*

    OP #5 I know that I personally, especially when I am busy, am not very good at picking up on subtleties or hints. If someone asks me about hotels, I’m answering that question, not connecting the dots of “Oh it’s a long trip, maybe I should offer a phone interview”. No, I’m finishing this thing and moving on to the next.

    It’s possible that the next day I might think “Oh, OP 5 is driving a long way, maybe I should have offered a phone interview” but I doubt if I would then pick up the phone and offer one.

    1. teclatrans*

      Yes, this is what I was thinking, perhaps even a bit of (Midwestern?) guess-culture meets ask-culture directness. Or maybe itbeoulf have

  20. LGC*

    LW4: So, I’m with Alison in that you can (and probably should) ghost this dude. But also…he sounds very…obtuse. I think he literally thinks that you can’t work with him now but you can later. (And he definitely would want to work with you again! You were the reason he had a job!) Plus, there’s distance between a polite but slightly evasive, “thanks but I’m not interested right now” and a direct, but blunt, “stop contacting me”

    If you felt up to it, you might want to say, “Thanks, but I’ve moved on to X for the foreseeable future, so I’m not available. I wish you the best.” I think that’s final enough, and shows that you don’t dislike him personally…you just aren’t going to work with him. (You’re allowed to dislike the guy, but I don’t advise telling or showing him you do.)

  21. Amethystmoon*

    #1 We all sometimes have to work with, and help, people who we don’t like personally. I had a coworker for three years who made a lot of mistakes. Guess who had to stay late and fix them? Yep, me. This coworker also had a lot of boundary-ignoring behavior and was not pleasant to deal with, as he had a lot of misogynistic views. But I still did what I had to, because good paychecks aren’t always easy to come by. The employee in #1 will eventually learn that you have to do what your boss tells you to, or else you will be replaced by someone else who will follow directions.

  22. Martha*

    At my institution, we’re not allowed to videoconference for some interviews and meet face-to-face for others. Every applicant must be treated the same. However, we are willing to videoconference with everyone if just one person needs it. I know people in interim positions who have interviewed via videochat for a permanent position while they were in their office next door to the room the interviewers were in.

  23. Margaret*

    OP #5 here. I went for the interview last Monday. I felt like it went well and I got an overall good vibe of the people who would be my boss and grand-boss, but it truly was just an hour. What is possibly a bigger red flag than the travel aspect is that, when I asked about the timeline, I got the impression that that interview would be the *only* interview. They are trying to fill three different positions for the same role (all 3 currently there are leaving at the same time, 2 for another role at the same university and the other one is moving altogether), so I get that there may be some urgency, but that seems like poor hiring practices. They said that they hoped to be reaching out to candidates by early this week and it’s now Friday and I haven’t heard anything. I’m still weighing in my mind whether I want to take the risk for the opportunity to get away from my current location and position that I’m very bored with (and coworkers that I dislike). I think it is likely to come down to salary.

    1. LGC*

      Good luck!

      How high-level is this position? If it’s fairly low-level, then one 1-hour interview isn’t that bad, but it seems a bit off for more senior roles. Hopefully things work out.

      1. Margaret*

        It’s entry-level, but I’ve interviewed for several other entry-level (or barely above entry-level) positions since I first got into this field about 4 years ago. There have always been at least 2 interviews in the process, so this seems unusual to me, but from other comments apparently it’s not that unusual.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Hi Margaret. There’s a good lesson here: don’t assume there is a “standard” interview process that everyone follows. While you may have had several entry-levelish interviews, that is not a large enough sample size to get too comfortable. That’s why it is always useful to ask the recruiter what to expect.

          Good luck with the offer!

    2. Rach*

      In my experience working at a university (although in the UK so perhaps slightly different) one one-hour interview plus maybe an Excel test or something for professional services roles is absolutely the norm, with no phone interview beforehand. We do sometimes do skype interviews instead but not always.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      Agreed that just the one interview (for only 1 hour) is not best practices, but it may not be up to the hiring dept. Trying to fill three positions, probably very hard for the rest of the staff to cover for three leaving at the same time, hence short timeline, hence one interview. This has happened in our office, in fact, because (1) we can’t offer enough money to keep people and (2) entry level people can’t get promoted within our dept because higher level positions have people in them who are not going anywhere. I would do some follow up, once you hear back. Ask about salary, likelihood of raises and how they are determined (dept may not have much control over that), likelihood of promotion over say 3 – 5 years and how it is determined, plus whatever issues you are concerned about.

      Given their situation, you are actually in a good position. They have to get good folks fast, they need to be nice to everyone who’s a reasonable prospect because they can’t be sure they are going to get enough yesses.

      Haven’t contacted you yet — I wouldn’t read anything into that. Follow up end of next week if you haven’t heard anything.

  24. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#1: Alison’s advice is spot on, and there are other good suggestions in the comments. By all means, implement Alison’s script, then watch what happens. Be clear, explicit, and as blunt as necessary to get the message across.

    And then you really need to sit down and take a hard look at your hiring process. You say you thought this young man would be “a good fit” for the lower-level position. Why? Did you check his references? Did you tell him why you wanted to offer him the lower-level position and exactly what that job entailed? You say he didn’t “interview well” for the higher-level position. What about his interview performance made you draw that conclusion? If it was a demonstrated lack of soft skills, that lack would show up in any position for which you hired him.

    This young man may just be a mismatch for your organization, and you may not be able to change that. Don’t drag the process out — if you give him clear performance targets, and he can’t meet them, then let him go at once. You should not invest more than three months in him.

    But then you really, really need to look at how he was hired. Your letter doesn’t give a lot of detail, but I really think the source of your problem lies in your hiring process.

    1. LGC*

      Yeah, that was a bit of a red flag there. (I am going to leave out my fun marching band comparisons because the last time I did that I accidentally caused a derail and possibly found someone who might have gone to the same HS I did.)

      It sounds like the guy is a bit of a talented jerk, to be honest, and his expectations were out of line with what you guys could offer. (That is, he took the lower-level job expecting that he could move up quickly.) This isn’t to say that LW1 is horrible and it’s all her fault that Fergus is being a Fergus and refuses to help Bob because obviously Bob is so much smarter than he is since he has the mid-level position – all of that’s on Fergus. But it does seem like the situation is not a great fit for either LW1 or the new junior employee.

      I’d also consider – going forward – the structure of the team. It feels a bit awkward to have one employee that’s technically junior to everyone else on the team, but I can also see valid reasons to have that arrangement.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Yeah, I was a bit puzzled by the description of the team structure. I’m sure LW1 was trying to be succinct, but it sounds a little odd.

        1. LGC*

          I can kind of see it if the purpose of the junior position is to get the person up to the level of the mid-level position. And again, unhelpful employee is in the wrong here – he agreed to take a lower-level position than what he wanted, so he should try to at least honor that agreement. But I feel like that’s a difficult situation for a lot of people to be in – I’d feel a bit inadequate in that position myself, knowing explicitly that I’m the lowest in the hierarchy.

    2. OP1*

      I can definitely own the hiring process on this was clunky. He was my first external entry level hire for this team (There are others that were internal transfers)…He did originally interview for the mid level role, and we declined. The next week we opened up the lower level and I let our recruiter and our busy season pressure me into hiring quickly and recycling him as a candidate. I did reach out and define the differences in roles before the offer, but looking back I should have approached hiring him differently. All that being said- it’s clear I have some blunt conversations ahead of me if I can turn it around with him. Appreciate all the perspectives here!

  25. Elenia*

    I like how the dude in OP # 1 wasnt hired for the higher level position because he didn’t have the soft skills required….so he promptly goes and proves that he doesn’t have the soft skills required, by refusing to work with someone else, and also asking when he can get promoted.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Okay, this is exactly what bothered me about that situation, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. This is exactly why he’s probably not going to work out long term unless the company is willing to do a LOT of coaching on soft skills with him.

  26. Sharon*

    OP#3, recruiters can be a force for good or evil! Several years ago, I was grossly underpaid at a job I was miserable in. I went to a recruiter armed with my resume, which at that point in my career was a little blah; however, I had recently finished my Master’s and I was also bi-lingual. The recruiter told me that I was lucky to have my current job and was grossly OVERPAID at it! I was completely depressed. I ended up finding a much better job on my own a few months later, and was surprised when a few months after that, the recruiter called me with a GREAT opportunity. I realized that when he was busy disparaging my skills and work history, it was really about him not having anything for me.

  27. Arctic*

    Crying is amateur hour. If I don’t want to talk to someone I look them right in the eye and start picking my nose. Definitely try that OP.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Why you hefta be silent? I just cock a leg and aim right at the offending party.

        (It worked for my brother as a kid…so did crying because he knew he’d be blamed for making me cry LOL. So clearly that’s the right decision I say.)

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I volunteer with wildlife and I always tell my boss I’m going to chase people away like our possums do. They just open their mouths really wide and stare at you. Try that.

  28. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I find it so strange to say crying will drive away. Most people who aren’t extremely uncomfortable by tears will want to know what’s wrong and how they can help. Especially a bunch of people without boundaries. Even men… your boss is such a jackhole.

    1. Jamie*

      Even those who are. I am very uncomfortable if someone I don’t know well is crying, but I would still inquire if they were okay and ask if I could help. We’re not socially trained to ignore people in overt distress.

      This may be the most ridiculous work advice ever. If someone told me to cry to get what I want I’d ask “Why? Does my Dad work here?” Because that’s literally the only way that would work for me.

      1. Quill*

        Equally terrible work situation with former boss, yelling at me about the fact that I was crying from tendonitis -related pain.

        “Why are you crying? Do you think that will get you out of trouble?”

        Nope, crying because you won’t even let me sit down to get yelled at.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          LMFAO @ anyone who thinks that yelling at someone and them crying means they’re !!*trying to get out of trouble!* though. No, they’re trying because you’re a jackass who can’t control your temper.

          I’m fast to cry. Except when being screamed at. Then I just turn around and leave. LOUD NOISES mean RUN AWAY, it’s frigging animal instinct.

        2. Kendra*

          I have a tendency to rage-cry; screaming in my face barely makes me bat an eye, but when I get really, truly angry, I start bawling my face off. It makes arguments EXTREMELY annoying, for both me and the person I’m arguing with. If I’d been in your shoes, tears would have been a sign that I was about three seconds away from exploding and burning all the bridges, not “trying to get out of trouble.”

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It doesn’t work with cops either, “kids”. I had people tell me that “trick” when I was younger and I was like “Yeah that’s not how any of that works…” I just apologize and call myself a dumbass and THAT has gotten me decent results. I had one cop actually thank me for not crying “It’s a speeding ticket not a life sentence…”

        My parents were the least strict ever and crying was their immediate “you’re upset. Sounds like you need a nap not a new toy.”

        I’m a fast to cry person. I have to tell people that “my tear ducts are on a hair trigger…”

        I’ll cry for IG memorials when one of the 349 dogs I follow is sick or passes over the rainbow bridge. Just look away!

  29. Veronica*

    LW4, Joe sounds like the kind of person who is looking to be rescued. He’s putting his effort into finding someone to rescue and carry him professionally. If he gives up on you, he’ll try to find someone else.
    If you leave any room for doubt he will cling to it. Whatever you say to him, make it clear you’re not available now or in the future. Or ghosting him could work.

  30. CatCat*

    OP #1, I can’t even imagine the gall of telling my boss that I won’t help a higher level employee. We all essentially have the same types of technical skills, but I have subject matter expertise in particular areas. I would 100% expect that part of my job is to use my expertise to help higher level employees who do not have it in that area.

    If I pulled a stunt like OP #1’s employee, I am sure my boss would be pisssssssssssed. And rightfully so. What on earth.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I can’t imagine the gall of refusing to help a fellow employee at ANY level. Everyone has knowledge gaps or is better one thing than another. I wouldn’t want to work in a place where employees refuse help. And if one of my employees refused to help another, that wouldn’t fly.

  31. Jedi Squirrel*

    This is how OP 2’s predicament would work for me.

    Me: Puts up sign on desk that says “Stay away. I have contagious explosive diarrhea.”

    Boss: WTH? Why did you put that sign up?

    Me: Well, the crying thing didn’t work, and I figured this was the next logical step…

  32. Anon Here*

    #2 – Give notice and tell him to cry.

    I’m only half joking. I think you could get away with it. Line up something else. Give notice. When he reacts, say something like, “I’ve heard crying works for these moments. Here are some tissues.” Then smile warmly and laugh. You’re laughing WITH him. Because it was a joke to begin with, right?

  33. Budgie Buddy*

    For #1, I wonder if his attitude got out of whack from the hiring process on. It seems like he and the other new employee have the same technical skills on paper and went through the same training process but the other one is in the high position because of soft skills (which the disgruntled employee probably translates to “they just like the other person better”). He’s also the lowest position on the team, so he probably feels isolated for that reason as well.

    I wonder if it would have been better to hire someone who applied specifically for the lower position, even if they had fewer skills on paper, as long as they were truly enthusiastic about taking on the role and had better soft skills to fit in with the team. The disgruntled employee acts like his current job is a consolation prize, and that’s not a good attitude for either him or the team.

    1. juliebulie*

      I wonder where he even got the idea that he could expect a promotion. Usually, if that is part of the deal, they tell you that when they hire you. Assuming that didn’t happen (I think OP would have mentioned it), maybe this is one of those Gumptioning ideas he got from a book or a “helpful” relative.

      Not that that is any excuse. But this is why having the recommended conversation is so important. Regardless of where the wrong ideas came from, they need to be removed!

      And I agree that it probably would have been better to hire someone who had applied for the junior position in the first place. I feel much better when I’m coming into the job that I actually wanted and will be a step forward (or even sideways) in my career vs one that I think (correctly or not) that I’m overqualified for.

      And I gotta figure this person’s attitude is probably not delightful for his colleagues.

  34. workerbee2*

    Re: Letter 1 – It sounds like Entry-level Eric and Mid-level Mike were both being trained on some software, process, etc. that neither had encountered previously. For whatever reason, Eric picked it up faster than Mike. Eric is bristling at being expected to help Mike get up-to-speed because he’s resentful that he wasn’t offered Mike’s job, and “isn’t the fact that I’m obviously smarter and a faster learner proof that I should have had that job instead of Mike?” No. It’s not. Learning something quickly is only an advantage for the duration of time between when you pick it up and when everyone else does. After that initial edge, the playing field is leveled. Intelligence and brain plasticity are great qualities to have, but they are not the only or even the most valuable qualities in an employee.

    Beyond being supremely unhelpful and coming off as not-a-team-player, it’s also wrong-headed for Eric to refuse to help Mike because teaching someone else how to do something is one of the best ways to reinforce your own learning. It makes perfect sense for Eric to be the one to help Mike in that case, because it would theoretically be beneficial to both of them.

  35. Grey Coder*

    OP#3, in my industry there is no way a good recruiter will ask you to take time off work to meet them. They might ask for a phone call at a mutually convenient time, but that’s all.

    I get a lot of recruiter connection requests/messages on LinkedIn because I have skills which are in high demand. The good recruiters make it clear that they’ve actually read my profile and explain why my experience is relevant for the job they’re hiring for. Also, you can use LinkedIn to check out recruiters! I look for ones that do more than just list jobs — posting insights about the job market, relevant links, etc.

  36. LadyCop*

    #3 I don’t see why you expect a recruiter to have checked out your Linked In or Facebook to determine if you’re employed? They had an out of date resume, fishing through the muck of social networks sounds a lot more difficult than just politely asking…

  37. Anobt3645*

    Re: #1
    Am I the only one in disagreement with the advice given to the OP here?

    If I was a level 1, I shouldn’t be training a level 2. It’s expected that the level 2 should already have the skills for the job. Now if as a level 1, I had to pitch in a do work that the level 2 had to pass down, then fine, but the OP stated she wants the level 1 to “train” the higher up.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      No, the OP did not state that.

      And even if they had–there are plenty of times where it makes sense for a lower level employee to train someone higher on a particular piece of the job because their job will likely entail a ton of other things that the lower level employee is not equipped to handle. And that’s okay and normal! I have trained a boss on a piece of my job before so that they have the knowledge they need to review my work. But they also did a ton of other things unrelated to that one thing I happened to know about.

      But still, all that is irrelevant because the OP never said anything about the disgruntled employee training the higher-level employee.

    2. Sacred Ground*

      Clearly you didn’t read the post carefully, or read the comments at all. As has been repeated a dozen times by now, OP never said anything about the junior employee training the senior one.

      Never comment until you’ve read the comments.

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