I resent coworkers coming back from furlough, I took over a colleague’s work, and more

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

1. My coworker’s work was given to me, and I feel awkward about it

I was promoted from a subject matter expert to a senior position in my org. At the same time, a colleague, who had arrived at their senior position due to nepotism from a previous regime, had their position rewritten. A key part of that job — one that they enjoyed due to its power and prestige — was shifted to me. It actually makes more sense this way, but this duty was shifted for punitive reasons. Yes, they weren’t good at it, but there were also some significant behavioral issues including power hoarding and territorial behavior, resistance to feedback, and dogmatic adherence to outdated protocol. It was a painful transition and they were really hurt by it.

Here’s my issue: When they and I are in group meetings and questions arise about this specific duty, I always feel very awkward when I answer. I am hyper-aware of their (virtual) presence. I also know that they would have likely given a near-opposite answer than mine, or would’ve dissembled long enough to kick the can indefinitely.

How do I stop feeling awkward? In the moment I answer with confidence and have not heard any feedback that I am portraying discomfort (I’m neurodivergent; masking is sadly one of my superpowers). But I feel awkward and I’d like to stop. Any advice?

You say the work for shifted for punitive reasons — but reassigning a responsibility because the person who used to do it was territorial and resistant to feedback, dogmatically insisted on outdated protocol, and hoarded power doesn’t sound punitive to me. It sounds like a natural and necessary consequence of the way that person handled the work. So I urge you not to think of it as punishment; instead, the work was moved because your colleague demonstrated it couldn’t remain with them.

But as for not feeling awkward about it, sometimes all you can really do is fake it until you make it. Act as if you’d act if your coworker weren’t right there, or as you would if they’d been thrilled to give up the work to you. Sometimes faking your way through something like this for long enough will over time make it feel more natural (often simply through repetition and giving it a chance to become normal).

Also,, keep in mind that by answering questions about the work with skill and competence, you’re demonstrating why the work was moved to you! Unlike your colleague, you’re not dissembling or kicking the can down the road or answering poorly; your calm competence itself is illustrating the reason you’re now the one managing the work.

2. I resent my returning coworkers

I feel like a terrible person. Some coworkers on my team are getting called back from a long furlough. These are people I like, who got caught in a tough situation. The rational part of me knows it is a good thing they are returning. So why do I feel so resentful?

I have been working under a significant pay cut for most of the year, and working way more hours than normal. And now they are coming back and everyone is acting like the cavalry has arrived. And some of the new things I’ve taken on and enjoyed in their absence will go back to them.

Again, it’s a good thing these coworkers are coming back. I feel badly I’m not 100% thrilled. How can I stop feeling like such an awful person and coworker?

You’re not a terrible person! You’re having a human reaction, because you are a human.

I could tell you to remember that your returning coworkers probably had a hard year too, in different ways from yours … but I suspect you know that. You’re allowed to feel like this situation sucks for you too.

You’ve had a long, tough year. You’ve had to work more hours for less money. “Everyone is acting like the cavalry has arrived” probably indicates you’re feeling unappreciated too — and if you’re unappreciated, underpaid, and overworked, of course you don’t feel unmitigated delight at seeing your furloughed colleagues hailed as returning heroes. You’ve been a hero in this story too, and it’s going to grate if that’s unrecognized. Plus you’re losing projects you’ve enjoyed! It’s understandable to have mixed feelings. (And it doesn’t sound like you want people to stay unemployed! You’re just having a flood of feelings about the whole situation, and that’s okay.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Pushy candidate won’t take any of my advice but keeps asking for help

I work at a large company that is a desirable employer, in a somewhat niche industry. Three years ago, a coworker sent me a resume for someone who was a candidate for a role in a different division because he wasn’t aware of who the hiring manager was. I responded to the candidate and forwarded the information to the hiring manager.

That person contacted me later via LinkedIn, asking about the status, I told her an internal candidate had been chosen but if she saw openings in my division, to contact me. I had an opening that was junior to her experience, and it’s not unusual to have people apply for such roles to get into the industry. That wasn’t of interest to her. I advised that several online schools offer specified courses and suggested she look into those after she indicated she’d read a book about the topic (the book doesn’t really apply, but candidates often take these courses to get into the industry). She did not take that advice.

Now she has IM’d me about an opening in a third division. I had a slight spidey-sense about her before, but that’s now gone off the charts. She said she had applied a few months ago and “I have not heard one word.” I was thinking about how to respond, and she IM’d me a week later to say she’d taken an online skill assessment, was really interested in the role, what an incredible candidate she’d be, and “Here’s the application number. Please advise.” I have told her multiple times the past that I have no contacts in the division that she has applied for, and that division is extremely competitive.

I responded advising patience, hiring takes time, and currently compounded by reorgs in HR and Covid. Her response: “I agree with patience and understand things are hard for everyone right now, but I’m out of work so this is very urgent for me” (her current resume shows she hasn’t worked in three years) and “maybe I should seek out some other people in the organization and contact them via LinkedIn.”

I don’t know her personally. I talked to the coworker who originally sent her resume, and he doesn’t know her (and can’t remember how they connected). In an odd twist of events, I do know the hiring manager. Rather than having her desired effect of getting her an “in,” the message I’m giving to him is more along the lines of “danger Will Robinson” and forwarding the “networker’s” IM’s.

This person has been in various professional roles for more than 15 years so this isn’t a newbie mistake. The whole interaction (and several previous ones that were slightly less pushy) make me want to give her feedback on how off-putting this can be, and may be hurting her chances. There are other things in the cover letter and resume that are cringe-worthy, but I won’t go into that other than it’s clear she didn’t read the job descriptions. Should I bother? Or maybe I am being overly-sensitive or jerky?

You’re not being a jerk. She’s being overly pushy, and “this is very urgent for me” shows a particular lack of understanding of how hiring works. (Typically in hiring, if you need an immediate answer, that answer will be no.)

But I don’t know that it’s worth trying to give feedback about it. You’ve already given her advice a couple of times and she’s ignored it, once even arguing with you. It sounds like the only thing she’s really interested in hearing from you is “I’ve recommended you to the hiring manager.” You could give her the feedback as a way of closing the door to further interactions if you wanted (“at this point I won’t be able to recommend you because XYZ”), but you’re probably better off saving your energy for someone who appreciates you taking the time to offer advice.

4. Taking a job where you’re already at the top of the salary range

I received a job offer at a salary level that I’m happy with, although it is pretty close to what I’m making now. The problem is, the hiring manager said he had to fight tooth and nail to get me this number (given my experience and current salary), and that I am at the very top of the range. When I asked about future increases, he wasn’t able to give me a straight answer. At my current job, I’m more or less guaranteed a pay bump of 2-3% each year. By taking this new role, I would start at a slightly higher salary but with no promise of any future movement, until potentially I am promoted in 3-5 years time (it is a small company so unlikely I make rapid moves). What are your thoughts on me potentially reaching my ceiling on day 1 of this new role?

To be on the safe side, assume no raises while you’re in this role — do you still want it? When you do the math, how does that compare to what you’d be earning at your current job in two or three years?

But yeah, I’d be concerned about taking a job where I was already at the salary ceiling for the role and couldn’t earn more regardless of my performance (and where inflation means that in a couple of years you’ll be earning less than what you started in, in terms of buying power), and I’d be even more concerned about a job where the manager wouldn’t give a straight answer when I asked about it.

5. Can I be forced to train a new hire for no extra pay?

Can my employer force me to train a new hire with no experience without compensating me? My position is a very skilled position and training will take away from my workload.

Yes, your employer can require you to train a new hire without paying you extra for it. In fact, it’s pretty common to be asked to help train new team members, and it’s rare for that to involve extra pay.

If you’re concerned it will take you away from other priorities, explain to your manager specifically what the impact will be — as in, “If I train Jane on X and Y this week, I won’t be able to complete Z. I’d need to bump it back to next week, which in turn would bump back W.” Or if it’s broader than that: “I’m concerned I won’t be able to meet my goals for this quarter if I spend a substantial amount of time training Jane. Is there someone else who could train her instead?”  (Or so forth.) But you can’t just flatly refuse; have a conversation about your concerns and see where your manager lands after hearing your input.

{ 195 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    I have a slightly different take than AAM, mostly because nobody can predict much about the future. Companies that hold that strongly to pay bands and what not *should* be adjusting the pay bands for inflation every year, mine certainly does. Otherwise over time, their wages would truly stagnate and nobody would work there if they hand any other choice.

    You asked a specific question without much context, but in order to fully answer your question, I have to ask: Why are you thinking about leaving your current job? Moving to a job where your wages will be stagnant for the foreseeable future when you already have a job is just a really questionable move. What’s in it for you?

    1. anony*


      If the job is half or a quarter as awesome as you think it is, with no raises, for the next five years, can you afford it and is it a good move for you?

      If the job turns out to suck, you’ll probably feel resentment about the salary situation — but if you answer yes to the above question and then start to feel resentment about the salary once you’re in the job, that’s probably a sign that there’s an issue with the job itself.

      1. Addy*

        +1 for this

        I accepted a job offer that came in over my asking range 4 years ago and was super excited.

        Since then… I’ve had a grand total of a 1.9% raise. (and a 25% paycut for 2020 with no end date in sight). If I’d known there would be no raises, I would have negotiated for more money!

    2. NYWeasel*

      I was coming here to say that as an occasional hiring manager and on ongoing people leader, I have zero visibility over what I’m going to be allowed to offer to my team in the future for raises. We’re given a pool of money, so we have a tiny bit of discretion to flex it higher or lower based on performance. Still no clue until they open the portal up for us to start processing it what we’ll get in that pool. I would never make a promise to a candidate for any specific % raise.

      1. Chilipepper*

        Fair enough that you could not make promises. But you likely would not evade the answer. You could explain something like you explained here.

      2. Quinalla*

        Sure, some companies are like this, but you could give the answer that you can’t guarantee raises because of the way the system is set up. Just like this hiring manager could have given the answer (if the honest one) that OP was unlikely to get a raise until a promotion.

    3. Snow Globe*

      Agree that in many companies the pay bands are adjusted annually to keep up with inflation. That’s pretty normal, and that is a question that the LW could ask the manager about. The manager would be more likely to be able to answer a question about the company’s process than a question about what kind of raise the LW specifically would be getting.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      Yes, with strong compensation systems do assess their comp structure annually and make adjustments to pay ranges based on market data. In my experience these adjustments are not guaranteed and the amount varies based on what is happening in the market and often with specific peer companies. At my company we generally adjust our ranges by about 1-2% every other year. Right now with the economy in the state it is, I would not be comfortable telling a candidate that the ranges will be adjusted. I think AAM is correct that the OP needs to determine if they would be satisfied accepting the job even if no adjustment to the ranges are made for a few years because that is possible and even maybe likely depending on the industry.

    5. HobJopping*

      Thanks for your response! I am LW#4. I am leaving my current job as I don’t enjoy the company, the co-workers, or the subject matter, but it was sold to me as a very appealing opportunity almost 2-years ago.

      I ended up turning down the job in this question due to the salary, coupled with the fact that they would not reimburse my designation costs. Every company I have worked so has done so, and I would imagine if they didn’t have a policy set up to do so, they could just offer me an addition $1-$2K in compensation to cover them (They are generally $1.6K annually). Anyways, it wasn’t the dollars and cents that made my decision, but more that I would be constantly fighting for any money at this company, and where I am now it comes without having to ask.

      Thank you for your responses – the search continues!

      1. Smithy*

        Your comment makes so much sense to me…..I work in nonprofits that certainly has a reputation for being tight as a sector – how that translates into your daily work life can make a huge difference. When it would take over a month of back and forth hemming and hawing if business travel would be covered – that was a lot of energy spent that really can grind someone down.

        Raises, pay bands and all of that at nonprofits can certainly be their own source of frustration – but that’s nothing compared to feeling like it’s an ongoing tug-o-war around a thousand dollars. Which as a business expense does start to feel very petty.

  2. Oatmeal Baby Bump*

    In every job I’ve had, training of new employees has been a part of the job requirement. Usually employers think the momentary sacrifice of job efficiency for the training period is worth the extra pair of hands they gain by the end of the training. I’ve told my manager, “If I train Darcy, I can’t really focus on grain-processing or steel-cutting.” and been told, “That’s totally fine, training should be done in about 2 weeks and we can take over those tasks for that short while.”

    What really sucks is that in most jobs, unless the job is explicitly about training, it probably won’t show up in your salary or pay in any significance. And I think sometimes it is underestimated how even after any official training, if you work closely with somebody, you will end up being the “answers” person for them for months on end.

    1. Fitzroy*

      Yes, and these persons you trained, can be your most valuable resource in your company /department. Those that I have trained have helped me in so many ways – given me information, advice, help in circumventing bureaucracy or getting in touch with otherwise difficult to reach managers… I’m about to leverage this into my first management position. Which would not have happened without numerous of my trainees ending up in positions, where they could put in a good word for me and speak to my peoples skills.

    2. Colette*

      Since, as you say, training is often part of the job requirements, it is already part of what you’re being paid for.

      Often the people asked to train others are already good at the job; training is another opportunity to gain skills that will be helpful if they want a higher-level job.

      1. Aquawoman*

        Yes, this. They’ll be doing it at work, so they will be getting paid for it. It can also be worth something in terms of bonuses, promotions, or performance reviews.

    3. Quinalla*

      As long as the expectation isn’t “Do your normal job at the normal level and train a new person” then there is no reason to get more pay just for training someone. The problems come in where a manager expects training to happen with no consequence to other work, that is very unrealistic.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I am fortunate that my shift leads take this into account whenever they have me train on the task I do. I am always given a shorter list of cases on those days. I also know this isn’t universal, which is why I appreciate it so much.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        LW2: I think you are preemptively working yourself up about things that haven’t happened yet. Of course right now people are going to act like your returning coworkers are the cavalry, because it sounds like it’s been tough without them and they’re going to take some of the pressure off. It would be weird if people *didn’t* seem relieved that they’re coming back, really – do you expect everyone to be like “oh, that’s cool I guess, don’t really care”? That doesn’t mean that your hard work isn’t going to be acknowledged at all or that you can’t request to keep some of the enjoyable tasks, it just means that right now is the moment when people are happy and relieved that their coworkers are coming back. If after the excitement has died down your work still isn’t being acknowledged, that would be the time to get upset.

        (And I also don’t think you are being a terrible person, it’s very easy to get in your head about this stuff. I just think it might help to keep in mind that all the “here comes the cavalry!” stuff is likely going to die down pretty quickly and things will find a new balance. It’s temporary.)

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My one caveat here. Do you mean no extra pay for the extra work you are doing during training? Because yes that is standard.
      Or is your company trying to get you to come in for an unpaid shift and train people? Is your company trying to get you to train people while you were doing work that is paid primarily by tips or commission you will not receive while doing training?
      As i understand it, US waiters who are given non-tipping duties are subject to minimum wage rules during those times if it takes away from their tippable work.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have often thought that training plays out well over the long run. It helps to build up the trainer’s reputation and credibility. And yes, the trainee can be coming to you for months on end, that is true. But this can also be the start of how to become the go-to person at work.
      If training is done correctly, the questions become less and less frequent and in some case the questions grow harder and harder to figure out the solution.

      I will say that when I started at a new company I made mental note of how I was treated by people. It was fairly predictable that those who refused to train would treat the next newbie the same way. I would already be aware when the newbie said to me, “I think Jane is ignoring me because I am new.” Yep. That’s right. If turn over is semi-regular or even regular then everyone learns to go around the people who do not train or other wise assist. As time goes by that non-trainer finds themselves in a strange place.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I agree with this, but I also find that most of my folks are eager to train someone who can give them a hand on future work. We have an extensive formal training (run by management) and mentoring (delivered by more experienced coworkers) program. Those who contribute to this program – by mentoring, by assisting with content development/update, etc. – are recognized on their annual evaluation and rated highly on the corresponding evaluation criteria and that rating is factored into raises and bonuses.

        I had a real knowledge hoarding issue when I first took on my current position, and it took several years to work that out of the department culture and incentivize collaboration, mentoring, and sharing.

        1. anon for this*

          I ended up having a lot of my eagerness burnt out by repeatedly training people who would then quit, be fired, or be reassigned. The new person was always going to ‘make [my] life easier!’ but then after devoting all my ‘spare’ work time to getting them up to speed on the really finicky work I do, they would be reassigned to a different department (at least 3 times), fired (1 time), or quit (at least 3 times). Eventually, it wears you out. I really love sharing knowledge so it’s a real shame that my first reaction now is to see having to train a new person as a punishment, since the light at the end of the tunnel never comes.
          I’ve tried to split the difference, as it were, by isolating the simplest and easiest tasks I have and starting there. At least then I get some actual help with *something* before the help’s taken away again.
          Sorry to be negative, and no, extra pay or even extra recognition are not a thing for training newbies, unless as some one said upthread, it’s a job where that would take you out of getting tips or if they’re requesting unpaid time be worked to train.
          I’m always expected to fit it into the day somehow. I mostly half manage that by using real examples so that I’m getting through real work (if slowly) as I train.

    6. Esmeralda*

      But it can show up on your resume.
      And these trainees are new members of your network.

      Unless it’s truly onerous to train them, I’d try to look at this as a good professional opportunity for you.

    7. New Mom*

      One thing I want to flag for people who have to begrudgingly train new people:

      Please don’t take out your frustration on the new hires! I’ve seen this happen and it’s such a horrible way for someone to start a new job, especially since they will need guidance at the start and if their point person makes it difficult or uncomfortable to ask questions it’ll prolong the training process. And even though you (the trainer) may feel justifiably frustrated, annoyed, or even angry that you need to train the new person, it’s not their fault. And you never know how long that new person will be at the company and what role they will eventually take on. They will definitely remember if you treated them badly at the start.

      (This isn’t saying the OP WILL make their frustrations obvious, but I wanted to flag all the same)

      1. Mr. Tyzik*

        First-hand – was once trained by someone who was impatient, really set on certain ways of doing things, and just generally was dismissive. I worked for them for two years then went on my merry way in a new organization.

        More than 10 years later, I was hiring for a training/lead position, and this former colleague was called in for an interview! I interviewed and didn’t fire them. They were uninvitingly informal, laughing off jokes in answers, and acting entitled throughout the interview, and I wasn’t convinced that attitudes had changed.

        Be aware of how you come across in training others. You never know.

  3. JC*

    I’m always surprised how many people expect to be paid extra for training new hires! Not sure if this is normal in some industries, but its just part of the job in my industry (my role description would list “and any other tasks required”). Where possible everyone pitches in time to cross train on tasks and processes to lesson the burden on one person (plus gives the new hire a more rounded view of the team).

    1. MK*

      I think most people understand that, when training means “show them how we do things here, explain processes, etc”. However, there are times when the new hire is actually unqualified, and it can feel like management expects you to teach them the job from the ground up, when resentment comes in.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Ok, but for most jobs that hire from universities rather than vocational trainings (and very often even then), qualified people don’t grow on trees – where do you expect they should learn the job?

        Obviously I agree that duties like this need to be factored into expectations for someone’s other duties, and there needs to be some kind of support system and guidelines available for how to best handle training, but I completely share JC’s bafflement. In my job, taking a coaching/supporting role for new hires and junior team members in general is pretty much on everyone’s list of annual performance goals, always, it’s just that normal!

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I’ve had to help train two employees who started with the same job description after me. When it happened, my performance evaluations specifically included this. I didn’t get a raise, even a temporary one, but my boss at the time took for granted that I wouldn’t be able to work as efficiently as I usually do. That said, both of the new hires were reasonably experienced professionals and got up to speed quickly, especially my current coworker.

        2. MK*

          That’s not really what I meant; sometimes people lack the knowledge that should correspond to their qualifications. The people I helped trained were law school graduates; I knew they didn’t know anything about the actual job of being an attorney, but I did expect them to know how the law works. E.g. I always had to walk them through drafting the document of a complaint word by word at first, but once I got someone who didn’t understand what the initial document even was.

        3. Mimi*

          I would say that training and supporting new hires has always been expected of me, but I’m not sure that it’s ever been something that was specifically reviewed as part of my performance (or that other colleagues who spent less time/effort training people were ever critiqued for). As people have stated above, I think the effects on your network and credibility are still worthwhile, at least if you’re doing a good job, but I do wonder how time spent training would have been measured as compared to time spent producing measurable deliverables if I’d had a same-seniority peer who did not focus on training.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        Yes, this! I’ve helped train countless people over the years, but when I had to teach someone the alphabet (long story, they actually hired a person who couldn’t read as an administrative assistant) I had to tell my boss it was above my pay grade. Because it was a dysfunctional office, I ended up leaving and she stayed! I have sympathy for people with learning challenges, but I’m not qualified to teach adults how to read and write.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If the expectation is to add significant training duties to your existing workload, I can see the reasoning. If you were hourly, you’d get extra wages for doing it, and salaried non-exempt would potentially give you overtime pay. But for a reasonable employer there would be a discussion about priorities, and the realization that time you’re spent training is time you’re not doing your normal work.

    3. London Student*

      I think it’s because it’s: a) often quite difficult b) unrelated to a lot of individual contributor skillsets and depending on the org, c) something that doesn’t happen often.

      That said — I think it would be reasonbly expected in all industries, so you really can’t push back against it!

    4. Alternative Person*

      I can see where it comes from, but I work in an area/industry where plenty of companies are always looking to cheap out on staff costs.

      It was a point of contention in a previous job because I was being expected to do the work of a senior-pay band colleague, including training, whilst being stuck on junior band, while the senior band colleague did the minimum. Management even said I was the best at that branch, but never good enough for pay parity. I started to really resent having to do training because not only was it taking time away from everything else on my plate, I wasn’t, by company definition, being paid fairly for it.

      1. Liane*

        I once had a very good coworker, Edna, at Infamous Retailer, who for all the years I worked there, flat out refused to do the hands-on training given new cashiers once they completed the online training modules. But Edna refused because IR had just changed their policy. Previously, experienced cashiers who agreed to train (“sponsor”) had a premium added to their hourly wage, much like IR paid extra for Sunday hours worked. So “training new cashiers” wasn’t a standard job duty before but now it was, and the wages weren’t increased to reflect there were more duties, of course. I think the big reason Edna got away with it was that our Front End Supervisors, and possibly salaried mangers, agreed with her (so did I) that it wasn’t right.

        (I know this isn’t exactly the same situation as Alternative Person’s.)

        1. Alternative Person*

          Good for Edna.

          Your example really illustrates the kind of ‘responsibility creep’ that seems to be happening all over the place, more and more recently.

          I was happy to do the training when I thought it would help me get to the senior pay band, along with other senior level duties but once it became clear they were never going to give it to me but still wanted all the work, well, once I completed the qualification I needed, I was out of there.

      2. hbc*

        But I think complaining about training in that situation really undercuts whatever legitimate complaints you have. Training a new employee is as much a part of anyone’s job as tidying up your work space before a customer visit, talking to the auditor when they have questions, or picking up a random (non-biohazard) piece of trash off the floor.

        If you’re working with the auditor every week and paid less than the Audit Specialist, that’s where the odds of getting traction increase.

        1. Smithy*

          I do wonder if a certain percentage of letters that go to AAM or really any advice column focus on a specific “gotcha” area where they hope for a straight forward adjudication in their favor. When in reality, someone’s workplace, manager or team just isn’t working for them anymore. Their workplace may very well be unprofessional and/or wildly unsatisfactory but legal enough where their best bets are to do their best to stay on while looking for new work.

    5. Cj*

      I love training people. However, it does take away from my billable hours, which is supposed to make up a certain percentage of my time, so that better be taken into account at performance review time.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        We actually ended up creating a credited billable code for training and mentoring activities so that people who take this on get credit for their time and meet their hours requirement.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I just don’t understand the expectation of extra pay for training, or helping to train, a new hire. I can see a little extra pay, maybe, if it’s a very specialized job that requires a ton of extra time, but I don’t think many employers would hire someone that needs such intensive training–they’d try to hire someone that has at least some knowledge and/or experience before going that route.

      I’ve never had anyone ask me if they’ll be paid extra for training a new person until I got to my current job. We hired someone and she was tasked with training him. She asked if she would be given a salary increase now that she’s a “trainer.” Um, no. You’re not a trainer now. You’re temporarily training someone new as part of your job. We all have to do it at some point and it’s pretty common in my experience.

      1. Urt*

        I guess it makes a difference whether you are are supposed to work on three projects pretty week and train on top or you work on three projects and one of them is training someone else.

    7. Mel_05*

      Yes, this surprises me as well!

      I’ve never had a job where training was particularly intensive though. It’s mostly just, “Here is our system, this is how we do x, y, & z. If a or b happens do c.” And then questions as thi gs come up.

    8. Washi*

      Agreed! And everyone is the new hire at some point, right? I’m glad no one who trained me when I was new was grouchy and resentful about having to do it.

      I’ve also trained plenty of people and yes, it is work, but I find there are a lot of upsides! More visibility to people more senior than me, getting to know new hires, being seen as a leader in the office…even just getting to train people on the best/most efficient ways to do something can be satisfying.

      I think the real problem is if that work is not then recognized at performance review time, but that’s an issue with management, not inherently with peer training.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      When I worked fast food, ‘trainer’ was a specific job title. Which makes sense-you have new people constantly coming in, plus it’s a good way to give your excellent employees a little extra money and recognition so they stay. They also got a bonus ($20!) for each fully trained employee. I would guess other high turn jobs, like call centers, might do the same.

      Only practical if you have people being trained nearly constantly.

    10. Littorally*

      I would say it’s very context dependent.

      For example:

      – I trained a single new hire (pre-pandemic) which meant a couple days of being taken out of active production so she could sit beside me and we could talk through the work process. No extra pay for that.
      – I put together a two-week training program that ran 8-5 for about two dozen people. I planned it, I created the content for it, I delivered it, and I provided post-training support for the people I’d trained. I got a pay raise and a title bump for it.

  4. Casper Lives*

    LW2 – it’s been a hard year for almost everyone. I suggest you give yourself a little grace. Take some time to process your feelings instead of letting them build up to resentment. Acknowledge your feelings. Try to think of ways that it’s positive they are coming back (less work for you; people you’ve missed seeing for months; etc).

    Then go into your office (virtual or physical) and warmly greeted your colleagues returning from furlough, if you can. Maybe you can push to get work like the projects you enjoyed in the future. You showed you were capable of doing them well. Good luck.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      This was my though too, OP2 – please tell your management how much you enjoyed those projects and that you’d still like to be a part of them! They may be thinking you’ll be relieved to be back to your regular duties.

      And if they can’t/won’t assign you those projects now that your colleagues are back, note them as significant achievements for your resume; they could be helpful if/when you’re ready to apply for the next role.

      1. Carlie*

        This was my thought too. It sounds like this is a great time for the company to examine how they distribute tasks overall. For example, if previously everyone did a rigidly defined part of each project, it could be that it makes more sense for each person to do multiple parts of the same project. There could be a way to make everyone’s jobs more interesting.

      2. BadWolf*

        Yes, definitely share the projects that you enjoyed. Do not assume that management knows, do not assume that they picked up on you casually saying “Wow, llama grooming was more fun than I thought.” Know your workplace management, but a straight up, “Hi Boss, while Fergus was furloughed, I really enjoyed llama grooming. If there is room for me to continue doing that or being a back for that task, I would like to do that.” For all you know, Fergus hates llama grooming and maybe you can shift around duties. And you could be a back up future vacations/medical leave/etc. It’s usually nice to know that someone can pick up your duties when you are out (unless you are afraid of being replaced).

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It’s a natural feeling like all of our feelings. I have a few friends and family members who thrived during 2020. Their work was essential and could be done safely at their workspace or they effortlessly transitioned to WFH. When I see their posts about new cars and home renos, I skip over them.

    3. Batgirl*

      Whenever I start feeling resentment I usually conclude “I must need to be nicer to myself” rather than “I am a bad person”. It’s a fine line of course – you have to acknowledge the somewhat problematic nature of the feelings, but you also can’t start laying into yourself because the exact opposite treatment is required. Typically, after bubble baths/new books/a good self indulgent moan to a friend I feel fine whereas if I put myself in guilt jail, I probably won’t.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Whenever I start feeling resentment I usually conclude “I must need to be nicer to myself” rather than “I am a bad person”.

        I never considered it from that angle; thank you for the new perspective. It makes a lot of sense now that I read it.

    4. Mel_05*

      Yeah, I think it’s fine that LW2 feels this way.
      I was furloughed and my coworker did all my work on top of hers for less pay. Meanwhile, I made a bit more than usual for doing nothing.

      She was quite relieved to have me back, but I would also understand if she was secretly a bit resentful too. I would be!

      1. Mimi*

        Similar story here — I wound up being laid off (it’s okay, I got a different job and it’s better), but I was financially mostly okay and got a weird and slightly stressful vacation. Meanwhile my non-furloughed colleagues were doing their work plus mine and were also stressed about maybe being laid off presently. When I realized that people in my department were going to be furloughed, I was glad to be one of them, rather than one of the people stuck bailing out the boat.

        I’m not saying that LW’s colleagues necessarily feel the same way, but these are reasonable feelings to have.

    5. Sara without an H*

      Yes. LW2, it’s probably time to schedule a debrief with your own manager. You’ve been working in areas outside the scope of your regular job — why not tell her what you’ve learned and how you’d like to apply it for your own professional development.

      “It was a tough year, but I really enjoyed getting to work on the llama shampoo projects. I know that Lucinda will be picking those back up now, and it’s great that she’s back, but I’d really appreciate it if we could explore the possibility of my doing some similar projects in the future.”

    6. Shirley Keeldar*

      It also just sounds like OP needs a bit of appreciation and acknowledgment for how hard they’ve been working. OP, your boss should really say this, but just it case that doesn’t happen: You’ve been working incredibly hard for less money than usually during a stressful, miserable time. You must be exhausted physically and mentally and emotionally. It’s all been really, really hard. I’m sorry it’s been so hard. Thank you for all you’ve done.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Good luck with getting that! OP will likely have their pay cut even more now that other people are taking up the work, and may even be let go. That’s the usual corporate reward for saving a company’s bacon.

  5. RG*

    OP #2 – I’ve picked up from reading this blog that resenting co-workers who are returning from any type of time off, especially for negative reasons like a prolonged illness or furlough, is usually a sign that it’s time to explore new opportunities and/or have a serious talk with your manager about your current role. I know the pandemic has and continues to throw a major wrench in things not to mention the more typical concerns like needing to stick to certain schedules due to childcare but maybe it’s time to start looking or rethink some things.

    1. CopywriternotCopyrighter*

      I think, given 2020, this is a bit of a leap. Yes, in normal circumstances, resentment would be a sign to start exploring other options. But we’re not in normal times.

      I’m in a similar situation to OP, around half of my colleagues have been furloughed at some point in the last 12 months, while I’ve been kept on as critical staff. There are no winners in this situation, furlough is uncertain and worrying, being critical staff is stressful and overwhelming.

      But feeling resentment at the people who’ve had ‘time off’ when you’re one of the ones left behind is completely normal, and not necessarily a sign to jump ship. More a sign to go easy on yourself, use time off if you can and try to get back to some semblance of your usual workload when your colleagues return. Not launch into a job search or a serious talk with your manager about your role when the situation hasn’t even had a chance to resolve itself.

      1. NYWeasel*

        I know what I’ve felt. Jealousy that they got a big “reset” on their workload. Frustration that those of us covering are just expected to cover while the person who’s been away is celebrated on their return. And a lot of times annoyance when the returning coworkers suddenly want to “improve” things we wrestled under control without their help. And all of these feelings are mixed right in with feeling genuine happiness that they are coming back and genuine relief that we can finally get some support. Which is my long-winded way of saying “Don’t beat yourself up, OP. All are common reactions!”

        1. Ganymede*

          This is so true. A friend of mine has had exactly the same experience – and her colleagues were complaining about the experience of being furloughed, while my friend worked her fingers to the bone keeping everything going without them, with added responsibilities and feeling very lonely too – she was literally working alone at the far end of a work site, something which couldn’t be changed. To hear colleagues saying they were bored or frustrated with lockdown+furlough was hard to take! The colleagues still aren’t back (UK here) but I am giving exactly the same advice to my friend as you have – you DO have something to feel bad about, and the effort of keeping cheerful and positive is a big one. You shouldn’t also beat yourself up about having some negative feelings.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I think in the uK the fact that the people on furlough are getting paid 80% of their normal pay to stay home and do nothing is a big factor. My impression (I may be wrong) is that in the US the people on furlough won’t have been getting paid in that way, so the dynamic is slightly different.

            As an self-employed business owner, obviously I couldn’t furlough myself, and my business partner and I slipped through the cracks of support for self employed people so I’ve effectively been working for nothing most of this year, and I completely understand the resentment of those working towards those on furlough / those who can’t work from home towards those who can, and so forth. It’s hard for everyone, in different ways, and it’s hard to manage all those feelings and in mot cases, they are perfectly valid, but something that you can mostly only chalk up to “life *isn’t* fair, but I have to learn to live with it”

            1. londonedit*

              I’m extremely grateful that I wasn’t furloughed. I couldn’t manage with a 20% pay cut, and I spent the first lockdown working from home on my own in a studio flat with no face-to-face contact with anyone. That was hard enough; if I’d been sitting at home on my own doing nothing with no face-to-face contact with anyone, worrying about how to pay my rent and bills, it would have been awful. Not to mention people like one of my friends, who works in retail – her regular hours are 35 a week, but her contract states a ‘minimum of 7 hours’, so when she was furloughed she was paid for 80% of her contracted hours. Not even a day’s salary a week. I think ‘people being paid to stay at home and do nothing’ is massively oversimplifying.

              1. Batgirl*

                My fiance who is at home on 80% of a good wage has been close to the edge throughout this crisis. Not only is he totally isolated from people in general, he’s become separated from me, we’ve lost our mortgage in principle because furlough income doesnt count, his job is at risk with numerous redundancy assessments, his family have decided he has nothing better to than provide free IT support, his projects have been changed and redistributed, yet he still has to keep pace with the work because at any moment he can be (and is) asked to pitch in and cover for his colleagues… There is no option which can be described as having it easy right now. To compare overwork with furlough; it’s like comparing force feeding to starvation. Neither side has it easy.

                1. UKDancer*

                  My friend who works as a hairdresser has been in despair at being furloughed because there isn’t enough money and she also loses out on the tips she used to get (which aren’t included in the salary against which 80% is calculated). She was worried how to feel her two children as the retail establishment her husband worked in went out of business so they were living on 80% of her base salary until he found another job.

                  There are an awful lot of people who always had regular, steady employment and who have been put in a position where they’re really struggling now.

              2. Bagpuss*

                Yes, I did make the point that it is hard for everyone – regardless of where you fall. I’m not trying to say that that’s the reality but that for someone like OP ( and perhaps even more in the UK where people on furlough do get paid) the *feeling of resentment* is based on that perception, for a lot of people.
                In the first lockdown we furloughed some staff but not all, as parts of our role is classed as essential, and it has been really hard to navigate the way people feel about it depending on which group they fell into. I think it’s about people’s feelings and perceptions as much as the reality which is, as you say, complex ( and different for different people. I know people who have loved being furloughed, and others who found it very hard. I found working from home and being almost totally isolated easier than some of my friends and coworkers, in terms of managing being alone, but very hard in terms of how much more difficult it was to actually do my job . I imagine that it would be the opposite for some people and that the isolation will have been the really hard part.

                (Also – I think your friend in retail was very unlucky – her employers could have properly claimed for her usual pay, it isn’t, and wasn’t limited to contracted hours, they would have been able to claim based on her usual 35 hour week. Under the current rules where the employer has to pay the tax & NI and pension contributions they may be reluctant to change it as it will cost them more, at the start it would have had temporarily higher costs as the employer has to ‘front ‘ the payments and claim them back, but other than that they could have done it without it costing them any more)

            2. Mimi*

              The US is SUPER variable. I made about 80% of my normal pay while furloughed; some of my colleagues made more money while furloughed than they would normally (because of additional government assistance). One colleague with a complicated multiple-jobs situation got almost no compensation for lost income. And that’s all in a state where the unemployment system is working well; there are places where people didn’t get any compensation for months, or where anti-fraud measures put certain peoples’ claims on hold indefinitely. So it runs the gamut from ‘general vicinity of normal pay’ to ‘absolutely nothing’ depending on where you are and what your situation is.

          2. Guacamole Bob*

            At an admin job at a small nonprofit many years ago, I spent a couple of months working really hard to cover when our other admin person quit and we had to hire a replacement. Right before the new person started, the rest of the office (which was like 4 people) got a cake and a card to thank me for all the work I’d put in. At the time it felt a little over the top (I was underemployed in that job anyway, and it’s not like I was working 60 hour weeks to make it happen), but in retrospect it could easily have felt pretty terrible if it felt like that extra effort hadn’t been noticed at all.

            It seems like in OP’s case, the office sentiment is too heavily slanted towards “yay, Joe is back!” and not balanced enough with “and let’s appreciate Jill for all the ways she’s been keeping things going all this time.”

            1. Reba*

              It does seem to have a bit of a “parable of the prodigal son” feel, doesn’t it. I can easily understand OP’s feelings of being unappreciated!

              I imagine that a lot of the expressions of happiness have to do with a sense of relief — this is a sign that things are moving in a positive direction — and maybe also just needing something, anything, to celebrate.

        2. Roza*

          100% this. I’ve been lucky so far in that my company has been unaffected, but we have been incredibly short-staffed on a project I’ve been on (should have been 10 people. We had.. three). The few of us there miraculously kept the wheels on, but of course plenty of stuff was held together with bubblegum and duct tape. When we finally got more resources, my main reaction was thrilled, but it was also hard not to feel prickly when said new people went to work criticizing all of the hacky solutions we’d needed to use to survive without acknowledging the resource crunch we’d been under. Of course we would have done x better/differently with adequate staff! Simply noting the stress we’d been under instead of just criticizing the shortcuts we had to take would have easily smoothed things over.

        3. Firecat*

          Ha! This applies to more then just furloughed too.

          I was out for emergency surgery so I missed a major product launch and when I came back I had a lot of fires to put out that folks, who were certainly doing their best, just got wrong. So I fixed it.

          Well that pissed people off who felt I should have thanked them more for covering my work I guess? And they went off about any little perceived slight from me while bickering non stop I had no right to make changes to processes I own and am responsible for since I missed the first week at launch.

          Mine is an extreme example but it seems these feelings are common in a lot of companies. I blame the US culture of lacking redundancy. Now that I work with a global company with redundancy there is a lot less anger directed at people who are out for months since there is enough hands to absorb it relatively painlessly.

    2. Annony*

      I think the first step would be to talk to her boss and see if there is any way to stay involved in some of the projects she enjoyed. It may be possible to expand her current role rather than job search. It doesn’t sound like she has actually said that she is disappointed to lose some of these projects. They may be under the impression that she is relieved to go back to her former role.

  6. nnn*

    A thought experiment that might be helpful for #1, depending on personalities:

    Imagine that these duties had been shifted to you to relieve your co-worker of a burden. Maybe someone with their seniority needs to focus on other things. Maybe they have to homeschool during the pandemic. Maybe the workload just needed to be rebalanced, as workloads sometimes do.

    In this context, what would your answers in meetings look like?

    If, in this context, your answers in meetings would look competent and wouldn’t unduly dwell on the fact that this used to be your co-worker’s role, see if you can perform that role.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think that situation is definitely dependant on personalities. I was in a very similar position (my predecessor had been bumped off the project for bullying and insubordination) and I felt zero awkwardness. I was careful not to rub her nose in it and be as businesslike as possible, but the call was not mine! I was not making a commentary on her worth every time I spoke in a meeting. I am aware that I outpace her significantly whenever I am speaking, but that’s a good thing! I know nobody is making a point of that to her. Whenever she did put forward a comment about the work, I received it civilly and pleasantly. In some ways I thought it was awesome to be acknowledged by the higher ups as the rescuer. It ‘s far worse to have a predecessor you can’t live up to!

  7. Heidi*

    I think that LW3 could reasonably stop communicating with the applicant at this point. They really did try to help make her a more appealing candidate, but this applicant seems determined to push for something that the LW cannot deliver. To be honest, I would not tell her why I’m not recommending her, especially as regards the pushiness. People need to be receptive to that kind of criticism for it to be of any use to them, and she has already shown that she is not going to hear anything she doesn’t want to hear.

    1. L6orac6*

      Additionally, if she gets a job in your company, you will become her go to person, for the next promotion, etc. This will never stop, it’s time to block her on LinkedIn.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Absolutely. OP, you have been generous and helpful to this person for a considerable amount of time. You’ve never met her and she’s being unreasonable. It’s time to cut her off from communicating with you. You can do so politely with something along the lines of, “I hope the previous information I have provided to you has been helpful. I am not involved in hiring and am unable to respond to additional questions about positions at our company.” She may continue to contact you but if you don’t respond, I imagine she will eventually stop.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Honestly, they’re being pushy enough that I’d be inclined to draw the hiring manager’s attention to their behaviour as a red flag for hiring them at all.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      ‘I’m sorry, I’m not able to assist any further in your job search. Best wishes for the future’

      Then block. And try not to let it enter your mind again. If she’s that pushy to you she’s likely to tank an interview even if she gets one so no need to warn others in my opinion.

      There’s no need to bend so far to the demands of another that you break your own back.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yes, I was coming to suggest exactly this. You aren’t her Job Fairy.

        I like how she says “do I need to find another contact” as if it’s a threat, though — that made me laugh!

        1. Cat Tree*

          Ugh, if her strategy is to bug as many random people at the company as she can find, it’s no wonder she hasn’t found a job in three years.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Been generally my experience in doing interviews that the most pushy candidates invariably show a number of flaws in their interview. Arrogance (‘I’ll have YOUR job in a year!’), not listening to questions, going on and on for ages about how ‘great’ they are and how we ‘have’ to hire them, being generally rude…

            I’m not saying every pushy person is like that, just that I’ve seen a LOT with spotty job history and attitude that means I’ll never hire them. I do honestly hope that one day they do some thinking and realise their behavior needs modification.

            1. TheAG*

              LW3 here. I definitely get that vibe from her telling me how great of a fit she’d be for the role, but none of the experience showing on her resume would have been super relevant to the actual job (I got the feeling she hadn’t read the job description really closely).

              1. WhereIsMyRobot*

                I just read the Gift of Fear and it is reminding me of that (not that she is dangerous). I would stop communicating completely, because if she messages you twenty times and you respond on the twenty-first, she knows twenty-one times is the amount of times she needs to message you to have you answer.
                I hope that made sense!

    5. BRR*

      Yeah I’m on team stop talking with this person. You don’t know them. Your coworker doesn’t remember how they connected. I think it’s a situation where you’re in the clear to either disconnect or block the person and you don’t have to tell them why.

    6. Office Rat*

      Also, if she persists in red flag worthy behavior, blocking is an option on Linkdin. She’s not a coworker, or likely to even get into a position at the company. She’s a complete rando.

    7. Joan Rivers*

      LW3 has been almost too nice. I’d say, “I’ve given you all the advice I have, and you may not see its value, but I stand by it. There’s nothing more I can do for you here. But good luck in your search.”

    8. TheAG*

      LW3 here.

      Gosh thank you Alison and thanks guys. I was feeling like a jerk but then I was like..wait just a minute. I don’t actually *know* this person what am I supposed to say?? Then I was thinking wow if this is as “off” as it’s starting to feel, is this going to reflect on me (I gently suggested my brother not put in to work here. I love the guy but he would not be a good fit).

      The irony is that if she’d taken one of the lower-level positions I had open 3 years ago, she’d have been an internal candidate for this position and have had a much better shot at it, and would have learned the specific science of what we do here. And the pay scale would have been competitive with the roles she had worked in before.

    9. meyer lemon*

      I think LW3 could have reasonably stopped communicating with the applicant ages ago and still would have gone above and beyond. Some people just feel entitled to strangers’ time and assistance, and as long as she keeps getting a response, she will probably not stop asking for more.

    10. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      That was my thought as well, Heidi. Someone who starts IMing someone on LinkedIn that they really don’t have a strong connection to/have ignored their advice, is not someone with a clear understanding of networking “norms” and hopefully the LW feels fine with ignoring them at this point. There will likely be a few more pings, but then it will die down while the networker finds someone else to focus on.

  8. Lisandra*

    One of my favorite things with these letters is imagining what the industries are, when people are (as they should be) vague. #3 is a fun one for that – desirable industry. For the small non-profits, I often imagine a church . . .

    1. RC Rascal*

      Desirable Industry?

      Marshmallow Kitten Manufacturing. Everyone wants to work there!

      This could be fun thinking up desirable industries.

      Candy Corn Mountain Services

      Nail Polish Names Consulting

      Brownie Testing Services

      So many options!!!

        1. Ayla K*

          I used to work in the paint industry. When I got the job, my whole friend group was like “omg you have to find out who names the paint.” A year later, I actually got to meet them, and OH THE THINGS I LEARNED.

  9. gltonwry*

    This range of answers completely encapsulates the reason I love Alison’s knowledge and wisdom so much. From the emotional to the political to the practical, she always has the experience and a fitting answer. And I spend way long reading the comments to get more wisdom, too!

    Thanks, AAM and commentariat:) Happy New Year to everyone and all the better in 2021.

  10. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

    OP1: This probably sounds silly (I feel really silly writing it!) but if I’m feeling anxious or awkward about something and I’m alone at that moment, I’ll sometimes talk to myself out loud about how I’m feeling, why, and what I’m worried will happen. In my case, I’m painfully introverted, so sometimes before a meeting I’ll allow myself a few minutes in private to brain dump all the possible ways the act of me opening my mouth could end in disaster.

    It’s so easy for me to whip myself up into a hyperbolic shame frenzy when I’m inside my head, but a lot harder to spiral like that at the pace of a verbal parse. Saying it out loud helps me realise when I’m being ridiculous, or if there’s an obvious solution I was ignoring in my head. Sometimes I just feel better once it’s off my chest and I’m more relaxed after that. Eventually, if I keep talking to myself about the same worries they start becoming more like information I have, rather than a state of being, and the emotion attached to them goes away.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense or if it’s helpful for you in moving past your own feeling of awkwardness.

    1. London Student*

      I do that as well and find it very helpful.

      I would absolutely encourage OP to just practicing saying some stuff out-loud to themselves in quiet.

      ALSO — I don’t have a sense of how this other employee is acting within the meetings, but if there’s room for ambiguity (as in, they’re silent rather than visably upset) then it might be helpful to visualize/verbalize positive thoughts in that direction. Maybe you can imagine that they’re starting to realise how nice it is to not have X task, or they’re busy job-searching for zoology positions, which has long been their dream.

      Totally silly, but honestly, surprisingly helpful in my experience!

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      I can fully relate with OP1. My predecessor attends my boss’s staff meetings. While I don’t feel awkward speaking up on my topics, I absolutely hate when she will chime in on my space. The reality is she was not doing the job well and I am cleaning up her mess. So I guess for me it is more resentment. :)

      OP, there is a reason you are in the job now. Exert your confidence and don’t worry about what the other person will think.

    3. OtterB*

      This makes me think of the “rubber duck debugging” technique for programmers, where you explain your problem step by step to a rubber duck (or plush toy, or pet) and often spot the fix in the process.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Or even a living person in your house! (As long as they promise to just listen and not actually engage in the “conversation”.) It’s the “hearing it aloud” bit that’s important. It’s like you can’t kind of skim past bits, and slowing it down forces you to notice stuff like small knowledge gaps. (NB this is also very useful for me when editing documents: I read them aloud and it lets me catch awkward phrasing and missing info-bits.)

    4. Purt’s Peas*

      Yes, this is a great technique for me as well—I actually use it for those “suddenly remember embarrassing thing” moments.

    5. Sweet Christmas*

      It’s not silly! I do this as well, and it’s actually a component of cognitive behavioral therapy called cognitive therapy. You target your distorted anxious thoughts by identifying the inaccuracies in your thinking, talking yourself through the evidence and challenging the wild conclusions or supposed consequences we jump to.

  11. London Student*

    Re: #1 — I want to strongly reiterate a point Alison made. Several years ago, when I was working with young children, a supervisor encouraged me to make a mental distinction between punishment and natural consequence. Sometimes it’s fuzzy or arbitrary, but it can be a very helpful way of framing things.

    Sometimes when you set boundaries or otherwise stand-up for something (yourself, the integrity of the work, an opinion) people will frame it as you ‘punishing’ them. But often it’s a natural consequence of their actions. If someone ignores boundaries, a natural consequence is that people won’t want to hang out with them. If someone shirks their tasks, a natural consequence is that it will be taken away.

    I also find it helpful to think of natural consequence as something that doesn’t carry an inherent value judgement. When you’re doing this work, you’re not doing at another employee.

    1. DyneinWalking*

      Personally, I’d define punishment as “making someone feel bad about their behavior” – usually with the expectation that the person will refrain from that behavior in the future.
      Consequences, however, are everything that minimizes the problems arising from bad behavior for the rest of the world – independent of how the person in question feels about it.

      E.g. paying for or replacing something you broke might feel like punishment – but if you refuse, you are basically requiring someone ELSE to bear the burden of getting a new item or live with the loss.
      It might not feel fair to pay, especially if it was an accident – but telling someone to pay for a problem they didn’t even cause would be even less fair!

      The borders often seem blurry because managing the effects of bad behavior almost always involves discomfort on someone’s side, so when you put that discomfort onto the badly-behaving person, it can look like punishment on first glance. *
      But the difference to punishment is that it minimizes the discomfort for everyone else.

      * The way I wrote it, it makes me think of many people’s “discomfort” with homosexuality, but the discomfort I mean is something tangible, like loss of money, things and/or time, or negative emotions from behavior that reads threatening in everyone (shouting, displays of violence, constant disregard of people’s boundaries, etc).

      1. London Student*

        Your last paragraph is part of why I find this to be such an interesting topic — there are a lot of areas where some people might identify natural consequences but other people see moral or punitive judgement.

        For example, the grey area of what is ‘appropriate’ attire in the workplace — is not inviting a ‘casual’ or ‘sloppy’ employee to a conference a punishment? Or is it a natural consequence of how they present themselves?

        I don’t think there are necessarily “right” answers, but I find that considering the question helps me clarify things sometimes. (Especially when it comes to setting boundaries and rules for my own daughter, or when I feel ‘punished’ by something.)

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Punishments usually consist of loss (money, privilege, something) and are not directly connected to the infraction. So docking someone’s pay because they dress too casually is punishment. Putting them in a shitty cube for no other reason is a punishment. Not letting them go to client events (or moving them from a cube where they’re highly visible to visitors) is a consequence.

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        I don’t think that definition really makes sense because how someone feels about their actions is not likely to have much to do with whether or not you punish them. A really crappy person would never feel bad about their behavior no matter how much you punish them for it, and then on the other end of the scale there are people like my husband who will beat himself up and feel terrible if I tell him I prefer a different brand of toilet paper than the one he bought lol.

    2. DiscoUkraine!*

      This is a beautiful explanation. Thank you.

      To add on to one point – anyone who doesn’t understand what natural consequences are is likely to perceive them as punishment. Based on the description of OP1’s predecessor, they probably fall into this category.
      OP1 may be hearing a narrative originating from Predecessor about their “punishment”, because that’s what people like Predecessor DO when they experience natural consequences.

      As a neuro-divergent person myself, it can take a quick minute to remind myself that the narrative Predecessor may be putting out needs to be checked against the truth of the situation.

      OP1 can’t do anything about the narrative (if there is one) and shouldn’t worry about taking care of their predecessor’s feelings.

      1. OP1*

        Ding-ding! And not just that, but from other coworkers as well (seriously- there was glee from others in the office that so-and-so was finally knocked off their high horse and the power they wielded was gone). It was a staff-wide “ding-dong the witch is dead moment” and I felt very, very guilty and sorry for them. It had to have been a low point for them emotionally to view the amount of glee others had, and to see something they cared about so completely deconstructed. Which unfortunately, I had to do since the entire infrastructure was unsustainable and didn’t lend to any sort of scalability.

        Lessons for me to learn: this is consequences of actions, not a punishment. Shut down my colleagues who continue to push the existing narrative (or wear earmuffs, something I am normally good at! But the guilt! It is cultural!). Do my best to honor these new responsibilities.

        Thank you, all!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I hope it goes as viral as the dress code interns. I know a lot of people out there don’t understand the difference between punishment and the natural consequences of your actions. :-/

  12. PollyQ*

    OP#1 — It may help to explicitly remind yourself of this fact: your colleague’s feelings are not your responsibility. Whatever their thoughts or feelings about having this part of their job taken from them or about how you’re currently handling things are their issues to manage.

    1. Eek*

      Maybe. But she clearly harbours some kind of resentment towards her colleague. People who throw around the term nepotism usually let it show at work.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        That is such a strange leap to make just because she used “nepotism” to describe a situation that, per her update below, is very clearly nepotism.

  13. Everdene*

    OP2, I had similar feelings when colleagues, who I’m friends with, returned from furlough. Obviously I was pleased they were back and no longer had the stress of furlough and ehat thst meant for them financially and career wise. However, I was really resentful that they had continued to accrue annual leave at the usual rate while I had been working flat out for months. One friend only worked 6 days in December to try and use her leave up (so it wasn’t lost) whereas I only had a couple of days off because I had been using it throughout the year.

    I found acknowledging to myself that I was resentful helpful and, with one of my friend/colleagues, we had an honest ‘grass is always greener’ chat which helped put things into perspective. The past year has been difficult for many people, while the causes are the same the way we have been affected is all very different.

  14. Allonge*

    LW2, this ‘here comes the cavalry’ situation can be so annoying in normal times, too, let alone after last year! We have a department head who gets Super!Enthusiastic about every new person we hire and for months before they are actually there (or, even, selected), we get the X is coming! and it will be so much easier! and so on. And as always, new hires need training (duh!) and they take some time to get familiar with what is what.

    Anyway, this is already super annoying to hear, when you, say, mention workload concerns and you get told that X is coming soon now, so it’s all ok. Having more or less the same after 2020 is really legit annoying. It’s ok to be annoyed / upset! And you are doing your best on managing that yourself, so, well done. Seriously.

  15. Sandy B*

    Removed. You cannot comment under multiple user names here to express the same opinion; that’s sock puppetry. – Alison

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      OP1 said it was a nepotism hire from a former regime. The powers that be probably were aware of their lack of skills and had to wait until a regime change to shift the workload. So it was out of OP1’s control and a good acknowledgement of their skills that they were chosen for the work.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      That’s not fair to the OP. The behavior OP 1 describes, “they weren’t good at it, but there were also some significant behavioral issues including power hoarding and territorial behavior, resistance to feedback, and dogmatic adherence to outdated protocol,” is poor behavior regardless of whether the coworker was a nepotism hire or not (and since we’re supposed to take OPs at their word, the coworker was a nepotism hire).

    3. BRR*

      I understand why lw1 feels the way they do (and I probably would feel the same way as well) but it doesn’t sound like it’s a problem in their office. Keep in mind people will take their cues from you and i wouldn’t be surprised if your coworkers have the same feedback on this one person and are happy the duties moved to you.

    4. OP1*

      OP1 here! I understand why you’d balk at the word- it’s so loaded. As an explanation, they were hired by their lifelong best friend, then visibly sheltered from criticism and feedback for 15 years. It was apparent to all at the small (less than 50 people) office. I do not resent them; I feel sorry for them. They were given no framework on how to be successful outside of the environment created around them. So when the old director (their BFF) left, they truly didn’t understand that their behavior was not okay since it had been actively encouraged. But they also didn’t know how to take the feedback they were given by our new director, and it really hurt them. It’s just bad all around and they were done a great disservice.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        None of that is your fault, OP, and I hope you can release the guilt and awkwardness you’re feeling about now doing that work (and doing it really well, sounds like!).

      2. BadWolf*

        It sounds like your coworkers are probably loving that now you are speaking on topics. They are all relieved to hear an actual answer and not a wrong/round about non-answer.

      3. meyer lemon*

        You sound like a really thoughtful coworker! I wonder if your empathy for this person is part of the reason why you find it so awkward to present in front of them (I think I would feel the same way in your position). It might help to remind yourself that although your coworker enjoyed these prestigious tasks, it really wasn’t doing them any favours to keep publicly failing at what sound like pretty important responsibilities.

      4. Batgirl*

        Is it loaded though? It might hit a button if you were hired by a relative! Then maybe, but not to most people.

  16. Kathlynn*

    So, I know my view point is often very different from many posters here. I spent a lot of my career training people. With no feedback from my various managers. Or even them asking me feedback about the new hire (and given how our shifts worked, I had little opportunity to give it).

    So here are my thoughts. If you are going to have one person try to improve the performance of their coworkers, they better have some type of actual authority (even if it’s just verbal warnings). And that needs to be made clear to their coworkers. (it’s a fruitless endeavor otherwise. The coworkers won’t listen to “manager expects xyz”).
    If you usually have 2 trained people in a shift do not expect them to get most of their work done if you put one person on with a untrained co-worker. Especially if you are working with customers face to face.
    It should be someone who has clear (if temporary) authority over the untrained coworkers who trains them. I’ve had coworkers who didn’t care what I said even while training them because I wasn’t a manager.
    The expectations and time line should be made clear to both of the employees. and expectations should be reduced as they won’t be able to get as much done as they usually can.
    And yeah, training is hard, so if the job has a high turn over or fast rate of expansion, and you are regularly going have that person training coworkers. Promotion with wage increases are in order (even if it’s just adding a senior to their job title).
    A lot if things caused the burn out I experienced as a cashier. But training people almost constantly for 2 years, with coworkers who constantly undid my training (like just using cikd water to clean the food equipment) contributed to it. (honestly it was another case of “retailers have unrealistic expectations from their employees” on all fronts. I’d rather face triggering my anxiety by trying to phone people then going back to gas station retail ever again) )
    I’d also prefer to never have to train people again. And I actually like the “helping people when they don’t know something” part of it. I’ve just dealt with too many people who just seem not to want to learn. (and in at least 2 cases the coworker didn’t make it past the probation period, because they wouldn’t do the work or pay attention when needed to do the job)

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      I think there’s a big difference between industries inherent in the training question. In white-collar, and especially in salaried white-collar jobs, training is often a normal part of your duties that doesn’t need extra pay but could make you look good for promotions. In blue-collar jobs like retail duties tend to be more defined and so adding training duties is a big deal, and usually involves extra pay for the trainer if it’s not already formally part of their job. The store manager doesn’t get paid extra to train new hires, but key holders might, and a senior employee would definitely be paid more. I think without further context the question is almost unanswerable. Is the LW being asked to train someone for no additional pay when their colleagues have always gotten extra for training shifts? Or are they in an office or salaried job where it’s normal not to get anything extra? I think most of Alison’s answer applied to the latter, but if it’s the former or more like your experience in retail then yes, there is a problem and the LW should at least talk to her manager about how she’ll be compensated for training shifts. (My advice: Often it’s best to approach it as an oversight or paperwork question, like “do I need to fill out a special time sheet for my trainer shifts?” to keep it from becoming adversarial when it doesn’t need to be.)

      1. Sweet Christmas*

        You also don’t tend to have much resistance to training, as it’s just a different kind of atmosphere. I did lots of training before I became a manager, and I never had a problem with coworkers not listening to me. They knew that I was more experienced than them, and they were motivated to learn so they could be good at their jobs.

  17. jack be nimble*

    LW3: I don’t think this candidate is asking for help in good faith. I think she might be one of those people that’s open-endedly asking for advice she has no intention of following in the name of “making contact” or “getting her foot through the door.”

    You’re frustrated partially because you’re treating her ask as genuine and trying to provide real guidance, but she’s treating this wholly as a networking opportunity/hiring back door.

    I’d send a polite message wishing her luck in the job search and letting her know that you’ve already done what you can, so you aren’t able to offer any more assistance.

    1. Chriama*

      > I don’t think this candidate is asking for help in good faith.

      I agree. And OP is trying to answer her in good faith, so you’re kind of working at cross purposes. I officially give OP permission to wash her hands of the whole mess.

  18. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#1 — You described yourself as “neurodivergent.” Have you taught yourself to be hyper-aware of your possible effect on neuro-typicals? (Not sure if this is the right word, but you know the people I mean. I submit myself to correction from commenters with better information.) Because I think you are overthinking this.

    It’s nice that you’re sensitive to how your co-worker feels about the reassignment of duties, but nothing you describe sounds “punitive” to me. Reassigning work from someone who doesn’t do it well to someone who does is just good management. If your co-worker is made uncomfortable by your calm, competent, and professional responses in meetings — well, that’s really their issue, not yours.

    Your co-worker is probably looking for another job. (In their position, I know I would be.) Treat them politely and professionally now and congratulate them warmly when they announce they’re leaving. Those are really your only obligations. Your awkward feelings will dissipate as time goes on.

    1. HB*

      I was scrolling through comments to see if someone had said this because I was about to.

      If I were in your position, I would be feeling awkward too – because the situation itself is rather awkward. The wrong person was hired, did badly, and now they’ve had to correct it but the person is still there. You’re trying to be sensitive, which isn’t a bad impulse, but no amount of sensitivity is going to undo the situation. She wasn’t right for the job and you are.

      The thing that helps me in situations like that though is recognizing that my feelings might make things worse if I act on them. Because if I start to act on them I’m going to dwell, and over-react and make things so much more awkward and worse. This is a tiny example, but I read somewhere (here maybe?) that rather than apologizing for delays, you should say things like “Thank you for your patience.” It’s a way to acknowledge the delay without dwelling on it. So if I were in your shoes, my awkwardness would make me prone to overanalyzing the other person’s reactions, which would then potentially lead me to trying to manage their feelings (and doing a bad job at it). But the best course of action is the one you’ve already taken: just do the job. The awkward feeling will go away eventually.

  19. Skippy*

    LW2: I know it’s tempting to be resentful of people who have been furloughed or laid off when you’ve been working extra hours for less pay. But look at it from their perspective: they lost ALL of their income for an not-insignificant amount of time. Yes, they may have been able to retain their health insurance, or continue to accrue leave, but being without a job right now can be downright frightening, especially as you have no idea when or if you may get back to work. Please try to be happy for them that this period in their lives is over.

    1. Esmeralda*

      It does depend on the employer and the country. My sister is a US federal worker. If the govt shuts down long enough (her division includes shut downs in their budget), she gets furloughed. = continues with health insurance and leave accrual, but does not get paid (a serious problem as she is the main earner for her family).

      My other sibs work for private employers. If they’re furloughed they’re F’d.

      1. Maggie*

        What about unemployment? All my furloughed co workers filed for unemployment and got paid that way

        1. Sweet Christmas*

          I mean, yes it is possible to go on unemployment when being furloughed in some cases, but none of this negates the fact that getting furloughed, not getting paid your fully salary, and not knowing when you’ll return (or be cut altogether) is likely more stressful than still having your job.

  20. OP1*

    O1 here- thank you all for your comments. I will absolutely work on reframing this in my head as “business practice” rather than “X was bad at this task and lost it.” It was unfortunately communicated to me as both, and tbh the air feels *thick* in those meetings I referenced.

    I noticed that my “nepotism” framing was a sticking point for commenters, and upon re-reading, I can see why. I want to clarify that I harbored no resentment to my coworker; I am not ambitious and had no desire to take on their role. I was given the responsibilities because it made sense given my skillset and work style. My coworker was absolutely confused, and I get it! I think being completely sheltered from criticism while simultaneously rising through the ranks injured them very badly. They never received an ounce of critical feedback. They were not allowed to grow in the right ways. They spent upwards of 15 years thinking they were an absolute superstar only to have the rug pulled out from them. It sounds miserable and jarring, and I am deeply sorry for them. It does not set them up for success in any future roles. I hope this helps!

    FWIW, they are doing very, very well in the role they have now, and I don’t mean to sound like Karen Filippelli when I say that. Their role is tough and thankless, and while I know they’d really prefer the limelight, I see that the things that made them so difficult to work with in their previous role lend to this new one really well!

    1. Ray Gillette*

      With that additional context, I can see why you feel awkward. It doesn’t change the advice, especially since they’re doing well in their new role and you’re doing well at this part of their old role, but I get how it feels a little like survivors’ guilt. This is a good example of how in the long run, nepotism can end up doing a disservice to its beneficiaries.

    2. Ran*

      Hey OP1,
      Fellow neurodivergent here (autistic with ADHD). I don’t really have any advice but wanted to say you’re not alone on this. It’s common for neurodivergent (particularly autistic) people to have hyper-empathy. I know that for me in this situation I would physically be able to feel their discomfort. It sounds like things weren’t well managed. Over time as they come to accept things more I hope that there’s less of an atmosphere.

      Also, masking sucks! Such a waste of energy which I wish wasn’t necessary.

  21. Governmint Condition*

    What #4 describes commonly happens in government employment when a long-time employee takes a promotion that only moves them up one or two salary grades. The minimum guaranteed salary increase for the promotion immediately puts you at or near the top-of-grade salary.

  22. I'm just here for the cats*

    I think the resentment for LW2 is just comming out at the other employees when they LW is really resentful at the situation. They got a pay cut and was working more hours. Some of the projects that she enjoyed are being taken back by the other people who orginally did them.
    If I were the LW I would find one or 2 projects that you really enjoyed and would like to continue. Bring this up to you boss, and maybe ask the other people that worked on it before to see if you could continue to work on these projects. Who knows, maybe they don’t like the project and would love you for taking it on.

    As far as the resentment, especially for the longer hours, have you found out if you can start working more of your original hours yet? If you can, maybe you can try and reset your thinking that your coworkers are going to help take your load off a bit.

  23. MCMonkeybean*

    OP2: It’s totally okay to have feelings! A lot of things are changing for you with your coworkers returning and I think it sounds totally reasonable that there would be mixed feelings about that. As long as you know rationally that the coworkers haven’t done anything wrong and don’t let the resentment show at work then you are totally fine.

    The things I would keep in mind for the future are:

    1) Some of this might be worth talking to your manager about. Definitely talk about things you enjoyed working on if there is anything you would like to have the opportunity to work on again in the future. And depending on your relationship there may be some room to discuss feeling a bit underappreciated for all the extra work put in while they were short-stagged.

    2) This is a lot to deal with and if you are still struggling with negative feelings after a while it could be useful to seek out therapy or someone to talk it out with (if you aren’t already doing so).

  24. Emma*

    Here’s another perspective for the situation of LW2 – I am a person who recently came back from a very long furlough and I also hold quite a bit of resentment.
    Yes, I recognise that furlough (in the UK at least) was designed to keep organisations afloat and people in jobs, however, it really hurt to see all the work I do and deeply care about deemed unimportant. I also know the feeling of seeing someone else pick up a task, that would usually be mine, and worrying if I’ll even have a job to come back to.
    I think the key is to remind yourself that your colleagues didn’t choose to be furloughed, just like mine didn’t choose to have to hold down the fort while underpaid and understaffed. It was just the choice our organisations made in the middle of a terrible situation.

    1. Batgirl*

      I’ve come across this too: the furlough process has divided people into camps of “can’t do without” and “nice to have”; which cannot help but be hurtful. Even if those definitions are not strictly true for ordinary times everyone on furlough is wondering if this is the new normal and if they are now obsolete.

  25. CatPerson*

    My suggestion for getting over your resentment at the people coming back from furlough would be to imagine their likely equal or greater resentment that you were able to keep your job while they were unemployed.

  26. Jean*

    LW #3 – Block the hell out of this person on every platform. You have nothing to lose by doing this.

    LW #5 – I am the go-to person in my department for training new hires and getting them up to speed, and here’s what I’ve learned from experience. You just need to be up front and clear with your manager that you’re glad to help, but you are going to need THEIR help off-loading A, B, and C tasks while you are devoting your time to training. If there’s truly no one else who can support your tasks for even a limited time while you train, then you need to have that conversation right away so the manager can make other arrangements. I would strongly advise against just saying “OK” and sucking it up/trying to still do everything. I can tell you from experience that is very unlikely to work out in your favor. But if you approach it the right way, and get the new person trained well, then this could be very beneficial for your career down the line. Good luck!

  27. DaisyQueen*

    I like training people because they learn the way I like things done, which is the correct way (in my view of course). :)
    There are many ways to get to the end result but if I can train someone right away to file papers daily instead of when the folder gets full, etc. then I’m a step ahead. I don’t see training as a burden but as a way to show someone the things I wish I knew when I came in.

    1. MCMonkeybean*

      Also as they say–teaching is the best way to learn things. There have been times when I was training someone on a process and questions came up that I had never thought about and I either came away with a better understanding myself or occasionally we realized something had actually been wrong and never caught before.

  28. curious*

    OP#3’s letter
    I feel like this person is trying to fast track their way into this company. They seem to be implying or in their mind, have a deeper connection to you than it really is. I kind of think because you were kind enough to respond to them personally in the original email, they may think you are “friends/ aquaintances” and can pull strings.

    I’m definitely for blocking them.

    As for their urgency, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. There are a lot of candidates, for a lot of reasons. If they are that desperate, they need to take a job where ever they can – take a step back, look at any industry – and work on their career goals from a different starting point. Just a funny side story to my comment, a friend had always wanted to work for Company A. College through their masters through job experiences was geared towards the ultimate goal of working at Company A. Like OP’s description, company A is in a desirable niche that is hard to break into. Prepandemic friend was laid off for other reasons. With the rumors of the pandemic she was having a hard time getting interviews anywhere. Friend took a job at a local coffee shop while job hunting (for any job). Who ends up being one of their favorite customers – an HR rep from Company A. She didn’t find this out until having served the HR rep for a while. One day the HR rep came in during a slow time at the coffee shop, they got to talking and the HR rep took gave her an email to send friend’s resume to. It took a while and many interviews, but the rest is history.

    I guess all I am saying with my story is that I truly think the candidate in OP’s letter is really looking to fast track and skip the hardwork/ waiting period to get a position in the company. OP block this person, you have been more than generous for a person you have never even met.

    Is there any chance your employee, the person who gave you the resume, can say something to the candidate? Like you’re overstepping back off a bit.

    1. TootsNYC*

      sometimes candidates think “it’s who you know” is how you get a job. Or they are not using a correct interpretation of the word “know.”

      I gave a speech to a group of college students, and I made the point that it’s NOT who you know. It’s “what other people know about you.”
      Just knowing your name and having had an exchange with someone is not “knowing” them in the sense that is most effective for “who you know.”

      Sure, an acquaintanceship might get someone news, or knowledge of an opening. But it’s not the powerful part. It’s when the other person knows more about you, and can speak strongly about you as a job candidate.

  29. TootsNYC*

    “Everyone is acting like the cavalry has arrived” probably indicates you’re feeling unappreciated too — and if you’re unappreciated, underpaid, and overworked, of course you don’t feel unmitigated delight at seeing your furloughed colleagues hailed as returning heroes. You’ve been a hero in this story too, and it’s going to grate if that’s unrecognized.

    Let this be a lesson to us, especially if we’re managers.
    Make it a point to properly appreciate the people who have been holding down the fort.

    In the story of the Prodigal Son, I always have some empathy for the faithful brother, and his hurt that his loyalty and steadiness and responsibility and trustworthiness has not been recognized. I never think he really is doing anything wrong, just expressing his hurt.

  30. Ray Gillette*

    LW5, I don’t understand your question, which usually means that there are a few things that you took as so obvious that it wasn’t worth including them, but they’re not obvious to me. Why are you being “forced” to train someone, as opposed to simply directed to do so? Why do you think it would necessitate extra pay in the first place? You did say that training would take away from your workload – it’s a given that when given a new assignment, that assignment will take time, is your manager expecting your general output to remain the same?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Maybe they are thinking that training would require them to work overtime to catch up on normal work? If they are salaried, that would be unpaid.

      But as Alison pointed out, the reasonable response is to talk to management about the workload and be realistic about how it will change the timeline on tasks/projects.

  31. TootsNYC*

    the reaction of the job candidate in #3 is why I don’t go out of my way at all for people I don’t personally know.

    If a colleague had forwarded a resume to me mistakenly, I’d just forward it on to the right person. Or, more likely (now that I’m older), I’d send it BACK to that colleague along with the info about whom they should have sent it to.

    I would never contact a job candidate I didn’t personally know already. Or, I’d have asked the colleague, “How do you know this person?”

    My personal opinion is that since the colleague didn’t know this person well enough to remember them, they should have sent the resume to HR, and not used the colleague-to-colleague network. I think that sort of implied endorsement should only be used when it’s someone you know something about. At the very least, the forwarding colleague should have provided context for how they knew the person, at the time they forwarded the resume.

    I guess that perpetuates the “insiders only” problem, but I resent being asked to give extra attention to just some random somebody. And I won’t (anymore) exert energy for someone unless I feel they are worthy of it.

    1. TheAG*

      LW3 here. I think you’re making great points I just think we have some kind of weird dynamic here where it’s much more normal to do the “passing the resume” kind of thing to me because I do hire a lot of people from STEM fields, our industry is heavily male-dominated (I’m a woman), and I’m kind of known for bringing great people into the organization. At the time he initially sent it I seem to remember he mentioned where he had met her (job fair or something of the like) but it’s been so long he doesn’t remember.

      1. Amaranth*

        Frankly, I think you’ve gone above and beyond for a colleague’s casual meetup at a job fair. Forwarding their contact info once really doesn’t put you on the hook to become an advocate at your company. It sounds like you’d be doing her more of a favor NOT to pass along your impressions at this point. :)

  32. chief cat officer*

    #5 – Anecdotal but this task was put upon me more than once as well, and it was because I was the best person to train the subject — and I parlayed it into more PAID responsibilities and promotions down the road. Hope the same for you.

  33. daisies*

    Do I misunderstand the meaning of “punitive”? When an individual behaves poorly, and receives punishment for it, the actions taken are punitive. The punishment is a foreseeable consequence, yes, and it is also punitive.

    1. JSPA*

      Individual behaves rudely to the VP in charge of sales, and has their duties organizing a conference (not in any way related to sales) taken away–that’s punitive.

      Individual makes a hash of organizing one conference, and is removed from organizing the next three conferences (but their pay is not docked, they’re given other duties to see if it’s a better fit) that’s a natural outcome, not something that’s punitive.

      In fact, if they’re fired (or mutually agree to part) because the job is a bad fit, that’s still not punitive!

      An outcome can be negative, upsetting or painful, without being punitive.

      If you run on ice and fall on your back, that’s not a punishment, either; the universe isn’t teaching you a lesson. Your mistaken predictions about cause and effect are merely being tested against reality in a particularly unpleasant way.

    2. RagingADHD*

      If they reassigned the job away from someone bad at it and gave it to someone who’s good at it, that may not have anything to do with punishment at all.

      They might just want the job done well!

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      To fill in the excellent examples- getting a task taken away that you’re bad at is natural consequences. Being moved to a smaller office or disinvited from a conference you would otherwise still have good reason to attend would be punitive. Punitive is something that isn’t directly linked to the natural outcome that is done to punish the person, not for any other reason. Like in court cases involving personal injuries, there are damages to cover medical bills (natural consequence) and then “punitive damages” that are assessed on top of that as punishment to make sure the guilty party is punished enough that they’ll take steps to prevent similar issues in the future.

    4. meyer lemon*

      I think “punitive” is often taken to mean “designed to make the individual suffer to teach them a lesson,” separate from the natural consequences.

      If I fail to deliver the Alpaca Report every week, a natural consequence might be that I receive greater oversight, or that the report gets reassigned to someone more reliable while I am given lower-level work instead. That’s a logical, work-focused response.

      A punitive response might be to berate me about the report, or to take away a task that I enjoy, or to make me come in on weekends or early in the mornings. In that case, the focus is on making my workday unpleasant until I do what they want. It’s infantilizing, it assumes bad faith on the employee’s part, and it’s less likely to get results.

    5. MCMonkeybean*

      There are actions that are taken to fix the situation and there are actions that are taken for no reason other than to punish the person who did something wrong. The former may often feel like punishment but that’s not the *reason* for it. The latter, where the sole purpose is to punish, is what “punitive” refers to.

  34. JSPA*

    OP #2,

    OK, I’m pretty worried, in most places, about people being brought back. That aside…

    To your coworkers: “It’s so great to see you again!” And later–and totally separately–“covering for the most pressing bits of your regular Lama Grooming duties was one of the most interesting parts of playing jack-of-all-trades, and doing bits of so many people’s jobs. If you ever need a hand or a brief break, please think of me for that, as I’d love to learn more, when we’re not all in crisis mode.”

    To your boss: “wearing multiple hats during covid was sometimes exhausting, but sampling key duties of so many roles was also eye-opening. If there’s a way to incorporate some Llama Hoof Trimming, Watering trough resurfacing, liasing with the Browser and Grazer commission, or even Llama parade costume hat trimming into my training and career development plans, I’d welcome it. I find task diversity refreshing, and it’s a chance to grow not only in my role, but more broadly within the quadruped industry.”

    For yourself:

    1. While you no doubt learned a ton (and did an amazing job given your total lack of training), it would be shocking if your performance, while doing parts of multiple jobs, were somehow as good as, or better than, having the coworkers who normally do those jobs, back in place. “Thank god you’re back” doesn’t mean, “because OP Suuuuucks.”

    2. The duties you didn’t cover for, in the jobs that you did cover for, may also be great, or they may be just as dull (to you) as what’s no longer thrilling in your own job description.

    3. Some jobs are fun for a wide range of people, which is why competition is fierce for those jobs. (Someone who feels a bit creative can happily spend time knocking out graphics for a poster in the break room; a shockingly large percentage feel that they’d therefore be able to handle a professional quality brochure or an entire ad campaign. This is only one of many examples where, “I had such a great experience doing it” and “I’m qualified for this job” differ.

    4. your workplace may figure they already recognized your adaptability and your grace under pressure in no uncertain terms by keeping you on, while others were furloughed. They’re not wrong.

    5. There’s a good chance someone told returning workers that you had the essentials handled… when in fact, you may only have known about 80% of the essentials; and no one person could handle them all. In which case, the people who are returning are–despite your excellent efforts and impressive dedication–still deep in crisis recovery mode, for all the things that couldn’t get covered. Not only that, they don’t see how thin you were spread; they only see what’s piled up for them to deal with. So as far as recognition from them…This Is Not The Time.

    6. Your best payment likely lies in the new skills you have, the insight into what you enjoy, and the many new bullet points (for those new skills and for your pandemic duties) that you can now put on your resume.

  35. Elizabeth West*

    #3–The work gap is less of an issue than her failure to listen. There may be legitimate reasons she hasn’t worked for a while—family things, stagnation in her former industry or job market, the pandemic, etc. But her dismissal of the OP’s advice doesn’t bode well for her as a candidate. It seems like she’s just expecting to leverage her LinkedIn connection to get in without any other effort on her part.

    Personally, if it were me, I’d apply for the junior role and then take the courses while working in that so I’d be ready to move up. (I’m trying to do that right now while I’m going for a certification.) That would put her in a better position to get the job she wants, especially if it’s in an industry that’s new to her.

    1. Me*

      I don’t think the LW was pointing out the work gap as an issue. They were pointing out the individual is claiming urgency because they are out of work yet they have been out of work for some time. It’s just another example of how out of touch the person is.

      1. TheAG*

        Correct, it was just slightly disconnected (and I kinda wondered if she hadn’t in fact had jobs that she left off the resume) but really all other things consider NBD to me.

        >Personally, if it were me, I’d apply for the junior role and then take the courses while working in that so I’d be ready to move up. (I’m trying to do that right now while I’m going for a certification.) That would put her in a better position to get the job she wants, especially if it’s in an industry that’s new to her.

        This is awesome and I have people do this quite often. We even pay for the training (and it can be expensive, depending). If she’d done it 3 years ago when I suggested it she might be a good candidate for the role (but that division is REALLY exclusive. When my people tell me that’s where they’d like to see their future career, I’m typically like ok kid what’s your backup plan?)

  36. RagingADHD*

    LW 3, so this complete stranger that you randomly got connected with, who isn’t even a candidate for any job you’re hiring for, and who has been nothing but pushy, weird, and kind of rude to you, has somehow made you feel obligated to coach her?

    That’s a skill, all right, but I doubt it’s a skill relevant to the job.

    Just don’t reply. None of this is your problem.

    1. Amaranth*

      And she’s not even connected to the colleague who forwarded her info in the first place, just a random tech/job fair meet.

  37. Choggy*

    OP 5 can the new hire take a more formalized training in addition to the training you will provide? I specialize in two applications and would absolutely not provide training to anyone who did not first get the necessary formal training in these products. I would want to focus more on the processes, but not how to actually use the application. I hate training others, I really do, and avoid it like the plague so I feel for you!

  38. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    I read OP5 a little differently.

    “My position is a very skilled position and training will take away from my workload.”

    Sounded to me as though OP5 was concerned about the new hire being trained on some of their specialist skills, resulting in OP no longer having those tasks in their portfolio, rather than a short term capacity / delivery issue. But nobody else seems to have read it this way so perhaps I am off base?

  39. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – it’s not unreasonable to expect – and even to ask – for some recognition that you kept the lights on and did the absolutely necessary functions, all by yourself, for months, to keep the business afloat. You might mention to your manager that while you are happy the furloughed people are back, the reaction that the cavalry has arrived is making you feel that your contribution has gone unnoticed or been downplayed.

    At the same time, try to remember that your colleagues were laid off, dealt with a lot of stress, loss of income, etc. etc. The jubilation at their return is probably fueled as much by management being relieved that they didn’t have permanently let them go, as it is about the fact that the business is returning to regular operations. Also, keep in mind that some of the celebration is probably somewhat performative – management wants your returning colleagues to feel valued and to stay with the company, once the economy improves.

    You deserve some of that feeling of being valued too, that’s all.

  40. SummerBee*

    #4, just a story to share. I have also always believed that if you were at the top of the salary range for a position, that meant no more increases. Then I got a Manager position and learned during some HR training that if you’re at 100% of your salary range, that’s the AVERAGE, and that most people fall between 90% – 110%. So, what I always thought was the top was actually the middle, and maybe this applies to your offer as well.

  41. Fourth and Inches*

    LW #4 – I had to do this math when I took my most recent role 15 months ago. I left my old role because I was unhappy with my day-to-day tasks (they weren’t a good fit for my skill set and experience). I found a new job that was a much better fit and I was excited to work for that particular company. I took a 4% pay cut into a role where I’m very close to the top of the grade. The company recruiter was very thorough and very specific about the numbers for potential raises (probably only 0.5% bump per year), which I am grateful for. I took the role even though my earning potential has decreased because I knew that the contentment I would find in my day-to-day activities was more important to me than the money. I also discussed it with my spouse and they completely agreed with me (I was not a fun person to be around when I was frustrated with my previous role).

    The downside I am dealing with this week is that knowing my performance won’t affect any raises has started to negatively affect my performance. I’m probably going to miss a deadline this week, but part of me doesn’t really care because it’s not like busting my butt to get it done on time is going to benefit me from a money standpoint. It sounds awful, but with *gestures broadly at everything* it has ended up being a consequence of my decision.

    Just my two cents. Good luck!

  42. Observer*

    #2 – I get the resentment, but I think it may directed in the wrong place.

    As others have said, talk to your managers about the prices you actually liked. Find out when your salary is going to come back up as well.

    And if your company doesn’t think to acknowledge how hard you’ve been working and how you stepped up to the plate, start thinking about an exit plan. I don’t mean slap the door and stomp off. But what will it take to move to a company that appreciates when you step up to the plate under difficult circumstances. Even if it’s a long term plan – and even if you decide that for now you don’t want to start working for that – I think it will help. Because it gives you back some power. And in any case, it will direct any ire where it belongs.

  43. Tussy*

    LW 2: Acting like the cavalry has come is just them being nice to the returnees and probably their relief that they can work less hours. Its not mutually exclusive with appreciating you, even though I totally get that it can feel like that. Reframe it as the others just being nice to other people and it having nothing to do with you or your performance in the job and it might help.

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