I manage an employee who pushes too much positivity on her team

A reader writes:

I’m a senior director, recently promoted from a management position in my division. I hired and now manage my replacement, a highly qualified and smart woman I’ll call Sasha.

Sasha is a great leader except for one tiny thing. She’s an evangelist of the “positivity gospel.” Every morning she sends the team some fluffy inspirational quote about being positive. Usually with a mountain landscape or an irritating Minion meme, which is irrelevant but annoying to me.

I’ve been told that when a team member approaches her about an issue or a challenge, her response is usually couched in “look on the bright side!” rhetoric without a lot of substantial guidance.

I value candor and constructive critique, and I don’t think positivity at the expense of honesty and problem solving is going to be beneficial long-term.

I’m sure Sasha, being rather new, means well and just wants to set a happy tone at the office, but how do I encourage her to “feel and deal” with the negative stuff, and offer solid advice to her staff?

This isn’t tiny!

And Sasha isn’t a great leader if she blows off her team’s problems and tells them to look on the bright side rather than giving real guidance. That’s actually a huge problem.

Combined with the morning positivity memes, I can pretty much guarantee you that (a) Sasha is annoying the crap out of her team and losing all credibility with them, (b) over time people are going to stop bringing her problems or going to her for guidance, if they haven’t stopped already, (c) her team members will end up feeling (or already do feel) unsupported and frustrated by her management, and (d) you will eventually lose people because of it.

If it were just the memes, it could be a pretty quick conversation — “I know you mean well with these, but they will land badly with some people and can harm your credibility with your team, especially at a time when so many people are struggling with real hardships.”

But the way she responds when people approach her for guidance is a much bigger deal. It’s a serious performance issue — she’s failing at a fundamental piece of her job! — and you’ve got to address it as that.

That means sitting down with her, naming what you’ve noticed (positive fluff without real guidance), describing what you’d like her to be doing instead (providing substantive guidance), and then coaching her on how to do that, ideally using concrete examples that have come up recently and walking through how she could have approached them differently. It probably also means taking a more hands-on approach for a while, so that you can more closely observe how she’s operating and support her with more coaching. For instance, you might start sitting in on more meetings and/or debriefing with her afterwards to talk about how she’s handling problems. (You can be open about what you’re doing: “While we’re working on building your skills in this area, I’d like to attend your next few meetings with X and Y; I’ll mostly hang back and then we can debrief afterwards.”)

If she’s responsive to that coaching, great; this could be a simple course correction that solves the problem. If she’s not, you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands. But you’ve got to address it like you would any other performance problem. Managing effectively is her job, and right now she’s not doing a significant piece of it.

{ 453 comments… read them below }

  1. I'm Fresh Cut Grass!*

    Yes, please fix this OP! A former coworker of mine was very toxic positive and it drove me up a wall and made me avoid them at all costs. You’ll eventually lose food people over this if not addressed.

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      I totally get that you meant to type “good.” But when I first saw it, I thought, “Yeah, you totally don’t want to lose food people. They bring the best snacks.” It took me a minute to translate, and even so! I stand by your first version!

        1. Feelings... nothing more than feelings*

          The problem with potlucks is that they make everybody the “food people”. Some of us are just not food people and we are grateful for those who are.

          1. Candi*

            Instead of being food people, we not-food-people can be drinks people or utensils-and-plates people. /humor

    2. The Gnome*

      You are 100% right, even with the typo. The good people and the food people are usually the same folks tbh.


    3. CoveredinBees*

      Same! I had one who was aggressive about “fixing” me, despite my boss and grandboss telling me I was doing a good job. She took my requests for her to stop as and just shutting down emotionally as signs that she needed to push harder. It didn’t help that I have a more reserved personality and was dealing with mental health issues. She later got in deep with Landmark Forum, which our grandboss stepped in on immediately when she started trying to bring us to “events” after work.

      Had this behavior come from a manager, I would have started job searching.

  2. Dust Bunny*

    My department is generally pretty chill and definitely not in the habit of fixating on things that go wrong, and I think we would have tied Sasha up and locked her in the trunk of her own car by now. Please deal with this. “Positivity bullying” is a problem. You create a happy atmosphere by recognizing and dealing with problems and by being a reliable manager, not by blinding people with the bright side.

    1. EPLawyer*

      They need a manager who will collaboratively work through the problem with them. Not just ignore the problem to focus on the bright side of things.

      1. Danniella Bee*

        I agree with you! I am currently in grad school and one of the professors always provides positive feedback even when giving low grades. This has resulted in students in my class not understanding what was at issue with their work and they had no idea how to improve it for future assignments. Being constructive is so important!

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          The “compliment sandwich” approach! I hated that both as a student and as a teacher when a colleague tried to convince me it was effective. Because apparently me saying, “okay, I see issues here with X and Y, but I’m confident you can resolve them by doing A and B” was too negative.

          1. Aquawoman*

            I get the dislike of the compliment sandwich, but at the same time, positive feedback is also important. This is especially true for areas where the person has improved in areas that you’ve been working on together (IMO). It’s not like the only function of positive feedback is to assuage people’s feelings. If there is both positive and negative feedback for a given task, are we supposed to ignore the positive?

            1. anonymous73*

              That’s not what is bring said here. Being positive ALL THE TIME is neither productive or helpful. Problems will arise, and instead of always “looking on the bright side”, you need to provide a constructive way in which to fix it.

              1. Ace in the Hole (LW)*

                When done correctly, the compliment sandwich is not about being positive all the time or ignoring problems. It can be a constructive and helpful way to deliver both positive and negative feedback in a way people are more likely to be receptive to.

                For example:

                I can see a lot of improvement between your last llama grooming project and the most recent one (compliment). However, the llamas still have too many bald patches to meet our grooming standards – it is absolutely critical you slow down and follow the training manual guide to select appropriate trimmer guards (constructive criticism). The client was pleased with the bathing and said the shampoo you recommended “smells great and made the wool so soft,” so let’s use the same one next time (compliment).

                1. Blue*

                  Great example, but I would like to offer a tiny critique. Words like “but” and “however” do tend to make people discount what came before them. So the compliment may be lost and the critique may be interpreted harshed than it was meant (or understood as fluff around the real issue). I try to use phrases such as “at the same time”; anyone have better ideas than this?

            2. Mango Is Not For You*

              I think the line is hard to walk sometimes. Some people only hear the positive, and some people only hear the negative. I’ve given feedback where people clearly stopped listening at “Your passion for this project is a wonderful thing” and ignored the part where I say “but you’re talking over your coworkers and making changes without looping in the rest of the team and that absolutely needs to stop.” So now I don’t do the platitude portion. I give positive feedback when it’s warranted, and negative feedback when that’s called for, and I try not to cross the streams more than necessary.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, this is a fair point, and one reason why I dislike the compliment sandwich. I’ve improved a lot, but when I hear feedback, I tend to exaggerate the negative and downplay the positive, if both types of feedback are given together. I’m much more likely to internalize positive feedback if it’s given without any criticism attached. That said, I don’t take criticism of my work personally anymore. Sure, if my manager finds something to criticize about my work, I need to do better. If someone else finds something to criticize about my work, I’ll definitely take it under advisement, but I’ll use my own judgement on whether or not the feedback is actually valid and needs to be implemented. Negative feedback about my work doesn’t affect how I feel about my worth as a person at all. Obviously if they’re criticizing me as a person under the guise of feedback about my work, that’s different. I’ve been working long enough to know the difference, and happily I’m in a non-toxic environment, where feedback about work doesn’t go into personalities.

          2. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

            This is the correct kind of positive feedback to go with negative/bad feedback! Obviously you don’t always have a concrete solution to a problem but giving some ideas is always so much better than just “this is wrong”, even if it’s “let’s talk through it and see where the issue is”. Depending on the issue, sometimes I need to know why the thing is wrong or how I can do it better! But just being told “this is wrong” is even worse when the only follow-up is “you can do it!”. Obviously I can’t if you’re bringing it to my attention.

          3. Ex-Teacher*

            The problem with most “compliment sandwiches” is that the compliments are rarely genuine. If you lead off with positive feedback on something that was genuinely good, then it does soften a blow if the critical feedback is tough. But most of the time I’ve seen people do this, it’s clear that the compliments are fluff to pad the sandwich and not genuine positive feedback.

            1. Your local password resetter*

              It also makes any actual positive feedback immediately suspect.
              Not only are people bracing for the other shoe to drop, they won’t know if they can believe the good feedback in the first place.

            2. Judy*

              I agree that the compliments need to be genuine, but they also need to be relevant!

              There’s a world of difference between ‘Hey Wakeen, good job in the client meeting today! I noticed you lost them a bit in the middle of your presentation though, you should change the chocolate teapot slides out. Thanks for being such a great team player!’ and ‘Hey Wakeen, good job on the client presentation today, I saw how you really caught Jodie’s attention at the start. I did notice that they got a bit lost during the chocolate teapot slides. You should change those slides out for some of that excellent work you did on the chocolate teacups last year’.

              The first one is fluff; criticism; fluff. The second is positive feedback about task; constructive criticism; task related reminder that you still remember employee’s good works.

              I’m not saying that formula two is THE replacement for formula one, it’s just one possible example. But I hope it shows the concept of related vs irrelevant compliments.

            3. Medusa*

              A couple years back, I was supervising someone who drove me absolutely nuts. I couldn’t stand him. And then I gave him feedback, and he took it on board. Then I liked him a lot and was sad to see him go. But we’re still in touch from time to time.

              1. Medusa*

                Oh, right. The whole point of me even telling this story was that I used the compliment sandwich and it was pretty effective. I even told him that one of the things he needs to improve on is a problem that I also struggle with and am continually trying to improve on.

          4. Lenora Rose*

            Daniella Bee’s description doesn’t sound like a compliment sandwich. That sounds like it skipped out entirely on the filling, where the actual criticism goes.

            “Find something nice to say” is only a useful way to defuse some of the bad reaction to the problems if the person also mentions what went wrong.

          5. tamarack & fireweed*

            Well, at least the compliment sandwich does in fact get to the criticism.

            And quite honestly, some people have no way of knowing that my criticism does not at all affect my respect and esteem for them. I often deal with things people already feel intimidated by (maps! numbers! math! technology!). So when the very nice artistic-but-not-technical person sends me the newsletter to review, and I just say “ok, this is 25 MB, so we need to reduce the file size, and also, we’re not sending this out as Microsoft Word, but as PDF, and the file name convention is not as specified” then it’ll land as bullying or hectoring or looking down on them (this happens more often in my volunteer engagements than at my job!). So I take care to contextualize my negative points in cases where people would feel bad about them and, yeah, counter-balance them with a more wider, reassuring conversation. I hope it doesn’t come across as a compliment/shit sandwich, but…

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              Huh, none of that sounds like a criticism to me, that all sounds like corrections/information.

              1. Crooked Bird*

                I can see how it might if tamarack really means an artistic type. If they’ve been very focused on trying to make the document engaging and/or beautiful, they may be very anxious to know whether that landed or not. (Unlike technical work, it’s all about the audience’s reaction, so no matter how savvy you are you can’t know for sure whether you’ve got it right till you get that response.) Tamarack’s quote *in the absence of any other comments* might send the message “Yeah, the writing’s fine I guess, I don’t really care, let’s talk formatting”… like a high-school English teacher grading your passionately written essay on spelling & grammar alone. They’re wise in that case to try & add something–to answer the question “Is this good?” before getting to the smaller technicalities.

    2. Anonym*

      This right here. You build positivity by being an effective and supportive manager, which creates trust, which fosters more positive feelings in the team. You can’t just insist it into being, especially for other people.

      I do hope we get an update on this one. I’m really curious how OP will approach this. I would be tempted to give her a dressing down and discussion of toxic positivity, but can see that backfiring by putting her on the defensive. Allison’s concrete, constructive approach is far better!

    3. L.H. Puttgrass*

      “I think we would have tied Sasha up and locked her in the trunk of her own car by now.”

      Sansa, locked in the trunk: “Well, on the bright side, I’m getting some ‘me’ time!”

      1. Dust Bunny*

        “It’s like a one of those sensory deprivation tanks! People pay big bucks for this experience!”

        1. Candi*

          Wouldn’t surprise me. Some people who run bright and fluffy, you can say something like, “That shade of goldenrod doesn’t look very good on you -it make you look sickly” and they’ll say, “At least it was on sale! I got a great deal!”

          (I can NOT pull off any shade of goldenrod -winter tones- and that particular person couldn’t pull it off either, although they could pull off a lot of other autumn tones.)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        One of my college friends has a coworker (mercifully not a manager) who does this. I made her a hot pink T-shirt with “POSITIVITY BULLY” printed across the front to wear under her dark office sweaters so she has a little subversive moral support.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      So much this. It is bullying- but it doesn’t look like bullying and it often goes unnoticed by management. I was once on a team with this “everything is sunny” manager – yup, I stopped asking her anything in the span of two weeks – and I did that as a total and utter, never worked in this field at all Newbie! I only outlasted her because I classified her in my brain as an “interesting specimen” and filtered every comment thru that lens. It took almost 16 months to get her out – but all the constant churn on the team stopped once she was gone.

      Will that work for everyone – nope, it won’t. I just decided I could work around that personally because I’d seen truly toxic in the past, and everything else was great (part time hours around my spouse and kids schedules, really good pay for area, separate sick and vacation leave banks, and matched retirement contributions). No job is perfect – I could work around the positivity bully.

  3. Annoying Jedi Intern*

    Ugh. My first day back in the office after WFH for over a year there was a “gift” for me in on my desk in the form of a stress ball with the slogan “Happiness Just Takes Changing Your Attitude” – I guess the ones that said “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves” were all out of stock.

      1. laowai_gaijin*

        “The stress balls were a big hit! People were playing with them, throwing them around the office . . . I did get hit a few times, though. A lot, actually. I’ll send out a memo about playing responsibly.”

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      But… if you’re using the stress ball, you are not changing your attitude. If the employees all changed their attitude to be feelings of happiness, no one would need stress balls.

      This feels almost like a too-subtle prank.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      During the height of the pandemic, our daily briefings started with a positive affirmation from management while most people shuffled and rolled their eyes (internally). Someone finally said that proper PPE and realistic work schedules would be a better morale booster.

      1. Liz*

        I had hand sanitizer too, and before that, we all got boxes at home with masks, sanitzier, a cheap lunch bag, and branded ice packs. which was nice. we also got, early on, a bizarre, cheap fleece hoodie thingy. like a one size fits all!

        1. Mannequin*

          Hahahahaha! I’m their minds, they were gifting all y’all with a piece of warm, cozy WFH comfort-wear.

          In reality, it was the dollar store cousin of a Snuggie LOL

        2. Candi*

          At least in that case, you can see it as them failing to stick the landing one time out of half a dozen, rather than perky annoying feels fluff that tumbles right off the pommel horse.

      2. Joielle*

        We each got a little printer paper sign with a smiley face that said “welcome back!” LOL

        (That’s the public sector for ya!)

      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        The only thing I heard of for the people coming back (I work IT so sometimes I have to be on site) was my manager asking me offhand if I still had any plush virus toys on my desk and if so to put them away.

        I’d actually removed them long ago. While I love my Ebola, Epstein Barr, HPV plushies I can at least recognise there’s an issue of bad taste there.

        1. Sleepless*

          Oh, that’s funny. We keep squares of seasonal themed fabric at our animal hospital to make bandannas for dogs that are going home. At the very beginning of the pandemic, I looked online to see whether virus-themed fabric was a thing. It does exist, but even in April 2020 we had enough sense not to order any.

        2. I could never get the hang of Thursdays*

          I have one of those! I worked for a Periodontist, and it was a Bad Breath Germ.

        3. TexasTeacher*

          One of my kids has a plushie white blood cell they used to cuddle when they were sick. A talisman of sorts, I suppose!

      1. Anonybonnie*

        In difficult times, many people find they can improve their outlook by helping others. For example, by working extra hard so that I, the boss, get a larger bonus. It may not work for you, but don’t you want to try it for a few years just to make sure?

    3. Ama*

      When we moved into our new office several years ago, we had a stress ball that said something to the effect of “Be Calm and Be Quiet” — I think it said three things but it definitely said “Be Quiet” because that’s what pissed everyone off since the gift had apparently been chosen by the COO, who had made sure her pet department got the first choice of desks and storage space and then been surprised when all the other departments raised a fuss. She even said something to the effect of “we’ve just had so much complaining during this process and I’d like everyone to get over it now that we’re here.”

      (The COO didn’t last a whole lot longer — I think the move exposed both her favoritism and resistance to any questioning of her decisions in a way that our CEO and Board could no longer ignore.)

      1. Yvette*

        We used to get stress ball gifts all the time. I always felt that they would save way more money putting up a heavy bag in the corner (like the kind boxers use) that we could go and punch the living daylights out of. (And if you wanted to pretend it was a particular person, well that’s your business.)

        1. Windchime*

          Several jobs ago, I was going through a particularly stressful time and I asked my boss if he could please provide me with a brick wall and some glass to throw against it. I was kidding, of course, but it just sounded like it would be such a satisfying way to relieve stress.

            1. Candi*

              I find games where you blow things up to be useful. When I can’t do the full video game thing, Fishdom and Gems of War work.

        2. willow for now*

          We had a blow-up punching bag – the kind that bounces back after you hit it. That thing … got some use.

        3. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Does it speak to my industry that I’ve worked in more than one company that actually HAS a heavy bag in a shop corner?

        4. Global Cat Herder*

          I worked at one place that had a Nerf baseball bat in a corner of the conference room, so you could beat one of the chairs with it if needed.

        5. Philosophia*

          My father put up a punching ball in our basement when I was a kid—at a height every family member could reach—for anyone’s use, no questions asked. It was a brilliant idea, and served us not perfectly, by any means, but certainly well.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      The time a manager tried to tell me that even disability was ‘an opportunity to grow!’ I seriously considered making a desk trebuchet out of office equipment to fling my company-branded ‘excellence in everything!’ pen at her.

      Ran out of elastic bands though.

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        Ugh. Yes. I’ve been getting more and more of our administrators swinging by my office to offer me “pep talks” and to help me “find the silver lining” of my disability and quest for accommodations.

        I don’t have rubber bands, but I’m thinking my 3Doodler pens and a cup of push pins may come in handy real soon. . .

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Oh god, ‘surely there’s a positive to your disability! You can do something others can’t!’

          Parking in the disabled bay? Wow, that totally makes up for a wrecked spine…./s

          1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

            Yep – that disabled parking and new furniture to accommodate my inability to stand for a full service day are such beautiful ~ luxuries ~ that totally make up for my chronic pain and the fact that I can no longer go hiking with my assistance canine on our days off.

          2. OhNo*

            Oh, lord, I’ve heard that one before. Funny thing, when I ask the ones who say that what positives they see, they never can seem to come up with anything…

          3. Candi*

            My version of ASD wiring means I have a good memory for written material, a talent for seeing patterns, and the ability to string together apparently disconnected and disparate pieces of information into a whole. Nothing a database can’t do with the right algorithms. I’m really good at those stupid “IQ” tests.

            And somehow that should make up for me being horrible at reading body language, having to run off prepared scripts cause my social skills suck, often flailing if the situation doesn’t go according to script or backup script, extreme introversion, sensitivity to certain sounds and patterns of sounds, stimming, sensory issues that send me into sensory overload and that my brain deals with by shutting out one or more senses, meaning I will never be able to drive a traditional car…

            Tell me how great it is.

        2. SarahKay*

          That’s awful. It’d make me want to say “I tell you what, I’ll cut off one of your legs and you can tell me all about your silver linings.”
          Good grod, people suck sometimes!

        3. Aquawoman*

          Ugh, I’m sorry about that. Someone needs to get the word out that toxic positivity is NOT inclusive, especially when used as a replacement for actual accommodations.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Old style hard drive platter tossed hard across the room….dammit I actually have one of those…

          1. nonegiven*

            One place my kid worked let some of the help desk people destroy an old server they hated with a sledgehammer.

        2. Windchime*

          Kind of makes you understand the guys from Office Space who beat the printer to death with baseball bats.

      2. quill*

        I would think binder clips would be the limiting factor, those are the things I can never seem to find for a missile launcher…

        1. Liz*

          I’ll send you some – when we moved, we discovered about a 5-year supply of binder clips. That is, a 5-year supply for pre-electronic documentation. I think we’re set for the next 20 years!

      3. Wendy Darling*

        The other day I was explaining to a group of coworkers that I have a learning disability that makes me outrageously bad at a couple of things despite my best efforts (I’ve learned to work around it, as you do) and two of them piped up to tell me that my inability in this area was because I believed I was unable to do it and if I just changed my mindset I would learn to do it just fine.

        We came very close to discovering whether or not I can fling someone from a moving bus.

        (Interestingly I had no idea this was a learning disability until I was in my 30s and genuinely believed I was just being sloppy/not trying hard enough, so it’s not as if I wasn’t putting effort into it… I spent my childhood/teenage years BUSTING MY ASS trying to improve at it, making no progress, and blaming myself for it.)

        1. Liz*

          Oh, that sounds so familiar. I was told I was “just careless” and “needed to try harder” or “check my work” so often. Then I was diagnosed with dyscalculia in my late 20s.

        2. Lucy Skywalker*

          I can relate. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and was constantly told things like, “You can do pretty much anything your peers can do; it just might take you a little longer. But if you try hard enough, you can do anything!” and “You don’t technically have a disability per se. You just have a condition that makes certain situations more challenging.”
          It wasn’t until I was 30 that I learned that I also have nonverbal learning disability, which means that there are many things that I will never be able to do, no matter how hard I try.
          In fairness to my childhood teachers and mentors, they genuinely didn’t know that I had NVLD any more than I did. Their advice would, in fact, have been appropriate if I only had ADHD and nothing more. But it sure was frustrating all those years to not be able to do certain things that came naturally to most people. It made me feel like I just wasn’t trying hard enough.

      4. KoiFeeder*

        I’m pretty sure the fact that my cartilage is being devoured by my immune system means I’m shrinking, not growing…

        You are more patient than I am. I would have started biting.

      5. Former_Employee*

        Thanks for the French. Either I didn’t know the word or I’ve forgotten it.

        I’ve always been fond of catapult because I envision someone hurling a pissed off cat at a malefactor.

      6. Lucy Skywalker*

        It reminds me of my well-meaning but unhelpful friends who tell me that I should be honored to have the challenges that my disability presents. Or, for that matter, whenever anyone refers to disabilities as “challenges” or disabled people as being “challenged.” As a very wise professor and mentor once said, “If you can’t do something to begin with, it’s not a challenge!”

    5. GoldenHandcuffs*

      I have a notebook that says “choose happiness!” If only it were that easy. Not to mention how damaging and demoralizing that is to people with mental illness who literally can not “choose” to be happy.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Does it come with pictures of various mind altering substances ?

        Preferably ones that could be described as making the user happy. I do not have the knowledge to name anything specific.

      2. Kali*

        Yes, thank you! A person with whom I have many mutual friends has a company where she printed whole bunches of tshirts with this unhelpful phrase on it, so I see it constantly. Not surprisingly, it completely turns my mood sour as I contemplate how, exactly, I’m supposed to choose happiness when the crushing anxiety is taking up all my mental space. At least I’m too emotionally spent to destroy my friendships by lecturing them…

      3. EmKay*

        At Old Job my EAP sent me to a therapist who had a “you can be happy if you so choose” poster in hung up in the reception area.

        That was fun.

    6. AnonInCanada*

      Whoever came up with this “motivational” merch must be making some good bank at the expense and misery of those receiving it “in order to boost company morale.”

    7. Bilateralrope*

      A slogan like that is just asking for someone to print out some pictures with that slogan and various imagery. Mind altering substances. Someone with a serial killer smile. Electrodes on the skull. Any telepaths from something well known among your coworkers.

      Anything to emphasize the real message that slogan gives.

    8. jiggle mouse*

      We had a presenter from HR before times that handed out giant rubber bands with the health center logo that we were supposed to wear on our wrists and snap whenever we had a negative thought.

      1. Alex*

        As someone who was in therapy as a teen for self harm, they give you those in a pinch when they’re trying to wean you onto lower damage options. I’m faintly sick at the idea of them as HR swag.

      2. Bibliothecarial*

        ….and by snap, they meant “snap them out of a rubber band shooter at the fool who came up with this idea,” right? Please? That might actually give me some positive thoughts.

      3. Candi*

        You know, there was a Care Bear called Grumpy for a reason. And Eeyore was never told to cheer up by his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood. In both cases, they were just part of the community, with their friends there for them when they were needed.

        What’s with this happy joy joy never have a negative thought crap? It’s not healthy; the negative gets internalized and results in stress and bad dreams, which aren’t good for you.

    9. Qest*

      Reminds me of one of those “you have to reduce your stress” seminars my husband had to go to.
      They were each handed a stressball and while the tutor spoke he started playing with it.
      Mind you, it may have been a very low quality, filled with sand, baloon covered type.
      It was a huge mess. Never ever anyone asked him to use a stressball again.

    10. CoveredinBees*

      Ahhh, yes. My colleague and I were given smiley face stress balls instead of a head of department that we actually needed. We were both hired as entry level with the understanding that our head of department would be doing the advanced work and guiding our training. Instead, the HoD left, a month into my working there, and was not replaced. So, suddenly we were splitting up this person’s workload and having to guess as we went, but it was a squishy ball that would solve everything.

  4. Lucious*

    Building on Alison’s point- it’s important to manage Sashas approach for LWs own value as well. If Sasha is ignoring undesirable news from her direct reports, it’s not a big leap to conclude she’s applying the same “unrealistic positivity” to reports from her to her boss- LW. A direct report who won’t communicate bad news is an operational liability, and I’m sure we can all cite examples of how badly the wheels come off the tracks when leaders aren’t told important but-not-positive news.

      1. New But Not New*

        Yep, upper management very often doesn’t want to hear bad stuff and will kill the messenger.

    1. PT*

      YES. I worked in a safety/compliance environment and I had many a boss who got angry at me for delivering bad news. This meant that, say, when I said “We have committed to run a 250 child llama camp and we only have enough staff to have 50 children. We have no applicants for staff and we are past the point where we could onboard anyone in time. What should we do with the excess slots?” I got told to “not be negative.”

      The first day of llama camp was a shitshow because we had five times more kids than staff and ended up having to cancel enrollment after the first day.

      Now, which is better? Canceling a month out or having people arrive on Day 2 and find out that there is no llama camp today?


      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        This is how Fyre festival happened. People all along the way were warning them that it was a hot mess and getting it to work was pretty much impossible, and the people at the top were saying “Lets just do it anyway!” like they could just boostraps a music festival into existence with a quick montage and didn’t actually need infrastructure or organization or to pay the people that worked for you (or, you know, musicians).

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I work in data quality. Being a pessimistic gloomy gus is an asset in my role — I rock up to datasets assuming they are probably fucked up and ready to work out the exact nature of the fucked-upness. I believe the only thing deeper than my pessimism is the human potential to find new and unanticipated ways to fill our data stream with garbage. I anticipate malicious behavior before it happens because I am forever thinking about the worst case scenario.

        People assume this means I am an unhappy person. I am not unhappy, I’m just prepared. Toxic-positivity people get absolutely sandbagged when things go undeniably pear-shaped.

        1. Candi*

          I go by “hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and usually it falls somewhere in the middle.” Hasn’t failed me yet.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Oh agreed. The biggest cause of GIGO* is someone downstream “covering up bad news” for whatever reason.

      *Garbage In, Garbage Out

    3. Sara without an H*

      True. OP, you really need to manage Sasha more closely at this point. I know, everybody doesn’t want to “micromanage,” but she’s early in her career, and you need to keep in much closer contact with her. The fluffy positivity memes may just be the tip of the ice berg.

    4. Archaeopteryx*

      Guarantee she’s not advocating for her team’s needs or pushing back on directives from up high as well.

    5. Candi*

      There’s fairly solid evidence that softening the news for higher-ups was a factor in the Columbia shuttle disaster. Presented via poorly done slides, to boot.

  5. Excel Jedi*

    Everything Alison said. Sasha is my nightmare manager, and would cause me to search for a new job pretty much immediately.

    I’m sure she’s going to have an uphill battle reestablishing any credibility and salvaging a healthy managerial relationship with some members of her team.

  6. Absolutely Not*

    If my boss sent me minion memes every morning, I would be out of there faster than you can spell banana.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      I’d probably treat them exactly the same as I do those random Microsoft emails tat try to guess what your work day looks like and what tasks you have from questions in emails. That is to say, straight in the bin.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        We may have turned those into a department bingo-style game. Closest and furthest guesses, as judged by department members a la the card game Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, go in a drawing.

      2. LikesToSwear*

        While I am crazy and actually like the task reminders, the rest of the email is pretty useless to me as well.

    2. AnonInCanada*

      I never actually been subjected to these before, so curiosity got the better of me and went Googling. I concur–I’d throw them (both the minions and the person/people sending them to me) into a meat grinder if I had to be subject to them. Let’s see how “motivated” they come out the other end! >:-D

      Okay, maybe I won’t throw them into a meat grinder. But I would definitely set up a rule in Outlook that sends the motivational minions straight into the Trash Bin!

  7. Eldritch Office Worker*

    She’s a great leader except for her complete unwillingness and/or inability to lead? Please treat this as a serious performance issue and put a stop to it quickly.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is like all those relationship advice column letters that are like “my boyfriend/husband/partner is great except” and then they reveal he’s like… a serial killer or something.

      The memes I could ignore. But if I took a problem to my boss and they told me to “look on the bright side”, I would find it difficult to reply in anything resembling a professional manner.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I was about to write something along these lines! “He’s a great guy except for how he never indicates that he cares about my feelings or well-being in any way!”

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          He’s such a great guy except he treats me like his maid/cook and yells at me, and is always texting other women.

      2. Meep*

        My Toxic Coworker is like that. I once told her that I didn’t appreciate her using me as a typist for her emails and would love it if I could do my actual job rather than play receptionist for her (in a nicer tone, of course). She turned it into “That is so inappropriate of the OWNER to do! But don’t worry! I won’t tell him you said that! We need to have a good working relationship after all!” I was so stunned I didn’t think to respond.

        She did this with EVERYTHING! “I know I treat you like shit, but look on the bright side! At least you know HOW I am going to treat you like shit. If you leave, you won’t know what you are getting into!”

        I have literal PTSD from this psychopath. She was a great manager minus that! LOL. (Just kidding. She is the worst)

      3. tamarack & fireweed*

        Nail hit on the head!

        I’m sure there is some impressive factor about her work, like, she can cite chapter and verse on the industry regulations in the relevant sector by heart, or she is a wizard with Excel graphs. But that’s a bloody big deal, not a tiny failing.

    2. Bossy Lady*

      OP here.

      I dont think it’s quite that egregious. She is new to the company and our particular industry, but not to leadership. I didnt say she was “Completely” unwilling or unable to lead. She has a lot of great ideas and has implemented some already with considerable success. I will absolutely use the advice given here to coach her out of this habit, and agree it shouldn’t go unaddressed, however, she is certainly not (probably) a serial killer!

      1. Omnivalent*

        The point isn’t that she’s a serial killer. The point is that you are describing a problem as “tiny” when it’s actually enormous. The analogy people are making is to relationship-advice-column letters where the writer says their spouse is really great except for this one little thing that bothers them, and “this one little thing” is actually something horrific.

        It’s understandable that you feel a bit defensive about people criticizing Sasha since you hired her and you like her, but you can’t let that get in the way of addressing what is a very serious problem that’s likely already caused damage.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I appreciate that you are not writing to attack her as a horrible person. We do understand. She is a perfectly imperfect human. Good as somethings, crappy at others.
        By which I mean, “She has a lot of great ideas and has implemented some already with considerable success.”
        This doesn’t not mean she can manage people. She is a good contributor. She may even be a good delegator and a good PROJECT manager.
        She is not a good people manager.
        A strong employee who reach out to management after exhausting all options should not be told, “cheer up, it’s a beautiful day,” without getting an answer. We just want to know how to fix X.
        If Sasha can’t understand that, she can’t manage.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          She’s lazy, though. Feelings about problems are reality. Sadness and frustrations are reality, and Sasha-Pollyanna is in deep, invalidating denial.

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            Yes, yes, yes. I am sure Sansa doesn’t see herself as lazy, but telling people a good attitude fixes their problem is someone who’s pawning her own hard job of fixing problems back onto her staff.

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Yes! From her manager’s prospective she could look good at her job, but to the people she manages she looks awful at her job and upper management is standing around talking about how great she is – and that can kill moral faster than a minions meme. ALL that they can see are these motivational emails and her brushing their problems aside. And I bet she’s getting to a B*tch eating crackers place with a lot of them very very quickly, which is super hard to come back from.

      3. Tazzy*

        Presumably (since she was your replacement when you were promoted) she is now managing people that you used to. Have you considered how her leadership style differs from her and how frustrating that can be for the people she is now managing? Or rather, how frustrating her direct reports must feel when they have to consider that any problem they approach her with could lead to her advice being to “Just stay positive” rather than a real, concrete solution?

        It’s concerning that you consider this to be a small issue. If there was a chance my boss wouldn’t support me when I went to her for help, I would start searching immediately. If I knew that my grandboss was aware of the issue and wasn’t taking it seriously, I would also be very upset.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I wonder if these people aren’t going instead to the LW, their former, now grand-boss? That would explain how the LW knows about Sasha’s cheery-yet-useless responses. Frankly, were I one of those people this is exactly what I would do, effectively cutting Sasha out of the loop in order to save time.

      4. The New Wanderer*

        It’s never a one-or-the-other thing. You have someone with great ideas and some success, but that same person is probably also alienating their team and not providing good or effective management. I’m guessing if she had said during the interview that she blasts positivity at people every morning and in response to real problems her team brings to her, you might have hired someone else.

        I left my last company because of the person in charge of my career progression. He was jovial and well liked by outsiders (including one of my new colleagues at my new job) and if he liked someone he really went to bat for them, but the HR complaints about him and the suddenly high turnover rate told a different story.

      5. Observer*

        I dont think it’s quite that egregious.

        Bluntly put, yes it is.

        I didnt say she was “Completely” unwilling or unable to lead

        No you didn’t SAY that. But you describes a fundamental failure in a CORE leadership role. “Great ideas” do NOT make a great leader. They could make a great consultant, but leadership is not about that. Unless and until she stops this, she is not only not a “great” leader. She’s not a leader at all. She’s just a manager with some good ideas.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          “‘Great ideas’ do NOT make a great leader.”

          YES. THIS. I am right now dealing with the consequences of a “great idea,” which was implemented despite the concerns I expressed. And now I have to deal with the consequences and clean up the mess. And I am passing all of the complaints right back to the person who implemented said great idea while ignoring everything I said. Which I am going to continue to do…while polishing up my resume and my LinkedIn. Because I am SICK of this happening. If you’re guessing that this is not the first time I’ve had to clean up such a mess, you are absolutely correct.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Learning the differents between ‘ideas people’ and ‘logistics people’ has been critical for my career.

            The latter are usually far better managers than the former.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              Ideas people can be great…as long as they actually LISTEN TO AND WORK WITH the Logistics people, and don’t just merrily move forward with their ideas, while dumping all of the clean up on the Logistics people. If they then chirp merrily at the tired, stressed, and frustrated Logistics people about how great that worked out…they are risking severe bodily harm, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s their own damned fault.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Yep! Love ideas people, they are fun to talk to and incredibly innovative. They just need to be collaborative as well.

                1. AnonEMoose*

                  And to not dismiss concerns brought up by saying people are “just being negative” or similar. Or “not thinking big enough”, or whatever the buzz phrase is this week.

          2. Candi*

            Make sure to use AAM-Approved Resume Polish, perfect for all your job-hunting needs.

            Meanwhile, here’s a virtual catapult to launch all those complaints right on target.

            There’s a difference between being overly negative and being cautious, for pete’s sake.

        2. Aaron*

          Yes. A manager has the responsibility to equip her subordinates with what they need to succeed. Sasha’s people need substantive guidance and support, and instead she’s giving them platitudes.

      6. MoreFriesPlz*

        You didn’t say she was completely unable to lead, but that’s what a lot of people are taking away from your description of her.

        I think people are balking at you calling her a great leader because it makes it seem like like you don’t understand how huge this problem is. If her employees get memes and annoyingness when they need support or advice, they’re going to be incredibly frustrated and demoralized. I hope you take to heart that this person is failing in her role as a manager, even if she’s feeling implemented some good ideas, and you will loose people over this sooner or later.

      7. NotAnotherManager!*

        I think it’s good to maintain a balanced view of her, but I’m glad you will address the toxic positivity issue with her stat. There is no reason, generally, to send daily memes around your workplace for any reason. I would wonder why my boss has time for that. But the biggest issue, to me, is your description of her giving pep talks instead of advice or solutions. I am a manager. People come to me daily with problems that they need help solving. (Yesterday, it was how to manage an unreasonable project manager; today it was a staffing issue that has a lot of downstream implications, last week, it was an enormous technology issue that IT had not thought through the business impacts of before implementing and the fallout from the projects that got blown to bits by it.) Happy thoughts alone don’t fix any of that. The positivity of those situations comes from praising the people involved for their problem solving/extra work to deal with stuff/etc. and from helping them get them from the current minefield to Point B unscathed.

        1. miss chevious*

          To my mind, helping solve the problem IS the pep talk! When my people come to me with issues, I want them to leave feeling like they have a solution or next steps they can talk on their own — that’s what increases morale, not a bunch of platitudes about attitudes.

        2. Candi*

          “the fallout from the projects that got blown to bits by it”


          What the Fudge did they do?

          (Curious partially so I have notes on what not to do once I have my degree.)

      8. El l*

        Sounds to me that the positivity and “look on the bright side!” is to cover that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. That’s something easy to say when you’re new to the company and the industry and don’t understand the details.

        You may have to decide if they can learn enough and soon enough to swim in your company and industry.

        (Perhaps I’m just projecting what sounds like a pretty similar situation with one of my leadership team, but…)

        1. Candi*

          I personally don’t care if my manager is a subject matter expert, as long as they don’t get in the way of the SMEs using their matter to work with the subject they’re an expert in.

          What I do care about is the manager has a crowbar and bigger stick, and can use them to help solve my problems.

      9. tamarack & fireweed*

        I’m sure you hired her for a good reason, and feel that it’s borne out by the creativity and ideas that she is injecting into your company. Maybe people are indeed just so happy to have someone to turn around / revive / whatever it is the department needs. But I can guarantee that over time, once she has run out of ideas or new ideas are less needed, this attitude is going to undermine her, and it’s massively unfair to employees to expose them to toxic positivity mitigated, for a time, by improvements to processes or arrangements that needed revising.

      10. Worker bee*

        If I asked a new to me manager for advice and/or for a solution to an issue and received nothing but platitudes and a cheerful “don’t sweat the small stuff” response, I would assume they were either in over their head or assuming I’m an overreactive idiot for bringing the issue to their attention, which I would take as an insult to my intelligence and experience. Neither would have me leaving the interaction with anything remotely resembling a positive attitude and, in fact, would make me feel annoyed and dismissed. And honestly, if this happened to me at my company, I would be pretty blunt about the fact that I need an answer and not a Minion meme in order to remain positive.

        I’m wondering if you’re underestimating the fact that this is an issue because she’s being positive rather than negative. I work with/for a number of managers at my company, all with differing management styles, but two annoy me so much. One acts like he takes my concerns seriously, but does nothing to address them. The other is a cheerful, sickly sweet person, but treats everyone at her level and below like they just had a serious head injury and are relearning basic functions.

        Both are annoying, but in different ways. With the first, I have to keep bringing it up (and with the last instance, went above his head about it). With the second, I need to clear my schedule, use the restroom, and get a cup of coffee before talking to her, because I know I’m going to get the full history and play by play about something like “Are we still selling the blue teapots?”

        Also, if she’s uncomfortable with the negative stuff, I don’t know how that’s going to be beneficial to your division, not to mention might unintentionally cause people to be hurt/annoyed later. I have a decent example that happened to me recently.

        I was doing retail coverage at a location that I’m not that familiar with and apparently upset a coworker. She told her boss (the cheerful, sickly sweet person I mentioned above) who told HR, but asked HR not to say anything to me. I had to talk to HR about something else when she asked me how the day went, then told me what she was told. The entire thing amounted to a huge miscommunication that I felt badly about and remedied, but also asked HR why the manager didn’t want me to know. The answer was that that manager didn’t want to spread ‘negativity’ or make me feel badly. HR said she asked, if that was the case, why is she being told, as now she’d have to address it.

        I mention this because, if she’s unwilling to give guidance or constructive criticism, how will she handle interpersonal conflicts among her staff? I’ve been reading AAM archives and one I recently read was about a grandfather type that kept bothering an office mate by poking her and shoving his phone in her face to look at grandchild pics. If that LW approached Sasha, would she address it as a problem for that LW or see it as a “teambuilding” non-problem?

        How would she handle something like the team being on a firm deadline and Lucy has critical information that the team needs to meet the deadline, but it’s incomplete or inaccurate and she’s not good about updating everyone on when it will be ready. Would her response be that it’s a good thing that the rest of the team has extra time to get prepared?

      11. Cold Fish*

        I know I’m late to the game but my $.02.
        Before talking to her, google “toxic positivity on health” there are several very interesting articles on why this isn’t actually good.

        A few years ago I was reading about inspiration boards and using aspirational quotes/thoughts and decided to tell myself every morning that “today is going to be a great day”. I ended up in a very dark place. Long story short, every day was not great and I’m still working on fixing the damage that little experiment did on my mental health.

      12. Loosey Goosey*

        The point is that you will lose good employees over this, because it’s incredibly frustrating and demoralizing behavior from a manager. Sasha may be a wonderful person and very effective in other ways. It still won’t count for bupkis if she keeps up the toxic positivity (non-)management. Her reports are undoubtedly already annoyed, and the longer it goes on, the less chance there is of being able to course-correct and help her build productive work relationships. As Alison said, as Sasha’s manager, you have to start by reframing – the problem is *not* tiny, and she is *not* a great leader – and proceed accordingly.

      13. Candi*

        You can get good, solid, innovative ideas out of an individual contributor. What you need is for her to step up as a manager.

        I’m a student of history. It is entirely possible for someone to not be new to leadership and still be very bad at it.

        And that is a large problem.

      14. münchner kindl*

        I find it interesting that you called it “positivity gospel” – I hadn’t heard that before, but it fits because:

        it’s toxic

        it basically amounts to putting fingers in her ears and going lalala – she’s denying the facts of what the employees are bringing to her

        people believe that positivity is good despite a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    3. Observer*

      She’s a great leader except for her complete unwillingness and/or inability to lead

      This! She is NOT leading. At all.

  8. KHB*

    I don’t think this is one where you need to walk on eggshells. Sasha is “rather new” (to management, I assume), she’s trying this approach to her team’s problems, it’s not working, and now it’s your job as her manager to tell her so.

    Has Sasha had any management training at all? If not, a good next step would be to get her some.

    1. Bossy Lady*

      OP here.
      She actually has pretty deep leadership experience and great references.
      I really sense that the positivity thing is a personality trait, maybe compensating for her own unhappiness, and that she is really trying to “Rally the troops” so to speak, as she is VERY new.

      It is true that it’s not conducive to long term success and growth, and therein lies my opportunity to coach her, however, I really think she just wants to be relatable. Maybe this approach was lauded at her last job, and she really just doesnt know how it’s landing in my department. That’s fully on me.

        1. Bossy Lady*

          That may very well be. We have a number of very high-maintenence and sometimes outright abusive customers. A bit different from her most recent role. The day to day threats and yelling from customers grinds on all of us. I really think she’s trying to be a bright spot and it’s not accomplishing what she intended.

          1. Observer*

            Good grief! People are coming to her about being abused and she’s coming back with “Look on the bright side” rhetoric?! Sorry, that’s just inexcusable. Maybe that’s what her last company did, but it is a DEEPLY dysfunctional response and she needs to stop that.

            If she does not understand that “look on the bright side” is NOT EVER going to be an antidote to “ day to day threats and yelling from customers ” I have to question her fitness for the role.

            I’m going to repeat this- she may not be new to leadership, but right now she is NOT being a (decent) leader. If you don’t get a handle on this, you WILL lose people.

            1. Bossy Lady*

              No. She is not responding to ACTUAL ABUSE with “look on the bright side”
              What I said was, she’s *couching* her advice (on all manner of things, not specifically customer abuse) with

              1. Bossy Lady*

                hit Enter too fast

                Responding to legitimate abuse like that would absolutely not fly. The issues being brought to her are across the board – sometimes personnel related, sometimes customers, sometimes interactions with other departments – and they’re often couched in “well on the bright side…”

                I agree with a previous commenter that the opportunity/shortcoming here is *active listening*.
                That’s on me to coach her on, and to her credit, I have observed her handle problems very, very well. I know that she *can*. I think it’s a lot of factors. One being a disconnect in the culture at our company and likely her previous job. Two being new and trying to fit in/find her place. And three, the more I think on this, it could be a generational thing too. She is considerably older than most of our team and I don’t think her generation is intentionally insensitive so much as they were conditioned to “bootstrap”.

                Actual abuse is dealt with swiftly at every level. It still grinds on everyone though. It’s not fun to be screamed at, even if you know you’re empowered to hang up on a caller.

                1. Observer*

                  And three, the more I think on this, it could be a generational thing too. She is considerably older than most of our team and I don’t think her generation is intentionally insensitive so much as they were conditioned to “bootstrap”.

                  Absolutely NOT. Firstly, not all “older people” are “conditioned” to boot strap. On top of which, what you are describing goes well beyond bootstrapping.

                  You have a genuine problem on your hands, but you are open to working on it. That’s good. Don’t blow up all your good work with ageist nonsense.

                2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

                  As someone on the wrong end of 50, I find your comment about bootstrapping to not only be wrong, but definitely ageist. I learned about managing in the 1990’s and Sansa’s approach would have been wrong then. This is not about age. It’s about competence. The fact that she is “older”, in fact, makes this even worse. An experienced manager would never be doing this.

                  The more I hear, the more I believe that this is a clear competency and empathy gap for Sansa, not just a quirk or cultural issue.

                3. Observer*

                  I agree with a previous commenter that the opportunity/shortcoming here is *active listening*.

                  The problem is that what you’re describing sounds much more like a deep lack of empathy. Does she really not understand the context? People do not want or need “on the bright side”. They want “This is what we can do” or “This is an approach that might be useful” or something that is actually HELP or ACTIONABLE guidance. That’s true in general. That’s ESPECIALLY true when people are trying to manage in genuinely difficult circumstances.

                4. New But Not New*

                  Definitely not a generational thing. I struggle with normal positivity in the workplace, yet alone toxic positivity (ugh), and I’m old as dirt.

                5. Candi*

                  ” The day to day threats and yelling from customers ”

                  Threats and yelling are abuse. Period. They’re far more insidious than physical abuse, you can’t see the injuries, you can’t see the scars. But they can cause and trigger PTSD, and people will quit when they’ve had enough.

                  Responding to any complaint, any seeking of help with such behavior with “look on the bright side” comments will come across as dismissive.

                  Her age has squat to do with it. My stepmom is a very young Boomer generation, and was a nurse “supervisor” with manager powers before she had to retire due to chronic illness. She is one of the sweetest, nicest people you could ever meet. She also listened to her staff and tried to address her concerns, no “bright side” in sight.

              2. Observer*

                What I said was, she’s *couching* her advice (on all manner of things, not specifically customer abuse) with

                It doesn’t matter that she is not using those exact words. The simple fact is that when people are bringing you genuine problems this approach, no matter what the specific words are, is just NOT appropriate. And even if she’s not doing this specifically about the abuse this is a situation where people are actually the targets of abuse and “wearing” circumstances. Again, it is just totally inappropriate for her to respond this way. The fact that she is often doing this INSTEAD of providing some guidance and assistance takes it from totally inappropriate to major failure.

                I’m not talking about encouraging everyone to moan and groan. But she’s NOT doing her job, she’s NOT providing leadership, and she IS minimizing the very real challenges your staff are dealing with.

          2. TyphoidMary*

            Oh, oh oh oh oh oh.

            This actually, perhaps paradoxically, means that she REALLY needs to learn how to validate somebody’s feelings BEFORE trying to problem-solve or dismiss. Very understandable, as most of us are taught “bad feelings=bad, good feelings=good” and not “bad feelings=inevitable sometimes so develop some strategies for them.”

            I really wonderful, relatively accessible skill she might want to develop is “active listening.” You can google it for a ton of prompts, ideas, and exercises.

            Best of luck to y’all!

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Yes to all of this. If people are really getting abused by customers and having crappy experience they REALLY need a manager who can say “I’m so sorry, that really sucks” before anything else. This is a job critical skill in this environment.

              1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

                Yes all the way to this. Leaders who push perpetually sunniness are often stunningly unempathetic to their staff. It’s so easy to simply tell someone “fix your attitude” since that avoids the messy business of listening, empathizing, and then coming up with a solution.

          3. Prefer my pets*

            Omg. Every additional bit you add about this situation makes it sound worse not better. I’d frankly be stunned if the majority of her staff aren’t looking for new jobs already.

            They already work in a kinda shitty situation, their new boss is practically a meme she’s so forced happy, oh & she also completely negates their feelings/problems by pretending everything is great when absolutely any objective person would say this is bad? Wow. Just wow.

            I can’t help but wonder how long, if not already, before her toxic positivity leads her to say that things like people’s chronic illnesses or health issues were brought on by them not being positive enough. That is a well established cult & she sounds like someone who would jump right in.

            You need to fix this NOW if you don’t want to lose every competent employee you’ve got.

            1. Reba*

              Yeah, “let’s have a positive attitude!!” when the situation is objectively stressful is just telling everyone on the front lines, “I don’t have your back.”

              It’s like she is willfully refusing to understand the problems her reports deal with.

              1. Worker bee*

                From Reba: “Yeah, “let’s have a positive attitude!!” when the situation is objectively stressful is just telling everyone on the front lines, “I don’t have your back.””

                THAT!! That exactly.

                I’m going to try to be as nice as I can, but I think your “generational differences” reason is nonsense. I’m in my 40s and many of the people I work with at one aspect of my job are in their late teens/early 20s. If I have a serious issue with a customer, I’m talking to one of two managers, both of which are in their 70s. And neither would ever dare to use the phrase “on the bright side” with us. It’s insulting, dismissive, and flat out nonsense.

                I started out at my company as Customer Service. I do other things now, but am occasionally asked to work a shift to cover, not for the staff, but for management. My entire job is to have a person around who knows all the tricks, but is also a kind of bouncer; I step in when a customer is angry or being hostile.

                Bossy Lady, you wrote, “It’s not fun to be screamed at, even if you know you’re empowered to hang up on a caller.” You’re right; it’s not. But you know what’s worse? Trying to discuss how to better deal with that with your boss and getting some nonsense like “the bright side is that tomorrow is a new day!” in return.

                People who work with high maintenance or hostile customers flat out don’t need that bulls**t. They need answers and the assurances that their managers will have their back.

                Also, I feel this SO HARD from Librarian of SHIELD*, to the point that I might actually save it.

                ” OP, the way Sasha is making staff feel is really similar to the way the abusive customers make them feel. It’s just one more person in their day who doesn’t care how they feel and just wants them to shut up and do what they’re told. The fact that Sasha is sunny and polite about it doesn’t make it feel any better to the staff on the receiving end.”

                I would love to know what Sasha’s “look on the bright side” example would be for me in the instance where I had a customer who was upset that his replacement would cost more, since he was buying something larger. He was so angry he was turning red, was balling his fist up, and called me a “stupid f-ing b***h”. His wife tried to calm him down and he told her he wanted “this c**t’s” manager” to “set her straight”.

                I guess the bright side would be that I didn’t get hit in the face by a man a foot taller with 100 lbs on me? So yay for that?

                1. Candi*

                  For the record, I don’t consider it “empowering” to be allowed to hang up on an abusive caller. I consider a basic ethical right that far too many companies deny their workers.

                  “Empowering” would be giving them permission to -politely, professionally- talk back to the customers, and deny them service if they can’t exercise basic manners.

                  I’m rather surprised hemorrhaging in Sasha’s department hasn’t been noted already. Maybe they’re depending on Bossy Lady to fix it.

          4. SarahKay*

            Ohhhh, no, no, NO!
            I’ve done customer service, will never do it again if I had a choice, and this sort of behaviour from a manager is not a bright spot, it’s one more damn thing in a tough day. Not to mention yet another person behaving badly to whom I am not allowed to say “You know what? You suck!” and instead have to grit my my teeth and be polite to.
            A relentlessly positive manager like that is not making things better with her positivity, she is actively making things worse. You need to stop her from doing this, and the sooner the better.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              This is a really important point. As a customer service professional, I’ve actually had a boss like this. Here’s how it usually goes:

              Step 1: Try my best to help a customer while they yell profanities at me and insist that I’m an instrument of evil.
              Step 2: Cry in the bathroom.
              Step 3: Boss asks me how my day is going. I tell my story about step 1.
              Step 4: Boss tells me something that basically boils down to “stop being upset and be awesome instead!”
              Step 5: Feel even worse than I did before steps 3 and 4, possibly cry in the bathroom again, and definitely send an all caps text message to my friends about how much I hate my job.

              Rinse and repeat until my friends and family convince me to quit that job and start over.

              OP, the way Sasha is making staff feel is really similar to the way the abusive customers make them feel. It’s just one more person in their day who doesn’t care how they feel and just wants them to shut up and do what they’re told. The fact that Sasha is sunny and polite about it doesn’t make it feel any better to the staff on the receiving end.

            2. Archaeopteryx*

              Patients/customers can be so irrational and childish- you need a boss who will validate you and materially back you up, not dismiss your experience with more gaslighting!

          5. Ally McBeal*

            Oh lord. There is NO bright side to being abused by customers, and (as someone who worked in the service industry for 4ish years) I would quit if my boss tried to tell me there was one. She’s coming off as incredibly tone-deaf and it’s definitely a bigger problem than you originally thought in your letter.

          6. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            A thing that worked for me, coming at a toxicly positive new supervisor from the other side (as in, I was his subordinate), was to tell him I understood he was trying to keep the culture upbeat, but if I was actually complaining to him, that meant I was quite sure there was a serious issue that required management attention. He could escalate it or handle it himself or even tell me we were just going to live with it, but if he tried to brightside it and tell me it wasn’t a problem, I’d have to either explain to him in more detail why it was a problem or find someone else in management who would listen. Thankfully he took that to heart, because I was about one “It’s A Glorious Morning!” away from quitting at that point.

      1. Wants Green Things*

        Either way, it’s not working, it’s creating a problem, and it is on you to address this with her. No softballing it either – you need to be direct and say “this isn’t working and it needs to stop immediately.”

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yup. And it’s totally okay to fall on your sword a bit and take some ownership of not helping her blend into the company culture a little better, but the bottom line is that the toxic positivity has to stop now.

      2. Zoey*

        If she thinks this is relatable, she is an idiot.

        You should probably stop excusing this as a personality trait.

    2. badger*

      Definitely agree. When I became a manager, we (new managers) got sent to a 6 day training spaced out over several months. It was high quality, so very valuable to get me up-to-speed – besides reading lots of AAM :)

  9. WantonSeedStitch*

    I’d bet any money that Sasha also will need coaching on giving effective feedback. This sounds like someone who will have a hard time delivering developmental/critical feedback that is clear and unambiguous and actually helpful. I also expect that her positive feedback is not of the helpful variety: I can imagine a lot of “you’re the best!” and “great job!” without anything specific to point to as examples of what the employee is doing well and should continue to do.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Oh yeah she will soften the language so badly to avoid any negatively that no one will get the message they need to fix something. Then when someone inevitably needs to be let go for work performance issues they will be blindsided. And Sasha will claim she warned them their job was at risk. But, you know, she didn’t really because that’s negative and upsetting.

      1. Leela*

        I had this exact manager and that’s exactly what happened to some people on our team before I finally managed to leave…

        It was a call center and upper management kept raising our minimum required metrics over and over, not realizing that this wasn’t sustainable. Many people could *not* hit those numbers and I’m pretty sure I basically did through luck and work shift. Our team members would beg her for guidance and direction and she’d just go “all you can do is all you can do! You’re doing the best you can, that’s great!” and then when they all got laid off for not hitting their numbers, everyone was shocked and she was just sitting there in disbelief that her amazing positive vibes hadn’t made their numbers raise by making them feel so great or something

        1. Candi*

          Let me guess:

          “We just raised the minimum required metrics a little!”

          And how many times did you do that? A whole bunch of littles make a lot!

  10. Guacamole Bob*

    It’s interesting that OP didn’t say, “she’s great except for one thing”, she chose “she’s great except for one *tiny* thing”. Why does this seem tiny to OP? Why did she feel the need to minimize it, even as she felt it was important enough to write in about?

    I find it disconcerting and worry about what that says about the company culture and/or OP’s own approach to management.

        1. KHB*

          Alison pointed it out, but she didn’t express worry about OP’s entire approach to management because of one word.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Fair enough, and Alison please delete if I’m off base. It just jumped out at me as kind of a red flag for how OP is viewing this situation.

      2. MoreFriesPlz*

        I think extrapolating to OPs entire management style might be kind of a lot but calling a huge problem a tiny problem definitely makes it seem like this might not be taken as seriously as it needs to be.

      3. Meep*

        Honestly, if you write into this blog, you typically know something is off. Even if you are off-basis and think your employee is a jerk for wanting to be paid on time. I think picking up that the “little thing” is actually a “big thing” is pretty understandable. OP wouldn’t be writing in if it was actually a small thing.

        1. Candi*

          (waggles hand) That depends. I think some people write in hoping a problem is not as big as their subconscious is hollering it is.

          Then Alison and the commentariat are like, “This is huge! You need to do X, Y, and Z, or Bad Things A and B will happen!”

          Whether the person is willing to accept the reinforcement of their subconscious over their conscious mind hoping it’s not that big a problem really varies, both short- and long-term.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think because this mostly falls under “soft skills” that managers often feel they can’t address. We know they can address them, but the number of AAM entries about effective but prickly employees demonstrates that not everyone realizes that.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      I think it’s a symptom of something in the larger culture — I’m spitballing here, but I think this might be part of why and how toxic positivity is able to gain a foothold in the first place. It’s the idea that people who are into toxic positivity are just trying to be nice, that they’re just such good people, and that those of us who don’t like it are just a bunch of grumpy Eeyores who need an attitude adjustment. And so people feel like, “oh, I can’t push back, I’d just be bringing everyone down, it’s not so-and-so’s fault that she’s a more positive (read: better) person than me.” A Kafkatrap, almost — objecting to the toxic positivity would just be seen as a sign that you need more of it.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Forgot to tie this back to the comment I’m responding to — I think it creates an incentive to minimize the problem, because “she’s just expressing her inner joy!” or whatever.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        THIS. SO MUCH THIS. Sometimes being pissed off or sad or grumpy about a situation is a totally appropriate response. I am consciously refusing to perform positivity about being required to be back in the office two days a week. Not that I’m buttonholing people to complain, but if someone asks how I’m feeling about it, I’m being honest about my opinion that it was not a good call on management’s part. And I would NOT APPRECIATE someone chirping back to me about how I should “be positive.” Most especially since I’m also dealing with a family loss right now, so there’s grief and concern about other family members on top of it.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          You can’t address a problem at your company until you listen to the person who’s telling you there’s a problem. Dismissing them as Eeyores, or saying “look on the bright side!” is not listening.

          1. münchner kindl*

            THIS SO MUCH.

            I also wonder how much it ties into that (harmful to me) US culture idea that good customer service means a lot of smiling (and willingness to endure abuse from customer) – instead of actual competence at being a good salesperson/ solving problems.

            Similar, a person who acts “nice” is considered nice, and nobody seems to care about their actual competence at their actual job – well managers.

            Engineers are expected to acknowledge facts instead of smiling all the time. (Maybe because they’re traditionally male, but salespeople/ customer service skews female?)

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          One of the things I offer all of my team is an unbridled minute or two to just vent their spleen before diving into the actual problem-solving portion of the event (provided there is time for it). It’s TOTALLY OKAY to be grumpy with the new team lead of the group we’re doing a joint project with when they completely fail to plan and then expect our team to haul the project out of the mud as long as, once we get through the WTF-they-did-this-AGAIN portion of the event, we move into the here’s-what-we’re-going-to-do (both immediately and to prevent future occurrences).

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

        Yes, that’s the insidiousness of toxic positivity — it’s dismissive of the reality that people are allowed to have emotions and problems…ie. they’re all just “in your head” or a product of attitude…it’s a you problem…you have a character flaw if you feel stressed or bring an issue to management. As Alison said in her response, it isn’t a TINY issue.

        I get that it’s draining to be around someone who always complains and/or never seems to do anything to fix the issue they are complaining about, but it never improves the problem to tell them to just “put on a happy face”. Sometimes all they really need is validation that XYZ sucks and they’ve been heard.

  11. kiki*

    an irritating Minion meme, which is irrelevant but annoying to me.
    I’m cackling at this. I would also be deeply confused by this. I know some people adore minions and find them cute but I feel like the consensus among most adults is that they’re irritating!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Well, at one point they quit en masse when management doesn’t listen to them so there’s that!

    1. Willis*

      Haha – I know a Minion as a kid thing from Despicable Me, but have never encountered one in the adult world and would also be confused. They’d seem especially out of place in the context of inspirational quotes, positivity, soothing natural landscape, and…minions?!? But TBH, by about the third day of a morning positivity email, I’d just be on delete mode no matter what stupid picture is in it.

    2. ThePear8*

      I thought the consensus was everyone thought minions were funny and cute until they became WAY overmarketed haha

    3. Nesprin*

      Minions are saccharine sweet-cute, incompetent, unable to communicate with the greater world, and require protection, and AFAIK are not paid, have no opportunity for advancement.

      As a workplace meme they’ve got a lot of strikes against.

    4. Former Young Lady*

      I started laughing, bitterly, too by the time Minions showed up here.

      I admit I assume their target fanbase is young children, followed by a periphery demographic of retirees who share them alongside weird quotes on Facebook all day. Are they finally making inroads into the working-age population? Say it ain’t so!

      1. Imaginary Friend*

        Well, “Despicable Me” did come out almost 12 years ago, and kids who were 12 then are almost 24 now…

        And remember too that young children always have parents/guardians who are generally working-age.

        1. Former Young Lady*

          I mean, I know lots of parents my own age, but not many who bring their preschoolers’ fandoms to the office.

          As to the vintage of the Minions themselves…well, time for me to sip some prune juice and put on some Game Show Network, because I’m feelin’ my age!

    5. Why did I go to library school?*

      My understanding of minion memes is that they’re mostly used by older folks on Facebook.

      1. JustaTech*

        One of the first things I ever blocked on FB was a Minion meme page after a friend shared 20 in a single morning.

        It was such a delightful feeling I then went on to block every single “positivity” page that anyone ever shared, and lo, did I increase my happiness!

        I’m glad I’m not the only person who finds happiness memes (and “work harder” memes) to be infuriating.

        1. Former Young Lady*

          20 in one morning?!

          …Please tell me at least one of those memes had some kind of smarmy message about having to “make time for the things that matter”? Please oh please?

        1. Candi*

          Google “Despicable Me Minion Wiki” or something similar. You’ll find everything you need to know, and a lot you don’t want to know/will cringe at.

  12. bunniferous*

    It is not anti positive to see a problem AS a problem. There is a way to guide her toxic positivity into something more useful if she is willing to make the changes you need her to make. There is a difference between an optimistic attitude and toxic positivity. If you can help her find that sweet spot-which means she is going to have to address the issue or challenge AS SUCH then be positive about finding good solutions-I think everybody will be happier including her in the long run.

    1. londonedit*

      Yes, exactly. An optimistic attitude is ‘OK, looks like there’s a major problem with the widget delivery…let’s pull together and see if we can sort this out. What can I do to help?’. Toxic positivity is ‘There’s no problem with the widgets! You’re just not being positive enough! Call someone and fix it! You’re just not working hard enough – put a smile on your face and it’ll be fine!’

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Excellent distinction. You can be optimistic and proactive, but you can’t solve a broken leg with positive thinking.

      2. TyphoidMary*

        in social work we call it “strength-based.” You try to approach things through the lens of “what are our strengths? where are we abundant?” But denying the negative–or rushing through it–is kinda gaslighty*, for lack of a better word.

        *Gaslighting really should only be used for intentional crazy-making, not just insensitivity… but I actually do think there are real risks to mental wellness for folks being subjected to toxic positivity, so I’m taking the linguistic liberty here.

        1. socks*

          Invalidating? Dismissive? Harmful? Counterproductive? I think it’s odd you recognized that this isn’t how gaslighting should be used and then used it anyway.

          1. Broadway Duchess*

            This. I’m not sure how this word has become the default for, I don’t know, lying, but it is so disappointing to see it diluted to this point. Actual gaslighting is so dangerous and people who have suffered don’t need for this to be the next “OMG, I’m so OCD!”

          2. JustaTech*

            Invalidating is a good word – it gets at the “rejecting your reality” part but in a less pervasive way than “gaslighting”.

          3. TyphoidMary*

            yes, I had hoped that my explanation would allow for some grace since I couldn’t put my finger on the right word. I appreciate your alternatives (all much better choices).

    2. LKW*

      Yup – i noted my experience being the toxic positive person. It’s like that “Everything is fine” meme – when things are on fire, you want leadership to have a fire extinguisher not turn to you and say “I really like a warm room, don’t you?”

      1. Candi*

        To extend the metaphor, you want leadership that realizes there’s kindling getting scattered around, and works on plans to pick it up before they need that extinguisher.

    3. LGC*

      I agree – nothing in the letter makes it sound like Sasha’s set in her ways (okay, nothing in the letter makes it sound like she’s not set in her ways, either). And I’ll be honest…I think it’s more common that you’d think that people think management is about ~*~inspiration~*~ over all.

      Heck, she might not be aware of how badly this is all coming off. Which would be really bad, because you want people to be self-aware. But it’s not unfixable.

  13. Falling Diphthong*

    As with “Live Laugh Love” signs, I think there is a two-types-of-people aspect in play, where some people really love positivity memes and find them uplifting. And then there are those of us who replace all the motivational posters with demotivators.

    For the memes: OP, are you being CC’ed? Hearing from staff that they dislike them? Hearing from one vocal staff member that they dislike them? I would find these irritating, but the degree of irritation (Grr to Shrug) would depend very heavily on how I felt about the sender. I would consider asking her how she views them, and leading from that into whether there are other ways to accomplish whatever the goal is. Give her other concrete ways to “set a positive tone for the day” or whatever it is she thinks is important. (One of my favorite comment types here being “here are the list of concrete things that really helped when I was in this situation.”)

    I’ll also toss out that sometimes people overcompensate for whatever was bad at the last job–if she came from somewhere unpleasant with constant pointless complaints, she might need some time and guidance to recalibrate.

    1. Quickbeam*

      I have a coworker who gives me an Angel ornament every Yule. I’m a pagan but every year it’s the Angel or Jesus having a snow ball fight etc. I’ve asked her to stop and then went to my manager. The response was “she’s that type of person, positive!”.

      Apparently to some, a treacly gooey Up With People vibe trumps everything else.

      1. Meep*

        Ah. Toxic positivity. It is like being told that at least if you get COVID, you are young and healthy so you should be fine. Unlike, “me”, because if “I” get COVID it could take “me” out.

        ^Seriously, a manager said this to me, multiple times. Toxic Positivity can eat a bag of dicks.

      2. allathian*

        Ugh, that’s awful. I’m so sorry.

        If it happens again this year, please consider telling your manager again. If he shrugs it off again, you could say something like “I’ve asked her to stop giving me these, and she keeps on doing it. I don’t celebrate Christmas, so this is religious harassment.” If you feel safe enough to do so, that is. You deserve to be able to work without being subjected to microaggressions like this.

      3. Candi*

        The very prickly religious issue aside, giving someone a gift they’ve explicitly said they don’t want is just rude.

        Aside from mentioning the religious issue, you could point out it is NOT positive to give someone a gift they’ve declared they don’t like. In fact, it could be regarded as mean, dismissive, contemptuous, and whatever non-positive-very-negative words you can pull out of a thesaurus.

    2. TiffIf*

      As with “Live Laugh Love” signs, I think there is a two-types-of-people aspect in play, where some people really love positivity memes and find them uplifting. And then there are those of us who replace all the motivational posters with demotivators.

      Most positivity memes make me roll my eyes, and demotivators mostly make me chuckle. But neither of them actually help me in my work in any way.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        When I worked at a law firm, my department had a fairly impressive collection of lawyer cartoons posted on a bulletin board. We had a lot of visitors (including lawyers) to our area who’d just had a run-in with a lawyer and like to find a cartoon that mirrored their situation for a momentary decompress/laugh. One of the senior partners even had a matted and framed cartoon of a lawyer being rejected as a sacrifice to a volcano in her office.

      2. Candi*

        On one of Alison’s call for stories threads, for workplace pranks I think, there was a story from a commentator who replaced all their work’s positivity posters with visually similar Demotivators. (The posters were in frames, and the commentator simply put the Demotivators in front of the gushy ones.)

        They also had a control freak of a manager. It took about two weeks for her to notice. It apparently didn’t cause anymore disruption to the workplace than her usual find-someone-to-blame-for-minor-issues campaigns.

    3. UKDancer*

      Yes I think some people just love that kind of thing. My mother’s former colleague loved motivating plaques and signs with little mottos on. Every Christmas she’d give my mother some hideous ornament or framed poster with a motto on. My mother (who has a minimalist approach to decorating) hated them and used to give them to the charity shop 2 towns over in January.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Even apart from the content, it is very presumptuous to give decorating items to someone if you don’t know these items match their taste. This is yet another failure of abstract thought: the conception that just because I like this item doesn’t mean you do, too.

  14. Bossy Lady*

    OP here!
    WOW. You are all absolutely right. Almost every person on my team is dealing with their own crises – divorce, loss of parent, chronic illness – and I’ve got my own struggles too. It lands badly, and I need her to be a coach, not a cheerleader.
    I love the suggestion of sitting with her in meetings with the exec team, where critique and departmental struggles are being shared pretty openly, to help her understand that’s how we grow as professionals and as a company. I will take that to heart.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Even if they’re not, it needs to stop. People shouldn’t need to perform cheerfulness in addition to all their other job duties, even if they’re legitimately and uncomplicatedly happy. My life is pretty stress-free right now and I still don’t want Minion memes and forced positivity.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This part bears repeating.

        People shouldn’t need to perform cheerfulness in addition to all their other job duties

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I need to take that to heart for myself (I’m not sharing minion memes but I definitely push myself too hard not to be my misanthropic self at work – which is at times appropriate but my spreadsheets probably don’t need that from me)

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I don’t know… you should definitely show your spreadsheets as much love as they provide you…

      2. Willis*

        Right. A workplace where people generally have positive, or at least agreeable, attitudes (even when they may be dealing with stuff in their personal lives) is good. But employers don’t build that by sending memes, ignoring problems, and smothering people with happiness. They do it by providing fair management and guidance, competitive benefits and pay, flexibility and transparency, etc. No one wants to “perform cheerfulness” like Bunny said, whether they are in the middle of a personal crisis or just having an average Wednesday.

        1. Candi*

          It doesn’t even have to be anything big to make people happy, just something that shows you notice and recognize their needs, and are willing to do something to help them out if it’s in your power.

          From the student/teacher angle: Since I had to switch majors from Computer Science to Information Technology, I got into registration late and my schedule is kind of wonky this quarter. All my classes have a butt-in-seat on-campus day; mine are all on one day, but spread out through the day, and the notable bit here is my last class gets out at 7:50.

          Two buses that go from campus to the transit center in my town go through, the one with the closer stop at about 7:57, and the one at the nearly twice as far away stop at 8:07. They have later runs, but if I miss those specific runs, I won’t make my connection at the transit center in my town and will have to get a cab or Uber for the last leg of the trip.

          All my classes are two hours. At first, the teacher of the last class had a 15 minute break and we got out at 7:50. Due to the distance I had to travel, I just missed the closer bus, and had to hustle to catch the farther one.

          Well, I felt it only polite to tell the teacher why I had to beeline out the door so darn fast, although I left it at “had to catch the bus home.”

          The third week, the teacher shortened the break to ten minutes, and let us go at 7:45. Same for ensuing weeks. This has made it much easier for me to catch the bus, and the closer one at that.

          It’s the little things.

      3. Again With Feeling*

        This, completely. And also, you truly *never* know what personal struggles someone may be dealing with. You can’t look at an employee and assess whether they have earned the right to be stressed or not. Speaking from personal experience, people may be dealing with major crises and losses that they choose not to share at work because it’s extremely personal. The way to support all employees, all the time is by creating a culture that focuses on doing good work, provides support for doing good work, and rewards good work. People don’t need to be assessed on how successfully they can put on a happy face, or whether their boss is mentally calculating if their lives are currently stressful enough to earn a break from performing cheerfulness.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just to clarify — I think that’s a great idea too, but what I was suggesting was that you sit in on her meetings with her own team members for a while so you can observe and (afterwards) coach her.

      1. Bossy Lady*

        Ah! Yes, of course, and will-do. The context I failed to add here is that our department is merging with a parallel dept from another division, and there’s lots of exec and sr management meetings to gameplan how it will look in the end – these are (to my mind) also a good opportunity for her to hear how other managers are leading and resolving issues, and be involved in setting the tone and structure for the new, combined department.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          So if departments are merging, does that mean some of your staff might be out of a job soon? Are they aware of it? Because yeah, if you have staff dealing with difficult (abusive) customers, staring down the thought that they may be out of a job soon *anyway*, and now their manager is spewing toxic positivity everywhere… It’s like a recipe to have people move on to other jobs.

          1. Bossy Lady*

            Nobody’s losing their jobs in the merger. That’s been very clearly communicated to both teams. We likely wont hire anyone new for a while, but we’re not laying off. There’s enough workload that we need everyone we have and sharing resources will make for a better CX and work culture.

        2. Sandman*

          I think this is a good idea, too – I’ve found sitting in on meetings with people who are more skilled, experienced, and capable than I am to be a tremendous gift. Probably learned more from watching genuinely skilled people in action than anything else.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          I have a manager who is struggling and having them shadow some of their peers who are getting it right (in addition to regular, one-on-one performance coaching) has been really helpful. We’ve been able to do it kind of covertly because of a series of joint projects where their teams are working together, and I’ve been very clear on what specific skills they should be picking up/working into their toolbox and doing follow-up to recap what they learned from the shadows.

    3. KHB*

      Best of luck. I think (and hope) that this is a solvable problem, and that with the right coaching Sasha can grow into this role and be a success.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m glad the advice helped, OP! For the record your instinct to not harsh her vibes is a kind one, just not appropriate for this context.

      1. Bossy Lady*

        Oh I have a pretty strong desire to harsh her vibes! Dont get me wrong. I just want to do it in an appropriate, and professional way!

        1. cubone*

          I’ve recommended this book a lot here because of this exact scenario, but OP, I’d really strongly recommend YOU check out Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

          It’s a good read on giving feedback, but I was a manager who thought “critical feedback” inherently equaled “negativity” but this book changed my brain. There’s a quote in it, I can’t remember exactly, but someone who talks about how the “obnoxious aggressive” boss they had was actually preferable to the “ruinously empathetic” boss because at least the obnoxious yeller was CLEAR. Ruinous empathy/toxic positivity/etc are such great terms for this and it truly is a very very negative thing to let fester.

          I think it’d be a good book for helping you frame the issue even more clearly for yourself and possibly a framework through which to discuss with your employee.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            +1 on the rec
            I’ve not read the book but her Ted Talk on this is excellent and has changed how I approach some conversations at work.

          2. Quinalla*

            Agreed cubone – my personality is very positive and I definitely saw a lot of myself in the ruinious empathy quadrant of this book. From this book and other sources I try to remember that being clear is kind, holding back information to spare some bad feelings is unkind and frankly cowardly. Feedback is a gift, I think about all the things I learned because some else gave me the gift of feedback.

            And it isn’t saying she can’t be positive – she can – but sounds like she is WAY overboard with it right now and it is making her at best lose focus on what she should be doing and at worst obscuring the things she should be focusing on completely.

            1. cubone*

              I know a lot of people think the term “gaslighting” is overused, but I think there’s a point where unbridled positivity becomes exactly what gaslighting is(or is supposed to mean). There’s a difference between optimism, support, encouragement and steamrolling someone’s feelings/experience with “actually, no, you’re wrong about your own perceptions.”

              this whole letter actually brought up a very strong reaction in me, because I vividly remember going into a performance review with a boss after a year that decidedly did NOT feel like a win. Some of it was not meeting my goals, not setting the right goals, personal issues, and some organizational upheaval that impacted me a lot more (emotionally, physically, professionally) than I anticipated. It took so much to psych myself up to be honest and I was so proud of myself for once in my life being willing to say “this was very hard and difficult and it really impacted me.”
              My boss’ response?
              “You’re actually looking at this all wrong, instead of finding all the negative things, you should be really happy and proud that you were so resilient and persevered through it.”

              I know she thought she was “being positive” and “encouraging” me, but my god, I’ve never felt so entirely unheard and diminished and the rest of the conversation just … died. Meanwhile I am quite certain she left feeling exceptionally proud of herself for being such a positive, supportive boss (and yes, I quit not long after).

          3. Vanilla Bean*

            Thanks for recommending! I went to check it out and realized I already have it in my To-Read pile at home and forgot I owned it. Time to pull it to the top.

    5. Mockingjay*

      “I need her to be a coach, not a cheerleader.”

      This right here.

      Please update us in a couple of months; I’m really hopeful that things turn around.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        And to be blunt, no one needs a cheerleader. Not even football teams, where the idea of cheerleaders comes from. The cheerleaders are irrelevant even for the one useful function they could in theory perform, of getting the crowd riled up and noisy at strategic moments. At the professional and top college level, the crowds already know when this is. (For the non-football people out there, this is when the other side has the ball, and just before the snap to begin a play. Often the quarterback will have to make last-second adjustments, calling out code phrases to the rest of the team. If the crowd is noisy enough, he can’t make himself heard.) You will sometimes see players who are not immediately involved in the game waving their arms at the crowd to tell them to make noise. I’m not sure how much effect this has. How many people in the stands are watching those guys rather than the field of play? But I am more sure that the official cheerleaders performing a routine have even less effect. Football cheerleaders exist out of a combination of tradition and dudes liking to watch pretty girls perform for them.

    6. Blomma*

      As a chronically ill person who has taken quite a few health hits in the past few years, please address this with her! Toxic positivity lands so, so badly with people who are chronically ill-especially if they’re dealing with a progressive health condition.

      1. Allegra*

        Seconding this so much. The inspirational and positive quote-sending isn’t just annoying; some days it would actively ruin my day. Waking up on a bad pain day and having a Minions meme in my inbox first thing about Keeping a Positive Attitude would add a heaping helping of frustration to my already crummy day. And then, because female socialization, it’d be hard not to blame myself for not being able to Stay Posi! and bringing everybody else’s mood down. It’s a terrible cycle to put your employees in.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Ouch. Yes, if you know people are dealing with painful things and trying to hold it together at work, positivity memes are even more irritating than if they’re just tossed free out into the cosmos.

    8. Khatul Madame*

      It is not appropriate for a boss to send daily memes or “inspirations”. It could barely be tolerated coming from a line team member with maturity issues. But a new manager need to establish herself as a credible leader – and I say this as someone who widely incorporates humor in my management style.

    9. Random Bystander*

      That’s a good thing to recognize. Although it wasn’t a manager where something landed badly, sometimes even the otherwise-annoying-but-manageable turns into last straw. In this particular case, I needed to discuss a recurring issue that involves another team (not sure how to make it vague enough), and it was a Friday. We had been discussing via IM and she kept insisting that she wanted to do a call (voice). All so that she could go with the “yay, it’s Friday!” happy dance, expecting the same reaction from me. So she was startled when my response to the chipper “How are you doing? It’s Friday” was answered with a gritted teeth “Fine” before I burst into tears. I had, at that time, just been diagnosed with cancer and was still in the midst of getting an appointment scheduled … I could manage IM (where no one else knew I was crying, because we’re all remote), but trying to keep up a cheerful facade at the time took way more energy than I had, and I broke. (For what it’s worth, the other dept person and I were able to come up with some suggestions to throw up the chain for a permanent fix, and I think it may actually be working; but that came after dealing with the awkwardness from having to go to voice.)

      On the other hand, my actual supervisor (one of the few who was told about the diagnosis) was willing to do the conversation via im because I’d said in my email “Need to talk, important, not directly job-related” that was how I wanted to. Supervisor’s response was exactly right–to ask what I needed, how I wanted to proceed (including things like not turning on my web cam during dept huddles/meetings), and she respected my wishes to not tell the dept as a whole (I told only those who needed to know or are actual friends). Of course, I had surgery and that removed all the cancer, and I have an outstandingly good prognosis vs potential recurrence. But if my supervisor had been the chipper “look on the bright side”, I don’t even know if I could have remained civil.

  15. LKW*

    My first time managing a team was an unmitigated disaster. Some things not in my control and some things I was just too inexperienced to manage properly. I tried to be upbeat and positive. Finally some team members were kind enough to say “Just stop. Things suck. We know things suck and you telling us that it doesn’t suck is not helping.” I listened, and then I changed my approach. Yup, this sucks. This client is awful. I’m sorry that you have to deal with this. Let’s focus on this action and get this stuff done and be done. And here is a donut because I feel bad about all of this. We still had to deal with crap, but I let them know that I understood their frustration, with me, with the client, with the world and that they could vent if they needed to, but if they could do it while getting stuff done, I’d really appreciate it.

    From that point on, I make a point of letting people know they can come to me with problems. We will find a solution. Sometimes life is a bitch and sometimes life hands you your favorite cookie so enjoy the good, deal with the bad and we’ll get through this together… somehow.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is why management training is important. There’s definitely an instinct to keep on a brave face and keep everyone’s spirits up – but that’s often not what people need. Sure you’ll have the odd catastrophizer who needs problems put into perspective, but for the most part people just need to feel heard and seen, and like their manager takes their problems seriously. But that’s not necessarily intuitive when you’re driving the boat for the first time and trying to make things feel functional.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It’s also why promoting someone who is capable of performing the job of their reports is not always the best option. Being able to do a job does not equate to being able to manage others in doing that job.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          True, though this doesn’t strike me as someone who definitely can’t learn the job – just someone who is way off track and needs some redirection and training.

          1. LKW*

            This experience would have been in the early aughts – before toxic positivity was a phrase. I was able to pivot because of two things:
            1. My team told me flat out: Stop with the rainbows and unicorns. We are in hell.
            2. I listened and changed my approach.

            Even though I’m more senior we still get a lot of coaching on how to build work-focused relationships, how to listen, coach, influence, adapt. How to be honest and professionally vulnerable (e.g. I don’t know the answer but let me find out).

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              YES if any of this stems from insecurity in a new job “I don’t know the answer but let me find out” is an important tool in this person’s arsenal. I think it’s scary to feel incompetent in a new environment but it shows so much professional maturity to do this instead of glossing over everything.

        2. KHB*

          It’s not always a bad option either. There can definitely be advantages to having a manager who’s intimately familiar with the ins and outs of what the individual contributors do, as opposed to one who’s not.

          It’s just that the newly promoted manager is likely to need some training to get off the ground. Being a manager is its own separate skill, and nobody’s born knowing how to do it, just like nobody’s born with any other skill.

          (I’m speaking generally here. OP has clarified that a lack of management experience isn’t the issue in this particular case.)

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yeah, this is one think my organization gets really right. They invest a lot in management training, and there is both a program for new managers and regular training for the rest of us. There is also a culture where you can seek guidance from more experienced managers, an actually helpful HR department, and your department head, as needed, without repercussions.

  16. Burnt Eggs*

    +1000000!!! I just don’t trust people who are like this. I saw Positivity Bullying mentioned earlier and have heard elsewhere reference to Toxic Positivity. No one is that damn happy/positive/upbeat all the time. And if they are, then what are they sweeping aside to maintain it?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Some people use it as a coping mechanism. I don’t think that’s healthy, but that’s your business until you are in a position where it impacts other people. Then you need to come back down to reality and deal with your problems.

      1. Anonybonnie*

        I have family members who deal with their problems by looking on the bright side, and that’s great for them! But after a few devastating experiences in my life, I had to get very clear with them that I need to experience and process my painful emotions, and that I can’t do that if they’re in my ear insistently looking on the bright side on my behalf

  17. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    There’s a set of people who hold the view that if they say only positive things and think positive thoughts then the world won’t do anything nasty to them. It’s like any belief – fine to have it yourself but you don’t get to shove it down the throats of others which, by dismissing any issues with ‘fluffy thoughts’, this person is absolutely doing.

    I had a boss who’s first words upon hearing that I was struggling with a few health issues (depression right up there with them) was ‘think positive and go for a walk outside!’. It’s like, no, I wanted a discussion about how we could work around the increased medical appointments I now needed, not gibberish.

    Part of being a manager is listening, this person hasn’t got that down at all and I’d definitely tell her to actually listen to what her staff are saying instead of speaking over them. Stop sending the memes (I got a ‘the only disability is a bad attitude!’ one and nearly punted my laptop across the room), and she’s to spend a lot, LOT more time listening and actually comprehending that a lot of the time issues need more than ‘smile!’ to fix them.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      How about ‘The next time someone approaches you with an issue, I want you to be able to say later a) what it was and b) what you discussed to solve it. And I mean actual practical steps, not any derivative of ‘be happy and it’ll go away’

      1. Bossy Lady*

        Love this phrasing. I walked into my role with almost no existing structure or check-in cadence and am trying to build it from scratch, so little things like this language that I can tuck away for later, is very very helpful. Sometimes the most obvious things are not the ones that are front-of-mind in the moment.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I find that if I know I have to repeat something back/explain something to someone else later I pay a lot more attention to what is being said and think about things a lot more.

          So if she knows she’s going to have to relate this later, she’ll have to stop and listen more – which may, one hopes, have the additional side effect of making her actually think of concrete solutions.

      2. Nea*

        This is such an excellent script. I hope OP uses it, because it’s so business-focused while not leaving any wiggle room for toxic positivity.

    2. Mister Lady*

      good lord, I never heard that one before–the ‘only disability’ one. that is so offensive, on so many levels–that disability is inherently bad, that actual disabilities *don’t exist*–I don’t know if that’s “hostile environment” level, but it sure isn’t GOOD. yuck. Plus “think positive/go for a walk!” is literally just “stop being disabled!! :D” Ah, the many dangers of disclosing…

      Sorry that happened to you. Sometimes I daydream about a truly accessible (and queer-friendly!) workplace, airline, etc. and what that would look like. Feel free to daydream along if it helps!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It was on a poster of a smiling disabled athlete too – the implication being that ‘hey, she’s disabled and happy and doing fine!’.

        I’ll join you in the daydream. Not found a truly equal-opportunities employer as yet, not across the board (current firm has great disability accommodations but is a kinda sexist, xenophobic and a few other traits still.)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Have you seen the version with the person in the wheelchair in front of the escalator? I’m still not sure if that poster was intended to be ironic or sincere, but the person who had in his office was unfortunately very sincere.

    3. Student*

      I don’t think we should jump to make assumptions about exactly what drives this positivity bent in the OP’s report. However, I do think the substance of beliefs matters, and beliefs like what you describe can be actively harmful to others in practice.

      People who believe being positive and “good” will protect them from bad things are also people who believe that bad things happen to bad people. It’s a pretty explicit part of that specific belief set. This can be a harmful belief in a manager when it comes to very normal things like addressing sick leave, FMLA leave, disability accommodations, or dealing with workplace mishaps/accidents/errors. It might be a relatively harmless belief when the person who holds it lacks the power to make important decisions that will impose their belief on others – but it’s not at all harmless when the person who holds it gets to decide promotions and raises, allocates work tasks, and makes hiring decisions.

      Some folks are able to separate their personal beliefs from their workplace lives, but that takes some self-awareness that I am very much not seeing here, some acknowledgement that their view is a personal belief and not truth for all. This person has already demonstrated that this isn’t a belief they are applying only to their personal life – it’s something they think everyone should not just be aware of, but actively join in on.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think we should jump to make assumptions about exactly what drives this positivity bent in the OP’s report.

        Agreed. We can’t know. And it totally does NOT matter.

        The rest of what you say is true and something the OP needs to consider very carefully. It’s possible that Sasha is not like that, but given that she’s already showed that she’s willing to blow people’s significant problems off with this kind of nonsense, it’s totally not a stretch.

      2. RagingADHD*

        A subset of this “magic positivity” belief is the incredibly toxic Law of Attraction nonsense, that asserts that everything that happens in your life is something you “manifested” — including crimes against you, genetic illnesses, etc.

        Many people find the shiny top layer appealing, because of course we’d all like to be able to control our destiny with happy thoughts. Few are willing to acknowledge the dark underbelly of prejudice and victim-blaming that comes with it.

    4. Nea*

      the only disability is a bad attitude!

      Would you like to be hauled into a corner and shown the multiple inch-long screws rammed into my living bone? Because if I got that I would absolutely whip out the copy of my x-ray and shove it in someone’s face.

  18. R*

    The good part is, if Sasha complains, you can always tell her to just put on a smile and try it because the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and the best case for the Monday blues is to turn that frown upside down because while you do honor her for speaking her truth, the most reliable ship for the rough waters of life is a cando.

  19. Christmas Carol*

    I was in my first “real job” and was scheduled for some meetings with some VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE the next day, I suddenly developed the need for an emergency root canal. When I went to my boss, I said that I had a problem with the meeting schedule. He snapped back at me that there was no such thing as a problem, only an opportunity. I had the presence of mind to reply that it was a problem for me, it was only an opportunity for my dentist’s kid to ask for an increase in their allowance.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      “I have an opportunity for an emergency root canal. I will be taking advantage of this opportunity, as it may never come my way again!”

  20. Kitano*

    OP, I think you also need to sit down and do some self-reflection about why you think this is a “tiny” problem instead of a serious issue as Allison pointed out. Are there perhaps some gaps in your own management style that are similar to Sasha’s, so you didn’t realize they were problematic? Or did you have some implicit bias at play that led you to choose her over someone else? Was she so effusively positive during the selection process that you mistook that for competence? While flukes happen to the best of us, I hope you see this as a chance to get some visibility into your own blind spots as well. Sasha is not “a great leader”, and seeing you call her that despite knowing about these problems makes me really concerned about your management abilities and judgement, too.

    1. Bossy Lady*

      To be very frank with you, I am a woman and most of us were conditioned to kneecap/downplay our own statements. Which is kind of what leads some of us to be overly positive.
      You’re right it’s not “tiny”. But it’s a conditioned reflex, NOT a gap in my competency.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Hi OP. Bear in mind that while this is not a gap in your competency (as shown by your quick response, concern for your team, and outreach to AAM for guidance), it may be a significant gap in Sansa’s competency. I know you want to give Sansa the benefit of the doubt, but she may not be capable of managing within the stressful environment you have described. I hope she can demonstrate that it’s a conditioned reflex, but given what you have described in your thoughtful comments, I worry that Sansa is not the right fit for the job and organizational environment.

        1. Observer*

          This is a very good point.

          You really do want to seriously consider that possibility that she’s not fit for the role. Obviously, it’s worth trying to address this with her. But if she’s not receptive or you don’t see significant change pretty quickly, I think you have to accept that she’s not a good leader in this kind of environment.

      2. Anonym*

        Oooh, I know that feel. It’s so hard to catch those minimizations sometimes – you want to express a problem but don’t want to sound mean. Dammit, society…

      3. nope*

        As a woman, this is exactly how I read it. There was nothing about your question or responses that made me think you were a bad manager. You wrote in because you know it is a problem.

    2. Sandman*

      You’ve drawn some pretty bold conclusions on both Sasha’s leadership abilities and the OP’s management skills from one brief letter.

      1. Kitano*

        I’m not drawing any conclusions about OP, I’m saying that based on her wording in this letter, these are some factors that COULD be at play and it’s something she should reflect on. I even acknowledged that it could be a fluke to give her the benefit of the doubt.

        And as for Sasha, I don’t think it’s a big jump to make from “she blows off her direct reports’ concerns with overly positive fluff” to “she’s not a great leader”.

        1. Allonge*

          Nos, she is not – now. But it’s also important to point out that she can become one! You live and you learn, and especially for something as complex as management, an initial failure should not mean that she can never become a good leader.

  21. animaniactoo*

    In fact, don’t mention the memes at all at this point as that will only detract from the real problem:

    That when people approach her for guidance, she blows smoke up their rear and they don’t get the actual help and guidance they are looking for and she needs to drop the looking on the bright side – at least until AFTER guidance has happened on how to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. Including if she herself needs to take some action elsewhere.

    It will help if you don’t minimize the importance and urgency of these issues by framing her as a great leader – even to yourself while this glaring contradiction to that exists.

  22. Jam on Toast*

    Another thing to consider is how is Sasha’s reaction to risk assessment and future planning. The “it’ll-all-work-out-in-the-end” works well in musicals and Disney films, but this manager risks not hearing about legitimate concerns if she only wants people to focus on the positive. If EmployeeA says “But we also need to consider [a possible negative outcome] in our project planning,” how do they react? Do they favour riskier propositions because the payoffs or the proposal seem more upbeat or are presented in a way that skips over the unpleasant bits? Managers have to be willing to hear employees’ concerns, good and bad, and they have to be prepared for poor outcomes and be willing to pivot or make changes as the situation and the data changes. They don’t seem well situated to do that, given the details the OP shared in their letter.

  23. Jean*

    I had a manager in an old job who had a sign up at her desk that said “Put your positivity pants on.” Whenever anyone came to her with a problem she would point at the sign. To say it harmed her credibility with the team would be an understatement.

    Relentlessly positive people annoy me on a personal level, but beyond that, it’s also just not good management to refuse to discuss problems with your team. Alison’s assessment that this is a performance issue is dead on.

    1. irene adler*

      I passed on a job because the hiring manager repeatedly made comments about always being positive. I asked “how do you handle when a report makes a serious error?” and “How do you give feedback-especially negative?” and the response was always “we only focus on the positive”.

      Hiring manager also made several comments that her reports were a very close group and had worked together for several years.

      My takeaway was that I would not be able to improve/learn as constructive feedback would not be given. And she was probably not clued in as to what her reports actually thought about her management abilities.

      1. SMH*

        My sister is in a new job and each time she points out a limitation or a potential issue with a recommended plan she’s told she’s pointing fingers. She’s supposed to be overseeing these projects to reach a specific end result but cannot state at the beginning ‘That plan would cause an issue with x’ because it’s pointing fingers. Really demoralizing. I hope she responds to anything negative on her review with ‘You’re pointing fingers.’

    2. Meep*

      I mean… I like the sign… but only if it is treated as “Ok. You have a problem. Let’s put on our positivity pants and find a solution!” Not as an excuse not to solve the issue.

      1. Former Young Lady*

        Not feelin’ it even then, personally. It’s weirdly infantilizing, and it’s unlikely to cheer up anyone who looks at it in the middle of a real crisis.

  24. learnedthehardway*

    OP, you’re Sasha’s manager, and you should provide developmental feedback about this. You need to have a mini-performance review with her BEFORE you leave your role and she is promoted.

    Sasha needs to learn that excess focus on “positivity” without the empathy to realize that people have real issues and to support them in meaningful ways is extremely BAD for employee morale. She also needs specific direction on what TO DO when employees come to her with problems. It’s fine for her to ask what the employee has already done (she should be coaching her employees to be solutions-oriented). But when the employee has exhausted their options, it’s her job to suggest real alternatives, advocate for the team to other departments and higher ups, act as the buffer if demands on them are unreasonable, and provide ideas and perspective on the business, as well as alternatives/potential solutions.

    She shouldn’t be coaching attitude for employees – that’s patronizing and infantilizing – not unless the employee is displaying an unwarranted “bad attitude”, and even then, she needs to be able to recognize when employees are discouraged, upset, and / or burnt out, and how to provide support rather than just glossing over their issues.

  25. MissGirl*

    I’m reading a book on the psychology of survival and why some people in similar circumstances survive and others don’t. The author cited extreme positivity as being an indicator of those who die first. Maintaining a high level of positivity is exhausting, especially when faced with being wrong again and again. I saw this play out in an work environment where the guy who was absurdly positive burnt out far faster than those had an even keel.

    The people who are realists and plan accordingly do better. Of course, the people who completely negative don’t fare well either.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Admiral James Stockdale who was primarily known for his VP run under Ross Perot, did alot of work on this topic as an academic after his release from being a POW in Vietnam – i think it’s actually called the Stockdale paradox.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Also – MissGirl, is the book you’re reading called Deep Survival? That’s on my to-read list.

  26. Idunn*

    I worked customer service and had a call from an angry and abusive client. He was so needlessly hateful I was upset after the call ended. When I mentioned to my team lead that I had an angry caller who got pretty mean she told me “we don’t have mean customers, we have ‘silly’ customers! He was being silly!” I was shocked. This one exchange cast a pall over this employer.
    I truly understand not allowing negativity to breed and promoting a culture of helpfulness and positivity, but telling an adult their feelings or problems were not real was just a dunk into toxic positivity and gaslighting.

    1. Reba*

      This is such a great (awful) example of how enforced positivity is invalidating and actually disempowering to the worker. You didn’t get any support or strategies for dealing with a bad situation, you just got told that what happened to you didn’t happen like that!

      So then you know that you can’t rely on your manager or their judgment. This is the more serious consequence beyond all the eye-rolling I’d be doing at minion emails.

    2. Sled Dog Mama*

      Oh I hate things like that. I lost it at my husband few months ago when he told our our daughter the “stop being goofy” for the millionth time. I was like no she’s not being goofy she’s misbehaving and not following the rules, stop calling it goofy. Goofy is not the same thing as misbehaving you can be goofy without misbehaving.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      That would drive me mad. I grew up with an abusive parent and was told for years that surely it wasn’t so bad, I was just being an angsty teenager, and, later, that I’d regret not having that parent in my life. It was insult on top of abuse. Some people suck, and it’s okay to say so and to be upset by their behavior. Minimizing it does not help cope with it – boss didn’t need to be dramatic and make it bigger, but calling the behavior of your client what it was and not “silly” seems like the bare minimum.

    4. Meep*

      I’d consider killing her, honestly. I wouldn’t but I would imagine where I would hide her body in that moment.

    5. anonymous73*

      That’s ridiculous! I worked at Comcast briefly in customer service and we were told if someone called and was abusive and cursing at us, we were to let them know not to speak to us in that way and if it continued we were allowed to hang up on them.

  27. Christina*

    I appreciate that the advice includes coaching Sasha. She may just be fundamentally unsuited to managing people, but there is an attitude that managers should just know how to provide guidance to their teams. Knowing how to do something yourself and being able to effectively manage people to do those same things are very different skills, and the failure to see the difference is how you get micro managers and other ineffective leaders.

      1. BlueBelle*

        I didn’t say LW is a poor leader, I said LW is not being a great leader. Thinking this person is “a great leader” and this is “one tiny thing” is an issue.

      2. Deanna Troi*

        Bossy Lady, I think you sound like a fair, considerate effective leader. And you clearly genuinely want her to succeed.

        I agree with others above that perhaps you should think more about differentiating between being a great manager of projects vs people. For example, am an excellent project manager. I’m creative, a problem solver, can easily determine if an idea is implementable, can implement my ideas, and am what my grand boss calls a closer. On the other hand, I am not as successful at managing people. I am considered by some to be a great manager, but I don’t consider myself to be a great leader of people. In fact, I switched from being a Director where I supervised over a dozen people to a job where I’m known nationally (in my niche field) as a SME. Much happier this way. Sasha might be similar.

    1. Purple Cat*

      This is a pretty mean comment.
      OP is writing in to ask for advice on how to handle the situation, and pointed out that they are both new to to their positions.

    2. irene adler*

      Seems to me that the LW IS being a leader. Not everyone is born with innate leadership knowledge (I sure am not!). So educating oneself as to constructive ways to lead/manage others is commendable.

    3. The Tin Man*

      What is not great about identifying a gap in your skill set (how to address this issue with a direct report) and reaching out to try to fill that gap to address the problem in a constructive, kind, and helpful way?

      “If you don’t correct it now, it will be an ingrained “style” that she will never correct or even know is wrong.” – OP wrote to Alison looking for advice in how to correct the problem because she knows it is one! Weird that you don’t OP thinks it should be corrected seeing as that was the entire point of the letter.

  28. LadyHouseOfLove*

    Do you ever internally scream and it gets louder as you read line by line of a letter? I think I found mine.

    You need to have a constructive critique with Sasha because if this keeps going, people might start resenting YOU for letting her be like this. I’ve seen that happen so many times and believe me when you are not dealing with an employee’s issues for the sake of other employees, they can question your leadership and you will eventually lose respect.

    1. Bossy Lady*

      TOTALLY agree which is exactly why I reached out before it festers. I mean, she’s literally been here *weeks* so it’s still in that gray area of “is this a problem or just a weird quirk”
      As she’s very much still learning our company/industry culture and our touchy clientele, I don’t expect her to be able to address 100% of staff issues, perfectly, right out of the gate. But I want to encourage her to make judgement calls and use me, HR, and other various resources as appropriate until she’s really confident.

      1. LadyHouseOfLove*

        I see in previous comments that you are stepping up and listening. I think that’s great. I wish you the best.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t expect her to be able to address 100% of staff issues, perfectly, right out of the gate.

        That’s good. But I think you do need to realize that the way she is handling things right now goes well beyond not being perfect. I don’t care WHAT the company culture is, the regulations (good, bad and indifferent) you have to deal with etc. Good leaders should absolutely understand when things are objective problems, even when you don’t have the capacity to change those things. And the must have the empathy to not dismiss people’s genuine problems. “That’s rotten. There is not a lot I can do about this.” is not great, but it’s MILES better that “look at the bright side.”

        And of course, she SHOULD actually be trying to go beyond “that’s terrible” and figuring out what she can do – including looping you and / or HR in as needed.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      Yeah, the fact that Sasha is new and OP has already learned about these issues (not the memes, the way she responds when someone comes to her with an issue) is a sign of a pretty big problem. OP just says “I’ve been told that…” without saying who told her, but if it’s Sasha’s direct reports, I’d take it really seriously. It would take a lot for me to go over my new boss’ head to complain about her management style without giving the person some real time to settle in first.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Kudos to Sansa’s team for being willing to escalate these issues so quickly. OP, please don’t underplay how much of a risk that can be. Also, please don’t underplay how bad the situation must be for them to be acting so quickly. This is not a tiny issue for them. Sansa is probably doing significant damage.

  29. Cranky lady*

    I read this as an annoying personality quirk (one that annoy me to no end) until I got to “ ‘look on the bright side!’ rhetoric without a lot of substantial guidance.” She could be delivering critical feedback in iambic pentameter and it would annoy me but still be useful feedback. Delivering useless information framed in positivity is just annoying.

  30. anonymous73*

    I CAN NOT STAND people like this. Not everything is gum drops and rainbows, and people who can NEVER see the negative side of things are not in the least bit helpful. If my manager treated me like this whenever I came to her with a problem, I would stop coming to her with my problems. And an inspirational quote or meme every morning would force me to set up a rule to go straight to my trash can every time. While it may sound like I’m a pessimist, I’m not. I’m a realist, and reality says that things will go wrong from time to time, there will be unpleasantness occasionally when you have tams working together with differing approaches and personalities, and you can’t make those things go away by trying to blow sunshine up everyone’s ass.

  31. Enough EMAILS*

    Please please please, I beg of anyone in management anywhere, stop with the periodic editorial emails sent to all staff with some malarkey about being positive or working through difficult times. Especially if you include anecdotes about how you learned to windsurf or your mindfulness journal.

    Acknowledging tough times is good, stating appreciation for hard work is good, a rambling three-paragraph e-mail on Friday at 3PM discussing that one time you played chess with your dad and how it taught your resilience helps no one.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Wait, did you work with my ex-boss? Because sometimes we not only got the random ramble email about how we were working so hard (despite him not knowing what I had actually been doing), but we got the 15 minute stories at the end of our staff meetings, complete with weepy eyes at the inspirational part.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      One of my ex-colleagues frequently sent around emails mentioning gratitude journals in the early days of the pandemic. I had to ask her to stop, because if she didn’t, I would’ve lost it with her. Just don’t ever send around emails like this unless you’re entirely certain all the recipients will welcome them, because some people find this stuff grating at best and actively harmful at worst.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yep, my mom told me to deal with my crippling, untreated depression with a “gratitude journal” and to “choose to be happy.” Which is very ironic considering that she’s one of the most bitter people I know.

  32. Ivy*

    Oh man, I have a colleague who sends an inspirational quote every Monday morning as well as a close friend who sends one every Tuesday. I find the quotes annoying and thought I was the only one. I’ve wanted to respectfully ask that they both remove me from their weekly emails but was worried I’d look like a jerk.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      The employee communications team at my employer send one out every Monday morning to all 10,000+ employees. It’s a little less annoying when it’s so depersonalized, and they’re not generally too far into toxic positivity, but they definitely do not inspire me.

    2. Pikachu*

      Don’t be so negative!

      Inspirational quotes cured my PTSD, and I finally overcame clinical depression when I started typing inspirational quotes in Comic Sans.

  33. Observer*

    OP, you’ve gotten some good advice.

    I just want to highlight something. Everything being said about the actual lack of leadership is true. But there is another piece to this that you need to address.

    Someone mentioned lack of empathy. I agree. Sasha’s behavior lacks empathy and is extremely disrespectful of people. It’s not actually POSITIVE – it *is* totally DISMISSIVE. I thought this even before you responded with some more information on some of the issues people are coming to her with. You simply CANNOT be a good leader if you lack basic empathy and respect for your team. And blowing off complaints of the sort you describe with “look at the bright side” is just in the top 10 list of disrespectful and lacking in empathy things a manager can say to people.

  34. Mitford*

    I used to work with someone like this, and it does create a fairly unpleasant environment quickly. In my case, my former boss firmly believed that negative energy was what caused you to be sick and that you could think your way out of illnesses. So, if you had a cold and were trying to power through, she’d probe about negative thoughts you had that were causing you to be sick. I finally snapped one day and told her the reason I was sick that time was that I took crowded public transportation to work, exposing me to God knows what every day, and if she really wanted to help she’d lobby for free parking in the building for her direct reports so we would each drive in our own cars.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This this this to your first sentence. OP I know it’s only been a few weeks but this can become an issue QUICKLY. I’m so glad you’re engaging in the comments and absorbing the feedback but also be very aware that this needs a fast intervention.

      And Mitford I’m so sorry that’s horrible. I’m kind of glad you snapped at her.

    2. Leela*

      I have cancer and wow, it would be a *real* treat to have a boss who believed that I had cancer because of my “negative energy” and wasn’t thinking my way out of it.

      1. Mitford*

        Agreed. I was subsequently diagnosed with asthma, which was clearly a factor in why I would get such long, lingering colds. I couldn’t think my way out of asthma.

        I’m sorry to hear about your cancer and hope that you are getting all the care and support you need.

      2. Prefer my pets*

        I worked with someone who genuinely believed every illness was caused by negative thoughts. She was FINALLY removed from supervision when an employee filed an EEO complaint and the investigation revealed just how much she’d been denying ADA accommodations, sick leave, and trying to prevent employees for filing for FMLA. (Federal govt so it had to make it out of the local office for anyone in authority to believe how bad she was instead of “oh she’s just a Pollyanna”.

        1. Mitford*

          Yeah, in my case sick leave was an issue. Sometimes the best thing you can do if you’re sick is just stay home for a day or two and let your body get the rest it needs. She had major issues with people taking sick leave.

  35. Leela*

    I had a manager like this at a previous job, almost exactly as you’ve described here: bringing problems to her just resulted in her telling us to be positive or to look at what’s good about something, while she ignored the problem we brought to her and it rotted our workflows, teams, and productivity. She refused to engage with reality if it wasn’t sunshiny enough, and even her coaching of us was way off of what we needed (it was a call center, I was told that I wasn’t doing well enough to get some callers, who were tangibly angry the second they picked up the phone, to sign on for our service. She let us know that we capture calls for quality training and she could pull some calls for me. I asked to hear ones where someone was obviously angry right away but the representative managed to turn the call around. Instead she gave me a bunch of calls where the person called was chipper and agreeable the whole way through and the caller didn’t have to employ any strategies, for “positivity!”)

    AAM is right, it’s not a tiny thing, you aren’t going to see the real problems this causes until they’re bigger but reality needs to be dealt with at an absolute minimum, please coach her out of her current approach!

    1. Elaine Benes*

      That is SO aggravating. I’m sorry for past you, you must have been infuriated after that meeting!

  36. ONFM*

    I work with someone who seems to share Sasha’s penchant for positivity, but in my case, it’s to cover up a lack of competence/ability. My Sasha can’t actually answer the questions or solve the problems she is faced with, so she throws out a few cliches and then considers the conversation over. I had to have a deeply uncomfortable conversation with her about a problem we were facing, and how Sasha’s ill-advised actions had actually exacerbated the problem. Sasha looked upset, then physically shook herself out of it and goes “That is a huge challenge. But I love a challenge! It’s when we get a chance to shine!” and that was the end of it. No change, no solution, nothing.

    Is Sasha actually doing her job? Or is she glossing over things until they blow up? I know that you’re invested in Sasha, since you hired her, but it may be time to have a really clear conversation about expectations and then determine whether she’s the right fit for the position.

    1. Dax*

      We have a supervisor whose team is constantly complaining they cannot get help/assistance from her. When they ask for help or for something the client is asking for and the supervisor fails to understand it they will try to restate it for her. Her response is to say ‘I know you’re getting upset with me but I’m not going to let that bother me.’ She doesn’t actually resolve the issue.

    2. curiousLemur*

      “My Sasha can’t actually answer the questions or solve the problems she is faced with, so she throws out a few cliches and then considers the conversation over.” I was also wondering if this Sasha has the same problem.

      I’ve had experience trying to learn something from someone who didn’t really know what he was talking about and wasn’t willing to admit it. It was incredibly frustrating, and since many people I’ve worked with do know what they’re doing and are willing to say so if they don’t know/aren’t sure, it took me quite a while to realize that the reason this person kept contradicting himself was that he didn’t really know. If you don’t know, just say so and then try to find the answer or help me figure it out or direct me to someone who can help.

  37. Dork_in_training*

    I’m a realist and that is something that most IT shops appreciate. Being told that I need to look at the bright side is WRONG because I get paid to not look at the bright side. I’m an expert at NOT looking at the bright side. I am required to look at all side. The second time I was told to brighten up when I came to her with a problem, would have been the last time I came to her with a problem. And then started looking for another job.

    1. Leela*

      It’s so weird to me that anyone would prioritize not looking at all sides and making the call from there. What does it help to have someone only look at the side they like looking at the most??

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I think a lot of the time people are just angling for the outcome they want.

        Part of my job is IT administration which means I handle day-to-day in house myself and also liaise with our IT contractors for something that’s bigger or beyond my expertise (I am not trained as an IT person, I often say my biggest qualification for that particular job is “born in 1992”, so that can be a lot of things).

        I am often instructed to just “tell IT contractor what we want and have them make it happen” and when I either immediately say that’s not a thing (I try to keep the more ridiculous requests from ever reaching the IT desk) or have to report back from IT that they can’t do exactly what we want I often get outrage and pushback. It *sounds* easy, they just aren’t trying hard enough, that’s not a yes-mindset, etc.

        Like others have pointed out it mostly comes from people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I think there are roles – primarily risk management types of things – that are best filled by catastrophizers who can see exactly what is likely to go wrong and then plan around that. My anxiety-based catastrophizing was a great fit for my last role because I was prepared for pretty much anything that came my way. :)

  38. RedinSC*

    I have the exact opposite problem. I have a reactive director who pushed negativity on to her team and throughout the organization. I’m trying to deal with that, and when I brought it up, she cried at the meeting. So, anyone, OP, I get where you’re at and having to deal with something that’s also part personality is difficult. Good luck.

    1. Observer*

      This is not about personality. It’s about behavior.

      What you describe sounds awful. But she didn’t cry in the meeting because “that’s her personality”.

      The thing to realize is that toxic positivity of the sort that the OP is describing can be as corrosive as the kind of thing you are describing.

  39. Green great dragon*

    I am a terribly positive person (though in a less extroverted way with no minion memes). I’m always going to be cheerful at you, I’m afraid. It has some upsides, I like to think.

    Things that I can change – be better at validating feelings. I might still end the conversation with ‘well on the bright side…’ but I’ve started it with ‘That does sound a complete nightmare’. And sometimes I do manage to shut up at key points.

    And the separate issue is that she’s not actually offering advice when asked! I’m not sure how much of a link there is between this and positivity – maybe there is. But I would treat it as a separate issue really. Does she not understand her role, does she not feel capable? What’s going on?

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      But even that step of validating that something sucks makes a huge difference, I think. It’s not necessarily the being positive, it’s pushing positivity as the solution to work problems. My boss is a very cheerful and upbeat person, but she doesn’t use that to invalidate other people’s experiences/feelings and she is a master problem-solver. It sounds like you’re doing cheerful the right way, TBH.

    2. Lacey*

      I’m a fairly negative person and I often end conversations with “on the bright side” – it’s my little way of not being a complete and total downer.

  40. Lacey*


    This is my nightmare. I’ve had this kind of manager and it did make me incredibly angry.

    I’ve also had managers (ok, one) who were generally positive, but part of that was acknowledging problems and helping with solutions. So, when something awful came up they would say, “I’m sorry, this project is going to suck, but I think we can make it suck less if we do x, y, & z – what do you think?” and that was way more positive than just pretending the problem wasn’t a problem.

  41. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

    I call these people kindergarten teachers if they’re otherwise good at their job or Umbridge if they’re not. Relentless positivity works well with small children but just feels grating after about the age of 10. I’ve come across a few in my career, but the worst was a supervisor (not in my command chain thank goodness) who would open meetings with “good morning boys and girls!” and expect a response. Literally. These meetings included senior management. It was so painful and awful.

    However, one of my best friends is the type of person who actually is that bubbly/sweet/cheerful ALL THE TIME. No joke when I first met her I thought there was no way this wasn’t an act but that is actually how she is 24/7. She does, however, acknowledge that there are times that is not appropriate and can be sober/serious as needed, but it’s a conscious shift for her.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Honestly, even little kids do better if you acknowledge when things suck and validate their feelings instead of telling them to look on the bright side or that whatever’s upsetting them isn’t a big deal or isn’t that bad.

  42. honeygrim*

    The primary reason I’m leaving my job at the end of this year is because my boss and her boss do this exact thing. No one trusts them, because they never tell the truth, and they don’t want to hear the truth. They make decisions that cause serious problems for various departments, and then couch the announcement of these decisions in terms of “commitment to growth,” “aligning with the mission,” “collaborating with stakeholders,” “using this as an opportunity,” etc. When the truth is someone screwed up somewhere and someone’s budget had to be cut, and it ended up being ours. If you try to push back with a bit of realism, you’re regarded as “negative” and “not a team player.”

  43. H.Regalis*

    **Substantive feedback and guidance** = the best!

    My manager can go a bit a toxic-positivity, but I know it’s spillover because they’re trying to course-correct themselves from being an extremely negative person their entire life; so it can be annoying to be told, “You’re only okay?! Aren’t you doing GREAT :D :D :D ????”; but we also still get real feedback, so I know what to change to do a better job, and so I know what I am doing a good job on already. I am very glad for that.

  44. LQ*

    Where I work the guy in charge put a toxic happiness bully in charge of …staff, she’s sort of the chief of staff. And her job is to bully all of us into saying how great a culture we have. She is relentless, she refuses to actually listen or understand that we’ve been through hell. She just straight up ignores problems and thinks that there is no point to anything except “This is great! You’ve got this!” kind of language. If I leave it will be because of her. I have a shitty toxic boss and she will be more of a culprit. What she keeps expecting us to do and how she expects us to behave is so outside of reality that it is a suck on morale like no other.

    These people invite a lot of dangerous behaviors like hiding problems, or just not bothering to bring them up. Like not bothering to try at actually hard things but only do easy things that give a quick fix of “celebration”. And like having people who actually do work? Leave. Because she wants people to spend all their time “celebrating” and “being joyful” that there’s no time left for work. There is at least 1 toxic happiness meeting a week which so far I mostly dodge, but the point where I can’t dodge them anymore is honestly the point I show up and put the volume all the way down on my headset and look for work for an hour a week.

    1. irene adler*

      You have a weekly happiness meeting???
      What is wrong with people??? Management is good with paying people to attend this?
      I think I’d contract a case of chronic food poisoning if I had to attend such meetings. But you have the next best way to handle them.

  45. LMB*

    Sasha should not be in a leadership position in the first place. I don’t think it’s that feasible to coach a person out of this type of thinking. This is a lack of emotional intelligence and possibly general intelligence.

  46. joss*

    “look on the bright side!” and here I sit flashing back seeing to Monty Python’s Life of Brian (sung while hanging from the cross)
    I don’t think I would be able to keep my mouth shut with a manager like this. My singing voice is not the best but I would be tempted…

  47. oranges*

    This is something I’ve been working on myself with my therapist a lot lately. I’m overly optimist because my mother is cripplingly pessimistic. I was raised by Eeyore, so I’m over compensating for Little Oranges who grew up in a house that was always disappointed about something. (Thankfully I don’t manage people and work largely independently, so it’s mostly in my personal relationships.)

    When someone tells me something, my first THOUGHTS are still, “well, on the bright side, at least….”, but my first WORDS are, “oh yeah, that totally sucks, I’m sorry that’s happening….” It’s a work in progress, but it can definitely be done. Good luck to OP and Sasha.

  48. Elizabeth*

    What about the opposite? When you have a manager that is always negative? She’s just always ‘blah’ or ‘its fine’ and she leads a team that thrives in motivation, which then leads them to hold the same outlook. They do good work, but her attitude brings a rain cloud wherever she goes and its not enjoyable at all to be around, but feels as though its not negative enough to bring it up. Even more important to attitude is that they manage a team, and she brings down the department. Everything’s just ‘ok’. I agree that over positivity can do more harm than good, and so therefore stating that people need to tone down the positivity and can be told to do so, how do you approach the opposite? To brighten up the negativity and rain cloud? Thank you!

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      It’s generally possible to coach otherwise decent managers into recognizing positive achievement and using effective language to do so, but it’s a lot of work and sometimes it’s not worth it, especially if they’re deliberately recalcitrant rather than willing to learn. There are people who *know* their pessimism is a problem and just don’t know what to do about it, and people who think, “What? I’m just telling the truth,” and dig their heels in. Whether you can fix them depends heavily on which type you have.

  49. The Gnome*

    I love the Minions as much as the next ridiculously young-at-heart adult but even I would go ba-ba-ba-ba-bananas if I had to deal with this.

    1. Toasted Coconut*

      Yes! as a 32 year old ‘Kidult’ I adore the minions, but there is a time and place for everything, and Im sure they would not be appropriate for a professional work setting.

  50. Working Hypothesis*

    “Look on the bright side” = “I am not going to do anything about your problem,” virtually without exception.

    A manager’s job is to do something about the work problems their team members bring them, either directly or by communicating to the team member what they are expected to do themselves.

    Sasha is not doing her job.

    P.S. The commentator upstream who pointed out that you are probably getting false reports from Sasha, because she wants to be all positive in what she tells you even when the truth isn’t so positive is dead on. Please look very closely into the documentary evidence, and talk directly to Sasha’s reports in private, or you’ll never know what’s going on with that team.

  51. Aphrodite*

    Oh great. Another Pollyanna on steroids.

    I had one of those for a supervisor, thankfully only for a few months. But it was beyond awful.

  52. Observer*

    OP, I have another thought for you.

    You have some excellent instincts – you reached out for help when you encountered a problem, you’re taking your staff concerns seriously, you believe in clear and actionable feedback. That’s all really good stuff.

    Please don’t let your fear of being “too harsh” or of looking like you didn’t do your due diligence make you defensive, lead you to make too many allowances or find too many excuses for her. And ESPECIALLY don’t fall down the rabbit hole of either finding **ist excuses for her behavior (like the nonsense about if being a “generational thing”) or worrying about her “personality.”

    Treat this as the VERY MAJOR issue that it is. And be willing to let her go, if it comes down to it. I’m not saying that it WILL come down to it. And in fact, if you treat it like something that could lead to her termination, you actually have a better shot at resolving this. Because if she really is as good as you say, and you are clear without pulling any punches, she will realize that this is something that NEEDS to change.

    Lots of luck with this. Come back and let us know what happens. Even if it’s a “boring” update.

  53. Free Meerkats*

    To quote some of the best minds of our time,

    Life’s a piece of shit
    When you look at it
    Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
    You’ll see it’s all a show
    Keep ’em laughin’ as you go
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you
    Always look on the bright side of life

  54. pcake*

    I used to be around a positivity fluffer. It’s annoying to horrible and totally negates anyone who has an actual issue or problem. It was the worse when my mother ‘s dementia was getting worse,, our cat was diagnosed with a problem that would be fatal in 6 months and at the time required lots of medication, treatment and huge pots of money. Then my husband developed a health issue that had in the hospital for about a week at a time in terrible pain, and just before my mother passed away, our other cat was diagnosed with kidney disease.

    During this time, being bombarded with empty platitudes – we’ll come out of it stronger, things happen for a reason, things like that with cute smileys and gifs – I’m amazed I didn’t punch Ms. Every-Cloud-Has-A-Silver-Lining in the face. Repeatedly.

  55. Lucy Skywalker*

    I’d swear that Sasha was my mother-in-law if not for the fact that she’s a retired elementary school teacher.

Comments are closed.