how do I reject a difficult internal applicant?

A reader writes:

I am building up a new team and struggling with how to handle an internal applicant.

The job I’m hiring for is fairly customer-facing and requires mostly independent work. One internal applicant who’s currently on another team, Marion, is a train wreck. She is barely competent in the fundamentals of our work. We’re often on call and most people do 15-25 hours of overtime on an average month, more in the busy season. She has done exactly 5.25 hours of overtime in the last two years and feels that is excessive. She is passive aggressive and moody, and the drama she brings to work every day is exhausting. I will leave an empty spot on my team before I hire her, because when she does do something, her inability to follow directions or adhere to procedures makes more work for her managers. Unfortunately, her coworkers love her. She’s been around for almost a decade with no promotions, and they feel like she really deserves this. She’s already spreading rumors that she isn’t going to be hired because I don’t like her, and I’m going to pick my favorite people, which puts my integrity in question.

I’ll be responsible for rejecting her. I’ll run into her frequently and really would rather not crush her. How do I kindly reject her? Do I point out all the skills she is lacking? How do I deal with the fallout from her peers?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 260 comments… read them below }

  1. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Marion is trying to control the narrative by telling people that you “play favourites” and don’t like her. This is why it’s vital that you spell out that it is her WORK and not her. I’m guessing that her co-workers are rooting for her because they want to see her gone.

    1. RJ*

      That is a good point…if I regularly did 15-20 hours of overtime per month and learned one of my coworkers does basically none, I’d be pretty annoyed and want a new teammate who shares the burden.

      OP please go the honest route instead of taking the easier path of talking up the person you hire. By being upfront and facts-based that also undermines the “OP doesn’t like me” narrative. In addition, you’ll hopefully reduce resentment toward the new hire who will inevitably be another target of Marion’s passive-aggressive behaviours.

      1. IL JimP*

        I would be more upset with management on why you’re working so much OT, especially if it isn’t by choice. Maybe they should just hire another person rather punish a person who is adhering to a work/life balance

        1. Curious*

          Back in the dark ages (1970’s) there was a book called “The Mythical Man-Month.” Putting aside the sexist title, the concept is that adding staff to a delayed software project makes it later (based on complexity and coordination). The classic example is this: If it takes one woman nine months to have a baby, how long does it take nine women to have a baby?

          So, no, “just hire another person” doesn’t always work (assuming that the budget exists, which is often NOT the case in government and non-profit orgs). And, yes, in many professional environments, the most interesting work and the promotions are often going to go to the folks who are willing to work overtime rather than those who are strictly working 40 hours a week — because the former are often able to produce better results.

          Note the use of the term “often” twice in that sentence — yes, there are folks who are fantastically efficient and get amazing amounts of work done in 40 hours, and others who are much less efficient, and struggle to get acceptable work done in 50 hours. The point applies to folks who are comparably efficient, and, yes, a manager has to be very careful to avoid confusing “more face time” with “more work done.”

          1. coffee*

            What the hell? “Workers should work large amounts of overtime because we won’t reward them otherwise”?

            How about another analogy: if you make a plan to gestate a baby in five months, there’s no way it will ever happen. The fault is with the planning, not the workers. If you can’t hire another person to make it go faster, you need to accept the wait time. Be realistic.

          2. Mongrel*

            False equivalency though, you even mention the relevant bit in your opening paragraph
            ” the concept is that adding staff to a delayed software project makes it later (based on complexity and coordination).”

            If everyone in the OPs team is doing 15-20 hours overtime EVERY MONTH, it’s not a individual project that’s fallen behind it’s the amount of work that the team is consistently trying to handle, every two people on the team are doing the work of three all the time.

            TMM-M only deals with trying to throw more people at a single project which this isn’t.

            1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

              Whilst I agree that if (almost) every team member is doing overtime every month it’s not an individual project that’s fallen behind, your maths looks to be a little wonky to me.

              If based on an average of 40 hours per week, with 4 weeks in a month = 160 standard hours per staff member. Roughly 20 hours of overtime per staff member per month is more like every 8 people on the team doing the work of 9 people all the time.

        2. Jackie*

          Exactly. Why is management staffing the team so poorly or mismanaging your time so consistently that everyone regularly has to do OT?

          1. Mel2*

            If folks are hired and told “Hey, you’re being hired for 40 hours/week but there may be up to 25 hours of OT each month, for which you will be generously compensated,” it’s not unreasonable. If everyone goes in knowing and consenting and, most importantly, being PAID appropriately, it can work. The OT becomes an issue if it’s the constant crisis mode and not appropriately compensated. If I’m hired and being paid for 40 hours, but then suddenly everyone’s expected to put in about 5-8 additional hours per week on an exempt salary, that’s a complete game changer.

        3. Nic*

          Yeah, I think there are two issues in this post. One is that management is expecting entirely too much OT from their staff, and needs to rethink their staffing levels. The other is that this particular worker may have a healthier work-life balance than the people around her, but she is not a team player, she’s overly dramatic and manipulative as well, and OP has valid reasons for not wanting to work any more closely with her.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oops, I commented the same thing because I somehow did not see yours. That was my first thought; that they want her gone. And then I was reinforced in that thought after reading OP’s comments on the original post.

    3. BritChickaaa*

      I wonder how much of this is perspective though. I mean, there is clearly a disconnect between how LW perceives her (“aggressive and moody”) and how Marion’s co-workers perceive her (as someone lovable and deserving of promotion). Why is Marion so beloved if she’s as awful as the LW makes her out to be?

      It may well be that Marion is aggressive and moody, but LW is not an objective source on that since clearly opinions differ. (And the wording of the letter does give the impression LW dislikes her.)

      The overtime thing is different. Nobody should be penalised for working their contracted hours. If the company has a culture of expecting people to work many, many hours on top of what they are contracted for, that might indicate an issue with the corporate culture and not with Marion – during the ‘Great Resignation’ when so many people are struggling with burnout, it sits poorly with me to penalise someone for only doing a small amount more work than they are contracted to do, rather than loads and loads of extra work.

      1. RoboBob*

        Thanks for pointing that out, @BritChickaaa, I was thinking the same thing. It may very well be that Marion lacks the necessary skills to succeed in this position, but it also sounds like OP has already judged her as slacker because she doesn’t want to work so much overtime. All the other issues are completely valid reasons for not hiring her, but your department’s inability to provide adequate resources isn’t her failing – it’s your company’s.

      2. Ashley*

        She may be aggressive and moody about work issues but is friendly with her coworkers. I had a job that I became very frustrated with the workload and processes and after I decided to look for another job I become more outspoken about the things I didn’t like. But I had a very good relationship or at least neutral relationship with coworkers.

      3. CatDancing*

        I’ve worked with people who wouldn’t win any prizes for Miss Congeniality, but let me tell you, if they’re efficient and effective, you come to treasure them. It’s the surly time-wasters that get on my last nerve — dammit, if I need that report and Joe Scowl hasn’t got it done in time, AGAIN, I am going to bounce him like a basketball. But if Mary Grimmface gets me the reports, and the data, and the info on time every time, she is going to look awfully good to me.

        1. Frauke*

          Thing is, LW says Marion is unfriendly *and* incompetent. Those people are usually not liked by colleagues, so something in this story does not add up.

      4. Candi*

        We’ve seen multiple stories on here where a coworker or boss was the nicest friendliest person -and were worse at work than the grasshopper in the old fable.

        Heck, there’s been letters from managers that can be summed up “Jane/Joe is a lovely person, but their work quality stinks and they have severe trouble making deadlines” and want to know how to fix the latter.

        Alison’s advice: Tell the person the problems they need to work on clearly and straightforwardly, and work with them to get that work quality and timeliness up to speed. And you may still have to bounce them.

      5. PT*

        I worked with someone who was a beloved, treasured employee! She was the BEST. Everyone just LOVED her.

        She was grossly incompetent and a massive bully. But she only showed that face to the “new” people who were still in the “out” crowd (and she had a significant amount of leverage in ensuring they stayed in the “out” crowd.) When she finally left, people who had been there three and four years, who were trusty-rusty-reliable members of the team but were still considered “new outsiders” thanks to her, breathed a sigh of relief.

        1. FP*

          When I was an Accounting Manager, this Accounts Payable Clerk was not the worker I would hire if I were to interview her for any type of job. From the get go there were problems that interfered with our work and and we had to pick up the slack because she couldn’t be there due to many issues. Then when the boss finally gave her part-time hours she was pissed but every few days she would either call in sick or be somewhere that she shouldn’t be. But the co-workers seemed to be friends with her and they always invited her to their lunches and everything else. Her work was a lot to be desired. Many people who weren’t her friends would complain about her and her lack of responsiveness. It was horrible. And people defended this lady.

    4. MustardPillow*

      Here’s a true story. Let’s call him “Joe”. Personally, I like Joe. He’s a lazy duffer and he’s fun to chat with. So Joe is in the break room whining about being passed up for some promotion because the new manager doesn’t “like” him. Joe picks me as his audience. He pauses and waits for my sympathy. I say, “but Joe buddy, if they don’t like you, why would they want to work with you? That makes sense. Also, why do you want to work with “Linda” when you don’t even like her? She doesn’t like you. This sounds like a bad subplot to an even worse sitcom. Joe you’re not making any sense. I’m walking away now unless you want to talk about something else.”

      It’s literally not a big deal if people are passed up because they’re not liked. Sure, the truth is “Joe” isn’t good at his job but let him save face in front of his peers. He’s annoying to work with but he makes me laugh. I’ll root for him and his promotion when he applies even though I’m not placing any bets. Besides, come 5 o’clock I don’t even pretend to care.

  2. Clefairy*

    A tough lesson I learned as a manager is that sometimes, you have to be the “bad guy” and make decisions that make you unpopular to folks in lower roles, because they just don’t have the context. It’s not fun that her peers might have an unfavorable view of the decision you made, but you can’t dwell on that. You’re making the best choice you can for you and your team, and that’s that.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Agreed. Maybe I missed something, but none of the statements in OP’s letter indicate to me that they aren’t aware of these aspects of their job.

        1. Tuesday*

          I read Clefairy’s comment as supportive in acknowledging that it’s hard and suggesting that the OP keep focused on the fact that they’re doing the best for their team.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        The problem is that no matter what you say to Marion, she is going to be the one to tell everyone else what happened, and she controls the narrative there. There is no good way to spread around the office she got rejected by X or Y reasons, because as the manager you shouldn’t be spreading that around.

        1. Venus*

          “We focused our hiring on people who are available for overtime and have a consistent history of working well with the public.” should make the point without saying exactly why she was rejected.

      3. Wintermute*

        I guess the lesson there is, sometimes you can’t. But you can’t let that stop you. People might think less of you, you can bolster your own reputation to the point that people don’t JUST think of how “unfairly” you treated your Marion-analog, but sometimes you just need to take the hit.

        It sucks, and it can be a hard thing to face. But sometimes there is no win/win, one reason managers (ideally) are paid better than employees is they’re the ones that sometimes have to decide whether to save the Kobayashi Maru or keep on their patrol route, metaphorically speaking.

    1. Not a cat*

      Yep, people can be simultaneously likable to colleagues and difficult to manage, Heck, I’ve had to fire team members who personally, I really liked but they couldn’t do the job. Humans are complicated.

  3. Wait that’s me*

    Ouch. That is my actual name and it was uncomfortable reading about “me”. I now have even more sympathy for people named Karen. Or Sansa lol.

    1. anon for this xd*

      My previous actual boss’s name was Jane, lol. I got to read every letter about a terrible Jane and imagine it was MY jane. And when I wrote in about her (never published), I didn’t have to change her name at all!

    2. Mister Lady*

      My (unusual, uncommon) name is used as an example of the perpetrator of some non-consensual attentions in our annual sexual harassment training, and I want to cry every year when it rolls around again.

        1. Mister Lady*

          I think I might–I’m trying to decide what a reasonable length of time is to have elapsed before I request that. I understand that they have to use names in the examples, and by definition, they’re going to be…some people’s names. They redid the whole training series (very well, to be honest!) a few years ago and I feel like I have to serve out a little time before saying “hey, that thing you worked really hard on? could you please make it less hurtful/triggering to me specifically?”

    3. Heffalump*

      My actual name is Andrew, same as the guy who didn’t get why it wasn’t OK to take his coworker’s juice. I hope there isn’t some badly behaved person out there whose given name on their birth certificate/driver’s license/passport is actually Heffalump. Hey, unlikely =/= impossible!

      1. EmmaPoet*

        The only Heffalump I have ever met in person was delightful, charming, and intelligent. He was an eight year old Newfoundland. Very huggable and pettable.

    4. Rachel in NYC*

      I was telling a friend’s daughter a made up story about two fairies the other day- after I told her one of the names, she responded “that’s my mom’s boss’s name.”

      Note to self- don’t use that name for an imaginary fairy in the future.

  4. Tui*

    Most people do 25 hours of overtime a month? I don’t blame Marion for thinking that’s unreasonable. Also surely it would be cheaper to hire someone additional!

    1. Expelliarmus*

      And yet, she’s applying for this job and trying to fan flames by telling people that if she’s rejected, it’s due to favoritism?

    2. Velawciraptor*

      If most people are doing 15-25 hours of overtime a month, it sounds like you’re understaffed by at least one person (depending on how many people that comes to). Marion isn’t wrong there. Especially if the company is leaning on “they’re all exempt, so we can work them however much they want.”

    3. Rainy*

      It’s equivalent to paying 37.5h of straight time, so it’s pretty much just barely less expensive in hourly terms than hiring another person, but I’d imagine the logic is that they’re saving so much on benefits that it’s better to just expect unreasonable amounts of overtime than to hire 2x the people.

      1. Rainy*

        Ugh, undercaffeinated math is hard. That would be 1.25x the people not 2x (essentially one extra staff member for each 4 existing staff would even things out–but it sounds like the management would rather expect unreasonable amounts of overtime than hire).

      1. green beans*

        that’s still a lot! I don’t blame her for not wanting to work overtime. Not being competent or being barely competent at core areas of your job is a different, and valid, issue. But unless it’s made very clear when you take the job that overtime is a core function, people absolutely have the right to opt out without being labeled a slacker or being suffering consequences to their career. That much regular overtime means the system has failed, not that the individual refusing to participate has failed.

      2. Me (I think)*

        Yeah, I thought that too. Most of the (exempt) people I work with do that and more, just part of getting the job done. An extra hour a day on average for a professional salaried job is really not that bad – that’s staying one night a week for an event or whatever.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’m exempt, and in the last 5 years I think I’ve only gone over a 40 hour work week 2 or 3 times. It’s absolutely not normal for exempt employees to work an extra hour or more each day, and the companies where it happens frequently are not staffed appropriately.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      They are on call. It comes with the territory. Probably compensated for it with extra pay, comp time and so on. That’s the nature of those jobs. I do not for the life of me understand why Marion wants to be on that team. Unless she plans to be one of those teammates that never answers the phone/texts when on-call, and then Tier 1 has to call the next person in line. I’ve had those coworkers in the six years I did on-call support. They were the bane of our existence. All the more reason not to bring her in.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        I’d suggest that it’s not so much wanting the job as wanting a promotion, esp. after 10 years.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That’s what confuses me – Marion’s teammates seem to see it as a promotion, but it sounds like it’s a lateral transfer from one team (that is not on call) to another, new one (that will be).

    5. Bernice Clifton*

      Not always – I worked in a company that needed people on some teams to work the last day of the month because certain things had to be done that day – it wasn’t a manpower issue.

    6. Artemesia*

      I assume it is paid hourly otherwise it wouldn’t be ‘overtime’ and so closely tracked. 25 hours a month is not much.

      1. Bibliospork*

        We tracked overtime in every exempt job I’ve had. They still want to know who’s spending time on what duties and in which projects.

      2. Berlina*

        That’s an hour overtime each day on probably full time Jobs! Why are people putting up with that shit?!

        1. Bibliospork*

          Some industries are just like that, and if you don’t like it, your option is to try to find somewhere different, and good luck.

          My industry’s default setting is dysfunction. I interviewed at a place that *publicly* tracked each person’s (exempt) overtime with a bar chart. It was displayed on a huge computer monitor (by the snack area, if I remember right).

          1. CoveredinBees*

            That’s one of the reasons I left being an attorney. Even outside of BigLaw (which was beyond bonkers), working 40 hours a week was viewed as a very light week. That was the standard. Not a healthy approach to work, but that’s what it was. Turns out, I just want to do work to get money to pay for things in my non-work life. Any work that requires making your job part of your identity isn’t for me, even when I believed deeply in the work. Some people thrive in it.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              IANAL, but a casual friend called me once wanting me to apply for an open position at their workplace. Started listing all the good things about the company to me, but I had to interrupt when they mentioned a “minimum of 40 billable hours a week”. So, any admin work, any personal training, any *required compliance training* etc would have had to be on top of the 40 hours. I asked them, “do any of you guys ever go home?” and didn’t apply.

        2. hoping to leave the service industry*

          This is common in a number of jobs, from trades where people get paid hourly to lawyers and bankers. Usually, people who take these jobs are aware that it comes with the territory and the subject of this letter has worked there for 15 years. My partner works in a trade and has gotten 20 overtime hours in a pay period, and my dad who is a lawyer will work well over 40 hours some weeks but has a lot of flexibility at this point in his career and genuinely loves what he does (has been at the same firm for over 25 years). There are trade-offs to working long hours but some people make them because it’s the norm in an industry they enjoy working in or they’ve decided they benefit from having overtime pay.

          When there are letters from people who are doing the equivalent of 3 jobs because of a hiring freeze or from people whose company has decided to make them work overtime when that’s not what they agreed to, I agree that that’s a big issue. It is just a bit irksome that commenters will take issue with a letter from a manager who mentions that overtime is normal in their industry. In this case, it’s not a new thing for Marion, who also clearly has the choice to work less overtime since she is doing 5 hours at most and still has a job. We are supposed to take LWs at their word. I agree with you in that I don’t think I could personally handle that much over time, but I think it’s a little out of touch to feel appalled that some jobs require it.

        3. HB*

          I work in Public Accounting (Tax) and average a 45 hour work week over the year. Except during the summer I only work 37.5 hours so all those extra hours come in from February 1 through April 15th (60 to 70 hours). I put up with it because my brain is weird and I actually super like it. I finally got diagnosed with ADHD recently which has been a relief because without treatment the *only* time I enjoyed my job was tax season (high pressure/deadlines + constantly switching between projects) even though I was thoroughly burned out by the end. It’s very much a binge and famine workflow, but it means that while you have to be 110% “On” for about 6 months of the year (February, March, April, August, September, October) you can be at about 25% to 50% the rest of the time and it’s fine. I used to think about leaving for an industry job (because they typically pay better) but the thing that stopped me was the idea that I’d have to be at a consistent level of productivity at all times and I didn’t think I’d be capable of it.

          But I’ll also add that reading this blog and seeing responses like yours have been a huge help in tweaking my perspective. Overtime shouldn’t be a given – if you work overtime hours you should be compensated in some fashion for it (either monetarily or through additional benefits).

          1. Workaholic*

            Gah! ADHD – i really need to consider being tested, too. I love my job because of high pressure, chaos, multi tasking. But I also have a tendency to spot problems, volunteer for projects, fall into rabbit holes… my current job feeds my workaholic tendencies

      3. Tui*

        I am happy to work OT (paid) from time to time. But “Oh, working an extra hour every day for free is fine” is an absolutely brutal stance for office culture, I don’t care how much it’s part of the industry or w/e

    7. thatjillgirl*

      For a job with an on-call component, that’s not bad, especially assuming they are compensated hourly or whatever. Honestly, with on-call stuff, it’s less the amount of time that tends to be aggravating than it is the timing of the calls/job assignments. But some people don’t mind that so much, assuming that, again, they are compensated properly. Marion, however, does not seem to be one of those people. And hey, there’s no shame in wanting to be off work when you’re off work. But that does generally mean that if that’s what you want, you should probably avoid applying to jobs with an on-call component.

    8. Cyrus*

      Agreed. Marion sounds like trouble, and I can imagine that the OP’s company isn’t actually doing anything illegal, but this high level of overtime on an ongoing basis (and even worse in “the busy season”) seems like a bad sign. Is it really required by the market/industry? Is it just impossible to hire more people for this because qualified candidates are too highly in demand? Or is it just that this company’s culture is too inconsiderate of peoples’ time or whatever?

      1. ala*

        i mean, that’s 46 hour weeks, approximately. That’s more than full time but it’s hardly some crazy Big Law hours. You could get that by staying into the evening once or twice a week.

        More to the point, OP is not going to be able to (clearly nor are they interested in) drastically changing the way their team is structured to work around an employee they don’t like in the first place.

        1. londonedit*

          It’s nearly 10 hours a week more than I’m expected to work (standard 37.5-hour working week here) so while it might not be crazy BigLaw hours it’s definitely not something I’d want to do!

    9. Just Me*

      Agreed, that’s scary. I’m so curious what kind of industry this is–the only ones I can think of where long hours like that are basically required are law, medicine, truck driving, etc. Sometimes those kinds of hours are required for salespeople, but even then, the pressure to work longer should only come if someone is consistently not meeting their goals.

      1. TechWorker*

        You read right that it’s 25 hrs per month, not per week right? I’d say that’s exceedingly common in salaried exempt jobs.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah. People in law, medicine, or truck driving are almost definitely racking up waaaay more than 25 hours a month overtime.

      2. Just J.*

        Please add publishing, journalism, architecture / engineering / construction to that list. I am sure there are others.

        The pressure to work longer comes because the industry is deadline driven. And sometimes no matter how much staff you have and how much everyone is pulling their weight, you have more work than you have time.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        When I worked for a veterinarian we routinely worked 55-hour weeks. Most places don’t do that because of the cost of overtime but at least some of them do. And that was regular general practice, not an emergency vet.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Whoa — you’re right. That must have been an edit on Inc.’s side thinking they were making it clearer but actually introducing an inaccuracy (I pull the text for these straight from the posts over there); I’ll talk to them about it.

      2. AnonInCanada*

        That definitely changes the answer! If the team were averaging 15-25 hours/week, then asking Marian to chip in an hour or two of overtime per week shouldn’t be too much to ask of her. An extra 15-20 minutes per day isn’t that much unless there’s a legitimate reason why she must leave at precisely that time, i.e. she needs to pick up her kid from daycare before x o’clock or else she’s paying $10/1st minute + $1 each additional for every minute she’s late. Which we don’t know from this letter writer.

        OP should’ve focused simply on her performance, and not the drama. If her coworkers team up with Marian on this, I don’t know what to say other than point out the facts. Who knows why these coworkers are so much onside with her?

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Yeah, this information changes my opinion. 25 hours spread across a team of people for the month doesn’t seem nearly as unreasonable as it does for just one person.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I was going to post something about that too. 25ish hours over the team isn’t outrageous in an on all situation. Or it isn’t if everyone on the team is willing to split the hours fairly. If the OT is known, and not ridiculously excessive, it will unbalance the team if one person never pulls their load – and if it’s a person who is known to never work overtime why hire that person for the team if OT is a known part?

    10. evens*

      On the original letter, it said the TEAM had 15-25 hours per month. I’m not sure why there’s a change in this reprint, but that’s vastly different. If it’s that much for the team, each member has just a couple hours on average each month.

    11. Librarian1*

      Right. Marion sounds really difficult to work with for other reasons, but I would absolutely not take or stay in a job where I had to work an extra 6 hours a week.

  5. Meg*

    I’d really emphasize the overtime to Marion. If she’s not able to do any OT, then, realistically that will cut her from the running, no bones about it.

    1. Artemesia*

      This invites a counter argument. You don’t have the skills for this job is more honest and harder to refute.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Honestly, I think this is the best approach. Stress that the position you are hiring for requires all these skills, and they are nonnegotiable. I’m going to pass right now to let you work on XYZ, and maybe later when you have gained/strengthened those skills we can look and see if there are matching openings.

        OP sounded like they knew Marion wasn’t the right candidate, what they wanted was ideas for how to mitigate the fallout from making the unpopular but right decision.

      2. LMB*

        Better still is someone else was more qualified. She may very well have the necessary qualifications, at least on paper, after a decade with the company, and claiming she doesn’t will just make the manager look like they’re hiding the real reason she wasn’t hired.

      3. thatjillgirl*

        I think they are overlapping issues. Being able to work overtime IS one of the “skills” for the job. But both things are worth mentioning.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          No, overtime is not a skill. Skills are required to actually do the job. Overtime is the condition in which you do it.

          Overlapping issues, perhaps, but not the same thing.

          1. Snuck*

            Capacities then :). Most jobs have skills, and capacities. The ability be a team player includes a range of capacities (including sharing overtime/workloads, getting along at the coffee machine, not sniping at people over who has leave when, and using your ‘nice manners’ even when you don’t feel like it, none of which are skills).

          2. thatjillgirl*

            But in this case, occasional overtime IS something required to do the job. Yes, overtime is not an action that you perform, but it can absolutely be considered a necessary component of a job, and if you can’t or won’t do it, then that job is not for you.

      4. blood orange*

        Agreed. It’s easier to focus on things that feel less personal like a schedule, but that route can easily come back to bite you! If you can include details about the person you did hire (“…has more experience in X”) the unsuccessful candidate is less likely to argue about that.

    2. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Overtime is not the real reason why Marion didn’t get the role, and Marion has apparently not been told the real reason(s) why she has not been promoted in the past. The OP is now dealing with the fallout of misinformation, poor management and leadership, and Marion’s imagination.

      I think the OP needs to be plain about the reasons for her decision not to hire Marion. What if Marion suddenly decides she is fine with the OT, because promotion! What does the OP do then? Struggle to find something else Marion doesn’t want to do and hope for the best?

      Better for OP to be honest and straightforward, but not blunt to the point of cruel.

      1. Snuck*

        This. Very much this.

        OP should make notes about the skills AND behaviours they are wanting. Conduct interviews. Score candidates against that. Reference check against that.

        Then they can sit down with Marion and say “We know you well, we are looking for people with X and Y skills and capabilities. Currently you aren’t showing these at hte level we’d like to see, but if this changes in the future we’ll consider you for roles then” and be honest and fair.

        If you don’t want to even interview Marion get in off the outset and set up a time to talk with her before applications close and explain to her what you are looking for, that she’s not providing, and that she’d need to be consistently doing those things for months before applying. Be pre emotive. Don’t waste her time and yours by forcing her through an application process she isn’t qualified to win.

  6. Annie J*

    The comments about overtime are interesting, I think.
    Personally, I wouldn’t do much overtime, particularly as I have worked in many call centres, although some do offer double pay.
    But it brings up an interesting question to me, should a person do more work in the hope of being promoted to a management role, or should a person only do more work once they have been promoted and have the higher Pay and higher responsibility?
    On the one hand, people who show that they have initiative and take responsibility are more likely to be promoted, but on the other hand I think it’s fair for someone only to do the work they are expected to do, unless they are getting paid more.

    1. Rainy*

      Yeah, I’ve been told flat out that if I want X and Y things to happen for my job that what I need to do is take them on and then dramatically announce how burnt out I am after six months or a year, but I’m simply not willing to do that to myself for a year on the off-chance that maybe something would get better afterward.

    2. pope suburban*

      Yeah, I’m inclined to side with Marion at least on the subject of overtime. There are places- too many, I think- where taking on the next level of responsibility in the hopes of promotion is simply a sucker bet. Instead of being recognized for your capability and diligence, management will learn that they can get your job plus a big chunk of another one from you, for the lower cost of your current rate of pay. Having just been burned by that, I intend to scale back as well, because my time and effort are worth something and I won’t waste them on people who are only interested in exploiting me. I suspect, if Marion’s comments here are accurate, that this may be one of those workplaces that relies on getting manager-level wok done by low-level people, with no reward ever coming. If that’s the case, then Marion is better served by looking for a new job than by hoping she’ll somehow be the exception to the rule.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Yes. Marion might not be a good fit for the promotion, but I don’t think it’s bad to dislike all the overtime. That’s kind of excessive.

        At ExJob, it was the same as what you describe. If you wanted a better job, you had better rush around and do every single unpleasant job, volunteer for weekend shift, offer to stay late and come in early. Then loudly talk about how no one else in the department did a darn thing.

        But instead of getting a promotion/better pay/really anything at all, you’d just continually get the crap piled onto you. And when you finally said no, you couldn’t do it, you’d be met with wide eyes and “But you’ve always done it!”

        I irritated the manager when I refused to work more than my part time hours. He cried that he needed me. I asked if he was then going to make me full time. Er, well, no, but it would really help him out… Well, guess he didn’t ‘need’ me full time then.

        1. pope suburban*

          Oh my god, the stress of cutting back! I was really worried about getting in trouble for that, because I’ve been going above and beyond (To the point where I’ve received two service awards, which is unheard-of in general and doubly so for part-time people) for almost five years and people have really learned to lean on me. Fortunately, my immediate team has always appreciated that, and they agree that I was badly mistreated, so I ended up not having much pushback at all. At some point, management will realize what they’ve cost themselves, but I don’t know what they expected after telling me I have no future here, and anyway I’m still fulfilling the duties of my job as defined, so… It’s not the outcome I wanted, but I can’t keep working myself to the bone, not when I’ve been told that the next step will never come. I’m looking for new jobs, of course, and attempting a career change into a field I actually like, so it’s not all dire, but it’s not ideal or even okay either. If Marion is in my shoes, she has my admiration for setting boundaries if nothing else.

    3. Esmeralda*

      And there are jobs where there isn’t overtime that’s tracked, but people regularly work more than 40 hrs/week. When I was a faculty member, I worked about 50 hrs/week. A chunk of that was related to my research and publication, a chunk was keeping up with the field (reading, interactions/correspondence w colleagues around the country), other professional obligations (attending conferences, reviewing papers for publications, etc). And teaching.

      Pretty typical for academics in the humanities, some of whom worked a lot more than 50 hours/week.

      1. Me (I think)*

        Yes, and lots of university staff positions require ridiculous amounts of unpaid overtime. All the Student Life staff, the event planners, athletics staff. Part of the job.

  7. Elbe*

    Something seems a little off here. If she’s so incompetent that her work creates more work for others, why do her coworkers love her? She’s barely able to do her job, other people have to do more overtime because she doesn’t do her share, she’s moody and passive-aggressive… and everyone loves her and wants her to be promoted?

    Unless her coworkers don’t actually work with her or unless she acts differently with the LW than with others, I’m not sure how this adds up. Are we sure they’re not just hoping she gets promoted in order to be rid of her?

    1. Lunchtime*

      That was the question I had. I’m assuming that each persons work is their own, so if hers doesn’t get done it sticks with her? Or maybe she is passive aggressive toward management but enjoyable to coworkers, so they don’t see that side?

      1. Smithy*

        I worked on a team like this. Essentially, there were a high number of small teams that reported into different managers. While the small teams might occasionally work together/collaborate – it wasn’t very common and very rarely impacted your critical points of evaluation.

        Every now and then, I’d get insight from a coworker that they handled their workload differently than I might – but even after being on that team for years, I never really knew enough to say they were great or terrible at their jobs. What we did have in common was our experience with our own manage structure and other teams we worked with, so that would make for a solid foundation for connecting over coffee/happy hours/etc. It would often only be unless someone on that mini-team really unloaded about someone being horrible (or wonderful) in a safe space context that you could confirm your thinking. All to say, there are people from that job I really like but would never be a reference for because I genuinely don’t know enough about their work quality.

        I would just also like to cheerlead that honestly pointing out someone’s shortcoming for a job is a kindness. So often we think of either not wanting to give people promotions because they’re unpleasant (or giving promotions because they are pleasant) and then finding the actual requirements and skills to side features. If a job requires X hours of OT a month and Y level of competency in a skill she doesn’t have….then you don’t have to make any reference to her attitude to explain why she’s not getting a job.

      2. Anon for this*

        I have someone on my team who is really personable and fun to work with – everybody likes him, including me. But everyone’s roles are pretty siloed, so I imagine the others on the team don’t actually know that he’s not very good at his job. Also he doesn’t take feedback well, and has refused or ignored opportunities for training, so unfortunately his time with us is going to be limited…and yeah, it’s going to come as a shock to everyone when that happens. Being likeable doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good teammate, unfortunately.

      3. raida7*

        I was thinking she might be one of those people that is complimentary, offers to go grab coffee, commiserates, tells people they *do* work hard and they *are* hard done by why just last week I heard…

        They are then both a source of comfort and of toxicity – everyone feels validated by them, but that validation increases resentment, and all that talking creates a nexus of gossip – the co-worker they all love.

        Whereas someone that listens, commiserates, and tells co-workers that they need to make changes to how they work to avoid the issue again and to consider how the other team involved was genuinely trying hard – well that might be a know-it-all that doesn’t listen.

    2. Not really a Waitress*

      That is my question too. And do they love her? or have they just learned to tolerate the behavior because they know nothing will be done about it. In some cases it is easier to just get along then be sucked into the drama and moodiness.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was thinking the same thing! I’ve worked with Marion’s, & they aren’t universally loved. But they are often very good at pulling the wool over some people’s eyes

      2. Cmdrshpard*

        They might like/love her as a person, but not necessarily as a coworker, or they just want her off the team so they don’t have to deal with her, or they are coworkers but their work or Marions lack of work does not impact them.

    3. Littorally*

      Agreed. The picture the OP paints seems…. odd. I really have to wonder what isn’t being seen, or what isn’t being said.

    4. LizzE*

      I get what you are saying, but I have also seen firsthand how a likable coworker can skew their peers’ perception of them, even if said peers are the ones who pay for it. Some people, especially younger workers, will overlook incompetence and inefficiency if problem coworker fulfills a desire for them to have work friends. Once problem coworker is let go or leaves on their own, these workers start to grasp the issues that problem coworker created.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Yep. We fired a colleague a couple years ago (almost no one gets fired) who everyone loved as a person. One of my favorite people. Very good at some aspect of the job. Terrible at other aspects of the job that most people on staff had no idea were a problem. The only reason I knew was because I was asked to clean up some issues / deal with some people that had been mishandled by my lovable colleague. Almost everyone was shocked when this person was fired.

      2. crookedfinger*

        Same here. There was someone previously working in my office that all of the admins loved (kind of the “office mom” type), but none of the people she was supporting liked her because she was argumentative with them and objectively bad at the majority of her job. She eventually got demoted and then left, but she convinced the other admins she was being picked on and they all bought it except me because I was the one dragged in to clean up after her.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I was going to ask that question too. They love her? Based on the description, I don’t know what’s to love. Is it at all possible that they want her off their team badly, and so are telling her that she deserves this new role and should apply?

    6. NervousNellie*

      I know Alison takes people at their word, but I must say, this letter has shades of Missing Reasons. 25 hours of overtime per person, for even a small team, strong suggests a need for another full-time employee. I’ve never “loved” an employee who is bad at their job, or felt they “deserved” a raise. Being loved tends to mean you make people easier for others in a big way. A low-performer seems like an odd choice here. I’m also confused as to how this manager knows about the performance/scuttlebutt of an employee who is not on their team nor seemingly in their workflow.

      Anyway, I have a “Marion” at work — she’s actually excellent at her job, but her new boss doesn’t understand her work and regularly expects my Marion to do the work of a 3 person team. I wonder if Marion does work that her coworkers understand better than her boss. I think OP ought to ask for some candor from Marion’s team and ask why they feel she deserves this promotion. I suspect OP will find out that “Marion automated Project Tedious” or “Marion is a whiz at our Legacy System”, both things that everyone but management knows still need to be done.

      1. anonmouse*

        yeah I get the feeling because Marion’s (very correct) views and refusal on overtime (op if people are doing that much overtime you need more people) the op views her as not committed and slacking.

      2. Smithy*

        I think that depending on where you come from there are a lot of ways to read this.

        I worked a job on a team that had done very well and was growing rapidly. And while the growth certainly was in part due to staff doing their jobs well, it was the kind of external facing team where other factors would always impact the overall team’s success. However, how much credit any one person wanted to give individual team members vs external factors would vary.

        For the long-time team members, there was a greater tendency to assume that the long-time leaders deserved a huge amount of credit and subsequent promotions. For newer people on the team (like myself) – there was often some soft questioning whether those long-time leaders actually had the experience of leading a team that had become as big as it had become and if their skills covered its current remit. As a result, the perception of their skills and deserving a promotion varied wildly.

        That’s just one example from one workplace, but I can definitely see how this can happen. Particularly if management is looking for soft ways to turn down internal candidates as opposed to telling them directly skills they don’t have.

      3. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I went back to read the original letter, where OP shared in the comments that the day after this letter was posted, Marion was put on a PIP; there were legitimate issues there. OP commented as “OP here” if you’re interested in the additional information given in the comments (interestingly, the amount of OT was hardly present, which I thought was interesting in a “2017 vs 2021” kind of way).

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Thank you. I went back and read all of OP’s comments. Marion sounds… lovely :(

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I went back as well, and I think Inc did some massive editing to what they posted. There were other candidates completely removed and the overtime numbers massively changed ( in the original the OT was split amongst the whole team while the Inc letter has Every Employee working the same OT number). I think the original letter was a more complete picture of the issue.

    7. OhNo*

      The letter did say the her bad work creates more work for her managers, specifically. So it’s possible that her coworkers like her because they aren’t exposed to the consequences of her doing a bad job.

      1. Pony Puff*

        “She is passive aggressive and moody, and the drama she brings to work every day is exhausting.”

        I don’t see how anyone could only have a negative attitude like this around managers and somehow be pleasant enough to be adored by coworkers. I’m having a hard time taking OP at their word on this one…

        1. LMB*

          Yes exactly! The overtime stuff and the like you can see potentially only affecting her managers, but I’ve never heard of someone having an awful personality in front of their managers and faking a well-loved one with their peers. If anything it would be the
          Other way around.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Passive-aggressive, moody, and dramatic are all characteristics I’ve seen in popular people. Seen from another angle, dramatic = “fun” and moody/passive-aggressive = manipulates people into desiring her approval.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That was kind of the sense I got – that Marion’s coworkers don’t have to pick up her slack then they probably get to like her for how she acts around them. They don’t see the problems – so the problems don’t worry them and they want Marion rewarded for loyalty or time in grade.

      3. Broadway Duchess*

        I once had a co-worker who was very much like Marion: moody and dramatic, plus gossipy as hell! She talked about everyone behind their backs, but she seemed to be in the know about everything and she was genuinely funny. I think people disregarded the other parts because she’d been there 10 years and knew her (limited) role inside and out. That’s mostly because she’d never been promoted even though others at her level had.

        She and I were up for the same promotion, which she only wanted once I applied, because she had seniority. A lot of colleagues thought so, too, because she had about 6 years more experience than I did. I got the job and she maintains to this day that it was because I was our director’s favorite. It wasn’t true — I don’t feel like director and I ever connected, and I am polite but not personally friends with anyone in mu division. I was, however, told later that my Marion’s work was not that great, that she took a lot of time creating busy work, and that she wasn’t liked by management. No one at her level would’ve known that, though.

        1. NNN222*

          Creating busy work is a big thing I’ve noticed that other people don’t pick up on that can be a major hinderance for management. A coworker complained about never being promoted but she entrenched herself in a very narrow portion of the department, always making sure she appeared too busy to learn other areas, believing this made her indispensable. What this actually did was narrow the number of tasks she could perform while others were either crosstrained on hers to use them for similar processes or to cover for her while she was on vacation or were skilled enough to easily pick up on how to do them. She was useful to keep on her very narrow set of tasks but wasn’t the utility player a small department needs to succeed and didn’t have the background to take a higher level responsibility for several areas that a promotion would likely require.

    8. DrSalty*

      Yeah I wondered this too. Maybe she rules a clique or something. Seems odd that EVERYONE would love someone who is moody and creates drama.

    9. green beans*

      At OldJob, we had a person who was really terrible at their job – promoted to the level of highest incompetence. They were really nice and had great relationships with ~10 close coworkers who pre-dated their promotion/major growth period of the company. But they had no good will with anyone else, and a lot of their behavior was read quite differently by coworkers who liked versus coworkers who had never had a good experience.

      The division was actually incredible to see. I remember one time mentioning a 5-minute task that took 6 months, one giant (professional) tantrum from me, several in-person follow-ups, an hour-long meeting, and something like 20-30 emails with our boss cc’ed to get them to complete (it took like 15 emails over the course of 4 months just to get a response and I was getting penalized because one of my tasks depended on this task getting done.) One of the New Coworkers was just like, “yup, that tracks. They’re awful.” An Old Coworker, on the other hand, immediately went into full sympathy, “well they’re just so busy, isn’t it awful for them? They’re so nice and they try so hard.”

      Old Coworker was a bit shocked when I looked at them and went, “maybe they wouldn’t be so busy if it didn’t take months and multiple hours to complete a 5-minute task.” The Old Coworkers had no idea how badly the rest of the company viewed the person. It really was a weird thing to watch.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’ve seen that happen too. It makes me wonder if it’s a missing stair situation, where the people who love her are lower in the staircase and the people who don’t are the people who are above her in the staircase?

        1. green beans*

          Yeah – in our case it wasn’t so much upper vs lower level and more how much you interacted with the department in a professional function, versus being in the same cubicle office pre-COVID but not doing any professional collaborations.

          1. Anon for this*

            Yes, exactly! My “Marion” is quite knowledgeable in his particular subject area, so even our internal clients think quite highly of him. It’s only me as his manager that knows the full scope of what he does and doesn’t do.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Well, lower and upper can also refer to workflow. The people whose work depends on Missing Stair’s work will be more aware and more upset about issues and less likely to be in the fan club vrs the people who are below the workflow aren’t going to feel the pain and will be more likely to be in the fan club.

      2. Corporate Lawyer*

        Ah, yes, we have one of these at my company. If you’re on their Good List, they seem like a pleasant, reasonable coworker who’s happy to pitch in and help out when you need it. But if you’re on their Bad List, you have a – shall we say – very different experience of them.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I had a coworker that was the nicest, sweetest person I ever met. Would’ve been perfect to be friends with. Was a nightmare to work with. They were rapidly moving up the ladder because they had a personal connection with one of the higher-ups, and because they, to quote the higher-up, “worked crazy hours” (thus perpetuating the inane work culture where it mattered more how late you stayed in the office than what you actually got done in that time. This coworker was putting in maybe an hour’s work in a 10-12 hour day.) I loved this coworker on a personal level. But I would’ve never told them that I thought they deserved a promotion. And I was prepared to start looking if they ever became my manager. (They are now everyone’s manager at Old Place, but I thankfully left long before that happened.)

        1. green beans*

          oh yes, this coworker also worked crazy hours and that was cited by people. But in every interaction I had with them, things took 6-10x as long as they did with others (not even counting the number of emails I had to send just to get something set up.)

          I had a project that involved setting up the same thing for every department, customized to department needs. Every single department, save one, was a 2-minute “prep” talk when I caught them in the halls, a brief email exchange to set up a proper meeting, a 15-minute meeting to discuss, and then a second email chain to review and approve. Average total time of ~30-40 minutes, depending on how fast it took to write the emails.

          This coworker’s department needed multiple emails to set up, 2 1-hr meetings that were both a pain to schedule, extensive documentation/clarification emails sent after the mtgs (by their request)… I think I spent close to 5 hours on them versus less than an hour for every other department, some of whom had more complex customizations that required much more backend work. I had…negative sympathy when they complained about working so many hours.

    10. LMB*

      My thought exactly. I wonder if the LW actually just doesn’t like her. Usually it’s the other way around—someone comes off as the star employee to people they don’t work with directly, but their close teammates know the truth. The opposite seems very difficult for anyone to pull off.

      1. doreen*

        It kind of depends on what “closely” means. One of the things I tell people who are being promoted to a supervisory position at my employer is that they are about to find out that not everyone works like them. Because although they do a lot of work together in a way ( they all see clients in the office on the same day every week, they accompany each other on field visits , etc ) they each have distinct caseloads and Jeff is not affected by Anita’s work and therefore wouldn’t know that she’s late with every report. So he might think she’s a great person even as her supervisor is pulling her hair out trying to get a overdue report from Anita.

      2. Someone On-Line*

        If you read the comments on the original post, Marion is objectively a bad person. As in, tried to commit elder abuse and steal her mother-in-law’s house and money. I don’t like her and I just read a letter about her.

    11. Wintermute*

      That does not strike me as odd at all. Some people have this “gee shucks” way about them that makes you overlook their shortcomings or instinctively want to protect them, and a little extra work to a few people isn’t always going to get them mad.

      Also some people are good at kissing up and kicking down, other people are manipulative with peers but bosses see right through them. It’s just a certain kind of charisma.

      In addition sometimes people earn themselves a lot of goodwill by little things management might not see, but coworkers really do notice and appreciate (either task-related like being quick to cover for breaks or helping clean up messes after other people, or totally unrelated like bringing in the best donuts on Friday)

    12. LizM*

      I’ve definitely worked with a Marion who makes a great show of appearing busy and helpful and cheerful, but if you know what she’s doing, the work she produces isn’t actually that good, and it’s not really what you asked for, and if you provide feedback to that effect, you get a long story on how hard she worked on it, and somehow you walk away feeling like it’s your fault and you’re the bully. On top of that, she spends a lot of time “helping” on projects that aren’t her core tasks, and the core work gets neglected as a result.

      But if you’re not dealing with her output directly, she appears to be a helpful, busy person and wonder why managers haven’t recognized that and promoted her.

    13. Dust Bunny*

      Eh, my former department head was charming and had done a lot of good work in the past, but was by the time I knew her hopelessly behind the times and kept us bogged down in what was essentially busywork. The department was an outdated mess when she finally retired and we hired somebody from the 21st century.

      But everyone loved her.

    14. Jonquil*

      I agree, something is a bit off about the letter. Other than the overtime thing (which, as mentioned, sounds like a lot), most of what LW says is unsupported assertions (“train wreck”, “barely competent”, “moody and passive aggressive”) in fairly strident terms. How does LW know all this about the candidate if she’s never managed her? Why such a disconnect between what her co-workers think and LW’s strong opinion in the other direction? As far as I can tell from what is written here, when the candidate says LW doesn’t like her, she’s right.

      1. Jonquil*

        NVM, I went back to the original letter, which mentions that Marion is under two separate (police?) investigations. Comment cheerfully withdrawn.

  8. Heidi*

    It’s so weird to me that someone that is described as passive agressive, moody, full of drama, and not pulling their weight is so popular. Where is all this good will coming from? Is it possible that she’s not really that beloved but somehow creates the impression that she is?

    1. Heidi*

      I just found the original post (title “how to reject a really bad internal applicant”). There were a bunch of additional details in the comments from the OP which make Marion’s popularity even more bewildering.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Be careful with the PIP idea.

          Sometimes, a manager will put an OK employee on a PIP to ensure he/she doesn’t get a promotion out of his control. I’ve even heard of managers trying to put an employee on probation retroactively (no, HR would have stopped it. Lawsuit city).

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I have seen people who are very good at splitting and acting one way with one group and a totally different way with another. There was someone who used to work at my company who was totally abrasive to his manager and beloved by his coworkers. It was definitely odd.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Although buttering up coworkers and being a jerk to your manager is an… unusual choice. Usually the split goes the other way.

        1. Usagi*

          Right? I’m kind of wondering what she hoped to accomplish by spreading negative rumors about her potential boss. Like what if she did get hired, and then OP hears about the rumors after? Or, worse (for Marion), what if OP is absolutely going to hire her, and right before an offer is made, the rumors come out?

          It’s just… not good thinking in general. Spreading negative rumors AFTER you get rejected, I can understand, I guess, but during the hiring process?

        2. Esmae*

          I’ve known people who just aren’t good at taking instruction or criticism. Great to hang around with if you’re in a peer relationship, or distant enough from them in the hierarchy that you’re not giving them feedback. An absolute nightmare to manage.

    3. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      I have a coworker who has friends and support from the project managers…but next to no love from her fellow support staff coworkers. I have never heard a true positive story from a fellow admin about this person and I’ve seen her lack of work in action. But the PMs? She’s liked and respected. And I have no idea why.

  9. J.E.*

    How has she managed to stay on for a decade if her performance has been so sub par? Has her manager just let it slide? Whoever is managing the team Marion’s on now isn’t doing their job.

  10. Mike*

    I’d really hammer home the overtime thing. “This team will require frequent overtime from all team members, and based on your history and what you’ve said in the past, that isn’t something you’d be willing to do on a regular basis.” Don’t be hostile about it; it’s a matter of fact.

    As for what people will say about you: Unfortunately, being a manager means staffers will have things to say about you. Document, document, document your reasons for hiring the other candidate, show that they tick the boxes that were outlined in the job description. Secure the support of your own supervisor, who likely is wary of Marion in the same ways you are (or, hopefully, trusts your judgement).

    1. LMB*

      I don’t think the overtime thing works as an excuse. You would have to interview her and stress the importance of overtime, mention her history with it, and listen to her response. Maybe there’s a legitimate reason she hasn’t had to do it in the past but would do it in the new position. In general I don’t like the idea of rejecting internal candidates based on preconceived ideas alone. External candidates would not have this disadvantage, and it really is a form of bias if you don’t give them an opportunity to speak for themselves.

      1. TechWorker*

        Meh I don’t agree. You know way more about internal candidates, but that works both ways! Someone who is steady and capable may get the job as a ‘known quantity’ over someone external who interviewed better. And someone who is known to be difficult to work with has their reputation come with them too *shrugs*

  11. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    Seems like your company needs to hire more people if everyone is working 25 hours overtime every month. I don’t blame Marion at all for refusing to work 6+ hours of overtime a week. That’s nonsense.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        OP commented as “OP here” if you’re like me and like to search for their comments!

  12. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

    Something I have encountered a handful of times is the mess that is created when an unqualified or underqualified internal candidate is offered an interview as a courtesy, when the search committee/hiring manager has already determined that person won’t move forward because of good pre-screening. It’s not clear this is happening here, but my advice is to treat this candidate as much like an external applicant as possible and only allow her to advance to the point she would on her own merit. The kindest thing to do is give her direct and timely feedback in the process, rather than letting her go through the motions only to be disappointed at a later stage–then the favoritism narrative can really take off.

  13. e271828*

    “We’re often on call and most people do 15-25 hours of overtime on an average month, more in the busy season.”

    Hire more staff.

    Marion’s low overtime shows a healthy set of boundaries. Your company’s reliance on 15-25 hours of routine overtime (that’s about 3-5 hours/week) with more expected in a predictable “busy season” has negative effects on workers’ lives. Pay a living wage for full time work and hire enough full time workers to get the work done. Maybe you need two shifts.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Legitimately trying to understand here — I work 40 hour weeks, so each month I work 160 hours. OP has two employees, who each work 25 hours a month OT (excluding busy times); that puts OP’s team at 50 hours of OT a month, 75 hours if OP is also working 25 hours of OT. Is that enough time to justify adding another full time employee?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I worked in a call center with a federal contract. The number of employees was defined in the contract. We were on required OT whenever call volume/number of inquiries (we also handled written inquiries) went up.

      2. Bibliospork*

        I don’t think OP was talking about just their two people working 25 hr/mo overtime. I thought they were saying pretty much everyone in the department (or company?) is doing that much.

      3. Beany*

        I just re-read the letter, and I don’t see where such a small number of people is mentioned (the number “two” is mentioned, in a different context). If OP is trying to start up a new team, then it could be any size. Also, if this is part of a much larger machine, and the 15-25 hours OT is common across the organization, then perhaps a new hire could be shared between teams, as the need for move cover seems chronic and widespread.

        The only drawback is if the OT is seasonal in nature (e.g. the IRS during spring). Then a new hire absorbing overtime three months of the year will be twiddling their thumbs the other none months.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Whoops, that’s actually from the original letter, where OP says she’s had interim team members but is now hiring for “two permanent positions.” And on rereading the original letter, OP says it’s the TEAM that works 15-25 hours OT, not each individual on the team working that.

    2. anonymous73*

      You’re making the assumption that they aren’t compensated for the fact that they’re on call and work OT. And OP doesn’t say how many people are on the team, so an extra staff member might not make sense if the team is small. Marion has worked 5 hours of OT in 2 YEARS. That’s basically nothing. The biggest problem here is how she’s been able to get away with it for a decade.

      1. Nanani*

        “get away”? No, that’s not how overtime works. OVERTIME means it’s extra. If you’re hired for X you’re not getting away with anything when you do X and not Y.

        Please put the boot leather down and read through the archives. You might learn a few things.

        1. anonymous73*

          I should have been more clear. The “get away with” was in reference to her behavior in general, not the fact that she isn’t working OT (She is barely competent in the fundamentals of our work. She is passive aggressive and moody, and the drama she brings to work every day is exhausting.) But thanks for the insult – does it make you feel superior?

    3. Colette*

      They’re on call, which means that they don’t have regular hours where they need someone; they get a phone call when something goes wrong.

      It’s not always practical to hire someone to work completely separate hours from the rest of the team.

      When I was in telecom tech support, we had a pager we carried once a month. Some weeks, it didn’t go off; sometimes it went off 10 times. We were well paid for carrying it and every time we answered it. But it wouldn’t have made sense to hire someone else to carry it, both because it wasn’t busy enough for that, and because they would have had little to no communication with the rest of the team and would have had no exposure to issues they didn’t work.

      1. Tazzy*

        Not every job and industry makes sense to have an extra person all the time for certain things. My partner is an equipment manager for a very high end golf club and works an average of 5 hours of overtime a week. Some of that is “free” time that is added on weekends for the inconvenience of going in. But in busy seasons he sometimes works 10 hours in a day to get machines ready to go. In the winter, sometimes he works for 5 hours and then goes home early.

    4. Empress Matilda*

      This is true, but it doesn’t solve OP’s problem – it sounds like they have good reason to reject Marion regardless of the overtime issue. Even if they were properly staffed, OP would likely still be having a difficult conversation with her about why she’s not going to be joining the team.

    5. A.Griz*

      This was my exact response – if 15 is the minimum number of MANDATORY OT HOURS, Marion is not the problem here.

  14. Alice*

    I’m just surprised – why do her coworkers love her if she is passive aggressive, moody, barely competent, and doesn’t do “her share” of overtime?

  15. Essentially Cheesy*

    Has anyone sat down with Marion and plainly stated exactly what is required of them? The overtime and the adherence to policies and procedures, and that would be part of the job requirements? Maybe the “interview” is exactly what is needed so Marion can determine that the job isn’t for them, and can choose the easy out.

    Do you like her enough to put in that amount of effort? Because it could probably resolve the bad-mouthing, especially if you address it head on. It’s probably worth it.

    1. Essentially Cheesy*

      I would honestly turn down a position with 20 required overtime hours. Especially if I have an opinion about wanting to work overtime (or not). I am the type of employee that works hard while I’m here – but I am definitely not crazy about required overtime. When necessary for special projects or holidays, of course. But not routinely.

      It’s fair for a person to have boundaries and it doesn’t make them lazy.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Agreed that having boundaries is good and wanting to avoid OT does not make someone lazy — but if OT is something that is going to occur with regularity in a job, it’s not reasonable to apply for that job and then say “I don’t do OT.” If you don’t want to work more than 40 hours a week, don’t be a nurse, lineman, teacher, or anyone who’s on call.

        1. Essentially Cheesy*

          I agree with you.

          This sounds like office work though, and normally a lot of overtime wouldn’t necessarily be expected.

          But yes if Marion doesn’t want to do overtime, she shouldn’t have applied for the job.

        2. thatjillgirl*

          This. I have no problem with people who don’t want to do overtime (I try my hardest to avoid having to do it, myself, as I’d rather enjoy my free time). I do have a problem with people who KNOW they don’t want to do overtime, apply for a job that requires it anyway, and then complain when they are asked to do it. Just apply for a different job! Had the same problem with a former employee. She was told explicitly at the interview that she would be expected to sometimes work evenings and weekends (retail setting type of job). She said that would be totally fine. Then once she was hired, she proceeded to almost never work evenings or weekends, insisting that it was impossible for her because of x, y, and z. It was a headache and a half. If the given parameters of a job won’t work for you, then be honest about that and take yourself out of the running.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        It’s not fair if it’s the norm for the industry and she’s not pulling her weight.

        They are all free to go work somewhere that doesn’t draw overtime. I don’t want to do overtime, either, so I have a job that doesn’t allow it.

  16. LizzyLou*

    Yeah, I wouldn’t hire Marion either, but I question the need for every team member to put in that much monthly over time. Sounds like you need to hire more than just a few.

  17. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    15-25 hours of overtime a month is normal to you? That is HALF a work week. Perhaps this staff member isn’t the one that needs to realign their exceptions but you do. You do not have enough staff to complete the work you require of your employees.

    1. HoundMom*

      I am beginning to wonder what I am doing wrong…An hour of overtime a day is nothing in our company and at most of my clients, but we are all salaried so perhaps that is why?

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        It’s not totally bananas, but taking an additional hour out of each weekday sure isn’t nothing. Particularly when it’s the baseline expected work week, with busy seasons where it spikes well above that.

        Being salaried doesn’t change anything… except that you’re no longer getting compensated for it. Salaried people should be *less* accepting of overtime.

        1. TechWorker*

          I mean that’s just clearly not true, depending on the salary. There will be plenty of roles where a ~43 hr work week is totally normal/expected and you get paid well enough to suck it up :p

          And I’m sure plenty of senior roles where people regularly work more like 50-55 hr weeks. I’m not saying that’s *healthy* but it’s still a way off the insane big law hours we hear about sometimes…

          1. Coenobita*

            Yeah, I spent a long time working at a company where the expected workweek for salaried, exempt staff – at all levels – was between 42 and 44 hours. We used those numbers to bid on government contracts (more hours per week = lower hourly rate for the client) so if you didn’t keep your numbers up there could be big trouble. It was overall a decent place to work and I’m sure all of our peer organizations had the same expectations.

            And, I mean, I now work at a place where our nominal workweek is 35 hours, but everyone is working 40+ anyway…

  18. Lobsterman*

    This letter doesn’t make a lot of sense. One of two things is true:

    1) Marion has regular reviews, in which she is not reviewed particularly well, because she’s not good at her job, but she is kept on, because firing her is more work than keeping her on is.
    2) Marion does not have regular reviews, because the company is a dumpster fire in general that does not even bother to review its employees on the regular.

    If the answer is (2), then the company is a dumpster fire, and you can cheerfully ignore Marion whilst updating your resume. If the answer is (1), then that’s your answer. Also, there’s no reason to discuss it, particularly, other than to say, “We found someone else who is a better fit.”

    If Marion is not your report and is disparaging your management, toss off a quick email to her boss, then document it.

    My money is on the company being mismanaged in general, and OP is trying to solve the wrong problem.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I just went and read all the comments on the original thread, it sounded like for 9 years Marion wasn’t managed or held to standards and leaving Managers to clean up the messes she was making. But management had just recently changed, and Marion was finally being held to standards (and on her way to landing on a PIP). Hopefully that PIP ended the push to hire Marion for the opening.

      (Also, for whatever reason the posting was internal only – so transfers and no external applicants to compete with Marion for that opening.)

  19. Jean*

    Train wreck, barely competent in the fundamentals, creates tons of extra work for others, also has been on the team for many years and is loved by colleagues. WEIRD.

    1. OhNo*

      Not as weird as you might hope, unfortunately. I had a former job with a coworker like this – she’d been there longer than anybody else, except maybe the director, and had at least partially trained everybody at or below her level when they joined. Set a good impression up front, always have an excuse or a scapegoat when something goes wrong, have a decade or more of practice playing people against each other, and you’d be surprised what you can get away with.

      In this case, sounds like the OP was being set up to be her most recent scapegoat.

      1. Jean*

        It’s mostly just weird that someone described by management as a “train wreck” and “barely competent” has stayed there for so long without either improving or being let go. It sounds like no one has ever bothered to actually manage this person.

        1. Gracely*

          In the comments on the original, OP had just found out after the letter was printed that Marion was being put on a PIP.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            And it sounded like there had been a somewhat recent management change as well. So Marion was able to play the old management – but new management watched what was going on and was refusing to be played. So the PIP with the new team wasn’t a shock.

        2. MissBaudelaire*

          Yeah, I’m super confused. If this person is just a nightmare/bad at the job/not a good fit… why is she still employed? Has no one started the documentation process to let her go?

      2. Andy*

        1.) People who add work to others tend to be unpopular. You can be popular incapable, but not when others have more work because of you.

        2.) Especially so when others do overtime.

        3.) Especially so when you refuses overtime and others do them. People get jealous and resentful quickly.

  20. Anybody 3*

    I’d love to see an update from this letter writer! She commented on the original post with additional details, but it would be fun to see what actually happened.

  21. TiredAndWired*

    It would be odd for an employee with all those traits to be “popular” with her co-workers, and the company’s on-call and overtime expectations are ridiculous. OP does not provide any specific examples of Marion’s poor work habits. Without more details, this sounds like a personality conflict, with gender possibly playing a role.

  22. Graeme*

    Yeah, I’m not sure I’m on team LW here. Other comments have already mentioned that expecting a minimum of 25 hours overtime in non-busy months shows a lack of judgement about the quantity of work the department requires, as well as a lack of respect for the work/life balance of their employees.

    And the mis-match in the perception of this employee between our LW and the current colleagues has two obvious explanations. 1. Colleagues are wrong/deliberately lying to try and get rid of Marion or 2. Colleagues are right and our LW’s perception from a distance is wrong. 2 seems more likely anyway, but given LW’s attitude to OT, I’m even more inclined to lean this way.

    None of this for a second means LW should ignore their instincts and hire Marion of course, it seems likely the two wouldn’t work together well regardless. But I have to admit, it’s not immediately obvious to me why working for LW under these conditions would be appealing to anyone who cares about having free time.

    1. Meep*

      That is where I am at. Marion can be both right and wrong in this situation. I stopped working overtime for the most part, because all it got me was the expectation of even more work, and any time I hinted about asking for a raise, I was met with “how can you be so self-centered??? do you want the company to fail?” It completely ignored the reasons that the company was actually failing (incompetent sales and marketing, poor selection of projects, not enough staff.) So I stopped working overtime and have been much happier since.

  23. Meep*

    I don’t disagree that Marion isn’t difficult, but you really don’t paint yourself in the best light if you are expecting people to work 3-5 hours of overtime a week for peanuts. :X

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Oh, I missed where OP specified what the benefits were — can you point out where that is?

      1. Meep*

        It states that OP expects their employees to work 15-25 hours more a month and as this is a sales position, the chances of overtime are nil. Easy mistake I assume.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          You’re reading something in the letter that isn’t there in any way.

          I mean, all my staff do overtime (on call) and they’re paid for it. They’re all salary employees too. Sometimes you can go a whole month with no calls and sometimes you’re going to have to clock in some significant extra hours.

          Someone not willing to do that is fine, but if they apply for a job on my team I’ll tell them outright that inability to do this is a ‘you are not suited for this job’ moment.

    2. thatjillgirl*

      It doesn’t say for peanuts. There is no information given about how the workers are compensated for their overtime. Most of my friends who have worked a job with an on-call component were indeed paid overtime pay and/or comp time for their additional work. When I have worked a job with required overtime, I was paid time and a half for those hours (fairly standard). There’s no reason to assume they aren’t being compensated fairly. Marion’s issue with overtime, as given in this letter, is not the pay. It’s the mere fact of the overtime. Which is a totally okay thing to have an issue with! Not everyone has to be willing to take a job with a regular on-call/overtime component. But it does become a problem if you apply to a job that requires overtime, knowing that that is the case and knowing that you will have a problem committing to it.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          On-call work can be quite different, though. In my work one of us is “on-call” each week and expected to be available during all hours if an issue comes up. This includes making sure you are in cell service and available to respond in a professional manner, so no alcohol, going to anything where you can’t immediately take a call (e.g. movies, play), and no planning anything too far from a place you can take a call privately because of PII. Some weeks you get no calls and get the extra 20 hrs pay without having to do more than avoid scheduling camping trips or going to a play/movie/concert. Other weeks the damned phone will not quit ringing and you are doing more like 30 hrs of work. We are paid an extra 20 hrs if we are scheduled that week and if we go over we get paid for hours above 20.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Yup, the weeks I’m on call I have to reschedule my meds (so I’m not impaired out of hours), make sure I’m not doing anything involving headphones (so I can hear the phone), not go out driving (I never answer the phone if I’m driving)….etc. and sometimes it’s one call after another and I drink black coffee till it’s shooting out my eyes.
            Other times nothing rings.

  24. Salad Daisy*

    I worked at a salaried, exempt position and was the only person on my team who did not work an average of 10-15 hour overtime per week. When you figured out their pay on an hourly basis, they were making less than $20 an hour. Unpaid overtime benefits the employer, not the employee. If Marion is salaried exempt she is absolutely correct to not want to work overtime on a regular basis. I am not referring to emergency situations.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Okay, but 10-15 hours a week is way, way more than 25 a month.

      (And as others have discovered, the original letter said the team racked up 25 hours, not each individual.)

  25. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    There’s a lot of on-call work in my team (IT) and yeah, you’re paid pretty well for it but if you outright won’t do it this isn’t the job for you. Simple as.

    I’ve had the ‘totally incompetent but loved’ person as staff before and it’s difficult to deal with them asking for promotions/raises/bonuses because when the team genuinely adores the ‘nice but dim’ person there’s a lot of pushback when you tell them anything negative. Not pleasant.

    But…it’s a good practice at the ‘divorcing feelings from logic’ thing that managers are sometimes required to do. Logic is this person isn’t suited for the job/promotion. They may feel bad but a LOT of managerial decisions are gonna make someone feel less than happy. The trick is to allow yourself to feel a bit of guilt/whatever, let the team feel it, let the person feel it, but have a limit to that time.

  26. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    With all this talk about “So much overtime!” we’re lacking context in the job’s flexibility and hours overall.

    I have been told that I could be a PM at my workplace (they’re not really project managers but it’s hard to explain the actual job description and name).

    Sure, I could be one. I also know that once I become a PM, I no longer have fixed office hours. I will get an excellent salary, expenses, cell phone, monthly car wash and mileage paid, freedom to work from home, start with 4 weeks of vacation (or more based on years seniority), a generous sick plan and 15 “comp days” in lieu of overtime. These PMs come and go from the office as needed for work and family life (medical appointments, kids, seniors, or personal interests) and they know that if they take off early or start late, they’ll have to work another time to catch up on what’s needed: weekends, evenings, early mornings, on the bus, etc.

    I had one PM whose medical appointment schedule was frequent coupled with her difficulty at starting before 10 a.m. or noon (she had serious sleep issues coupled with a problematic pregnancy). Her job allowed her the flexibility but man, it was hard to get anything done during business hours. I know she burned the midnight oil to gets things done.

    I like my fixed hours, thank you very much. I know what’s needed to do their jobs and at this time in my life, I’m not interested.

    And you’d better believe they earn their 15 comp days and while some of the PMs might not actually do enough overtime to earn all 15 days, I know of plenty that do more hours than those 15 comp days are worth. But they have a *ton* of flexibility.

    Overtime is not always a sign of lacking staff. It’s a tradeoff of what your job asks of you, sometimes.

    1. hoping to leave the service industry*

      Agreed. It just seems out of touch to assume that every job can be done in 40 hours or less and that over 40 hours is oppressive. It’s not necessarily overtime because he bills by the hour, but my father is a lawyer and there are weeks he works at least 60 hours because of a major brief or upcoming court date that he’s preparing for. He often takes phone calls at late hours. It has nothing to do with being understaffed. He can also work from home, go into the office later than 9am, and above all else, he genuinely loves his work. My partner works in a trade and sometimes has 10-20 hours overtime during a pay period, but the pay is great, he likes the work he’s doing, and they have more vacation days and better benefits than he had before when he was working 40 hours a week somewhere else. I think it would actually cause more issues if suddenly his job said no more overtime and he took a big pay cut because they hired a bunch of extra people.

  27. El l*

    You have two problems here, neither of which you named.

    Your first problem: I don’t know who has the better case – you or the rest of staff. A perception gap exists, and a wide one. That there is moodiness, rumors and passive aggressive behavior suggests something’s going on. Yes, it’s true, there’s usually some gap in understanding between staff and management – but staff generally have a basic notion of who’s competent and who isn’t. So why are they not seeing what you’re seeing? What might you not be mentioning?

    Second, and possibly related: What is your notion of competence? Your basic case is that she’s not even competent for her current job, much less a promotion. OK, but the evidence for her incompetence isn’t convincing: Each of those things is very important in some work contexts…and completely irrelevant in many others.

    There’s much space talking about overtime…but the world is full of presenteeism, of people who don’t get much done in lots of time.

    Seniority is mentioned and dismissed…but in many jobs a decade of experience can be very valuable.

    You mention that she doesn’t follow procedures…but the procedures in question may be outdated and useless.

    1. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      I work with someone who has friends among the admin teams because she is also a shop steward and is there to listen to concerns. “Thanks for being there for us!”

      However, her entire team avoids giving her work because she won’t do it, or do it wrong, or slowly. Her skills are entry level for a person who has been there a long time. Her attitude to her director and her PMs is counter to what she sells as a shop steward. Her work ethic is no secret to many. But those who don’t work directly with her don’t see what the others see.

      We don’t do performance reviews (sadly) and she’s never done anything worth firing over so her director is now waiting for her to retire.

      She’s desperate for a promotion to an exec secretary role. And having been there for so long, she feels she entitled to it. But being shop steward, she knows fully well how hiring works and yet, I still get the feeling she wants the job handed to her just because. But she fails the tests (we test for any permanent role). And it’s never her fault.

  28. Andy*

    > She is barely competent in the fundamentals of our work. We’re often on call and most people do 15-25 hours of overtime on an average month, more in the busy season. She has done exactly 5.25 hours of overtime in the last two years and feels that is excessive.

    This part significantly raised my skepticism. I mean, the company requires regular overtime and acts like keeping it full time is something bad.

    Without this, it would be “just don’t hire her and don’t make big deal about it” just like all the other managers do when they don’t want someone. With this, it is … hmm.

  29. Thorn*

    My experience is that co-workers often can like someone and still be aware of her flaws. I’ve seen a lot of people commiserate when someone didn’t get a promotion or raise, while quietly acknowledging to each other that they can see why the person wasn’t the right fit. If you are dealing with people fairly, enthusiastic about the strengths of the people that you hired, and have a history of supporting and developing your team, the rumor mill will usually quiet down.

  30. JayemGriffin*

    If the overtime is on-call time, I don’t think that’s outrageous. Our team maintains the payroll system, so it’s vital that someone always, always be on call. (The alternative is people not getting paid, so…) We’re all working Monday-Friday, and we trade off being on-call on the weekends. We’re paid a bit extra for the time we spend toting around the on-call phone just in case while doing other stuff, and a BUNCH extra if it rings and we have to do work. Both types of pay are considered “overtime” for us, since it’s work duties we’re performing outside of our scheduled hours. There’s four of us right now, so that’s about two on-call days per month – about 15 hours. That doesn’t strike me as deeply unfair, and if I were ever not able to do any on-call days at all – well, probably time to find a job that doesn’t involve maintaining a critical system.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My thoughts exactly. Everyone’s saying “add an extra person”, but to me, the only way to cut down on the calls would be to add an extra person *to the rotation*, so everyone would be on call less frequently. But you cannot, like, tell your customers not to call. Neither will your customers/end users magically start calling less because there’s one more person on the team. I get that this is very job function-specific (on call) and probably hard to explain to someone who hasn’t done this kind of work. (Worth noting, I left the job where I was on call for one where I didn’t have to be, and have been happily avoiding on-call jobs ever since – withdrew myself from an interview process once because of it. It really is hard work, and not the kind I would do gladly.)

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Alternately, y’all can just start telling people that they should’ve saved smartly and then not getting paid wouldn’t be such an issue for them /s

  31. NoSleepUntilBrooklyn*

    I had an employee who had been a senior member of my group, and he recently left the company. I was very worried about what the impact would be to the rest of my team: that person had been very vocally loyal to the team and our mission and skilled at their job. I was concerned that folks would think “if Fergus leaves, then maybe I should?” . This person was popular, well respected and looked up to by his peers. (Some of their references didn’t agree with that assessment, but sour grapes are just that).

    Its been a few weeks, and what I’ve learned is a) they were well respected, but almost out of fear for “rocking the boat” and b) my team has changed most if not all of the processes this coveted team member had instituted. So while we are feeling the loss of their departure, it has been for the better.

    Being well liked by your peers doesn’t mean they want to work with you forever. Those are different things for sure.

  32. NorthBayTeky*

    There’s a manager in my organization that everyone who has ever worked for her likes. Well, she has not been very nice to my department and wouldn’t not even say hello to me when I greeted her. Twice. My department is surprised that she is so well liked, since she treats us so crappy. She also pushes her work off on others.

    There are 2 openings and I’m afraid she’s going to get one.

  33. Danish*

    My favorite thing about the Great Resignation (if there is anything positive about covid) is how now when managers say “my employee is so unreasonable by not wanting to work 15-25 extra hours a month” the response is now largely “have you thought about hiring enough people/the fact that people don’t want to work every moment of their lives?”.

    1. Ori*

      100%. I realised I needed to stop pandering to companies like this when I was in a position where I got in early, stayed late, took work home, rarely took leave, gave 100% at all times, and my reward was my boss hinting that I ‘really should’ be working through lunch.

  34. PopVulture*

    I wish Alison had addressed the insinuation that declining to do 15-25 hours of overtime per month belongs on a list of reasons that someone is a difficult employee. The fact that LW considers that amount of overtime to be what good employees do makes me very much doubt her credibility on the subject of “difficult employees.”

    1. Mannequin*

      In the original letter, the 15-25 hours of overtime per month was not per person, but for the team as a whole. INC reprinted it incorrectly.

      1. Ori*

        I don’t see what the *quantity* of free overtime has to do with it. Not being willing to regularly work for free should not be a negative thing.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            I don’t understand why this is a surprise. Alison has addressed before that overtime is sometimes a thing you have to do as a salaried employee. And we don’t even know what the compensation is for this team.

    2. thatjillgirl*

      If you know going in that the overtime is a part of the job, being unwilling to do it is absolutely a sign of being a difficult employee. I had an employee once who was explicitly told at her interview that she would be expected to sometimes work evenings and weekends, to which she cheerfully agreed. She then proceeded to all but refuse to do so once she was hired, insisting that she simply couldn’t be available at those times for x, y, z reasons. If that had been the only issue with her as an employee (it very much wasn’t, by the time all was said and done), it still would have been incredibly irritating and unfair to the rest of the team.

  35. raida7*

    “She’s already spreading rumors that she isn’t going to be hired because I don’t like her, and I’m going to pick my favorite people, which puts my integrity in question.”

    Focus on this.
    Hell, meet with her, a member of HR, and her manager to address the ‘concerns’, say that you really wish she’d come to you or her manager or HR with these worries instead of coming to a conclusion and telling all her corworkers.
    Explain how the hiring process will involve three people reviewing each applicant to ensure that the applications are objectively screened based on the requirements of the role. And make it clear that, if she applies, and if she does not secure the position, you will not simply allow her to badmouth your professional integrity and reputation.
    This is both a meeting to make it clear she will be treated fairly in the application, she always would have been, how she should have handled the situation, and that now she understands that she will not be slagging someone off in the office.

  36. Ori*

    I mean… it sounds like you don’t like her. And you don’t like her because she refuses to do excessive unpaid overtime. And frankly, most of the time, coworkers don’t ‘love’ lazy colleagues who are bad at their jobs. I think you really need to interrogate whether this is a ‘you’ issue. And if your employees are frequently having to work 20+ hours overtime every month? You need to hire more people. Because I am a person who gets in early, stays late, works incredibly hard, – but due to commute and commitments outside of work, I couldn’t swing donating that much free work for your company.

  37. Ellena*

    Kind of surprised Alison didn’t pick up on the “25hours overtime a month from everyone on the team” thing… That’s 3 whole days! If everyone is doing those regularly there is something to be investigated if the workload and resource planning is optimal.

  38. Cringing 24/7*

    I think it’s important to note that you’ve stated, “She’s already spreading rumors that she isn’t going to be hired because I don’t like her, and I’m going to pick my favorite people, which puts my integrity in question.” which heavily implies a gossip culture not just for Marion, but within your company (especially considering the gossip got all the way around to the ears of the person the gossip was actually about).

    You can dodge a proverbial bullet by not hiring Marion, but as a team leader, it may behoove you to see if you can push back against this and any other toxic cultural traits that allow people like Marion to stick around for so long while pulling so much less weight.

    I also wonder if her coworkers actually love her or if they’re afraid of being gossiped about by her so they just try to stay on her good side. Or if they want this move for her to get away from her.

  39. Evvie*

    She’s on a different team.

    Her coworkers love her.

    None of these details seem to be complaints from Marion’s managers.

    Maybe she’s not spreading rumors…maybe she’s right that she won’t be hired because you don’t like her. I’m curious to know where the rumor was even hears, as people don’t tend to tell others rumors about them.

    Also, that overtime is bonkers to expect. It’s OVER the time they’ve promised. When I was hired at my current job, I repeatedly verified that it was approximately 40 hours per week, no busy season. They said it was, that anything above 40 happening regularly was actually questioned. They were immediately on my and my teammates’ asses for not doing 15+ hours of overtime every week.

    Was that overtime made clear when she was hired? Has it changed in the last few years?

    Because if she and her teammates didn’t sign up for that, y’all could be in for the same surprise my company seems to be about to experience.

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