my employee is too cavalier about mistakes

A reader writes:

I manage a junior employee who sometimes does sloppy work or makes mistakes on work that I have given her. Lately when I point out these mistakes to her, her response to me is “Yeah, yeah, I know, sorry,” or “Is it really that big of a deal?” Generally pretty flippant reactions.

Overall I think she is a good employee who does good work, but her response seems awfully cavalier about things that can truly matter, and that worries me. What is the best way to handle this situation?

I answer this question — and three others — 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.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • I get apathetic about my job unless I have frequent meetings
  • Expecting a fired employee to work another six weeks
  • What to say to a stranger who mentions a serious health issue when turning down work

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. Lucious*

    On #2; while a majority of people may not be scheduling meetings for fun, there is definitely a subset of employees & managers who do so for a sense of authority and purpose.

    These are usually not so much meetings as one(or two) person monologues to an audience compelled to attend. Whether there is a relevant operational reason or not, these people can be relied upon to turn a 20 minute meeting into a 3 hour long ego validation session. As a PM, these meetings are a bane of my existence.

    1. R*

      Yeah half of my experience with meetings when I worked heavy corporate was that at least half of them was devoted to the Q&A section, half of which was employees asking very specific things about their own projects that were completely irrelevant to everyone else in the meeting and the other half of which was just Laura rambling out complaints about something.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        My experience was informational meetings that took an hour to disseminate information that could and should have been a brief email. My suspicion usually was that the person giving out the information lacked the literacy skills to write a coherent email.

        1. R*

          Oh god, I thought I was done with the “I’m going to give a PowerPoint presentation and I’m going to hand out the slides for the presentation because I wasted paper, ink, electricity, and time printing out a copy for everybody that will never be read and each slide has full sentences and possibly even paragraphs and the entirety of the presentation will consist of me reading the slides verbatim” after freshman year of college, and then I got into an office where I had at least three of those every week.

    2. Allornone*

      I’m still battling imposter syndrome at my new job. While I would never schedule an unnecessary meeting as I value other people’s time (and honestly, I truly hate having to bug people at all for any reason), I admit, meetings here do kind of make me feel more confident and important for a bit after. I feel this OP.

  2. awesome3*

    #2 I’d love to hear how you’re doing now, because I think Alison was spot on about using that as a cue as to what kind of work motivates you the most. It’s an astute observation you made that going to meetings gives you a sense of purpose, so I’d love to know how you may have incorporated that into your work life going forward

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Same. I think I wrote something at the time about how that is my dream job. I don’t talk to even my coworkers for a week and barely notice. This is not the job for you, OP.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Agreed that this was not the job for OP. Even when I was a pretty junior individual contributor I had meetings more often than every few months – that’s a super solitary role!

        I think many people need a balance – all meetings all the time is really hard, and never working with others or collaborating can also be pretty tough, depending on your personality. I have a decently wide range in the middle where I can be happy, but I find either extreme is exhausting and demoralizing.

        1. awesome3*

          That’s true — most jobs have more meetings that OP was having, if they transition into another role odds are there will be an increase in interactions and meetings

        2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          Like, weirdly so. Even in a super individual contributor role I’d expect a weekly sync up with my manager and maybe a short departmental meeting every couple weeks. I’d go nuts. I’m that weird “extroverted engineer” type. Sure I need time to put my head down and do the things, but I like to have at least some kind of human interaction every day.

          My favorite jobs have always been support or integration type roles where I’m very technical, but also very customer facing.

    2. KayDay*

      Fully agree. I am, in general, really introverted, so when I took a job at an office with only 1 other employee (and I even had my own nice large office) I thought it would be the perfect fit for me. But it was the completely wrong environment and brought out all of my worst qualities. Now I know that while I might “recharge” best alone, working is not the same as recharging, and an environment where I can see how my work affects / helps other people and where we can reach goals as a team is much more motivating for me.

  3. Leilah*

    LW 2 — I am exactly the same way! I keep my engagement high by volunteering with groups like the Women’s Network and the Pride Network (these networks often welcome ally engagement, if you don’t actually belong to the specific class of people), or offer to host a secret santa or a zoom ugly sweater party for my team. I also offer to take on training new hires, or even just short shadowing sessions with other people in our business who want to learn a bit about my team’s technical work. At first I worried that I would look like a try-hard, but it turns out good managers actually love people who like meetings. Not everyone loves meetings like you and I do! It’s a great trait to have as long as you can put yourself in a position to use it.

    1. After 33 years ...*

      Agreed: I personally find a good meeting invigorating, which is why I’m disappointed after a poor one. A well-run meeting, with a definitive agenda and set guidelines, is an efficient way to convey and exchange information.
      Some jobs require or benefit from meetings, while others don’t. That also applies to people: we all have different preferences and needs with respect to the amount of interaction with colleagues.
      OP: I wouldn’t create artificial meetings, but I would look at why your job satisfaction has declined.

  4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Freelance hiring OP. I know this sounds weird, but write down some scripts. Get used to saying them. Yes, they are pat answers to crazy situations, but that is why they work. They will sound sincere because YOU are sincere. You don’t have to solve anything. You don’t have to say THE BEST thing ever. You just have to say what you are feeling with meaning. And sorry this is part of your job.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Reading #3, I’m reminded that it’s really common in my industry for people who are fired (or kindly encouraged to seek other opportunities) to “go on gardening leave” for the duration of their notice period, which can be months long. You’re paid in full but can’t work for anyone else during that time. It’s partly a kindness, allowing them good job hunting time, and partly CYA, because they lose their access to customers, data, etc.

      On the other hand, if people resign, it’s becoming increasingly common to insist they work every last day of their notice period, but assign them increasingly low level and low stakes tasks.

      I find it odd, therefore, that in letter #3, they’re going for the almost retaliatory “work every moment!!” path, since the end of employment is their idea. It just seems so counterproductive.

  5. Rayray*

    I used to be like the employee in #1. I think I started doing it as a defense mechanism. I worked at a place where the most minor mistakes cause some people completely lose it. I was young and got yelled at and also witnessed complete meltdowns over small and fixable things. It wasn’t the best work environment. I think I would react like the employee on #1 to try and offset the blow, just to ease things. I don’t know, it was just hard to have someone coming to my desk to talk to me about something that I perceived as very minor.

    It’s been years and I still remember how I felt
    Back then. I think the best thing is to emphasize you’re trying to help them learn, not discipline them. It wasn’t helpful when I got yelled at over typos, but when someone would say something like “I’ve noticed this same mistake a few times, can we just make sure you understand what to do?”, that’s what helped me. I don’t mean to imply LW is yelling at their employee, but the employee might still be going into “I’m in trouble” mode and trying to deflect things.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      That was my thought as well. That may or may not be what’s happening here, but it’s worth considering. I’ve had conversations that ended along the lines of “Yes, you’ve said the exact same thing, word for word, four times, now. I got it the first time. Is there anything *else* you want to say, or should I get b ack to work?”

      Fastest way to get an adult employee to blow you off is to a) make a big deal about *everything*, and b) treat them like a toddler.

      But again, the letter does even come close to suggesting that’s the case here.

      1. That IT Guy*

        Yep, that’s happened to me, too. I once made the apparently unforgivable error of misdiagnosing an issue, causing a $10 replacement part to be shipped to a client. I ended up getting called on the carpet for a lecture by grandboss and by the guy who ran inventory, presumably because he wanted his pound of flesh for having been made to do *maybe* 10 minutes of work. (Keep in mind that Inventory Guy had no authority over me whatsoever but he still got to do this.)

        This was the moment that turned that job from feeling like I’d be stuck there forever to knowing that I had no choice but to get out before it killed me.

      2. quill*

        Oh, had that job! Nothing was ever written down comprehensively, and for things that weren’t industry specific, details were never given.

        I can’t make a chemical supplier give us free samples just because you ran out of the last one, boss.

    2. MakingMistakes*

      Yes! I was kind of surprised that Alison didn’t include a caveat about ensuring that they’re addressing mistakes appropriately. I had a job where weird things would get nitpicked and I’d have 4 different people demanding to know why there was a single typo in something. By the time you’re talking to person number 4 you just want to say “holy crap I’m a human being who sometimes makes errors and will continue to occasionally make errors, I don’t know what else to tell you!”
      But of course you can’t say that so all that comes out is “I know, I know, sorry”

      1. Rayray*

        Exactly. Getting reamed over typos or other minor and fixable transgressions is demoralizing. When I got into a position where I was now reviewing work of newer employees, I swore I’d never put anyone through it. I’d correct typos because it was more efficient to simply fix it than March over to their desk and demand they tell me *why* they made that mistake. Instead, I looked for patterns so if I saw the same mistake 2-3 times, I’d just chat with them and make sure they knew what to do. No yelling, no patronizing, no insults. Let’s just get the work done and make sure you understand.

        1. Recruited Recruiter*

          I had a demoralizing experience like this at my second job. I had panic attacks over minor errors for several years as a result. It didn’t do good things for my productivity or my risk tolerance.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I had a similar experience, but instead of panic attacks, it just literally beat the emotional investment out of me. Similar to scenario #3 from LinuxSystemsGuy, with a healthy layer of hypocrisy (my mistakes were epic incompetence while my supervisors’ were just “her friend Stupid helping her” and fixed without the drama) and staceyizme’s suggestion of walking the transgressor through the entire life cycle.

            I have never felt so free as the day I accepted I would never be good enough and never do anything right and let it all go, retreating into the minimum daily requirements while my employer sought out my replacement (it took over half a year). I wish this blog had been here then, because I definitely endured crap then that I would know to push back upon and draw boundaries against now. It was long enough ago that I recently was able to remove it from my résumé, and that, too, was liberating.

        2. Dave*

          I have sat through a few versions of this. The newest version is to fixate on minor issues and gloss over larger more glaring problems. It is really hard to take feedback when you hear for five minutes about a typo and a format issue, but something that is legitimately an issue they breeze over.
          I wish I had a pattern seeking manager.

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah! I had a colleague, Sandy, whose work was excellent but who kept making silly typos, confusing words like their there they’re. We ended up calling it “doing a Sandy”, and bit by bit she managed to calm it down, but every so often one would slip through. At that point I told her not to worry, because there was precious little that needed changing in her work, . Knowing there might be that one little mistake at least kept me on my toes.

      2. lolly pop*

        I work with a few people who seem to think basic human errors are an opportunity to ‘gotcha!’ so I head that right off by freely owning up to mistakes with ‘yup, I manage 23,000+ items of information, each with 15 or 20 fields requiring human input. I’m gonna make mistakes’. Kinda takes the wind out of their sails, and also hopefully models balanced responses/responsibility to newer/less-confident colleagues.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          “so I head that right off by freely owning up to mistakes ”

          It’s surprising how effective that is. When I started at my current job, I spent some time as an assistant store manager out in the trenches. I made a stupid mistake one day, and the controller – who had a well deserved reputation of being something of an ogre, especially where stupid mistakes were concerned – called up and asked me what the hell I was thinking. When I replied, “Well, obviously I wasn’t. I screwed up.” he had no idea how to respond – because it had never happened before. I got a quick “Ok, don’t do it again,” and from that day until he retired, we got along great.

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I learned to do that with my own “gotcha goblin.” She lives to find errors in other folks’ work. To the point she will go through the database and pull out last year’s version. “Oh, Tom did that.” She had a sidekick for awhile. I had to laugh when sidekick didn’t understand who “someone” was.
          GG: oh, X is wrong in this report. I wonder who did it last year. (type, type, type)
          SK: who was it. tee hee.
          GG: Oh, somebody mixed up X and Y. But it’s an easy mistake.
          SK: But who??
          GG: oh just someone…
          SK: who.
          It was kinda awesome.

      3. The Dogman*

        “We need you to attach those TPS reports to all documents.”

        “If you could attach those TPS reports… that’d be great.”

        “Remember we are attaching TPS reports….”

        Something like that?

        I love Office Space!

      4. Alyssa*

        I made more-frequent-than-ideal typos/errors during my first year in a PR job where I sent lots of press releases. In a role like that, obviously even minor errors matter because it’s so public-facing. I would feel so embarrassed about an error and was fully aware of the seriousness, but had no idea how to force myself to stop making typos — it’s just an attention to detail thing that’s hard to master. I had to draft things extremely quickly with no one else editing because of the nature of the role. I would get super nervous before hitting that “send” button to over 5,000 people — because even though I’d read it over a bunch of times, your eyes sometimes gloss over your own mistakes. Inevitably, sometimes there was an error. I could not guarantee it wouldn’t happen again, so I didn’t know what else to say other than, “I’m so sorry, I know I’ve made three mistakes this week, I’m trying to do better.”

        Ultimately, the best manager I’ve ever had sat down with me and specifically showed me some attention-to-detail/proofreading and self-editing strategies, and also gave me some perspective about the urgency vs. accuracy side of things. It’s really important as a manager to provide solutions and guidance, even if it’s just tools to help someone pay more attention. I really did improve and after my first year, I rarely made errors and had way less anxiety about all of it.

        I also REALLY appreciate managers and coworkers who do the “I’ve seen this a couple times now, let’s make sure you understand how to do it” thing. This is SUPER minor, but mine was the em-dash ( — ). I didn’t know the keystroke to type it on my laptop, so I’d always type the shorter dash ( — ), and our beloved copy editor would correct it over and over and over again in my writing. One day she just showed me the keystroke and the error never happened again — it’s the little things!

          1. Midwestern Scientist*

            A couple of my personal favorites are to read things out loud to yourself as I tend to catch a spoken error faster than just reading it and to read sentences out of order which is especially helpful for short things that I’ve been looking at for a while

          2. Marketing Middle Manager*

            When your eyes gloss over a typo, what’s happening in your brain is similar to an optical illusion. Or like, when you look at something a long time and close your eyes and can still see a slight image of it. What you need to do to knock yourself out of it is somehow change the format or introduce new information that forces your brain to look at it as something new.

            So, some helpful strategies from my copyediting days:
            Read it out loud
            Look at the words out of order (ex, read it backwards)
            Print it out
            Cover it up with a piece of paper and uncover one word/line at a time
            Change the font, font color, font size, and/or background color
            Take a break – the longer the better, but even a short break helps
            While taking your break, it can help to go for a walk, stretch, or do some breathing exercises to get your blood flowing and feel more alert

          3. Alyssa*

            Yep, reading your work backwards or covering up the text and revealing each word as you go. I truly admire great copy editors!

          4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Simply viewing the text in a different format can help, especially if you have a word that’s repeated but with a line break in between. A printout is the best “different format” if you can use recycled paper, and recycle your paper, but you can just copy a Word file into your email message window or vice versa. The phenomenon of seeing the text rearranged is why you see the typo only after sending, because it’s displayed slightly differently, or on a different part of your screen.

    3. Mimmy*

      I was going to say something similar. Even though I am always open to feedback, I sometimes get defensive when I’m told I made an error or did/said something incorrectly. I think my brain takes it as nitpicking rather than useful feedback. I wonder if the OP is thinking, “Yeah yeah, I know I made another mistake…” and just doesn’t want to hear it anymore. Doesn’t make the reaction appropriate, but it is something to consider from the employee’s perspective.

      1. Allonge*

        Do you think there is a good way for the manager to get through this?

        I have a colleague who seems to respond like this a lot. She has her defenses up waaay high, and very often comes up with an expanation / excuse on the spot (some are really obvious, some are of the nobody told me variety).

        What I see is that once she has an answer, she also stops taking in any further attempts at getting to a better process or learning new things, so she does not improve. What do you think could help?

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Do you think there is a good way for the manager to get through this?
          I have a colleague who seems to respond like this a lot. She has her defenses up waaay high, and very often comes up with an explanation / excuse on the spot (some are really obvious, some are of the nobody told me variety).

          IMWO, the major concern is that the employer/management is going to disrupt the employee’s life and commitments (unpaid leave or firing). So the more well-documented, less-discretionary, and better-known those policies/procedures/standards are, the less impetus there will be to make those excuses–when you don’t know, any transgression could be your final strike.

          Once you get past that, does she have any ownership/stake in the outcome? Is the process malleable or changeable, or is it set in stone?

          1. Allonge*

            Thanks for the response!

            Hmm, for the processes, we have everything written down and at least for performance reviews / promotions process there are yearly info sessions (she has been here over a dozen years). Also, no way to get fired based on a simple mistake (it takes documented, long-term issues and PIPs are taken seriously, not an excuse to firing. So I would say not that.

            Ownership / stake in the outcome? Good question – in some cases, yes, but she is administrative support, so she does not and will not have her own projects on the same scale as other team members. Maybe there is something there.

            Just to illustrate though: her explanations / excuses are like:
            Problem: You sent out X to public when we did not have final appoval, what happened?
            Her: I was focusing so much on the time that I did not see it was not yet approved (there was nothing else she had to do, just keep checking messages until the go signal).
            Problem: We explained that ‘red’ does not fall into [category]. You filed ‘red’ under [category] again. It’s important that this is filed correctly. What up?
            Her: Well, I consider it [category], because it’s too important (it’s a legal issue, her opinion is incorrect)
            Problem: Late for 9 am meeting again.
            Her: I did not hear my alarm.

            The issue is that she keeps repeating these without any recognition that this was a problem and that she needs to do something to correct it, even when our manager tries to problem-solve, or take it to a 1:1 meeting. It’s really weird.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              Ugh. There’s a devil in those details.

              After a dozen years, I’d advise you she’s a known quantity. I’m not saying she can’t or won’t change, but the impetus for that change is going to be internal, not external. It sounds like she’s in a groove, for better or for worse.

              Problems 1 and 2 are straightforward to me; if she can’t execute them, she needs to be relieved of them and the excuses are moot. If that’s enough to compromise her being a fit in this role, it may be time for her to move on to her life’s work, unfortunately.

              Excuse #3 I think you just reject; if the alarm doesn’t get her attention, it’s not much of an alarm, is it?

              I also think this falls into the “you have a Management problem” category as well; as a peer, you’re not going to have much leverage over her to motivate with.

            2. Wisteria*

              Definitely the case that after after a dozen years, she is a known quantity.

              This does remind me of the LW who asked why managers of other groups were being copied when they were notified that someone in their group had made a mistake. Alison asked whether LW had ever addressed the pattern rather than each mistake. You gave several examples that all seemed like someone addressed the individual mistake but not the pattern. Has your manager already tried something like:

              Problem: You sent out X to public when we did not have final approval, what happened?
              Her: I was focusing so much on the time that I did not see it was not yet approved (there was nothing else she had to do, just keep checking messages until the go signal).
              Pattern: In addition to X, Y went to a vendor and Z also went out to the public without final approvals. I really need to you to commit to checking for final approvals every time.

              Problem: We explained that ‘red’ does not fall into [category]. You filed ‘red’ under [category] again. It’s important that this is filed correctly. What up?
              Her: Well, I consider it [category], because it’s too important (it’s a legal issue, her opinion is incorrect)
              Pattern: Regardless, ‘red’ does not fall into [category], and I need you to file ‘red’ under [correct category] every time.

              Problem: Late for 9 am meeting again.
              Her: I did not hear my alarm.
              Pattern: You have been late for 9 am meeting six times in the last two weeks. I need you to be on time every time.

              Bonus: Manager should say they will be paying special attention to (final approvals/red files/meeting timeliness) going forward, and explain and impose consequences.

              If your manager isn’t on board with paying extra attention and imposing consequences, then their isn’t a lot you can do.

              1. Dave*

                I do think sometimes an explanation can help about why something being missed file is a big deal and why she was incorrect so they can learn to think through it better next time. That said sometimes it just needs to be telling the person this is how it needs to be.
                The lateness thing I think is definitely a performance issue if they are missing meetings but if management won’t give consequences — staying late to make up the time or not getting the 40 hours if they are hourly can be fast — or address it as an job performance issue there isn’t much you can do there.

          2. pancakes*

            I don’t understand why someone who thinks they’re likely to be fired on the spot for any transgression would think it would be better to be flippant rather than apologetic. Being flippant towards a boss is a transgression in itself.

            Allonge, it seems like this person might benefit from having a checklist they have to sign off on (or various checklists, e.g., one for all the steps that must be taken before something is released to the public)?

            1. Nongroveler*

              It’s more of an emotional reaction than a strategic thing in my experience. Having your errors pointed out can be kind of embarrassing. Apologizing a lot can feel like groveling or belittling yourself. Since I have that emotional reaction, I’ve learned to react more with gratitude like “oh wow thank you for catching that! I can’t believe I did that” etc which can show you acknowledge the seriousness of the error without that weird groveling feeling.

              1. pancakes*

                Apologizing a lot or groveling would be an emotional reaction too, just a different form. No one likes having an error pointed out. Apologizing multiple times is groveling and not appropriate. There’s a balance between never apologizing and apologizing multiple times. One brief and appropriate apology is going to be better in some circumstances than fake gratitude, which tends to not be subtle.

    4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I find this letters interesting because there’s basically one of three things going on here:

      1) LW is correct and their employee is not taking their mistakes seriously enough. There is a real problem and Alison’s advice is spot on

      2) LW is a real stickler for detail and employee is just developing a shell because as far as they can tell they will never turn in a project that meets the standard. Employee is basically saying “Yep, once again I forgot one comma in a 20 page document and must now listen to how horrible it is for 20 minutes”. In this case it would be more useful to have a conversation around where they can compromise and one missing comma doesn’t become a major issue, but real mistakes need to be caught and taken seriously.

      3) Is kind of a combination of one and two. LW is a real stickler because they have to be. There are a few industries where you really need to strive for perfection, and the industry equivalent of a missing comma is a big deal. If you’re building airplanes or designing buildings, you need to minimize mistakes. In this case a conversation like “Hey employee, look. I know this seems really minor, but when you’re doing wing stress calculations a millimeter matters. No one is perfect, but you really need to triple check this data before you submit it”

      I could very easily see this being a LW issue and not and employee issue, but I could just as easily see it being exactly as presented.

      1. Hazel*

        In that sort of situation, I think it’s important to have another person do a final check before the work is handed in. If there can’t be ANY mistakes, one person isn’t going to be able to catch their own mistakes every time.

        1. Allonge*

          Of course it’s important, but that does not mean that frequent mistakes should not be addressed. Because at some point, the mistake-maker could be the reviewer if they stick around, and if they don’t catch problems, planes can fall out of the sky.

          1. linger*

            But conversely, mutual crosschecking with others can allow a mistake-maker to get more practice in spotting and correcting that same mistake.

    5. Let me clear my schedule for you*

      My previous manager told me some time ago that nothing our department does isn’t fixable if we make a mistake. It’s absolutely true in my job, so if this had been written about me by my new manager, I can see where the disconnect is.

    6. AnneC*

      This. When I first started having jobs at around age 18, I figured out that I could avoid crying when confronted about mistakes (something I’ve always had an embarrassing tendency to do, and I absolutely hate it) by doing the “yeah, yeah, I know” thing.

      It was really mostly about convincing MYSELF that something wasn’t the end of the world. OTOH, I certainly wouldn’t get argumentative about it (eg, asking whether it was really a big deal). But it definitely did NOT go over well, and I was frankly horrified to learn that I was coming across like I didn’t care, when the actual issue is I cared SO MUCH that I was using flippancy to escape acute feelings of utter humiliation and worthlessness.

      Honestly, I think young people starting out in the workplace would really benefit from some explicit instruction on how to handle and respond constructively to critical feedback. One thing I’ve figured out over time is that *seeking out* critical feedback is often super helpful, both in terms of avoiding being blindsided and in terms of demonstrating a willingness to grow and improve. (I don’t mean constantly badger your boss for input on your performance, but occasionally checking in and asking if there are any areas they’d like to see you work on can go a long way).

    7. pancakes*

      I’ve worked with yellers, but saying these sorts of things seems more likely to be inflammatory than softening! I don’t know any yellers who would react well to being asked “is it really a big deal,” etc. If anything being so dismissive would make smoke come out of their ears.

      1. Kal*

        Often the way this comes about is that if you’re going to get yelled at either way, why bother showing any sign you care about the mistake when you can instead just start self-soothing ahead of time by making it not a big deal in your mind? In the same vein as people who are used to getting in trouble whether they do something wrong or not, so they figure that they may as well do something that would get them in trouble, since getting yelled at for that is easier than getting yelled at when you had done everything right. Its an emotional defence, not a strategy to stop the yelling since that’s not possible anyway.

    8. Anonymous4*

      I’ve worked with people like the employee, doing data entry, and the ones I’m thinking of just didn’t give a flip. So the input data’s got errors? They’re making the same error for the tenth time? So what? They don’t care. They’re getting a paycheck anyway.

      That, of course, is anathema to anyone who needs to use those numbers, not to mention irksome to the person who has to find and fix those repeated errors, so I’m not going to feel really kind and huggy about ’em.

      It wasn’t the errors — we all make mistakes. It was the “Yeah, whatever” attitude.

    9. just fix it*

      Rayray, I agree with your comment so, so much. I was burned really badly on this by all but one of my bosses for the first 15 years of my career post-college, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if LW1’s employee has had overly critical bosses (and/or childhood caregivers) in the past.

      Every minor mistake was treated like I’d committed a jailable offence and not one, but two, of these crap bosses tried to put me PIPs for minor mistakes.

      (One mistake was literally not having the mind-reading powers to know that the blanket rule of “always buy generic brand office supplies” did not extend to printer paper and double-A batteries; the other was foolishly following the manager’s actual instructions about which version of a document was to go to a stakeholder, despite the stakeholder being a very reasonable person who didn’t care that she got a second email ten minutes later with the right document attached.)

      I think the best thing is to emphasize you’re trying to help them learn, not discipline them. It wasn’t helpful when I got yelled at over typos, but when someone would say something like “I’ve noticed this same mistake a few times, can we just make sure you understand what to do?”, that’s what helped me.

      Yes. This. 100%. Why do so many managers struggle with this very basic concept? If no one is dead or injured, nothing is on fire, and millions of dollars haven’t been lost, why are you acting like someone’s minor mistake is akin to any of actual problems? Get over yourself and be an actual manager. And for goodness sake, don’t double-down on a stupid management decision. Just apologise and fix it.

      1. Semi Bored IT Guy*

        With the printer paper or AA batteries, I think quantity matters too. If you order 1 package of the wrong batteries, that’s no big deal. If you order 10,000 packages of the wrong batteries, then I can see why a manager would be upset.

    10. Chirpy*

      Yes, I currently am that type of employee from #1. My reaction is 100% defensive, because my department head will go out of her way to point out every single thing I’ve done wrong. Including when I’m doing things she’s previously told me to do. Even if it was days before, and a very minor mistake. She’ll tell me I’m doing things wrong when I’m doing the right things in a different order than she apparently wanted and I didn’t read her mind. There is literally no way to win.

      Part of my defensiveness is that I previously worked this same job for 5 years in a different location and therefore needed very little training on the actual job, just more of how things work at this particular location. She corrects me like I’m some high schooler who doesn’t know anything and started yesterday. She’s also extremely passive-aggressive, and I generally would just like a bit more support because my previous department head was much more willing to explain things or help with things I didn’t know or needed approval for. I also can’t suggest even little things that might help improve anything, because she knows how she likes things done and won’t budge. It just pushes all my stress buttons for ways people in the past have dismissed or belittled me, and I get frustrated and snap back.

      I’d also like the main coworker I interact with all day to not be constantly snarking at me and telling me how awful I apparently am, because it’s extremely demoralizing, especially as during Covid it’s basically my main in-person interaction these days.

    11. For sake of anonymity, let's say I'm a teapot polisher*

      I’ve been on both sides of this. I can definitely see where LW1’s employee might be coming from. I’ve had a couple of hypercritical bosses. My attitude to it ended up being “I’m going to say sorry to you because that’s clearly what you want to hear but inside I’m rolling my eyes hard”. Special shoutout goes to the supervisor who threatened to fire me for the medium-sized, one-off mistake I made while trying to clean up a gigantic mess SHE had made and refused to take any responsibility for, but I digress.

      I’ve also been the person who has had to point out people’s mistakes and got a “yeah, whatever” response in return. I believe the whole lifetime of the mistake walkthrough idea suggested further down goes way too far but sometimes it can be helpful to explain mistakes in the mindset of the consequences (“It means the teapot polishing team are having to pick up more than their fair share and, when there’s a lot of mistakes, sometimes it delays the work going to the client”), how we got here (“There’s been a lot of smudges on your teapots recently so I want to run through your painting technique to see if there’s anything we can do to prevent that”) and context (“We don’t expect every teapot you make to be perfect but this mistake has cropped up in the last 10 of your teapots/has [big consequence] so we need to address it”).

      May not be relevant in LW1’s case but there is the argument for making the employee fix the mistakes if that’s an option. Obviously, sometimes deadlines or a grandboss who is of the mindset of “no, you’re the manager, it’s your job to fix it” (sigh, been there) mean you have to fix the mistake yourself. But, for mistake makers who refuse to take responsibility, I’ve found pushing the work back with a stern “Hey, there’s a massive crack in this teapot. It’s not the teapot polishing team’s job to fix that – it’s yours – so I’m not going to send it on until it’s fixed. If that means you have to call the client and tell them their teapot is going to be late, then so be it.”

      (But, erm, I’m also kind of with Anonymous4 that there just are some people who give zero flips and have a serious attitude problem. There was recently a twitter thread along the lines of “here’s the things teapot polishers wish teapot makers knew”, full of things like “there’s some mistakes which are very hard to undo so remember to measure twice, cut once” and so on. Most of the response was very supportive but there were a vocal few who very much smacked of “Lol, look at how lazy the teapot polishers are that they expect me, a great and powerful teapot maker, to actually be bothered to proof my work before handing it in. Don’t they understand that I’m so important that they should also be fixing any major errors in my work and doing the basic checks I couldn’t be bothered to do in addition to polishing?” As you may be able to tell, I do not exactly feel warm and cuddly towards those people!)

    12. Heffalump*

      If I were the employee in that situation, “Yeah, yeah, I know, sorry,” would be my way of saying, “OK, I made a mistake, I can’t travel back in time and not make it, what do you want from me?”

  6. lost academic*

    I see #4 as being very helpful for them and you. Sometimes you need to share more detail than you might want to because of the request being made. If I thought I needed to not just decline this instance but for some period (up to forever) of time, I would give enough detail so that I didn’t feel like you were going to keep asking me for support. It would be tone deaf for the requestor then to not make a note of that and adjust the request timing.

    1. lost academic*

      Examples: a request that involved driving somewhere but I just broke a leg – I give that much detail so they have an idea of the timeframe after which it’s polite to ask for similar activities again. Chemo – that could be a checkin a year from now. And acknowledging that in your response is important. Flip side – don’t be like the blood banks that call for donations when you can’t give for a year and guilt you over it every 2 months.

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        Right?! I’m not the one that decided getting a tattoo in clean studio with an autoclaved gun was disqualifying for a whole year. Leave me alone until I actually can give again

  7. Not A Manager*

    I am in fact Not A Manager but I do interact with others in a supervisory role sometimes. My position is usually “why did this happen and how can we work together to avoid it?”

    Obviously sometimes the issue is a one-off due to inattention or whatever, but even then the stated or unstated “solution” is “I need you to be more attentive/double check your work.” But when something happens several times or is more of an issue the first time, my focus is always on “what part of our processes broke down here, and how can we fix it?”

    1. GDUB*

      This is a good approach. I’ve worked in environments that had quality assurance/quality control procedures, and they were super-annoying until you found a big mistake and realized you just saved yourself.

    2. just fix it*

      Thank you for being sensible. This approach is perfect and most actual managers have not grasped it. I wish you were an actual manager.

    3. DireRaven*

      My position is usually “why did this happen and how can we work together to avoid it?”

      Same. How can we mitigate the risk of this happening again? What processes are breaking down? Is the person being overloaded for their current mental/physical capacity? (By this, are there a lot of individually small demands or a big demand – the demands may be personal and/or professional – which overrides everything on their time and attention? Multiple people expecting deliverables *ASAP!!!*? Is the person constantly being interrupted and having to switch tasks very quickly? Sleep deprivation? If it is the same kind of mistake, such as typos and transposing numbers, there may be a neurological issue at play such as ADHD and/or dyslexia and/or discalculia, and an evaluation (or medication/accommodation adjustment if previously diagnosed) may be in order. Even if it wasn’t a “problem before”, there are factors which can worsen symptoms)

      But, what usually ends up happening is I get accused of “making excuses” and “being difficult”.

  8. Zephy*

    #3 is a good reminder of the difference between “fired” and “laid off,” especially since this is an old letter and I’m sure LW3’s friend has long since moved on with her life. Giving someone 6 weeks’ notice that their employment is ending doesn’t sound like a firing – if it’s for conduct or culture fit or job-performance reasons, things where the problem is something with the employee herself, why would you want her to keep working there for another month and a half? But if it’s a budgetary or logistical thing, where the problem is internal to the company and nothing the employee did wrong so to speak, that sounds more like a layoff, which is not the same thing as being fired. That sounds more like “I can only afford to pay you until X date/this role will only exist until X date and we can’t keep you on because Reasons, and I’m giving you a ton of notice about that to be kind.”

    1. ecnaseener*

      I do think it could’ve been a firing – as Allison said in the response, sometimes the person’s performance is subpar enough that you need to replace them, but okay enough that you’re happy to have them stick around a little while longer rather than leaving the role empty.

      1. DCDM*

        Yeah we did that in my last job. Someone just wasn’t well-suited for the type of work (think an artists soul in an analytical role), but she did put out SOME work and we were slammed. We chatted with her (she wasn’t happy either because she didn’t enjoy the role) and we kept her on about another 2 months with the allowance she could take time for job interviews, while we posted the position and looked for her replacement. It worked out in the end, she helped keep us afloat work-wise, and we helped keep her afloat financially til she found a new position.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Have also done this successfully several times – it doesn’t work for everyone, but for instances where it’s just not a great fit on either end, it can work out well on both sides. One of them, I helped with resumes and cover letters as well. They were lovely people but not well-suited for the job (nor were we a good fit for them).

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I did that, too, as the employee moving on, and minus the interview allowances. It ended up taking over 6 months to find my successor, so long that my peers all thought that we’d rescinded the agreement and my employment was going to be long-term again (so they were genuinely shocked when I didn’t come back one day). It can work, but it does take a certain combination of personalities to not go sideways.

    2. Anonymous4*

      To me, that’s just incomprehensible. Where I work, the decision is made and you’re immediately walked out the door. It’s reiterated over and over that one of the biggest dangers to an organization is the insider threat, and “a disgruntled worker” tops the list.

      If Smith, Inc can only afford to keep Angela on for six more weeks, okay, it’s tough on Angela when they finally tell her that today’s her last day. But if they tell her a month and a half ahead of time, that gives her plenty of time to get angry and plan on the best method to leave a trail of destruction in her wake. Not that Angela would ever do anything of the sort, in normal circumstances — but you never know. And losing one’s job tends to be extremely stressful and upsetting. So, giving a long lead time is not something I’d recommend doing, myself.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        That was my first thought too.

        It also brought to mind a story I read years ago on a now-defunct forum. A group of IT workers were told they were being replaced with H1B workers. In order to receive severance, they had to train their replacements. So, some of them got together and planned out how to train the new workers incorrectly. Later, the company started hiring back US staff because “the new employees keep making mistakes and just aren’t working out.”

  9. JustAnotherCommenter*

    If #3 had swapped “fired” for “laid off” I would have thought that was about me! For the record, I strongly advise employers against doing this unless it’s truly necessary or the employee enthusiastically agrees to it. Half the staff was laid off and the company couldn’t afford to pay people out so everyone got working notice – 1 week for every year they’d worked there and I’d been there the longest at 6 years. Despite the fact that I’d been planning on quitting anyway it was SO demoralizing to watch the company get smaller and smaller each week. The scale of the layoffs was a shock to most people so those 6 weeks were filled with so much gossip about the state of the company and when half the staff is just trying to get through their final few weeks it makes for a terrible environment.
    Truly all I needed was 2 weeks to wrap things up and pass over my clients.
    Obviously, it’s a bit different when it’s only one employee, but I genuinely don’t think it’s a good idea and should only be done when there are no other options or as a plan made with the employee.

  10. KHB*

    #4: I’m in a similar kind of job, and I have this happen to me now and then too. I usually opt for “I’m sorry to hear about that. You have my best wishes,” even for things like chemo, because (as I understand it) prospects for recovery can vary a lot depending on the situation, and I don’t want to send somebody a chipper “Speedy recovery!” when for all I know that might be highly unlikely.

    1. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

      Thank you for saying this. My son has a brain tumor that is never going to go away, he is periodically on chemo when the tumor starts to grow again, the point of the chemo is not a cure or recovery, but staving off blindness and pressure on the brain.

  11. Phony Genius*

    On #3, I’ve heard some people who were simply laid off refer to themselves as “fired.” Perhaps it was just a confusing word choice.

    1. Here we go again*

      Laid off us usually means there isn’t enough work to go around or they’re closing the location.

  12. Avalon Angel*

    Re: health issue: I’ve had MS for over 20 years, and this is something that comes up from time to time. People really don’t know what to say when you turn down invites/opportunities due to chronic health problems, and I think they worry they will come across as unkind or uncaring. A quick, “I’m sorry to hear that, please feel free to get in touch with me in the future” is really all you need. Please don’t worry that you’ll offend us! Being matter-of-fact is the way to go here, because it really is just a fact of life for us.

  13. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – I would tell the person that I appreciated them trusting me with the information that they are unwell, to start with. It must be pretty serious if they are willing to disclose the situation – as a freelancer, the very last thing you want to do is to let clients think you’re not going to be available for the indefinite future.

    I would also wish them well in their treatment, and ask them to reach out to you when they are ready to return to work, if that’s appropriate. You might want to schedule a call in your calendar for next year – they’ll be sure to appreciate that you’re thinking of them and continue to want to work with them. By then, they’ll have some idea of whether they’re going to get better or not.

    If they’re telling you they’re not expecting to return to work, take the time to tell them how much you have appreciated working with them, mention what stood out (that was great) about them. Tell them they will be greatly missed, if appropriate.

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

    I wouldn’t say that a lot of people are scheduling meetings for the FUN of it, but there is definitely a group of people who will do anything to avoid typing an email.

    Because then they will have to 1) get to the point quickly without telling a whole lot of details or backstory they really want to tell because it’s interesting to them but not really relevant to me, OR 2) they haven’t really thought out their point at all and they want to think it through out loud… I guess with me as a witness.

    …I guess there is also a 3) the people that don’t want to put their instructions/comments in writing so that it can’t be traced back to them in a concrete way. Better to try to claim they never said it at all, or I misunderstood.

  15. Been there…done that*

    LW3. Been in this situation. It’s kind if it’s a choice. It’s evil when it’s not. I was told the company would fight my UI claim if I stayed for 3 months as a contractor through an agency and if I chose to stay they would ignore any follow up from UI. So 3 months of coming in everyday and dealing with my former coworkers and the “replacement” was pure torture.

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

      They sound awful, but I’m confused …if you are working for those 3 months, even as a contractor through an agency, you are not unemployed so UI won’t pay out if you are receiving an income — the company wouldn’t be wrong to fight your claim…unless you were saying they would fight the claim if you DON’T agree to stay for 3 months as a contractor…

      1. Been there…done that*

        Correct. If I didn’t agree to the three months they would fight the claim. If I agreed to stay the three months when they got the inquiry they would ignore it.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          Did you have it in writing? If so I would have taken it right to the unemployment. They can fight a claim but it doesn’t mean they are going to win. Happened with a family member when she worked at a call center.

          They tried to say that she was not performing based on X metrics. But when she told the Unemployment person that she had been bonusing every week based on those same metrics. You only got bonuses if you had surveys that were 9 or 10s, you had little transfers and your call time was low. Her pay stubs showed the bonus so she had proof.

    1. Zephy*

      +1 for adblock, I use uBlock Origin. But also, there’s a link right above the comment box to report an ad if you take issue with the ads.

  16. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I think it also depends on what kind of mistake was made. Is it one where the employee’s apology does the trick? If the manager is telling her she needs to put a cover sheet on the TPS report, and she forgot, is it actually a big deal or can an apology do it? Or did she not dispatch an ambulance to an overturned school bus on fire? That would be a big deal. Perhaps the employee needs some context and needs to know what is and isn’t a big deal.

    1. Wisteria*

      Yes. What if in this situation, when the employee asks if something is a big deal, the manager responded to the words of the question rather than the perceived emotional content?

      1. Esmeralda*

        I’m trusting the OP on this one… there is just the words, and then there’s the tone the words are said. If the employee is yeah-yeah-yeah’ing, sounds like the tone is disrespectful or cranky…

    2. ecnaseener*

      Yes. I noticed Allison’s answer was basically operating on the assumption that these were proofreading-type mistakes (at least that was the scripted language), but the letter is so vague. “Sloppy work” could just mean some typos, or it could mean a bigger, content-based sloppiness like producing something that doesn’t fit the brief.

    3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      If it’s something like a certain kind of grant proposal, even a small typo could make an organization ineligible, so that would be a HUGE deal.

    4. El l*

      Yeah, even if we say we’re talking about “typos”, not all typos are created equal.

      For example, stage of process matters: If it’s an internal memo, no big deal. If it’s the final cut of a year-long report to a valued client – or it’s the final cut of an SEC filing – you’re talking about the whole company’s credibility.

      Depends too on what the typo is. The more funny/embarrassing/hypocritical the mistake, the worse it is.

      And so on. In general, a junior employee not caring about mistakes is a problem; but then again you got to genuinely think on how big of mistakes they are.

  17. Sad Desk Salad*

    I was the “fired” employee a couple years back; I was laid off for reasons (reasons I was told and reasons I suspect; I take comfort in the fact that they’ve never filled my position so I take them at their word that my skillset didn’t fit the stage they were in in the industry and can only hope it wasn’t personal). They gave me four weeks’ notice to allow my first quarter of stocks to vest, as well as to be able to pay me through the holiday season and give me the yearly bonus. Overall I thought it was very generous and in exchange I worked very hard to ensure a smooth transition out of the company. It was embarrassing and I wasn’t happy about being asked to leave; I had never been laid off before. So I opted out of the end-of-year festivities, worked remote half-days and left on the best terms I possibly could. Between the severance, the extra vacation time, the bonus, and the stocks, I thought they did really well by me and had no problem working through the notice period, as humbling as it was.

    But I realize my situation is probably unique. Rarely is a company so generous to its departing employees–this particular company had laid off at least half its staff in the years prior to my coming on board, so they had it down to a practice. If a person must be laid off not-for-cause, I hope other companies are treating them as well as mine treated me, but I know better.

  18. staceyizme*

    LW#1- Could you have her trace her error all the way through it’s life cycle? That way, she can see the impact and she’ll get a firsthand look at how processes work out (and what a difference it makes when it goes well as opposed to when it doesn’t). If it’s not practical to have her do that in a work flow, have her think through and write up an impact statement/ report for each and every repetitive error until she trains herself to think a bit more critically and proactively. There are a lot of things that don’t come naturally to each one of us. That’s understood. What’s less tolerable is failing to manage to these quirks so that their impact on others is limited. She’s litigating her relative professional missteps: “is it really that bad?”/ “is it really that important?” are ways to avoid actually dealing with the concern by getting off into the weeds of how she feels about it. (Or how you and others should feel about it, presumably.)

    1. Wisteria*

      That sounds like something you would do to a high schooler if you were a particularly heavy-handed principal.

      Could you just answer the words of the question with something like, “Yes, it’s important, this traces to our inventory system in a way that could increase our costs.” Direct. Matter of fact. Nothing to do with feelings.

  19. Batgirl*

    Wow the ads on that Inc. website are annoying. They completely block out most of the letters and hog the whole screen.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    #4: None of the examples you give are oversharing. They are all straightforward explanations of the refusal that carry the messages “Really absolutely no, for unmovable reasons that have nothing to do with you” and “you can infer a timeline after which it might make sense to try again.” (For the cancer that’s “in a year” and for the dementia “never.”)

    1. GNG*

      Agree- I’m having a hard time understanding why LW would interpret them as examples of oversharing.
      LW, the experts are just being transparent and matter of fact about their reason for refusal, and at the same time giving you important context clues to help you gauge when you could ask them again.
      Did you think no one should ever name their medically related reason for declining something, lest they are oversharing?

      1. pancakes*

        I agree as well. I had cancer years ago, and my mom and aunt went through it years before that, and in my experience a lot of people are really uncomfortable just hearing about serious illness, even if they only need to say something polite one time. It’s really common. That doesn’t make it over-sharing for anyone to mention it, though.

  21. GNG*

    Agree- I’m having a hard time understanding why LW would interpret them as examples of oversharing.
    LW, the experts are just being transparent and matter of fact about their reason for refusal, and at the same time giving you important context clues to help you gauge when you could ask them again.
    Did you think no one should ever name their medically related reason for declining something, lest they are oversharing?

  22. Evvie*

    I’d be curious to know how often LW 1 is given feedback, if their strengths are ever mentioned, or if context is ever given for why something isn’t right.

    The way they’re answering sounds like burnout to me, and it particularly sounds like burnout from a constant barrage of “you’re doing this wrong. You’re doing that wrong,” without a lot of constructive assistance or reinforcement of why they were hired if they “suck so much.”

    Though I never responded like that, I sure wanted to when I was constantly being blamed for others’ errors or when I asked for help and would be told “figure it out,” only to then be told I did it wrong.

    1. Nanani*

      That’s a good point. Does LW1’s employee actually know what good performance looks like, or are they in the “error” part of learning by trial and error?
      For example, if they’re violating the style guide, you have to make sure they have an up to date copy of the style guide, not just tell them they got it wrong and hope they guess the style right next time.

    2. Daffodilly*

      I had similar thoughts. A friend of mine (really!) was on a two person team, the other person quit, there’s no plans to replace him, and now she’s stuck doing all the work herself. She’s constantly being told multiple times within the same day both “hurry up and get this off the queue! We need you to clear more jobs per hour!” and also “slow down and don’t make mistakes! mistakes are always avoidable if you take the time to do it right!” and she’s gotten to the point where any feedback just gets an bland “ok” she doesn’t have time or energy for anything else.
      She cannot do it alone with both speed AND accuracy – it’s not humanly possible.
      Burnout is real and when employers see it they should evaluate their role in it.

  23. Matt*

    I’m always curious about what is normal for errors, particularly in publishing. I read a lot of published content, news, even from articles from the New York Times, etc.. and I see typos and errors all the time from places where multiple people are proofing and editing content pieces, yet I work for an organization that takes typos in our communications extremely seriously, and I do all the editing by myself and I’m constantly being hounded for it from my superiors, yet I am one person, juggling a high quality of the content (3 weekly emails, website blog posts, a weekly printed newsletter, monthly newsletter, and quarterly newsletter) and that’s only about 50% of my job as my title is really an Admin so I have other office duties as well. (not to mention I don’t make what professional communications personal make).

    1. Generic Name*

      That’s annoying. My company places a very high value on our deliverables being accurate and error-free, but we have a whole system of multi-layered reviews to catch errors that crop up. Are your superiors expecting your documents to be error free based on your own self-review? It’s much harder to catch your own errors than it is to catch someone else’s. Next time someone complains about a typo, could you ask to have someone review your content with the aim of catching errors?

    2. Gingerbread Gnome*

      Proofreader and copy editor are job titles that go back over 100 years for a reason. It is extremely difficult to find errors in your own work; spell-check or grammar programs often don’t catch misuse (and sometimes suggest incorrect “corrections.”

  24. Anonymous Poster*

    Is it possible the supervisor in post # 1 is blowing things out of proportion? I can relate to poster # 1 as my former supervisor was the biggest micromanager I’ve ever had. She would constantly insult and put me down for what she called “mistakes only idiots make” (and I didn’t make many!), yet would routinely make dozens more of these same mistakes when compared to myself and my coworkers. I also found out from the big boss I actually made the least mistakes of anyone but was the only one constantly signalled out for public ridicule. It got to the point I would finally just say, “Yes, I guess I’m human after all!” because she refused to let me explain myself or provide any constructive feedback.

    One day I got so fed up of her bullying I made a list of each and every mistake of hers I came across one day. When I presented it to her and explained it was a list of mistakes she had made and asked why I was the only one constantly being signalled out for making ANY mistake she turned red and glared at me.

    Never had any trouble from her after that and she was soon fired for bullying other staff members!

    1. just fix it*

      Is it possible the supervisor in post # 1 is blowing things out of proportion?

      This wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  25. RogueOrganizer*

    OP #2: I second Allison’s note to self-reflect on your job is spot-on. I’ve been with my current company for about a year and a half: I was hired in for a great job that I was so grateful to have. It was meaningful work with an outstanding team, and I received very positive feedback on my work. However, I had a lot of ongoing anxiety because the work was nebulous and self-directed, and I would often go days without a meeting with anyone else, but I found myself energized and inspired when I did have a meeting. I didn’t want to admit the role wasn’t a great fit, because of the perks and positive feedback, but I was very stressed. I was then offered a *very* different role in a different division, where I’m in many meetings every day and am in constant communication with my colleagues. While I’ve lost the flexibility/remote work option of the old job, which I thought I would really miss, I find myself less anxious and more motivated. It’s made me realize that I need that structure and human interaction to really thrive.

  26. LittleMarshmallow*

    I agree with Allison’s advice for #1 but… I would also recommend that LW reflects on if the mistakes are actually serious or just a personal preference on how things are done. I have a colleague that I’ve seen get all bent out of shape when someone doesn’t take her “correction” seriously, but she’ll nitpick about basically anything and everything to the point that it’s exhausting for most people that work with her so you really can’t take every “correction” she gives you with a lot of weight. She’s a “my way or the highway” kind of person and takes that to ridiculous details. Not only does she want you to do it her way… she wants you to admit that her way is the correct way to do it. She sees absolutely nothing wrong with this approach and believes people reporting to her just don’t care enough. I could easily see someone that reports to her responding like this employee, and it would be my colleagues behavior driving the issue but she wouldn’t see it. So LW reflect on your “corrections” to make sure they’re actual corrections that matter and not things that you would just prefer to be done “your way”.

  27. ThisIshRightHere*

    Some people just aren’t very excitable. I am some people. I work hard and I care about presenting myself well, but I made peace with the fact that I am not perfect a long time ago. Also, I can’t stand people scolding me like I’m a wayward child. If I did something wrong, I am happy to own up to it. But reprimand me respectfully or not at all. I remember in my very first law firm job, my newly-promoted boss seemed to thrive on reaming me out. She’d point out some very minor mistake I made, I’d say “thanks for catching that; ok I’ll take care of it” after which I would immediately take care of it. And she never had to correct me for the same thing twice. One time she caught me catching my own tiny mistake (I accidentally started writing the wrong address on an envelope, went “whoops” out loud and grabbed a clean envelope to start over). I was literally in the process of fixing it and she reamed me for five minutes about how I *almost* did something wrong. When she was done, I said “well I caught it myself and it was easily fixed.” Clearly she would have preferred if I broke down into tears of self-loathing every single time she identified an imperfection. My entire mid-year review was about how I’m so flippant. Shrugs.

    1. allathian*

      Ugh. I’m glad you were able to deal with her, I suspect many people wouldn’t. She’s one of those people who should never be allowed to work with other people, never mind be their manager.

    2. allathian*

      Ugh. I’m glad you were able to deal with her, I suspect many people wouldn’t. She’s one of those people who should never be allowed to work with other people, never mind be their manager.

  28. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – was laid off once. I was given a 4-week working notice – keep in mind – this was a LAYOFF, not a firing.

    There were two factors at play = one, there was a “right to recall” for one year. Some guys/gals that were laid off were recalled before the notice period, or found other jobs within the company.

    Also, it was a defense plant. Many people had security clearances, and so if they ever wanted to work ANYWHERE in the defense industry, they wouldn’t do anything bad. No clearance = no career.

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