should I take a job where the CEO is a dick, coworker wants training on things that aren’t her job, and more

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

1. Should I take a job where the CEO is a dick?

I have a final round interview at a company that seems fine. In a previous round I met a C-suite person who said something along the lines of “the CEO isn’t a good people manager.” That C-suiter mentioned that he is good friends with a C-suiter at my current company (I just got laid off so I can talk openly about interviews). I asked that person if he knew anything about the company and he said “The CEO is not the type of leader I would want to report to.” My current boss had previously interviewed there and told me bluntly that the CEO is a dick. My job would be director level and there would still be three levels between the CEO and me (he would be my great-great-grandboss), so it doesn’t seem like the CEO’s dickiness would really affect me. Everyone I met who I would be working directly with has been there for 3-5 years and seemed perfectly happy, but my current boss strongly advised me not to go there. How much can a CEO with a bad personality affect a middle manager?

There’s often a sort of trickle-down dickishness effect when the person at the top is a dick. It can happen even if the managers under him are good people, because a dick at the top puts pressure on lower level managers in ways that can warp the way they manage. (I’ll never forget working with someone who had always seemed lovely, let’s call her Jane, and finding out she had lectured a remote employee for not answering the phone while they were in the bathroom. The reason? Her own boss, Bob, was a supreme a-hole who behaved like a tyrant most of the time, and the pressure from Bob was trickling down from Bob to Jane to Jane’s staff.)

Usually when you have good people managing beneath a jerk, they’ll try to act as a buffer for their staffs … but there’s only so much buffering you can do, and it really does tend to trickle down in one way or another.

If you generally trust your boss’s judgment, I’d put a lot of weight on her warning.

Read an update to this letter

2. I said I’d leave this summer but I’m being pushed out now

I began working at this company in December 2020. Once I started I didn’t get trained properly, but I managed to figure out and implement a better system. I knew from the beginning I was overqualified, but I needed a job so I was grateful. When my boss noticed my work ethic, he started giving me other tasks that were outside of my job description. I asked for a raise because I was handling more duties and he told me no because I had not been working there for a year.

In December 2021, I submitted my resignation to go back to school to pursue my masters in January. My boss ignored me for two days and when I confronted him about it, he said that we should have talked before I resigned. I had explained in my resignation letter why I was leaving. I told him I wanted more pay and going back to school would make me more competitive in the job market, and that with my current position I cannot do school and work. He then managed out an employee and lied to us about the reasoning. He told me I would be taking over her position, which is a lot more work, and that I could work from home on the days I had school. I asked for a pay adjustment and he said no since he had already given me a raise for this new position and was doing me the favor of letting me work from home. I checked my paystub and there was a raise which happened in November, so that raise was not for my new position. It was also not what I had asked for, nor anything I had negotiated.

Three months later, I asked for a raise again because I knew damn well I am overqualified, and he said no. I told him that I was not planning on staying with the company for the full year and would resign in the summer. (I didn’t give him an exact month or date. I just said summer.) I thought I was being honorable by giving him a notice. But he just called me and said he found a replacement for me so I can stop working whenever I want. It feels like I’m getting let go, but he didn’t state that I am. He said I only have until June if I want to stay but he has a replacement already. I didn’t exactly understand what was happening since technically I have not resigned, but it felt like I was getting let go without getting let go. Should I even put in my two weeks?

Yeah, once you announce you’re leaving, you often lose control over the exact timing of when it happens. A lot of employers will start searching for your replacement at that point, and if they find one sooner than you’re ready to leave, you can end up getting pushed out before you planned to go. Good managers try to avoid this because it can mean no one else ever gives them a generous amount of notice ever again … but it definitely happens.

Do you want to stay longer, or would you rather leave now? It doesn’t sound like you’d necessarily need to give a full two weeks notice, but that’s something you should check with your boss. Once you’re at the point where you’d be willing to leave in the next two weeks, it’s fine to say, “Would you like me to give two weeks notice or would you prefer I wrap up now?” You don’t have to give him the choice, but ideally you don’t want future reference-checkers told you left abruptly. (Theoretically he shouldn’t say that since his whole point seems to be that you did give notice by saying you’d leave in the summer … but I wouldn’t trust him not to twist it if you give him the opportunity.)

3. My coworker wants to be trained on things that have nothing to do with her job

I have a coworker who has been at our company for three years. She was hired for accounts receivable and back up front office duties. Since coming to work here, she has shown a pattern of wanting to do everyone else’s job. At first, she tried to butt into my work and I politely tried to tell her that I had everything under control. Since then, she says she wants to be trained on running a forklift and how to run the production line, and has even gone so far as to say that she wants to be trained on how to maintain and repair large machinery. Most of her requests are largely ignored, but she does not realize that it’s not her responsibility to do those things and she has not been asked to do those things.

I was taught that you do your job, you do it well, and you focus on your own work. If management needs me to help in other areas, I am more than willing to help if necessary, but I’m not going to interject myself into a situation where I am not needed or qualified.

There have been times when she’s been needed in accounts receivable and isn’t available because she’s off “helping” somewhere else. Is this the new attitude these days? I’m not sure what to make of this situation.

It’s not the new attitude these days. It’s your one highly enthusiastic coworker and management that apparently isn’t reining her in.

Side point of interest: there has been a dramatic explosion in the number of questions I get asking if one strange situation is a new trend. I never used to see that framing much in my inbox, and now I see it multiple times a day. My theory is that it’s because so much has changed in the last couple of years, and so many things we used to assume would be too outrageous to happen have happened … so it’s hard to tell if something is one random weird situation or part of a bigger pattern of change.

4. Is a life update email a creepy way to keep in touch?

My peers occasionally write me emails subjected “Update” and share what’s going on with them. Sometimes they are long paragraphs and sometimes it is a few short sentences.

I want to do this too! But I am not sure how. What is appropriate or not appropriate? New job? New volunteer gig? Moving? Marriage or new kids? When does it cross the line? How frequently should update emails go out? How long should the be?

Who is the appropriate audience? A former colleague one job ago? Three jobs ago? A professor from two years ago? Professor from undergrad (half a decade ago)? Old classmates?

Just trying to figure out a way to keep in touch in a more personal (but not creepy or intense) way aside from LinkedIn posts and casual Twitter interactions.

Yes, it’s a good way to keep in touch with professional contacts who you otherwise might not talk to for years. Typically I’d say to aim for once a year or so, although two wouldn’t be excessive if you had really big professional news to share, like a new job. Your content depends on what you have to share. If you have a new job, that’s the easiest focus. But it’s also fine to mention stuff like volunteer work, an impressive new project, or interesting/impressive results from a project (just keep the details pretty brief unless you know the person you’re writing to has a special interest in that area). You can also include any big personal developments that you want to share, like marriage, kids, or a relocation. (I wouldn’t make the personal stuff your focus, but you can sprinkle it in there as additional things that are happening with you.) And if you don’t have big news to share, it’s fine to skip all/most of the updating and just frame it as “it’s been a long time, wondered how you were doing, thought of you this week when I did X the way you taught me to” or similar.

As for who — anyone you want to stay in professional contact with and/or might want to use as a reference or network with at some point.

{ 321 comments… read them below }

  1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    OP3: Is it possible that your coworker just wants to get away from receivables and reception work? Both can be absolutely miserable.

    1. Missing Link*

      Yeah, and smaller companies normally allow personnel to wear multiple hats. She may also just want to have a better understanding of how the organization works and not actually interested in taking over anyone’s job.

      When I first started working in the office setting I thought it was so weird how each department would work in silos or how we apparently couldn’t talk to our boss’s boss or how some coworkers would obviously try not to reveal too much about how to do things for job security reasons. I’m an older millennial so the available career advice at the time could be summed up to “you’re not that special and this is how the real world works, so stop asking questions and just do what you’re told,” but I see that the younger generations are less afraid of questioning the whole office setup, to which I say good for them.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        These aren’t easy skills though. Forklift is kind of like driving a car-you need a good deal of regular practice before you should be trusted to do it by yourself. Because forklifts weigh several tons, are powerful enough to easily hoist large objects up high, and have spears on the front. You do not want a forklift accident.

        1. Tio*

          Most places wouldn’t you need a forklift certification to drive them anyways? That’s what I was told when I worked somewhere with a warehouse

          1. MK*

            In my country you need a special kind of driving license. It’s not unskilled labour.

            1. Professional Merchandiser*

              Years ago I used to do some merchandising work at Lowe’s. One day I was in the backroom and some guy came up and asked me if I knew how to drive a forklift. He had gotten a DUI and they wouldn’t allow him to drive one anymore. I just said “I’m, no? Besides, I don’t even work for Lowe’s!”

          2. Sharpie*

            Where I am, you either need actual certification which you can take from one job to another, or you can be trained in-house but that training doesn’t allow you to go to another job as a forklift drivers. (Both of our forklift drivers are trained in-house and have to have a training day very year to demonstrate they are safe and competent). Forklifts are dangerous things!

            1. RVA Cat*

              Yes they are. There’s a YouTuber who lost the whole lower half of his body and an arm in a forklift accident. He was right out of high school and his employer pressured him into driving it untrained.

              1. ZK*

                Years ago I worked at a warehouse club, in the photo department. Oddly enough, one of my customers was the grandmother of a former employee who had a terrible accident on a lift that nearly tore his arm off, which I’d already heard from the head of safety, so I knew it was true.

                Then, suddenly they wanted me to learn to drive a fork lift because I was full time and there were times during the day that there was no one else there to drive. Training consisted of a few videos and driving around outside for a bit then actually going out on the floor with a trained driver. Eventually you got “certified.” While I would trust some of those people, most of the newer people scared the crap out of me. And I absolutely didn’t trust myself on a lift. Eventually, I was given an ultimatum, so I quit. I wasn’t willing to put myself or anyone else in danger because “anyone can drive a forklift,” according to the store GM (who couldn’t drive a lift….)

                1. LittleMarshmallow*

                  I technically certified to drive a forklift (and a scissor lift). The forklift is scarier… I’m not great at it because I don’t get enough practice but I go slow and don’t do anything I’m not sure on. Plus we typically use a spotter for driving due to very tight quarters to drive in.

                  Scissor lift is fun though!

          3. Me!*

            AFAIK you do need a certification. I worked in a factory a long time ago and I took that training. You get practical training on the machine and a booklet, and then you have to take an actual test before you get a certification card. At least, that’s how they did it then, so I imagine it’s similar today.

          4. Sacred Ground*

            In my rural, agricultural area, produce packets are constantly hiring for forklift drivers and will only hire those who are already certified.

            The handful of schools in the county that do forklift training and certification only take students whose employers send them, you as a private individual can’t just sign up and pay for the training yourself.

            I have years of experience with forklifts but no certification because my prior employer in another state didn’t require it. The produce packets won’t even consider me without it nor will any of them consider paying for the training and certificate.

            And at least twice a month one of their CEOs will appear in local media complaining that they can’t find anyone “willing to work.”

            Oh, and they pay about a dollar or 2 above minimum wage.

            1. LittleMarshmallow*

              Well that’s just ridiculous! Stupid companies getting in their own way.

          5. Anon Supervisor*

            You should, but it depends on the state. Here in MN there was a very sad story about a 16 year old employee at Menards who was killed driving a forklift on his first week of the job with little training. He was not certified nor was he trained properly after being tasked with using it per management, in violation of OSHA rules (for which Menards has been nailed on before).

          6. Ellie*

            Yes, you need a forklift license, which isn’t hard to get but costs a couple of hundred dollars and is generally paid for by your employer if they require one.

            She does sound a bit bored, but I’d hate to dissuade someone from taking on extra work if they want it. Why not explain why its not possible (you need training, licenses, etc.) and then look for something she can help with that’s closer to her original role? There might be something she can do from the office that she can use to better fill in the time.

        2. Temporarily Anonymous*

          Now I want to get certified to drive a forklift!

          A lot of it also depends on the size company involved. If you’re working for BigHugeCo, there are likely very specific job descriptions for each and every possible position, and there are dozens if not hundreds of people filling each one of them, and a rigid structure: An Accounts Receivable Level III person can train for AR IV, but not for Forklift Operator I. With a small company, categories are frequently much less defined; there simply aren’t enough people for any person to do one and only one thing. Take the one I work for: the facilities & logistics guy is now doing 3D printing and fulfillment, too. I seem to have become an art director and occasional 3D sculptor, not to mention doing a bit of light editing because they need an extra hand. Everyone does a bit of everything. (but, sadly, we don’t have a forklift, and I’m remote anyway)

          “Stay in your lane” has never appealed to me, personally. And I’m fairly sure that most people who really succeed in business are the ones who try to learn and understand everything; the ones who stop asking questions and just do what they’re told will have little to look forward to except progressing to the rank of Accounts Receivable V.

          1. MK*

            I seriously doubt that the people who succeed are the ones who try to learn and understand “everything”. In, this person was hired to be a general office worker/admin/clerk/receptionist, as far as I can tell. Her neglecting these duties (for whatever reason) and trying to involve herself in completely different type of work isn’t the road to success, but to unemployment. Asking questions and trying to learn and understand is great, when it a) makes you a rock star at your own work and/or b) makes you eligible for higher positions. If you are hired as accounts receivable and receptionist, and you manage to learn the manufacturing process and the product so well that it makes you exceptionally great at your job (a receptionist who understands the workings of the whole company would really be a find), then you are not only succeeding at your work, but when a position opens up for, say, EA to the CEO, you may be greatly qualified for it. Trying to learn how to work a forklift isn’t the past to success.

            It is indeed possible that she doesn’t like her work; it may be telling that her work is office related and the jobs she is trying to do more on the “production” line. Maybe she is trying to figure out what she would like to do, so that she can find a way to transition, which isn’t a bad thing, as long as she isn’t neglecting her own job or bugging her coworkers.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              To me the problem isn’t that the coworker wants to learn other skills (though there is quite a gap between Accounting and Forklift Driver), it’s the fact that there are times when she is failing in her regularly assigned duties because she is off learning new skill. Wanting to learn and grow is normal for a lot of folks – but you have to make sure you aren’t failing at your responsibilities while learning.

              1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

                This employee sounds a lot like me in my first jobs. Super eager, a fast learner and bored with the narrow scope of my assigned tasks, and “happy to help” anywhere I could. I think her manager needs to remind her to focus on getting her assigned tasks done before doing anything else, and maybe set some boundaries about what is appropriate to be spending time on when she has downtime in her work (ie, something actually helpful and not bothering other staff), but otherwise I really don’t see a huge problem here.

                1. Starlike*

                  This is what I was going to say – I was this person early in my career (and even now – I’m considering getting a certification in another area of my work just to have broader knowledge in the field) and in the long run, it’s been a HUGE benefit to me to be able to be flexible and pick up new knowledge and skills. It needs to not get in the way of her work, but wanting to understand different aspects of the job is really a good thing.

                2. Clorinda*

                  If she’s admin/office support work, she probably has a good bit of downtime but it’s unpredictable. She has nothing to do right now and nothing scheduled till 2 pm, so she can mosey on down to practice with the forklift–but maybe in ten minutes something urgent will pop up at her actual job, and she isn’t there.
                  If the company is on board with her acquiring new skills in new areas, that needs to be on a set schedule for things that involve leaving her normal work area.

              2. Bongofury*

                Is she failing though? I’d be very curious to know if one time, she didn’t answer her phone and LW#3 is incensed about it. I’ve been the over eager receptionist who really wanted to enthusiastically learn about new stuff (never forklift training but if a warehouse worker had offered it, why not?) because receptioning all the time can be boring. And LW#3 immediately struck me as someone who sees a young “whipersnapper who doesn’t stay in their place!” and might be better at some things that LW#3 does and maybe LW#3 doesn’t want the manager to find out they are better/faster than LW#3?
                That was 100% my experience.

            2. LittleMarshmallow*

              We are a tiny site in a huge company… sometimes our receptionist has to grab a pallet Jack and offload a delivery if everyone else is busy… there’s aren’t that many of us and sometimes we are all tied up doing other things when deliveries arrive so she’s front desk, document specialist, general computer and filing helper, and sometimes… shipping/receiving…. And the catch-all “other duties as assigned”.

              She’s not forklift trained though so if a delivery requires that then the driver just has to wait for one of the forklift certified people to be available…doesn’t happen too often. Usually pallet Jack works just fine. We would NEVER ask or allow her or anyone else to drive a forklift untrained! That’s just asking for someone to get hurt! We’d reject a delivery before doing that.

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            They are quite fun to drive! I got certified at my last job. But they should not be driven FOR fun, if you know what I mean.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Unless it is Officially Sanctioned Fun like a forklift obstacle course in the parking lot

              1. Carol the happy elf*

                In my defense, I really needed that parking space, and forklift olympics taught me a great new skill….

                Oh, and I learned at a warehouse club that not only the aisle they block off, but the adjacent aisles can be dangerous. I learned that the “hard-but-luckily-only-cardboard” way.

          3. pancakes*

            “And I’m fairly sure that most people who really succeed in business are the ones who try to learn and understand everything” – In an unfocused way, wherever their curiosity takes them, even if that’s all over a manufacturing plant? Or an all-encompassing way, to the point of learning how to drive a forklift? I don’t see any particular reason to think either approach, in the context here, would make much sense for this coworker, unless maybe she’s being groomed to take over a family-owned plant by its eccentric owner in a movie.

            1. Andy*

              You find the thing you like by trying different things. The insistence on people being locked into single relatively simple skill without possiblity of cross training is harming both employers and employees.

              1. pancakes*

                I agree that that’s harmful, but people don’t usually try out different jobs on an impromptu basis at work, which seems to be what’s happening here. That’s very odd, and not really to anyone’s benefit.

              2. Batgirl*

                I don’t think pancakes was suggesting someone be locked into just one skill; more that there should be some rhyme and reason to which skills are chosen for the employee’s growth.

          4. Nina*

            I work for a BigHugeCo but in a very small team at a very rural test facility. I’m in a job that shouldn’t really require forklifting, but we’re big on efficiency and making sure everyone has the skills and tools to do their whole job, including the peripherals that probably should be managed by support staff, but the support staff aren’t there on weekends and we are. Going to my boss with ‘I waste x hours a week waiting for people to forklift things for me’ got me a forklift license so I could do it myself.

        3. Reluctant Mezzo*

          She might have found out that the forklift operators are paid way more than she is too (of course, most of them are likely male).

      2. sb51*

        I’d go further and say there is a shift towards people specifically being advised to cross-train and break down silos, at least in some industries — it just might not apply very well to forklift-vs-reception (rather than “front end web developer” vs “back end infrastructure developer”).

        I do think she should be given some opportunities to learn — not all of them, but her manager should talk to her and figure out what makes sense both for her and for the company.

        1. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

          +1 Receptionist driving a forklift is an extreme example, but cross-training and breaking silos can be great- sometimes that’s how you figure out that there are outdated processes for cross-departmental handoffs that can be changed to everyone’s benefit!

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            It made complete sense in a small family owned company that I previously worked for.

            Who was definitely there to take delivery of something even if the shop manager left for the day (this was not infrequent – deliveries after 2:30 pm ran into this as he started at 6 a.m.), or if he was on the road making deliveries? The one person who was guaranteed to be there unless she was sick or on PTO was the receptionist. After the fifth buggered late delivery, she brought it to the owners, who had her in training for her certification the next week! They couldn’t control when third party freight arrived, but they could make sure we had someone certified there.

            1. Me!*

              Yeah, this; when I worked for a materials testing lab that did work for environmental remediation firms, I was trained to do water pH tests for samples that came in after the chemists had already left for the day. The water pH had to be done ASAP and couldn’t wait. It was easy and kind of fun. I was absurdly excited to know that stir bars exist, lol.

          2. Chinook*

            Depends on the business. I am the office admin assistant/receptionist as well as logistics coordinator. When someone comes to drop something off, I sign for it and then have to go pull someone away form their work in the shop to unload a delivery. I pointed out on many occasions that, if they took the time to train me properly on the forklift, I wouldn’t have to interrupt the people actually doing the work we get paid for to do a simple 5 minute task. IT is the same reason that every so often I put on the work gloves and hard hat and start unload various machine parts so I can count how many are in a crate – not your typical office work but I am a logical person to do it.

        2. pancakes*

          It’s odd to me that the letter writer doesn’t seem to have talked to her about this, not in the way a manager would but just conversationally. A mildly curious, “That’s an interesting approach, are you trying to get cross-trained for all the jobs?” or, say, “That’s interesting, are you hoping to switch over to doing that?” seem like helpful questions, in context. It sounds like this is something the coworker is quite purposeful in pursuing, and I don’t see why asking her about it would be off-limits.

          It’s not clear what’s going on with regard to whether this coworker is actually getting trained on other tasks or is just off pestering people, either. When “she’s off ‘helping’ somewhere else,” is she doing that with people’s cooperation? Or . . . ?

        3. The OTHER Other.*

          I agree. The gap between finance and forklift is pretty extreme, and she needs to make her main duties a priority, but learning new things and being able to do different jobs is generally a plus.

          To me, the LW’s phrasing about staying in your lane and waiting for management to tell you what to do makes me think they are a bit of a drone. I can only imagine how often they say “not in my job description” or “not my job”. Maybe the culture at this job discourages people from showing initiative and learning skills but many places consider it a plus, and more workers should do it in order to increase their skills.

          1. The OTHER Other.*

            Oh, and I forgot to add on to Alison’s take on the “is this a new trend?” phrase—saying that with “these days” reinforces the feeling I get that the LW is very old fashioned.

            1. tessa*

              The phrase “these days” can mean a million things. Doesn’t make anyone old-fashioned.


          2. Annie Mouse*

            This was my take too. I came into my [enormous] company through accounts receivable, took advantage of a lot of opportunities to cross-train and do projects in other areas, and have landed in IT (for now). This is really common and encouraged even in massive companies.

            Obviously this coworker’s approach is on the extreme side, but LW’s comments about staying in your lane and waiting for management to direct you are too far in the other direction. It’s pretty normal and expected for people to learn things outside of their specific area. In 2022, it’s really on employees to express interests and take the initiative to find opportunities to learn rather than to wait for management to assign them.

            1. Berkeleyfarm*

              Yeah, “wait for management to tell you what to do” can really leave someone stuck in a rut. Finding the balance is key.

              I work in IT and our telco guys came up through our call center/customer tech support operation. The knowledge is invaluable to our business. I had suggested to them that they look for someone likely currently in customer tech support to train up for what they do. They did hire someone originally as mostly admin help who is very interested in the work and is now fully en route to being junior telco – hopefully with a title bump and pay rise next review cycle.

            2. k*

              What’s worse is when it isn’t even something that I’d need to learn — it’s something (usually tech related) I already know how to do, would not involve extra training, and would eliminate an unnecessary bottleneck if I was only allowed to do it, but “that’s not your job.” Details are unfortunately specific to the field but think “your job is to use Excel, but no macros ever, and no Word.”

              1. tessa*

                A bottleneck could mean a valuable learning experience for the person whose job it is to make the repair.

          3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Agreeing with your first paragraph- I have no problems with wanting to learn new things, grow skills, or discover new interests. All I’m faulting her on is the process here – and I thinks it’s possible if she was doing the learning as part of a more organized program under her manager the process may smooth out with more emphasis on getting the original job completed (which is critical to maintaining good coworker relationships and your main employment).

      3. Observer*

        Yeah, and smaller companies normally allow personnel to wear multiple hats.

        Within reason, though. For one thing, schedule and time needs to be right. For another, you need to have the right skills. Even when you are willing to train, the person needs to be coming in with SOMETHING. This is someone who clearly doesn’t have the faintest clue.

        She may also just want to have a better understanding of how the organization works and not actually interested in taking over anyone’s job.

        Which is all good and fine, but she’s going about it in a very strange and ineffective way.

      4. TiredAmoeba*

        I’ve found I am significantly a more effective employee when I understand how the whole system works, rather than just knowing my piece.Mainly because I can figure out issues early on since i know what the overall goal is

      5. Hell in a Handbasket*

        Well, yes, people may wear multiple hats — but I’ve never heard of anywhere that accounts receivable/office work was combined with driving forklifts and repairing machinery. If the coworker wants to expand her duties or learn new things, it seems like there would be more logical places to start.

        1. Andy*

          To me it kind of sounds like she has interest in more technical tracks in general and is looking I to those things. The mentioned things are consistently technical. It actually makes sense to me.

          As in it might not be pattern of not caring where you expand going into illogical places It might be pattern of interest that seems illogical if you assume receptionist should not be interested in machinery.

          1. Kal*

            The other thing I notice is that the jobs shes showing interest in are all things that are generally more dynamic than AR/admin. It could be very tied to her wanderlust – she thought the current job would be okay, but found it dull and is the sort of person who constantly needs new challenges to stay focused or just not be abjectly miserable. Driving forklifts, running production lines and large machinery maintenance are all jobs where there are going to constantly be new challenges and things to learn – and the one thing we absolutely know about her is that she has a strong drive to learn new things.

            Its possible that this company may not be the place for her to move into a job like that, but it does sound like she would both be a happier person and better coworker if she could find a path to getting into a job with more variety than AR.

      6. Hannah Lee*

        Cross training is wonderful when it makes sense, and doable. And I have seen at least a few cases of an employee interested in cross training to have a better understanding how the organization works.

        But I’ve also seen a few that fit a particular pattern: an employee that is *okay*, not great or even especially good at their job, but who will randomly asked to be trained on stuff that has nothing to do with their job, or even their department or processes that are logically upstream or downstream of theirs, in either a “that would be cool to do” or in a really unfocused approach to adding new bullet points on their resume. Those folks don’t seem to approach it with any rhyme or reason and they can’t usually articulate why exactly it’s a good idea to be trained on this thing or that thing aside from “it’s shiny!” or “it’s new to me!”. And while if there’s downtime, there wouldn’t *seem* to be any reason not to show them something new, IME, invariably those particular people wind up becoming less focused on actually doing their own jobs, completely misread the skills, requirements to be able to do the new stuff (the forklift one is a good example … the person doesn’t realize there is often a certification, formal training requirement, often for a really good reason, and that it takes some skill, finesse to run one in a way that doesn’t ding up everything within 20′ of it) and/or start to think 10 minutes of trying their hand at 5 things makes them an expert in all of them, becoming a distraction or a management time sink in the process.

        LW probably knows what kind of employee this is, but if there’s a chance she’s got a “that looks cool!” training magpie on her hands, it would be wise to focus any training on stuff that is directly adjacent to that employee’s core job and frankly isn’t that interesting. And I’ll also recommend providing the training in a very structured way, so the employee doesn’t get the idea that 30 minutes of adhoc “this is how this works” is real training on anything.

    2. A4 is the way*

      She’s too unfocused on what she wants to ‘learn’. A better approach, if she is serious, is to work with the employer on a clear path, not on whatever takes her fancy that week.

      1. londonedit*

        This is what I think the problem is, too – at the moment it seems like she’s coming across as wanting to ‘butt in’ to everyone’s work and do a whole load of random training that has nothing to do with her job. I think it’s absolutely fine for her to talk to her manager and say that she’d really love to move into running a production line one day, and would it be possible for her to do some job shadowing with the production line manager, or whatever, but it needs to be some sort of formal process and she needs to have some sort of plan in place and and idea of how this training will help her in her current role and help her move onwards and upwards in the company, rather than just ‘OP’s job/forklift truck driving/production line’. I’m an editor and it would absolutely make sense for me to ask for training in copywriting or managing people or certain aspects of book production, because those are things I could use to gain a better breadth of knowledge about teams that are adjacent to mine, and things I could use to grow in my own role. But it wouldn’t make sense for me to suddenly want to train in payroll or facilities management or accounting.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, this doesn’t sound like someone asking for “regular” cross-training because 1. the things she’s interested in are quite different from each other and not usually something you’d see come together in one person unless it naturally happened that way, probably in the run of a decade or two, and 2. there doesn’t seem to be a formal approach where she talks to her boss who then sets up a plan or hands her resources or whatever; it sounds like just declares she wants to do X and then walks up to the person doing X and demands they let her help.

          (I do want to point out that there is a common denominator to all the examples OP gave, and that is that they’re very hands-on/manual jobs. So it seems to me a bit like she is in the completely wrong type of role in general but that’s something I’d advise her on if she wrote in. All given these weren’t just stand-ins OP made up an in reality we’re talking about drastically different jobs, of course.)

          1. Andy*

            > the things she’s interested in are quite different from each other

            Are they? All mentioned examples are proximity technical. It seems to me they are far from her current role, but not far away from each other.

            1. tessa*

              She can’t keep up with the work she was originally hired to do. That’s a key problem in all this.

          2. A name for this*

            I have to wonder if she’s more interested in the manual side but the accounts job was easier to get into as a woman. This sounds like somewhere that just might not be inclined to hire women for entry level manual work.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              And the manual work is more highly paid because it’s all men. I ran into that one a lot with some of the plants I did statements for. In fact, one person was pressed into accounts payable because she was a woman, not because she was any good at it (frankly, she bit the wax tadpole at that job) but did yard work when all the men were sick. But she was never moved there permanently even when a couple of the guys retired, gee, I wonder why.

        2. ferrina*

          Agree. I think one key here is that it needs to be something that the manager agrees to and has a say in (so that she can continue to be available for the job that she was hired for). I had an employee who really wanted to work in Teapot Design, but she was hired for a role in my Teapot Painting team. I gave her as many opportunities as I could, but eventually she started complaining that I was being a tyrant in forcing her to paint teapots. The thing is- we really needed a teapot painter, and that was what we hired. If we had wanted a Teapot Designer and thought she was a good fit, that’s what we would have done. But she was trying to force her interests ahead of the business needs, to the point where she was completely ignoring the business needs

        3. Bongofury*

          To play the devil’s advocate, do we know that she doesn’t have that kind of plan with her manager? All we know is LW#3’s side and maybe her manager doesn’t update the whole staff with development goals for everyone?

      2. EPLawyer*

        Not necessarily — leaving the forklift aside for the moment, it could be someone who wants to learn every aspect of the business. this story reminded me of Amy Trask and what she was like when she first started in the Raiders legal department. She would ask other people questions like How many tickets to the game this Sunday were sold. People would complain to Al Davis that she was butting in to their business and she needed to just stay in legal and shut up. Al handled the complaints by asking at the next meeting who knew how many tickets had been sold for that Sunday’s game. Amy went on to be CEO of the Raiders.

        We get letters all the time from people who saying they can’t get promoted because no one else can do their job or they are guilty they can’t quit because no one does their job, and things along these lines. here is someone who WANTS TO LEARN OTHER JOBS. Don’t be all possessive, let them learn. It’s not that you can’t handle it, its that if you go on vacation you won’t come back to a pile of work because no one else knew what to do.

        What CAN be addressed if how this person is going about it. If she is not doing her job because she is learning other jobs then it needs to be made clear she has to do HER job and then find time to learn around it.

        1. KRM*

          I mean, OP literally says “we’ve needed her in accounts but she’s been off trying to learn someone else’s job”, so it’s definitely affecting her work. She needs to be sat down and told 1-your job duties come first 2-it’s great to want to learn, but you can’t flit around trying to learn random new things every week. You need to pick something to ACTUALLY learn and 3-if she wants to advance somewhere else or get trained on a different job, she needs to bring it up with her manager so they can make a plan to have her learn and have the possibility to be transferred. She can’t just run around wanting to learn a little of everything. That just leaves her not doing her job when needed, and then she doesn’t actually know any of the other jobs. Wanting to learn other jobs is great, but she needs to focus.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            This is where I fall too – if you want to learn other things that’s fine; but what you can’t do is let your assigned responsibilities suffer or not get done because you’re off “learning new things” instead. And that is where a manager overseeing the cross training would be really helpful – in getting that balance between learning new things and getting all the core responsibilities of her current job finished so others aren’t having to do your work because nobody knows where to find you.

        2. L.H. Puttgrass*

          I wonder whether LW2’s coworker thinks that learning every job in the country is the way to get into upper management. Even without the Amy Trask example, I could see someone thinking that knowing how every job in the company works is a great way to show that you’re ready to help run the company.

          1. Berkeleyfarm*

            I presume Amy was also crushing it in her legal work.

            As an ex-Oaklander and an A’s fan I have a lot of Opinions about Al Davis, but he did a very respectable job at breaking barriers. He saw the spark in Amy and encouraged that in the face of I presume heavy opposition from a male-dominated environment against a younger woman.

        3. pancakes*

          There’s a difference between learning how a business operates, though (how many x are sold each week, etc.) for the purpose of learning how to advance within it, and personally learning how to perform every single role, from driving the forklift to balancing the books. The latter doesn’t make much sense outside of fiction. And wanting to learn every role doesn’t oblige her employer to re-arrange her job duties to accommodate that just because it seems admirable. It’s not clear to what extent this approach is being accommodated here, and it isn’t clear whether people have even discussed it.

    3. ElleKat*

      Ding ding ding! I can confirm that early in my career, wading through a miserable customer-facing position with no opportunity for advancement and long hours, I also tried some wild avenues like aggressive cross-training to 1) break the stream of suck, and 2) try to make myself seem more promotable and worth a raise with “new skills.” Probably the craziest idea I had was to try to get an IT certification, when I had a copywriting-type job, which in retrospect made no sense. Fortunately for me I still got my day-to-day work done even when chasing those waterfalls, so eventually I got a new job on the strength of that daily (albeit still-miserable) work and not because of a random IT qualification. Other common tactics I’ve seen when someone (especially early-career) is not interested in the job in front of them: excessive socializing or networking, or going after shiny or “fun” things like business development and conferences, while their day-to-day job goes undone. I don’t think people do these things intentionally but to an outsider it can indeed seem random.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yes, I did it too on my first post-phd job. I knew I didn’t want to be doing THIS, but I didn’t know what I did want to do, so I was trying to figure out all the different avenues that led off it and which ones I might actually be interested in. And after a year and a bit I figured it out and managed to get a job in that area and I’ve been on a very satisfying career track since then.

        If she’s doing it to the extent that it’s leaving her work undone or she’s making other people feel like she’s “after their job”, management should step in and let her know what her priorities are supposed to be. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with being at an, “I’m not sure what I’m doing, what are the possibilities and how do things work” stage of your career! As others have said, some of the stuff she’s talking about is very much stuff you can just “have a go on” or get quickly cross-trained on, like operating a forklift, but equally, nobody’s born knowing that! It’s ok if someone explains to her what’s actually involved in getting certification to drive a forklift or operate a production line, and she can figure out whether or not it’s something she wants to pursue.

    4. Asenath*

      If she just wants to get out of her current job/learn new skills, she’s going about it the wrong way. An offer to help (not what OP calls “butting in”), a discussion with her manager and the manager of the other job with ways in which she might broaden her skills, plus always getting all her own work done is the way to go. Even so, there are going to be some businesses that won’t be very flexible, and some jobs – possibly like the forklift operator one – which will require certificates she doesn’t have. I’d say she’s enthusiastic to get new skills, but going about it in a way that’s not really appropriate or likely to succeed in her setting, and if she’s skimping on her own duties and annoying co-workers, her manager should have a word about how she might best direct her energies and ambitions.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Agreed, if she were the one writing in I’d tell her to talk with her manager about this, or maaaaybe offer to help coworkers in adjacent areas to her job. Not forklift operators.

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          There is a lot to learn in finance and operations! At my last job (small company) we had several people come in the door as receptionists (which included part time document scanning) who got jobs in other groups when their admin chops/work ethic was positively noted.

    5. ToTiredToThink*

      Probably. I know I giggled reading this because 15ish years ago, I had a co-worker who was a lot like this. I still remember when we were desperately hiring for a highly-specialized job (all of the interns and entry-level employees had gone to college and either majored or minored in that specific skill), and she flat told me she had offered to learn it and didn’t understand why management wasn’t taking her seriously. I didn’t say anything then but mentally I was like – because you need 2+ years of actual college courses for that job! She also thought they would just teach her on the job – when they didn’t have time to do so. It was a mixture of *cluelessness* and I _think_ trying to make the company rely on her more but in a toxic way. But people were literally dancing when she up and walked out one day. And its not like the company was opposed to training people in technical fields – I was promoted and trained as such from the AP/AR department – _after_ I had already showed I had the basic skills, but the fact that she seemed she felt entitled to work a job that took a lot of training and thought the company should just trust her with it was tone-deaf. If she had actually been serious about a career change, she could have taken night classes at the local junior college and used the tuition-reimbursement program.

      In OP3s case – it really does sound like the person wants to get away from AR work, but doesn’t realize that this isn’t how to go about it. I think the others are right – the person needs to work with her manager and come up with an actual plan. She may have to take outside courses to actually be trained up on these jobs. Maybe she thought if she got hired for AR she’d be able to move up.

      1. Beauty*

        I worked with a couple younger people like that. One wanted to do tasks that you literally had to have a license to do and HAD to go to school for, but was downright awful at her relatively straight foward regular job and often showed up hungover. Another guy walked out on his second day because we wouldn’t let him do moderately dangerous work without any experience.

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          And a lot of organizations have That Person who doesn’t like their own job much _and_ is going around kibitzing on other’s work, to the detriment of their own. Sometimes combined with they would really prefer the other job and are snarky to the person/people who has it. If they stick around for a while they are usually very good at selling themselves to management.

          Management needs to work with her to come up with a coverage plan for the core duties and a coherent training plan.

    6. A Poster Has No Name*

      Yeah, this sounds to me like someone who would like to develop their skills in other areas and just isn’t doing it the right way.

      Possibly because the organization doesn’t really support that kind of thing and possibly because that’s just the way they are. It’s not good that they’re not available for their primary duties, but aside from maybe bringing that up to management, what the coworker learns or does not learn on the job isn’t really the LW’s to own.

    7. SongbirdT*

      Right. This letter was so interesting to me because I started out in the same kind of roles, but I was always curious about what made the broader organization tick. I wanted to really understand the different tools and systems in place to see the big picture of how my work tied into the whole.

      The best places let me explore and learn, while the crappiest ones were oddly resentful of my curiosity. But the skills I acquired led me to where I am now, in a role that I could never have imagined for myself. My curiosity has served me in so many ways and I’m so grateful!

      It sounds like in this case they may need to make sure there’s a plan to ensure core tasks aren’t overlooked when the Explorer is learning new things, but that doesn’t make her curiosity a bad thing. OP, don’t begrudge your coworker her curiosity. And if you can, show her some of the cool parts of your work. Someday she may look at what you taught her as being pivotal in her career path.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Want to add that “a plan to ensure core tasks aren’t overlooked when the Explorer is learning new things” shouldn’t be OP having to do the Explorer’s core tasks on top of their assigned workload.

        Signed, the person who has been there and done that because the manager wouldn’t manage and didn’t bother to make sure my Explorer was actually getting their work done. There were times I couldn’t take mandated breaks because my Explorer was nowhere to be found. It eventually drove me out of that company because doing two people’s jobs without breaks just wasn’t sustainable, and the manager wouldn’t address the problems in workload disparity.

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          Definitely always that risk, especially when the manager isn’t managing well.

          Cosigned, the person who got stuck with all the unglamorous low level work their Explorer was supposed to be doing, but who was off doing “more personally fulfilling” stuff.

          I was in a real panic when I got laid off (after bringing it to my management’s attention …) because my skills (for my job title/level/expected salary) had big holes in them, but happily I found another job fast at a better-managed organization. While there is a certain amount of drudge work in my profession, the Level 1/2 work is being done competently and leaves me more available for the Level 3+ work. Always happy to share my knowledge with the L1/2 folks as well.

    8. Observer*

      Is it possible that your coworker just wants to get away from receivables and reception work?

      I think that that’s pretty obvious. But she’s choosing a VERY bad way of dealing with it.

      I’m not going to repeat all of the discussion about driving a forklift. But the other stuff is just as bad. Maintaining large equipment? You don’t learn how to do it in the off moments of your full time job! Especially not when you’re trying “learn” by getting underfoot with the folks who are actually doing the maintenance. Same for actually running production lines. None of this is unskilled labor.

      And that’s aside from her apparently getting into other people’s jobs. It’s not really the OP’s place to monitor this person’s weird behavior, and unless it’s affecting THEM, they should stay out of it. CW is MIA when someone else needs her? That’s not OP’s problem, it’s CW’s manager’s problem. On the other hand, the OP has a valid issue of CW tried to take over OP’s work.

      1. Chris too*

        Was she completely like this pre-covid, or just somewhat leaning that way? We are a group of around 20 people that have to keep working no matter what, and we have people in every department that know how to run the forklifts without it being their job. We work with something living and sometimes irreplaceable and we can’t just walk away.

        She may have felt that there wasn’t enough attention being paid to what could go wrong, and how the place could keep going, if people had to quarantine for covid.

        1. Nina*

          Yeah, in my company we had a huge issue with the facility being on one side of a county line, and half the staff living on the other side, so when COVID happened and there was a county-by-county lockdown (travel within okay, travel across lines NO), we were missing literally all of the people who knew how to do one specific, definitely not low-skill, and crucial task. So the task didn’t get done for months, it was a disaster, and as soon as that lockdown lifted, a bunch of people who lived in the same county as the facility got trained on the task.

          And in the next lockdown, we struggled, but we weren’t hamstrung.

          Cross-training can make sense even if the only reason you’re the most logical person to do the task is where you live. I know how to do a bunch of emergency-management stuff on my facility, which is definitely not within my job description or adjacent to my actual work, because I live closest and if the alarm goes off that Switch B needs to be flipped to stop Tank C bursting, an accountant who can get there and flip it in ten minutes is better than a process engineer an hour away.

    9. YouWithTheGlasses*

      That kind of thing may have been normal in a previous job she had. As an admin assistant for a very small organization mostly powered by volunteers I was expected to deal with everything but the accounting software. In my current job everyone technically is here for a specific task like primarily manual labor, primarily admin work, etc.. But in reality everyone has to do a little bit of everything occasionally. While you don’t have to know how to format a document and operate a forklift and know the safety guidelines for handling certain materials it makes the job easier for everyone. It’s not some kind “Welp, big boss won’t hire enough people so you have to do everything!” thing. I just think that’s how this career field is.

    10. WanderingSuperstar*

      OP3: I feel like you have two issues here; one bad and one could be either.

      When they’re not available or easily found and possibly falling behind on their tasks to volunteer other things–that’s an issue that should be addressed as these things usually have important turn-around times.

      But the other, of wanting to learn different aspects, I don’t think that should be seen as a negative. It could indicate they don’t like this role, but maybe they want to grow and knowing different aspects would help them understand the company as a whole better–some people always like to strive for growth and it should be a good thing and supported (true, when it’s not taking over). Yes, some of these things seem far outside the current responsibilities–but then why not ask, it’d be good to know where they are coming from and how you can use this knowledge thirst to the company’s and employee’s advantage

      1. tessa*

        Unfortunately, the person doesn’t seem to have a “knowledge thirst” for the job for which she was hired. That’s a bit of a red flag.

    11. moonstone*

      The issue is that this person is going about it awkwardly (by overstepping boundaries) and also neglecting her existing job duties. I sympathize with not being interested in your current job, but that’s what you’re hired to do, you still have to do it.

      I also think management is really dropping the ball here. They need to be handling OP’s coworker and disciplining her for neglecting her duties and bothering her colleagues. They could also help the coworker get training in other teams in a structured manner, but it seems like they aren’t doing anything.

    12. lyonite*

      A lot of good points in this thread, but I’d also like to point out that cross-training someone in something completely unrelated to their job function is not a trivial thing to ask for. I work in a lab, using some specialized equipment, and I’m happy to train other lab colleagues in some aspects of them, but it takes a lot of time and attention, and even someone “just tagging along to watch” is very disrupting to my work. So if someone from Legal wanted me to train them, I wouldn’t be into it, no matter how much they didn’t like being a lawyer.

    13. Reluctant Mezzo*

      The coworker might also be feeling insecure about how long her present job might last and wants other skills to stay with the company. If the receivables are trending way down (reflecting sales) she might not be paranoid after all.

    14. Hats Are Great*

      OP3’s coworker may need to find a different employer — mine provides extensive support for us cross-training into other areas, whether they’re closely related to our jobs or not. At monthly all-hands, they recognize people who got curious about other jobs in the company and learned a bunch about warehouses or accounts or whatever, and they provide a relatively generous training budget for people who want to train in other areas (I spend about two hours a week, at work, working on a certification totally unrelated to my current job, that my company is paying for.) Their theory is that helping people advance in their career makes them more loyal and more versatile employees, and that even if they leave to work in their newly-certified area, they’re likely to speak warmly of the employer that let them follow their interests.

      OP3’s coworker might need to find a company where the leadership says, “I mean, maybe not a forklift, Marjorie, but yeah, let’s get you down to the warehouse a couple hours a week and you can shadow a warehouse manager!” And then maybe Marjorie discovers her true passion is warehouse management, or maybe she just becomes a better accounts receivable person because she’s getting to flex her brain a couple hours a week and she feels more valued at work, or maybe she catches a dire error because she recognizes it as one because she knows how the warehouse works. All good outcomes!

      Of course if she’s just a busybody who feels the need to control everything, not great. But if she’s curious and bored, cross-train her!

      1. tessa*

        But she doesn’t handle the tasks of her own job very well. How then, is she owed cross training and professional growth?

    15. Bongofury*

      I desperately want this employee to write in with her side of the story. Because maybe LW3 doesn’t like that the accounts weren’t handled immediately when really they can wait an hour. Maybe Employee’s manager lets them do this because they recognize that Accounts isn’t her best fit but wants to find a spot that she really excels at (Which is a great thing for a manager to do!) but of course, her manager isn’t going to tell LW3 that so how would LW3 know?

      I’m getting a spidey-sense that LW3 just doesn’t like her coworker, and is grumpy about how much attention she’s getting because she’s eager and willing to learn new things while LW3 isn’t. Both are fine approaches to work, maybe there is a 40 year age difference between Employee and LW3 and they want different things with their career. I’m also wondering if the forklift thing was just a one-off conversation but it’s being blown out of proportion.

      I know I’m biased but I know in my team if I show any enthusiasm for any other role or branching out of responsibilities I get told to “stay in my lane”. My first day I was told “we prefer to stay overworked than give a new hire any of our responsibilities because they always make us look bad”. So I really feel for Employee in this situation.

      I’m guessing there is a lot of Missing Missing Information in this letter.

    16. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think cross-training is often a good thing and someone wanting to grow a bit out of their lane is normal and at many companies would be welcomed.

      But wanting to branch out from finance/admin to driving a forklift and running the production line is pretty out there. Those would be very significant career shifts, and I’m sure that kind of change isn’t totally unheard of but you can’t just like… pick that up on a whim! Like “oh, let me give that a go!” Totally wild.

  2. Viki*

    #2, Summer is such a vague timeline. I know at least three people in my office who consider the start of summer to be after the May long weekend.

    And really once you said you were leaving, that’s it. That’s your terms, and it would have been foolish to think they wouldn’t be hiring to replace you.

    Lesson learned for next time to give an actual date, not a season when you leave. Or to be prepared for them to replace you before your preferred timeline

    1. Willis*

      Yeah…I get that the technical start to summer is later in June but a lot of people consider it to start after Memorial Day. So I can see the boss thinking this is inline with what the OP originally said. And the vagueness opened the door for that.

      1. Blue Glass*

        Where I live this weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, is considered the beginning of summer.

    2. MK*

      Yes. The company and her boss in particular haven’t treated the OP well, but in this instance it was perfectly reasonable to take “I will leave in the summer” as “She will be there till June”. I am not even sure it counts as being pushed out early, they are employing her till summer. It should have been handled better, with a conversation between the OP and her boss, but it’s not an outrage.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      In Ireland, we consider summer to be May, June and July, though the Met Office disagrees and say June, July and August. But certainly, when I was at school, we learnt May, June and July. I was in my teens when I learnt this was not universal across the Northern hemisphere.

      1. londonedit*

        Ooh, interesting – I grew up in England and summer here is generally considered to be June, July and August (the school summer holidays are six weeks spanning the end of July and the whole of August). I definitely wouldn’t consider May to be summer – May is definitely spring. And August definitely isn’t autumn, it’s summer!

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Of course, we only get actual warm summer weather for about 2 weeks of the year in the UK. ;) But yeah, I consider June, July and August to be summer too.
          And I never got used to the warmest months of the year being September and October when I lived in the Bay Area (California) – it totally threw me off!

          1. londonedit*

            One freakishly hot weekend in March or April, then rain, then 35 degrees out of absolutely nowhere for a week in July, then more rain, then maybe another freakishly warm couple of days in September :D

          2. After 33 years ...*

            We “nominally” consider summer to be July and August, although I have seen snow in both months.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Well, the Irish for September is Meán Fomhair, which means “middle of Autumn” and the old Celtic festivals that marked each season…well, Halloween marked the change from Autumn to Winter.

          But yeah, summer weather and Ireland…ye even get a lot hotter than us in parts of the UK.

        3. alienor*

          I think of it as June, July and August as well. I always forget that it’s technically still summer through the majority of September, because September is when you go back to school (although in the US, lots of places start school as early as August 1 now, which is a big change from when I grew up).

      2. Asenath*

        There’s what the meteorologists think is summer, and what the local climate feels like! For me (eastern Canada) summer is June, July and August. That leaves April and May (and maybe March) in limbo, because they’re technically spring, but we don’t get much really springlike weather here, you know, the kind described in books and shown on TV. I was rather surprised to find out that somewhere – Australia, I think? – they tie the starts of the seasons to the appropriate equinoxes. I think of the equinoxes as strictly astronomical and not occurring in sync with the seasons.

        Anyway, if I said I was resigning in the summer, I’d mean probably June, maybe a little later. But the boss in this case doesn’t seem open to much discussion. I think, if I still wanted to stay on the job until June, I’d pick a date, announce it, and go on from there. There’s not much point asking for more pay under the circumstances. I also fail to see how working from home (presumably full-time) is supposed to be possible if you are also a full-time student, any more than working from an office would be.

        1. Koalafied*

          I’ve always understood the “first official day of x season” to be the solstices and equinoxes, and I’m in the US, but I’m not sure I know what you mean by “they tie the start of the seasons” to them – if you just mean the weather lines up really well with them in that place, or that there’s some significance or government declaration or public event tied to those dates. To me, those are the days where they print First Day of Whatever on wall calendars and you’ll get a lot of marketing emails and in-store sales seizing on the opportunity for themed marketing, but nothing really actually happens on those dates.

          People do make comments like, “I guess it IS still technically winter” when it snows on March 12 after an early warm spell made everyone want to believe spring weather had come early, but at the same time everyone knows that in this region (mid Atlantic) we always get warm spells and cold snaps throughout March and April, regardless of what season you call it.

          1. londonedit*

            Here in the UK there’s a difference between the meteorological seasons and the equinoxes. So according to the Met Office, spring starts on 1 March and ends on 31 May, but according to the equinox spring starts on 21 March and ends on 20 June.

            1. Daisy Avalin*

              And I quibble with this, because 21st June*/Summer Solstice is Mid-Summer’s day, not the start of summer (likewise Mid-winter’s day 21st December – the equinoxes/solstices are the mid-points of the seasons, not the start of them).

              *I was born on Midsummer’s Day, so I am very firm about this!

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                The solstices are the astronomical midpoints, but not the midpoints of “not needing a sweater weather” or “lets swim outdoors weather” or “bugs” which are also synonyms for summer.

              2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

                That’s not actually how that works. The seasons start with the equinoxes and solstices. Which, at least where I am, makes sense. If June 21 is the middle of summer, that means the end of April, when we still might get frost, is summer, and August, when our average temperature is 87 degrees, is fall.

                1. Irish Teacher*

                  In Ireland, Daisy’s comment really is how it works. Midsummer’s day may not be the EXACT middle of summer, but it’s pretty close and same thing with midwinter’s day, as winter is considered to be November, December and January. It doesn’t make April summer, just May, June and July. If April were summer, 21st of June would be the end of summer, not the middle.

                2. Willow Pillow*

                  Same with me in northern Canada. It can snow any month of the year, but there’s usually snow on the ground from November to mid April. Late July-August are warmest and it’s nice all the way through September.

                  June 21 may have the most daylight hours (at least in the northern hemisphere), but it takes some time for the temperatures to catch up at my latitude.

                3. Beany*

                  At least the solstices & equinoxes are predictable recurring calendar dates. But pretending that all four seasons have the same length is kind of silly. In weather terms where I live now (Washington DC area), meteorological Spring and Fall are much shorter than Summer and Winter. And of course in more tropical parts of the globe, even talking about four seasons doesn’t really make sense.

                  (When I was a child, one of my naive beliefs was that each season lasted exactly 3 months, and they were lined up with the calendar year: Spring was 1 January to 31 March, Summer was 1 April to 30 June, etc. Obviously this was completely wrong, but I grew up in Ireland where Summer is more aspirational than meteorological anyway.)

            2. Sasha*

              And that feels right – no way would I say summer started on 1st May, it is usually still around 10C and raining daily. By 1st June the weather is much more summery.

              And then moving into Autumn in August? August is definitely peak summer here, and lasts until mid September.

        2. FrivYeti*

          Canadian, and I remember getting in trouble at a job for labelling something the ‘summer mailout’ because it was going out in June and we’d expect responses in July. My boss said that summer didn’t start until June 21, and since the mailout was going out in early June it was a spring mailout and we needed to refer to it as such.

          To me, summer’s always been June, July, and August.

      3. Another Irish person*

        Yes, in my tourism-adjacent job we get a lot of mainland Europeans arriving here in August and surprised that it’s autumn already. I’ve a bit of FOMO sometimes about the rest of the northern hemisphere at that time of the year.

        On the other hand, spring here starts in February so it’s nice to have flowers pushing up while other countries are still getting snow. Bit of balance.

      4. Emily*

        It’s not even universal across the whole island- I’m in Northern Ireland and would consider June, July and August to be summer! (Although admittedly summer is more of an abstract concept in NI than anything!)

    4. Snow Globe*

      I think the other take away here is that based on how the boss has treated the OP in the past (asking them to stay while promising a raise that didn’t materialize), there would really be no reason to trust the boss with offering up more than the standard two weeks anyway. Even if the OP had provided a specific date, say July 1, there is no reason to think the boss wouldn’t have gone ahead and done the same thing anyway. Once he realizes the employee is leaving, he’s going to try to find a replacement, and if he’s found someone good, he’s going to offer the job so that he doesn’t lose them. So I agree the timeline was vague, but with a boss like this, just give the two weeks notice.

    5. anonymous73*

      Regardless of when someone considers summer to begin, OP gave her notice. So her boss started looking for a replacement. While they sound like a terrible person to work for based on the other details in the letter, I can’t blame them for finding someone as soon as possible, so they’re prepared for OP to leave.

    6. Esmeralda*

      Or to not give such long notice. Two weeks….Or could be longer = it shouldn’t be longer than you are ok being unemployed.

      You can be professional and ensure that all your processes are documented, paperwork in order, etc. before giving notice.

      You were trying to think about the needs of a boss/employer that has not cared one bit about your needs. I get that you stayed since you’d be leaving for grad school, but this was a job where you could (maybe should) have left a lot sooner for a better-paying job.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “Two weeks….Or could be longer = it shouldn’t be longer than you are ok being unemployed.”

    7. Late Luncher*

      I had a similar reaction – “but it is summer.” It really was/is too vague a plan. Even a small qualifier would have had them on the same page; it seems as if it was mid-to-end of summer that was intended.

  3. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – I would listen hard to your former manager and your contact. If you have other options that are close to or equally as good, I would make those your priorities. I would also consider whether the CEO’s dickishness is likely to affect your reputation in the long run – there are some companies where joining as a junior employee isn’t held against you, but staying too long into management roles causes people to assume you’re part of the problem.

    You may decide to take the role anyway, but I would think hard about it first and have a clear reason for why, what you expect to get out of the move, and what you are prepared to put up with. Eg. perhaps you will get experience in an area that will round out your resume and make you ready to take on more senior roles. Or maybe you’re in an economic situation where you need a job NOW, and this company will be okay for a couple years until you have more options. And sometimes, the devil you know is easier to deal with than the one you don’t – no company is perfect, right?

    I would also make a point of letting your contacts know you appreciate their advice and are going into the situation with your eyes open, if you do take the role. It’s a good idea to express appreciation, for one thing, and your manager in particular is someone you might consider a mentor, so it makes sense to acknowledge their advice.

    (Spoken as someone who has had dickish clients at times, and in some cases has figured out how to deal with the client effectively, in others has quietly dropped the client, and in one case has fired the client with extreme prejudice.)

    1. Miette*

      This is good advice–make a decision based on a balance of the facts at hand vs. your current situation.

      I worked at a company for a dickish CEO, and was warned by my hiring manager (a former manager that I worked well with in the past) about it. He was, in fact, a huge dick, but very well-respected in the field as well. His overbearing style meant that literally nothing could happen in this nonprofit without his opinion/approval, and this permeated the culture to the point of stagnation at times. He also did not have much of an appetite for innovation, so that harmed the company in the long run too . It was painful often, but I also had a rewarding experience because the mission was very important to me, my co-workers were wonderful, and the pay was surprisingly generous for the sector. He is now gone, but so am I tra-la.

      This is all to say that you take the good with the bad, and since you also mentioned you’ve been laid off, your need for employment definitely will factor into your decision. I was in a similar position when I started that job, so I can definitely relate.

    2. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

      I think this is good advice as well.

      Have you asked your contacts what exactly makes the CEO dick-ish? My predecessor felt the same way about my current supervisor. When I asked her why, I really appreciated that she was able to point to very concrete things that she didn’t like. Knowing that, I feel like I’ve been able to navigate the role better and the things that she decided she couldn’t live with are things that don’t bother me.

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I think so much of this depends on exactly how much interaction you would have with the dick-CEO. Sometimes that might be very minimal..

      But sometimes, even if your own personal contact is minimal, the actions of the dick-CEO will affect you regardless of how much contact you have! This could be anything from budgets to attitudes (think WFH and Covid in recent times).

  4. my 8th name*

    Re #3, I get the sense that the coworker doesn’t want to work in accounts payable anymore. Imo they appear to be looking for new development opportunities to learn new skills and potentially trying to transition into other areas. And honestly, I respect that. That doesn’t make it the letter writer’s responsibility, but I do hope the coworker connects with management to see what training opportunities can be made available to them.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I do think the coworker is going about this the wrong way though. It’s one thing to say “I’d some training opportunities in other areas to expand my horizons, can we work on what that might look like?” or something similar. It’s another to just say “I want training in X” when any reasonable person should understand X has nothing to do with the job you were hired for. And that she seems to ditch her actual job to go “help” in these other areas of interest isn’t cool.
      That said, it’s bizarre management hasn’t sat her down and said something like “you seem to be interested in a lot of other areas of Company A’s work. This is fine, but we do need to see you focused and performing reliably at your current job. The accounts payable work should be your primary focus. When you take on other non-AP work, it needs to be when you’re fully caught up on the AP stuff first.” or whatever.
      I know I’ve certainly seen people just…take on stuff they find more interesting and somehow change their job from what they were hired to do into what they’d rather do and get the other stuff reassigned, but it doesn’t sound like that’s going to work here, and frankly, when this happens gradually rather than as an intentional change to a role, it’s usually the result of bad management.

      1. Becky*

        Okay, but like…they’re just going to lose their AP person either way. If she isn’t interested in AP, and they don’t let her cross train to transition to a different area, she’s just going to quit. This exact thing happened to me, and I finished up my notice a week ago. Their problem.

        1. tessa*

          Why is she owed here? She was hired to do X, but shows more interest in Y. That’s her dilemma to work out for herself, not the company’s. Besides, she is leaving her AP work undone. As such, her quitting wouldn’t have much of an impact.

          1. Sandy*

            I’m curious why you keep bringing up the question of why an employer “owes” this employee anything. It’s not a bad thing for an employer to offer learning and development experiences in other areas of a company, especially if it means retaining an employee. This may or may not be the best course of action in this case, but keeping a curious and engaged employee who is already familiar with the company (even if she isn’t especially good at what she’s currently doing) can be a good thing for the company as well as a kindness to the employee – and kindness is something we can use as much of as we can get right now.

    2. Jellyfish*

      Yes, I saw myself ten years ago in #3. I’d pursued a very traditional office job because the hours, pay, and benefits were far better than other areas of my work experience like food service. I wasn’t well suited to that job and struggled to stay engaged, but I thought that was everyone’s experience.

      At the time, I felt that I didn’t have a good grasp on what anyone else in the company did, and maybe I’d do better if I understood what was going on around me. Basic forklift driving was part of it! Mostly I wanted to do anything other than my actual job duties.

      Eventually, one of my side excursions worked and I realized I’d far rather be doing that kind of job instead. It wasn’t up to the company to finance my self exploration while I slacked on my duties though. I was unhappy, but I was also not a great worker, and that was on me.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Coworker is definitely over-enthusiastic and unfocused, but LW’s attitude is weird too. It seems very old-fashioned to just sit down and do what you’re told with no opportunity for development unless your boss specifically tells you to, and also you have no say in *what* you develop in your own career.

      I also think it’s good to have a general idea of what others do in their job to give context to help you do your own job better.

  5. CatCat*

    I kind of get the overstepper in #3. It sounds like management is not telling her no and not telling her yes, and instead leaving her to kind of flounder around and see if it’s possible to acquire these new skills at the company. And she’s just clinging onto some kind of hope/not getting a clue after all this time. Annoying for all.

    I think all you can do is continue to firmly decline her help, and you should also redirect her to her manager every time. “I know you want to be trained on the equipment, but I don’t know if that’s possible here. You’ll need to raise it with your manager.” And if she is causing a problem disrupting your work, raise the problem with your own manager.

    1. MK*

      Yes, I think the OP needs to let this go as a general problem with the coworker and focus on the parts that concern her. If the coworker is not doing her job and that affects the OP’s work, tell her what you need from her and escalate to her boss if she continues to be unavailable. If the coworker is pushing to involve herself in the OP’s work, tell her to stay in her lane and escalate to her boss or yours if she continues. As a coworker it’s not the OP’s job to solve this, if it is even a problem.

    2. Cj*

      And could be that’s not possible. Someone that drives a forklift or is works on the production line is going to be classified differently for work comp and a receptionist. Management might not want to reclassify her because the premiums would be higher.

  6. Just Another Cog*

    LW #1 – Listen to your former boss and Alison. I was a middle manager under a CEO who was a huge jerk. I really tried to shield my team from his assholiness for a long time, but it eventually began to affect me physically and mentally. I became a person I didn’t like. To save my sanity, I had to resign my leadership role and then worked an awkward year there until I was hired by a competitor.

    1. Snow Globe*

      In my last job, my grandboss was the dick, while my boss was great. But she couldn’t shield us from everything; so much unnecessary stress, changes in priorities and finger-pointing, it was miserable for everyone. Eventually I started to realize that great-grandboss was also a dick, and probably the cause of grandboss’s dickishness, or at least a contributing factor. Grandboss retired, things did not get better. New grandboss seemed very nice, but was fired in three months, probably for not being dickish enough. TL;DR: don’t accept this job.

  7. Heidi*

    I’m a little confused about the timeline in Letter 2. It says that the OP submitted their resignation in December of 2021 to go back to school in January. Did the OP un-resign and continue to work past January while going to school? Or does the masters program not start until next January (2023), meaning that the OP gave a full year’s notice?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I believe they stayed after they were allowed WFH so they could do school too, but I may be misreading.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, that was my read — the OP submitted her resignation, the boss offered her a new position and let her work from home on the days she had school, so she accepted it but at some point mentioned she would leave in the summer.

      2. Heidi*

        So if the OP did not resign in January and had not officially submitted the summer resignation, aren’t they indeed getting fired and not actually serving out a notice period?

        1. anonymous73*

          I have never submitted a resignation letter – it has always been verbal. So I wouldn’t assume firing over resigning, unless there is official paperwork involved.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      I also got to the “three months later” and was like… whut? Is OP currently doing their masters or not? Do they currently need the money from this job or not? (and if so, what was the plan when they thought they would resign?) What changes in the summer that they want to leave then?

    3. ecnaseener*

      I kind of got the sense LW felt pressured to stay, or possibly thought they HAD to stay because the boss hadn’t accepted their resignation.

      This isn’t the question you asked, LW, but please know for the future that you always get to leave! (And you can/should resign verbally — waiting around for boss to respond to your letter isn’t supposed to be a thing.)

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Yeah, I found both of these things odd. Generally speaking * resignations occur verbally followed up with a letter/email.

        It may just be the tone due to where the OP is at now, but the whole thing sounds adversarial. So I guess my advice is to decide if the pay is important to keep as long as possible or if now is the right time to get out. If the paycheck is needed ** then as the OP I’d just suck it up and ride out the position as long as possible. If it’s not then I’d cut bait and leave while still somewhat amicable.

        * Exceptions to this occur but they are exceptions.
        ** I think it would be unlikely that the OP would be eligible for unemployment since they did resign verbally but I’m not an expert so that one could be open to interpretation.

        Here’s hoping the formatting doesn’t go wonky due to my use of ” * “

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Many decades ago, I was in an office job where I did the work fine but didn’t fit into the culture well, and didn’t realize that it mattered. Sometime in the fall, I let them know that I’d be leaving in December to go to college starting in January. I don’t remember the timing, but it was at least 2 months ahead of time… and that Friday I was let go. (I never saw it coming; I was young and naive; I learned then to never give extra notice in that kind of job.) I applied for unemployment and got it, I think based on the fact that they claimed I’d been bad at my job but they’d never actually given me a warning of any kind (not even a verbal), so there was no documentation of bad-at-job-ness.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I’m so confused–it seems like OP gave notice and their boss said “no actually, you’re not leaving plus now you are also taking over this other position” and OP just… did? Why? I don’t understand how working from home is really any more doable with school, especially if it came with extra duties.

      The end part of the questions is pretty normal, if you give a long notice you risk being pushed out early. But it seems like that was the least of your issues with this workplace and you should probably just bounce ASAP anyway.

  8. Mid*

    I….don’t get why OP3 is so upset by someone wanting cross training. Isn’t it a good thing for people to be trained to work in multiple departments?

    And, I feel like it used to be far more common for people to work in multiple roles in a company, not less. My grandparents and one of my parents all worked for the same company for decades, starting in one role and moving through departments. It’s a more recent trend to switch companies instead of roles within one company.

    So no, I don’t think this is a new trend. If anything, it’s an old one.

    1. Elle*

      I don’t get it either. And OP3 isn’t the cross-trainer’s manager, so why is it any of their business? I think the phrasing “tried to butt into my work” rubbed me the wrong way because it was so rude and dismissive.

      If I had the chance to learn as many new skills as possible for free in a work environment, I’d do it.

      1. ecnaseener*

        See, I took “butting in” at face value as a description of what this person is doing (taking LW at their word and all that). It’s the difference between respecting someone’s time and, well, just butting in. “I have a fair amount of downtime and would love to learn more about what you do, is there anything you could use an extra hand on?” vs “Hi, what are you doing? Can I help?”

        1. Snow Globe*

          I would normally agree, but the comment about how the LW thinks it’s normal for people just focus on their own work seems a bit off. It’s actually not unusual to ask to learn about what your coworkers do. (asking to learn to do something in another department that is completely different than your normal job is not that common though.)

          1. Mockingjay*

            Eh, I think it’s culture dependent. I’ve been at companies with extremely strict swim lanes in which curiosity was promptly quashed. Not out of malice; these were places that had a lot of work and were big enough to have clear promotion paths within a role, but it was rare to see people jump roles because the swim lanes were deemed an efficient business model (to be fair, those two companies were very successful). Current Job is a medium-sized company but still thinks “small:” we cross-train frequently and people change roles. It might take awhile to change over, but it can and does happen. Current Company views it as a retention policy to keep employees engaged.

            1. Johanna Cabal*

              This definitely comes down to company culture. I briefly worked at a job in a role I hated with an eye toward moving into a different role eventually but that was never going to happen.

            2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

              I think it also depends on what they are looking at cross training. As others mentioned a receptionist wanting to learn to use the forklift in production is a lot different than if she wanted to learn more about pay roll.

              Some companies seem to have strict lines between office staff and production staff.

        2. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I’m kind of thinking of this coworker as Clippy (remember him from MS Word awhile back? everyone hated him?). “Hi, I see you are operating heavy machinery, can I help?”

        3. RagingADHD*

          I’m not even sure why “can I help” would get LW this bent out of shape. If it were constant, maybe. But it can’t be constant, because coworker is going around to other departments.

          To me, “butting in” implies actually interfering in the work or telling you how to do things. Not asking to learn.

          1. ecnaseener*

            (3rd try posting this after connection issues – sorry if it’s a duplicate)

            When you’re in the middle of something, “can I help” translates to can I get you to interrupt your workflow to explain everything to me as you’re doing it?” It’s the implied “right now” that makes it butting in IMO.

          2. Batgirl*

            I would find it a bit jarring and presumptuous to have a colleague from another department suddenly ask to do something that would require me to stop being productive, so I could train and explain. In spite of the phrasing, it probably wouldn’t be any “help” to me, but it would be entertaining and educational for them. It would depend on how close/far the other person’s role was from mine of course, but essentially you’re not there to entertain and train people at work, unless you’re a trainer, or unless you work with kids.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Yeah, “butt in” sounded ok to me, since I’ve had coworkers butt into my work. That’s not rude and dismissive, it’s *descriptive*.

        Butt into my work = doing some of my tasks without asking me (usually when I was out of the office or in a meeting or otherwise occupied), redoing my tasks, getting stuff off my desk so then I can’t do my task and have to go find my stuff and take it back. It meant I had to go tell others that, no, that was NOT the actual TPS report they get from me; no, boss, I had plenty of time to work on that project but Mr Buttinski took it on himself to do it, did it wrong, and could you PLEASE tell him, AGAIN, to cut it out?

        Maybe you have not had this experience, but let me tell you, it is a giant pain in the butt and it generates extra work, damage to one’s reputation (because the butt-inner NEVER does a good job), and a lot of frustration.

      3. BuildMeUp*

        I don’t think saying “she tried to butt in on my work” is rude or dismissive; OP is using this phrasing to mean that their coworker was overstepping. And this is obviously not the phrasing OP used in response to their coworker. OP says “I politely tried to tell her that I had everything under control.”

        We also don’t even know what the OP does – they could be doing specialized work like engineering or marketing that requires a degree and/or a lot of experience to learn, in which case the coworker would absolutely be rude and overstepping for trying to get involved in something she knows absolutely nothing about.

      4. Cat Tree*

        If someone tried to “butt into” my work and sincerely wanted to help I would be thrilled. I have plenty of tedious but necessary work to give them that would also help them learn. But, all my coworkers are reasonably competent and responsible so that may not apply everywhere.

    2. Tio*

      It can be difficult if you have a full plate, and someone wants you to invest your time training them on something they’re not going to be able to reliably help you with. Training someone on something at least doubles the amount of time a task takes in most cases, and sometimes more depending on the person being trained, so the OP would be bogged down and putting themself behind on their duties without any reason other than “coworker wanted to.” Not a great time investment. Plus, if they need the coworker for their actual job and half the time they’re off on a mystery training, that can be irritating too,

    3. Allonge*

      It’s good to have cross training but it’s usually something initiated / decided by management, not by a staff member. If a peer – especially from another department – just walks up to me and says ‘train me in X’, I will need to at least ask my boss for approval, and I would expect to be asked by management to do it (because it takes time and effort, and if it’s not a given that the person getting the training will be able to help out, then it’s a waste of my time).

      1. QuickerBooks*

        Came to say this. The problem here is not that the coworker wants cross-training. It’s that it’s happening completely outside of a larger company strategy to do so.

        1. Becky*

          But where does the worker’s agency come in?

          My now-ex management decided they didn’t want to let me explore a different, but related, area of the company because they “needed” me where I was. But that wasn’t working for me, so I quit. Is that a beneficial outcome for them, to not have the employee at all rather than help them figure out where they best fit?

          1. Allonge*

            Yes, it’s beneficial for both of you. People unhappy in their job are not good for anyone – you did well to leave.

            What looks like ‘exploring’ from your side though may well be a lot of waste of time for a company: you are not doing your full original job because you are getting trained in the new one but you are still learning the new one, so not yet performing 100% there either, and it’s not sure you will like it, so maybe in a year you will want to do the same again…

            Look, I am sure there are companies where you can explore and learn by doing and so on. But it’s not free, and it should be a conscious decision of the org that they allow receptionists to start learning operating heavy machinery or the other way around.

          2. Batgirl*

            Yes. You couldn’t possibly have flourished where you were and they need to figure out what they actually want, without an employee trying to prop them up against their will.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. As a manager, I’d be absolutely thrilled if someone wanted to be cross trained. As long as someone gets their assigned work done and they’re not missing deadlines or leaving things unfinished, I’m willing to train them on absolutely anything or allow them to shadow in other departments to see if they have any interest there.

      It seems like LW’s coworker is being annoying about it, though, by inserting herself into things and possibly ignoring her own work. If that’s the case, her manager should be stepping in to tell her her curiosity and motivation is appreciated, but she needs to focus on her work. The manager should also talk to her about her career track and see if she’s looking to transition to something else, or if it’s a matter of just wanting to learn more out of curiosity, or wanting to build her resume or make herself more valuable/promotable. Or maybe she is just bored with what she’s doing or doesn’t have enough work, and would be happy to have some other departmental tasks added.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Exactly – exploration is great, as long as the work is getting done. It doesn’t sound like that is the case here, and the worker’s manager should be redirecting them and making sure they understand that their current job needs to be the worker’s priority.

        That said, the letter writer seems a bit territorial about their particular function. Perhaps they have good reasons for this, though, other than simply not wanting anyone else in their sandbox – eg. if their role requires specialized training, or the coworker’s attempts to get involved create more work for them, or if the coworker is blowing off their own job and this affects the letter writer’s ability to get work done.

        I think the letter writer should express their concerns to their own manager – ie. co-worker keeps wanting to do mine and everyone else’s job, but they’re not getting their own job done and it is causing issues for the rest of us.

        1. Batgirl*

          I am not territorial about my role when it’s a competent colleague, but someone who is floundering in their own role would need a lot of oversight, and yeah I would want a fence between my work and them.

    5. JK78*

      I’ve had a bunch of managers who have worked their way up in the company, I think the difference was that it was planned, that someone took the would be manager under their wing and helped them get into other positions. This co-worker sounds like SHE wants to do something different or try something new, management isn’t involved. With some management, someone who could DO 5 jobs and yet get paid for only ONE would be a bonus and some people might be worried they’d be replaced by someone who could do it all. Or there’s the old phrase of “jack of all trades, master of none” because if the co-worker learns how to drive a fork-lift, when will she get bored with that? What will she want to learn next?? Will she ever really use that fork-lift skill? Or finish the training?

      1. AnonMom*

        While I see value in someone who takes initiative to learn and grow professionally, it sounds like this person has not realized that they need to also do the job they were hired for. I’ve worked with several people like this over the years and the difference between a capable, ambitious employee with a bright future and a magpie who won’t acknowledge their current responsibilities is glaringly obvious. The latter type completely miss the point that the company hired them because they need an accounts receivable person and not another forklift driver. Just because there is a wide variety of interesting but unrelated jobs at the company does not mean the specialized training for each of them is a buffet available for all employees.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep – I joke that my specialty is “other duties as needed” because if my department needs someone to pick up something weird that doesn’t quite fall into anyone’s specific bailiwick, there’s a good chance they’ll ask me if I’m interested and I almost never say no. But I don’t just go grabby-hands-ing projects willy-nilly off other people’s tables.

      3. MiamiBeachDarling*

        The old saying is actually:
        “Jack of all trades is a master of none but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

    6. Lady_Lessa*

      To me, since I work closely with production, that the surprising thing is the difference in what they are paid to do and what they are exploring. Not to mention many of the places I have worked wouldn’t even consider training a woman to drive a fork lift.

      I like the idea of cross training, and think it should be encouraged.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Yes, at my former job, anyone could be trained on the forklift *in theory*. But I noticed that, on some shifts, the only women to be fully trained and certified were ones with the sort of relentless personality to conquer managerial inertia on the subject. I (F) kept mentioning how handy it would be if I could just move skids out of my own way instead of having to find an operator (who just went on a break) but my supervisor kept shining me on. There were always so many other tasks to take precedence, or no one was available to provide the training right now….

        In 4 years, I never even got to touch a forklift. Only one woman in my department was ever trained on the machines, but either she failed to certify or was just never able to utilize her training. And a vast number of my person-hours were wasted searching for someone who could move something I needed to access.

        1. Me!*

          I did get forklift-certified at the factory I mentioned above, but they NEVER assigned me to that duty. I think they only let me because legally, they couldn’t prevent it. And the trainer, an older man, made no secret of the fact that he thought women shouldn’t be driving it.

          Oddly, this same company also had a female welder. So welding was acceptable for da wimmenz but driving was not. *eyeroll*

      2. Catosaur*

        I spent a decade at my old job asking for training in a different yet fairly similar division of our work, mostly out of curiosity but slightly out of spite – that division refused to hire or train women (however, that division paid much better.) They never allowed it.

        Now I occasionally do that work elsewhere and it’s far from interesting but the money is nice.

      3. Chinook*

        “many of the places I have worked wouldn’t even consider training a woman to drive a fork lift.”

        I did wonder if some of this resistance to her learning the forklift is based in sexism. I see it here with some of our newer delivery guys – when I go to get a forklift driver, they often say I am going to go get one of them men and seem surprised when it turns out to be a smaller (than me) woman driving towards them to unload the truck. Half our floor staff are female and half our staff are trained on the forklift, it just happens I am not one of them. We only insist on one of the guys when something requires height as there is an average 1 foot difference in height between the men and women here.

    7. ACanadian*

      I get the impression that she is randomly deciding for herself what she wants to learn. If she hasn’t sat down with her manager and discussed an appropriate training plan that is useful to both the company and the employee, she is just wasting her time and doing nothing that benefits the company in the long run.

    8. hbc*

      Yeah, she needs some boundaries, but I love employees who want to learn how everything works. When our best-but-most-demanding customer showed up unexpectedly with a return and the service team was all working from home, the AP person being able to process the return all the way through meant the difference between a happy customer and a tantrum. Having 7 people who could load a truck rather than just the 2 official forklift drivers meant that someone already planning on working until 5:00 could make sure a pallet got out the door that day.

      And even if they never actually fill in, the people who understand how another team works are so much better about setting that other team up for success and catch mistakes. “Hey, it looks like I’m supposed to invoice a customer for 5.5 widgets but widgets can’t be divided like that. Is this supposed to be 5.5 *boxes* of widgets?”

    9. mreasy*

      I was alarmed by the “I was tought…” framing as it has “my way is correct” vibes. It sounds like what’s happening with that receptionist isn’t very well planned out by management, but that certainly isn’t a her problem, but a management problem. If you have someone capable & reliable who wants to change roles, it’s often better to have them do that than lose them. This just isn’t being handled well.

      1. Batgirl*

        Staying in your lane is the culture in a lot of places, and I’ve worked in both types of places. It absolutely can be the “correct” way in a certain setting! Especially in workplaces with heavy machinery and forklift, you can get the whole place shut down if you have untrained employees taking it upon themselves to do unsafe work. You’re also assuming the colleague is “capable and reliable”, when she appears to be the opposite. Not only is she AWOL when her actual job needs doing, but she lacks basic common sense about how to pursue other skills. Management are neglectful here, but not in failing to train her; they’re neglectful in not shutting this down.

    10. anonymous73*

      I honestly don’t think either is a “trend”. If you’re already working for Company A, and there are opportunities to learn new things, you already have a foot in the door so it’s easier for them to give you an opportunity to learn new things and move to other areas of the company. A few companies ago, the majority of the employees in our IT department started on the help desk. People leave for Company B because there are no opportunities for advancement at Company A or various other reasons that equal “not a good fit”.

    11. Generic Name*

      My company would love this person. We are a small company, and we’re big on cross training. It’s a great way to keep people busy when the workload fluctuates unevenly across disciplines (so a field biologist can do asbestos work in the winter). Plus,vwhen you’re small, sometimes you one have 1 person doing certain jobs, so it can be very useful to have someone fill in when someone is out sick or on vacation. It can also be a great way to move up the ladder. Our head of HR started as a project assistant with our company 25 years ago and has moved up by cross training in different jobs.

      1. KRM*

        That’s fine, but the OP literally says that her actual job is suffering because of her wanting to learn stuff, so she’s not at her desk to do her actual job when needed. Cross training is great! It’s good for people’s careers! It takes pressure off of departments when someone else knows what to do! It lets people be more flexible! But if I want to learn about supply management at my job, and I skip a bunch of experiments to shadow someone or talk to a vendor, then I’m neglecting my ACTUAL job that I was hired for, and that’s bad. So yes this person should be allowed to cross train, IF she can 1-fit it around all her job duties getting done and 2-pick something to focus on instead of flitting around ‘trying’ everything. That way it can benefit everyone.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          “So yes this person should be allowed to cross train, IF she can 1-fit it around all her job duties getting done”

          This is my main thought – there is no problem with cross training, but there is a problem with cross training at the expense of getting your job that you were hired to do done.

          It also helps to have a manager overseeing that cross training, so that there is a plan and so that your training doesn’t get in the way of other people doing their jobs.

    12. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Cross training is what you do so you can be helpful in a pinch. Nobody is going to go “I need to get that pallet down off the shelf. I know, I will run into the office and get Accounts Receivable to help!” If the business needs another backup forklift driver, they should train someone who is already out in production and will be handy.

      Machinery repair is very skilled work. If the machine just needs the belt popped back on, the operator can do it. If they don’t trust their operators to do simple fixes (and they might not if their machinery is $$$$$), why should they trust A/R, who knows even less? So these will be the tricky repairs or very valuable equipment or both. A/R is just going to get in the way.

      1. Batgirl*

        Yeah I feel like all the “but we love cross training in my company”, comes from places with either very safe desk jobs, very similar jobs, or people are arriving with a certain skillset pre hire.

    13. pbnj*

      It sounds like the things she is asking to be trained on will take a lot of time for the trainer, are unlikely to be used, and may take periodic re-certifications to actually be able to do the jobs. These are all multi-hour, multi-day or even multi-year things to learn. If she wants to pivot into a new job, she needs to say that and maybe that can happen, but learning stuff for fun or because she’s bored isn’t going to work. Perhaps letting her shadow someone for a day would be ok, and would help her to realize that you just don’t learn how to be a mechanic overnight. I work in manufacturing, and people would either say that she doesn’t have enough work to do or a variation of “ain’t nobody got time for that”.

  9. Alannah*

    The idea of specifying someone is not a good “people” manager is so funny to me. As opposed to what? “Yeah Barry isn’t very good at managing people, but you should see what he can do with a goat herd.”

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Other than people management someone can manage projects, resources, processes, technology, etc.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        During my time in academia, I have seen several colleagues who were excellent managers of all of the above, but did not have any skills connected to people management.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          My dad. Good with processes, bad with people. Probably would have done well with goats. *nods*

          1. pancakes*

            There’s a lot of people like that in the legal field and I do not think most would do well with goats. It’s fun to picture them trying, though . . .

      2. Me!*

        The administrative assistant in a smaller company may also be designated “office manager” and oversee supplies, office space, dispatching, service scheduling, etc. but not supervise or discipline anyone or do payroll or HR duties. One of my old jobs was just like this.

        I just interviewed for one I thought was similar, but it involved supervisory responsibilities they did not include in the job post. I wasn’t thrilled that they didn’t include it; I have no interest in people management.

    2. Viki*

      My previous title was analytics manager, with no direct reports. I just managed all the analytics and reporting for the department.

      People manager/leaders is a specific skill set, compared to managing of data/intel/tech which is its own skill set

    3. JustMyImagination*

      The CEO could be great at strategy and keeping on top of industry trends so his company is always on the cutting edge or appears one step ahead but be terrible at dealing with people and managing conflicts.

    4. anonymous73*

      I am a Project Manager. I have NO desire to be a people manager outside of the context of a project. Holding people to deadlines and making sure a project is completed? Sign me up. Disciplining employees, helping them with career development, etc.? No thank you. I just had a recruiter reach out to me about a PM role. The salary was significantly higher than my current one so I assumed I was unqualified but decided to speak to him anyway. Things were going well at first, and then he asked “Would I be okay managing a team of 70.” There is NOTHING on my resume that suggests I have any experience in this area. I almost busted out laughing.

        1. Elenna*

          I imagine that’s how you get managers who have no idea what any of their reports do and don’t actually manage at all, because, well, how can you when you have so many? Even just a half-hour 1-1 with each report would take nearly an entire week! The fact that that job thought that was a reasonable thing probably says a lot about how much managing the higher-ups do, too.

        2. anonymous73*

          I think he said there were team leads in between, but still..that’s like VP/Director level. My resume is clear that I’ve never done anything like that before.

    5. Mockingjay*

      I’m a terrible former people manager. My soft skills are non-existent in that area. I made the two teams I led miserable. (I was miserable too.)

      However, I am a very good task lead: absolutely on point with distributing and tracking work assignments, establishing QC processes, data management, prioritizing tasks per schedule and unanticipated changes, etc. – all the tools and processes needed to support a successful team.

      So you can say someone is not a good people manager, but they may still be a good manager in other areas.

    6. Elizabeth Bennett*

      The controller at my current employer is astounding in her job and the breadth and depth of knowledge not only about accounting, but about the company’s history and how all the little tax nuances apply to our company. And she not only knows it all, she keeps track of it all and helps to keep the company on the up and up regarding all the various filings in various states. She’s very intelligent and tenacious and disciplined.

      She’s also an authoritarian and manages people by negative feedback. I almost left the company because of a meeting, where I sat right next to her, as she told the whole department how dismal our performance was and that no, we couldn’t work overtime, we had to work at least 40 hours and had to make it up if we missed for appointments, and here’s more work on top of your already overflowing workload, and find a way to get it all done in 40 hours. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. She didn’t care that our workloads were over 40 hours a week. IOW, she didn’t care how you get it done, just get it done. In retrospect, she may have been hinting at working off the clock, but she didn’t outright say it.

      The only reason I didn’t quit was because our new manager (now director) was positive and offset the completely deflating, demoralizing lecture with her hope that things could be better. And things did get better as she fought to have some duties pushed off our plates and automated a lot of data entry.

      But now, years later, the director, who used to be positive and upbeat and hopeful, is negative and demoralizing and actually firing people. Luckily I changed departments and don’t report to either the controller or that director anymore, and I’m not the only one who changed positions to get away from the controller. I don’t know whether the controller influenced the director for the worse, or maybe their boss is a jerk who gives them this kinda lip too, but the director was so stressed and overworked that her boss told her to take two weeks vacation this month, and a coworker was sent to her house to confiscate her work laptop while out of the office so she could completely disconnect. I hope it helps to bring back the hopeful, perky person that originally arrived. Underneath it all, it makes me suspect that our C-suite peeps are terrible people managers too.

    7. Esmeralda*

      I’m not a good people manager, but I’m an excellent manager of processes and projects. Obviously I deal with people in managing these things, but I’m not in charge of people (and thank god for that, for both me and them).

    8. File Herder*

      Promote people to managers to reward them for technical excellence, because that’s the only way you can give them more money (this is what happens when you force the R&D department into the same promotion structure as the works). Some years later realise why this was not a good idea, and some years after that, mandatory “how to people manage” school, long version for the senior managers, plus short version for the junior managers so they can learn to manage up their elders. :-)

    9. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      It’s true!
      Some people are great at managing technical things (like a new website or equipment design) but not at managing what/how people interact and do things in groups.
      Of course, there is always still SOME aspect of managing people with most jobs, but those who aren’t “good people managers” tend to try to stick to what they are good at and minimize managing lots of people directly.
      I can say I am like this. I often have little patience for the workplace games, political power plays, and drama people play. I like it best when everyone just does their part, on time, and moves on.

    10. MCMonkeyBean*

      Lots of people can be high up at a company without having direct reports. There isn’t anything inherently odd about that concept.

  10. Anony*

    I think OP2’s experience is a good example of why it’s not great to hire people who are overqualified for a role, if you want to retain them long term. I get that OP wanted a raise, but clearly that wasn’t happening and not on such a fast timeline; maybe despite their qualifications, the raise would have been out of the range for their position or not made sense for the company. I also think that it’s pretty logical to find a replacement by June if OP said summer but wasn’t specific about a date.

    1. Fikly*

      This is a strange take. They wanted a raise to reflect not their qualifications, but the new work they were doing. As is appropriate.

      Don’t want people to leave? Then don’t put more and more work onto them that goes beyond what they were hired to do and then refuse to pay them based on what they are currently doing.

      1. ecnaseener*

        The letter literally says “I asked for a raise again because I knew damn well I am overqualified.”

        1. Wants Green Things*

          Which was *after* asking at least twice for a raise when her job duties changed.

    2. BethDH*

      Yeah, I feel like this timeline is very much from OP’s POV. They got a raise in November, at a point where they were already doing work beyond what they were hired to do. They then got a title change. OP considers this separate and worthy of an additional raise; but boss may have considered this all one piece and that the title change took longer than the raise (managing the previous employee out sounds like it wasn’t unexpected, at least by the manager). The order that things show up to the employee in is not always the sequence behind the scenes.
      Still, it’s obvious this is not a good fit for OP and they should not stay somewhere like this. They have until June to find a job, and it sounds like they got significant experience in this role, including a promotion with title, and that should help them find a job that is more in line with their skills.

      1. Anony*

        This is along the lines of what I meant. I’m not saying boss was great, but by OP2’s own account, they did get a raise in November plus title change, and clearly said they asked for a raise later because they “knew they were overqualified.” I also don’t get why they un-resigned if they didn’t want to take on coworkers’ work. And I think just sending a resignation letter to my boss without having a conversation would be weird and cold in the places where I have worked. Agree that the whole situation seems very adversarial on both ends… glad OP is moving on to somewhere that’s a better fit!

  11. John Smith*

    OP1, I can vouch for what Alison is saying. Not a dickish senior manager in my case but a toxic and dysfunctional one. Having been exposed to this senior manager recently, I’ve seen him exhibit behaviours that his own reports exhibit and now the absolute mess of a workplace I’m at all makes sense. My own manager admits he’s a buffer between us and his own extremely toxic manager (and tbh, that’s all he’s good for). Run away is my advice.

  12. turquoisecow*

    OP1: yeah I’d be wary of taking this job because what AAM says is totally true.

    I used to work under a manager who was a pretty nice guy and overall pretty easy going. But his boss was one of those types who felt everything was urgent and she wanted everything done yesterday. My boss got in trouble because he chose not to look at his phone during an important planning meeting, thus missing his boss’s messages. She had someone interrupt his meeting to tell him to come see her and then she yelled at him for not answering her messages instantly. This was not in an industry where life or death decisions were taking place, her questions could have waited until after his meeting.

    I think he tried not to let that sort of attitude affect those beneath him, but there were times where I’d come to work on time and he’d be impatiently waiting by my desk, or he’d be annoyed if I wandered away (for a work task) and took my time getting back. I was an entry level employee and even though he wanted me to advance in the company, i wasn’t paid enough to be required to urgently respond to things. (He probably wasn’t either.)

    After his boss left and was replaced with a much more easy going guy, my boss struggled to basically chill out, but it definitely affected our relationship and his overall work relationship, because he’d constantly be glancing at emails during his one on ones, making me feel like he wasn’t focusing, and it left me with the feeling that I should be afraid of the higher ups and VPs, that I was going to get caught not answering a non-urgent email instantly. I’ve worked for some much more easygoing people since then but there’s still a slight element of fear.

    OP, your stress will trickle down to your reports whether you intend it to or not.

    1. London Calling*

      OP, your stress will trickle down to your reports whether you intend it to or not.

      This, this, this 100%. Our dept had a new executive who is much more demanding and our previously easy going manager who reported direct to him changed considerably, especially during the pandemic. And changed for the worse, to the point that the dept (and by extension the company) has lost good people, some of whom have left with no jobs to go to rather than carry on working for the pair of them.

    2. Katie*

      Right and are the people in between even going to be buffers at all?? That is a skill in of itself.

      I am saying that person should not take the job. The job may be fine, but the fact it was even mentioned in a interview means that it’s a problem.

  13. jasmine*

    Re: #1: Corporate culture usually emanates from the top of the organization. If the CEO is a jerk, they’ll tend to hire jerks, and so on down the hierarchy. Or as the traditional saying goes: “A fish rots from the head down.”

  14. Enid The Note Pad Goblin*

    I love how the response to OP #3’s question about trends led to the reveal of a different trend – the trend of letters asking about trends. It’s a Trend-ception!

    1. ecnaseener*

      There’s something profound in there…the only real trend is that everyone thinks they’re in the dark about trends, something something…

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        This is how I always feel now! “Something happened, I missed something, is this now ‘the new normal’? Are my skills and business etiquette now out of date?”

        I thought maybe I was having a midlife crisis; but no, apparently I am merely on trend.

    2. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I didn’t get this vibe from OP #3, but there have definitely been letters in the past where the LW just wanted to vent about or share a bonkers situation but there’s no possible action they could take to address the situation (like they already quit), so they tack on “is this a new trend?!?!” to justify sending it in.

      1. newer balance*

        That part. I also wonder about the combination of the sudden shift in a lot of just daily operating norms of white collar workplaces as we moved to remote work, combined with not having many informal opportunities to gut check how our reactions to them compared with others’ reactions. I suspect that the people who were already kind of predisposed to the “can you believe this?!” reaction to something that left them unsettled or uncertain just had that amplified, and maybe people who previously would have had a few other first line of defense coping mechanisms have less access to those without the water cooler/popping over the cubicle/watching body language in a meeting.

    3. BethDH*

      But a lot of the things they write in about do seem to actually be newish trends, even if they’re not necessarily for the reason people propose when they write in.

    4. David*

      I’ve been noticing that for a long time: asking “is this a new trend?” seems like more of a trend than any of the things the writers are asking about! Honestly I’m a bit surprised it took this long to call it out.

  15. Waving not Drowning*

    OP1 – my experience in working under a bully of a CEO – he was two levels above me, but, he would be my line manager when my line manager was out (or when he didn’t renew the contract of my line manager and then fiddled around for nearly 12 months sorting out a replacement). It. Was. HELL. He encouraged factions within the staff he supervised (luckily our team was located on a different floor so were spared the worst of that). We couldn’t have a conversation with him – only listen to him as he held forth on topics he knew nothing about and we couldn’t interrupt. Work came to a screaming halt because his desk was a black hole where NOTHING could ever be found. I was not a favourite – he tried to renegotiate my terms of employment (giving me more hours – which I wanted, but only temporarily, but I would have to give up my second job and I didn’t want to give it up for a temporary increase – he even went behind my back, after I’d said no, and generated the paperwork – luckily I was able to put a halt on it once someone dropped me the word, and lo and behold, a few months later, he made it a permanent increase in hours) Leave wouldn’t be approved until months after we’d taken it, even though requests were submitted well in advance. He was supposed to be on a 3 year contract, but it was made year by year, but, it kept getting renewed because it was easier than looking for a replacement.

    It wasnt until BullyCEO got a new Director that change was implemented. His contract wasn’t renewed, but it was framed as him wanting to leave to move back closer to his aging parents (there were tears and all…..), but, he’s still doing the traps in our small city, but fortunately not with our organisation! Sadly before he left, as a final FU to everyone, he got around to appointing people to roles that had been vacant for significant periods – and these people….were not good! He signed off on their probation period, which made it significantly harder (but not impossible) for his replacement to get rid of.

    Bit of schadenfreude in the whole situation – he rocked up for a job interview at a place where one of the people he’d shafted in a big way had ended up working. They immediately went to HR and said, its me or him….. got the full story, and no job offer was given.

    He’s the only person where I’ve literally popped the champagne when his car drove off on his final day.

    Listen to what people are saying, and ask the question to yourself on how it could potentially impact you, and how you will deal with it. Set yourself up with an exit plan if it all goes pearshaped and it is impacting on your mental health.

  16. TeaFiend*

    I think that lately (in the nebulous internet) there’s been a lot of career advice to young people and some recurring themes are
    – You need to go above and beyond if you care about your career
    – You need to show initiative
    – You need to have multiple skills
    – You need to do the above to get a raise or promotion, being good at your job is not enough
    She may feel like she’s maxed out on learning opportunities in her role and is looking for ways to make herself more valuable and to show initiative. Is her approach misguided and frustrating? Sure. Someone should definitely make it clear to her that while it’s nice she’s interested in the other things, that’s not what she’s employed to do (esp. if she’s not doing her actual job because she’s distracted by trying to do other stuff). Buuuut I can still see where she might be coming from.

    1. Heather*

      Agreed. And while it sounds like the coworker here isn’t implementing it well, I still think this is better advice than LW3’s “keep you head down and stay in your lane” mentality. Too many people stagnate in jobs because they keep passively waiting for management to see their potential, instead of seeking out opportunities to learn new things and take on new responsibilities.

  17. Kittee*

    Re OP#1 — Alison said: “There’s often a sort of trickle-down dickishness effect when the person at the top is a dick.”

    First — this is so true. Have experienced it in several jobs.

    Second — thank y0u for this wonderful phrase, Alison. The TDDE! We are not worthy. :-)

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Not that I wish for dickishness to become a theme or anything (although it already is, sadly), but I hope this becomes a regular AAM phrase, such that everyone learns TDDE and knows exactly what it means.

  18. Liz*

    OP1: I’ve also worked in a place like this, and the CEOs attitude tends to have a knock on effect. I worked for a small business where the owner was an utter glassbowl. The manager(s) tried to shield us from them, but this just resulted in more dysfunction:

    – managers promising to help us out with x but then getting snappy because of pressures from above to do something utterly unethical or ridiculous.
    – a stereotypical “we’re family!” attitude because the only way the managers could persuade people to stay was by creating a culture of “we’re all in the trenches together, dealing with this madness”. People pulled ridiculous overtime, came in on days off, 70 hour weeks etc, all because they feel they owed it to the manager for working so hard and protecting them from the owner.
    – nobody ever just left normally for another job, but burnt out, stole from the company, or exploded with rage one day and sacked on the spot.
    – the general manager who took the main brunt of the owner’s attitude ended up in hospital with stress related illness and almost died.

    These are just a few examples. You cannot avoid the impact of someone like this entirely, only diffuse it, block it out, or redirect it. If you think you can ride that out for a bit while there are other people between you and the CEO absorbing the crap, then it might be ok as a temporary situation if you are desperate, but if you do that, do not stop looking elsewhere. There will be dysfunction within that company, and you would do well not to spend too long getting accustomed to that, as it takes a long time to recalibrate to healthier workplace norms once you leave.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Added possible problem: what if enough people leave and YOU are now directly under the bad guy as his report?

  19. JSPA*

    OP #1: You have the unusual opportunity to ask for specific examples. Do so! There are as many subvariants of dickishness as there are dicks.

    If certain sorts of misbehavior are particularly grating to you, while others are water off a ducks back, you want that level of detail.

    I can handle occasional fist-pounding and yelling, so long as it’s directed at the universe, not at individuals. I find it‐‐theatrical. Very human. Within the norms of my ancestral cultural context. Whatever. In contrast, even very mild gas-lighting or mind-f#ckery is a nightmare for me.

    Other people? The opposite. Yelling is scary, fists on tables are threatening, but mind games are “they’re just like that, ignore it.”

    The degree also matters. Says, “that’s what she said” habitually? That’s different from, “you know you want it,” habitually. And both are different from “undressing with eyes,” which is again different from, “stands too close, asks you to check under the desk for dropped pencils.”

    “You F-wads are all losers and I don’t know why I’m here,” followed by, “ok, getting down to business, now that I’ve got that out of my system” is different from, “he tears people down individually and grinds then into dust.”

    If you would never work for any of the above, And are counting on the magical insulation properties of the people in the middle…then listen to Alison and your boss.

    Don’t assume you can always get out in 6 months or a year, due to the current job market, because economies change. But if you’d be picking up highly marketable new skills? Maybe still worth it.

    Above all if you can figure out if there is a certain -ism to the boss’s jerkisness– that is if he is known to be sexist or racist or classist or [whatever] phobic, and you risk being both token and target? Don’t do it. The middle manager guys want more women because the CEO’s actions send them running, and “bro, total sausage fest” is a thing that happens.

    1. Kate*

      As a professor, I wanted to say that your former profs would be delighted to hear from you! Like most people, I could use more frequent positive contacts that don’t ask anything of me. I have a friend who still includes high school teachers in those life updates.

    2. Dick Who?*

      Well-said. I’m with you on all of those examples. Good to find out what someone’s definition of “dick” is, because it may not be the same as yours.

  20. Kate, short for Bob*

    OP2 your mistake is dealing with someone in good faith who has repeatedly shown that they’re not acting in good faith. It was never the right time for a pay rise, when you got a small one he lied about the reason, you think he lied about getting rid of another employee… This is not a good faith person.

    Important life skill to recognise when this is happening again and protect yourself. If you’re working in a job and the duties change that much, it’s a different job no matter how long you’ve been doing it. If you want to quit and do something different, don’t be suckered in by a small change and a large hint of ‘you owe me’ (I’m guessing).

    If you find yourself in this kind of situation again, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re being played – and have a think about what you can do with it. Keep acting in good faith, but don’t let bad faith actors turn that into a weakness.

  21. fluffoth*

    #3, So, what Alison is saying is that asking if something is the new trend, is the new trend.

  22. FashionablyEvil*

    OP2, I think it would also help to take a couple steps back from the situation—if I flip your story and read it from the manager’s perspective, there’s an employee who pushed for a raise 3 times in 18 months, was somewhat aggressive in explaining why they’re going to grad school, and can’t really know what happened with the employee who was managed out.

    I’m in no way saying this is correct, but if you’re able to see it as, “Bob doesn’t seem to understand how different the job is now from my original title and salary and isn’t willing to budge. Do I still want the job on those terms?” you’re going to get a lot further.

    1. BethDH*

      Yeah, this gets to what I was thinking. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. If your trust in your boss is shot, your compensation is out of line, and you have other options, get out. Otherwise you’ll be resentful and it may poison your relationships with people at your job who aren’t your boss. Your reason for leaving only needs to be good enough for you, and to some degree, to family members who are dependent on you. Even if you’re 100% right about the boss, it’s not like you’d want to trash him when you tell your next interviewer why you left, and you have an easy reason to give with your degree work.

  23. Myrin*

    There’s often a sort of trickle-down dickishness effect when the person at the top is a dick […] because a dick at the top puts pressure on lower level managers in ways that can warp the way they manage.

    This is sad and true but I want to point out that I absolutely love the wording – I burst out laughing at “a dick at the top”, not because of any sexual connotations but just because it simply sounds so dang funny to me. I commend you, Alison.

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      Not gonna lie, I may have envisioned a penis-shaped hat when I read “dick at the top.” Happy Friday!

  24. Testerbert*

    LW2: The second you said “I’m going to leave!”, you set a timer behind the scenes. You may have wanted to depart at a time of your choosing, but that timer can (and sounds like will) run out when it chooses.
    Only tell an employer that you are planning to leave if you can deal with being ejected immediately.

    LW3: Sounds like you’ve got someone who wants to learn. I’d lay odds that their current role is miserable, and they’ve been fed the line about organisations hiring from within so they are hunting for opportunities to cross-skill and escape accounts receivable.

  25. Cranky lady*

    OP#1 – as others have said, be very wary. Even if everyone between you and the CEO is amazing, you will be affected by it. For example, I’ve seen situations where leaders make decisions based on what they can do to avoid the CEO rather than what’s best for their staff/product.

  26. alienor*

    #1, if two C-suite people at different companies and your own boss have either bluntly told you or diplomatically alluded to the fact that the CEO is a dick (one of them at the CEO’s own company while you were going through the interview process), that’s…kind of a lot. This sounds like someone who is a monumental dick, a true Dickus Maximus. I don’t think I’d want to be there even with 10 levels of management between me and him, much less as few as three.

  27. Blarg*

    #3 – I feel like the attitude of more experienced employees is dismissive of “kids these days” and things like them wanting a livable wage and decent work conditions. So the “no one wants to work” laments are also the snide “is this just the new trend?” for everything a Millennia or Gen Z’er does.

    Yes, fork lift or machine repair may be far afield, but they may pay more and the employee may be interested in literally getting her hands dirty. If the OP feels the current job isn’t being done, they can address that as appropriate. But really it’s been women who are expected to just do their jobs and not ask for more from management, while men are rewarded for being assertive and trying to move up or across the ladder. Criticism of a young woman who wants to get into mechanical work for not knowing her place feels misogynistic and out dated.

    – a Gen X’er

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      Fellow Gen-Xer, and I felt that too. Very broadly speaking, I have found that on-the-job career advice from Boomers has been slanted toward “Just keep your mouth shut and cash your paycheck,” while more people younger than me have been interested in discussing how to make a job your own. Personally, I’ve had Strategy B days, but also ones where Strategy A helped me get through.

      Sometimes one of those young go-getters drives me nuts, particularly if they’re constantly questioning WHY the company does things a certain way. “I’m not the Why Guy,” I say. “My task is to train you on the how and the when and the where.” But I do realize that if no one questions the processes, there will be no improvements.

      I think one thing new workers have to master is learning when their Brilliant New Suggestion is going to be perceived as benefitting the department or organization, vs. when it is likely to come across as, “Fergus will do anything to avoid doing Accounts Receivable tasks!”

    2. anonymous73*

      I agree. There’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to train to do new things. I’ve done it myself. She shouldn’t be neglecting her actual job to do the cross training, but that’s on management to handle. If it’s not affecting OP’s ability to get her work done, it’s none of her business.

      -Fellow Gen X’er

    3. What About My Anxiety?*

      Oldest Millenial here: I understand LW 3 completely. I’m a woman who worked my way up through my company by respectfully waiting on opportunities to cross train to appear. If another department indicated that they needed help, I would offer. I never went in and took over or decided that people had time to show me how to do their jobs. That is just ill mannered.
      I do see a shift in attitude for younger people that indicates that they are well suited and well trained for EVERYTHING and that if they decide they want a job they should be given the opportunity. That’s wonderful! You just may have to move on from where you are currently working to achieve that goal.

    4. Cassandra Mortmain*

      Ugh, my reply got eaten up and it won’t let me repost. This letter reminds me of some prior ones where the LW sounds like the office Eeyore complaining about how many times the person goes to the bathroom. LW doesn’t say the co-worker’s actions affect their own work – they use passive language: “she was needed and wasn’t available.” Presumably if LW personally needed her, they would have said so.

      I say more power to the co-worker. If she’s going about it the wrong way, her manager can handle it. Otherwise it doesn’t sound like the LW’s business.

    5. BuildMeUp*

      I think bringing misogyny into this is a huge reach.

      The coworker is not doing her job. Full stop. Accounts receivable is how the company gets the money they are owed – if someone is slacking in that department, that is a big problem. The coworker can be interested in whatever she wants, but that doesn’t make it okay for her to go gallivanting all over the warehouse while everyone waits for her to do her actual work. The OP has every right to be annoyed by this.

      1. Nameless in Customer Service*

        People often think that if the subject of bigotry is imperfect or misbehaving that this negates or justifies the bigotry, but that’s not true.

        LW#3’s coworker needs to do her job, yes, and to work with her supervisors on an organized plan for learning that does not take away from her doing her job rather than her current and seemingly much more chaotic self-defined plan. That said she does also have the right to be curious and to not have to know her place as LW#3 would like her to, and this desire to learn and grow is disproportionately criticized in women among other groups. In a young man the same behavior would be much more likely to be seen as gumption rather than slacking.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          I don’t think you understood my comment. My point is that the OP has very valid reasons to be annoyed that have nothing to do with misogyny. Your insistence that the OP would be handling this differently if the coworker were a man is unkind and not based on anything in the letter.

          to know her place as LW#3 would like her to

          This is not the phrasing the OP used at all and I feel like you’re trying to put a much more negative spin on the OP’s point of view that again is not actually reflected in the letter.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Agreed, this isn’t supported by the letter and men displaying similar behavior have (rightly) been criticized in posts and comments here (possibly even more so, because we tend to associate it with a certain type of male arrogance).

      2. GythaOgden*

        Yup. Especially in companies where many people’s jobs would be at risk when the money dries up (been in that position, thankfully it was only a pin-money job I lost!) AR is the lifeline. You can’t pay people in IOUs or projected turnover or whatever. Money needs to be coming in and it needs to be doing that consistently.

  28. L-squared*

    #2. Your boss doesn’t sound great, BUT… I’m not sure this is as bad as you are making it. I’m not sure when this letter was written, but this is Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer. You said you were resigning in summer. I’d say this is now summer for all intents and purposes. He has someone else to take over. If you give some vague timeframe, I don’t know that you get to be upset that management assumed it would be the early part of that timeframe, not the later part. Did you expect him to know your departure was eminent but not start trying to replace you until you gave notice? If so, that is unrealistic on your part

  29. Astrid*

    This employee clearly wants to learn new functions and aspects of the company and should be encouraged in doing so! Their current job takes priority but if they are performing and completing tasks they should be given opportunities to cross train where it makes sense. Maybe they should not be trained in using a forklift but they can certainly shadow the job and become familiar with it. I worked in a job that had me so bored I was poking my eyes out. I started going to other departments and asking if I could just shadow and they were pretty open to it. It was a great experience and let me see the company from all angles.

  30. I should really pick a name*

    Consider this: If you run into a significant problem that you have escalate, the person who makes the final call on it is a dick.

    Lesson learned. Your boss showed you who he was when he started increasing your workload without increasing your pay. He showed himself to be some who does not deserve an extended notice period.

    I’m glad Alison brought up the ” Is this the new attitude these days?” thing. I’ve been noticing it a lot, and it generally reads to me as a dismissive take on any practice that the LW doesn’t agree with. As if only young people would have the temerity to do such things.
    It doesn’t matter if it’s a new thing or not. Does it cause a problem or not and if yes, how do I resolve it is the question you should be asking.

    1. alienor*

      The “new attitude” thing is interesting to me because I’m a mid-Gen Xer, and it feels like any new attitudes around work apply to my generation just as much as millennials and Gen Z. I know I’ve personally become a lot less willing to put up with work-related BS over the last couple of years–looking back, I had already started to feel that way even before the pandemic, and it’s only accelerated since then. It seems like a society-wide thing and not related to any generation.

    2. Silly Janet*

      As I was reading #3, I thought, “Wow, a lot of people are asking if such and such is the new norm,” so I too was glad Alison brought it up! I agree it can seem a bit dismissive and in the line of employees being demanding, but not sure if that is what the LW intended. Having said that, I can see being annoyed by this situation. Of course it is good for an employee to want to learn new skills, but they should ask the right people at the right time.

  31. Chilipepper Attitude*

    OP#2 I feel like Alison answered your exact question but that there is more to your letter. It sounds to me like your workplace/boss is a bit toxic or at least not great and you might need to recalibrate how to manager your career. What did you expect your boss to do at each of these points:
    When you asked for a raise last year?
    When you gave notice in December?
    When you gave notice this spring?

    And what did you do at each of those points?

    You asked for a raise and did not say you had or gave a reason beyond you were overqualified. You need to make a business case about your worth. Most of the time raises don’t come from a degree but from value you bring. They gave an excuse that no raises in one year rather than say this is a fair salary for this role but ok, one year.

    Then at one year you did not ask for more pay, you resigned. In an apparent effort to keep you, the boss offered a higher or better title (without more pay!!) and a WFH benefit. It’s not clear to me if the boss pressured you into the role and is a bit toxic or if you just said ok. This was an opportunity to advocate for yourself. It’s not clear to me if you did that at all or if you tried but the boss just overwhelmed you or what happened at that point. It’s also not clear to me that you even wanted the role, did you want it even without a pay increase? You get to decide if you will keep working with that workload and pay. The tone of your letter makes it seem like you expected the boss to make a better offer but you don’t control that, you only control your answer.

    Then you gave notice again for the summer and seem disappointed that the boss took you seriously this time and hired someone. It’s hard to understand why you feel pushed out when you gave notice! There was no clear date but your boss assumed it was happening at some point and that turned out to be end of May on his side. Did you want to stay on payroll until September when school started? Did you communicate that at any point?

    I’m not saying anything the boss did was great, but from his side, he offered a better title and WFH to keep you and you accepted and then just 3 or 4 months later quit again.

    So he sounds not great to me but it also sounds like you accepted the not great situation. What did you think should happen at each step?

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Nah, I think the boss is toxic. He told OP that she’d be taking over for the employee who left (who was “pushed out,” which is symptomatic of a toxic environment) rather than asking OP if she wanted to take over those job duties, he claimed he gave OP a raise for that but it was really a pay adjustment (for her one-year workiversary, perhaps, or a COLA raise?), and told OP that letting her WFH was a favor and that’s why she shouldn’t ask for a raise. WFH shouldn’t be a reason to not give someone a raise, nor should it be a favor for employees. Oh, and he never discussed the raise with OP when it happened. And when OP resigned the first time, he didn’t talk to OP for two days. Two days! That is not the sign of a healthy work environment at all.

      OP, I am curious as to why you care that you’re being pushed out. It sounds like you were planning to not have this job in 2022 at all and only kept it because of boss’s pressure on you (I’m guessing he gave you a lot of “but we neeeeeed you” kind of talk), so why not just leave now? Sounds like a win-win to me. I hope when you do leave that your quality of life improves a ton because you no longer work for this glassbowl. Oh, and do not be pressured to stay longer than you want to, because I’m guessing boss doesn’t really have a replacement lined up or if he actually does, he will ask you to stay on to train the newbie. You don’t have to! You owe him and the newbie nothing! You get to leave when you want to leave, and no is a full sentence. Also, if he tries to argue with you to stay longer and you give a couple of explanations as to why you can’t but he won’t accept them, stop giving him explanations; explanations are for reasonable people, and he does not sound reasonable. Just keep repeating, “My last day is on XX” ad nauseum. Good luck!

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Both can be true.
        The boss can be toxic, AND the LW could have generally handled this better

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          True. I am genuinely confused as to why OP is upset about being forced out when they already quit. Seems like the only reason to stay would be to get their salary, but it also seems like maybe they don’t need the salary since they’d planned to quit months ago anyway.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        “WFH shouldn’t be a reason to not give someone a raise, nor should it be a favor for employees”

        Insofar as it’s overwhelmingly employees who want it rather than bosses, it certainly should be something given to employees to make them happy. No employee should be forced to WFH.

        Interestingly, in the Before Times, in France there were some employers trying to force employees to WFH and one case went to court. The employee was basically a travelling salesperson and just needed a desk to hang out at in between meetings on the few days he was at the head office. The company were trying to “put him in a cupboard” as the French say, meaning give him less and less work till he resigns out of sheer boredom. But rather than the office supplies cupboard, they wanted him to stay at home. This was a while back, the employee didn’t have an internet connection at home (why bother when he’s hardly ever there!) and didn’t have room for a home office (when you’re always travelling, you don’t bother to find yourself a huge place). Also, he felt the need to go into the office to catch up with other members of staff, find out about stuff that somehow never finds its way into an official email. He was systematically left off all group emails (I experienced that too as a remote worker, the emails got forwarded on the day I should have responded by, when the sender realised I hadn’t responded because I’d been left out).

        The French labour court ruled that employees WFH had to be able to come in to an office at least once a week, to keep in touch with everyone and everything.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      yeah I can’t say I understand OP’s reasoning at all, beyond that they accepted a job they were overqualified for which is not the boss’s problem or fault or anything.

  32. anonymous73*

    #3 – maybe your colleague wants to learn new things so she can move into other roles within the company? It doesn’t mean she’s trying to do everyone’s job as you suggest. The real issue here is that she’s neglecting her actual job to do so and it doesn’t sound like management is doing anything about it. A few jobs ago I had bandwidth and wanted to get into Project Management. So I went to the PMO Director and asked if there were any small projects I could work on. My manager was on board and my main job took priority over any work I was doing on the new project. It sounds like management is just letting her do whatever she wants. And if they’re unaware of what she’s doing, that’s just as bad as knowing and not doing anything to reign it in.

  33. HannahS*

    OP4, networking isn’t a thing in my field, but is for my husband’s. He sends emails out in late December, framed as a “Happy New Year, well wishes, life update, yours truly.” It helps him keep in loose touch with former professors, career contacts, former colleagues, etc. but it doesn’t stand out in that season.

  34. Rock Prof*

    For OP #5, I would be absolutely thrilled to receive update emails from former students! I love to know what people are up to, and it can also be helpful to have a known network of alums doing different things who I could potentially connect with students. I also have genuinely liked most of my students as people, but they just tend to disappear (which I get, I’m not in touch with most my college professors).

  35. WantonSeedStitch*

    OP #3: it sounds to me like this person is either trying to get a broad understanding of everything about the field you work in, or trying to find a career path away from the role she’s in now. Either thing is fine, but if I were her manager, I would talk to her about what her career plans were for the next few years and focus her cross-training on skills that would be helpful for a particular career path that’s suited to her. If she’s trying to get that broad understanding, though, it would probably make sense to say “I’m not going to ask people to train you intensively on other skills, but maybe once a week you can spend an afternoon shadowing someone in another role so you can get an idea of what they do.” In either case, I would want to make sure that the person is performing to an acceptable standard in her own role.

  36. Jam Today*

    LW1, if removing yourself from consideration doesn’t put your unemployment status in jeopardy (i.e. if you’re reliant on UI would declining to pursue a valid job opportunity put you at risk of it being canceled?) I would recommend staying far far away from a company run by a bad person. It absolutely shapes the overall culture of the company, and will make working there unpleasant to downright intolerable.

    If the salary is high enough it might be worth to you to white-knuckle it for a few years to build up a little financial buffer, but its a hard choice to make and you have to be OK making that mental health bargain with yourself, because its going to be a very hard road while you’re walking it.

  37. BeenThatDoneThere*

    As to the dick CEO? I’d stay WAY clear. The CEO sets the tone for the rest of the company and, as Allison notes, it almost ALWAYS flows downhill. I’ve personally watched good companies go downhill fast when they bring in a dick CEO who builds his or her management style around “Chainsaw Al” Dunlop’s management style. Because he or she chases out the good people who can get better jobs with a less dickish boss elsewhere, and you’re left with people who are willing to tolerate, or even worse – embrace, that style of management.

    The folks you met with may very well *seem* nice, but when they get pressure to be a jerk from either their boss or another authority figure or being a jerk is what they have seen modeled? Well, have you ever watched “Ted Lasso”? Nate “seemed” nice, right? Would *you* want to work for “Nate the Great”?

  38. HR Ninja*

    OP#1: There’s an old military adage. “S*** rolls downhill.” Just saying’!

  39. That One Person*

    So Alison, would you say its a “new trend” to ask about “new trends?” :D

    Silly jokes aside, for number three I’d be curious to hear about maybe some previous work experience for the accounts receivable person. For retail there was generally cross-training as a lot of cashiers could work returns at my last place and sales floor people generally saw at least cashier training so they could back up during busy periods. I feel like I’ve also heard stories of people at companies learning parts of each others roles so there could be some coverage in case something came up like an emergency or the person simply wanting a vacation at some point.

    That said I don’t think the person in this case understands the impact of being unavailable for their original job, and how in some circumstances one can’t simply learn some skills on the fly and expect to execute them. Instances of heavy machinery I imagine require at least a safety class and some proper training, not just guidance from coworkers because of the liability and damages that can be caused. Some fields/skills will demand a certificate to show a person’s completed learning as well, and she may not realize this. She may just think what everyone else is doing is WAY COOLER than what she’s doing (and it sounds like account receivable isn’t a lot of fun at least going by what my sister says). Still her manager should be made aware of some of her absenteeism so they have the chance to at least try to correct it and if she’s really interested in doing more heavy machine work/mechanics based things maybe suggest she look into studying those fields or find a trade school to teach her.

  40. RagingADHD*

    Lw1, Why did you ask these folks if you weren’t going to listen to their advice? They told you some very direct information from personal experience. Why look for reasons to ignore them?

    LW2, you already quit twice, but you “feel like” you’re being let go? How many times do you want to quit the same job?

    If you didn’t want to leave, you shouldn’t have kept on quitting, demanding raises, and “confronting” the boss — especially when you actually got the raise and didn’t even notice. None of that is normal.

    LW3, one person has been doing this for 3 years. How does that lead you to believe this is “the new normal?”

    And why are you aggravated about it? It’s no skin off your back. If she wants to drive a forklift, how is that hurting you, interfering in your work, or offensive to you? Lots of people would probably like to try driving a forklift.

    For someone who doesn’t like her “butting in,” you seem to be all up in her business with your opinions.

    LW4, do you think your colleagues’ letters are creepy? What kind of things do they write about? How often do they send them? It seems like you have some perfect examples to copy, right in front of you.

  41. wine dude*

    I just came here to say that I’ve added “The Dick Trickle Effect” to my lexicon. No relation to the NASCAR racing legend.

  42. Can Can Cannot*

    LW2, DO NOT put in your notice until you are ready to leave. If you want to stay until the end of the summer, you should stay. If your boss wants you to leave sooner than you are ready, let him lay you off.

    If you resign you will not be eligible for unemployment, but if they lay you off you should be eligible. If your boss lets you go, you should immediately file for unemployment. Depending on your state’s UI rules, unemployment payments would likely end when you go back to school full time in the fall.

  43. just another bureaucrat*

    I’m a middle level manager who works for a jerk, like one level about where you’re at likely. He’s mostly a jerk directly to a few of us he manages and I do everything I can to shield my staff.

    Here’s what I will say about it. I try very hard to protect them, but it’s not fully possible.

    I will have to ask for things that are sometimes what I would think aren’t needed because my boss is asking for them, sometimes my staff will think that they should go around me and tell my boss that I’m asking for unreasonable things. My boss will sometimes then be “nice” to them and then come and chew me out. But sometimes they get a full-on attack from my boss and then realize that they need to not go around me. That is a painful thing to learn, it also means there’s not really a good way to go over my head which means they really need to trust me, be able to work with me, be willing to push back against me but also to know that sometimes I’m going to say no because of something I can’t change. Folks sometimes want me to pick a fight with my boss, they want me to push back harder than is reasonable to do, and that’s asking a lot from me. It’s not asking for me to have a reasonable conversation with a reasonable person, it’s asking me to spend like 50 hours preparing and then 20 hours being lectured by my boss about how shitty I am and all my staff are for a 15% chance of success.

    If I’m honest I’m also more likely to be unwilling to listen to someone complaining about something I know I can’t change. When I’m being beaten up by my boss I’m shorter and less likely to have endless patience with my staff. If I’m in my office crying because I just got chewed out for nothing for 2 hours…it’s not going to have a positive impact on my day, and its exhausting, and that happens at least once a week. I do the best I can, but I’m human. And no one has anything kind to say because you’re high enough up the chain of command that you get no sympathy for it. All the beat up, everyone tells you this is what you get paid for, and no kindness for it. So in general I’d be really careful and would caution away from it unless you really know that the people between you are incredible and superhuman.

    The other thing is promotions. I support my people to leave. Getting promoted in a place like this is not great. It can stunt your own growth. I know it’s stunted mine and I feel a little concern for others who are not just looking to retire from here. If you’re looking to retire and can just sort of shrug, it’s fine. If you want a career path you need to be careful.

    1. DD*

      I was writing a supportive post about how you sound like a good manager and don’t deserve your jerky boss’ abuse and how being in an abusive situation becomes “normal”. You know it’s bad but the abuse wears you down and it becomes “easier” to stay with the crappy “known” than jump into the unknown. But my post got accidentally erased which is serendipitous because what I really need to say is….

      Get the fuck out right now. I don’t know your specific circumstances but if there is any way to financially make it work, quit today. If there isn’t a way then start looking for a new job right now. Alison has tons of great resources.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      ugh, I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. You do get sympathy from me: you don’t get paid for this, because NO ONE can be paid enough for this kind of treatment. Getting lectured and insulted for hours isn’t normal or “part of the job” at any level.

  44. Mimmy*

    I tried posting earlier too, I wonder if the site is having issues. I wonder if that’s why the Open Thread isn’t up yet.

  45. Nancy*

    LW2: you told your boss you were leaving in the summer, which includes June. Once they knew you were planning on leaving they had every right to start finding a replacement.

    For the future, it is better that you don’t announce your plans to leave before you have made the decision to do so, and to give an actual date rather than let someone else decide.

  46. Wonderer*

    Yeah, I agree. I was looking through the comments to see if anyone else noticed the perspective of the OP (#2).
    OP2, you took a job you were overqualified for – maybe the scope of work eventually changed, and you could have tried to stay and manage it into an appropriate position. Getting a better job description, increased pay, etc. You don’t seem to have done any of that. I’m wondering what the “managing out” process was like for this other employee, because other than that I don’t see that your boss did so much wrong. Most of this seems to me like it’s typical of what happens when people are overqualified for their job, or just have a mismatch between their capabilities and their job description:
    – You’ll look around and see that people with less expertise than you have got higher level jobs with more pay, and you’ll resent it.
    – Your boss won’t be able to make drastic changes in your role, because he’s only got so much budget.
    – You’ll start making noises about leaving for something better, and your boss will start looking for a cheaper and simpler replacement.
    – Ultimately, it will fall apart and you’ll all end up with something better!

    The only alternative is to be patient and gradually shift to something better by either moving around in the company or by the boss slowly getting more budget. It’s totally fair if you don’t want to do that, but I don’t think anyone is really ‘at fault’ here. Some things could have been handled better (the raise, WFH, quitting, not quitting, giving notice, etc.), but I think this arrangement is pretty fair. You threatened to quit once, then you said you plan to leave in the summer. Boss just took you at your word and found a replacement. If you weren’t doing such a good job, I bet your boss would have let you go as soon as they found someone else.

  47. Dave the Cat*

    LW#1 here. Y’all are making some great points and it all makes sense. Thank you! My final interview is on June 8 and it’s with the infamous CEO, so I’ll be able to get some sort of first-hand impression. Any suggestions for questions I should ask him? (it’s a bit unusual to interview with the CEO at my level, but I’ve done it before at other companies and they present it as “isn’t it great that the CEO cares about meeting everyone” – I’m not automatically assuming he’s doing it for dickish reasons) If I pass the CEO interview I’m sure I’ll get an offer, and there’s a chance I could have an offer from another place by then, which even before the interview I’m not sure I want because it’s fully remote and I’d prefer to be a bit more engaged with the world.

  48. BuildMeUp*

    I’m really baffled by all the comments insisting that the coworker in #3 has every right to go running off to spend hours getting forklift certified while neglecting her actual work.

    1. Parakeet*

      I think most people acknowledge that the coworker’s neglect of the work assigned to her ought to be addressed by her manager, but find LW3’s dismissive attitude toward the idea of anyone wanting to learn different skills rather than staying in one lane forever, off-putting. Not to mention the “I was taught”/”Is this the new attitude these days” comments, which at least to me, is phrasing that connotes intentional signaling of old-fashionedness and a belief that societal standards are declining. And so people are defending the general idea of someone wanting to learn a variety of skills (but not the way the coworker is going about it).

    2. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I would say that it’s more unless the person neglecting AR work is actually impacting the LW, it’s ultimately not something they need to spend their energy on. It’s not a “new trend.” It’s likely just an employee not being well-managed, which happens all the time. Also, I think we’re asking ourselves if LW#3 is being a reliable narrator by viewing one person’s behavior as “kids these days” when again, they’re only seeing specific actions without all the context, and it’s likely one person that doesn’t have great management.

  49. Erin*

    Just really pleased that the term “trickle-down dickishness” has been successfully added to the lexicon here

  50. sans_dickish*

    I wanted to get other people’s take on using ‘dickish’ as a descriptor. It completely conveys what OP wants us to know, so that’s a plus. But I remember reading an AAM + comments about not saying “bitch.”

    I think the two are not totally analagous, but idk. I don’t love either word. I think using ‘dickish’ can diminish the situation because people may focus on the word and not what’s actually happening. I feel it’s better to avoid body-part descriptors, or maybe gendered ones. What do yall think?

    1. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      IMO no, they are non analogous, because “bitch” is used mostly in misogynistic ways: telling women they are being too demanding/aggressive, telling men they are being weak, etc. It is a short-hand insult with the intention of reinforcing misogynistic power structures.

      To be a dick, however, is not related to ones place in a systemic or historical power structure. You cannot take power from a man by calling him a dick, and you cannot take power from a woman (or demean her femininity) by calling her a dick. It is cultural shorthand for an aggressive jerk, but does nothing to further degrade those who are already lacking in power.

    2. Nameless in Customer Service*

      I think this is a false equivalence. Maybe someone could run a social experiment in a matriarchy and report back?

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      It is kind of funny how words evolve isn’t it? And yet “dickish” was perfectly understood by all of us to establish the character of a hypothetical CEO.

      I know some people don’t like “bitch” either, but I sometimes use that regardless of the sex of who is doing the “bitching” or acting “bitchy” about something, so it’s also become somewhat gender neutral for me much like “dick” “diskish” or “a real dick move” has. But perhaps I’m just an oddity because I’m a female who calls many of my other female friends “dude” by way of greeting or as an exclamation.

  51. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

    From here on out, I will be referring to toxic top-down company cultures as “suffering from trickle down dickonomics”

  52. ZebraNeighbor*

    One thing I liked about my most recent job was that they wanted us to cross-train and help out other departments as needed. I loved the work I was doing (graphic art), but learning how to operate in every department was a nice change of pace. Whenever another department was short-staffed and mine wasn’t, I could pitch in. Understanding their processes helped me tailor my output to make things easier for the next departments down the line. I was actually really good at the work one other department was doing, so they called me in to help on big complicated jobs!
    I’m actually really bummed that I never got to get my forklift training & certification. It’s not something an artist really needs, but it’s a super cool thing to be able to do, and it would have helped when the receiving guy was out of the office.

  53. ZebraNeighbor*

    Side note: I am a woman with a STRONG indoctrination to be helpful. If another team needs help, I need to give it! That’s just how it is in my family.
    Occasionally that bothered my team lead because he wanted me to just do our department’s work, but my manager often assigned me to help other teams.
    I also have a well-stocked home workshop and like working with my hands, so I was a good candidate to cross-train. Other less-skilled teammates were cross-trained in QC and shipping.

  54. River Otter*

    “ I was taught that you do your job, you do it well, and you focus on your own work. If management needs me to help in other areas, I am more than willing to help if necessary, but I’m not going to interject myself into a situation where I am not needed or qualified”

    Who taught you that? It is definitely not universally true. It’s a little unusual for an Accounts Receivable person to also perform duties that involve driving a forklift, but taking on new duties And being willing to be cross trained in other skills *without having to be asked by management* is expected in some places.

    “ there has been a dramatic explosion in the number of questions I get asking if one strange situation is a new trend.”

    One strange situation is not a new trend. People have this remarkable ability to believe that their experience is universal when it really is not. People also have a strange ability to believe that one person doing some thing must also be universal. Therefore, if a person under 40 is doing something differently than the reader, a person who is over 40, would do it, then they jump to the assumption that all millennials do this new and weird thing! Y’all. People come from different backgrounds (even different millennials come from different backgrounds).They learn different standards. Learn to view people as individuals with their own individual mix of experiences and beliefs that they bring to a situation and maybe, you know, learn the skill of talking to individuals and find out what’s going on rather than jumping to generalizations about either yourself or other people.

  55. RJ*

    OP#3, I’m in corporate finance too and this used to be the universal modus operandi, but at many firms that way of thinking has changed and development has greatly increased for personnel. Through a combination of mentoring, development and night school, a former co-worker went from being a billing analyst to a controller and it was because she found she had other business strengths on the job that she was allowed and encouraged to explore.

    OP#1, hell to the no. No, no, no. Take that warning and run away from CEO Dickish.

  56. moonstone*

    RE Updates: New Years is a good time of year to do this! You can start of with a Happy New Year greeting, provide some updates, and ask people how they’re doing giving them an opening to respond if they want.

  57. Emilu*

    OP #3: I do this to a certain degree as well. I’m a paralegal and you bet that I want to see what the lawyers are doing. And yes, if I have a chance to observe other employees, then I will. I love learning new things and will likely never turn down an opportunity to do so.

    However, it’s different if her interest in other areas is affecting her ability to do her actual job properly. That’s an issue. Otherwise… not your problem. Do an Elsa and let it go.

  58. Ellie*

    “I thought I was being honorable by giving him a notice”

    Oh my sweet summer child, why would you do that? He’d already managed someone else out in front of you, tried to shoehorn you into a new role, and dismissed your very valid concerns about pay. Don’t waste another minute with his concerns.

    Do whatever you like – if you want to leave as soon as you can, then send an email saying you wish them well with your replacement, and shall we make today my final day? If you want to stay longer, then specify a date and ask if that will work. He’ll do what he wants, you should do the same.

Comments are closed.