my coworker refused to share their screen for training, employee checked out after giving notice, and more

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

1. My coworker refused to share their screen for training

I recently needed to handoff and train a junior teammate on a task. I don’t manage this person. This task involves pulling details from multiple sources and formatting a document that has high visibility for the team and a tight turnaround. I asked them to share their screen as part of the training and put the document together while I was available for troubleshooting and questions. They refused, say it was “a weird thing” about themselves. They weren’t hostile, but they also didn’t seem to be bothered to be refusing. This completely took me by surprise. Our team regularly shares screens and works collaboratively on spreadsheets, documents, and other outputs. I explained why I wanted them to share their screen again — to help them while working together as a training. They continued to refuse, and the meeting ended with them promising to work on it next. They sent me a document after my working hours ended, and a chat telling me they hoped I wasn’t offended. The document is now late because of their errors.

I’m not sure what I should have done in the moment, or what I should do next. I was really too shocked that the refusal was so aggressive. I can schedule another meeting to tell them why this process was important, but I don’t think they will be receptive. I can raise this issue with their manager, but I’m not sure if that is too much.

Ideally in the moment you would have said firmly, “This is part of the training. I do need you to share your screen and let me watch you do it as the next step” — in a tone that matter-of-factly implied, “This is what we will be doing now and it’s not optional.” Then if they still refused, you could have said, “I’ll need to speak to (manager) then because I can’t finish training you without doing that, and we share screens all the time as part of our work.”

I suspect you felt that you didn’t have the authority to insist since you aren’t their manager — but as the person training them, you did have the authority to say “this is how we are going to do it” and to break things off if they didn’t cooperate. And especially now that you’ve seen they messed up the work, you should indeed talk to their manager about what happened (their refusal and the errors they made as a result). Most managers would want to know this happened, and should explain to your colleague that sharing screens isn’t optional when the work requires it.

Read an update to this letter.

2. My employee started making mistakes after he gave his notice

I am a supervisor in a health care business and recently had an employee submit his resignation after being with our company for almost 10 years. Since he submitted his resignation, my manager and I had noticed that his work quality was suffering and felt he had checked out mentally. He finished up at the end of last week, but at the beginning of the week we made the decision to move him out of a critical area of the business (where patient care was more likely to be affected by mistakes) to a more peripheral area for his last week in case his worsening carelessness continued.

We phrased this conversation as allowing him to have a more relaxed last week, but he took the switch really personally and got upset that we were removing him from the critical area and accused my manager of not trusting him. Were we wrong to do this, and do you think we could have gone about it in a different way? We have decided to ensure this issue doesn’t arise again in the future by rostering staff who are leaving more thoughtfully but are interested to see what you think.

No, you weren’t wrong! Especially when the stakes are as high as patient care, you absolutely had to act.

If you made a mistake, it was only in not being up-front with the employee about why you were making the change. I can see why you went with the “so you can have a more relaxed last week” messaging — it probably felt more diplomatic and like it would let him save face — but it sounds like he needed to hear something more to-the-point like, “Since you turned in your notice, you’ve been making more mistakes. I understand you might be checking out a bit since you’re in your final days, but I’m going to move you to Area X for your last week because I can’t risk more mistakes with patient care.” If he argued with that, you’d be better equipped to explain and stand firm on the decision.

3. How do I let job candidates know how chaotic we are?

I’ve recently become a supervisor of a small team in my organization and am now included in the hiring process for new staff. I work in the public sector providing a service I really believe in, and we get a lot of applicants from all over the country who are driven by the same passion.

The problem is, while the work we do and the people we do it with are wonderful, the organization itself is a mess. There is no training process, no real infrastructure, and we’re constantly reinventing the wheel because of a lack of follow through and documentation. Is there a way to gently let people know about this during the interview process? I personally have a high tolerance for institutional nonsense and genuinely enjoy my job most of the time. But it’s definitely not for everyone and I hate the idea of someone uprooting their life for this job, only to realize it’s a terrible fit. I’m just not sure how to let people know that it’s a “the last person who did that job did it for 30 years and didn’t write a single thing down before retiring, good luck!” kind of place. Is there a phrase I can use that would let people know during the interview what they’re in for without antagonizing my manager and the hiring director who will also be there?

Be straightforward about it! It’s in the organization’s interests to hire people who know what they’re signing on for and are okay with it, rather than investing time and money in training people who will quickly run for the exits. You could say something like, “I want to be up-front with you that we don’t have as much structure as many organizations. For example, we don’t have formal training or even much training at all — it’s more of a ‘figure things out as you go’ kind of place. Not as much is documented as it should be, and goals and priorities sometimes change. In this role you’ll need to jump in and figure things out without infrastructure already in place. Some people like that but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so I want to be candid with you in case it’s not the right fit.” Smart candidates will have a lot of questions for you after that, and you should answer them honestly.

Some people are fine with what you’ve described! But a lot aren’t, and you’re right to want to lay it out for people. More here.

4. What was up with this lowball job offer?

My job title is in demand, and when there is no salary listed, I get an idea of range by the job description, experience, education, and location, and do not apply if the description does not fit where I am in my career.

I ask about the salary range pretty early in any conversation, because why waste everyone’s time? Got an HR call for an interesting position, but the high end of the range was $15k less that what I will take, they then stated, “For the right person, we are very flexible” and I agreed to continue in the process. Next day, Zoom with the manager, we hit it off, job would be a good fit, was within easy walking distance from home, and is a well-regarded local company. HR calls the following day with an offer and the salary is at the low end of the original range given at the initial call. I actually asked her to repeat the salary, thinking I heard her wrong. I thanked her but said we were too far apart and said goodbye. I had no idea what to say was almost speechless. What did I do wrong?

You didn’t try to negotiate! I can’t tell if you’d talked in the interview about what you’d need salary-wise or if they just told you their range with that comment about being flexible. If you did explain during that original discussion that their range was below what you needed, then their lowball offer is particularly odd … but either way, when they made you the offer, there was no reason not to say, “Could you go up to $X?” or “I’d need at least $X to make the move” or “Jane told me your range was $X-Y and I explained I’m looking for at least $Z and she said you had flexibility for the right person.”

Negotiating doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get what you asked for, but it makes sense to try since  it was a job you were otherwise interested in.

{ 540 comments… read them below }

  1. Teacher on summerbreak*

    That forceful refusal has me thinking a lot. It has probably worked a lot for that person in the past. Mm mm mm

    1. Trawna*

      I know, eh? Sounds like LW1 was soundly outplayed by a manipulator. LW quietly took it, didn’t immediately escalate to the manager, and turned in late work because of this person.

      “I hope you’re not offended”, indeed! lol

      1. pancakes*

        Not quite, no. If someone refuses to do something and the other person doesn’t push them to, that’s not necessarily manipulation. In this instance it seems to be someone temporarily getting their way because their trainer wasn’t sure what else to do besides let them temporarily have things their way.

        1. Trawna*

          It’s the “I hope you’re not offended” comment that made me think “manipulator”.

          1. pancakes*

            That is a pretty common line from people who are self-involved and/or rely on catchphrases to try to make their point. I don’t doubt a number of them would like to think of themselves as skilled manipulators but there’s nothing clever or subtle about that stance!

    2. Erin*

      The no screen sharing is super strange to me! Especially during onboarding/meetings where others need to see shared documents at the same time.

      I have to wonder if they don’t know how to share their screen and they are embarrassed to ask how to do it…..even though they could most likely Google how to do it?

      I have been 100% WFH for the last 2 years, and have onboarded new employees for the past year. Screen sharing is vital to this process, as well as many other collaborative meetings that anyone in my org will have. I would alert my manager immediately about this, and TBH, I can’t see an employee being successful if they do not share their screen when it is needed.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        Oh, ignorance of how to share screens is not what I thought at all.

        My thought is that they sometimes peruse pornography or something else they find embarrassing and keep the tabs for those sites open. Therefore, in order not to let that particular cat out of the bag, they just have a personal blanket policy of never sharing their screen, just in case.

        That, or someone once told them that people can steal your identity if you share screens. I wonder if the employee was doing this on her personal computer or one from the company.

      2. WillowSunstar*

        My guess is the person was looking at a web site they should not have been and didn’t want to get in trouble.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same. I suspect the junior employee was doing something they didn’t want you to see.

          1. I Share My Screen*

            But couldn’t they just close those questionable tabs or documents before sharing their screen?

            Based on the fact that they didn’t complete the task correctly, I’m guessing they didn’t know how to do part of the assignment, and they didn’t want to be put on the spot and look bad. Of course, acting strange about sharing their screen and THEN messing up the assignment just made them look extra bad.

        2. Maggie*

          But that also assumes they literally don’t know how to close a tab? Which I guess is possible!

          1. The OTHER Other*

            Why close the tab when you can just say “no” to screen sharing, and probably keep looking at porn (or gambling websites or cat videos or whatever) during training?

            I can’t blame the LW for not knowing how to deal with this in the moment, especially because they don’t manage the screen-unsharer, but if this comes up again Alison gave a great script.

            Unless this was a personal machine, it’s very odd for an employee to assume privacy on a work computer.

          2. Who is the asshole*

            I understand the hesitancy because bookmarks and earlier visited sites can pop up as suggestions in the search bar. or if they downloaded it, you could happen upon it on the file system.

            BUT if you are really so stupid to do sexy/illegal stuff on your work computer I would hope you’re smart enough to use a different browser for work stuff or name the folder and file something innocuous. OTOH doing risqué stuff on a work computer is already a sign of bad judgement, so they might not be savvy.

            We don’t know really, there are other possible reasons too. The way forward is to make the screensharing happen for training and if they continue to refuse, it means contacting the manager.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      It’s funny if they have a “weird thing” about sharing their screen, because the first thing I thought is they were watching porn. I wonder if they’d feel weird about people thinking they’re watching porn during work!

      1. JSPA*

        Mine was, “anxiety over being obseved” ( But if they require an accommodation for that they need to make it official). Or, “working two jobs at one time” Or, “has a cam up to keep an eye on an otherwise-unsupervised child or otherwise unsupervised incapacitated family member. Or, is being surveiled (or has surveilance blockers installed) related to a controlling / abusive partner or ex.

        Some of those are unreasonable, some more reasonable, but none of them can be handled by pulling a Bartleby.

        1. Tupac Coachella*

          I thought the “anxiety over being observed” thing too, because screen sharing initially felt icky to me for that reason. Being watched while I navigate my computer felt invasive. But in my job, like OP’s, screen sharing has become a legitimate business need post-COVID, so I got over it. It didn’t even occur to me to be like “oh, I don’t do that, kthx.” It’s a work function, not a preference. I can see why OP wasn’t sure what to say to that in the moment, but it’s obviously not a situation where just dealing with it is an option. This is a situation the manager needs to be aware of.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            Yeah, my first thought was similar – something like “finding it icky to be observed in that way”. I wouldn’t actually have done what they did, because in their position, I would’ve also been feeling “want to make sure I’m doing the task properly”, and I think that would’ve won. But “hate the feeling of people looking over my shoulder while I’m doing a thing” is very relatable to me. If they’re junior/new, they may not have realised to what extent that wouldn’t fly, especially if, in a non-work context with peers, they’d got used to people going “oh okay then”.

            1. Seaside Gal*

              I HATE someone looking over my shoulder while I’m on my computer. It just so happens that the setup of my house for the last 10 years has been such that the couch is not up against a wall and it drives me NUTS.

              I also changed the layout of my office so that my back is against the back wall. BUT, there have been several times when I’ve had to screen share. I just close down my Sirius XM and QB and then screenshare. :)

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, me too. One reason why I’m glad we don’t have an open office setup, at least not yet. I do share an office with a coworker, but we have a high cubicle wall between us and we face in the opposite direction. I absolutely hate people walking behind my back when I’m working. I’ve never had a problem sharing my screen when necessary, though.

              2. KateM*

                Ha, it just happens that at my workplace, you are supposed to use a privacy screen so that coworkers won’t accidentally see the potentially restricted data you are working with…

                But obviously that is not for training material.

      2. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

        My first reaction to the “weird thing” is that the person is a reader of AAM. Alison has often advised people who don’t want to put on their video or otherwise want to push back on some kind of office request to frame it as a “weird quirk I have” to try to deflect the discomfort of it from the person making the request. But there are times when one’s weird quirks are going to get in the way of working, and some negotiation (often involving a manager) will have to take place to figure out whether the person with the weird quirk has to get over it, or the way of working has to change. In this case, Alison’s answer makes sense — if the trainer couldn’t think of a workaround on the spot, then pulling in a manager is the right move.

        1. pancakes*

          Maybe, but it’s not as if people have to read this blog to develop weird ideas about how computers work. Loads of people do that on their own and always have!

        2. Belle of the Midwest*

          I think you can share your screen without turning on your video camera, though. I just tested it in my own Zoom room.

          1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

            Turning one’s video on was an example of the *kind* of thing Alison has advised using the “weird thing about me” script for.

        3. Observer*

          My first reaction to the “weird thing” is that the person is a reader of AAM.

          Interesting thought. But that would point to real manipulativeness. Alison recommends this only in situations where the request is reasonable but the person needs some softening. Or where the request is not unreasonable, but unusual enough that you want to head off questions.

          But, this *was* a highly unreasonable request.

          I have no doubt that the employee *is* doing something inappropriate that they want to hide.

          1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

            I only meant that the “weird thing about me” script has been offered here for related situations many times — not that this was necessarily an appropriate application of it.

          2. Allons-y*

            highly unreasonable request? hiding something? That’s a bit out there.

            We have to share screens all the time through work. It’s a part of collaborating with team members, and working sessions are very helpful. I can also see, if they are new to the job, where they are uncomfortable performing a new task when someone is looking over their shoulder, so to say. I still get nervous when I have to do that.

            Screen sharing allows you to choose one screen. It takes no time to close out your other tabs. It’s not always a mystery out here.

            1. JustaTech*

              I think the “unreasonable request” Observer mentions was the request to *not* share the screen, not the request from the LW to share the screen in order to conduct the training.

              I was confused on my first read as well.

          3. Kal*

            It could just as well point to cluelessness instead of being manipulative. Its entirely possible that they don’t have the experience to know that the request was unreasonable. Its not like screen sharing was this ubiquitous in either education or work before the major shift to work from home.

            Directly making it clear that screen sharing is necessary for the training and is something that the team does on a regular basis may be enough for the them to understand that this is just a necessary part of the work and they are going to have to figure out how to deal with whatever their discomfort is.

            There is no need to see maliciousness where it could just be inexperience.

        4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I thought that as well. It definitely phrasing I’ve learned here. And it can be helpful…or it can be “weaponized” into the classic, “I prefer not to.”
          I understand OP was taken aback. I would have been as well.
          I think at this point in my career I’d have said that the process requires it and new person can discuss options with her manager after I’ve done my training but this is not negotiable now.
          Because I to read AAM and have become much stronger advocating for myself.

        5. Nanani*

          I thought the same. I’ts not applicable because, unlike micromanaging bosses who want 24/7 camera feeds, screen sharing is actually important in this case. But it’s not manipulative or egregious to set a boundary in the first place!

        6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah it’s funny, we’re now hearing from those on the receiving end and realising that “it’s a weird quirk I have” is not necessarily something the other person wants to hear.

      3. NerdyKris*

        Or they have Facebook open and don’t want anyone to see it. Or they’re worried about chats or email notifications popping up. If the screen sharing software doesn’t allow just one window being shared, I can see how it might worry people, but then the solution is to just close out of those programs first or put yourself on Do Not Disturb.

      4. Jora Malli*

        Yeah, my immediate thought was what non-work, possible NSFW thing do they have on their screen right now?

        1. quill*

          Heck they probably just have youtube up. But this is why you close things up and then share your screen, it’s way more suspicious to say no than to say “give me a second to set that up.”

          1. Sasha*

            This – even if they are watching porn, how long does it take to close a tab?

            Unless their laptop wallpaper is x-rated, I really can’t see how saying “no” is less damning than just shutting your browser window and sharing.

      5. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        I had the same thought. He had something open he REALLY didn’t want LW to see…

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      I feel like their method and script are actually something I have seen suggested here a lot–but only for things you can reasonably refuse to do at work, which I definitely don’t think screen sharing falls into that category.

      I’m curious to know whether they have two (or more) monitors. As that would make this all extra weird to me. It’s so easy to put anything you don’t want people to see on a shared screen on one monitor and then share the other. (But if you only have one monitor it is also pretty easy to just… close anything you don’t want people to see before you join an online training where you might reasonably be expected to share your screen!)

      1. Cmdr Shepard*

        Or just close everything out.

        I have shared screens for work for various reasons, and I usually close anything that is not needed. Mainly to make sure everything runs smoothly and not have an unnecessary programs, but to avoid anyone seeing anything they shouldn’t. Not that I have inappropriate things on my computer, but even just work email you never know when you might get an email with sensitive information.

        1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          Exactly. Close those tabs with the questionable music, Facebook, news stories, close Outlook, etc.

          It also depends on the platform you’re using to share screens. Zoom allows you to share just one of your many open windows and this in theory would allow you to keep anything you wouldn’t want people to see hidden. I think Teams also offers the same but the first option is all.

          People also bookmark interesting things and if your bookmark bar is displayed this can also be something you don’t want shared. But then again, why on earth would you bookmark, say, “How to get pregnant alone” on a work computer? (I saw that one, in a screen snip. I was surprised and chose to say nothing because it was none of my business.)

          I could not do most of my troubleshooting if I didn’t share screens.

        2. learnedthehardway*

          Exactly – I have multiple clients and cannot let Client A see Client B – Z’s stuff. I either close out additional tabs or I be VERY careful about which ones I share. It takes a minute if I have to close out sensitive documents, but it’s easy to say that the program is taking a minute to execute the share screens command. Goodness knows that video conferencing software can be blamed for any number of things – it’s entirely reasonable and nobody questions that the app might be quirky.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I suspect the real story–which we may never know–will come down to “so apparently there was a simple technical fix, but I didn’t know that.”

    5. tamarak & fireweed*

      I have one of three thoughts about that:

      – Either they have an idiosyncratic hang-up about it, maybe due to a misconception how screen sharing could be abused to get through privacy/security (which can be warranted – see tech support scams – but not in a professional setting. This is what they themselves claim it is.
      – Or it’s about having something forbidden/inappropriate up on the screen and being worried it might show.
      – Or it could be about unusual settings of the screen, maybe due to visual impairment of some sort (extra-large fonts, high contrast settings, screen readers, other enhancements) that they don’t want to make public.

      While I think that it’s absolutely right to follow up, and to clarify that screen sharing is pretty much expected in this job, I also don’t think of “I can’t share my screen right now” as in any way unusual. In my job it’s usually because of limitations of bandwidth or CPU/memory resources (if we do stuff on the side, ie, run resource-hungry code while in a meeting). So I think that the LW should not have relied for tasks with a deadline on the trainee being able to work in a screen-sharing setting if they haven’t clarified and possibly tested it might work.

      If I haven’t beforehand announced that I expect my trainee to screen-share, frankly, I have a fall-back coming in – could be editing the document collaboratively in a cloud setting (Google Drive, MS Cloud), or the LW sharing THEIR screen and showing the process to the trainee. The latter is of course less effective for training. As I said, I’d follow up later and clarify expectations (and find out what’s what about the constraints of the new employee).

  2. Science KK*

    Am I the only person who finds the refusing to screenshare super interesting? Like did this person have a sketchy tab open, or banking information, or Ooblets running? And if so why not just close it? So strange.

    Definitely inform their manager OP and let them know the training was basically not done.

    1. NeedsMoreCookies*

      If it was just a sketchy tab, it could be closed easily enough. I’m thinking maybe they have an interesting choice of desktop background.

      1. Science KK*

        I feel like during the refusal they probably could have changed it fairly quickly. But I also want to keep speculating so I’ll never accept a final answer haha!

        1. Sloanicota*

          I was actually thinking Alison was going to suggest that advice – OP could have said, “why don’t you take a minute to get ready for screen-sharing and then we’ll proceed” (who among us *hasn’t* had an embarrassing tab open at the wrong time??) – but this does almost sound like something else. Weird. Too many desktop icons? Messy home screen? What could it be!

          1. Allonge*

            I know this is not your issue, but for too many destop icons, in Win10 you can right click on the desktop and under View, deselect Show desktop icons (and check it again once you want them back visible).

          2. NerdyKris*

            “Messy home screen? ”

            Please, for the love of god, clean up your desktops. ALLLLL those icons need to be loaded whenever the desktop comes into view, and it will slow the computer down if you have several hundred.

            1. JustaTech*

              I had a 2X boss once, a very senior guy, well respected in his field, smart scientist, who never, ever learned how to use any kind of file system. Everything just sat on his desktop.

              And when he couldn’t make the icons any smaller, he would demand (and get!) a new Mac with a bigger screen. And being a Mac, that wasn’t just a new monitor, it was a whole new, much more expensive computer.

              (He also insisted that all presentations, including at major scientific conferences, be in comic sans, and regularly drove the post-docs to tears.)

          3. Smithy*

            I actually really like this because while my “embarrassing” would be more of the private life multi-tasking (private email, shopping, etc.) – I’m also not the most computer savvy character and if feeling rushed could have a higher anxiety response as opposed to a more rational “sure – give me 30 seconds” .

            1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

              While I am usually ready to screen share at the drop of a hat, I’ll usually share my second screen only – and I have set up Windows to not display the task bar on said second screen.
              I often work with confidential projects, and from time to time Teams or phone calls pop up. These only show on the primary screen, so they neither distract the screen share nor divulge information unintentionally (“CIA Director of Llama Operations calling. Accept?”).

            2. A Simple Narwhal*

              Ha yes same! I keep all my personal internet happenings (AAM, shopping, Spotify, etc) in a separate Chrome window under my personal email and do all my work stuff in a Chrome window under my work email, and I always take a second to close my personal Chrome window before sharing my screen, just in case!

              When other people share they often do a “oh just give me a second to share my screen” and I assume the long pause is them also closing tabs of things they don’t want others to see. It’s not weird at all, so no worries there!

        1. Snow Globe*

          It’s also possible to share just a certain program, not the entire screen, so why didn’t they just do that? So odd!

          1. Pinxterbloom*

            That was my thought/suggestion as well – if they don’t want to share their screen because of other things open, emails or messages popping up, or whatever, it’s very easy to only share the application you’re working in, rather than the screen itself!

            1. Threeve*

              They have to use multiple sources, which probably means moving between programs. And some things also can’t just be closed out immediately; they wouldn’t have time to delete every bookmark on their browser toolbar, for example.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                But every browser I’m aware of lets you hide the Bookmark Toolbar or equivalent in just a couple of clicks! I do that anyway when I’m presenting to a group, even though there’s nothing offensive there, just so it’s not distracting from the intended focus.

          2. Milx*

            My guess is that they’re not familiar with the intricacies of screen sharing, shared their whole screen before, and got in trouble from a rogue notification or something.

            Or they’re not paying attention and don’t like the idea that they would have to stop goofing off if they shared their screen.

      2. Katie*

        On side note, my background is rotated pictures of my kids. My favorite is of my (very disabled and very sweet) son looking extremely tough and flipping the camera off in a school photo. Obviously he didn’t do it for that but the moment is the best and it’s the only school photo I have purchased.
        Internally I don’t care who sees it, but if I am screen sharing with the client I make sure that isn’t the one in the background just in case.

      3. Beth*

        Could be the person is truly terrible at spelling and knows it. In my family we have a few dyslexic folks that depend heavily on auto-correct. I could see a new employee feeling sensitive about revealing that in front of others.

        1. pancakes*

          That seems unlikely. Even if they were in the midst of typing a document full of red squiggly lines that hadn’t yet been attended to they could save and close it in a matter of seconds.

          1. Jora Malli*

            I think what Beth was getting at was that the person my not have wanted to type poorly or spell things wrong while their trainer was watching them do it in real time. It’s not about what other work they had open on the screen, it’s about the work they would be expected to do while the trainer was looking at the document and seeing every mistake as it was happening.

            Still not a reason for them to be allowed to skip an important step in the training process, but it’s an understandable impulse.

            1. pancakes*

              I see – they don’t want to be seen making mistakes on the fly. I can understand the feeling but a well-run business isn’t going to use training sessions as surreptitious audits of people’s work quality, and making even a number of errors in typing during a single training session really wouldn’t speak to the quality of their work.

              1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                That was my thought – doesn’t want anyone to see their mistakes made during the training. Unfortunately, this backfired on them in that the finished product had a bunch of mistakes that could have been rectified if they had done the screen sharing with the trainer and fixed them at the time. Big backfire.

        2. JustaTech*

          Something we’ve noticed at my work is that the minute anyone has to type on the conference room screen their ability to type or spell goes completely out the window. (We think part of it is the different focal distance compared to a laptop or desktop.)

          So, in an effort to get anything done in a timely manner, we say “don’t worry about the spelling, we can fix that later” and get back to getting ideas down.
          But you do have to *say* that, out loud, or some people will either get bogged down in copy editing, or will just get more and more flustered and self-conscious.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Ha, this happens to me anytime anyone looks over my shoulder. I usually just say “Stop looking at me!” in a joking manner.

            1. JustaTech*

              My ability to parallel park completely disappears if anyone is watching, so I have asked my husband to just close his eyes while I park or we’d be there all day.

      4. WillowSunstar*

        One should never do that on a work computer. You never know how much IT can see without your approval needed.

        1. somanyquestions*

          Right? In office is different but these people sound like they’re working remotely. Don’t they have their own computer on which they can look at questionable things? My work computer never has anything interesting at all on it, because AAM & Slate & facebook are all open on my personal laptop where I play around when I have time.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Got to say that the refusal is odd – but I absolutely agree, OP1 if you haven’t already told manager (like when you realized you’d have to redo a lot of work on the task) make sure you tell the manager Yesterday.

    3. NotARacoonKeeper*

      Definitely not the only one! Were you also wondering if they were secretly working a second full time job at the same time? What else could be so urgent that they can’t quickly close out a bunch of NSFW tabs?

      ALTHOUGH I have a junior peer helping me on a project, and while having an amygdala hijack about something that a director was saying to us, she unthinkingly opened our messaging system on the screen she was sharing, and started communicating her emotions to me in the form of a bunch of angry emojis. Of course, everyone could them. It was baaad. The worst part was that the director was right, so first I had to teach my colleague how to share a window instead of her screen, and then I had to tell her that she was wrong twice over.

      All to say, maybe the OP’s colleague had some screensharing trauma like mine now does?

      1. Science KK*

        I also went to having to have some sort of software open for another job. Didn’t think about being scarred though, but then again I’m always paranoid enough to close all my other tabs before hopping on a call.

      2. Maggie*

        Even if they needed to keep software running for another job, they can just share a single window or tab. Maybe they don’t know that though?

        1. Seeking second childhood*

          If they are gathering material from many sources, it’s entirely possible that they have to switch between many different programs. That would require sharing the whole monitor not just this one window.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        ” . . . so first I had to teach my colleague how to share a window instead of her screen . . . ”

        I was wondering if the junior employee didn’t know she could share just the relevant window, and thought she had to share her whole screen and was reluctant about that for whatever reason. If you’re just sharing a window, that’s all anyone sees. Maybe she didn’t know that?

    4. John Smith*

      Could be, for example, that they don’t want anything compromising to show. A few colleagues and I were having an email exchange over the latest terrible decision making by our incompetent manager. Had I been sharing my screen when a notification popped up for an email subjected “Re: Malcolm has deleted the formulas again”, there’d be merry hell to pay. It could be that there’s something sensitive that’s genuinely work related that may show – who knows.

      1. JayNay*

        I agree I‘m actually kind of impressed this person set a boundary and stuck with it.
        Someone above mentioned sharing only the active window and not the whole screen. That would be a good middle ground going forward (teaching them how to do that and requiring it when necessary).

        1. pancakes*

          “I don’t ever share my screen, even during training” is not a reasonable boundary, and it they need to be trained on an app or whatnot that requires switching between other active apps or views, continuing to refuse to share isn’t going to work. If the concern is not exposing sensitive work-related information there are almost certainly better ways to go about that without obstructing training. Disabling alerts or message previews, as others are suggesting, for example.

        2. Observer*

          I agree I‘m actually kind of impressed this person set a boundary and stuck with it.

          No. Like anything else, boundary setting has its place. Refusing to do work reasonable and necessary work related tasks is NOT the place to set a boundary.

          What makes it worse is that the people who set unreasonable boundaries around their own stuff tend to have TERRIBLE boundaries around other people’s stuff. And considering that they wound up sending the work late and full of errors, I suspect that this is the case with this employee.

          Someone above mentioned sharing only the active window and not the whole screen. That would be a good middle ground going forward

          Only if it’s a personally owned computer. If this belongs to the company, there may be specific screen sharing software the company uses, and it may be set up to allow the entire screen to be shared – and that’s just too bad.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          There are some boundaries you can’t really set at work though. Like you obviously can’t just say “no, I don’t think I’ll do this report you assigned, it’s just a weird thing about me.” That’s obviously an extreme example, but I do think sharing the screen of the work computer that your company presumably owns falls into the category of “things you cannot reasonably refuse to do at work.”

          If this was on a personal computer I guess I would change my stance but it would still be very odd.

        4. Maggie*

          “I don’t want to be trained how to do my job” seems like a boundary that might not mesh with being employed

        5. Ellis Bell*

          I get what you’re saying – it’s even harder to set a boundary for an unreasonable thing, than a reasonable one but this person didn’t break a sweat. It’s not okay or understandable, but it’s a tough heist to pull off. If only they were using their powers for good!

      2. AG*

        You can disable that popup, and it’s way better for my concentration (there’s still a symbol in taskbar that you have new mail).

        1. Mockingjay*

          This is what I have done for years. So much less distraction. (Same for my phone – no notifications except weather alerts.)

      3. Observer*

        It could be that there’s something sensitive that’s genuinely work related that may show – who knows

        On the screen of a junior employee who hasn’t even gotten through the training yet? That’s rather unlikely.

        1. John Smith*

          Could be medical. Could be that their a witness to a work incident. Could be they’re getting grief for poor performance and don’t want anyone else to know. Could be anything – I can think of many others from my experience training people including people desperately trying to hide that they’re functionally illiterate / innumerate or are dyslexic or that sharing a screen might reveal something they don’t want to reveal that is not itself misconduct. This blind “you will do what I tell you to” attitude exhibited by some posters here must really make for a horrible work environment.

          I think in the OPs case the question should be asked “why?”. Only then can the issue be dealt with properly and fairly. If, for example, the trainee is dyslexic, trying to hide it (it does happen even in this day and age) and needs extra time to go through a document to tidy it up, then the solution would be to provide whatever support is reasonable to enable that person to complete the tasks required.

          1. John Smith*

            Also, we don’t know that the person being trained is relatively junior or new. They may have been there for ages and are being trained in a new system. We simply don’t know.

          2. Observer*

            No one here is exhibiting a blind “you will do what I tell you to” attitude

            What we are exhibiting is the attitude that at work, you NEED to do your work, and sometimes you NEED to do it in ways that are not your preference.

            It’s not the OP’s place to think up possible legitimate issues that the coworker MIGHT have and think of ways to accommodate those theoretical issues. It’s on them to let the manager know that as it stands, the employee is not cooperating with getting the training and work done in a timely fashion. At that point, the manager can follow up. And if the manager finds a that the employee has a legitimate issue, it’s on them to figure out what accommodation is possible (preferably with the help of competent HR.)

            But even if the employee does have legitimate issues, what they did was a problem. They should have talked to their manager about their issues before. The bottom line is that they wound up making multiple mistakes and delayed something that had a tight deadline. And, if they are not talking to their manager about how to avoid that going forward, then the OP *for sure* needs to do so.

          3. pancakes*

            “Whatever support is reasonable” isn’t necessarily “time and autonomy to hide yourself away.” It’s odd and stigmatizing to talk about dyslexia this way. I realize that some people with it do try to hide it, yes, but it isn’t in fact shameful, and it’s not necessarily helpful to suggest that employers treat it as if it is. We don’t even know whether this person has any sort of reading or writing-related disability.

            1. John Smith*

              Jeees, I’d hate to work with you two. I’m not stigmatising anyone. If anything, the comments from both of you tell me this employee would suffer even more and it’s your inflexible uncaring attitude that shadows what should be done.

              For what it’s worth, in the real life example I gave, the employee in question was exemplary in the quality of their output. They just went about it completely differently to the way anyone else did. They did their job. Differently to the way anyone else did. But they did it and very well indeed. Did it not occur to you that, maybe, the document is a mess and they wanted time to tidy it up so that it’s presentable? That the person has pride in their work and they, from experience, don’t want to show it before it’s ready in case they meet the usual insults they receive!

              You try having 50 odd years of being branded “thick”, “stupid” etc and see if you’re willing to tell someone you need extra time to produce a document. Or to volunteer information which experience tells you leads to being treated differently and usually less favourably. I’m not saying this is the case in the situation presented here. We don’t know indeed – I mentioned that. Which is why I said “Ask why”. And work round it, if possible. What I presented was an example, not a statement of fact.

              Also, “junior” does not equate to “new”.

      4. whingedrinking*

        Mid-March 2020, there was a tense pre-class encounter outside the academic director’s office after four teachers had refused to come in, and several more confronted the director about plans moving forward. Administration finally saw the writing on the wall and kicked the plans to go remote into high gear. On our Zoom training session that afternoon, one colleague shared his browser window without having closed the tab that was definitely the Ministry of Labour website, on a page related to unsafe working conditions and what your unemployment status was if you quit because of them. I still wonder if that was deliberate…

      1. Venus*

        I find it curious because “I have this weird quirk about how I work” sounds like language that Alison would suggest to someone who can’t work well when someone is figuratively looking over their shoulder.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I admit I don’t like having someone watch me work and that I’m more prone to weird mistakes when that’s happening – maybe the employee is just too inexperienced to realize they’ll have to get over that in this circumstance.

        2. somanyquestions*

          This isn’t someone inappropriately watching them over their shoulder just to hover. This person has to be trained and this is how they need to train them. The LW’s point it borne out by the fact that the trainee failed to do the work that was required, as she had refused to be trained.

          People saying this is somehow OK to refuse to share your screen in this situation just because it might be OK to say that in other situations are really surprising me. This person is refusing to do their job.

      2. Noradrenaline*

        Yeah, in my industry (software engineering) it’s a well-known phenomenon that you get about 50% dumber and totally forget how to type any time someone watches you code. Plus, folks will absolutely judge you for your text editor choice and how much you use the mouse vs keyboard shortcuts. I can definitely see it triggering someone’s anxiety, that seems way more likely than the presence of some damning evidence on their screen.

        1. pancakes*

          It sounds like people in your industry would really benefit from a collective loosening-up over choices like those, yikes! That sounds exhausting.

          1. Anon all day*

            I’m not sure the point of this comment beyond just making an unhelpful judgment about an industry?

            1. pancakes*

              If everyone in the industry thinks that’s normal it seems worthwhile to say it isn’t.

              1. Anon all day*

                Not from some random commenter online… It’s about as helpful as non-Americans commenting on how messed up our healthcare system is.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            It’s pretty common in industries that are excel heavy too. I don’t think this is super helpful.

            1. GythaOgden*

              There are also industries where it’s 50% likely that someone is being flippant. People are understandably cautious about how they say things, but also maybe it’s 75% a good thing to understand when someone’s being 95% offhand and it is about 0.05% directly offensive. (The other 4.95% is margin of error…)

              As for the topic at hand, I’m sharing a postal reference number spreadsheet with the IT team through Teams. I don’t work in a 100% admin role (more like 95% thumb-twiddling and 5% fobbing off salespeople) so I’m a bit weirded out by seeing someone else editing the spreadsheet at the same time. But at the same time, if it had been a Thing in the Before Times, it would have made keeping various directory spreadsheets up to date much easier.

              1. pancakes*

                I would assume most of them are being flippant rather than earnestly taking note, aloud, of something they consider a significant and unworkable personal fault. That doesn’t mean it’s an endlessly fun way for people to be flippant, or that people who are flippant that way very frequently should be seen as beyond reproach, on account of being flippant.

          3. KTM*

            Sounds like someone doesn’t have experience working with engineers :) I’m in a software heavy design engineering dept and I can definitely identify with this! It’s not necessarily meant harshly, but people will totally comment. And yes, I’m immediately dumber if I have to code in front of someone.

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Do you have the inverse like in my department?
          When something is not working for you, call over over a colleague, have them stand behind you while you repeat the process and it miraculously functions as it should?
          “I swear I did that. Was I pressing the wrong keys before?”
          “Nope, it’s the Reverse Michigan J. Frog Phenomenon” where it does NOT work just for you.”

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think that’s just your department, ha! That’s anyplace there are cars and HVAC systems, for a start. Anything that makes a troublesome noise will stop doing it when you need it to.

            1. JR*

              This literally happened with our AC last week. Terrible rattling noise, so we turned if off. Repair guy came, no more noise!

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I know that happens for me whenever I call IT about a problem I’m having. I think sometimes the computer just needs IT staring sternly at it in order to behave.

            1. Aww, coffee, no*

              I am not IT but apparently I still scare computers – in a previous team I was the go-to for the “please come watch me and maybe it will stop misbehaving” requests.

          3. Emmy Noether*

            There’s a word for that in German! (there’s a word for everything in German, but usually that’s just because German squishes almost any phrase you can think of into a single word – but this one actually gets used and is in the dictionary): Vorführeffekt. Literal translation: demonstration effect.

        3. quill*

          I did tell my boss, while doing technical stuff the other week, that I couldn’t type and think at the same time. (I meant type and talk… fortunately she knew what I meant.)

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I get SUPER anxious sharing my screen, if I could refuse I probably would. I am also very very conscientious about closing anything extraneous before sharing my screen for a lot the reasons other people have mentioned (even the titles of some AAM articles could be pretty eyebrow raising if they were just in a tab someone happened to notice!). I rarely offer to share my screen, but if someone asks me too – I just can’t imagine doubling down on it. It’s a reality of virtual or hybrid working, sometimes you need to do it to act collaboratively.

        1. Starfox*

          Meee too. It makes me so uncomfortable! I also use my personal computer for my job, so it feels so invasive. I would appreciate a heads up any time I’m going to have to share my screen so I can make sure only the work stuff is front and center. I’m not even doing anything worth hiding… I just don’t necessarily want anyone to see what I’m browsing on Reddit or what I’m texting my mom or the novel I’m working on.

          It’s even worse when IT has to control my screen remotely. Makes me so uncomfortable!

      4. Fran*

        Even though the staff member made errors it’s possible they would have made it anyway regardless of the screen share or not. This is why taskcards or screen snips need to accompany the training so other learning styles are addressed and the learning can be absorbed.

    5. Arrghhhhh*

      My first thought was signed in via cell or something and not at their computer so the couldn’t actually share as they didn’t have access to the screens needed.

      1. Willis*

        This sounds pretty plausible, especially considering they didn’t do the task until later that evening.

        Other guess: they’re considerable more lost on the task than they should be and were afraid that would become apparent if someone was watching them do it, even if that person was supposed to be helping.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I think you got it when you said they were lost and did not want to show how lost. And they had to google things they should know or even were getting help from someone they should not have been getting help from.

          1. Working with professionals*

            This is what I was thinking- they overstated their qualifications and don’t know how to do what was asked.

      2. jane's nemesis*

        Ah, this makes sense. They were goofing off somewhere and thought they were just going to watch OP do the task, then didn’t want to admit they actually weren’t anywhere near their computer.

      3. Third or Nothing!*

        You might be on to something there with the cell phone idea. Sometimes I go for walks during meetings or phone calls because it helps me concentrate and remember things better.

        Although for a training, I’d be taking notes, so I wouldn’t be actively moving. But I may take the training out onto the front porch to get some fresh air.

    6. Fried Eggs*

      I’m wondering what kind of timeframe we’re talking here. The idea of not being willing to share a screen during a training call is so insane to me, that I wonder if the LW was basically asking them to be sharing their screen all day while working on the project but not actively being trained.

      I’m obviously happy to share my screen while talking through things, but I’d find it really hard to work with someone just silently looking over my shoulder.

      1. Myrin*

        I totally get where this is coming from and I would probably feel a little weird about your scenario myself but I feel like this is one of those situations where you’d have to grit your teeth exactly once and just do it, discomfort be damned.

    7. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      It’s weird but not unheard of here, some people in this company have bad experiences with managers etc. looking over their shoulder and criticising everything from position of the mouse to what order you open tabs up in to how fast you type….which leads to a ‘I’m not happy having anyone watch me ever again’ mindset and permanently setting the text on your screen to the smallest possible that nobody can read it behind you.

      (Not from personal experience. At all. I just like those settings. Honest..)

      However it is resolvable. With people who refuse to share screens an assurance that you’re not going to be criticising how they do things – you just want to make sure their version of the application looks/operates the same as yours – can make a big difference. Even if it’s not really the truth the reassurance helps.

    8. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I was wondering at what “step” they were asked to share. If they were meant to have been following along the training and really were checked out, that might explain why they didn’t want to share their screen.

      Of course, it could also be just anxiety, although it is interesting someone who feels anxious about sharing their screen but not about laying out such an unsual boundary so firmly (interesting, but not impossible).

      1. londonedit*

        I think this is possibly the most feasible scenario – they were meant to be following along on their screen, weren’t, and then panicked when the OP said ‘OK, can you share your screen for the next bit so we can do XYZ’. Even then, I’d probably have done an ‘Ooh…er…hang on just a minute…er…oh, heck, I’ve managed to close the whole thing…give me a second to get back into it…which page were we on again?’ fudge. And I wouldn’t have been weirdly adversarial about not sharing my screen at all. But it might make sense if they weren’t following along as they should have been and had completely lost their place.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yes, especially because they promised to work on the task right *after* the call – so they weren’t just refusing to screen-share, they were refusing to work on the task during the call at all.

      2. Ivy*

        I think it is likely that they weren’t following along or maybe not even at their computer. You can connect to many apps via your phone and listen along, especially in remote situations. I often connect through my phone for better sound quality or if I ran off for lunch or a walk and need to listen in to a meeting that does not require my participation. Then the person could panic because they didn’t have a screen to share since they weren’t on their computer to show the document. Also explains why they worked on it later and got it back to OP so late.

    9. Seeking second childhood*

      My mind jumped to it being someone who doesn’t know how to turn off onscreen notification of incoming messages and emails.. and is corresponding with someone about a sensitive subject–or a NSFW one.

      1. maybe*

        That’s what I was thinking too — they tend to have snarky conversations over Slack/etc, and they’re afraid that a message notification/preview might pop up while screen-sharing.

      2. The Original K.*

        My former boss got an Ashley Madison notification while he was showing me something on his screen (this was years ago, pre-pandemic so I was in his office looking over his shoulder). He casually closed it and I of course said nothing, though I did think it was dumb of him to have something that personal on his work computer. I don’t even check my personal email on my work computer.

        1. pancakes*

          The funny thing about that site is that it was doubly dumb of him to be checking on it at work or even using it in the first place when nearly all of the profiles for women on there were fake. From an article in The Week:

          “But the really damning evidence was discovered when Gizmodo looked into when each member had last checked his or her messages. The site discovered that approximately two-thirds of the men – 20.2 million of them – had checked into their messages at least once, whereas only 1,492 women on the entire database had ever checked their messages.

          This pattern was supported by a scan of how many male and female members had engaged in chat. Roughly 11 million men had done so compared to just 2,400 women.

          ‘Overall, the picture is grim indeed,’ Gizmodo said. ‘Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero per cent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created.’”

        2. Christmas Carol*

          Not as dumb as having it on your home computer where your spouse can run across it.

    10. Trillian*

      Do they understand that screen sharing is just that, you see what is on their computer screen, not that you get to operate their computer remotely and dig around behind the scenes? (Assuming that is what’s so.)

      Mind you, if it’s a laptop issued by work, they have no business having or doing anything on it that does not pertain to work. A personal laptop may be another matter.

      In any case, the training needs to be repeated, and for that the manager should know. Perhaps repeated with a preamble on how to set one’s computer up for sharing to avoid showing anything they don’t want to, and a reminder of the company policy around appropriate computer use.

      1. pancakes*

        Even if they don’t understand that at all, it wouldn’t be sensible for them to treat the trainer as some sort of investigator they need to be on guard against. I mean, someone has bigger problems than just not understanding how screen sharing works if that is their mindset.

    11. Irishgal*

      But they didn’t refuse to share their screen, they refused to be watched and monitored whilst performing a work task… to me they are very different things.

      1. Dr. Vibrissae*

        But they did refuse to share the screen? And it was watching and monitoring for the purpose of *learning*a work task. I assume that had the LW been in the same physical location they might have just sat with the person at the same desk. I’ve certainly been trained on things that way. It can be awkward, but it’s hardly an inappropriate way to do it, especially if this type of collaboration is common in this office.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah it’s not being monitored it’s collaborating, or working on something together. In-person you’d probably sit in an office together, or project your screen, or write on the walls or whatever – but you’d still work through the process together.

      2. Myrin*

        How are they different things? It’s both things at the same time – OP literally says “I asked them to share their screen as part of the training and put the document together while I was available for troubleshooting and questions.”.
        This was part of a training session, not the coworker refusing to share their screen so the two of them can watch a movie together – what else would they be sharing a screen for if not being watched trying out what they’ve just gone over?

        1. tamarak & fireweed*

          It’s a normal thing, but I can see the trainee getting anxious (whether or not they’re doing something inappropriate), or at least self-conscious. As a trainer, the LW should make sure to announce clearly “This will be the first time you’re preparing the weekly homomorphel report, which has a deadline of 5 pm tomorrow afternoon. As your trainer, I’ll walk with you through it step by step to make sure everything is clear, and also to be there for troubleshooting, if something goes wrong. That’s what the meeting request I sent you for 11 am tomorrow is for. Still ok with the time? Good! What I suggest is that when we start you’re already ready, have the document open and thought through the steps. Then when we get on Zoom/Teams/Webex/whatever you share your screen an work through it, with me being available to help. Don’t worry, it’s not so scary! We just need to make sure you’re getting this task down right from the outset.”

      3. Aunty Fox*

        Before teams and things though it was really common when training someone to literally sit next to them at their machine while they did the task so you could point and go no, click this, etc if they made mistakes. This isn’t an unusual part of a training process on systems.

        1. Random Bystander*

          Yeah–when we were in the office, part of the standard training was that newbie would sit and watch how the trainer worked, then at some point the newbie would “drive” while the trainer watched. In the remote environment, we screen-share all the time for training and weekly question time. It’s such an ordinary part of job training (and since it is also an ordinary part of the LW’s job), I’d be questioning if the person were really right for the role (and communicating such doubts to the newbie’s manager).

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          And its inverse–the first time the trainee watches the teacher do it, the second time the teacher watches the trainee do it. Once physically squeezed together at one desktop computer; now more likely by screen-sharing as one or both are remote.

      4. KRM*

        They refused to share their screen *so they can be trained on a specific and somewhat complicated work task*. This is not “I’m watching you work for kicks and giggles”. This is “Okay, so the reason you can’t advance is because the address needs to be formatted differently in box 12, which is an unfortunate quirk of the formatting needed in the final document”. This is a very common and not unusual or onerous ask, and the employee is definitely out of line in refusing to share, especially given that they turned in the document late and error ridden.

      5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. They were in training, which often involves doing tasks and having someone evaluate the tasks for learning purposes. Their task was going to be evaluated either way and with the screen sharing, it would have been easier for the trainer and better for the organization.

        1. pancakes*

          Not only that, the work done during training sessions is typically going to be fake work set up for training purposes. Any company that is moderately competent is not going to have people working with sensitive or confidential data during training.

      6. Observer*

        But they didn’t refuse to share their screen, they refused to be watched and monitored whilst performing a work task

        They refused to share their screen. That is what happened. It doesn’t matter why.

        Also, when you are being trained and it’s clear that you have not learned how to do the task at hand, you are not in a position to refuse to allow your trained to monitor how you are doing your task(s).

    12. After 33 years ...*

      Another possibility: they simply will not allow anyone to have access to their computer for any reason, including screen sharing. Their e-privacy is absolute, and ‘no one’s going to give them a virus’. Advising them to close tabs or windows would not help – they’d still refuse on principle.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Could be. Alison has given the “it’s just my thing” advice before. I can see someone using that not realizing there are times you CANNOT set a boundary like that. In this case, training.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Sure, but then they’d need to receive a stern talking to from their manager and then ultimately fired if it didn’t change. It’s a work computer. They can’t refuse to use it to produce work products as directed.

      3. Mockingjay*

        Every place I’ve worked has made it clear the company has the right to monitor your assigned asset at any time and that asset is assigned for work purposes. Screen sharing for training is certainly a work purpose. Since most companies with even a modest IT infrastructure have user groups, permission levels, and virus protections, their rationale for refusal doesn’t hold.

        It’s such an odd stance in an age of collaboration tools. I’d love a follow-up on this letter.

      4. pancakes*

        If that’s the case they’ll be much better off if they learn how viruses are actually transmitted.

      5. Observer*

        they simply will not allow anyone to have access to their computer for any reason, including screen sharing. Their e-privacy is absolute, and ‘no one’s going to give them a virus’. Advising them to close tabs or windows would not help – they’d still refuse on principle.

        I would be SERIOUSLY questioning the fitness of anyone who pulled that in a work context. Especially if they are using a work issues computer. But even if they are using a personally owned computer. You don’t get viruses from screen sharing, nor does privacy have anything to do with viruses per se (although, yes, some viruses are privacy stealers.)

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        If they’re working on a company computer on the company network, they have no standing to refuse at all. It’s not their computer, their work product belongs to the company, and that sort of “stance” is, at the very most charitable interpretation, misguided.

      7. Jam today*

        An employee’s right to privacy on a presumably work issued computer is pretty limited. “Absolute privacy” does not exist in the workplace.

      8. KTM*

        This is where my mind went as well rather than all the comments about NSFW content. I have an employee who is a high performer but has seriously weird concepts and elaborate conspiracy theories around personal data, digital privacy, etc. regardless of if they are logical to the rest of us or not. I’ve never had them refuse to screen share specifically, but I could see that happening (and me having to have a sit-down about what is a requirement of their job).

    13. Benny*

      This might be a bit far-fetched, but my immediate thought was that this person may not be sure how to screenshare (either at all or how to share just one window) and was embarrassed to say that, so figured it was better to frame it as a quirk.

      1. Michigan mom*

        Ok but if you don’t know how to screwnshare then the thing you say is “I’m sorry. I don’t know how to share my screen” and then the other person shows you

    14. Dumpster Fire*

      I think there’s a possibility they just weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing in the training, and didn’t want OP to see that they hadn’t done anything. Given the fact that they then messed up what they were supposed to be able to do, it’s highly likely they simply didn’t do the training.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      One of my favorite features of AAM is that someone will be doing something bizarre, and not too deep into the comments a reasonable explanation is proposed. “If you enter this specific excel command with this setting on, then what you describe can happen.” “Sounds like a phishing scheme from someone faking the employee’s email address.” And your perspective shifts and the weird thing seems possibly normal, if only in this one context.

      37 comments deep and we don’t have that context.

    16. LittleMarshmallow*

      My guess is that they accidentally shared something they didn’t want others to seeat previous job and now are trying to avoid doing it again by just refusing to share their screen. It should definitely be addressed by the manager.

    17. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I think it’s weird. I cannot imagine refusing to do that at work, and for a training session. What?

    18. alienor*

      I have a work laptop and a personal laptop, so I’ll often just have my current Zoom call open on the work laptop while I do other things (sometimes work-related, sometimes not–never anything wildly NSFW, though) on the personal one. Then if someone unexpectedly asks me to share my screen, they can’t possibly see anything other than a bunch of boring tabs and documents.

      That said, I also hate sharing my screen at all because I don’t like people watching me type and click around trying to find things. I do it when I have to, but I’m grateful when someone else volunteers to share theirs instead. So I can honestly see this employee just genuinely not liking it for non-nefarious reasons, but not getting that they don’t have a choice in this case.

    19. fhqwhgads*

      It’s weird. I almost wondered if the person didn’t understand you can screenshare without camera share? Refusing to be on camera is reasonable. Refusing to screenshare is bizarre.

    20. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      My head canon is now that they’re secretly using Fiverr or some other gig-working service to produce their work product, and passing it off as if they’re actually working. This explains the lateness of the product (took some time to get the freelancer lined up), and the errors (person doing the gig-work hadn’t been party to the training).

    21. KayDeeAye*

      My guesses are that either the person doesn’t know how to screenshare and didn’t want to admit this, or…they just genuinely have a thing about sharing their screen. I mean, why not? People have all kinds of “things” in varying degrees, so why not this?

      Either way, they can’t be allowed to get away with it again. It’s part of the training, which means it’s part of the screen-a-phobe’s job, so they just have to do it.

    22. Hellokitty Supporter*

      I’m wondering if it wasn’t the screen sharing so much as the live action. I’m thinking a variation of the situation where the person who showed up to work wasn’t the person who interviewed. Maybe the trainee doesn’t know how to do much of this process at all, when they reasonably should, and to hide that won’t share their screen because they don’t want the trainer to watch them flounder around. They tried to finish it themselves later, or got a third party (friend/spouse/kid) to help them later and did it wrong. Or maybe they are actually working two jobs from home – “I can’t show you my screen because you’ll see that I’m also working on something totally unrelated to this training.”

  3. Persephone Mulberry*

    I sympathize a little bit with the trainee in letter 1 – I too hate having someone watch me as I work through an unfamiliar process. It sets off all my former gifted kid, perfectionistic anxieties. But I understand that it’s a very standard way of teaching/learning and it would never occur to me to tell my trainer a flat “no.”

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes I hate being trained this way unless I’ve had a chance to watch them do a run-through and take notes which we can’t tell from this letter if this happened. However, the proper response would be, “hey would it be cool to …first? I tend to learn better that way.” Then if the OP said no, oh well, the answer was no so share the screen.

    2. Chris*

      Yes, I would totally panic if I got this request not knowing it was coming. Even if I didn’t have NSFW tabs open or anything like that I would just be irrational at the sudden request, logical or not. I think giving a heads up that this is expected and required in the future is the way to go.

      1. Radical honesty*

        You should not have a bunch of nsfw tabs open at work . I share my screen on almost every call I’m on, whether it’s for a presentation, showing how I did something, or just showing something random. Trainee needs to find a way to work past it, it’s a very normal part of work and will limit them greatly. Not to mention weird af.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I do think it varies by org – I see someone above saying that it’s reasonable not to appear on camera, which at my org (unfortunately) would be totally out of the norm – we are cameras-on for every. singe. interaction and if mine isn’t working my boss tells me to go log in on my personal computer “so we can see your smiling face” – and we don’t really screen share all that often, due to the nature of the work we do. However, this employee isn’t brand new to this org so it’s kind of a moot point anyway, as OP says they share screens all the time.

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          I think “weird AF” is a little rude. I have a really strong sense of privacy and have never liked being watched. Even when I was a little kid, I didn’t like it when my parents saw me while I was playing (actually, they may have started that feeling…). I know it’s not in the middle of the bell curve, but “weird AF” is really dismissive and rude and should really be saved for harmful behaviors.

          1. Health Insurance Nerd*

            But, refusing to share your screen at work is actually weird AF, which is neither dismissive nor rude. You may have a strong sense of privacy, but you’re simply not entitled to that degree of privacy in a professional setting.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Seconded. The preference isn’t what’s weird, the strong denial in an environment where you don’t have that degree of autonomy is

            2. Lana Kane*

              Yeah, at work you need to be prepared to share your screen. Refusing to do so is, objectively speaking, weird AF (take out the AF if you want – still weird). I’m in a new job now and I spent a lot of time sharing my screen during training. A trainer has to be able to see you work through the process. I hate it and felt awkward, but I needed to work through that. And when I was training people in my previous job, refusing to share the screen just wouldn’t have been an option (although I would have definitely tried to assure the person that mistakes happen and I’m one who immediately makes 10x my normal typos when being watched).

              The phrasing the employee used, “it’s just a weird thing about me” reminds me of people trying to soften the message by basically saying “it’s me, not you”. But it doesn’t work in a context like this.

          2. pancakes*

            This isn’t the right framing. In addition to what others have said, people who don’t panic can have strong senses of privacy as well. Being irrationally panicked is not a measure of taking privacy more seriously than people who don’t panic and it’s wrong to treat it as one.

            I’m also inclined to say that people who know they tend to have irrational responses to things should maybe try to work on minimizing that, rather than trying to shape work around their tendency to be irrational. It seems like it would be a benefit to all to be able to get some distance from that irrationality rather than wait for it to pass on its own.

            1. si*

              Yeah, I have anxiety disorders out the wazoo and hate screen sharing. I would still do it. Giving in to my immediate ‘oh nooooo I can’t’ response is about the worst thing I can do for keeping my anxiety manageable long term. It reinforces the irrational thought-loop with a ‘phew, avoided that terrifying situation’ and never gives me a chance to learn that the feared consequences rarely if ever materialise. My phone anxiety, for example, is always much *better* when I’m in a job that requires regular phone use.

              Also, sometimes you just have to do stuff that sucks.

              1. pancakes*

                Yes, that makes a lot of sense. It’s no help navigating those anxieties to refuse to consider whether they’re proportionate. Differentiating logical ideas from ones that are a product of the anxiety trying to self-replicate or self-multiply seems important.

                1. si*

                  It’s also extremely hard to tell from inside what *is* rational or not when the anxiety has already ramped up, because your internal alarm system is built to override everything and dodge the ‘threat’. Avoidance and overthinking both feed into the loop. It also doesn’t help that a rational fear can become irrational by degrees, or purely by proportion – one of mine is something that would be genuinely horrible if it ever happened, but nonetheless I can’t spend my entire life obsessively avoiding it.

                  The only approach that works for me is feeling the fear and doing it anyway, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s also very difficult and unpleasant, and I can’t always manage it (there are phobias I will probably never tackle because they’re kind of niche and no one will ever ask me to face them for work!). I won’t ever judge anyone else who can’t do it in that moment. But if anxiety is the issue for OP’s trainee, what they’re doing doesn’t square up to the problem at all, and isn’t a reasonable strategy – avoidance/denial are not feasible accommodations when it comes to necessary work tasks.

                2. si*

                  (I want to come back and clarify that this ‘do it anyway’ stuff is alongside medication and therapy – I’m not saying that anyone should just have to suck it up without support, or that you should simply ignore what your anxious employees say about themselves and their needs.)

          3. Observer*

            As the others say, having a strong sense of privacy is not what’s weird. Thinking that you have such a right to maintain that level that you would flat our refuse to do required and reasonable tasks over it, is what’s weird.

        3. Corey*

          “Even if I weren’t driving 120mph on the highway, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a car without a seatbelt on.”

          You should NOT be driving 120mph on the highway!

      2. Aww, coffee, no*

        But OP specifically says “Our team regularly shares screens” and describes the person they are training as a “junior teammate” so it seems reasonable to assume that the person being trained in this task should already be familiar with the expectation to share screens.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          And if not, it’s VERY reasonable to correct it now, because that isn’t something they can do to be successful in an environment where it’s expected.

      3. Liz T*

        But if you knew you had a training, you should know something like this might we’ll be coming.

    3. The answer is (probably) 42*

      Same. I also don’t work in a way that’s very conducive to screen sharing- I’ll flip between tasks, sometimes I sit back and space out for a bit while my brain digests, and even when I’m monotasking there are gaps where it looks like I’m doing nothing. I’m a relatively quick worker so if you’re not actively looking over my shoulder you’d never know it, but things like that would make me terribly anxious. I’d probably try to gently push back on screen sharing, but if it’s required I’d just try to shift my mindset and roll with it, or ask if I can take a couple of minutes’ break to look over the work without oversight before diving in.

      1. Koalafied*

        This was for training on a specific task, though, not just “let me observe you doing your normal work.”

        We do the same at my company if the manager/trainer and the new hire/trainee aren’t physically in the same lesson, which is increasingly common. Back in the olden days, the two people would simply be sitting at one computer together while the trainer walked the trainee through the instructions.

        1. Riot Grrrl*

          Back in the olden days, the two people would simply be sitting at one computer together while the trainer walked the trainee through the instructions.

          And frankly I miss those days. I’m a big fan of the whole work-from-home revolution EXCEPT when it comes to training. I have found remote trainings to be significantly less effective and efficient, even when doing screen-sharing. Nothing replaces side-by-side instruction, followed by letting someone go off into the next room to try it on their own–but being close enough that they can very easily stop at any moment to drop by for a quick question or gut-check. These days in my experience, trainees are much less likely to do these quick gut-checks, sometimes leading to disastrous–or at least useless–results.

          1. Koalafied*

            To be honest, I’ve found it to be just as effective with my remote employees as in-person trainings – I’m just as available on Slack as I would be sitting in the next room. But I will say that two key things that have helped are 1) I’ve been blessed with conscientious, proactive learners who take good notes and don’t hesitate to ask questions, and 2) we use Slack for trainings, which has a feature where the viewer can draw on the screen and the sharer can see what they’re drawing. This was a total revolutionary feature that made remote training 100x more effective because of how it avoids all the “click where it says Blahblah…over to the leftish…not the far left…next to the X button” nonsense because you can just circle the area they need to click.

            1. Lana Kane*

              As a remote trainer and also trainee I mostly agree that it’s been mostly fine. What I do totally miss is being able to turn to a coworker who is at their desk and ask them a quick question. Now I’m hunting people down on Teams! But it’s a small thing.

      2. Ariadne*

        As far as I can tell, OP is actively walking them through how to do a specific task. As in, “click the drop down list here and select A”, or “in box 14 where it says address you put the PO Box but in box 15 you’ll need the street address.” Without screen sharing, how would the employee get that direction?

        This refusal is a bit like a basket weaver saying “I know that there’s a specific weaving technique but you can’t watch me while I weave. I’ll do it myself and then you can look at the finished product and tell me if I went wrong, and where.” It’s technically doable, but what a huge waste of time for both parties.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          The sense I get is that it’s less hands on than that. My assumption is that the LW has already demonstrated the process – presumably while the trainee takes notes – and is now flipping things around to have the trainee do the process while the LW observes and answers questions and only redirects when necessary.

          1. Antilles*

            Sure, but even so, there’s clearly a huge benefit to screen-sharing.
            If the trainee forgets a step, OP can identify the mis-step and help guide the trainee – maybe by pointing out the error directly, maybe with a leading question of “hold on a second, recheck this screen”, maybe by letting the trainee continue down the wrong path for a couple minutes so the trainee can see what happens when you forget to do X.
            Whereas without the screen-share, you get to the end and it’s wrong, then the LW has to have a bunch of back and forth trying to decipher exactly where things went off the rails. Meanwhile, the trainee will often struggle to explain what the issue might be, because they’re too new to the software to explain/understand what might have gone wrong.

            1. Koalafied*

              I’ve been going through a training just like this with my new hire in recent weeks, and you’re exactly right. The task is a very long, complex, and highly variable one – an experienced person with lots of practice could do it in 1-2 hours but it takes a while to get there because it’s a little bit different every time you do it. And, it often involves doing something slightly different than has ever been done and potentially needing to troubleshoot why what you’re trying to do isn’t actually working. It’s absolutely not the kind of thing anyone can watch once and then be able to do independently.

              We’ve been going through training in stages, all with real work products: first I demonstrated on my screen while he watched, asked questions, and took notes. The next time around, I had him share his screen and I guided him step by step, including using Slack’s handy feature where I can draw on his screen and he can see what I’m drawing, so I could point out exactly where he needed to go next.

              The next time after that, I had him share his screen and told him I would refrain from making any comments unless he asked a question or I saw him starting to commit significant energy to going down a wrong path, and stressed that I expected he would sometimes need to click into several menus to find something or might go to the wrong area first and then realize that he needed to be somewhere else – and that I viewed that kind of stumbling through as an important part of the learning process so I would not intervene for that sort of thing.

              Finally, the next go round I gave him all the materials and told him to take a stab at doing it solo, but that I’d be available on Slack for any questions and would review the work before it needed to be finalized. He did great with this – did most of it and then asked me for a video call at the end of the day to go over what he did and ask a few outstanding questions for the few things he hadn’t been able to figure out on his one.

              We’re located in different states and there’s just no way I could have possibly taught him this task any other way.

      3. pancakes*

        That’s many people, if not most. It is entirely normal for people who sit at desks to not be visibly productive every moment of the working day. That isn’t just a weird you thing! It’s also not something you need to be worried about while screen sharing during a training session because you’re meant to be taking part in the training rather than plowing ahead with your work and ignoring the trainer.

        1. si*

          Yes, this. We’re not talking about observing the trainee’s every move throughout the whole day or anything like that. We’re talking about the trainee and trainer engaging with the same task and talking through it together in real time. I zone out plenty when I’m working alone, but not in the middle of a conversation with a colleague.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I’m guessing it’s something like this rather than trying to hide something. It’s easy enough to close any tabs you want to hide and given the comment about “a weird thing,” I’m guessing it’s about feeling uncomfortable.

    5. Purple Cat*

      Yes, agreed that I become incapable of executing even “sum” formulas in excel once the screen share starts, but it’s still a necessary part of training/learning. I wonder if they were all in office would the coworker have refused to let her peer sit at her desk and watch over her shoulder?

      1. Salsa Verde*

        This is my question! I think that if people want to continue to take advantage of remote work, screen sharing is going to have to become common and uncontested.

      2. Nynaeve*

        To be fair, I would have if I were in the trainee’s shoes, and I have done in the past and never gotten pushback on it. I am not going retain any of the information/process if you are silently watching me do the thing I just learned. I will be off to the races so to speak if you just let me muddle through once or twice and figure it out on my own. Even with quirky software and process like some of the examples given, if the training already went over them (and it should!) trusting me to have taken adequate notes and to ask questions if needed is going to be 1000% more effective than the trainer watching me work, making me nervous, taking me out of my flow and generally being more disruptive than they probably are meaning to be.

        But, the secret here, is to TELL THE TRAINER THAT and have a dialogue about it. Any trainer worth their salt will know that there are adult learners who just work better this way and should be willing to accommodate. In the instance LW describes I would have told them about how I learn best, offered to do the task immediately, promise to ask any questions that came up as they did, and then offer to meet again once I was done so we could go over the final product and make sure it was error free. I would be very taken aback and flustered if this reasonable request was met with a hard NO.

        1. somanyquestions*

          This trainee did not know what she was doing, and did the work badly after that because of it. She actually needed this training.

          I’m really surprised that so many people are looking at this differently than in-office training where someone would watch you work. You can’t refuse all training or supervision of your work.

    6. Noelle*

      THANK YOU. This is exactly how I feel and I’m honestly stunned by how many people in the comments are so hostile towards the trainee or assuming they were doing something illicit. I was the kid in art class that would do a full-body tackle over my unfinished artwork to prevent anyone from seeing it as they walked by. It took a lot of reframing to realize the goal of criticism isn’t to tear me down personally, but to make sure I put out the best possible work. Nowadays, I still get nervous, but I realize this kind of collaboration is a required part of the job and I’m not getting out of it. If anxiety, or any other sort of condition, is causing the trainee to not want to share their screen, they need to articulate what the problem is instead of just refusing. But if I were OP or OP’s manager, I would approach this out of concern rather than being immediately punitive, and see if the trainee needs/can be given a reasonable accommodation. But the trainee needs to either express what the exact issue is, even if that’s difficult for them, or accept this is a non negotiable part of their job duties.

      1. Sloanicota*

        If the trainee had put forth a better effort and just balked at screen-sharing I’d be more sympathetic – but they didn’t communicate, missed the deadline, and still had errors in the final product, so it’s not like they were giving it their all in the face of overwhelming screen-sharing anxiety.

        1. kittycontractor*

          Yeah, all of it together is not good. If one is going to balk at very common workplace norms, especially when being trained, one better be able to back it up with near perfect results.

      2. Anon all day*

        Yeah, it’s the straight up refusal that’s the issue and why people in the comment section are (understandably, IMO) so taken aback. I was literally just telling a coworker the other day how I have absolutely no issues with public speaking as part of my job, but I hate when someone I work with is there or I hate during practice stuff with coworkers. However, I still do it.

        1. Nynaeve*

          Oh yeah, public speaking is so much worse when the audience is made up of your peers and people you know personally. Getting up in front of a stadium full of strangers is significantly less daunting for me than an internal interview or presentation.

      3. münchner kindl*

        I see it less as hostility and more that trainee is blocking her training, which is necessary for their work, by their refusal, which is not rational.

        That you react similar doesn’t make it normal. I would strongly recommend working on your reaction because training is very necessary to learn anything, and that includes watching how you’re doing it in the moment, as well as looking at the finished work, in order to give feedback.

        Without feedback, nobody can correct mistakes, which means bad work. Which is reasonable of managers to not want.

    7. Chris H*

      Totally agree. This would actually be a terrible way for me to learn. I would be so frustrated by someone “looking over my shoulder” showing me step by step that my brain would not retain the information for next time. I wouldn’t refuse and I think it is the right course of action to let the person know that they will need to get comfortable with sharing their screen. I also wouldn’t use a document that has a critical deadline where it will be problematic if missed for a training.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        I also wouldn’t use a document that has a critical deadline where it will be problematic if missed for a training.

        You say that as though the OP randomly chose this document, but this is a specific document that they are handing off and which has a tight turnaround. That isn’t the OP’s fault.

    8. Shhhh*

      Same here! I’m not comfortable having someone watch me work like that. I’d prefer to avoid it. When I collaborate with coworkers on research projects and the timeline permits it, I often ask if we can work separately and then come together to discuss. But a training context is different and I definitely wouldn’t flat out refuse.

  4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    To OP1, absolutely go to the trainees manager and matter of faculty tell them what happened in training if you didn’t already when they document got to you late and riddled with errors.

    I have done a lot of training, both in person and remote and I always insist that the last hour or so (at a minimum depending on the trainee in question) of training is the person being trained is the trainee actually doing the task while I watch and give pointers if needed. When I’m training remotely I tell the person at the start we are going to be sharing screens, and do so in a calm this is just how it’s going to work manner. I’ve never had a person tell me they won’t share screens – it’s just the way it has to be done when you’re remote.

    I suspect the forceful pushback is what stopped you from insisting – but now you know this person needs to share the screen, and to do while the expert watches and offers help when learning new things. And that it may require the manager’s insisting that this is the way training happens to get the trainee to listen. But if they refuse again, just stop and let them know “okay – I’ll let manager know you don’t want to do the screen sharing practice, and because of that I don’t feel comfortable signing off on your training sheet either”.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Adding something that just popped into my brain – if trainee changes their tune when I say I won’t sign-off the form and will tell manager – I will absolutely let them do the screen sharing practices. But I’m only going to let them change their minds a time or two. The statement is just a sharing of consequence of the choice, I don’t mean it at all to be a threat. And training via “sword of Damocles threat” isn’t a great way to train.

    2. RedinSC*

      I was essentially thinking the same thing. I would frame it as, we tried your way, it did not work, (late, errors, etc). moving forward we will share screens or I will not sign off on this and will let your manager know.

    3. JustaTech*

      I guess part of the reason I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this is that all of the training I do is in-person, hands on, for many hours at a go, where I am literally standing just behind the trainee (who the day/week before was standing directly behind me while I demonstrated the work).

      Like, I stand as far back as the space allows, let them know in advance that I will be there and that I am trying to not crowd them while still being able to see what they are doing, but, like, I *have* to watch you do the work in order to train you! How else can I offer corrections and advice if I can’t see how you are doing the process?

    4. alienor*

      When I’m training remotely I tell the person at the start we are going to be sharing screens, and do so in a calm this is just how it’s going to work manner.

      I’m wondering if this might have helped with OP’s situation. Knowing that they’re going to be sharing their screen later lets someone mentally prepare (or close tabs if they need to) as opposed to having the trainer suddenly say “Share your screen RIGHT NOW so I can watch you work.”

  5. K C*

    I most identify with #2. Not his reaction. But that even when you love a place and try so hard, once you’ve given notice it’s a biological imperative to check out. It’s unstoppable. Moving him was the right thing.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – I’m medical adjacent, and if he was making errors that could have impacted Patient Safety it was imperative that you move him. Patient Safety is more important than his bruised pride.

    2. Ariadne*

      Eh, I can see them becoming lax about admin procedures or timesheets or something. But direct patient care? I think someone working directly with patients can reasonably be expected to maintain a certain level of diligence.

    3. WellRed*

      Yes I’ve always wondered how the folks in places where you give like 4 months standard manage.

      1. Tisbahalakhair*

        For me, it doesn’t set in that I’m “really leaving” until like a month before. I know I gave notice and everything, but it’s so far in the future that my brain doesn’t register it. Probably helps that I’ve never had a terrible job I couldn’t wait to leave, though.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        For international readers, that’s the term for when high school or college seniors stop working as hard or caring as much about classes & spending more time partying or goofing off during their final semester right before graduation.

      2. Anon all day*

        My parents are retiring at the end of the year, and it’s funny how the same term is just as applicable!

        1. allathian*

          Oh yeah. I was very surprised when a coworker, who recently retired, attended a mandatory training a couple months before they stopped working. There’s absolutely no way in hell I’d ever do that, especially as all our mandatory trainings have a get-out clause that means that people who have submitted their notice to retire (a minimum of 6 months before the date they’re due to retire because they must take all their accrued vacation before they leave) are exempt.

  6. Dennis Feinstein*

    I’m assuming that the non-screen sharer was in a different location? Eg WFH. The refusal to let the trainer watch them work + the provision of the document (riddled with errors) after working hours makes me suspect this employee might have been getting “help” from someone at home.

    1. Mark Roth*

      The errors could be a rookie mistake. And the screen could be a personal computer now used for work purposes.

      But I may be biased. If this wasn’t a training project, I would have been completely on the side of not sharing a screen. If you need to share a database, share the database. Not a whole screen.

      1. Allonge*

        Ok, but you cannot be this literal at work. Obviously the trainer only needs to see the whatever application they are training the use of. (If the training is covering creation of something between several applications, then sharing a screen is more practical.)

        But if someone refuses to think that a request to share your screen can be satisfied by sharing the specific application whose use you are supposed to be demonstrating, they are too inflexible for life.

        1. Ariadne*

          > But if someone refuses to think that a request to share your screen can be satisfied by sharing the specific application whose use you are supposed to be demonstrating, they are too inflexible for life.

          Agreed. And there’s no reason to think that’s how OP behaved! They said the meeting ended with the employee agreeing to do the work on their own and submit it it OP for review, which they then didn’t do in a timely manner. I’m more inclined to believe OP was the reasonable party in this interaction.

          1. Allonge*

            I really don’t think that is how OP behaved! I was reacting to a comment that seems to imply that sharing a screen and sharing an application are so far away from one another that nobody could make the jump from ‘one is inadvisable’ to ‘doing the other’.

      2. Ariadne*

        > If this wasn’t a training project, I would have been completely on the side of not sharing a screen. If you need to share a database, share the database. Not a whole screen.

        I’m very confused by this interpretation? As far as I can tell OP wanted to see the screen to walk the employee though the process of filling out specific content on said screen. The employee refused outright, did the task with no guidance or oversight, and then later (after a given deadline!) provided an incorrect finished product. What was stopping the employee from saying “ok” and then just sharing the application that was needed? I would never have assumed OP was insisting on seeing the whole computer desktop.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          I don’t know, maybe op needed to tell the trainee to pull data from different sources or applications to complete whatever they’re working on. Either way, it’s strange to refuse to share your screen. I’m assuming the trainee is using a computer provided by their employer. They should have shared whatever was being asked.

          1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

            It IS very strange to refuse to share your screen in a training session. I mean, whatever else you may have on your computer ought to be closed because you’re specifically supposed to be training.

      3. Yorick*

        Everyone I know says “sharing my/your screen” but they don’t literally mean it has to be the whole screen. It’s ok to share the particular window that’s important in the moment. People still refer to that as “screen sharing.”

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I do routinely mess this up and at least temporarily share my whole screen lol but I think if I was refusal levels of not okay with that I’d probably spend more time mastering the process

          1. Yorick*

            I do too! But if I told someone to share their screen and they just shared their Word doc or PPT or whatever, I wouldn’t even notice.

      4. Liz T*

        Come now. “Screen sharing” is metonymic shorthand for the suite of functions that include sharing screen, application, or window. OP would have to specify “I wanted them to share their whole screen, not just an application or window” in order to communicate that to us.

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      “They continued to refuse, and the meeting ended with them promising to work on it next.”

      It sounds like this training was meant to be a “follow along-hands on” type of training and I get the feeling that perhaps the person refusing to share meant they were not really paying attention or following along and just watching the OP instead. Granted, some people can’t do two things at the same time and don’t learn well this way.

    3. STG*

      Or they could be double-dipping and working a second job at the same time. A bit out there but possible.

  7. Mary Jane*

    #1 – It’s interesting to note that they framed it as “Hope you weren’t offended” rather than acknowledging that they they had disrupted the training process, sent the document after working hours, and overall failed to properly complete the task. To be honest that comment would offend me more than the initial interaction did! That framing is basically like saying “it’s not what I did, it’s your reaction to it” and I’d be hard-pressed not to read that as attempted manipulation and extrapolate from that to other assumptions about their professionalism and general personality.

    I would definitely reach out to the manager and basically state that if they’re not able to share their screen or submit work for feedback in a timely manner then someone else will have to train them. Quite frankly if it’s a process where corrections are given orally then I wouldn’t even bother to respond in writing, which would take much longer.

    1. Heather*

      Story one: The trainee should be warned that if they are working with unauthorised sites while on a work network/system they are a security risk and should be reported to their management and the network security team.
      If it’s a matter of them being embarrassed by a desktop background then surely they can clean it up during working hours?
      Or possibly they think screen sharing means you can see through their camera, which I can understand being hesitant about.

    2. Gumby*

      Agreed. Offense is a strange place to take this. It was not a personal slight against the trainer – it was straight up refusing to do part of the training. “Hope you weren’t offended” is for when you mention you don’t like a certain color right before noticing someone is wearing that color. “Ehn, no, I decided not to do part of the training because I don’t want to” is… something else entirely.

    3. Salsa Verde*

      Yeah, the offended comment was weird.
      Maybe they said that as code for “please don’t tell on me to the manager”?

  8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    OP2 – you had a tough call, but you made the right decision. You said yourself that his mistakes, if uncaught, could have affected patient safety. Thank you for putting the patients first.

    We always hear about malpractice, and think of the headline catching bad doctors making malicious decisions. But at its root meaning malpractice means “bad practice” and mistakes can leave just as lasting an impact as a malicious act. The only difference is the intent, not the outcome.

  9. Juna*

    Is it just me or are screens evolving to where they are becoming almost an unintended intimate window in to peoples personal lives. Come to think of it, I might have medical, banking, or legal information up at any given time just because I needed to check in on something quickly. Furthermore, I have seen letters written in where people may have relationship or intimate information periodically on their screens. Even having a quick window open on verifying the spelling of “conscience” can be really embarrassing if your trying to establish your self in a new space.

    I completely understand why they needed to share their screen for training and it’s their responsibility to make sure what they had open was ok professionally. I just feel that we are moving in to an era where people are going to be more comfortable sharing what’s in their underwear drawer than what’s been on their screen. The person needing to be trained definitely needs to be sharing their screen but still, I see people becoming more hesitant to share their screens over time as a norm.

    1. The Fall of Sprint*

      “Come to think of it, I might have medical, banking, or legal information up at any given time just because I needed to check in on something quickly”

      If one is that stressed about privacy, it seems like an odd choice to use a work computer (in the vast majority of cases, a machine that is monitored by your company) to access this kind of information when you could access it on a cell phone or personal computer and not be at any risk of accidentally sharing it. It’s also not hard to just close that stuff first before sharing or set up your sharing to show just a particular screen or particular program. If you have a laptop with a monitor, you can share one screen and have other stuff up on the screen you’re not sharing. It’s not difficult at all to share your screen without compromising privacy if one knows how to operate the functions of screen sharing.

      Source: I’m a trainer at my job. I share my screen all the time and have my trainers doing it.

      If I was a betting man, I bet the refuser either has a video game they couldn’t quickly pause or work for a different job up on their screen.

      1. Science KK*

        And even if it was a personal computer……I assume this wasn’t a surprise training. If it was that’s not cool, but still. It doesn’t help that the document was crazy late either. Mistakes weren’t shocking because they weren’t fully trained.

      2. Maggie*

        It feels like a lot of people aren’t aware that you don’t need to share your entire desktop and you can just share one page or program at a time. Also was a trainer for years! Never ever shared my whole desktop!

        1. Bagpuss*

          I suspect it depends a lot on thier specifc experience. It’s not something that I am particuarly familiar with, I have a job where confidentiality is huge so most of our training is around making sure that you are not sharing information where you shouldn’t.

          I had an issue recently where there was a problem with a software tool we use and I admit that they had to talk me through how to share my screen so they could see the specific issue (I did close all my other open winbdows before doing it, to be on the safe side, as while I was 99% sure I would only be sharing the window their software was open in, I didn’t want to take any risks.

          I’ve attended training where the person providing it has shared their screen but the recent issue was the first time I’d needed to share mine.

          (And as it turned out, I didn’t really need to have shared my scren, they needed to have believed that what I told them when I originally raised a ticket was accurate – the screen share simply included my repeating all the steps I had already taken, told hem I and taken, which had not fixed the issue. Because, as it turned out, when they migrated us onto the new software they deleted all of our permissions, including my admin permission which would have allowed me to re-instate eveyone else’s permissions. I was not happy.)

          So I can totally undestand someone not being sure about how much would be visible or how to share only one part, but I don’t understsnd why they wouldn’t be able to clsoe other windows etc if they were concerned. .

          1. bamcheeks*

            I was once in a university class where the lecturer shared their screen and an email notification with “STUDENT NAME– DISCIPLINARY PANEL” popped up in the corner. Not ideal!

            1. Recruiter*

              Yes, which supports the “share only what you’re working on” argument versus your entire screen.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I am absolutely fine with doing this in Teams, but I’m much less familiar with Zoom and it’s always a stress. Not that I wouldn’t be able to work it out, but it does depend a bit on familiarity and understanding the platform you’re using.

        3. SoloKid*

          All the software teams I’ve worked on had to switch between many applications, so sharing one program at a time is not always feasible. There were a few “one program at a time” guys and it was always annoying to sit through “hold on, let me stop and reshare.”

        4. Little Miss Sunshine*

          I find people are too lazy to figure out how to share one program or screen rather than their whole desktop. Why any of the sharing programs default to desktop sharing is beyond me. I don’t need to be distracted by your email and chat alerts in addition to mine while trying to pay attention to the shared content!

      3. NoviceManagerGuy*

        My work computer has a big “YOU HAVE NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY ON THIS DEVICE” disclaimer on the login screen. I feel like that should be obvious.

        1. tamarak & fireweed*

          (But your correspondents may have. So it’s still worth thinking through carefully how to share exactly what needs / is appropriate to be shared.)

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I think you’ve hit on a critical disconnect:
        People don’t want the awkward message to pop-up while screen-sharing, but don’t know how to turn off pop-up notifications.
        People don’t want work to know about that thing they are doing, but then use a work computer to do it.

        The screen isn’t an unalterable window into your soul, like a clear panel inserted over your esophagus.

      5. kittycontractor*

        This. I do personal stuff all the time on my work computer (both at new job and last job), but I also work for people that don’t care and even if we’re screen sharing they either ignore tabs or personal info or they say “hey close out anything you don’t want me to see”. For jobs in the past where the people aren’t this reasonable or adult like I just simply don’t use property owned by the company to do anything personal. At the end of the day, if the computer belongs to the company then they can probably see whatever the hell they want if they want to look hard enough.

        1. LCH*

          exactly. i assume whatever i do on a work computer can be seen by my work place at some point.

      6. starfox*

        Plenty of places don’t provide computers, though. I’m an online teacher for Johns Hopkins and they require you to use your own technology. I felt reallllly uncomfortable when their IT had to control my personal computer remotely to install something or another that Johns Hopkins wanted me to have.

        I think it’s fair for trainers to give a heads up that screen sharing is necessary.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, that’s really skeevy and one of my hard lines. I currently work for the government and we’re explicitly not allowed to use any personal devices for work, and while WFH, personal peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor) are fine as long as they work on the standard Windows drivers and don’t require any extra drivers to be installed. The only exceptions are printers and scanners, we use a secure printing/scanning system and all printing and scanning has to be done at the office.

          I hope that you at least set up a second profile on your computer for work stuff…

          1. starfox*

            It’s kind of like an online, adjunct position…. And in fact, when I was adjuncting for a state university, they certainly don’t provide a computer for me to use, despite it being required. I guess it’s the norm in academia so I hadn’t really thought about it. I guess the argument is that I “could” use the computer lab if I didn’t have a computer. For Johns Hopkins, they just put it as a requirement of the job.

            They actually have a separate “Remote Desktop” thing I’m supposed to use that is secure and keeps all the information in one place. Unfortunately, I could never get it to work correctly, and I was tired of having IT poke around my personal computer remotely. I guess that’s there way of getting around providing computers for their employees… but to me, it’s ridiculous to ask someone to install this huge program on their personal computers….

    2. Esmeralda*

      They’re at work (doesn’t matter if it’s remote), they need to keep their desktop clean when working with colleagues and for sure during training.

      I use my work laptop for various personal tasks, tonead AAM, etc etc. those windows are minimized before any veering s tree

    3. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re working remotely, though, it’s the equivalent of sitting side by side at a computer and working through something, or looking at someone else’s screen, and quite reasonable and necessary in a lot of situations. If I’m at work and my coworker or boss needs to lean over and see something on my screen, it’s my responsibility to not have personal stuff up.

      For remote work, if you’re using a work provided machine, they can expect you to keep it work safe for screen sharing. If you’re using a personal machine for work, you can have a separate account that’s linked to your work email, and switch accounts when doing work where screen sharing might be necessary. I have a separate account on my laptop that I use specifically for presentations and similar activities, so that no personal stuff is able to accidentally pop up, including notifications or chat messages, and so if we need to trouble shoot the tech, someone else can access it.

      1. KateM*

        Yeah, imagine working in office – if you wouldn’t have this stuff on your screen when your neighbour can see it, you maybe shouldn’t keep it there during WFH, either.
        (And now I turn myself away from this home computer of mine to my work laptop. :P)

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah, I don’t see why, if they did have their banking website or something else personal up, they couldn’t have just said ‘Just give me a moment’, closed those tabs, and then shared their screen. If they knew they were doing a training session I don’t know why they’d also be trying to do their internet banking at the same time, or whatever, but surely it doesn’t take a minute to just close down whatever you don’t want to be seen.

      1. Snow Globe*

        Yes, that is what a smart phone is for.

        The idea of logging into my bank account on a work computer that is (undoubtedly) monitored gives me hives.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Seriously. My organization doesn’t do keylogging or anything super-intrusive, but I worked in litigation discovery for years and saw some some shit (very personal shit) on people’s work computers collected in the course of litigation.

    4. Maggie*

      But can you not just close out of those windows? Also when you screen share in zoom or teams it gives you the option to share your entire screen, or a single program. So you can share the single program the work is in, and nothing else.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        You could not close out other windows if you were playing a multiplayer game or doing work for another company at that moment. Someone else suggested that upthread.

        1. djc*

          But I assume the employee knew about this training session ahead of time? They should have closed anything suspicious and been prepared to screen share during the training. Even if it’s something that came up unannounced, they could have asked for a moment to get prepared and then start the screen share.

        2. Observer*

          Which is why so many of us suspected that the employee was engaged in something problematic.

        3. MassChick*

          I’m not a player so I’m curious – why can’t game windows/apps be closed? Any app/program (including whatever is being used for a second job ) can be closed …..

          1. Mill Miker*

            If it’s a multiplayer game, then suddenly closing it is possible, but usually has consequences. Depending on the game, it could be the equivalent of getting up in the middle of a card game and just taking off to run errands, or it could cause your whole team to immediately forfeit a match (which is something the games will ban you for if you do it too often).

            Not that that excuses causing trouble at work (don’t start a match during a meeting…), but it’s three reasoning behind the “can’t close it”

            1. pancakes*

              That does not seem like powerful reasoning vs. not making a problem of an ordinary, non-problematic thing at work, lol.

            2. MassChick*

              So it is technically possible, just not ideal for the player. But even less ideal to choose to play such a game during work hours on a (presumably) work computer.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      I think most people would understand that, and so it would be fine to say ‘Could you just give me a minute to close a couple of confidential things I have open here.’

      1. pancakes*

        Yes, I’d hope so. Many of us have been online banking for years. If the people who are just now learning to use it are comfortable staying logged in to very private accounts at work they have quite a bit of catching up to do!

    6. Allonge*

      Screens are not evolving anywhere in this regard. People use their work computer for personal stuff, or their own devices for work – this is fine in most cases. But nobody needs their banking info or spelling look-ups to run all the time!

      Close or minimise the windows that are embarrassing (in Windows10 you can pick one window, drag it to the top of the screen and sort of jiggle it upwards twice, which will minimise all other windows). Learn how to use screen sharing so you share only the thing you mean to share.

      And hte human aspect: instead of saying no, ask the trainer to wait a moment so you can close everything that is not needed for thsi part of the exercise.

      1. Sunflower*

        If anything, people are now more prepared to share their screen on a whim than they were before. I truly can’t imagine anyone being allowed to say I don’t share my screen esp during trainings.

        We all use our computers for some personal stuff from time to time- which 99% of the time isn’t a problem. Anytime I go into a call where I might need to share my screen, I either close out or open a new browser for the items I might share. I only share Windows or Tabs, not Screen. I put my Slack on DND so notifications don’t pop up.

        If you are using your computer in a way where there’s things you don’t want other people to see, it’s on YOU to figure out how to share a screen. There are plenty of very easy ways to do this that can be learned by Googling for less than 5 minutes.

        1. Allonge*

          Absolutely. This in a way is something that the growth of remote work added to the list of things that can be ‘basic, expected’ knowledge.

    7. MK*

      No offense, but there is no reason to have such information up “at any given time” when you are working, because you are supposed to be working and focusing on work. Occasionally, you might need to look up something like that urgently during work hours, but it’s not supposed to be a usual thing to be looking over your taxes or emailing your doctor while you work!

    8. KateM*

      What’s their medical, banking etc info doing on their work computer screen during an 1-to-1 training session in the first place?? Shouldn’t they be paying attention to the trainer?

    9. Karia*

      Call me crazy, but maybe just don’t look at that stuff during working hours? Or if you really need to, close it or move it into a different tab when training for a job you presumably need?

      1. Trawna*

        Everyone knows you do that stuff on your phone during meetings you aren’t running.

    10. GythaOgden*

      Don’t do that during times when you know you’re supposed to be meeting with others and close out any stuff you think will matter before connecting.

      You’re right that screens dominate our lives, but if you’re working from home, that’s the price you pay for having that luxury. Also, I had people dial in to my desktop to do troubleshooting, and it took me a second to close the internet browser with TV Tropes on it (which I read on slow days on reception…which is all of them nowadays…so I don’t fall asleep).

      It’s not that I don’t empathise with irrational anxieties that are going to seem very strange to other people. At my worst I couldn’t be in the same room as someone’s daily newspaper and it kept me out of work for far too long. But those have to be managed for anyone to be productive, and facing them down is better in the long run than allowing them to act as a crutch that hampers your ability to remain employed. (For me, meds were the ultimate solution.)

      Sometimes life doesn’t come to you. You have to go to it.

    11. Inkhorn*

      This reminds me of a remote training course I attended recently. Every break, the trainer went to Google to call up a countdown timer, and Chrome had all their pinned sites on display. So the whole class could see which social media sites they frequent, where they stream their tv and music, which phone carrier they use, where they do their banking, where they buy their insurance, which government services they use…

      1. Ariadne*

        But there are easy ways around that. When I used to work a job which involved sharing my screen I didn’t want people seeing my bookmarks so I would unpin the bookmarks bar, or put chrome in full screen and then use alt+tab to flip between applications. You could also open an incognito/guest mode browser session, or just have the countdown timer up already so you don’t need to open a new tab. There are also browser extensions that change what shows up on the new tab screen (I use one that has a new, very pretty nature photo every day). You could even just install Firefox or use Microsoft edge or another browser that’s only for work stuff. Yes, some of those solutions are more technical than others. But the point is that sanitizing your desktop is not prohibitively time-consuming or difficult, and I would look askance at someone who used that as justification for failing to complete a necessary work task.

      2. pancakes*

        That’s a lot to go through for a timer. “Hey Siri, set a timer for x minutes” is much quicker and more private!

        1. Heather*

          For a given definition of “private” maybe… I’d be more worried about having an apple device listening to me all day than about a limited group of people seeing my shortcuts to instagram/verizon/BoA/AAA. What is somebody going to do with that info anyway? But of course that trainer should have logged out of Chrome before the training.

          1. pancakes*

            If I thought it was monitoring all of my conversations and surroundings rather than just the parts that come after “Hey Siri” I probably wouldn’t have one, no. I would think just about any modern mobile phone has the capacity to record as well as play sound, fwiw, and that a company intent on invading users’ privacy to that degree would hardly need to wait for an invitation to do so.

    12. EvilQueenRegina*

      But there are so many ways around that – close that tab down, only share the screen for what they’re actively working on in the session without sharing the personal stuff, find a time outside of the training session to look at it – that I kind of don’t really think that would fly as a reason not to share their screen in the training?

    13. Ariadne*

      The content on your screen is temporary by nature. This wasn’t a brief interaction where OP asked the employee to share their screen and the employee said “wait 2 minutes” and OP got impatient.
      If someone feels so strongly about having confidential documents/internet tabs open at all times that they can never share their screen, I’m genuinely a bit concerned about other ways they may not be able to function in an office environment.

      This is not someone asking to look through your purse (remember that boss?!) or your email account or your social media posts or your browser history. It’s the virtual equivalent of not having guests in your living room because your bedroom is messy.

    14. Everything Bagel*

      So you say, “Hey can you give me 5 minutes? I’ll call you right back.” Then you close all your stuff down, take a bathroom break, and call back and share your screen.

    15. ecnaseener*

      Even if you didn’t know how to share just one window instead of the whole screen…maximize the window the trainer needs to see, so it takes up the whole screen and blocks whatever sensitive banking details you have open behind it. Ta-da.

    16. Smithy*

      From the comments – I may be more in the minority where I’m more inclined to agree with this.

      Putting aside the “homing from work” questions, I recently was on an external Zoom call where someone was sharing their screen for a PowerPoint presentation. Instead of going full screen for the presentation, they kept it open so you could also see three other tabs that were open that had our draft names of the presentation. And the level to which that irked me was clearly enough that I’ve remembered it for this comment. The whole time I’m both mentally screaming to either close those tabs or run the PowerPoint – cause goodness forbid anyone see that we had draft names for versions 1 and 2.

      It’s not so much that I think people will be hesitant to share their screens – but I do think people will want a courtesy notice of longer than a few minutes to “tidy up”.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        It’s not so much that I think people will be hesitant to share their screens – but I do think people will want a courtesy notice of longer than a few minutes to “tidy up”.

        Then either don’t have those things open when they know they’ve got a training, or say “Sure, give me a moment to share my screen”.

    17. starfox*

      Yes… I definitely want a heads-up that I’m going to have to be sharing my screen so I can make sure everything else is closed out and notifications are off… It’s not anything embarrassing… I just don’t want people to see the kindle book I’m reading, or the novel I’m writing, or the texts that might pop up from friends….

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Then don’t have those things open/popping up when you know you’ve got a training happening?

        1. starfox*

          I wouldn’t if I thought about the possibility of having me share my screen…. But since I use my personal computer for my jobs, a heads up that I’m going to have to share is just the polite thing to do….

  10. Loz*

    #3 Assuming adding process definition & documentation is something you want, can you add it to the role & PD? You might end up attracting someone who can not only do the work but also help mature the organisation.

    1. let's have order*

      I’m confused as to why there isn’t documentation – wouldn’t that make the organization run smoother? be more efficient? have everyone on the same page?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Take time to set up. And no one has had a management committed to squaring off enough time for people to do it on top of their tasks.

        1. let's have order*

          It may take time and effort up front but will result in a more efficient workflow. Think of it in cooking terms. It takes time to set up your mise en place but then your meal prep runs smoother. Management may not realize the initial time investment will pay off.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I’m not disagreeing that it would be a reasonable thing to do; I’m disagreeing that management has shown the slightest inclination to do it. It takes up-front time to create those documents, which must come from other tasks.

        2. Lucy P*

          Exactly. As the person who’s bee in the position for 30 years (not quite but really close enough), there’s a few reasons that it’s not done.
          -The organization isn’t the same as it was 30 years ago. The software programs are different (or at least some of them are). The work we do is in the same field, but has evolved. We’ve seen a need to do things differently and have modified our processes over time to be (hopefully) more efficient. I recently re-read a process diagram we did 15 years ago for someone who was struggling. The very basic process is the same, but the people, positions, and software are different enough that it doesn’t make sense anymore.
          -You really need time to properly document these things. I’ve read the notes of people I’ve trained who have later left. The notes may have made sense to them, but in the scheme of things I do not find them helpful at all. In fact, they are even more confusing because they lack context.
          -Due to the chaotic nature, there are fewer people at the moment but who are doing the tasks of multiple people. When you’re the chief cook, dish washer, and waitress, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and write down the recipe.

      2. ecnaseener*

        It’s relevant that LW is a team supervisor (and a new one), not necessarily high up enough to institute a culture shift or weigh in on the overall organization’s health.

      3. SoloKid*

        Creating good documentation is a learned skill, and is also part of a culture. e.g. if you’re the only one doing it and nobody else reads it, it stops being current. (aka useless) People that are great at documenting things get very demoralized when that happens.

        1. Beka Cooper*

          So true. My coworker and I took over someone’s role when they retired, and we had a lot of growing pains trying to figure out her sparse documentation, and then we worked hard on making our own that was more thorough and useful. Unfortunately, we have to work closely with another department who always insists on meetings to “figure out everyone’s confusion” and then never remember anything we discussed, and they NEVER look at the documentation. We even had them review it when we first drafted it, and there are still comments from them on it confirming they agree with what we wrote. But then one year later, they are in our inboxes asking us why we didn’t do something, or don’t we know that we’re supposed to do this other thing, etc.

          Although I guess one benefit of having the documentation, even if THEY won’t look at it, is that my bosses can see that I’ve clearly communicated these things many many times, and my bosses are taking my side on everything, and I’m now allowed to reject all meetings from this department and forward all their emails to my boss to handle :)

      4. My Useless 2 Cents*

        My company is highly regimented with clear procedures that everyone follows and things run very smoothly. A sister company the owner bought is like a wild west dumpster fire. My department unfortunately works very closely with sister company. We have tried and tried and tried to set up and document procedures (per sister company employee’s stated preferences and steps). On a Monday, they will approved and agree and act all excited and thankful. On Wednesday they will argue until blue in the face that that is not the way things are done and they have never said or agreed otherwise. (Separate offices, we have emails to the contrary!) So, we try again but owner will never hold them accountable. Owners wife was put in charge of sister company to try and get them up to snuff but she quit in a huff and told owner none of the employees will listen. He still wonders why he always has constant emergencies and has to babysit sister company but never us.

      5. NotAnotherManager!*

        Documentation takes time to create and maintain. Not only do you have to create it (and make sure it makes sense for the audience), but it has to be reviewed on a regular schedule to ensure that it’s still accurate and up to date. I’m fortunate to have had the time and resources to have great documentation for my team, but it can go out of date really quickly and the only thing worse than no documentation is bad documentation.

    2. we're all friends here*

      This is what I did, and was clear in interviews that the successful candidate would be building infrastructure on top of execution, and that there would be support for that.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Absolutely! I might be fine with it IF the company had plans to improve things and they let me initiate a project to document and streamline processes, which is one of my all-time favorite things to do. If not, then I would assume they’re just a hot mess and have no plans to fix that.

    4. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Yes. While reading that question, I was thinking: there’s a big difference between “chaos now, but you’ll be supported & appreciated whenever you invest time in reducing the chaos”, and, on the other hand, “chaos now and forevermore, and if you try to do anything about it, you’ll be sabotaged or told off”.

      And the people who’ll want the job will be different, depending on which it is. I wouldn’t mind arriving into chaos, but then I would want to sort it out!

  11. Dark Macadamia*

    The thing I love about #1 is that it kind of sounds like an AAM script! There have been tons of letters here where Alison suggests framing a boundary as “this is just a weird quirk I have,” but it’s usually about awkward interpersonal situations. I like to think this employee reads here and somehow hugely misunderstood that the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach isn’t meant for refusing to do your job lol

    1. Fae Kamen*

      I 100% thought this too, and it made me wonder if there’s more behind the refusal than we know. Those scripts are so often used for situations where the backstory is complicated or personal, and would be taxing and awkward to explain every time. When the quirk causes this much inconvenience and impact on the work, though, it helps to at least suggest that you have a really good reason for doing it anyway.

    2. Tara*

      I also thought this. Maybe time to review giving this advice now we know it comes off badly to others?!

      1. anonymous 5*

        The advice is/was given with the understanding that it isn’t always going to be suitable. “This is a weird quirk of mine” is a perfectly reasonable sentiment to have in your personal repertoire. It is not intended to be a solution to every situation; and it is not actually reasonable to expect that it will always lead to the result desired by the person expressing it.

        We don’t know enough to know whether there would have been a suitable alternative to the real-time supervised work via screenshare, even with advance notice. There are plenty of valid reasons why that situation could feel stressful, but even then, they might not make a refusal to participate a valid option. How the trainee’s manager chooses to handle it will, presumably, have the benefit of the manager having a fuller picture.

      2. ecnaseener*

        That’s not really fair. Context matters. I doubt there’s a single piece of advice in the world that works perfectly in all contexts.

        If you read a good piece of advice for dealing with interpersonal weirdness (eg asking your coworker not to touch you when there’s no work need for them to do so), and you decide to try it out in a completely different context with different consequences at stake (refusing to engage with a necessary part of training without explaining why or proposing a decent alternative) that’s on you, not the advice-giver.

      3. BRR*

        I think the advice is still good when it’s about certain preferences. Not screen sharing during a training is a non-negotiable thing though. Like the update earlier this week or last about the employee who wouldn’t save things on the network drive.

      4. Generic Name*

        Well, it comes off badly here because junior trainee is using it to not do their job. Typically when Alison suggests this script it’s for situations like, “please don’t stand 2 inches from me. It’s a weird quirk I have.” Or “I don’t discuss my reproductive choices at work. It’s a weird quirk I have.” It’s a way for someone to set a reasonable boundary while allowing an intrusive person to save face. It’s not intended as a way for someone to nope out on a part of their job.

      5. pancakes*

        There’s no word or phrasing so simple that it cannot be gotten wrong. Even yes or no, up or down, left or right can be misapplied or wielded ineptly.

      6. Observer*

        Maybe time to review giving this advice now we know it comes off badly to others?!

        It only came of badly because the request was unreasonable! Allison doesn’t recommend this approach in such cases.

    3. Myrin*

      I immediately thought this as well, just like your “[coworker] hugely misunderstood that the […] approach isn’t meant for refusing to do your job lol”. One-on-one training in real time really isn’t the time to be assertive in that way!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      “I have found a single hammer, and all my work problems are now nails.”

      You have to understand the work enough, or understand social nuance enough, to recognize that sometimes a problem calls for pliers, or WD-40.

  12. MK*

    #4, it’s not clear to me if the OP did actually state that they would only consider an offer that was 15K over the top of their range. If they didn’t, and just took the comment about flexibility to mean they would go over it, then that’s where they went wrong, because they might have left the recruiter with the impression that the range was fine by them. If they did mention it, and then the recruiter came back with an offer that was at the low end of the range (so I am guessing around 25K lower than OP’s requirements), it’s not time to negotiate, it’s time to bow out with very, very strong “why did you waste my time” language.

    1. Ariadne*

      > it’s not time to negotiate, it’s time to bow out with very, very strong “why did you waste my time” language.

      I was thinking the same thing! I know some people would find it simpler just to roll their eyes and end the call, but I’m the kind of person who would absolutely want them to know that I’m not amused by their attempt to manipulate me. I feel like if that happens enough times people will change their ways only because they don’t want to keep having the same embarrassing conversations with frustrated candidates. Letting them off easy means they never have to change. Make them live through the awkwardness!

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I was also quite surprised at Alison’s advice because if the TOP of the range was $15k below OP’s preferred number and they offered the bottom of the range, you’re probably looking at a gap of $25-40k, depending on how broad their range was. I’m not sure I’d feel like it was worth trying to negotiate that big a rise. I mean, technically nothing to lose, but it feels like the kind of situation where even if you got to a number you were happy with, you’d still feel like they’d tried to scam you.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah. I would get it if the salary needed a 10% bump for you to take the offer, but if they are that dramatically below what you told them was your minimum–even if I assume miscommunication somewhere, “Oopsie doodles, I guess we can offer 50% more than our opening offer” just says that they want to underpay you, and somewhere the memo that OP wasn’t up for that got lost.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Even if they did agree to it, knowing I was over $25K higher than what they were looking to offer would make me very nervous. I’ve definitely seen employers have unreasonable expectations for workers they feel they “paid too much” for – like, “at *that* salary they’d better come in the first day as a rock star and exceed all expectations immediately” – plus, there aren’t likely to be many raises down the line etc etc. I think it would have been better to express surprise, reference the past conversation, and name the salary you’re looking for, but I doubt OP missed out on the offer they wanted by just ending the call. And if their role is in-demand they should be fine!

      3. Brooklyn*

        Agreed. I don’t know what industry OP is in. I’m in tech and I’ve walked out without negotiating several times. I remember one time in particular, I got an offer from a relatively small company that had recently lost a key engineer. They told me the salary and the equity and when I responded that it was decidedly too low, the CEO proceeded to tell me that it’s the same salary she gets paid – omitting of course that her equity was 30% and they were offering me 0.3%. I immediately knew why the last person had walked.

        Sometimes, the offer tells you that either they didn’t understand you at all, or they don’t understand the market at all. Either can be a huge red flag.

    3. Clearlier*

      I’d make the assumption that a wire has crossed somewhere in communications and say as much, explain that you had had a brief conversation at the start of the process where you said that your current salary is above the indicated range and were told that the company would be able to work with that for the right candidate.

      There’s no point in getting angry, really you just want to reset the negotiation and see if there is any common ground that can be reached. At this stage you can either tell them your own number for them to think about or if the gap is really enormous you can pursue the ‘there must have been a mistake’ line further and ask them to just heck to see what the offer should actually be. If they’re not gracefully agreeing to go away and check then you have your answer.


  13. Karia*

    LW4 didn’t do anything wrong.

    “I won’t proceed because you’re offering £15k below the salary I want.”
    “We’re very flexible!”
    “Ok, so we’re going to offer you the *low* end of the salary range, even though you stated the *top* end was unacceptable.”

    Negotiation isn’t going to work at that point. They already demonstrated that they’re shady. This company / recruiter wasted LW’s time in the hope that she’d be too invested to pull out.

    1. Lirael*

      It’s not clear from the letter whether OP4 actually said “I wouldn’t move for anything less than Y+£15k”, though. It sounds to me like they heard “we’re very flexible” as “we can go over this range for the right candidate” whereas I would hear it as “we’re happy to go to the very top of this range but not above”.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        But they didn’t go anywhere near the top of the range, even, and at that stage the person making the offer should have known the LW had the experience to merit more than the very bottom, even if they forgot the earlier salary inquiry. If you’re tens of thousands of dollars apart (and your scale isn’t in the millions), either one of you is delusional or one of you is gaslighting/manipulative. If they really were hoping to get a person whose fair market wage was $150K for tens of thousands less than that, IMO the LW dodged a bullet.

    2. londonedit*

      I think they could have at least tried to negotiate. It sounds like they heard the offer, asked them to repeat it, and then said nope, sorry, that isn’t going to work. If they’d said something like ‘I’m a little surprised by that offer, as when I initially spoke with Jane, I mentioned that I’d be looking for something a little above your top figure and she said you could be very flexible for the right candidate. Is there any scope to discuss the salary further? I’d be looking for something in the range of £X’, then there would have at least been some basis for a conversation and you never know, HR could have been going off the wrong info or giving a boilerplate figure that didn’t take into account the previous conversations the OP had.

      1. tamarak & fireweed*

        Yeah, at that point maybe the chances of coming together salary-wise had suddenly gone down from 50-50 (in the LW’s estimation) down to 10-90, but there’s no reason to make that last-ditch effort. Once she bows out, it’s over.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes – I initially wondered if it was a miscommunication thing – we’ve had a lot of candiated via agencies recently and it seems to be very common that the agencies are not communicating effectively (in either direction), but it looks as though OP ‘s conversation about salaray expectations were with HR and then it was HR again who called with the offer – so at best it suggests that HR didn’t pass that information on the the manager, which isnt’t great, or that they didbut that the manager ignored it

    4. Ariadne*

      It wasn’t clear from the OPs account if they actually gave their salary requirement, though. If so I agree that I wouldn’t bother to negotiate at that point, but if OP never actually named a number then it might be worth having a discussion. Sometimes employers base their offers on what the last person in the role was making, without taking into account whether or not the market has changed.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I felt differently reading the letter vs reading OP’s updates in the comment section. OP did name a figure early in the discussion and the company gave them reason to believe it was worth continuing the conversation.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      I don’t know if it’s shady vs there’s a missing link in communication somewhere, or they thought that the OP was asking for an inordinately high salary as a way to negotiate into the top of their compensation range.

      They probably figured that if the OP was asking for such a high salary (from their perspective), offering a low salary would result in negotiations to the range where they really want to be.

      Obviously, they failed to realize that the OP was being perfectly honest about their expectations.

      I think the OP could have reiterated that their minimum expectation was the figure they had originally quoted, but I’m not sure that it would have really made a difference, considering how far above the top of the pay band it was.

    6. Oldtimer*

      Years back talking to recruiters I realized I was drastically underpaid for my position and responsibilities. I came across what seemed to be — and was — the ideal job for me.

      I was at a job 5 years, earning 28k. The range at a new company I interviewed with was 40-50 –normal for the job– and I asked for 42. The VP over my proposed manager mandated an offer of 32k with no negotiations, indicating that was a fine jump from 28. A 15% increase, how could I not be happy?

      I took the job and loved it despite the pay. At the end of a year I was told no raise would be coming due to falling profits so I jumped ship. Following that stint I had a 6-month position (that company reduced staff), followed by a 4 month contract. Then I landed a great job at 60k where I last 5 years.

    7. Mauvaise Pomme*

      I completely agree. At that point, LW is best off writing this job off entirely. It sounds like the salary offered was roughly $30-40K BELOW LW’s absolute personal minimum. At that point, negotiation isn’t worth it. Either the company made that initial offer in very bad faith (indicating they’re not a place LW wants to work), or they’re horrible at internal communications, missed the LW’s salary requirements, and genuinely think it’s a fair offer, meaning they would perceive LW as being massively overpaid if they did negotiate up to their actual standards, and have unreasonable expectations for their performance as a result (again, making it a place LW doesn’t want to work).

      It would be a different matter if LW was desperate for a job, any job, but if they’re a competitive candidate with choices, I think bowing out at this point is eminently reasonable. I would too in their shoes.

  14. Tara*

    #1 While the refusal obviously wasn’t ideal, you could have booked in time to review the document with them on your screen

    1. Mary Jane*

      OP did ask the employee to send the document back for review while they were still available, and then the employee didn’t send it back until after OP’s working hours. I’m not sure how much more handholding is reasonable to expect in a professional environment.

    2. Snow Globe*

      The other problem with this is that if there are errors in the final document, it might not be obvious how those errors were caused. That’s the purpose of the OP viewing the trainee’s screen while they complete the process, so they can see if errors are being made right on the spot. If you look at the final document and see an Excel field that is “#REF!” – how do you know what the mistake is?

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          The issue is that the time for creating this document had a tight turnaround, that’s likely why they wanted the employee to create it while the OP watched and was available for questions. That way by the end it would be ready to the necessary standards and the employee would have had the hands-on experience of having created it (albeit possibly in a more touch-and-go fashion).

    3. Anon all day*

      This is how bad practices start. The point of the training is to teach the method of how to get the final project. If OP is only seeing the final project, there’s a very good chance that the trainee either got just lucky about getting things right or used a method that may have worked this time but either wouldn’t work other times or took exponentially longer.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Depends on what the point of the training was. If it was to see the trainee process/work, then sharing the trainee’s screen is the most efficient way to accomplish this. It’s not OP’s job to work their process around the new person they are training. The refusal to share the screen, especially based on a personal quirk, is absurd and out of sync with the way a lot of offices run. If it was a company computer using company resources, there’s no right to privacy on work-related materials.

      I had a manager run into this with one of their own employee, who refused to share on the basis that the manager “should already know how to do everything I can”. The manager had just come from another organization that used a different tool for the same process. They wanted to see the specifics of our process by the person whose job it was to do that process day in/day out in order to learn it in that specific tool with our specific protocols. It was a reasonable request that they attempted to schedule multiple times at the convenience of their team member, and ultimately HR had to explain the concept of “insubordination” to them. People are just weird and unreasonable sometimes.

    5. Azith*


      I also don’t think it was the best idea to use a time-sensitive document as part of training.

  15. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP3: I thrive in ‘throw me in the deep end and let me figure out my own way to do things’ environments – with the proviso that it IS actually okay to be individual about problem solving and I’m not going to get smacked with a tome of rules that somehow I was supposed to know about all along.

    Also I’m a subject matter expert in making order out of chaos. I love doing it.

    So, things I like to ask or be offered as information in interviews is how much I’m going to face that kind of environment and if it’s given enough autonomy for me to find my own path through the thunderstorm. Honesty benefits both me (I get the kind of work I love) and the employer (they get a job candidate who isn’t going to quit 2 days later).

  16. Ariadne*


    > Got an HR call for an interesting position, but the high end of the range was $15k less that what I will take, they then stated, “For the right person, we are very flexible” and I agreed to continue in the process.

    I can’t tell from this description whether they explicitly gave their range to HR or just took the comment about being flexible to assume they would offer more money once they got to know more about you and your qualifications.

    If it was the first case, then I agree that HR was acting in bad faith. If someone says they won’t consider less than 15k from the top of your range you need to go back to the hiring manager or whoever’s in charge of budget to see if this candidate is still worth pursuing. It’s ok to say “we can’t afford this level of talent and will be looking for someone cheaper”.

    However, there’s so much missing from the OP that I can’t be sure if that’s actually what happened (not blaming you, OP! It’s hard to know what’s relevant to include and what people might make assumptions about). If you didn’t explicitly state your requirement, then I think the employer is a bit more justified. 15k is a really large jump! Many salary ranges are between 10-20k, so 15k would double that range (e.g. if the range is 60-80k then 95k is more than a 50% increase from their bottom number). I would not expect even a “highly flexible” employer to go that high above their top number if they didn’t have an idea of your salary requirements ahead of time. If they didn’t know your requirements, the fact that they offered you the low end of their range would be frustrating, sure, but they may not have understood the market properly. How many stories do we hear of a great employee who wore many hats leaving and having to be replaced by 3 different people? Sometimes employers grow out of touch with how much various skills are worth on the open market, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to being corrected.

    I’m also surprised at how quickly the conversation ended, though. Maybe you just didn’t think of it in the moment, but if you did mention your salary in the first interview then I might say something like “when we spoke, I told you I was looking for $x and you said you were flexible. You’ve offered me $20k below x, which makes me question whether our expectations are aligned on the nature of this role. Can you explain the reasoning that went into this offer?”

    Ugh, I always struggle with being too wordy, but basically I would point out to them the discrepancy to see what they have to say for themselves. And then if they try to give any excuse other than “we can do x as initially discussed” I would say something like “I gave you my number in good faith because I wanted to make sure we were on the same page before we invested too much time in the interview process, but this is such a huge discrepancy that I’m a little taken aback.” Just to really drive home how much you’re not amused by them playing games. I know the last bit is unnecessary and maybe this is my inner chaos muppet trying to exert influence, but I would want them to know that I see what they’re selling and I’m not buying.

    1. RCS*

      OP #4 here – with real numbers to clarify.
      The pay range was $45-$60k at the initial call with the inside recruiter. I then told her my salary $75k +annual bonus (did not give a $ for bonus), pretty much thinking we are too far apart and that was it. She then said, for the right person, we are flexible with salary.

      Next day call with the manager and no salary mentioned, it was just a review of the work and we were both on the same page that I could do it, would fit in well with the team, it was all very positive.

      Following day, inside recruiter calls with an offer of $50k. I asked her to repeat and then really was just not sure what to do after that. I wasn’t mad or insulted, I was just surprised and caught off guard. I didn’t think to negotiate since we were so far apart in salary.

      1. toolittletoolate*

        This is helpful information. Sounds like you did make it clear what you are currently making and the recruiter either failed to make that clear to the hiring manager, or the hiring manager just decided to lowball and see if you might accept. I would have been really caught off guard as well.

        Some hiring managers will demand that an internal recruiter present an offer that the recruiter knows the person won’t accept, and that is a tough spot for everyone to be in. Sounds like you let them know that the offer was far below expectations. It seems if they really wanted you, the recruiter would have made some effort to discuss the issue further.

      2. KRM*

        No I think you did exactly the right thing in this case. You told them what you currently get, they said they could be flexible, and then they offered you $25K BELOW your current salary. This is on them and not you, and I wouldn’t have tried to negotiate either in this case.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I can totally understand being flummoxed by this. Personally I might have said “is this as high as you can go? I was hoping for 75” because at that point you have nothing to lose — but given that you did state a number, I don’t blame you.

        1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

          Why would she move for still less money – $75 is her base salary, she would lose the bonus. They’d need to be above that for me

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I can understand moving for the same comp if you’re in a bad situation and the new one would be a better one. I did that once to go back to a previous employer that I knew was a better environment than my current one (I’d left for a 50% raise and went back at the much higher salary). But I wouldn’t take the same or even only marginally higher if it wasn’t a significant improvement over my current job.

      4. jane's nemesis*

        Thank you for clarifying with numbers! I think you were fine to end the call because that’s a super lowball offer, but you *could* have reminded the recruiter about what you had said in the initial call, about $75K+, and what they said in the initial call about flexibility, and waited to see what they said?

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        I literally laughed aloud when I got to $50K. “Would you take a 33% pay cut to come work for us, doing work similar to what you do now?”

        Even if you had gone into this saying “I would take a small salary cut if it meant I could walk to work and have 2 more weeks vacation,” 33% isn’t “small.” A tempting opening offer from them would have been 60% over their actual opening offer.

        Following on toolittle’s point, when the two sides are this far off it’s often reasonable for one side to just say “No, we’re too far apart” and move on. Negotiation is for when you are close to the same page, not in different libraries.

      6. Nonymous*

        This is how I read your post, and I think you did the right thing. I would have been just as flummoxed as you and politely ended the call, just like you did.

        It’s as if you say “this is what I’m worth today” and they went “well, this is what we think you’re worth, and it’s significantly less.”

        Like, okay? *hangs up phone*

      7. Nobody'sBizness*

        Agree that you did the right thing. I had a nearly identical scenario a few years ago, except no recruiter was involved so there was not even a possibility of a miscommunication on the recruiter’s part. I said we were too far apart on salary and didn’t look back for a minute. No need in wasting even more of your life in negotiating with that garbage to begin with.

        OP, I wonder if you are a woman. I have no basis other than my feeling to think that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to men. You know, they don’t expect us to negotiate and can get rather offended if we do. [Insert HUGE EYE ROLL]

        1. RCS*

          OP#4 here –
          Yes, I am a woman, and both the inside recruiter and manager were woman too.

          I also forgot to add in my original letter that they reached out to me on LinkedIn, I did not apply for the job.

          The company is the 2nd or 3rd largest in my area with a really good reputation and people stay for YEARS. I would have been OK with 10% over their top range just to work there.

      8. Ariadne*

        Thanks for clarifying! I totally get why you didn’t bother to negotiate, but I still wish you’d pointed out the discrepancy just to hear what they had to say for themselves. That’s for my love of drama, though, not because you did anything wrong. I wonder what they were even thinking?!

      9. tamarak & fireweed*

        Ah, helpful clarification. My assessment is that the recruiter clearly fell down on her job, because at the time she had the offer in her hand she should have had a red blinking note on your file that your current salary is 50+% higher. So it’s odd that you got baldly offered such a low salary.

        But I’d still have pushed with a clear negotiation request, even one that looks ridiculously high in the context, possibly with a preface: “It sounds to me that some information got lost in the wires here, because I am not going to take a salary cut for this role, and I remember telling you my current salary, which is 75k + a bonus. Frankly, either there is a misunderstanding about the seniority of the position or the salary on offer is pretty far off the market rate. I would need to come in at north of XXk (80k? whatever) to leave my current position.” Then stop talking. Unlikely to work, sure, but odd things happen(*)! And the fact is that you’re never more desirable for an employer than at this very moment when they’ve made you an offer and are waiting for your response.

        (I don’t have anything, but maybe there’s a very very misguided head of something-or-other who makes every single initial offer come in no higher than the middle of the range?)

      10. Mauvaise Pomme*

        I think you did exactly the right thing here. Frankly, given that the company was the one who proactively recruited YOU, their behavior here was disrespectful. Once they knew your salary minimum, they were essentially wasting your time from that point forward.

  17. Irishgal*

    I admire the trainee for having boundaries. I have never experienced as part of a training session that I am forced to then immediately perform the task while being observed. I would feel very uncomfortable in this scenario. People absorb information differently, there was no time to let the trainee reflect – they were expected to immediately perform. It feels very harsh to report this to the manager. Personally it reads to me like the trainer was saying it’s my way only. I get that there were errors but surely that was expected anyway -I don’t know anyone who gets things right first time in a new role. If it was a time sensitive piece of work then perhaps the training should have occurred earlier.

    Also to add, My daughter has dyslexia and this approach would never work for her. She is terrified of making mistakes so would freeze completely if someone was watching her

    1. Ariadne*

      OP says “I asked them to share their screen as part of the training and put the document together while I was available for troubleshooting and questions.”

      That sounds to me like they were basically being guided through how to do the task. That seems to be a pretty normal expectation at work. They weren’t being expected to perform in front of a crowd, just work on something with assistance.

      It also seems the task would have been done on time if OP had been there to correct errors as they were coming up, but the employee took a long time to compete it (likely due to not knowing all the steps since they were doing it for the first time) and then it was incorrect so OP had to do it.

      To give an example with fake numbers: Instead of 2 people spending 2 concurrent hours on the task it turned into trainee spending 4 hours on it and then OP spending another consecutive hour to fix it. Overall a waste of both people’s time. I don’t think you get to refuse help on a task and then say “you should have trained me earlier” when you’re late handing it in.

      1. socks*

        Yeah, it may be less normal in some fields, but at my job when I’m training people on something, the process is basically:
        1. They watch me do it
        2. I walk them through it while they do it
        3. They do it on their own and ask questions/review documentation as needed

        If someone refused to show their screen when I was walking them through something, I’d try explaining why it was necessary, and if that didn’t work I’d end the call and message the boss. The trainee can explain their “weird thing” to the boss, but there’s no reason to waste my time.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t think you get to refuse help on a task and then say “you should have trained me earlier” when you’re late handing it in.


    2. Myrin*

      “I get that there were errors but surely that was expected anyway -I don’t know anyone who gets things right first time in a new role.”
      I feel like that not happening was exactly the point, though – if OP can watch coworker do the tasks, she can immediately jump in and say “You’re copying the third line but you actually need to copy the fourth line!” or whatever. So ideally, when the coworker finished the document, it wouldn’t have any errors because OP had been there to catch them in real time.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, exactly. I think framing it as ‘being forced to do perform a task while being observed’ is reading too much into it. If someone was training me in-person on a new procedure or computer programme, I’d expect them to sit next to me and talk me through it while I carried out the various steps. Precisely so that I could say ‘OK, so now I need to click on this button to go to the next screen?’ and they can say ‘No, not yet – you need to fill in the llama height and weight first, so if you put that info in, then click “Next”…’ or whatever. And every training I’ve had using screen sharing has been the same – we recently had one on SEO and metadata, in a very small group where it was just someone from the website team and me and my colleague, and we shared our screens so that the website person could talk us through what we needed to do and where the info needed to go, we could have a go at filling it all in, and they could flag up anything we missed or were doing wrong. It’s not some sort of timed exam under observation, it’s just ‘OK, let’s fill in this document together so you can get a feel for how it’s done’.

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          Also, what is work if not doing tasks that other people see? I’m amazed at all the excuse-making for the trainee here.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah! I mean I hate people looking at my screen, and always refuse to have anything but a blank wall behind me. But if someone wants to watch me complete a task to be able to point out what I’m doing wrong, then I suck it up and close whatever tabs I don’t want them looking at, especially anything where I’ll be receiving messages. If I have to give them control over my computer, I watch what they’re doing, but mostly they are not in the least bit interested in anything but the thing they’re here to do.

    3. Heya*

      Then your daughter needs to arrange in advance that they get an accommodation for their dyslexia if she is undertaking any training where such a requirement is likely. It is unacceptable to simply refuse to do something so basic and normal as screen-sharing during a virtual training, and doing so will make her look extremely bad. This isn’t about “boundaries”, this is about not understanding basic norms and refusing to participate in training that is required for the role.

      You have not done much online computer-based training that is well-designed and effective if you have never experienced this. It is normal, expected and not a big deal. Refusing is bizarre and needs to be reported to their manager as it is so far out of line.

      Personally, I would give this person one warning that they need to participate fully in training if they wish to remain in the role, and if there were any further issues with them I would let them go.

      1. Heather*

        Completely agree. This is like saying “I sometimes stammer when I’m nervous so I refuse to talk on the phone” – screen sharing is 100% normal and common and it’s just plain unreasonable to refuse to do it.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Perfect analogy. If you have a terrible stammer, people are willing to have written communication with you. There are plenty of times where talking would usually help to smooth out a problem, but if the person you call is stammering, that’s a case where it won’t work.
          Likewise people can perhaps work round screen sharing if it’s something that will make the sharer freeze up, but you can’t just call it “something weird” and expect that others will just say OK then.

    4. anonymous 5*

      “Report to the manager” doesn’t necessarily mean “recommend that the manager take punitive action,” though. If the trainee needs accommodations for whatever reason, then the manager can work with them to ensure that they have something suitable worked out–which OP wouldn’t have been in a position to do, since they aren’t the trainee’s direct supervisor. But explain/demonstrate/hand to trainee to do under observation is a very good training method–the “observation” part offers real-time guidance, which is tremendously valuable.

      Being terrified of making mistakes is a fully understandable thing–and it is also something that eventually has to be overcome in order to be able to learn. It’s on the people in positions of authority to make sure that there’s room to make mistakes while learning something new without having the stakes be high or the consequences be dire. But it’s also on everyone individually to recognize that they aren’t perfect and that they will need to work out a way to keep themselves on an even keel when they inevitably mess up–and, in particular, when other people see them mess up. It sounds as though this training was set up in a way where the stakes were possibly too high. But the trainer’s “way” may, in fact, have been the only viable one in this case.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        The manager should absolutely take action about the trainee refusing to participate in a completely normal assigned work activity, though. That action should just be a conversation explaining that you have to share your screen sometimes, but still.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think there might be something to the speculation that the trainee is utterly, completely lost. Which is something it would help their manager to know.

    5. Willis*

      Yeah, they probably were expecting the trainee to make errors and need help. That’s why they planned to do the document with them in the first place.

    6. KateM*

      Doesn’t it make learning anything extremely difficult? It sounds to me similar to going to physical therapy and when therapist shows an exercise, to absolutely refuse to repeat it in therapist’s presense, being afraid of doing something wrong, instead preferring to go home and to actually train oneself in private into doing it all wrong so that one actually ends up with a setback rather than progress.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m thinking about a training like a CPR class:
        First you have a discussion, then you watch a video or an instructor do the CPR, then you go through every step in detail, then the trainees practice doing CPR on the dummies. Only after you do all of that, and ask questions, do you take any kind of test.

        Like, part of learning and training is practicing, and practicing when someone can correct you so error don’t get ingrained. Making mistakes while learning isn’t failure, it’s learning!

    7. KateM*

      How does your daughter do in PE classes? Teacher says “so this is how you throw ball, now throw yourself” and she refuses to throw it, instead goes home and throws ball all alone until she is fully used to wrong technique? This is basically what happened in OP1 scenario, after all.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        “Look boss, I’m not comfortable with people watching me work on something new, so I’m just going to take the forklift home and figure out how to operate it, then you can give me my certification tomorrow.”

        1. Sylvan*

          Sorry, boss, I’m not comfortable with other people assessing my writing, so don’t let an editor take a look at it, okay? I promise I know AP like the back of my hand. It’ll be fine.

    8. Cat Lover*

      This isn’t “having boundaries”, this is refusing to do your job. I don’t understand where this twisting of “advocating from yourself=not doing your literal job” has come from.

      1. KRM*

        Yeah, having boundaries is “I can’t leave my camera on and screenshare all day just so you can verify that I’m working to your standard of work” or “I can’t do a meeting at 5:30 because I am getting my kids/dog/whatever from daycare which closes at 5:45”. Not “I can’t do a totally reasonable thing while I’m being trained because I don’t want to do the thing.” Training is part of your job, and if sharing your screen is the easiest way for the trainer to help you, then you do that.

        1. Cat Lover*

          Right? I feel like this is one of those “is this really the hill you want to die on?” moments.

    9. bamcheeks*

      This is extremely high-stakes thinking, of the kind that often develops if you’ve been working in a toxic environment where mistakes aren’t allowed. Having a co-worker observe you performing a task is a very normal way to learn, and absolutely mandatory in many industries, and telling someone’s manager about a problem in the workflow is also normal. Neither of these things has to be punitive or high-pressure: they can both be supportive and developmental.

      If those things feel threatening to you, you’re either in a workplace with a lot of problems or you’ve internalised some stuff which is probably going to disrupt the wider workflow. That’s not your fault– you might have really good reasons for feeling that way– but it’s worth looking at that pattern of thought and whether there’s anything you could do (or ask for, if you’re in a supportive environment) to alleviate it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is a really good way to break it down.

        “Observe you doing your work” can mean many different things, but it’s part of many jobs. You don’t announce “I’m not comfortable having you weigh in while I landscape your yard–I’ll do what I think you said while you’re somewhere else, and then you can review the paving and plantings after I’m done.” Lots of job tasks, it makes sense to check in and evaluate what’s been done before you get to the final product–and when training someone in a new task, it would be the norm to check their work at multiple interim stages, catching problems before too much went wrong.

      2. Shallow Sky*

        I’m currently in a situation of “well, I should probably report this problem… but when someone reported a problem with my work, it resulted in a multi-hour lecture about everything I’ve ever done wrong since I started here, and I don’t want to put the others involved through that…”

        (I do believe it was meant to be supportive. But it was literally three hours, with four different supervisors staring at me, and I did not get a word in edgewise. I don’t know how to make that better.)

    10. ecnaseener*

      If the trainee was feeling performance anxiety etc as you describe, the thing to do would be saying “I get pretty nervous when people are watching me work, and it would probably make me make more mistakes – would it be okay for me to take a first stab at it by myself?” At which point LW would have the relevant information instead of just “no thanks, I don’t do that!”

      (And presumably LW would’ve said something like “No, we do need to do this together now so that it gets done on time & so that I can give you real-time feedback. Don’t worry about making mistakes, that’s exactly what this training is for.” We can derail on whether screensharing was really necessary until the cows come home, or we can take LW at their word that it was.

    11. Important Moi*

      I responding only to bring more attention to this thread.

      I hope to read more.

    12. WellRed*

      Do you also advocate for newbie drivers to just take the car out on the road to learn without being “forced to perform the task” in front of an instructor?

    13. Sylvan*

      Huh. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a training session that didn’t involve practice and feedback.

      Anyway, it wouldn’t occur to me to ask a trainer to come up with a new training plan on the fly.

    14. BRR*

      This isn’t about boundaries. This is about an employee not doing the basics of the job. We’re so accustomed to employers abusing employees that I think it gets forgotten that employers can still have some reasonable expectations.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also, OP was clear that this is was a short turnaround task with a clear business purpose. Salaried employees are expected to respond to business needs to the best of their abilities. Someone who says “I can’t learn something fast enough to meet this deadline” (or even try) would rightfully be fired in most offices. In this example, the work product was late and didn’t meet OP’s needs. This isn’t school where the services exist to serve the students and help them learn and grow. Workers are supposed to be meeting the needs of the business or they’ll be replaced.

    15. AvonLady Barksdale*

      No one is expecting perfection in this scenario. It’s a training. Working on something while someone watches is a totally normal (and effective) way to train people.

      I am terrible when someone stands behind me while I work. Absolutely awful. Typos everywhere. Yet I am able to express that, and most people get it, and I would still share my screen. No, excuse me, I would share the relevant tab or window because that’s all that’s needed.

      This is not a boundary violation. This is work. The trainer gets to set some parameters and the trainee gets to ask necessary questions in the moment.

      1. SoloKid*


        I’ve been the trainer in this kind of scenario and I ask to screen share because it can be helpful for me to see where people make mistakes in the system. I do not care about typos – I am looking for how well the end goal of what we’re accomplishing is understood.

    16. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Not to pile on, but a basic training paradigm is explain, demonstrate, observe. It doesn’t work for everything, but I’ve been doing computer-based training of different tasks on and off for over 30 years, and I’ve found this extremely effective with, at a minimum, hundreds of people. I had just one person who insisted on taking incredibly detailed notes during the demonstration (partially duplicating what was in my handout), then said they didn’t work well with others watching, and insisted they would review their notes and learn to do it themselves.

      I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone who has ever been a trainer that this person never got the basics of the task down, and we constantly had to remind them of the basic steps or do it for them. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m guessing this person needed an accommodation but didn’t know it, or didn’t know what accommodation to ask for.

    17. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      It’s not odd to do that! Some types of trainings mean you’re supposed to be “following along” on your own computer step-by-step while watching the trainer. If you’ve been paying attention, you should keep caught up with doing what the trainer is showing and be roughly at the same place to complete whatever it is you’re learning.

      I get the feeling the person was not paying attention and felt caught out.

    18. Jellyfish*

      If it’s an anxiety issue, then it’s on the employee to manage that and get to the point where they can do their job. The OP and manager can be compassionate about it, but they have no obligation to accommodate a claim of, “I’m too uncomfortable to learn to do my work correctly.”

      If the trainee really is too uncomfortable or anxious to continue, then this job is not a great fit. Not every instance of discomfort means the employer is doing something wrong or being unreasonable. The manager needs to know what’s going on so they can work with the trainee to figure out next steps.

    19. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have to disagree. This is totally normal – especially with physical (non-computer-mediated) things.

      Training somebody to work in a restaurant kitchen, or stock shelves, or fold and restock clothing, or use an industrial machine.
      * Here’s what this thing is for.
      * These are the ground rules and precautions for doing it.
      * Now watch me do this several times.
      * Now you try to do it and I’ll watch to make sure you have it down.

      I hope OP was saying things like “nobody gets it right the first time” to take the edge off anxiety. But otherwise this is a completely normal way to train people.

    20. pancakes*

      “Also to add, My daughter has dyslexia and this approach would never work for her. She is terrified of making mistakes so would freeze completely if someone was watching her.”

      In addition to what others have said I want to point out that this isn’t inherently a part of dyslexia. My boyfriend has rather severe dyslexia and is not terrified of making mistakes, he’s quite as ease with it because he often makes mistakes, on account of the dyslexia – be tidies them up with autocorrect or whatnot and moves on. Dyslexia and social anxiety probably often go hand in hand but they aren’t intrinsically tied to one another.

    21. Observer*

      I admire the trainee for having boundaries.

      The trainee’s boundaries are only for themselves, and unreasonable. Because is they had respect for boundaries, the work would have at least showed up in good time.

      there was no time to let the trainee reflect – they were expected to immediately perform

      That’s the nature of some jobs. This was not a theoretical training exercise. This was a work task that the employee was supposed to complete with the guidance of their trainer. If they cannot manage that, they may not be right for the job.

      It feels very harsh to report this to the manager

      They refused a reasonable work request. They then didn’t follow up on their commitment. And they caused a deliverable to be delayed. The manager HAS to know about this. If the employee is not up to doing the work, SOMETHING needs to change.

      I get that there were errors but surely that was expected anyway

      THAT is why the OP was going to share the screen – to catch the errors *as they happen* so they can explain and show how to avoid them. Which the trainee refused.

    22. Azith*

      I completely agree, Irishgal.

      I would also assume that the pushback comes from a previous professional (or even educational) environment where screen sharing was not used appropriately by the person with the power in the situation (here, that’s OP#1).

  18. CLC*

    They don’t like other people watching them type. As someone who doesn’t like other people watching them type, I’m almost positive that’s what it had to be.

    1. NoviceManagerGuy*

      Imagine a factory worker who doesn’t like people watching them operate machines

      1. Wisteria*

        Not a far stretch! Factories typically have open floors with lots of people around, but do not typically have someone watching you actually work, looking over your shoulder at what you are doing. I was assigned to shadow people on the manufacturing floor, and boy, were they unhappy with that.

    2. Anya Last Nerve*

      We don’t just get to refuse to do things we don’t like at work, though.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep. I don’t getting up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready but yknow, work sucks sometimes.

    3. Slothy*

      Agree. Enough people are switching jobs now because they are trying to escape controlling managers who couldn’t handle the switch to remote and imposed wild monitoring methods. Personally, I could see myself suggesting – could I give this a try myself and send it to you in 30 minutes? (If it was a process in a new software system, I wouldn’t, but I’m assuming this is editing a document or manipulating a spreadsheet). If the trainer pushed back, I would share my screen, but. I recently escaped from a job where we had to be accessible at all times and meeting notes were taken live in a shared google doc and they were expected to be full transcripts of everything that was said. That’s annoying enough (and this is for internal meetings, not… court cases). But my manager would edit the notes, sometimes in the same sentence I or a coworker was still typing, to reflect what she wanted people to have been saying. So it was like two meetings were happening at the same time – the real one, and the one in my manager’s head. It was absolutely infuriating and I developed an irrational rage at the general concept of having someone watch me type and/or making corrections while I was in the middle of something. Clearly this situation was different and the new employee should have given it a try when OP pushed back. But – I think many, many people have developed weird issues as a result of poor management during WFH that they are trying to set boundaries in the new place… perhaps sometimes going too far.

      1. Important Moi*

        I want to validate your “irrational rage at the general concept of having someone watch me type and/or making corrections while I was in the middle of .”

        I have worked with these types of people. I end up typing because I type faster than they do. It turns into a control thing. They can’t type, but they can sure correct my typing!!!

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        Enough people are switching jobs now because they are trying to escape controlling managers who couldn’t handle the switch to remote and imposed wild monitoring methods.

        Asking an employee to share their screen to help someone with a task isn’t an “imposed wild monitoring” method.

    4. Ariaflame*

      Physically the hands on keyboard part, or the bit of the screen where your words are coming up?

    5. pancakes*

      Even if that’s the case, why would they be counting on doing a lot of typing during training? There’s little to be learned by having someone watch you type. It’s also far from self-evident that anyone who dislikes being watched is willing to appear very odd and be antagonistic at work about it.

  19. Anima*

    I’m just so confused about the training thing.
    Here is how training usually works in my workplace:
    1 Here is a task, here is documentation, ask away if you got questions.
    2 Here is a task, we don’t have documentation, I’ll show you how to do it, then you try and ask questions.
    1 can end in “completed task myself when documentation is good” or “uh I’m stuck and google isn’t helping, dear colleague, can you unstuck me?” This is the latest point I share my screen to show them what I did and were it went wrong.
    2 usually ends up with me sharing my screen and asking questions (“can I click this now?”) OR me trying to do the task by myself and follow up with a call where, lo and behold, I share my screen to get unstuck by a colleague.

    It’s never “Here is a task, do it while I watch you.”. With no explanation of the task beforehand. I would absolutely not like that. Did the trainee refuse in a scenario like 1 or 2? Then it’s totally inappropriate, but in the ad-hoc case I might have compassion… And probably quietly think to myself that my trainer is a muppet.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think that depends on how procedural the task is. If it’s something like adding something to a database, then “I should you how, and then you do it” makes sense. But the task as described — gather information from multiple sources and bring it all together in a highly specific format– isn’t a simple process, and in that case, I don’t think there’s much point in that case to watching someone who already knows where to find the different information and how to format it do it. “Here’s the 2021 version that you need to update, work through it slowly and let me know if you get stuck, and I’ll keep checking in to make sure you’re on the right track” probably is a better way to structure it.

      1. SilverRadicand*

        Yeah, I think a very relevant point is how well a trainee will be able to identify an error prior to submission. If there are several steps, potential exceptional circumstances, or subtle changes in some circumstances, especially if missing something will require redoing large parts of the work product, it’s quite reasonable to require a trainer to observe, esp during the crawl stage of crawl/walk/run. Once the trainee has a better handle on normal and is able to at least identify what circumstances require exception rules, then at least they can request help at that point, but until then, not having at least regular check-ins will risk work needing to be redone.

    2. Nightengale*

      The theory is that people learn better by doing than by watching, and that if someone is guided to do it themselves correctly, this cements the process better than having watched someone else do it or doing it incorrectly. Sometimes it’s a step process from I-do to we-do to you-do.

      The problem with this theory for me is that people then want me to do it under their guidance without taking notes on what I’ve done, and I don’t remember visual tasks without notes, preferably notes written in words rather than screenshot images.

      1. anonymous 5*

        I’m this way too. For my money, including/especially when I’m the one doing the training, a request to be able to take notes along the way while you do stuff is a totally reasonable one.

        1. Jack Bruce*

          I used to do this type of training often and always encouraged trainees to take notes. I was usually concerned if they didn’t because there were lots of steps and I didn’t expect anyone to remember them unless they’d done them many times before. We had documentation, but taking notes while seeing, then doing the thing with a trainer helps a lot.

          1. Nightengale*

            I had training for an electronic health record system (as the doctor) and they didn’t want me to take notes. And of course there was no user manual. I never felt like I had a handle on that system. When we got the next one I brought a second computer to the training and took extensive notes. I used to learn so much better when directions were written down and stood still (i.e. user manuals, cookbooks) and now everything is videos, screen shots and demonstrations. So I am taking my own notes which are written down, stand still and are searchable even!

      2. GythaOgden*

        I was dumped into the ‘you do’ from the ‘I do’ stage and it’s the lack of a ‘we do’ stage that tripped me up. Like many people, I learn best from doing something, but good training is a collaborative process. The ‘we do’ stage is critical to being able to absorb the knowledge and get up to speed on the task. In my case, I had to watch for a few months (second, very part time job handling advertising and invoicing clients) while the person handing it off to me did stuff herself but didn’t at any stage allow me to write emails or explain what to do. She was good at the networking stuff and good at talking me through procedures which could be condensed into a half hour phone call like setting up an email inbox or troubleshooting a mail merge, but when it was more spread out she wasn’t a good teacher, I had a day job that distracted me from the work we were doing, then suddenly she was gone and I was on my own at the deep end. We were both partly to blame (I should have kept a closer eye on what she was doing during the months I was expected to) but with other responsibilities and no opportunity to learn on the job, that was difficult.

        One of the reasons I worked on the magazine until it folded (badoom-tish!) during the pandemic was because the thought of having to train someone else to do it was frightening.

        I’ve also been on the documentation / try it yourself / fail / adjust instructions rollercoaster for our franking machine at work and it was a learning process in terms of how to write good documentation.

        I get no real vibe off the OP, however, that this is a problem with her training style. It seems to be just the trainee’s bizarre stubbornness, and responsibility for that that cannot be placed anywhere else but on her shoulders. Additionally, as neurodivergent myself with anxieties up the wazoo and who got a dispensation during my Masters from having to present two separate research projects in front of a class, I get the brain chemistry issues. My dad, who retired a director of his company, had to be coached on public speaking and presenting by my mum well into his 50s. But /everyone/ has these. It’s not fair that some people are disabled by them, but equally, everyone has to overcome these issues to participate in their careers. Otherwise, the employer can always find someone else.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I assumed that they had already done the “trainer does the task while explaining each step and trainee takes detailed notes” part and the letter picks up at the part where they had moved on to reversing the roles – trainee does the task from their notes while trainer observes and corrects as needed.

    4. Emm*

      I don’t think the trainee just had a task thrown at them like that. OP says sharing the screen was part of the training, so I imagine they’d already walked through the process and were now giving the trainee the chance to do it themselves and ask questions.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      A very common way to teach driving is:
      1) I explain what I’m doing while child watches.
      2) We go to a large empty parking lot and swap places, and child will drive while I coach.

  20. Anya Last Nerve*

    My current job is ever changing, not clearly defined, rapidly shifting priorities – I like it a lot because I get bored with routine and predictability but I know it’s not for everyone. I am very upfront about this when interviewing but I’ve found that even when you are as straightforward as possible, people will still be surprised when the job turns out as described.

  21. Camellia*

    For #3, I have to disagree with the answer because it felt like this part of the OP’s question was ignored: “…without antagonizing my manager and the hiring director who will also be there”.

    If I was the OP, I would definitely feel like the recommended script WOULD antagonize my manager and hiring director, because it sounds like this info is not already being shared with interviewees.

    OP, maybe you can give them your contact information and say you would be available for questions, if you think manager and hiring director would be okay with that. I’m assuming you already have their contact info. Then, YOU could reach out to THEM and give them the true picture on the DL, and if they’re hired and mention speaking to you, your manager would hopefully not be surprised and assumed that THEY reached out to YOU. Or perhaps you could volunteer to show them around the work area, if that’s a thing you do with interviewees, and speak to them then.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe LW could just say the “in this role you’d need to jump in and figure things out without much infrastructure” bit – it gets the main point across but feels less likely to irk the managers because it comes as just describing the right candidate more than the organization.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      Tone of voice also matters a lot. I used to conduct joint interviews with my old boss, and when people asked me what working there was like, I would adopt a tone somewhere between matter-of-fact and enthusiastic and say, “You know, we’re a small start-up organization, so to work here, it helps to be okay with uncertainty and change. We’re building the plane as we fly it, and there’s a lot of flexibility and it can be exciting, but it also means that we don’t have formal policies for a lot of things. We’re pretty unstructured and you have to figure things out as you go.”

      Anyway, I said all of this in front of my boss, and he later complimented me on it—he thought all of this was GREAT, and he wanted new hires to be on board with the culture.

      1. Koalafied*

        Yes, at a previous job where I hired a few people over the years, it was a very small org (think “everyone is a Director with no direct reports”) with very little in the way of standardized procedures or available institutional knowledge among the rest of the staff, because every type of work was always done by only one person, so the new hire was always replacing the only person who would have been able to provide guidance on anything not documented (which was most things).

        The way I framed it in interviews was to acknowledge that the role would require a lot of on-your-feet problem-solving and figuring out how to do things that aren’t documented, and a lot of the time there won’t be anyone else on staff who knows how to do your kind of work, so you’ll have to use the internet or lean on professional contacts if you get stuck on something, which is not for everyone.

        But I always said that conversely, the fact that so little was documented meant they were not beholden to doing many things the same way they’d been done before, and if they saw an opportunity to try something new or improve a process, they’d have complete autonomy to do so – and because our salaries were more commensurate with early career roles than Director roles, I often touted this as a benefit for people early in their careers or new to the field after switching career tracks, because it meant they would be able to gain experience making high-level strategic decisions that somebody with so little experience would never be trusted to make at a place with more standardized processes and institutional practices, and in 2-3 years they’d likely have the kind of resume that could land them a job doing this at one of those more established and higher-paying organizations who would never hire someone into a strategic role without previous experience.

      2. tamarak & fireweed*

        Yes, that. And I’d also say that bit about the previous role owner having been there for 30 years and never produced adequate documentation – some would run, some would see it as a challenge, and be more inclined to take it on if their management knows, and acknowledges, that this is tricky and sub-optimal.

        I once hired my successor as a team lead (for bi- and trilingual customer-facing technical staff, in the UK) when I was moving a notch up. One of the team was really good at his job, but could be incredibly rule-oriented. It drove me bonkers. Now both I and the top candidate were German and I asked about how they would manage someone in various hypothetical situations, and chose a stereotypical rule-bound German. This was in front of my own boss – no need to camouflage the warts and complexities of the job in question. (Funnily enough, the employee was not German, though he spoke German and had studied there.) A few months later, when we had hired the top candidate, he came to me and asked “when you were asking me that question, were you thinking of X?” X and the new team lead got along quite well for a while and managed him effectively. (Unfortunately, X didn’t work out in the long run. He started to feel superior and became quite condescending, started verbal fights with co-workers, and felt like he wasn’t adequately paid. Which … maybe we all weren’t. He was at the top of the salary scale though. Then he became curt and annoyed with customers. He left after a time of unhappiness for most of us…)

  22. Hyperfocus Queen*

    Another perspective on #1: I have ADHD and an anxiety disorder and I would have a really difficult time working on a document while someone else watched – either looking over my shoulder or screen sharing. I think if someone pushed me to do it anyway, my knee-jerk reaction might be a bit more harsh, simply because I’d be staring to panic.

    1. ThatGirl*

      OK but you understand that sort of procedure is very, very normal in training, right? I don’t love having people watch me work either, but if someone is training me on a specific task, it’s often necessary.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, I think we all immediately become incapable of typing or spelling properly as soon as someone’s watching, but that sort of thing is a really normal part of training or learning to do something – especially these days when it’s more likely to be an online training session rather than in-person. If you reach the part of the training where the trainee needs to have a go at using the system or whatever by themselves, with the trainer there to catch any errors or answer any questions, then they’re going to need to share screens to do that.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I also have ADHD and several anxiety disorders and I hate sharing documents but…a lot of things in work structure aren’t perfect for various people for various reasons and we just have to deal. We don’t get to be comfortable 100% of the time, especially during training which is usually somewhat awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes, this! I think perhaps this junior coworker isn’t experienced enough to realize that their discomfort is not at all as important as the business need to deliver the product correctly. (I mean, I’m sure OP was pretty uncomfortable having to report that they’d missed the deadline – why does her discomfort not count?). People do have to accept being uncomfortable in a variety of ways in order to get their paycheck unfortunately. Sometimes this takes time for people who are new to the workforce to grasp.

    3. djc*

      The OP said that screen sharing is something done frequently in this job. If this is part of the job, the employee needs to figure out how to make that work. Also, if I was the trainer I would have no problem with someone telling me they get nervous when screen sharing. I understand that and would try to make them feel comfortable and not rush them if they don’t get something correct the first time.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, if this situation wasn’t as extreme as it is, I would suggest OP could have tried to put the employee at ease with screen sharing – “don’t worry, we all make funny mistakes when we’re screen sharing, I do it all the time myself, and nobody is that concerned with what else is on your screen (uh, within boundaries anyway) – it can be a bit uncomfortable at first but you get used to it” etc etc. This employee sounds pretty far out there though.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yep, which makes pulling the manager in fully reasonable. This is something that needs a conversation and possibly some coaching.

    4. turquoisecow*

      Real question: how do you learn new tasks? Doesn’t at least part of the training involve you doing a task while someone is watching and explaining things?

      Take driving, for example. You got behind the wheel of the car and someone else told you how to press the gas and shift into gear. Or if you don’t drive, how about folding laundry? There’s only so many times you can watch someone else do something before you have to try it yourself, and then it’s usually very helpful to have a knowledgeable trainer stand by and say “okay, no, first you fold the sleeve over, then the rest of the shirt, yep, just like that.”

      This isn’t the trainee being forced to perform on command to do a task they don’t know – this is them being taught to do a new task. It’s a very very very common way of teaching and learning.

  23. Liz T*

    “It’s in the organization’s interests to hire people who know what they’re signing on for and are okay with it, rather than investing time and money in training people who will quickly run for the exits.”

    True, but isn’t this an organization that likes chaos? Maybe a revolving door of horrified new hires is kind of their style.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “Likes” and “is incapable of mitigating” are, too be fair, two different things.

  24. Bossy Magoo*

    LW#3 – when interviewing for my current job, since it would be a move from a 700-person company to a 25-person company, I asked on multiple interviews what’s challenging about working for a small company? All of them said “there’s no formal structure — which could be good sometimes, but if you’re the kind of person who needs more structure you might find it difficult. There’s no new employee orientation, there’s no training process, you need to be a curious person and ask a lot of questions.” And they were right! That’s exactly how it is. It can be frustrating sometimes, but overall I went into it armed with that knowledge so I never felt like I was being a pain for asking questions or stupid for not knowing things. It’s not for everyone but it did work out well for me, in large part because I was forewarned.

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      Agreed. It really needs to be spelled out in specific terms. That can be done diplomatically.

      Also, make sure you’re asking the right questions for fit: ask about resourcefulness, how they proceed with a task with little direction, etc. A candidate could think they’d be OK in a “chaotic” environment, but if they don’t have any of the necessary skills to work in one, it still probably won’t work out.

  25. Purple Cat*

    LW1 is wild. Since the peer didn’t send the file until MUCH later I wonder if she’s really not up to speed on the basics at all and didn’t want to expose that further by screen-sharing. I definitely get exponentially dumber when I know people are watching.

    My initial thought was that maybe coworker wasn’t working at all during the meeting, but it implies they were already in a Teams meeting (or similar) so she was already at her computer. Or maybe she joined via phone and so couldn’t screen share because she was at the beach or something.

    1. Sylvan*

      I also wondered about this. Or maybe she just doesn’t know how to screen share and thought it must be complicated, and decided to avoid it instead of asking.

      (That would be a dumb thing to do. However, I’ve worked with people who did things like that.)

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      This is my thought. Either not paying attention during the training, or underlying basic skills issues needed for the task.

  26. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW1: Is this employee’s last name Bartleby?!

    Whether or not he’s the reincarnation of the title character of Herman Melville’s classic short story, Alison was absolutely right: escalate this to his manager ASAP…like, this morning. No employee can be allowed to set all the terms of his employment or use his own personal quirks as an excuse for refusing to follow directions. Yesterday it was screen sharing – if he gets away with refusing to do that, what else will he decide that he just won’t do going forward? Nip this in the bud NOW!

  27. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    #4 – Don’t put that much faith in the HR rep’s ability to remember conversations. I say that with NO malice or tone. They deal with so many people each day, many who the never speak with again. Should they have made a notation on your resume/in your “file”–sure. Did they? Maybe. And maybe they told you there was flexibility in your initial conversation because there is, but the offer is always done within range, at the low end and the flexibility comes when the perfect candidate askes for more.

    They deal with a high volume of people, most of whom they never speak with again. Couple that with weird “rules” related to hiring that they have to work within, and it’s truly up to the candidate to ask for what they want.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep, absolutely. I have a really hard time keeping applicants separate in my mind (I have files for that! But people ask me sometimes casually and my mind blanks). Remember a detail of a conversation early in the process would be ideal but depending on how much time has passed and how many people were interviewed…I wouldn’t expect them to remember. But they should be willing to engage in the conversation if you negotiated.

      However, if they gave you a range and offered you the bottom of that range, there’s also a really good chance you weren’t the “right person” they were willing to be flexible for. Which sucks, but I wouldn’t seethe over it. Move on to the next opportunity.

  28. Clearlier*

    LW 1 – An option would be that recognising that the approach the trainee wanted to take would cause risk for the organisation you could flag it immediately with the manager. I appreciate that most people want to take a hierarchical approach to this situation but I would discuss it with the trainee, explain that this approach will pose risks to the business and then include them on the communication to the manager. You’re not complaining about the trainee – you’re saying that there’s a problem to be solved. I’d even write it by sharing my screen with the trainee and asking them to help form the language to explain to their manager why they aren’t willing to share their screen. Identify alternative solutions and explain the risks with each.

    I appreciate that this might not work in an adversarial culture but if there is enough of a collaborative culture then I think that this would achieve a better outcome.

    1. MissElizaTudor*

      I think this is a much better approach than some of the other suggestions. My theory is the person was either not following along at all (playing a game instead, for example), or was having trouble with the instructions, and then panicked when they were asked to screenshare. That would also explain the late turnaround and the errors.

      Obviously they should be paying attention and/or should speak up when they’re not understanding something, but if it was either of these things, then there’s a real chance they would be willing to screenshare after a conversation about it, either because they’d feel more comfortable speaking up if they don’t understand something, or, if they were totally distracted, because it would bring them to their senses and put them on notice that this will come up again so they need to actually follow along during training.

      It’s a good idea to try to resolve things collaboratively and directly with one another when possible, rather than always going to an authority figure right away. The world would be a better place if people did that in a lot more situations. Easier said than done in many instances, of course, but doing it in relatively low stakes situations like training someone at work makes a lot of sense.

  29. Bumblebee Mask*

    For LW 2, I have a specific question in my interview around that issue: The environment in [my employer] is one which depends heavily on a “learn as you go” approach to learning your job, rather than heavily structured training and plentiful written procedures. How would you envision yourself operating in that environment and what does that mean to you in terms of becoming acquainted with tasks, procedures and ways of doing business.

  30. Hats Are Great*

    OP3: “Is there a way to gently let people know about this during the interview process?”

    “We run like a start up” is the current code phrase, I believe.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      100%. I described my pitch above, but in a similar situation, I used to say, “We’re building the plane as we fly it.”

  31. Avril Ludgateau*

    For #1, I can’t help but wonder if there was confusion about “screen share” vs. “remote access”, maybe? Especially if I were using my personal computer, I’d feel uncomfortable with allowing remote access to my machine. Even when I’ve had to have IT access my work computer remotely, it still makes me uneasy. (e.g. do I *know* I’m speaking to a proper IT technician from my organization or have I been fooled or even socially engineered some way by a bad actor? My imagination gets ahead of me.)

    But screen sharing? Especially when you can isolate a specific program/window to share? I have no such qualms, and in fact I frequently have to share my screen as both a leader and participant of meetings.

    I’m all for setting reasonable boundaries at work but that specific boundary skipped over the “reasonable” qualification.

  32. SongbirdT*

    I have to disagree with the advice to LW1.

    There can be lots of reasons why someone would politely but firmly turn down a request to share their screen. Maybe it’s for sketchy reasons like a lot of folks are suggesting, but more likely this genuinely presents a unique challenge for the trainee.

    A better path would have been to either suggest some alternatives – share progress frequently at x, y, and z stages, or view a recording of how the trainer does it – or explain the purpose and goal of the screen share and ask the trainee for suggestions on how to do that without the screen share.

    We all have different ways of working and in general we should try to accommodate folks wherever we can before it’s escalated to a manager.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      But OP did try to accommodate it, and it didn’t work and the deliverable was late because of it.

    2. Aww, coffee, no*

      But in this case the refusal is out of synch with the way the team works. OP specifically says “Our team regularly shares screens” and describes the person they are training as a “junior teammate” so it seems reasonable to assume that the person being trained in this task should already be familiar with the expectation to share screens.

      If there is a real reason to refuse then trainee needs to speak to the manager and agree a workaround, that the manager can communicate to anyone assigned to train them. If trainee hasn’t already done this, then OP speaking to manager will either (hopefully) ensure that this conversation happens and prevent similar future incidents, or result in manager saying something like “Sorry, yes, x workaround is agreed for this person”.

      Particularly with remote working being so common now, point-blank refusing to do something that is considered very usual within the team is not an acceptable solution.

    3. pancakes*

      What you’re suggesting is more or less that the trainees lead the training. That’s not going to work well in many situations.

    4. Observer*

      but more likely this genuinely presents a unique challenge for the trainee. </I.

      If this is a work computer, there simply is not a reasonable reason why the employee can't allow even full remote access. And even on a personally owned computer I have a hard time thinking of any legitimate reasons.

      The refusal is so unreasonable, in fact, that if it turned out that there really was some highly unlikely situation where it was not unreasonable, the trainee should have provided some context. "This is a quirk of mine" is only appropriate when what you are asking for is not unreasonable.

      A better path would have been to either suggest some alternatives – share progress frequently at x, y, and z stages, or view a recording of how the trainer does it – or explain the purpose and goal of the screen share and ask the trainee for suggestions on how to do that without the screen share.

      Which the OP did. And the training basically blew them off with a promise to “work on it next.” And then proceeded to get the work done late and with a bunch of errors, causing the deliverable to be delayed.

      At this point the OP has not choice BUT to talk to the manager.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      I can’t think of a single valid reason an employee on a work computer would refuse to share their screen in a training session. If it’s their personal – then they have more room to decline, but whether it’s valid a la work is another thing.

      Almost all employers are very clear that your work is theirs and if you’re on their computer or using their technology (software, remote network connection) that you can be monitored.

      OP makes it clear screen sharing is normal operating procedure. If another employee wants to balk at normal operating procedure then that absolutely is something they will need to figure out with their manager. It’s not just okay because people are different.

      Accommodating different working styles are for things like, please email me instead of calling, not I refuse to do this very normal standard practice at my employer and it caused a problem (late and error riddled).

      1. pancakes*

        If it’s their personal computer I can certainly see wanting a heads-up that training will or may involve screen-sharing, and it seems like it shouldn’t be a problem to give people that. That’s easy enough to communicate in advance.

        I’ve been working remotely since before the pandemic, two years before it, and there are some tasks for which it’s been easiest and most convenient for me to allow someone in IT to remote in and take care of something. Not for training, for which I’m usually watching someone else share their screen, but for tech issues. They’ve always been quick and professional, as I expected them to be.

        If people don’t feel they can trust their employer’s IT or trainers to stay on task and not go poking around in places they shouldn’t, that seems maybe a bigger issue than screen sharing, and I would expect there to be reasons for that. We don’t know of any here.

    6. Heather*

      If I’m being tasked with training someone on how to do a complicated process as a one-off, there is no way I’m spending time on creating and editing a training video. And there just isn’t a way to recreate screen share without actually doing it – if it’s an unfamiliar software even just talking someone through finding the right menu or whatever is really frustrating if you can’t see their screen.

  33. A Confused Person*

    I don’t like people watching me work either (and really struggled as an intern and early career because of it). But that means the onus is on me to find a way to do it. Not just…never learn and restrict myself and my assessment of my capacities. It took me two years to learn to drive because I was afraid I would murder an entire family with the person teaching me watching. But I figured out how to get around that. (Not past it. It’s still there. But around it. I manage it.)

    It continues to be positively wild to me how in this comment section low wage workers need to be fired for drinking a soda and it’s theft to take an extra 30 seconds in the restroom and if you’ve ever lied or behaved inappropriately you are Unprofessional and Irredeemable but if a white collar worker isn’t comfortable with something fairly standard and reasonable it becomes practically a human rights violation to require it. Nobody is talking about sharing a screen in the shower or something. One of the benefits of office work is that you generally get treated like a human, or at least more of a human than in other fields. If this is the hardest thing OP is asking of their trainee, that’s pretty reasonable. Don’t get so open minded that your brains fall out.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I had a similar thing, and honestly I just don’t drive. I live somewhere where I don’t have to and I don’t feel safe doing it. If something like screensharing was this debilitating to me, I would not take a collaborative office job where it was going to come up.

      When something is required and you can’t or won’t do it, that’s on you to figure out. It would be really odd for not sharing a screen to be a disability accommodation (anxiety accommodations are rarely “never let worker experience an anxiety trigger”) so this is just bottom line unacceptable to refuse. They have to find some way to make it work.

      I haven’t found quite the extremes towards blue collar workers that you’re describing in this comment section, but I agree that the comments tend to be biased towards white collar work and that work never being unpleasant. Sometimes work is unpleasant.

    2. pancakes*

      “in this comment section low wage workers need to be fired for drinking a soda and it’s theft to take an extra 30 seconds in the restroom”

      I don’t think that’s an accurate depiction of common agreements here. I think most regular commenters would be in the opposite camp on these points. I know I would be.

      “and if you’ve ever lied or behaved inappropriately you are Unprofessional and Irredeemable”

      Some of these things are not like the others. There are a lot of different types of lies and inappropriate behaviors, not all of them on par with drinking a soda. I don’t think most regular commenters here would in fact say that any and all, without regard for context, are irredeemable.

    3. MissElizaTudor*

      I’m as annoyed by the milquetoast liberal reformist white collar worker vibe of these comments as the next person*, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a majority of commenters say those things about low wage workers when they’ve come up, and as far as I can tell, a majority of people in this comment section are saying this person needs to just share their screen and are being relatively harsh on them.

      *I also think this is one of the better commenting communities online, and find it valuable and like it. It just does tend towards that vibe.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        “milquetoast liberal reformist white collar worker vibe of these comments”


      2. bamcheeks*

        I’m fine with milquetoast reformist white collar but I draw the line at liberal.

    4. Observer*

      It continues to be positively wild to me how in this comment section low wage workers need to be fired for drinking a soda and it’s theft to take an extra 30 seconds in the restroom and if you’ve ever lied or behaved inappropriately you are Unprofessional and Irredeemable

      That’s quite extreme, and I would say that it’s also highly inaccurate. Although, lying and some types of inappropriate behavior (eg harassment) really ARE a big deal, and a totally different realm from the other stuff.

      if a white collar worker isn’t comfortable with something fairly standard and reasonable it becomes practically a human rights violation to require it.

      Most people are not defending the trainee. And even the people who are defending them are mostly not gong quite that far.

      Your last point is valid. But prefacing it with hyperbole doesn’t make the point any more clear.

    5. Heather*

      “Don’t get so open minded that your brains fall out” is a good correction to the way virtually every comment thread on this site eventually goes…

    6. New Jack Karyn*

      “in this comment section low wage workers need to be fired for drinking a soda and it’s theft to take an extra 30 seconds in the restroom”

      Find me an example of this where that wasn’t shouted down by the rest of the commentariat.

  34. urguncle*

    I’m … kind of shocked that people think not sharing your screen during training while at work is acceptable? I would say I’m pretty firmly even in the “anti-work” camp and at no point am I just completely unwilling to have my coworkers see my screen, much less during my training.

    1. Other Alice*

      Honestly, same. I pretty much always have something “not appropriate for work” like a YouTube video or a shopping website (I like to pretend I only look at those during lunch break but you know how it is, and my work gets done anyway). It takes just a moment to close everything and mute notifications to make sure my boss doesn’t see the message from my BFF saying “omg same I’m also so bored, work is the worst”. Not wanting to do the training is a huge red flag.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I feel you. During the depths of the pandemic, I was allowed to bring in a sketchbook and listen to YouTube on my personal phone because I had to be at the front desk every day but there was nothing to do except be a warm body who could use the franking machine. I used to love writing out the signed for dispatch post book and receipts for the people sending packages out because it gave me a way of working while listening. While doing any kind of busy work that doesn’t require direct creative thought, I have background noise on if it’s not going to disturb anyone else or look unprofessional.

        I gravitated towards YouTube because the phone rang and bite-size trivia/listicle videos are easier to go back to after an interuption than detailed drama. But you bet everything went away in the drawer once we had people coming back into the office regularly again. If I had ever had to share screens etc you bet that the personal stuff above and beyond internet chaff would be easily containable. I usually make sure my browser is set to re-open things where I left off to make it even more seamless.

    2. pancakes*

      I’ve also seen people here say that clipping your nails at your desk is acceptable. I don’t think it’s an “anti-work” thing so much as an “insular people use the internet too” thing.

    3. Dorothea Vincy*

      Reading through these comments, I think some people have confused “reasons that make this scenario make sense” with “And therefore the trainee shouldn’t have to share their screen ever.” It’s an explanation, not an excuse.

      Even if it is the result of something like anxiety, not sharing the screen and sending in the work later obviously doesn’t help because the work was late and had errors. “What I want to do” does not always match “reasonable accommodation” 100% of the time.

      1. pancakes*

        Those are guesses at an explanation, since none of us have visibility into what the trainee was thinking – they weren’t the one to write in – but yes, I agree with your second paragraph.

  35. IndyDem*

    I had a coworker who was at times very tech phobic, and didn’t want to screen share, due to concern that it might expose her computer to viruses or data corruption/theft (we are in a industry that is constantly targeted) and it took much reassuring until she felt comfortable enough to screen share. Maybe it’s not this, but it’s right where my thoughts went.

    1. pancakes*

      That’s not just tech phobia though; that’s also someone thinking that the people hired to train them (or do whatever the screen sharing is for) are so inept as to be exposing the company to viruses and other problems unknowingly. I mean, someone who operates that way isn’t just tech phobic, they also must think they know the risks and vulnerabilities better than others do.

  36. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#3 — Yes, please be as candid as possible and be prepared to provide examples: “There’s no real training provided, although people are pretty good about answering questions as they come up.” (Or whatever.)

    But do let candidates know what they’d be in for at your organization. Personally, it would drive me crazy, and I’d appreciate a heads-up during the interview, rather than take a job that I’d have to quit in three months.

  37. TeapotNinja*

    LW3: even if you follow Alison’s advice be aware that some people will say they’re ok with the chaotic environment when they really aren’t. If you hire one of those folks, they’ll leave really quickly because they weren’t honest with you or themselves.

    1. Koalafied*

      Watching someone else do something isn’t the same as doing it yourself. When I do trainings, watching me do it is the first stage of training, but they’re not ready to start flying solo just from watching me do it. Sure, if the task was just “follow these 10 steps exactly as written,” that would probably suffice. But a lot of work is more complex and variable than that – you have to constantly make decisions throughout the process, and they’re not the same decisions every time. To learn how to get through that kind of work you really need to have more support than just watching an expert breeze through it and make it look easy.

      1. Aww, coffee, no*

        “Watching someone else do something isn’t the same as doing it yourself” – this is so true. Years ago I got sent on a “Train the Trainer” course and one of the most emphasised points was to get your trainee to do the work themselves. They said it’s a really common mistake that trainers make, to just demonstrate with the trainee watching, and call that sufficient.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Not really.

      Showing someone how to do something and making sure someone understands and can actually do the thing are different.

      While OP doesn’t specify, it would be highly unusual if that was the only part or the first part of the training. Typically a trainer goes over things first, explains things or the history as needed, yada yada. The hands on part comes later. Showing is never a replacement for doing.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes. And in my work, part of training on new systems or apps or whatnot often includes making sure users have access to the parts of it they’re supposed to – the ability to save to a shared drive, or save search queries to certain folders, etc. If someone isn’t set up properly it’s better to know that sooner rather than later.

        To the extent people want accommodations for this type of thing, I’d think it would be better received to request that in advance or tell the trainer that you’ll need to request an accommodation from someone else rather than excuse oneself and try to self-train without communicating why to anyone.

  38. my 8th name*

    I’m have a theory on LW1. I suspect the person was supposed to be further on the assignment before the training and hadn’t started it. They didn’t want to share their screen because then LW would know how far behind they were. This would also explain why it came in after hours.

    Just a theory!

  39. Nanani*

    I wonder if no-screenshare person was extrapolating from common advice about declining to be on video and such.
    In this case, it isn’t applicable because there is a real need for screen sharing and it’s not comparable to “lets all be on camera so i can micromanage”
    but it’s not unreasonable for someone to think they can set that boundary.

    There might be something on their screen they don’t want to accidentally share – a desktop background that would out them as a member of a minority group perhaps. So the impulse is understandable, if misguided.

  40. Absurda*

    Here’s another option for OP 1 in the moment:

    Share her screen with a blank document and tell the trainee to tell her what to do to complete the document. Essentially the trainer drives while the trainee gives the directions. Annoying, yes, but may have produced the desired outcome.

    That said, refusing to share is weird.

    1. Luna*

      My mom was having her lessons and taking her test to be certified to train people in her job, and one part was that you had to perform a task that you would teach your trainee, who then had to perform the same task based on the instructions, and to answer questions while doing it. A mixture of ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’ a task, at the same time. Her task was to wrap a gift for ‘clients’, and I was the role of the trainee during the testing phase of the task at home, showing the online classes what gets done.

      It’s definitely a good way to do things. You show how it’s done, and watch as they perform it, which lets you see if they understood you and can follow instructions, as well as if *you* did a good job at explaining what you have to do.

  41. Heidi*

    For LW 1, it is completely fair and relevant to raise to the trainee’s manager that they elected not to complete the training, the result was a late deliverable with errors, and perhaps the manger could recommend an alternate training approach that would work better for this person and their “weird thing,” or recommend someone else for the task. For a task that is “high visibility for the team and a tight turnaround,” it’s reasonable to expect the trainee to show evidence that they can perform the basics before turning them loose.

  42. Sequoia*

    LW3: Definitely agree to be upfront about it. I work on a team that’s loosely organized chaos, at a company that’s also chaotic and disorganized. I used to not mention it and we had some folks start who were expecting their boss to give them a list of work to do and trainings to attend and well…we don’t do that. Those folks have either left or struggled.

    So now I’m honest. “I love my job here, but things can be chaotic. Its great that we have a lot of freedom in our work but that also means that things feel disorganized a lot of the time. I promise you we do good work and have pretty good work life balance, but this isn’t to everyone’s taste. If you are looking for something with more structure this may not be the best match for you.” I don’t lead with this but if a candidate asks about the job, a typical day, my favorite or least favorite part of the job, etc. I give this info then. Nearly every candidate asks a question where explaining the team and company culture honestly is appropriate.

    I was afraid we’d loose candidates if I was honest, and we did lose some. But the ones who’ve stayed have onboarded faster because they knew what to expect and weren’t just waiting for someone to tell them what training to take.

  43. Luna*

    LW2 – If you have a job where mistakes can have big consequences, like taking care of living beings and their lives, making them because you are mentally checked out (even if you don’t admit it to yourself) is really *not good*. Makes me think of a story I read about a nurse almost injecting the wrong medicine into someone while she was on her last two weeks. And it wasn’t a mistake, she just insisted that she was right, and a coworker downplayed her behavior.
    No, if it can kill a living being, your mistakes are not just your mistakes, and you need to be pushed aside for the safety of everyone.

    This is not a mistake like when I was at work and my brain was so muddled from being sick that I was putting sales tags in the middle of sleeves instead of near the seam, meaning I was putting (even small) holes into the fabric. But I still told my coworker I had to go home because those mistakes showed that I was incapable of performing my job that day at proper capacity.

  44. Broadway Duchess*

    The refusal to share the screen sounded to me like the employee wasn’t actually at the desk working and tried to BS through it. Employee likely thought the training was going to be a listening exercise rather than having it be interactive. The fact that the work was sent later — when the computer was near — seems sketchy to me. I’ll admit, this is all speculation, but it seems very strange to decline a screen share during training.

    1. Azith*

      I’d bet it’s actually nerves, poor communication from OP#1 (that is, putting the person on the spot and expecting them to be able to produce result while someone dangles over their shoulder), poor internet speeds (and perhaps embarrassment over that), previous bad experiences in other workplaces, poor training and/or documentation, and/or a misunderstanding about remote access vs screen sharing.

  45. M.W.*

    LW1: I think the most likely explanation is, if this was a Zoom or Teams training, the trainee was likely joining the meeting from their phone rather than a computer, in which case they wouldn’t have been able to open a document and edit it. Maybe they were out running an errand or on an unauthorized vacation and thought they could just tune in, watch the training on their phone, and deal with the work later. Which – sounds like that’s exactly what they did. I just keep imagining someone sitting in the passenger seat on a road trip, being told that they need to share their screen, and blurting out “it’s just a weird quirk I have!” as a panic excuse.

  46. pets banshees*

    I first thought that the coworker refused to share their screen because they had up something inappropriate for work, but after thinking about it… they probably just hadn’t done any work on it yet and weren’t where they told LW they were in the process. Probably procrastinated, realized they’d get caught, refus3d to share their screen to hide it, and then threw it together resulting in work that needed to be fixed.

  47. I Share My Screen*

    Although we all have different reasons for why the trainee won’t share their screen, can we all agree that this is one letter for which we definitely need an update?

    Even though it appears to be a relatively small issue, I’m thoroughly invested in the outcome!

  48. Paisley*

    Re: LW#1, I’m curious what they didn’t want you to see by not sharing their screen! It seems fishy.

  49. Azith*

    I really disagree that it is necessary or appropriate for OP#1 to report the employee to their manager about something that is likely a miscommunication or misunderstanding, nerves, and the frankly questionable approach of using a time-sensitive document as part of a training exercise.

    Most people do not perform well while someone dangles over their shoulder, watching them, especially if they have just started a new job. I hate this naturally as it doesn’t suit my learning or working style, but a couple of previous bad bosses who were nothing but critical and nitpicky while I was still in training made this worse.

    OP#1, try the approach where you share your screen, or you both work together via SharePoint, Google Docs, etc.

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