my overpaid coworker is rude, rarely here, and calls us “uptight” and “slaves” for caring about our jobs

A reader writes:

I have a coworker, Cersei, who is “politely” condescending. Her demeanor and tone sound nice, but her words are unprofessional and, quite frankly, rude. She is viewed very poorly by everyone in the department, which has led to multiple venting and complaining sessions, some with me included and others I’ve overheard. Some examples:

– She told our newest hire on their first day to “quit while you have the chance.”

– I mentioned that morning shifts tend to be based on seniority. She replied with, “Oh really? I come in and leave whenever I want.”

– She told our operations coordinator what they do is “easy” and “I can do that in an hour, why does it take you so long?” Mind you, this was said to the objectively single most important non-managerial person in our 100+ person department.

– She asks about the open leadership positions, claiming they are “easy” and “less work.” She is interested because “it isn’t real work and [she] only has to work as a therapist but can always close my door to avoid people.”

– She has said, “Why are you always here? You act like this job matters.”

– She asked multiple people if she should ask for more money within her first 90 days of hire (she makes 25-50% more than most of the staff).

– She eats but refuses to contribute to potlucks, saying “this is the least [we] could do for working [her] so hard.”

– She has been with us less than six months and has missed work 25% of the time (someone actually counted the days she has called out, not including when she has left excessively early).

– She takes breaks and disappears constantly and shows no desire to be here. She pushes all her unfinished work on her coworkers who clocked in before her.

Many, including myself, are feeling resentful due to her getting away with doing whatever she wants, which is reducing morale exponentially. Further contributing to this is her openness about how much she makes with how little she contributes to the workload. What we can agree on is that she is not the right fit, but since she signed a hefty sign-on bonus, it will be a game of chicken on firing vs quitting.

I’ve tried telling her she shouldn’t say some of these things but it is met with snarky comments like “it’s because you’re a slave” and “why are you being so uptight?” and “I don’t care.”

SHE IS POISON.

I have already addressed Cersei’s attendance with management since that has a direct impact on workflow. I figured morale would improve if she were held accountable, but her attitude has been more condescending and victimizing than ever. I am not a manager, but I may be in the best place to mention something since I have capital. How can I address this without coming off as making it personal or speaking from generalized hearsay feelings?

I wrote back and asked, “What was your manager’s response when you spoke to her about Cersei’s attendance? And is your manager generally pretty competent at managing?”

She had no idea! Partially because she has over 50 direct reports. She was quick to act to enforce the attendance and time issue. I think our manager is very competent compared to those in the past (and concurrent ones). She puts things into perspective of productive versus not productive and makes data-driven decisions. It may require more people coming forward about Cersei, which appears to be an uphill battle as the people directly working with her are afraid of burdening our manager with something they feel is petty or bitter.

If I were your manager, I’d want to know that people are becoming increasingly demoralized and resentful.

Since your boss is competent and has shown she’s willing to act (but won’t always see things on her own) and because you have capital and influence, it’s worth going back to her and spelling out the rest. This isn’t complaining about a minor interpersonal thing that you’d be expected to deal with on your own, and it’s not petty or bitter; this is alerting your boss about a serious and substantive problem affecting everyone in your department, which you have reason to believe she (a) is unaware of and (b) would care about if she knew.

Frame it this way: “There’s a lot of frustration developing around Cersei, and I’m not sure if you’re seeing it so I wanted to give you a heads-up. She’s often aggressively rude to people on the team — for example, X and Y — and mocks people for caring about their jobs. She’s said things like, ‘Why are you always here? You act like this job matters’ and on Jane’s first day she told her, ‘Quit while you have the chance.’ She brags about coming in late and leaving whenever she wants, regularly disappears and can’t be found during the day, and boasts about how little work she does. This would be disruptive from anyone, but it’s additionally demoralizing in this situation because she tells us makes more money than the rest of us for less work. I’ve tried talking to her about this but she told me I was being ‘uptight’ and ‘a slave.’”

Say this calmly — the tone you want is the same tone you’d use to discuss a less charged work problem (like, say, the constantly malfunctioning copier or the needs of a new client). Your credibility goes up when you can raise stuff like this in a detached way, rather than sounding like personal dislike of Cersei is playing a role. (To be clear, personal dislike of Cersei is very justified! But to your boss you want to frame it as a work problem, not a personal one.)

From there, it’s up to your boss. Any halfway decent manager hearing this won’t brush it off — these are serious concerns, not petty ones. If nothing changes once she’s fully informed, that’ll tell you something valuable about how she manages … but based on how you described her, my bet is that you’ll see action.

{ 239 comments… read them below }

  1. Jo*

    The first thing I want to say is 50 direct reports which means the manager manages half the organisation. No wonder she isn’t seeing things

    1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I was coming here to say this. Fifty direct reports is crazy. Sounds like the company needs to invest in junior mangement roles. With five or so “team leads”acting as buffers between her and her direct reports things would almost certainly run smoother.

      1. OfOtherWorlds*

        The problem is preventing the team lead positions from going to people like Cersei.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It sounds like there’s some data to work on, and I can’t imagine someone would get a lead position at 6 months. You set up the initial structure and it’s way easier to get a throughline of sight, because you can manage the team leads in a more direct manner and coach them on how to manage and develop the people they’re overseeing. It would take a little time to implement perfectly but it’s a much better scenario than what’s here now.

          Also empowering the employees reporting to the team leads to communicate concerns to you or HR and setting up systems to make that easy can alleviate some of that concern.

        2. Antilles*

          Sure, that’s always a concern. But if the manager was handling half a dozen team leads rather than 50 people, she’d only have 5-10 people to manage directly and pay attention to – so she’d likely to be a lot more able to notice that there’s a Cersei in the group.

        3. The OTHER Other*

          They gave Cersei a signing bonus, didn’t notice that she failed to show up 1/4 the time, or slacked off doing any work in the short days she felt like showing up. Or that there have been multiple group airings of grievances about her. Sounds like she’s on the management track!

          1. Lady Pomona*

            The signing bonus caught my eye as well; SOMEONE in that company valued Cersei highly enough to pay her that bonus just to get her on board. What does she bring to the company that’s valuable enough for them to pay this out? Name recognition in her field? Past achievements at some other company? Is the work she was hired to do so “niche” that it’s extremely difficult to find anyone willing to do it (at least for her salary)? WHY was she considered so important and valuable that they HAD to bring her on board? If you know the answer to this, you might know why her current behavior is being tolerated…although I can’t imagine her behaving that way in any other organization and then being seen as worth every penny of her signing bonus!

            1. Elle by the sea*

              Sign-on bonuses are normal practice for many companies and I can tell you it isn’t necessarily great. They might push you out because they decided from day 1 that they don’t like you and then make you pay it back in one some, along with the relocation support. They tend to give this treatment to international employees who moved just for the job or to people who moved from another state. Oh, and those are often the companies where a manager has 50 (!) direct reports. But of course, it rarely happens to the Cercei types. They do get invariably promoted in such companies.

              1. Canterlot*

                Yes. Everyone gets a signing bonus where I work. It’s an industry norm, but it complicates life.

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              Ours continue to interview in “easier” (read: less rigidity around hours/coverage) departments until someone begrudgingly hires them, usually into a role where they’re hiring for 2-3 people.

          2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            But that’s the thing. It’s nearly impossible to notice things like time card discrepancies with 50 direct reports. Just noticing that Cersei was around occasionally would be a challenge. Fifty people is a *lot* of people to keep track of. Teachers usually only deal with 25-30 and they’re small, and usually sitting right in front of the teacher’s desk.

            The usual maximum for direct reports is 10ish. Even weird hybrid shift models like retail and restaurants keep a couple of mangement type people on larger shifts. You just can’t keeps track of that many people at once. There *have* to be junior managers in the loop to watch out for stuff like this.

      2. The OTHER Other*

        50 reports is a lot, but even so–she wasn’t even aware that Cersei wasn’t bothering to come in about 1/4 the time, and made her own (extremely abbreviated) schedule the rest of the time?

        This is the bare minimum of supervision. What has this “manager” been doing? And LW says this one is better than the previous one? Wow.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            That is my guess as well. The prior manager was a total flake, so now the new manager is trying to manage while also fixing all the problems the “prior manager” left in their wake. Leaves room for things to slip through the cracks.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          I disagree. Fifty reports is impossible unless you’re in like a call center or something where all you reports are directly in front of you at all times. Time discrepancies are going to be the first thing that suffers. Is Cersei in meetings? In the bathroom? Did she take PTO today? I dunno, let me look at the other 49 people I need to pay attention to right now. Especially since she’s new, and manger isn’t primed to see her face.

          No one can manage anything close to fifty people. It’s impossible. Except in very controlled circumstances no one can keep track of that number of people.

          1. allathian*

            Depends on the type of management you have to do. My manager has 20+ direct reports. She’s busy, but my org is big on professional management in the sense that managers do no work that could be done by an SME, their job is simply to lead others.

            Some managers in my organization have up to 50 direct reports, but these are engineers who mostly work pretty independently in the field, and their assistants. The managers allocate resources, intervene if someone’s either slacking, or more likely, not taking all the PTO they’re entitled to, ensure that people do their mandatory trainings, and handle hiring and firing (which is very rare, I work for a government agency in the EU, getting rid of a bad employee is difficult but not impossible).

          2. ferrina*

            I agree- you can’t manage 50 people and catch every issue. There are resources that help- highly competent direct reports who will flag issues that you may miss; efficient time tracking software that will highlight time tracking items (like if someone is going through PTO at an alarming rate), regular 1:1s (probably monthly), productivity metrics that define some roles. But especially if this is a role with soft skills (and harder to quantify productivity), you just can’t manage at an individual level for 50 people.
            Especially if no one has complained about Cersei.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep, that’s bananas. Our division is about 100 people and we have two directors, five managers, and eight team leads. (Six teams total, each has at least one TL and a couple of them have two, and one manager handles the two smallest teams.)

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yep. “Span of control” is a real thing, and you ignore it at your peril.

    3. kiki*

      Yes. I’m so confused by businesses who think this sort of management structure is feasible. Even for the best, most experienced manager, there’s no way to do a great job managing 50 people alone.

    4. to varying degrees*

      I think the actual company is larger that 100 people. The LW says their department has a 100+, so tha manager has about haldfthe department (still too much). I’m wondering if it’s manufacturing or something like it. I could see a manager having more than a handful of workers that way.

      1. Churple Pairs*

        Yes, especially because LW mentions shift work. My sibling is a logistics manager for a warehouse for a big ag company and they need that many people to work the floor.

    5. Littorally*

      Yeah, no kidding. That’s completely unmanageable.

      No one likes being overburdened with management types but sometimes you do need more structure to your org chart. This is one of those times.

    6. Lp*

      I’d be interested in seeing their org chart. I’d be surprised if Cersei is the only issue with how many people 1 manager is responsible for.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreeing here. But it also sounds like Cersei is the loudest and most problematic problem employee in the department.

        Which makes me wonder what is bubbling away out of sight and out of mind because aversion is stealing all the airtime.

        1. The OTHER Other*

          It sounds like the company George Costanza was dreaming about in his job search–a place so disorganized no one would ever catch on that he’s doing no work.

            1. No Longer Looking*

              Semi-simple rule: Imagine scheduling monthly one-on-ones with each of your direct reports. If your mind explodes because doing so sounds too unrealistic, then you have too many direct reports. In many cases it isn’t necessary to have that many meetings, but you should still be able to do so in order to address some challenges.

    7. Fran Fine*

      Right. My manager had 8 direct reports, and that was too much for her, so she promoted me to management to supervise three of her reports, lol. 50 is ridiculous.

    8. Migraine Month*

      My jaw dropped. I couldn’t get any feedback from my manager when I was one of 8 reports. I can’t imagine anyone successfully managing more than 10 direct reports. Are the check-ins limited to 30 seconds, or are they only scheduled once a year?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        My experience when I reported to managers who had 20+ people is that check-ins just weren’t done. It may surprise you that we really didn’t have any significant slacker issues and for the most part people were respectful and productive, so lack of management didn’t become disastrous in that way. It will probably not surprise you to learn that specific division was riddled with issues around career progression and promotion.

        However, my current group has 15 people reporting to one manager and we do have at least biweekly 1:1 check-ins as well as a biweekly staff meeting. It can be done, and done well, but it’s probably not the norm.

        1. allathian*

          My manager has 20+ reports, but we work pretty independently. Because our department provides internal services for the rest of the organization, she sits in a lot of meetings to ensure that the expectations of the rest of the organization match the resources that her department’s been given, and to try to get more resources allocated to us when necessary. We have weekly team/department meetings and monthly 1:1s. It does help that there’s a culture of trust and very little need for direct supervision. New hires get onboarded by the whole team and HR.

          Managers at my org are management professionals in the sense that they are absolutely not expected to do any work that could be done by a non-manager.

          I’m always astonished when I read about managers who only have one or two reports, what’s the point? My organization of about 2,000 employees is very flat, and I’m a senior SME. Some of us have team leads, but I don’t work for one currently. My manager is the department head, her manager is the division director, and her manager is the president of the whole organization. Below me in the org chart are junior SMEs and interns. People who are looking to get into management at my org usually start by managing interns and by becoming a team lead.

          1. No Longer Looking*

            Usually it is a case of someone wearing multiple hats. In my case we are a small company (>50). My department of two accountants and an admin are the sole reports to my “manager” who is also the CFO, and also wears a third hat of Exec Director for one of our clients. We have three C-suite and 12 Director-level titles, plus a handful of manager-level titles. No one has more than 5 direct reports and most have less – the titles are more reflective of their amount of authority than they are about the org structure.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            On the question of very few reports:

            Sometimes it’s that the department is so small. My company has a quality assurance department of 3 people. One of them manages the other two, because (1) someone’s gotta organize the work and (2) making everyone report to the level above, which is the COO, would give the COO too many reports to manage.

            We also have a culture of most managers also being individual contributors. Someone will have, say, 5 reports, but be expected to have at least 80% work output aside from managing. Which, frankly, is too much. We end up with managers barely managing as well, it all heavily relies on self-management. Though a Cersei would get noticed immediately: if tasks don’t get done, or don’t get done by the person assigned, that’s very obvious.

      2. TechWorker*

        I think if your job is literally solely managing people then 20-30ish is doable. If you’re expected to also… do anything else then yea I reckon it tops out about 10

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          That seems to match with my experience.

          Just doing one 1:1 a month for 50 people is 25 to 50 hours a month. Plus any scheduling or feedback. Review time must be hell – write 50 reviews? Yikes!

          The average month is 160 – 168 work hours. If they spend half of that time in meetings with upper management, the other half is only dealing with people. No time for writing reports or any of that.

          1. allathian*

            Yup, that’s absolutely the way my manager works, and she has 20+ employees. She does find time to write reports on the performance of her department, and she’s in a lot of meetings. But there’s a reason why we don’t have time for more than a monthly 1:1, but for me at least more would be overkill. A previous manager at the same org, who had a much smaller department to lead, only had one performance evaluation discussion once a year with her employees.

    9. Jora Malli*

      I had 13 direct reports once and it nearly sent me into a nervous breakdown. I can’t even imagine 50.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, my employer starts to branch things off/insert a new tier of management if a team grows to the point any one person has more than like…8 direct reports. 50 is absurd unless that’s really including indirect reports, like the reports of the manager’s reports.

    11. Advenella*

      Unfortunately, my supervisor has 40, and even with an assistant to split that in half, she’s so bogged down.

      I work in health care. I’m getting wild health care vibes from this post, too.

      1. KimberlyR*

        Yeah. Especially with the sign-on bonus. Lots of healthcare places are offering sign-on bonuses to get just a warm body, unfortunately. But I think a clinical area would notice that many call ins.

      2. GlitterIsEverything*

        Definitely health care vibes. This is what you get when you have someone with a certification / licensure level that’s a bureaucratic requirement, and they’re aren’t very many people with that credential available. They know they can get away with murder, can negotiate for higher pay and better sign on bonuses, and it’s gonna take an act of Congress to fire them because the company can’t legally function without their credential.

        Doing anything about Cersei may be really difficult if this is the case.

      3. WS*

        +1, same. My bet is that Cersei has a particular certification which they actually only need a few times a week, but if they don’t have someone with that certification, certain necessary things cannot legally be done. Therefore Cersei gets a signing bonus and as long as she’s around for those few vital moments, she’s off the leash. The right thing to do is to pay someone else to get the certification, but that’s rare.

        1. Hosta*

          Chemotherapy certification might do it, though that wouldn’t really track with her making up her own schedule. You can’t exactly improvise with chemo.

    12. OP*

      Hi, OP here,

      We went through some organizational changes where we lost 2 supervisors so our manager inherited the 30+ people. This was a recent and temporary change. The 50+ reports would normally not ever happen by choice but it happened after Cersei’s hire which led to her getting away with everything. Our current manager is more laid back than the previous manager who was incredibly micromanage-y. While the previous one would have immediately acted, they contributed to a lot more loss in staff.

  2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    You spoke to your manager and she acted. A very good sign. It isn’t whin or tattling to follow up with concrete examples of the fallout and how changes have or haven’t happened.

  3. ZSD*

    For some reason, it would be the potluck behavior that would break my camel’s back with this woman. All the other stuff would of course cause me to hate this woman, but if she took the potluck food without contributing to it, I would march over, take her plate away from her, and start eating the food.
    I may have odd priorities.

    1. Nanani*

      This! The sheer entitlement to food -your colleagues- brought in! What a total pile of dung!

    2. to varying degrees*

      Oh yeah, that would be the tipping point point for me as well. “it’s the least they could do for me…” WTAH?

    3. Rapunzel Ryder*

      Nope, that was where I drew the line as well. Being mean on the company dime is a management issue. Potluck comes out of my pocket and time, we are going to fight if you purposefully and repeatedly did not contribute. To me, potlucks are not a free lunch (unless it is a celebration and stated outright that someone is exempt from contributing), the price of participating is bringing something.

    4. Just Another Zebra*

      I don’t think it’s odd. I think it’s a more visual symptom of her behavior. Potlucks work based on cooperation, everyone brings something and we all share. Cersei not bringing food but helping herself to what everyone else made is the perfect snapshot of her behavior.

      Maybe she should bring some cheap @ss rolls.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        ya gotta wonder where else in her life this level of entitlement manifests. It can’t be just at work

      1. Jora Malli*

        Leave it off the list for the supervisor, but the next time the department schedules a potluck, include a reminder of the potluck rules/procedures, including what allergens to avoid, where the sign-up sheet is located, and potluck attendance will only be granted to people who brought a dish to share.

    5. anti social socialite*

      It’s really rude. How hard is it to go to the grocery store and buy a fruit platter??

      1. Fran Fine*

        Or even some cups, plates, and napkins. I was always on CPN duty back when I worked in an office and participated in these things.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          Yea, because everyone overlooks that, and then you’re scrambling to raid random cabinets hoping to stumble across some random napkins from Halloween 2004.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Yup. I even worked in an office where they locked up all the extra napkins/paper towels/plates because people were stealing them, so we had no choice but to bring in our own stuff when we had potlucks/group lunches since no one could ever figure out who had the key to open the cabinet! Lol

    6. Meep*

      I don’t simply because I understand that she may not be able to afford or have time for it. It is why I always bring extra dishes for people to claim.

        1. anti social socialite*

          That doesn’t necessarily mean her budget includes group food.

          Regardless, her attitude sucks.

          1. Ali + Nino*

            If you can’t contribute, don’t participate. The answer isn’t “don’t bring anything and eat everybody else’s contributions.”

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Yeah. We always told interns they were allowed to attend without bringing anything, because they were paid only one third of minimum wage. And everyone else always brought in too much food, so we could invite them.
              But someone earning more? I mean, maybe she has to support ten people, but if there were no pot luck she’d still have to eat.

          2. Gnome*

            I can’t participate in pot lucks in terms of eating (long story) but I will show up and hang out with people. Sometimes I even bring stuff. It’s not hard to not be a jerk. This person isn’t just taking without participating, they are being obnoxious about it… And making it like it’s some weird personal favor the rest of the staff owes her. It’s… gross.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            If you only bring cheap ass rolls, you won’t be spending more than any of the other contributors.
            She has to eat something at lunch after all.

      1. Littorally*

        If she can’t afford it, then she should be very damn grateful to her coworkers who are paid less than her and are eating the cost of feeding her. Not talking down to them about how they owe it to her.

        She’s still an asshole.

    7. quill*

      I want to lock her and Cheap Ass Rolls OP into a conference room. And make popcorn for everyone else.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I’m laughing out loud at the mere thought of this. Cheap ass rolls is about my favourite letter anyway. At least Cersei wouldn’t insult her by bringing an item too similar to her’s, I guess.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        A conference room with full cameras and sound capture, with a lock that requires cooperation to open and escape. Then pass out the popcorn and watch the fireworks.

    8. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Oh thank god. I’ve found my people. No. Just no. You don’t want to bring in some cheap ass rolls, but you are going to my food? AND tell me you deserve it?
      hell to the no.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, H*ll, no–if you can’t even pick up a bag of chips on the way to work I will resent every morsel you eat to the bottom of my soul.

    10. Lenora Rose*

      I let people get away with eating without contributing once or twice *if* they make up for it at other potlucks. (Though this is more based on friends, some of whom really are broke, or social clubs, than on workplaces; I can see a workplace having to get stricter with anyone but an intern fast.)

    11. OP*

      Hi, OP here,

      The potluck thing was just really getting on my nerves as that last straw. She did complain when I “harassed” her for monetary contribution, only $5-10. She can 100% afford it given how much she was bragging about how much money she was making.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Do you have the power or capital to block her from the next potluck? I.E. make it VERY clear to her (and the organizers) that if she does not contribute, she will NOT be allowed to participate?

    12. MCMonkeyBean*

      I have to admit I am curious–how many potlucks does this company have that she has developed a reputation for eating without contributing in only 6 months? Is this really something that has happened a lot or was this like one time but she’s so obnoxious all around that it got added to her list of obnoxious things. (To be clear: one time is definitely enough to make the list when it is accompanied by “you owe me this food because of how hard I have been working, but also I barely work and make more money than you,” I’m honestly just curious)

  4. KofSharp*

    I hope this one gets an update. I’d be furious and considering leaving over someone like this.

    1. OP*

      Hi OP here,

      While she does not work on my team, which is why I personally felt a bit out of place to bring it up, I really care about everyone’s wellbeing and equitable division of work, only fair. Both of her partner refused to talk to her, but they both collectively decided that it wasn’t worth quitting knowing she would eventually be gone.

      I will send Alison and update, hopefully it gets posted.

  5. Bob*

    One of the more eye opening things in my career is that it’s basically impossible to fire people at most large businesses – whether because of processes or stomach for it, and that not doing so is 10x more demoralizing than doing it.

    1. Joanna*

      +1

      I literally told someone the other day, “Well, he’s ours now, I’m just hoping I can get something productive out of him”. Unless he gets caught lying on his time card or looking at NSFW content on his computer, no one is going to do anything about the fact that he’s just not cut out for the job.

      It’s been this way for more than 20 years.

    2. Migraine Month*

      I worked 7 years at a large business that had over 10,000 employees. I only ever heard of 3 people who were fired; the rest of the sky-high turnover was resignations, many of which were “strongly encouraged” by management.

      I have no idea why they did this, and it seems to have backfired: they were so notorious for constructive dismissals that *anyone* who resigned (encouraged or not) was able to get unemployment.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I don’t see the unemployment compensation as a bad thing. It was a small price to pay to admit they sucked at hiring. They made a mistake. You are not the person we want here. Take the money you’ve paid and we’ve paid and best of luck on your next endeavor.
        If more companies didn’t turn unemployment into a battle, people could leave jobs they are simply not qualified for or that suck, take some time and find a better position. And companies in turn, can get a new person in who may be better qualified and happier.

    3. soontoberetired*

      I work at a company with over 6000 employees. People get fired, including management. When we were a smaller company, it was less likely – people would just encourage employees to go to different groups and become someone else’s problem. these days, there’s less tolerance for certain things. One of the things not tolerated is not being where you are supposed to be – the disappearing act would get Cersei fired eventually.

    4. The OTHER Other*

      This is really not true across all large companies. I’ve worked at some where people were fired for lots of things, such as attendance, repeated tardiness, poor treatment of customers, and not learning the job quickly enough. You could be MEDIOCRE and last a long time, but outright terrible like this? No.

      I am wondering what the business is, she mentions therapy.

      1. Fran Fine*

        + 1 to your first paragraph

        I’ve worked for a lot of large companies that fired people all the time. Sure, it may have taken longer in some cases than we would have liked, but it eventually happened.

      2. LB*

        Yes at our large company mediocrity or a poor attitude would pretty much never get you fired on their own, but spotty attendance would have you on your final chance within a week or two.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Yeah, I feel like company size, structure, profit/non-profit are all confounders. It is really quality of management from top to bottom, internal policies, and the strength, rationality, and even-handedness of their enforcement. I have seen a good manager in a well managed department fire someone in a large, unionized, sclerotic city government for poor performance. I took almost a year (I know when it started because the person being fired wasn’t very happy about a verbal warning) because of the way the union contract was set up and having a minimum of 3 months for a PIP. I’m going to guess it took a lot of paperwork and meetings, but a boss that is willing to put in the time and effort can get someone removed from any position at any employer.

    5. PotatoEngineer*

      I’m lucky that it’s hard to for people at my current large employer. I had a rocky start; I’m doing great now, but I could easily imagine getting let go based on my first six months.

    6. Sparkles McFadden*

      It’s because many managers don’t know the process or they don’t want to do the work of documenting the problem behavior. Some terrible employees are very good at making everyone feel guilty and firing someone can be guilt inducing all on its own.

      I fired one employee who had been around for ten years (I was a new manager in the department) and during his final hearing where we told him when his last day would be, he burst into tears, saying “I’ve been through this six times and no one ever FIRED me! Why is this happening?” We literally put him on warning writing out what he needed to do by a certain date or he would be fired. The process took three months and, apparently, the previous manager would just give up.

    7. Cat Tree*

      That doesn’t track with my experience. Large corporations are the *only* places I’ve worked that will fire people. It takes a while because they are given chances to improve (as they generally should be), but it happens. At small and medium places, no one was ever fired because the managers were generally mediocre at best and just didn’t care.

      1. JustaTech*

        At my medium company there’s a real split in how willing management is to fire people. In the large departments with a lot of entry-level staff they’re perfectly willing to fire people who can’t do the job or do something wrong. In the departments where most staff are higher-level they used to just wait for the annual layoff to trim the deadwood.
        I can think of one person at a relatively senior level who got straight up fired, and it was because he had a history of making borderline racist statements, the kind of thing where it could be excused if it was a one-off, but after the third it was clearly a pattern and he wasn’t willing to change. They’d put up with his behavior for a while because he filled a necessary role (that had an on-call component), but after he insulted a beloved, respected senior manager from a more important department he got the “clean out your desk”. (And yes, his manager was very mediocre and I don’t know why they kept him for so long either.)

    8. OP*

      Hi OP here,

      Ironically, firing upper management seems to be relatively common for my company. I assume that lower level staff just is not worth it because they do not make critical decisions. Who knows.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Can we not assume she is suggest she’s sleeping with anyone. Some people are just that entitled.

        1. Luna*

          I would be asking the same question, including about blackmail, if the coworker in question were a man.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I was going with a triumph of gumption myself.

        (Recall a past letter where the applicant had talked herself into such a high salary that the company decided that she needed a title bump to justify it. But then she turned out to be better at selling herself than doing any aspect of the work.)

        1. quill*

          Yes, gumption all the way. Possible demographic advantage (did she go to a fancy school? is she related to somebody important?)

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I’m guessing sheer guts. She got it because she asked for it and it was in the salary range and the rules (e.g. job requires 5 yrs experience to get job and top end of band needs 10 yrs experience/X degree/Y skill) for offering/accepting requests for the higher end of the band were not clear cut. Also, I’m unsure of the hiring timelines, but I would bet people hired in the past 2 years in some industries are getting hired in at a higher salary than they were even 3 years ago so might be coming in with higher salaries than existing staff, which is a whole different issue

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Nellie Bertram from The Office was not supposed to be a blueprint, but here we are.

        3. My Useless 2 Cents*

          This is one reason I loathe job searching so much. I’m a great employee but I am a terrible salesperson. But the job search is designed to benefit the salesperson not the good employee. Most companies can’t seem to figure out the difference between the two. No I don’t have “gumption” but I will most likely outproduce the next guy after 6 months!

    2. Heidi*

      I also want to know the backstory of how she ended up with the higher salary. It sounds like she’s relatively new to this job if she’s talking about getting a raise after 90 days. And if no one is really supervising her, what is stopping everyone else from just coming and going when they feel like it?

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Possibly she has a “nice to have but not required” certification that other employees in the department don’t have.

        Source, spouse once briefly worked with a person like that, who also ironically had Cersei’s attitude. That Cersei lasted about 18 months before being fired for failure to perform job duties.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        It could be *because* she’s new. I think it’s not that uncommon for companies to increase the hiring budget in a way that significantly outpaces increases to the budget for raises for existing employees. Especially in the current market where many people are finding it more difficult to hire than in the past.

    3. Antilles*

      There’s a third reason and it’s right there in the letter – the supervisor has 50 (!!!) direct reports and can’t keep on top of things. So Cersei has basically been able to get away with whatever because there’s no oversight to get her back in line – and she knows it too. As long as the overall department makes its’ numbers (and it probably is given that her co-workers seem to be covering for her absences), that’s all they have time to notice.

    4. Ama*

      Eh, if she’s only been there six months and no one has been willing to go to the manager except OP, I’m not surprised they haven’t noticed yet. The manager seems like they have a lot on their plate.

      I’ve seen people like this in action before and they are generally really good at managing up, so the managers don’t fully understand how bad the employee’s behavior is until someone with lots of credibility brings it to their attention. When I worked at a university years ago, there was a budget manager in the division I worked for who was notoriously rude and would flat out ignore requests from department admins to put money in particular account lines (I once talked to a budget manager from another division who was trying to transfer money through her for our department who was flat out appalled by her behavior). Then she was covering for someone who was on maternity leave and told the Dean’s long time executive assistant (who usually worked with the person on leave) that the EA “didn’t have the authority” to ask her to move funds from the Dean’s discretionary account to another program. She did not work for the university much longer.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        LOL, you can not show up 25% of the time, refuse to do your job, and be rude, but cross an Executive Assistant? Dead man walking!

    5. metadata minion*

      It sounds like she hasn’t been there all that long, so I don’t think there’s any reason to invent a juicy backstory when this could easily be a case of someone who’s charming in an interview and then slacks off as soon as she gets the job.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      My guess is that she does have a skillset they need, at least on paper, so somebody shelled out big bucks to hire her, but she’s entitled and has no work ethic and has learned in past jobs that once she dazzles her way in she can do as she pleases, and now she’s found a sweet spot with a manager who is too overwhelmed to supervise her.

    7. OP*

      Hi OP here,

      I saw the comment before it was removed, and I hate the implication because as Alison said, no one would ever say this about men.

      For the record, she is a textbook narcissist and that is how she was able to manipulate her way to get an amazing salary and high title. According to her previous supervisor, whom spilled the beans after she left the company, said her interview was one of the best she has ever seen and the management team was very satisfied with her experience. She was also a previous supervisor at her last company which justified matching, just without supervisor responsibilities. She sold herself well, and even I was convinced when I met her that she was capable. For all I know, she did do an excellent job in previous roles but really dropped the ball when coming here….

      1. Econobiker*

        Cannot even imagine someone like this as a supervisor however evidence on Ask A Manager proves otherwise that so many are narcissistic managers.

        Document everything so it doesn’t come back on you or other people in your department.

  6. Merci Dee*

    – She told our operations coordinator what they do is “easy” and “I can do that in an hour, why does it take you so long?” Mind you, this was said to the objectively single most important non-managerial person in our 100+ person department.

    My impulsive, immediate response to that would have been, “It takes me longer than an hour because I do my work correctly the first time, and don’t try to push half of it off onto others to complete.” All said with a completely pleasant tone of voice and a bland smile.

      1. Dusk*

        That anecdote kind of makes me think there’s details we’re missing, or that LW is taking some comments way more personally and as more insulting than others around her are.

    1. Paige*

      We had, for a time, a grandboss that was like that, but to everyone about all of their jobs (or they were told that their jobs could easily be automated…and those jobs definitely could not). And grandboss did this while thoroughly floundering to even grasp the bare minimum of their actual job.

      Thankfully, we were all able to band together and get our great grandboss to hear us out. It took nearly 5 months for the great grandboss to manage the grandboss out, but in the end, they stepped down from their spot, something that has literally never happened anywhere at that level that I’ve heard of in a similar org.

      It sounds like Cersei isn’t in charge of anyone (yet). Banding together might be a good idea if this continues much longer. It’s definitely harder to ignore 20+ people than one or two, and you definitely don’t want her to end up in a position with any more power.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      To me, that comment and the managers are just therapists (?!?!?!?!?) line just demonstrate that Cersei has no idea what her employer actually does, and what work other people perform.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Some of the comments are so outrageous that it’s almost hard to believe they would actually come out of anyone’s mouth during a normal conversation. I totally believe the OP and the experiences they’ve related. But I have to admit, if I were the OP and were hearing Cersei make comments like this, I would wonder if I was on some kind of new hidden-camera prank show, or if someone was going to extreme lengths to get views for their TikToks or something. It’s just so bizarre and out of left field. Totally not the kind of thing you expect to run into during a normal day at the office.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        I once switched departments and my boss wanted to replace me with the laziest guy in the department because he “wanted to give him a chance to shine.” I started to explain the folly of that reasoning but decided it wasn’t my worry anymore. So, in my last week, I set about starting to train this guy and he said “Why would I need training? You don’t actually do anything. You just know who to call when there are problems so give me that list and that’s all I need. This will be so much easier than doing real work.” He got fired nine months later. I was surprised it took that long.

    3. OP*

      She has said similar comments about other roles as well. What I did not mention in the post was that our OpsCo cried afterwards. Cersei said to her “Do your parents know how worthless your job is? I am going to tell your parents you wasted your tuition money on something anyone can do”. OpsCo responded with something along the lines of “I know what I am worth, it’s ok if you disagree”. A few coworkers were part of the conversation and had to step in.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Cersei said to her “Do your parents know how worthless your job is? I am going to tell your parents you wasted your tuition money on something anyone can do”.

        WTAF?! Who raised her???

        1. Cj*

          Ha! I hadn’t refreshed the page to see your comment and posted right after you did.

          OP- did you tell your boss this story? I would fire somebody so fast it would make their head spin if the said this to anybody, let alone a high level employee.

      2. OrigCassandra*

        I like your OpsCo; that was an appropriately assertive response. I hope the company manages to hang on to her.

        Cersei can take a long jump off a short pier.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, that honestly seems worse than most of the other things in the list. That takes it from just being obnoxious to flat-out bullying. Not in a “workplace harassment” sense, but certainly just on a human level. That should be a fireable offense on its own; added to the rest of the things on the list–this woman has got to go!

  7. WetPigeon*

    I wouldn’t mention the potluck thing, but the rest is fair.
    That’s at most bad manners and definitely a pebble among a mountain of crud.

    1. voyager1*

      I think I would include it, but not make a huge issue of it. Because it isn’t just the taking of the food, it is her attitude about it. Make it the last or second to last bullet point of the numerous issues this woman has.

      Alison has said in the past part of your pay in your job is basically being able to get along with folks. And to me taking food and being a jerk about it, really goes against that.

    2. whingedrinking*

      I would mention it, but only to give context for the “I deserve it for how hard you make me work” line. Something like, “Cersei talks down to everyone constantly.” “Can you give an example?” “Yes, at the potluck she refused to contribute and claimed that we ‘owed’ her the food for making her work.”

    3. OP*

      I didn’t mention it when I brought it up to my manager. I felt that it just wouldn’t be worth it considering it is not a huge thing since others have had the habit of not contributing as well. It ultimately is not a big deal because she would call out so often that she would miss potlucks altogether.

      1. 1LFTW*

        UGH I had a coworker like that. She was an absolute, utter nightmare. She would just say these outrageously critical, vicious, mean things to people she worked with (mostly me, but not just me)… and, why? I had no beef with her. We weren’t in competition in any way. It was just pointlessly antagonistic.

        I did much what Alison suggested, and kept my demeanor as calm as possible when reported all the Things She Said to my boss. It helped enormously that I was able to point out that I’ve worked well with every single person at my worksite, including those whom most of the staff consider to be “difficult”, so it was harder to chalk it up to “personality conflict”.

        Best of luck!

  8. Leslie Hell Knope*

    Ugh, what an awful person. OP, you mentioned the sign on bonus and the impact it may have on management’s decision, but those usually have *some* strings attached, however minimal. Behavior like this will probably open the door for the company to recoup this money, if well documented. Good luck and please update if you can!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      When I got a sign-on bonus, the company had a clawback period of one year. So if I left the company within the first year (I think it covered both quitting and being fired), I would have had to pay back the bonus. I worked there for over a year, so I never had to pay them back, just here to confirm that it’s possible there are strings attached to Cersei’s sign-on bonus.

      Also, and I know this is outside of OP’s control, even if there aren’t any strings attached to the sign-on bonus that money is already spent. It’s a sunk cost and there’s no way for the company to recoup it, so management should just look at what their best option is going forward: continue to employ Cersei or end Cersei’s employment.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Yeah, I have to assume there’s some attendance clause at least, or people would be ghosting all the time.

    3. OP*

      I actually casually talked to one of our HR reps, since I have to work close with her on other things. She said that if they quit, they have to pay back the money whereas if they are fired they do not. Cersei made a huge with the sign-on bonus so she made comments about not having the money. Cersei also made comments about how she hopes she gets fired so she can collect unemployment and keep the bonus. SMH

  9. New Jack Karyn*

    I don’t have a lot more to add than what Alison and other commenters have advised. But I’m curious about why your manager oversees so many people. Was the business fairly small until a recent boom? Maybe she went from managing a dozen people, but in like a year, her department exploded and now there are fifty but they haven’t adjusted the org chart? Because–as much as it pains me to say this–it sounds like she needs a layer of middle management.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      My manager currently has 30 reports – but that is because he is emergency filling in for another manager who had to take FMLA for a medical emergency. Plan is for the other person to be back or be replaced within the next four weeks.

  10. A Pound of Obscure*

    I would question how competent your management is. Not necessarily your manager individually, but management that so obviously was played for fools when hiring and overpaying this troll, and for making your otherwise competent manager directly manage 50 people, leaving coworkers to notice and self-report such egregious behavior and performance issues on her behalf. If you looked up “narcissistic personality disorder” you might find your coworker’s picture next to the definition.

    1. OP*

      I replied to an earlier comment about how we lost 2 supervisors after Cersei was hired, which was why my manager inherited 30+ people. We also have a culture in which really only the direct sup is able to address performance issues (another issue entirely) and since my manager inherited Cersei from one of the sups who left, it really got pushed to the bottom of the priority list. We’re in the middle of many big implementation projects in addition to a temporary hiring freeze, so losing Cersei (albiet best outcome) would not open a spot for a candidate.

  11. Sara M*

    I think you can put extra emphasis on “slave” as absolutely inappropriate for the workplace. It’s just not ok to compare your work to real slavery, even as an off handed comment.

    1. Vivian*

      +1. Human trafficking is still a very real problem and is not an accusation to make lightly, much less make a glib comment when it’s obviously not the case.

    2. OP*

      For clarity, I am POC and she is white. We also have a very diverse workplace. While I am desensitized to most racial comments and you just get put into my black book, this comment really made me red with anger. Initially I was so stunned that I could not even get a response out. I somewhat regret not going to HR, but I think I held off because part of me wanted to stay the bigger person and allow for some retribution. Mistake!

      1. OrigCassandra*

        Oh, OP. How incredibly awful. I’m sorry.

        There’s a thought experiment in economics/law called the “benevolent master” theory which is every bit as callously racist as you would think from the name. (Look it up on SSRN.com, those who are curious; you’ll find a few pieces that mention it and cite its origin.)

        White cis male candidate for a tenure-track position in our department sailed in and used it all over his job talk without a WORD of explanation, much less contrition. Some people just do not get raised right, personally or professionally, is all I got.

        Guess who didn’t get hired. (This wasn’t the only reason, but it was certainly a big one.)

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Well that just ratchets the obnoxiousness up several levels. She is becoming a Mean Girl caricature at this point.

  12. Lab Boss*

    You mention Cersei asking about a raise within her first 90 days- is she a recent hire, or was that some time ago? Also is she fairly new to the work world? A lot of what you’re saying (being cavalier about hours, saying the job doesn’t matter and that she doesn’t care about it, acting like only slaves would try to work hard, expecting a raise within 90 days) read to me like a very naive/new employee who has a very distorted or surface-level view of the recent swing towards employees having more leverage in the job market. I get the impression she thinks “more leverage” translates to “do whatever you want, ask for raises whenever, only a sucker actually cares about working.”

    1. Pounce de Lion*

      It’s true, I’ve picked up on some similar language on Twitter. “Ugh, I have to work until 5:00 because of stupid capitalism!” I get the feeling she is young and has read a lot of memes about the adult working world…and took them literally.
      And/or has poor social skills. The potluck incident is telling. Plenty of people are sneaky about potlucks, but most have the sense not to call attention to it.

      Regardless, she definitely needs an intervention!

      1. Dawn*

        Speaking as someone who is firmly anti-Capitalist and has expressed such sentiments myself, it is in no way related to this person’s horribly toxic behaviour. People who hate Capitalism nevertheless understand that it is the system we are all presently living under, that we require money for food and shelter, that the working world has norms, and that the world in general has rules about walking around acting like a gigantic asshole.

        Now, I’m approaching 40 myself, but I really think that the “OH LOOK A YOUNG PERSON WHO LIKES MEMES THAT EXPLAINS THIS” energy is mostly just going to make you look out of touch here.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          And anti-Capitalism generally includes a message of “workers, unite,” which mean…you don’t expect your lower-paid colleagues to cover your share of the potluck, insisting they “owe it to you” or constantly insult them. Not that somebody can’t be both anti-Capitalist AND obnoxious, but…the anti-Capitalist part wouldn’t explain the obnoxious part.

          The people I know who fall into the far-left category (and far-left in Ireland is a good deal further left than what might be considered so in the US) might well joke with people to “leave while you still can” or advise people in a kind way that being always at work is allowing the company to take advantage of them, they certainly wouldn’t be insisting they DESERVE higher wages than others or taking advantage of a potluck without contributing. Those are not part of an “everybody should be equal” mentality.

          1. LittleRoundButch*

            100%, Irish Teacher! I am all about not donating labour to your employer, but belittling your comrades is not okay and does not come from an anticapitalist, pro-worker place.

    2. Dusk*

      The letter mentions she’s been around less than 6 months, so I’d call that relatively new.

    3. OP*

      She was a recent hire. Her first conversation with me was randomly asking if women make less than men here and if she should ask for more money. Since her supervisor resigned a few weeks after her onboard, she asked about applying for the job and how much she could squeeze out of the company.

      She is in her late 20s, so not new just out of touch. I think she has this entitled idea in her head that because she had previous sup experience, that she could coast. I doubt she believes that it is a worker’s market as opposed her her own inflated ego. If she was nearing retirement, sure. If she was a tenured with a great work history, also sure. But she wasn’t.

  13. Falling Diphthong*

    On Better Call Saul (Season 2) the way the signing bonus at a law firm worked was that:
    a) If you quit in a set time period, you returned the bonus.
    b) If you were fired for cause in that period, you returned the bonus.
    c) If you were shown the door for just being an annoying drain on morale with irritating personal habits, you kept the bonus.

    If she’s trying for (c), you should expect bagpipes sooner rather than later.

    My best practical advice in the moment of her campaign of irritation is “pass the pain up the chain” from earlier this week–try to make it management’s problem as much as possible.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Specifically:
      She pushes all her unfinished work on her coworkers who clocked in before her.
      Dump that right back on her desk.

  14. Governmint Condition*

    Do you work in government? I’ve seen people like Cersei multiple times in government. But I have never seen more than about a dozen direct reports assigned to one person – and that was a rare temporary situation.

    As to somebody having 50 direct reports, if they keep adding on people to report to you, that’s one thing. If they told you during the interview that you’d have 50 people reporting directly to you and accepted the position anyway, then you set yourself up for failure. Some jobs are just not worth taking.

    1. OP*

      We actually work in healthcare, non-union.

      It got crazy because there were a lot of middle management changes that led to the 50+. Temporary, but definitely contributed to the lack of prioritization of addressing this. I firmly believe that if it were to happen under normal circumstances she would have been put on a PIP and eventually let go.

  15. CommanderBanana*

    This is so out there that part of me is like, did she take this job to get the hiring bonus and is now trying to get fired??4

  16. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    A coordinated refusal to accept any of her “hand me down” work needs to happen now. If the work she has been assigned is getting done in part or in total by someone else, the metrics may not reflect it.

    And the refusals can be all of the petty, as far as I’m concerned, and can echo all of her negativity right back at her.

      1. JSPA*

        That they have not done so suggests it’s something that can’t be left (medical, safety, assembly line, etc).

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Or say “let me clear that with manager first” every time Cersei tries to dump her work on you.

      But yes – management needs to know Cersei keeps her numbers up by getting others to do her work.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Or say “let me clear that with manager first” every time Cersei tries to dump her work on you.

        Ha, this is how I deflected unauthorized requests to do “favors” for people at OldExjob that then ended up being part of my work.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’m sorry Elizabeth. I’m just fortunate to have finally found a sane workplace with a manager and Leads that actually expect each coworker to pull their own share of the weight. The only times he’s approved you picking up a co-workers tasks is if the other person is out of the office (sick, vacation, jury duty, etc). If you are scheduled to work, you do your own work or explain why you can’t (technology failure, don’t have a program key, haven’t been trained yet).

    2. Rain's Small Hands*

      ABSOLUTELY. She sinks or swims on her own. She won’t be a management problem if people cover for her.

    3. OP*

      It somewhat happened. The partners just agreed to do a little OT, one of which liked the money because he was saving for a trip. It was brought up in one of our meetings and I explicitly said it was because she comes in whenever and leaves early. After some back and forth, management agreed to be strict on her time.

  17. Pam Adams*

    – She takes breaks and disappears constantly and shows no desire to be here. She pushes all her unfinished work on her coworkers who clocked in before her.

    The team needs to start letting this work drop- part of the issue with the manage is they aren’t feeling the pain. Don’t take on her unfinished work, and document that ‘Cersei had this assignment, but left early.’

  18. DEEngineer*

    If I were the OP, I’d print out this post with Alison’s response and give it to my manager. It’s framed nicely and assumes the best of the manager.

  19. AnonyNurse*

    This line:

    “it isn’t real work and [she] only has to work as a therapist but can always close my door to avoid people.”

    makes me think that this is a clinic of some sort, which is why the manager has so many direct reports (not a good reason, just A reason). And that Cersei has a license type that fills a need at the organization and explains the pay discrepancy. She may feel impervious to consequence because “I’m the only licensed (xx)” or “I’m one of the only people here with prescriptive authority.”

    Unless someone with her license type is necessary to keep the doors open, they should really be getting rid of her because that kind of toxicity and “better than” stuff is awful. It’s easy to fall into that trap, and even easier for an employee to think their stuff doesn’t stink cause of their importance. If all you are is your license, you aren’t much.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Hm, interesting. I interpreted as Cersei thinks that managers don’t do anything except manage the emotions of their subordinates (“they’re just therapists”). But I could be wrong.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Oh interesting! I read that line as a snarky comment on management being only about listening to people vent and then shutting the door if she didn’t feel like doing even that.

      It didn’t occur to me that she might be saying she could be a manager in name and just do her regular job (e.g. therapist) because it’s that easy.

      Either way, a garbage coworker to have to deal with. She sounds very destructive and that’s the sort of thing a manager would want more details about even if they’re dealing with a huge amount of work. This should rise to the top of any triaging effort going on.

    3. Dawn*

      My read on that was that she believes that a manager’s entire job is to act as a therapist for their employees.

    4. Laney Boggs*

      That line confused me too, but I think she meant more like “a manager just listens to workers complain and then sends them away without doing anything,” not that they’re actual therapists/medical clinicians.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      This would not surprise me.

      I once worked in a place with the opposite problem: They were a veterinary hospital with AAHA certification and had to have an RVT on staff. Only they didn’t want to pay an RVT so they hired one and then gave her like one shift a week (she was an excellent employee; it wasn’t a “her” problem). So in this instance it was the employer jerking the employee around instead of vice versa.

      She worked most of her time at an emergency clinic that would actually pay her and eventually quit without notice. They apparently had a reputation for doing this because at the time I left two months later they still hadn’t hired a new RVT.

    6. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I took it literally, too! I wasn’t sure I followed that sentence anyway, the “my” door threw me. Should that have read “her” door?

    7. Pennyworth*

      Can a therapist pass work on to coworkers and just disappear during the day? Surely they would have a client schedule to meet.

  20. SKiitemso*

    I once had a manager who also managed a huge team (customer service reps). Now in some aspects this was fine, but I did often wonder how she seemed so clueless about various things. We did 1:1’s about every 6 months or so and went through various things, including KPI’s for each representative but overall I did feel she was out of touch with how the job really was. We had “team leads” with no real managerial power who were in charge of training new staff and also training old staff in new tasks or programs, who were more up to date on what the reality of the job was. I think there should have been at least 3 more of the team leads and they should have managed some of the minute stuff of the manager (like calling in sick, scheduling stuff).

    Anyway glad I got out when I did.

    We had a few Cerceis (including a guy who smelled like tobacco and unwashed everything) and one or two of them you couldn’t get rid of because they were too lazy to job search to get out.

  21. Cataclysm*

    Cersei being both a recent hire and paid more makes me wonder if the LW’s industry is one of the ones where it’s a job seeker’s market and they’re struggling to recruit talent, hence the high sign on bonus, particularly if she (ostensibly) has a rare skill within that job market. It could also be that she has a lot of years of work experience even if she’s not that good and that’s just how it scales.

    I say this because I see a lot of speculation of how she’s gotten such a high salary and wanted to point out it doesn’t mean that she was super highly valued or that she blackmailed someone or that she *slept with someone* (can that suggestion just be banned?). How she got her pay isn’t amazingly relevant, her awful personality and lack of merit are.

    1. OP*

      We are in healthcare, so yes?

      She is in her late 20s, so not very experienced but the field prefers recent grads and younger workers, for obvious reasons. At round 5 years experience, you can potentially cap out. She was a previous supervisor at her last job for less than a year, which supported giving her a higher title and more pay. In hindsight, very not deserved. We also have few on staff with previous management experience so it was not off-base to offer her what she got. They were expecting someone excellent, but got trash. Happens. Her former manager spilled the beans and told me that her interview was amazing and she turned on a lot of charm, and oversold herself to which they felt justified in compensating her the way she was.

  22. Dawn*

    So, first of all, document, document, document, in case this gets back to Cersei because she WILL try to retaliate and might very well blatantly lie to do so.

    Second, I think I personally would approach it as a full-on, “Do you have time for a sit-down meeting?” situation with your manager, give her an overview, and go in with a list of specifics (like the one you’ve already written here!,) in case she asks.

    This shouldn’t be a part of your job, and it’s very uncomfortable that you have to be the one to do it, but if your manager isn’t able to see these behaviours happening, SOMEONE has to alert her to exactly how serious this is because Cersei should be fired like yesterday. Someone should invent a time machine in order to fire her. This is one of the worst cases I’ve ever heard.

    You are not overreacting. Cersei is HORRIBLE and needs to go before she starts causing more serious issues for the rest of you – which will happen sooner or later.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, to all of this. I would just add that it is more effective if it’s a group of people going to the boss with this.

      I worked in a place where they hired someone who was exactly like this, right down to the things being said. We worked an overnight shift with only one onsite manager for 75 people. Before the horrible person’s probationary period ended, eight of us stayed at the office after our shift and greeted the department head with “This person needs to go and here’s why” and handed over our documentation. Our spokesperson said that if Bad Employee were to be kept on, we would all request a move to the dayshift. Bad Employee was let go at her next shift and escorted from the building. The most delightful part of that was that Bad Employee arrived two hours late. The department head got to experience one issue first hand and was fuming by the time Bad Employee arrived, so, if the boss had had any doubts, that would have erased them all.

      1. Dawn*

        Even though I can ABSOLUTELY see it happening and would almost expect it to, that’s still hilarious.

        Some people are just born unable to develop the ability to read a room.

    2. RAM*

      I had a toxic boss once, and what my coworkers and I did was write up an email to grandboss and made it clear it was coming from all of us (only 1 person wrote the email, and the rest of us edited it a bit and signed off that we were okay with it being sent “in our name”). Grandboss scheduled meeting with us later to discuss, and boss was gone a few months later.

      May be better than bombarding your boss in the office — sending an email “from all of you” detailing the issues (like you have above), and letting your boss schedule the meeting. Doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) all 50, but an email coming from the more senior people would certainly be impactful.

      Please address it asap though!

  23. Smithy*

    Before talking to the boss, one recommendation I have is if your employee handbook/policies have any kind of “anti-bullying” clauses that may help how you frame going back to your boss.

    I recently had been having some ongoing issues with someone at work that ultimately I feel are the result of sexist behavior towards a department largely staffed by women. However, articulating that when pointing out the ongoing unprofessionalism and problematic behavior to my boss was becoming increasingly difficult. And while all manner of sexual harassment is covered, sexism is not. When I finally got around to reading a few more paragraphs down and got to how bullying was defined in my workplace, it became easier to select which issues to flag and document.

    This isn’t to say whether or not a formal HR complaint in your workplace would help or be appropriate – just that it may help the OP collect organize the problematic behavior and the specific workplace impacts. Even if just on themselves.

  24. Rain's Small Hands*

    I’d add one thing to Alison’s script “Its demoralizing for us, and I’m afraid that we will lose some of our best people because of it.”

    A manager with 50 direct reports has too much to do. They are in a constant hiring mode and constantly interviewing. If there is a lot of churn already, they don’t want more.

  25. Just Me*

    Yeah, I think we all forget that our jobs include being respectful and contributing to a positive work environment. Continuously making comments like this IS a work issue and objectively needs to be addressed because of the impact it has on work, just as much as if not more than absenteeism. Definitely bring it to your manager.

    In the meantime…this behavior is so bizarrely hostile that I think you can a) ignore her rude comments and continue with your work as if nothing is happening, b) give breezy answers to her more pointed comments (Q: “Why are you always here? You act as if your job matters.” A: “I dunno, it puts food on the table,” while turning back to your work. or Q: “Why does that take you so long? I could do it in an hour.” A: “Sure, you’re welcome to take a crack at it while I’m on lunch.” ) c) observe from afar pretending to be an anthropologist or psychologist because this behavior is very bizarre and it’s unlikely you will see it again in your work career.

    1. AlpacasNotLlamas*

      I would personally have a very difficult time not responding to “Why does that take you so long? I could do it in an hour.” to “Oh, terrific! When can you show me?”

  26. I'm just here for the cats!*

    Sounds like you work with a former coworker of mine. She was so entitled, told customers off, and even injured another older coworker by grabbing the back of their chair when she tripped over her stripper heels. Our office was in the same strip mall as bunch of resteranunts and stores so there was designated space for us to park but we were not allowed to park in the parking lot spaces in front of the other businesses. So she decided that she could park in the striped area of the handicap parking spot. When I told her that was not a parking spot she got all huffy and said “Well I made it one!” She routinely did this and more and management didnt care. There were rumors that she either had something with the operations manager or on the OM. Becuase if anyone else acted anywhere remolty bad as she did they would be out in a heart beat,

    1. OP*

      One of the first incidents was Cersei rolled over another coworkers foot with her chair. She asked for an apology and Cersei told her she was overreacting and to get over herself. Mind you, this coworker was our work auntie, a saint, always bringing food, and the most generous and empathetic individual alive. If auntie and OpsCo dislike you, you are unquestionably a deplorable human being.

  27. rina*

    Cersei’s comments / attitudes (particularly the one about slavery) remind me of a lot of attitudes on r/antiwork back when I used to read it often. That might be where she’s picking up some of this?

    Could you make sure you and your team take efforts to not pick up Cersei underperforming? That way it becomes something people have to deal with and not something that can be worked around. And when she makes rude comments just staring at her and acknowledging what she said was rude/weird without being rude yourself?

    Hopefully she is gone soon!

    1. mreasy*

      Disagree that this is the attitude of r/antiwork. She is not pushing back against working conditions for everyone, she just doesn’t want to do her own work. The people there who say things about, eg quitting without notice, go on to explain they’re being paid minimum wage & were denied vacation, or something along those lines.

      1. Courtney*

        I think that’s the attitude of some of anti work. But I literally saw “working is like modern day slavery” countless times on there, plus the sub is founded under the idea that working at all is a bad idea.

        Maybe it’s changed since I last looked on there (I stopped reading and posting after the awful Fox interview) but this kind attitude definitely existed alongside actual useful ideas of un ionizing and better working conditions.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          You note that r/antiwork was founded as an antiwork subreddit, so can I ask why you were bothered by anti-work sentiment existing there? Anti-work is a particular position. It means slightly different things to different people, but most of it is indeed about ending the wage system (“wage slavery”) and the coercive way society is set up that that forces people to spend most or all of their limited lives engaged in labor that primarily benefits those above them in the social hierarchy. It doesn’t mean not wanting to do anything or avoiding difficult labor. It also doesn’t have any implications that you should make your coworkers’ lives worse.

          It wasn’t about unionizing and better working conditions. You might like r/workreform better if you want ant a a subreddit that talks about those sorts of things. It got started after the interview because a lot people finally realized that the subreddit and most of the people who were on there before it got huge are actually anti-work and not just looking to reform a system they see as fundamentally unjust.

  28. Abonder TJ*

    If your boss is as great as it sounds like she is… I can picture her face as you tell her the above and it’s going to be glorious.

    I had to tell the manager of a camp a few weeks ago that my (6yo) kiddo was withdrawing immediately because one of the counsellors (!!) bullied him (physically and emotionally – it was one incident but there was no way he was going back) – as I told her what the kid (camp counsellor) did, I could see her eyes bulging out of her head as the initial story, and then finding out he told my kid he deserved it, let him cry for most of the afternoon without bothering to tell anyone else WHY he was crying, and ruined a program that my kid had previously attended and loved (and was super enjoying up until that day) – I swear I saw her blood actually boil. I was appalled when I realized the story was not about an older kid at the camp but someone who was actually responsible for his well-being and sense of security (who do you tell on when the person you would tell is the one picking on you?).

    I can’t decide whether your boss’ eyes will pop more when she hears this employee actually criticizes people for acting like their job matters, or when she finds out she’s used the world slave in any context, but she definitely needs (and would want!) to know, and it’s definitely going to be epic (internally, for you, lol).

  29. librarianmom*

    The one piece of advice that I might give is to concentrate on actions not the person. For example, instead of saying “Cersei is rude”, say “Cersei’s comments and observations are rude and unprofessional.” It objectifies the complaint.

  30. E*

    Idk. I was allowed to come and go whenever I wanted at my big Corp job and other people hated it, but I legitimately finished all my work all the time and knocked it out of the park. I also warned a new hire that this company would try to bleed them dry – and Cersei might be resentful herself of something I was, which was making what I knew I deserved as a salary which was hard to do in a period when women were chronically underpaid. Why not ask for a raise instead of trying to make someone else as miserable as you are? She realizes that the world is ending literally and capitalism is to blame and she’s probably still broke. Give that woman an award.

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      Cersei’s behavior is gross and abusive, and your comment is gross and enabling of abusers. You need to re-examine yourself and your harmful views. The only “award” this kind of behavior deserves is swift, situation-appropriate negative consequences for the people engaging in it. Keep that in mind before you engage in your next Cersei-support session, Cersei. The people you work with or socialize with are definitely watching you.

    2. miss chevious*

      But Cersei IS making everyone miserable. Cersei could respond to her situation by helping other employees advocate for themselves and lifting them up and collaborating with them instead of belittling them and taking advantage of them. She’s a class warrior for a class of one–herself–and deserves contempt, not praise.

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