my employee always gets other people’s help on his work

A reader writes:

I’m a little stuck on how to handle one of my analysts. He’s reported to me for about six months and I have some performance concerns that I’m working to address. He procrastinates a lot, and he doesn’t ask me for help, even though I have encouraged him to do so on multiple occasions. Instead, whenever I assign him something, I find out later he’s asked other analysts for help. For example, I give an assignment and then when we meet to discuss it, he’ll say, “John and I thought I should do it this way.” When I question why John was involved, it’s because he “just wanted another opinion.”

I generally encourage collaboration and we’re a supportive office but I feel like I can’t assess his skills/understanding if he’s always getting help. I also don’t want him taking up others’ time. But I can’t forbid him from talking to others? What should I do? Or is this not really a problem?

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

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My employee never knocks
  • Can I avoid cooing over coworkers’ kids without looking like a jerk?
  • How should we announce we’re offering health insurance, but not to part-timers?

{ 181 comments… read them below }

  1. Warrior Princess Xena*

    Re: the health insurance question – do you not have people’s emails? Because this seems like a situation designed for an email blast.

    1. Laney Boggs*

      If it’s a family owned restaurant… probably not? Maybe they ask for personal email on the applications, but there was not a single time in restaurant work that my bosses needed or bothered to email me.

      1. Me ... Just Me*

        I imagine that restaurant employees may not all be tied to their emails the way some other industries are. There’s no guarantee that the message would be received timely.

        1. Laney Boggs*

          nope! you show up, you do your work, if somebody needs you to cover on a day off they call or text.

      2. doreen*

        Even if they had people’s personal emails , a lot of people don’t read personal emails all that often.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I assume you’re talking about needing an email to sign up for an electronic payroll system, but it’s possible they just hand employees paper checks instead (that’s what I got when I was waiting tables/bartending).

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

          You don’t need an email for payroll? I’ve worked at huge companies where 90% of employees did not have a company email. To get your W2’s and paystubs you logged in with your employee ID or your personal info (ssn and birthdate, etc).

  2. hamsterpants*

    In my eyes, the issue with LW#1 isn’t that he is getting help, but that he is just deferring to others’ opinions when asked why he made a certain decision. Gathering input is normal, but given that the tasks are assigned to the junior analyst, that means he needs to own the outcome. Deciding how to do something is as much part of many jobs as doing the thing.

    1. Mekong River*

      The way I recommend addressing that problem is twofold: First, make sure he understands the reason behind the decision, and second, by coaching him on ownership. Asking him to explain the reasoning is a way of assessing how his skills are growing, which addresses the concern OP has that she can’t assess his skills if he gets help from other people.

    2. HD*

      What I’m reading between the lines here is that LW 1 thinks after six months the guy might not really understand how to do his job and isn’t picking it up the way he should be. The fact that he’s procrastinating and doesn’t seem able to work independently are coming off as red flags. It’s not specifically that asking for help or collaborating aren’t good ideas but that this guy doesn’t seem to be where he should be.

      That’s how I would approach it, maybe even leaving out the collaboration aspect. Tell him you’re concerned he’s not performing at the level he needs to be and just make it about that. Emphasize the procrastination much more.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Thanks for this! It was interesting to learn how that turned out. (I wish I could say I was surprised, but, well.)

  3. Rick Tq*

    OP#2, you might want to get a car baby mirror for your monitor so you can see when someone is behind you. I hope you close your door if you have to work on private information or have a privacy screen for your monitor.

    1. Heidi*

      I was thinking maybe put a bell on the door like they do in stores. But truly, the problem is the employee not respecting the OP’s request about knocking. I find it very strange – knocking is such a natural thing to do when the door is closed. Just walking into someone’s office when no one else does it is odd.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        I don’t think the door is closed – I think it’s open, but other people tap on it, or say hello from the doorway.

      2. Ness*

        I used to have a coworker who would walk into my cubicle and immediately start talking before I even had a chance to turn around. It was super jarring, and I usually missed the first sentence or two he was saying and had to ask him to repeat himself.

        PSA: Even if the person you’re approaching works in a cubicle, do something to get their attention when you enter – knock on the cubicle wall, say hi and wait for them to respond, etc.

    2. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      This was exactly my thought re: private information. That alone is reason enough to make “knock and wait for consent before entering, or there will be consequences” a direct order. I’m not even a manager, just work the front desk, but since I fall under HR, I handle a lot of their overflow work. Which includes lots of private personnel information. I live in dread of the day someone walks behind me, sees something they shouldn’t, and I take the blame. Even though absolutely no one consulted me before moving reception out of an actual office with a locking door, and into an open lobby with a concierge-type desk that everyone thinks they’re entitled to walk behind with no warning and no way for me to stop them.

      1. No Longer Looking*

        Time to put in a couple really large plants on either side “for atmosphere” maybe?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Look up “privacy screen filter” and “privacy shade” — the first goes across the face of your monitor to blur it when seen from an angle. The 2nd goes to the sides and above it to completely block the view. And I’ll hope there’s at least a wall behind you.

    3. Lucy P*

      This reminds me of a tech we used to have. His desk faced away from the door, so he couldn’t see when people walked in the room. To solve that, he opened up a few old hard drives and mounted them on the wall in front of his desk. The reflective silver platters on the disk would alert him to when someone came into the room.

  4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    “Please do not come into my office without knocking. This is something I take very seriously. Thanks for understanding.” Followed by slightly sustained eye contact. That should do it. And if it doesn’t, you may need to make it a disciplinary issue. I get major creep/boundary-violating vibes from this behavior.

    1. Unaccountably*

      I’m glad someone else does. When something you do makes someone jump half out of their skin, you don’t continue doing it unless “watch this person jump half out of her skin” is the goal.

      1. Lacey*

        Yeah. I kinda feel like this is a person who enjoys standing there unnoticed and then getting a big reaction. Otherwise I can’t think of a single reason you’d continue to do such a thing – even without being asked to stop, but especially once that had happened.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          I’m an accidental sneaker upper at times, and it’s generally because I think I’ve been noisier than I have. If someone comes up to my desk I usually hear them coming, if I go up to someone else’s desk I expect they’ve heard me, and if they haven’t it’s hard to know what to do next – if I’m at the open door of a single office tapping on the door is ok, but if it’s just a desk in a big office then saying hello at that stage makes them jump anyway, and sneaking off backwards and walking up again louder is really weird…

    2. KatEnigma*

      Me too. If there has been pushback over this very reasonable request, and s/he has had it happen more than once, then it’s absolutely worth being brought into a review under not respecting manager’s request. And if he won’t listen to his manager, how is he disrespectful of his peers?

    3. Jessica*

      Right, he’s the one making it weird. Most people can follow social norms and cues, and all people can comply with direct requests. If that has failed, OP isn’t the one who made it A Thing.

    4. Baron*

      I used to be like this person – when I was younger, I was just afraid to assert myself/bother anybody by making my presence known. So I’d just kind of lurk around until someone noticed I was there. I’ve grown much more confident since then.

      1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

        There’s lack of confidence, and then there’s disregarding clear, repeated instructions to stop a behavior that’s clearly making someone else uncomfortable. There’s no excuse.

    5. Danish*

      Sometimes we are not at our best, and MelMe explained why she wasn’t.

      But I can guarantee the intern definitely learned. When you’re oblivious, sometimes getting your hand bitten (or getting obscenities yelled at you by someone who has asked you for privacy you keep forgetting to respect) is the only way one learns.

    6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      A thieving intern who continued to violate others’ boundaries after being asked to stop multiple times, fixed that for you. Being an intern means learning on the job, and if you’re an antisocial jerk you usually have to learn the extra hard way. I bet she got a clue after that and never went shopping in anyone’s desk drawers again. SUCCESS!

      1. Seashell*

        Violating boundaries – yes, but if she’s looking for a hole punch to use at work, she’s not thieving.

        1. Caliente Papillion*

          I mean but how about a supply closet or ASKING, not riffling people offices and desks

        2. tangerineRose*

          It’s generally not OK to take other people’s work supplies without asking, even if you’re going to use the supplies for work. An exception is probably when there’s no other way to get the work supplies, and they’re needed, at which point someone should ask a supervisor first.

          Why didn’t this intern get any real consequences earlier?

    7. Caliente Papillion*

      Well unfortunately there are those who just do not learn when you ask them nicely. She’s sobbing in HER office with the DOOR CLOSED and clueless just think she can do whatever despite being asked repeatedly to cut the shit? Intern is lucky this happened so she could learn a lesson.

  5. Mekong River*

    “You can even be transparent and tell him that because you have concerns and want to coach him on his work, for the time being you don’t want him collaborating with others on these projects.”

    Discouraging talking to others is not very good advice. Talking with more experienced colleagues is a way to improve, and you don’t want to discourage that. Instead, I would advise anyone in this situation to be more proactive as a manager and schedule times to review your employee’s work, including what they learned from the colleagues. When you have concerns about someone’s performance, you should be meeting with them regularly anyway and naming the concerns while talking about what level of performance you need to see to alleviate those concerns.

    1. Ragged and Rusty*

      No but you can encourage the people he’s talking to to set firm boundaries, especially if his questions are taking longer than… maybe 5 minutes?

      1. Mekong River*

        Agree that talking to John should also be part of LW’s strategy, to get his take on whether Junior understands what he is doing, is learning as he goes along or just parroting what other people say with no real understanding.

    2. Unaccountably*

      There’s a big difference between talking to colleagues and asking them to essentially split or oversee your workload, or make your decisions for you. The problem is that employees new to the workplace don’t always understand that difference. LW’s employee sounds like he doesn’t, and furthermore, it sounds like he’s using “collaboration” as an excuse to divert responsibility when a task wasn’t performed the way he was asked to perform it. (Witness him throwing John under the bus rather than explain why he, the task owner, chose to do it John’s way.)

      Obviously you can’t tell people not to talk to others unless they’re doing it in a way that’s disruptive, but it’s certainly not out of bounds to tell someone that you need to be able to evaluate their own individual work and decision-making. If LW’s employee is inviting other colleagues to share their work tasks with them when it’s inappropriate, that’s a problem.

      1. Mekong River*

        “throwing John under the bus”

        That’s an odd take.

        “when a task wasn’t performed the way he was asked to perform it. ”

        There’s nothing in the letter to support that. The letter says he asks for help. It says nothing about the outcome of his tasks.

        “If LW’s employee is inviting other colleagues to share their work tasks with them when it’s inappropriate, that’s a problem.”

        LW can use my suggestions to determine that without forbidding Junior from asking other people for help.

    3. Clobberin' Time*

      The employee isn’t asking others for help, he’s procrastinating and then bugging his co-workers to help bail him out. This is the guy you had in your group project in college who handed you a bunch of crumpled-up notes for his “share” of the work two days before deadline.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        It’s not clear from the letter how much help he’s getting from people. That’s something to dig into but I feel like you can figure that out without banning collaberation.

      2. Mekong River*

        The letter says Junior is procrastinating, however, there is nothing in the letter to indicate that Junior asks other people to bail him out. If Junior is asking other people to bail him out, LW can use my suggestions to find that out.

      3. Nadi*

        This is spot on. I’m a university lecturer with approx 500 students on the undergrad degrees. We have a lot of students like this. Then they enter the world of work….

    4. PollyQ*

      “for the time being” and “on these projects” are the key parts of the phrase though. This isn’t a universal, lifetime ban on the employee ever asking anyone for help, it’s a short-term plan to see if he knows how to do his job on his own.

      1. Mekong River*

        OP can see if Junior knows how to do his job on his own without ever banning him from asking other people for help, not even for the time being or on these projects.

    5. Kevin Sours*

      Yeah, I found the advice here really off putting. There are two obvious things to focus on/address that don’t get mentioned.
      Employee doesn’t ask OP for help *even though it’s been requested*. Don’t say “don’t ask others for help” say “you need to come to me”. The latter avoids the “getting help from peers is bad” vibe and allows for situations where the OP may not be available.

      Why not talk to John? I’ve seen this sort of thing come up a couple of times and that never seems to get suggested. “I see Ralph has asked you for help a couple of times, how is working with him? Is helping him interfering with your tasks?”. That’s going to tell you *a lot* about where Ralph is and how much he’s leaning on others without banning collaboration.

  6. MagicEyes*

    Re Letter #1: I worked on a project with someone who consulted her FAMILY MEMBERS on how we should do things. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think the opinions of people who are not employed by our organization should outweigh the recommendations of me, the expert.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It is. I had a peer who ended up permanent mandatory unpaid vacation because his wife was troubleshooting his code for him. We never employed her.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Erm… the code ran. Which is more than I can say for some other former peers. But within 3 months, we’d found it necessary to refactor or discard and reimplement pretty much everything he had done in those six months.

    1. Esmeralda*

      As long as there aren’t confidentiality issues, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I ask my dad, my spouse, my sister-in-law, and various personal friends about work issues/problems fairly often, and have done for decades. Now, they are either in the same field or are especially thoughtful or savvy people. Very very helpful.

      And often enough, that could be re decisions or actions taken by a boss or an expert co-worker. Sometimes their response is, Hey doofus, your boss/co-worker knows what they’re talking about. And sometimes it’s, hmm, what about their decision/behavior is bugging you? It’s X? that sounds legit, have you thought about Y and Z? and then talk thru how to approach boss/co-worker about it.

      1. Robin*

        Right but that sounds more like advice on interpersonal relationships within work, which friends and family can certainly have insight on. I mean, this whole blog is predicated on the idea that an outsider to the company can help with these kinds of topics. You can even ask folks for help on specific tasks: for me, one parent is an Excel wiz, and I ask how to set up an unfamiliar formula every once in a while. But that is different than, say, me presenting the entire task my manager gave me and asking them how to do it.

        And even with the relationships bit, I would give a lot more weight to the advice I could glean from a manager than parents and friends. Again, this blog would not exist if there were zero values on outsider opinions, but Alison is also not telling folks how to structure their organizations or what their corporate strategies should be. That is, as MagicEyes says, the domain of the experts, who are all *inside* the org (or explicitly hired consultants).

    2. Dinwar*

      I’ve done this from time to time. I’ve got family members who have been civil engineers for decades, and it’s considered a polite gesture in our family to ask them for minor advice–nothing confidential of course, but something like “What sort of road base does a 25 cy haul truck need if it’s on Class C clay soil?” is pretty generic. Given that members of my company do the same, or ask contractors they’re working with such questions, or the like, it’s never raised any eyebrows. I mean, that’s how you build and maintain relationships–establishing communication and building trust. Well, maintaining a relationship with a leading expert in the field seems like a pretty good idea! If that expert happens to be a family member, that’s not my fault.

      1. MagicEyes*

        These people had no experience or expertise in any aspects of the work we were doing. If your family members have some useful knowledge, that’s good, but their opinions still shouldn’t outweigh the employees of the company that’s actually doing the work.

        1. Dinwar*

          “If your family members have some useful knowledge, that’s good, but their opinions still shouldn’t outweigh the employees of the company that’s actually doing the work.”

          Depends on the situation. 9 times out of 10 I’m the one doing the work, and my father would be sadly disappointed in me if I were to meekly obey. Sometimes, though, the person doing the work is an idiot. When an expert says “Yeah, that’ll get someone killed” it really doesn’t matter whether they’re inside the company or not.

          “These people had no experience or expertise in any aspects of the work we were doing.”

          See, that’s different. If someone has no experience and no expertise it doesn’t matter if they’re inside the company or not–the lack of knowledge is the important factor.

  7. Ragged and Rusty*

    For the asking for help… can you check with whoever he’s going to for help and see how long they’re spending helping him?
    You can encourage them to set the boundaries. I worked with a guy who’d ask “a quick question” and 3 hours later he still wouldn’t get it and would ask you to show him. It gets super frustrating for the people who he went to for help, and makes them stay later.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      Maybe this office is different but mine is also reasonably collaborative and I’d still get pretty bloody irritated if one of my coworkers couldn’t finish assignments without dragging somebody else in, every or most of the time. I like helping, sure, but they should be able to handle the bulk of things on their own.

      1. Ragged and Rusty*

        Oh yeah. I’m 100% down to help and train and work through challenges. I’m not down to have to spend 2-3 hours a day doing someone else’s projects on top of my own.

    2. Mekong River*

      Yes, I agree that a manager in this situation should be more proactive about reaching out. Feedback from the people Junior is asking for help is valuable not just bc they will be able to share how he is doing and whether he is annoying, but also bc they probably see a side to him that his manager doesn’t just by virtue of being different people. The entire picture is important in assessing how well someone is doing. I don’t think OP’s strategy of expecting for Junior to come to her and relying only on her own assessments is a very good one.

      1. Ragged and Rusty*

        Yeah the one I’m thinking of, who there’s no way that it could be the LW’s employee (the world isnt that small), was sweet as pie to managers but could be downright nasty to anyone else, especially when you started doing “So what do YOU think the next step is?”
        I actually spent several of my evenings for months physically writing down process documents and organizing and sharing them so he’d have reference documents, and to prove I’d told and shown him how to do it.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        We had a situation in my office where we provided training for all new tasks, but the current trainer was really not good at training people. So as a result new employees would have no clue at all how to do the job despite being trained, and more senior staff were seeing their numbers and productivity drop to try and retrain the newer staff. Old manager was more than content to let the drop happen because then we wouldn’t be eligible to get promoted away from their team (and the trainer was a relative of theirs who they had heavily pushed to hire for that role).
        When the new manager came in, they asked the four of us who were doing all the retraining work to stop and send all those questions to the lead/trainer/them so that they could more fully evaluate the new employees and also evaluate the quality of the training that was being provided. Three of us went straight to redirecting, the fourth kept surreptitiously helping out (they did get caught), and within three months the trainer was put on a PIP – they chose to leave rather than work through the PIP – because there were major deficiencies found in the training they were giving to employees. The new trainer that was hired is Amazing, and the constant stream of “how do you do X” has almost completely stopped.

        Point being – sometimes it’s not the employee but the training they’re receiving that is at fault.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I agree! It might be that he’s just not comfortable owning his results/decisions. I had a newer coworker who would bounce all decisions off of me very quick (“I should do X then Y then use Z right?” “Right” “Thanks!”, literally <2min interactions) because she was worried about owning her tasks and that way she had me as backup ("Oh Disney said we should do it that way").

      1. Ragged and Rusty*

        Those I’m cool with, and can usually be assuaged by a process document.
        I’m more concerned that LW’s employee is making other employees bail them out at their expense.

  8. Goldenrod*

    I can really relate to OP #3! It’s not that I hate babies, I just don’t have any particular feelings about them. And as a woman, I feel like the societal expectation is for me to completely lose my shiz with excitement whenever anyone waves a baby at me. Feeling this pressure, I tend to get even more withdrawn.

    (On the other hand, I will totally freak out with excitement when people bring their DOGS in!)

    I’ve learned that Alison is right – despite my reluctance to engage with babies, you HAVE to say something or it comes across as cold and rude. But it can be something along the lines of what she suggests, just a friendly “Hi there!” should do.

    I think her suggestion to imply having a cold is GENIUS too, I will definitely be using that one…

    1. Sad Desk Salad*

      I don’t love the “getting over a cold” suggestion when we have worked SO HARD over the last few years to get people to stay home when they’re sick. I know “getting over” a cold means the last dregs and all, when you’re not really infectious (or you’re least infectious), but I’d like to draw a hard line against coming in at all when you’re sick, even if it’s pretend-sick. I would probably use “oh, sorry, I’m not up to date on TDaP (a lie, but they don’t know that).” Pertussis is raging back and it’s really unsafe for infants, so any reasonable parent wouldn’t want you near their baby if your vaccine isn’t up to date.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        I’ll be honest, I don’t know many folks who would expect (or even allow!) a co-worker to hold their infant for so many reasons. Until I had a baby I didn’t feel 100% comfortable holding one (what if I drop them? What if I accidentally hurt them? Will the parents hate me?) so I definitely wouldn’t consider it odd if a co-worker simply declined holding my baby (I don’t think I even offered/asked folks when I brought her to work, mostly just kept her in her stroller).

        I know this is an old letter, but if the OP (or anyone else in a similar situation) is reading this I think a quick wave and “Hi, baby! Congratulations!” would be fine.

      2. ...*

        “I’m not up on TDaP, but I can tell little Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla Jr. is a cutie from here!” would have the bonus effect of seeming like your distance is rooted in thoughtfulness rather than indifference. In a conversation about social niceties, that’s a bonus

      3. Don’t want to spread adult germs*

        I’ve said brightly, “Oh what a cutie. I don’t want to get too close and get my adult germs near your baby.” The baby’s parent usually realizes “adult germs” could be silent Covid or flu, pertussis, or any number of dangers to baby. They’ll usually be glad to keep you at a distance

        1. Smithy*

          I think that’s a very good and neutral update . In some social circumstances I’ve made mention of keeping my subway or bus germs to myself, but that risks coming across as fairly classist when similar to “getting over a cold” the main desire is to politely avoid holding the baby.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I relate to this too. I am a woman and I have a total mental block with babies. I tend to be a bit of a germaphobe and I just can’t handle them. I think I’ve been seen as the office baby Grinch too but luckily I’m pretty reserved in general so no one expects me to have a cuteness breakdown over their kids. I will say hello if they are brought over but other than that I’m suddenly very engaged in a project that I just can’t step away from.

    3. young worker*

      I can’t do baby talk or excitement, but I find it helpful to direct talk at the parent. Something like “oh my goodness! I see you have a llama wrangler trainee today! Is he getting the hang of it?” and perhaps some developmentally appropriate questions – “is he letting you get much sleep?” “I bet he’s running around the house now huh?” and just do some small talk about the parents’ experience with the baby, not feigning if you think its cute or not.

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I think the thing to do is to have a neutral line in mind for those occasions. “Wow, you are some baby, aren’t you? Sorry I can’t chat, gotta go paint the teapots.”

    5. R*

      I’m sure this is an unpopular opinion, I don’t care if I am seen cold and rude in this instance. It isn’t like I came to your house. I’m at work to work, not see or play with your kid.

      1. WellRed*

        Eh, I’m a woman who finds babies unrelatable but it takes two seconds to smile and say “wow, he’s getting big” or “look at all that hair!”

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      This kind of thing is why I’m glad I now work remotely. I’m AFAB, disabled, enby and childfree.

      While babies are cute, I don’t want to hold them – I’m afraid I’ll hurt them somehow because I only have one usable arm. I will get unpleasant if people insist, especially if it’s accompanied by “oh, you’ll make a great mother some day” like I got when I was younger. That ship has not just sailed, it has been sunk. (I’ve had a hist.)

      1. Curious*

        It’s one thing being expected to say “aren’t they cute.” Being *expected* to hold them … is a far different thing.

  9. Smithy*

    For cooing about babies – I just want to say that I do get the desire to not want to be overly performative and fear that soft boundaries won’t be respected. That a quick “what a cutie” will turn into 15-30 minutes and not remain a two minute exchange.

    But just to say that while this may very well be the dynamic in your family, extended friend group or a former job – this is a good reminder that these types of social niceties shouldn’t become extended exchanges you can’t escape or escalate into interactions you don’t want to do. And before you start hiding in a conference room whenever someone brings a baby to the office – give your colleagues a chance to behave normally.

  10. Sad Desk Salad*

    Ugh, I feel the baby parade question deep within my soul. I’m not a huge kid person, but I don’t dislike them. I’ll coo endlessly at my friends’ kids, hold them, feed them, even babysit–but coworkers are a different story. But I’m not going to make someone feel bad about bringing their new kid in when most of the office DOES enjoy cooing over them. I usually just find myself in dire, urgent, unexpected need of a coffee/soda/walk/meeting in another building when I start to hear the squeals erupting around the office, followed later by “oh, Susan was here with the baby? Sorry I missed it!”

  11. AceyAceyAcey*

    For LW 3 (babies at work), TBQH I don’t find most babies cute, so I’ve learned that saying something more towards the parent can also serve the same purpose, such as “Aw, you must be so proud!” “She looks like a handful!” “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” Comments like these are engaging with the issue of the baby, and showing support to your coworker, without having to compliment a baby that you don’t find cute.

    1. Jessica*

      I’m perfectly willing to take “cute/precious/adorable/whatever” as accepted social shorthand for “Greetings, fellow being, I see that you are accompanied by some offspring! I hereby express vague goodwill toward them and you!” They all look the same to me, none of it is appealing, and if you lined up ten assorted babies I’m not at all confident I could rank their cuteness in any way that would agree with the consensus reached by those who find babies cute.

    2. LizB*

      Love these examples, and I especially like “Aw, you must be so proud!”. I am a huge fan of babies and that feels like a very thoughtful thing to say no matter your baby opinions.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        My mom was a labor and delivery tech and she said the nurses would always say “Oh look at their little feet” when a baby was not particularly cute. It’s something I’ve taken up saying when I’m forced to because I don’t find babies cute but there’s no denying that they do have little feet.

        1. Elsa*

          I was taught that when you don’t think a baby is cute you can say: “Aw, she looks just like you!”

  12. I should really pick a name*

    Letters like #2 come up often, and I don’t understand why they play out like they do.

    Manager: “Please stop doing X”
    Employee: “I’m doing X because of Y”
    Manager: *writes to Ask a Manager*

    The step where the manager says “Regardless of Y, I need you to stop doing X” never seems to happen, and it seems like the obvious next step to me.

    1. Clobberin' Time*

      It’s not just a manager thing. People do this in real life all the time, in everything from dealing with particularly bright children to mooching friends. It’s often a learned skill to understand that “but I’m doing it because of Y” is a derailing technique.

    2. Unaccountably*

      I feel like sometimes people know what the next step is, they just want permission to do it, or to be told that they aren’t going to be horrible people if they do.

    3. Alpaca Bag*

      As the employee, I say “I’m doing X because of Y” so the boss knows why I made that choice, and have learned (I think!) to be extra-clear in letting know I do plan to stop doing X. I explain Y so they know what my misunderstanding was, so maybe it can be fixed for others in the future. Giving just the explanation does NOT go over well.

    4. turquoisecow*

      It sounds like in this case the manager isn’t sure if they’re making a reasonable demand. Something feels off about the situation but they’re not sure what, and you can’t say “don’t ask coworkers for help because it makes me feel weird.”

      1. Mekong River*

        Letter #2 was about the guy who never knocks.

        For Letter #1, insisting that Junior can only come to OP is sort of off. OP should let Junior keep asking other people for help and be proactive about meeting with him instead of waiting for him to come to her and feeling weird when he doesn’t.

          1. Mekong River*

            That is not at all what I said. What I said is that OP should be proactive about meeting with Junior.

        1. Observer*

          So, firstly, Junior is clearly a problem to other staff. It was kind of implied in the letter. If you go back to the original, the OP posts some comments, and one of the things they mention is that a different manager messaged 5 minutes after Junior had been given an assignment because Junior was already hitting someone up for help. That’s really telling. So, OP really did need to put a stop to that.

          Also, the issue was not that the OP was “feeling weird” or “hurt” that Junior was not coming to them. The OP was concerned that Junior was pestering others and offloading his work on them (which turns out to have been the case), that Junior was not picking up what he needed (also the case) and that they were not getting the transparency they needed to evaluate these issues.

          All of those things are legitimate to worry about, and telling someone to not pester other coworkers – at least for a limited amount of time – is reasonable.

        2. unaccountably*

          That’s not going to help if he’s relying on other people to tell him how to do his work. He’s clearly already clocked that his manager isn’t going to do his work for him, so even regular meetings might not get him to bring issues to her if he’s struggling in his job and trying to hide it from her.

  13. Need More Sunshine*

    Regarding the health insurance, many health insurance carriers actually will not let you add employees on the plan if they work less than 30 hours per week on average. I know the industry is trying to come up with gap solutions for part timers, but in many places, it’s just not there yet. LW could also fall back on that reason, along with the finances.

  14. Brain the Brian*

    Alison’s advice for OP1 would terrify me if I were the analyst, frankly. The only person whose advice or input I am allowed to seek is my manager? Seven years into working with my manager, conversations with her still terrify me; I’m always afraid that I will commit a firing-level error if I speak freely in a feedback session. This is exacerbated now by medication I take that robs me of my formerly formidable ability to find my own small mistakes as I go; nearly everything I do requires a second set of eyes or a night of sleep and a second review from me.

    Basically, how a manager demonstrates — repeatedly and consistently — that they will give constructive feedback and not devolve into automatically reprimanding someone when a product isn’t perfect in the first round is crucial, and I wonder why the analyst might feel that he can’t trust his manager enough to give helpful, kind feedback.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Uh, respectfully, have you considered looking for another job? Seven years of being terrified of your manager is a lot to cope with/probably isn’t great for your health, your work, or your sense of norms.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I mean, we’re well past that point with basically every norm. I was carted away from my desk in an ambulance once, among myriad other things. But when you only have one professional job on a resume, leaving is essentially a non-option — if nothing else, one needs recommendations to move / go back to school / anything else, and a manager’s needs to be among those. Therapy, however — in part to deal with work’s stressors — is mildly helpful.

        1. Mekong River*

          “a manager’s needs to be among those.”

          Not true! You can ask peers and anyone who has been in a lead role on a project with you. You can also ask people who you have been in a lead role for!

        2. Goldenrod*

          “But when you only have one professional job on a resume, leaving is essentially a non-option”

          I would encourage you to think differently about this! Leaving is always an option, and employers are pretty desperate right now – so this is a good time to move on, if you would like to! Please don’t feel stuck. At the very least, take a look at what else is at there, and get your resume up-to-date.

          As someone who was in my first professional job for 10 years (with a boss I hated), I am here to say, you CAN move on, you can find other references, and there are happier workplaces out there for you!

        3. KRM*

          Untrue! I got my second job ever with only peer recommendations! And only having one professional job on a resume doesn’t matter. At some point everyone only has one job on their resume. It’s not a bad thing if that job is something you’ve stayed at for years.

        4. Brain the Brian*

          You’re all very kind — truly. But alas, the situation just doesn’t allow for it. I’ve run through a thousand scenarios in my head, and they all lead to the same place: nope, stay, or risk lifelong professional ostracization.

          1. Clobberin’ Time*

            That’s anxiety spiral talking. The number of jobs on earth where you can never leave for something else can be counted on one hand.

            1. FashionablyEvil*

              Truly, I can’t think of any? (Except maybe some sort of “job” in organized crime?)

              Also, unless you’re talking about something truly, truly egregious, most people can’t be bothered to think about you once you’ve left an organization. Ostracism is a lot of work and, honestly, most people have other priorities. It’s not mean! It’s just “out of sight, out of mind,” and a closed chapter for them.

              1. Brain the Brian*

                Ostracism here is not uncommon. “Well, I’m not going to invite Organization X to partner with us on this project because Person Y left us to go work for them, and I don’t want to think about the mess that ensued after he left [or ‘I don’t think he likes us, because he left’]” is an unusually common utterance. And when you work for a 40-year veteran of probably the single most respected organization in your field… you start to worry where rumors might spread. And then you get anxiety. Wheee.

                But seriously, thank you for the kindness and the reality check against normal workplaces.

            2. Goldenrod*

              And it’s your depression talking too. I’ve been there, believe me, I get it!

              Instead of running scenarios in your head…take a tiny baby step. Update your resume. Apply to something. Even if you believe in your heart there is no way anyone would ever hire you….At least test out this self-limiting belief by taking one small action, and then another. There are options.

              As someone who has also felt very stuck and trapped, please believe me. You have more options than you think.

              1. Brain the Brian*

                Thanks for the suggestions! My resume is always up-to-date; my company needs a copy on file to include in proposals where I’m a key staff person. Going back to school is front-of-mind right now; the trouble vis-à-vis my manager is that she already knows this, and she knows most applications basically require a recommendation from her. To use someone else for a recommendation would be dreadfully bad form, I fear; to start a program with her support and then take another job would be worse. See comments above about ostracization…

                But yes, anxiety. I have it. This is a known quantity, difficult though it may be to manage.

                1. Goldenrod*

                  “And when you work for a 40-year veteran of probably the single most respected organization in your field… you start to worry where rumors might spread. And then you get anxiety.”

                  I’m now picturing your boss is Anna Wintour or Harvey Weinstein…it sounds like they are comparably scary!

                  It also sounds like you are highly skilled and that your skills are valued at your workplace, despite your horrible manager.

                  I hope going back to school works out, and that you get some relief from your anxiety!

                2. Brain the Brian*

                  Okay, that made me laugh. Not a terribly far-off comparison, although a vastly different field. Thanks for the good chuckle!

          2. kendall^2*

            You have been at this job for at least 7 years; it seems reasonable that someone might want a new job after that long a stint in one position, and it would not lead to the dire consequences you’re thinking of.

            I hope your situation improves.

    2. Mekong River*

      “The only person whose advice or input I am allowed to seek is my manager?”

      Yes, that did come across as odd.

      1. tessa*

        When employees procrastinate to the extent that they use their co-workers as cover for completing an assignment, which is what OP described, then yes, manager is entirely entitled to be the only go-to, especially when a task is assigned as an independent one.

        What I find odd is the thinking that it’s perfectly reasonable for the employee to procrastinate and then dump their work on their co-workers as means to an end. How in the world is that a reasonable work flow?

      2. KRM*

        I mean, for me it comes across as “you need to come to me only, because you’re spending too much time asking your peers for help, and I have yet to see you own any work that you should be able to accomplish on your own”, not “I am the only person allowed to give you input ever”. If my report can’t seem to do anything on their own six months in, I do think you need to set them stricter ground rules. The manager wants to be the only source of consultation FOR NOW, while said manager figures out what their report does and does not know or can do on their own.

      3. Observer*

        Except that wasn’t really the advice.

        Also, context matters! The OP wasn’t interested in walling of their employee. They WERE interested in getting more transparency into his work. And also to keep him from being an imposition on others.

        It’s a totally different situation to what @Brain the Brain is describing.

        1. Mekong River*

          “This isn’t about telling him not to talk to others; it’s just about telling him that you want him to do these assignments independently. ”

          Po-tay-to, po-tah-to

          OP had the option of asking the analysts who Junior was asking for help whether he was asking for a reasonable amount of help or whether he was imposing on them to detriment of their own work. This is an expected part of the job for both managers and individual contributors.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      That’s not at all how I read this, though.

      At my job, sure, you can ask other people, but if you consistently need help with stuff, or if you need help with certain specific kinds of things, you need to take it to our supervisor because it suggests you either need more training or you’re asking questions that your peers aren’t qualified to answer. If this guy needs help on all or most of his assignments, he needs to go back to his manager for more/better training.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I think your situation is different than OP1’s. He’s not even trying to do the work at all. He keeps putting it off; then when the deadline looms, he runs to a coworker to help him get it done in a hurry. OP1 needs to do the task himself, on time. He can consult coworkers if he gets stuck on a part, or can ask someone to look it over after he’s finished, but he needs to do the work up front.

      For you, may I offer a suggestion? Ask your boss if you can implement a QC process – a second check by another team member or by the boss. It’s a standard business practice. Offer it as part of a quality initiative or time savings: “Hey boss, can we have a second person proof the reports before they go out? It’d be faster and more efficient than me trying to proof my own work.” Small process improvements can take a lot of stress out of a job.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        This is a fair comparison of my situation vs. the analyst described in OP1’s letter. As you say, everyone needs to be able to do their own work first and seek feedback once they’ve at least made good-faith efforts. The analyst sounds like someone with classic anxiety problems: a fear of starting in case they screw something up, and a co-occurring fear that any negative feedback will result in the worst possible consequences.

        (In my situation, I *am* the QC person for a *lot* of such things, many of which just need to be redone completely because they’re miserably bad, and I often wind up redoing them myself in the interest of time; my coworkers, excepting my manager, mostly work in time zones 6-9 hours ahead of me. My manager is usually on copy as such processes proceed, but she very often doesn’t jump in to offer feedback until the absolute last second, when it’s too late to make substantive changes without missing a deadline. And then I get blamed for the delay. So… yeah. Sigh.)

    5. Seashell*

      If you haven’t gotten fired in 7 years, it seems unlikely that it would happen now. Time to talk to your doctor about adjusting the medication.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        The medication prevents seizures, and it’s working right now; adjusting it or adding something else to the regimen really aren’t in the cards. Its side effects include anxiety, which I know warps my view but is hard to get around in the moment of real-time communications. I could give a thousand examples, but I digress.

  15. nnn*

    For #3, an effective way to greet babies when you’re not feeling it is to greet them exactly like they’re an adult. “Good morning, pleased to meet you, I have to get back to work but I hope you enjoy your visit to the office!” (Pre-pandemic, I would also shake hands.)

    This comes across as a bit silly to adult on-lookers, and therefore comes across as kind of like playing with the baby. And if you’re playing with the baby and being silly, of course that means you like the baby and think the baby is cute and all the socially-mandated positive emotions that you’re not feeling!

    At the same time, it doesn’t require faking any emotions or using any interpersonal skills that aren’t already part of your repertoire. Even if you don’t even smile during the interaction, it would likely come across as keeping a straight face for the sake of the comedy.

    1. NeutralJanet*

      Treating babies like they’re adults is how I handle it too. People always love it when I look at the parent and ask, “And is this our new Llama Groomer?” It generally comes off as charming and likable enough that I can get away pretty quickly and, like you say, it looks like part of the comedy–if a new adult whom I’d never met before came into the office, I would greet them politely and then move on, so doing the same thing with a baby is funny.

    2. Danish*

      I like this approach as well – not only for myself, as someone who is awkward around/not interested in children-as-a-demographic – but also because past a certain age kids are totally able to hold an adult conversation (or at least a child’s version of adult conversation) and seem to get a kick out of being talked to like the rest of the grownups.

  16. David S*

    I’m a Sr. Business Analyst and consider it part of my job for the Business Analysts and ESPECIALLY the Jr. Business Analysts to seek out my knowledge and expertise, BUT I won’t do their work for them, i.e. research, setting up demos, meeting with clients, etc.

    In short, someone asking HOW to do something, for example: “I’ve never worked with a Teapot Maker before, is there any special approach you’d recommend” would be something I’d be glad to help with, as would “I wrote a proposal for the Teapot deal, would you mind giving it a once over because I’m new at this” but “Can you meet with Teapots Inc. for me” would not.

    1. Mekong River*

      Yes, for me as well. My colleagues and I are expected to mentor each other and help each other out, but not do each other’s work. It’s not really about whether we are junior or senior to each other, although most of the time seniority correlates to experience. However, I’m working with someone now who is more experienced at some aspects of the task, so he will be mentoring me on that, but who is less experienced at other aspects of the task, so I will be mentoring him. Our manager will be asking us both what it was like to work with the other.

  17. Not Mindy*

    LW #1 – I think that you should make it clear (at least based on the type of work I do) that you don’t want him to put something out there that’s wrong rather than ask for help. Maybe have him come to you directly for help (that way you’ll be able to see where his shortfalls are), or designate some sort of mentor on the team with the understanding that the mentor will be there in your stead and will be providing feedback to you about his level of understanding.

    1. Mekong River*

      It sounds like Junior already does ask for help, just not from OP, and has chosen his own mentor(s). The step OP is missing is going to the people Junior asks for help from and getting their feedback on his level of understanding (as well proactively going to Junior herself instead of waiting for him to come to her).

      1. Observer*

        Well, those people don’t really have the information the OP needs, which is one of the reasons that the OP want Junior to come to them first.

        Also, I think the OP was concerned that the people Junior was asking might not say what they really think. And, based on the comments in the original post, that was a reasonable fear. There is a reason that a MANAGER messaged them to let them know that Junior was asking for help again.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          What information does OP need that the analysts helping John don’t have? Because from where I’m sitting they are exactly the people (other than John) that don’t have it. Maybe they won’t be candid but you don’t know that until you’ve talked to them. And you can stick to more objective factors they’re less likely to hedge on like: “how much time are you spending helping John” or “is this impacting your other work”. There is a difference between covering for a peer in an evaluation and sticking your neck out to do it.

          1. Observer*

            The OP already knew that John’s requests are taking too much of their time and having a negative impact, otherwise the other manager would not have messaged about it.

            But the other analysts don’t have the big picture to know whether Junior is just being lazy, misunderstanding stuff that should be clear, or not getting the information he needs, etc.

            1. Kevin Sours*

              All the letter says is “find out later he’s asked other analysts for help”. It’s not clear what he’s asking about or how much time it’s taking. If OP knows it’s impacting other people they can address that more directly: “this is more than just getting a second opinion, so let’s talk about why you need this much help on something you should be able to do solo”.

              Also talking to John will let you say: “You need to focus on your work so if this is taking up too much time, direct him back to me”

              But you are grossly underestimating how much insight John is going to have here. There is *no* *way* he’s spending massive amounts of time helping his peer without knowing if he’s flailing over basic things or not understanding the assignment. (For one thing is that he’s not getting the information he needs how is John even helping with that).

        2. Mekong River*

          The information OP needs is whether Junior knows how to do the job. The people helping Junior have that information. They know whether they are explaining how to do it or doing it for him. They know whether the level of help he is asking for detracts from their own tasks or not.

          1. Observer*

            They know how much of a pain he is being. But unless they are taking a lot of extra time to manage him, they don’t know whether he is competent, because they don’t know what information he’s actually been given, what he’s actually been told, who else he talked to etc.

            Given the issues that the OP is seeing and sensing the only reasonable way for them to really understand what is going on is to be on top of the process directly, without putting more work on junior analysts who have their own jobs to do.

  18. AnotherSarah*

    For LW3…I sometimes have to bring my toddler to work for a minute, and fwiw, I find it really weird when people fawn over him (when he was a baby as well). What I do like is when colleagues acknowledge him, like they would if I brought my spouse around or a cousin or something. I really think “nice to meet you” is sufficient.

  19. DisneyChannelThis*

    For the insurance one – make sure you’re clear with your employees what counts as part and full time hours (ie how many shifts or how many hours per week, and how it’s calculated). Being transparent can save a lot of grumbling and resentment.

  20. Parenthesis Dude*

    I don’t like Allison’s advice for LW #1. I’d think that the appropriate thing to do in these situations is talk to your other analysts directly. If they say that they’re doing his thinking for him, then tell them you’re trying to see what this person knows and not spell things out. But if he has good ideas, and he’s bouncing them off him for feedback, then I think he’s fine.

    You also wants to find out the length of these convos. If it’s a five minute chat, then that’s one thing. If it’s an hour long planning session, that’s another.

    Finally, have those analysts talk to him and get his thoughts on their work. If he can reciprocate, then he’s fine.

    But ultimately, you want your senior people to help your new people. You want people to work together. You don’t get that by forbidding people to talk to each other.

    1. tessa*

      He procrastinates routinely and is using his co-workers’ time and energy to cover for it.

      No one is forbidding him to talk with anyone. The concern is that his “convos” only entail exploiting his co-workers as cover.

      It’s higher ed. group work slacker with a job, sounds like.

      1. Mekong River*

        It’s not extra work for OP to assess how Junior is doing. It’s not extra work for a coworker to answer the question, “How did Junior do on that project you helped him with?” That’s part of the job for both managers and coworkers.

        1. Observer*

          Except that that’s not what the OP needs to know. They need to know more detail, and information, like what Junior’s thought process was, that the others might not have.

          1. Mekong River*

            You are being very literal here. “How did Junior do?” covers a lot of ground. If a manager in this situation doesn’t know how to probe for the details she is interested in, then we don’t just have a Junior problem. We also have a manager problem. I’m assuming the manager knows how to ask questions. If you are not sure how that works, I suggest you ask your own manager.

    2. ZugTheMegasaurus*

      I was recently in a super similar situation, and that’s exactly how my boss handled it. One of our team members needed to learn a new-to-him line of business; I’m the most experienced person on my team with that LOB so I spent 2 or 3 days helping walk him through all the moving parts, and held a few calls and wrote a few emails to show him what it should look like going forward.

      My boss asked me later in the week how it had gone, whether I thought he was getting it, etc. I told her that I did have to do a lot of hand-holding, but that he asked good questions and seemed to understand things once I explained them once or twice. At that point she thanked me for the help and feedback — and told me not to assist him any further on that particular project/LOB until she told me otherwise. She needed to see how he’d handle things without having me there as a safety net.

      I’m still the go-to person for the subject (and regularly field questions from my coworkers, which my boss loves), but she was looking at a different skill set than just the business knowledge; she wanted to see how this person learned and adapted, not just that he could memorize the right things, so she kind of had to pull the rug out from under him to see what happened.

  21. curmudgeon*

    LW 4 however you decide to notify your part time staff, be up front and transparent and don’t be surprised if people leave or ask for full time hours.

    Never mind that heath care should be guaranteed at work

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      I think it’s more that health care should be removed from employment completely and guaranteed for everyone.

      1. tessa*

        Yes, this. Long past time to de-couple health insurance and health care from employment, though the ACA is a good start.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      In the US it’s very common for part time jobs to not include health insurance, including some crappy companies that do the 38 hrs a week instead of 40 solely to avoid healthcare cost. Big biotech companies often hire people as “contractors” and avoid paying health insurance benefits that way too.

      It sucks yes, but the LW can’t fix the healthcare system.

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      It’s not like the PT employees were getting healthcare and are losing it. The full time employees are getting a new benefit. And some folks may well get jealous and leave, but the LW is not taking something away they were getting before so nothing is changing for them.

      And there’s no reason health care should be provided by the job; healthcare should be provided for everyone. Babies and children don’t have job and should have healthcare. Not everyone work, but everyone should have healthcare.

  22. Jennifer Strange*

    I know different folks have different views, but when I brought my infant daughter to work to introduce her I definitely wouldn’t have thought someone was a jerk for not cooing over her/playing with her. It’s a place of business, people are busy! I think a simple “Aw, congratulations!” is fine if you happen to see parent and baby, and if your path doesn’t cross with them that’s fine too.

  23. Lucy P*

    For #2, my long-term manager hates when we knock. Says that knocking is a demand for their attention which is unfair to them. We’re supposed to just stand there and wait till we’re noticed. Thus we are not allowed to knock on their door or any of the executives doors.

    The whole knock/don’t knock thing still makes me think of the movie Dangerous Minds…”He didn’t knock.”

    1. Mekong River*

      I feel like the correct strategy is the one that somebody asks for. Both your manager and LW#2 have made clear requests, so both you and LW#2’s employee should comply with the clearly stated request.

    2. Jessica*

      Surely standing there until noticed is also a demand for their attention, only one that inconveniences you for a longer time? I mean, if it didn’t matter when they responded, you’d have sent an email. Part of management is that things demand your attention! (And if that sounded like I was calling you a thing, no, my point is that it’s not YOU “demanding their attention” like you’re a toddler, rather the situation, question, or Business Problem you came about is demanding their attention, and dealing with it is their job.)

    1. Mekong River*

      As a last ditch attempt I asked my manager to assign the analyst to another supervisor for a specific project (working with other supervisors for projects is common in this company) to get another perspective.

      Instead of making this a last ditch attempt, I would have made it a first ditch attempt by asking the other analysts what it was like to help Junior. OP had other perspectives already available. She chose not to seek them out.

      1. Observer*

        Not true.

        I suggest that you re-read the entire thing.

        The OP took the time to actually evaluate Junior’s work. Then they asked for a SENIOR person’s perspective. They didn’t need the perspective of the Juniors – by that point they had more than enough information. The only thing that they still needed was to know whether the issue was their management or the employee. For that, you need another *experienced* manager’s eyes on the situation.

        Also, it’s reasonable to ask another person at your level to pick some of your work to figure out a situation. It’s a lot less reasonable to put that burden on more junior staff, which is effectively what would have had to happen.

        1. Mekong River*

          OK, I’ll take another look. Here’s what the letter states:

          I find out later he’s asked other analysts for help.

          OP says other analysts, no mention of whether they are junior analysts or senior analysts.

          The letter also states:

          I feel like I can’t assess his skills/understanding

          I don’t see where in there you are getting that she took the time to assess his work. She’s pretty explicit that she doesn’t feel like she can assess his work.

          It doesn’t take a manager to determine that Junior isn’t learning from the other analysts. It just takes asking the other analysts what it was like to work with Junior. If they say, “He asked questions and then did the work himself,” that’s one piece of information. If they say, “I basically did it for him, he has no clue,” that’s a different piece of information. OP had the option to do pursue that feedback. She chose not to.

          1. Observer*

            Whatever. You didn’t read the follow up, nor does it appear that you read the entire letter, plus the OP’s comments.

            In any case, it’s clear that you’ve made up your mind, regardless of the facts, so I’m not going to continue this.

    2. nm*

      I wonder where to find these companies that never fire people! I have some friends who could use something like that XD

  24. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    Re: #3, I’m the same way and absolutely do not want to be anywhere near babies; it was a full blown phobia when I was in my teens and 20s, though I’ve managed to bring it down to general distaste over time. But it would be exceedingly hard for me to convincingly lie that I think a baby is cute. So my go-to method is simply commenting on something other than the baby itself: “aww, I love that blanket/t-shirt/toy/etc.!” It comes across as a compliment without having to fake it, win-win.

  25. Michael Scott*


    Just my two cents, but perhaps you are treating this situation too much like school and not work. Why is it so important to check that your employee can finish his “assignment” without “cheating/help of others”? Isn’t the end-result more important in a professional setting?

    1. CLC*

      Totally agree. Asking other people for input, especially your first year, is how you learn to the job and how you get good outcomes.

    2. Mekong River*

      Well, you do want to know whether Junior is asking people to do his work for him or asking for help, and whether he is learning or whether he is asking the same questions over and over again. Plus, it does take some time for people to assist him. If his needs are really eating into other people’s time, OP would want to know that. Junior should be building toward needing less and less assistance.

    3. DyneinWalking*

      The problem is that “help from others” is a huuuuuge range – from getting a little input on complex details all the way to the point where the person “helping” is giving step-by-step instructions. And there are definitely people on that lower end of the scale, who ask for help so much that their contribution is basically just the asking – all the work itself is done by the “helpers”.

      Imagine if someone is tasked with baking a specific cake and they “ask for help” like this:
      To person 1: “I need to bake this cake, can you show me the ingredients I need for this? Now that you showed me the ingredients, can you quickly measure them for me? Thanks!”
      To person 2: “I have these ingredients I have to bake into a cake, how do I mix them? Which tools do I use? Oh, that looks complicated – can you demonstrate how to do the mixing motion?”
      To person 3: “I have this dough I need to bake. How do I do that? Ok, so how do I use an oven? Ah, ok, and since you’re here already, can you quickly put the correct settings for me? Thanks!”
      To person 4: “There is this finished cake in the oven I baked that needs to be taken out, but it’s hot! Can you quickly take it out for me? Thanks!”

      …and imagine this person has been in a baking-cakes position for half a year.

  26. CLC*

    Why not ask the other analysts for feedback on their experience working with the new guy and how much of the task he did, what type of questions he asked, etc?

  27. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    #1. It’s so funny because at my company you are expected (even forced) to get help from other people or departments. Like for everything! Whether you want or need the help or not.
    In fact, you get asked constantly if you got x or y to to do things or review things or provide input. It’s kind of infuriating actually. You’re constantly waiting on people when you could’ve just done it yourself.
    But that’s the culture.

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