coworker says she hates me and refuses to have any contact … and my boss told me to fix it

A reader writes:

My coworker, “Jane,” was promoted to the same level as me eight months ago. I had only spoken to Jane twice in her two years at the company prior to her promotion. About a month after moving into the role, Jane set up a meeting with me. In the meeting, she yelled at me for scheduling early meetings (9 am) because she doesn’t like starting her day with meetings, she told me repeatedly she hates me, asserted the team hates me, called me names, mandated no contact with me, and then hung up on me.

I had a feeling Jane and I didn’t gel well on previous interactions, but there was never any bad blood, and I chalked it up as not everyone you meet will like you, and I remained cordial to her otherwise. I didn’t respond to any of her allegations and I immediately let my manager know about the interaction.

I was filling in for the vacancy before Jane was hired, so her clients know me and my team. Jane refuses to ask for help, and when her clients ask for something she doesn’t know, she will tell them “I can’t help you” and then the clients come to my team for assistance, since we have a previous relationship. My team is now getting in trouble for answering calls from Jane’s clients when she refuses to do so. Instead of telling her to work with my team or to ask questions when she doesn’t know something, my manager mandated that my team and I copy Jane on every message to my clients, so Jane can observe interactions.

Recently Jane and I co-presented, and she had not looked at the material, did not know the content, and admitted not knowing in front of 10 executives, putting our reputation and work at risk. She repeatedly shows up late to meetings with clients and scowls and rolls her eyes when I am speaking. I reported these behaviors to my manager.

Jane is now making accusations that I do not help her and is telling other colleagues that she is afraid of me. She will not send messages to me and directs them to others who are not familiar with the subject, which are then forwarded to me for response. I have responded to every question promptly, letting her know that I’m the appropriate contact.

She schedules daily meetings after hours with our manager, to complain about not knowing things. I get interruptions late in the evening to quickly jump in to assist Jane with step-by-step directions. The items I’m asked about are never complex or difficult and would be self-explanatory to most. I often have to repeat the information 3-4 times over several days, and Jane’s work product will still be incorrect, again driving her customers back to my team for correction.

I have tried to tell my manager I cannot assist Jane if she is unwilling to contact me directly and still is maintaining no contact under her terms. My manager is mandating that this is my problem to fix, and I need to figure out a way to solve Jane’s behaviors toward me. There doesn’t seem to be any accountability for her work or behavior, and I’m getting increasing pressure to help her be successful. Additionally, I asked my manager to collect feedback from Jane’s clients, and I’m told the feedback was just “she’s new.” How should I navigate this? Any advice?

Jane seems out of her gourd, but what’s up with your manager? Your manager sounds like a bigger problem than Jane in some ways — why is she tiptoeing around Jane and telling you to fix her issues, rather than expecting Jane to learn her job, treat people professionally, and stop this no-contact nonsense? (Also, how can Jane have a no-contact decree toward you while also complaining that you won’t help her?)

There are two possibilities here: (1) Your manager doesn’t fully understand the situation, which is why her response to it seems so off, or (b) she does fully understand the situation but is a terrible manager with awful judgment. What’s your sense of which is more likely, based on what you know of her?

If there’s any chance that she doesn’t fully understand the situation — because you didn’t give her the full unvarnished picture, or used shorthand, or felt uncomfortable spelling the whole thing out because of how bizarre it is — then the next step is to go back and really spell it out, including Jane’s repeated assertions that she hates you (!), the name-calling (!), and her announcement that she won’t have any contact with you. Those details should help your manager see that this isn’t a personality conflict; it’s being driven by Jane, who came out of the gate hostile right from the start and is behaving like a nap-deprived kindergartner rather than a professional adult.

But if you’ve told your boss about all of that and she just sucks … well, there’s not a lot you can do. You could try cc’ing her on all those messages she wants Jane cc’d on, so she can see that you are trying to help. You can stop responding to late night messages and start only “seeing” them the next work day. But none of that gets at the core of the issue.

Normally I’d suggest trying to talk to Jane herself, but her behavior is so bonkers and her hostility is so over-the-top — and she’s already telling people she’s afraid of you, which makes me think she’ll just paint any conversation you attempt in an acrimonious light — that I don’t think that will be particularly fruitful.

Any chance you have decent HR? I’m not normally a fan of bringing in HR for this sort of thing, but given how your manager is handling this, the most effective approach — if and only if your HR is generally pretty good — could be to talk to them. Framing it as “Jane told me she hates me and refuses to speak to me and my boss is insisting I fix this — what do you advise?” might prompt some action from them.

Read an update to this letter

{ 381 comments… read them below }

  1. Hills to Die on*

    This is so frustrating. I have had coworkers who refused to collaborate and I was told the same thing – that I had to ‘be a leader’ and inspire them to want to do their jobs. I was not their manager. In fact, that feedback CAME from our mutual grandboss. HR was no help and the whole thing was ridiculous.
    If you can’t get your boss to pull her head out of her butt, then just go get a new job and don’t suffer fools. It’s not worth it.

      1. Cait*

        Unfortunately many people will get promoted/hired based on delivery/performance alone with no consideration for their leadership skills. One would hope that anyone being hired in a managerial role would be able to show some experience but, as I said above, if they were internally promoted to a manager position with no knowledge about how to manage, it’s easy for people like that to land in leadership roles they aren’t fit for. No manager worth their salt should ever say, “This isn’t my problem, fix it yourself,” especially if it deals with one report harassing and slandering another.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, I am afraid that in a situation with one sane person and multiple crazy people, the sane person needs to pack up and leave. You need to document everything that has happened thus far, give it one more try with your manager, and then start job hunting in earnest. You can try a grandboss or HR first, but I do not believe this will change the situation enough to make it tolerable. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      1. irene adler*

        Work rule #1: Cannot fix crazy.
        Work rule #2: Cannot manage crazy.
        Work rule #3: Make no attempt to break rules 1 or 2. Or you will be sorry.

        Leave them in the rear-view mirror. That’s all one can do.

    2. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I had a grandboss tell me that I to get a VP (same level as grandboss) ‘engaged’ in the process when the guy was blowing off all procurement procedures and processes in place.

      I was a step above entry level and I’m supposed to somehow magically wrangle a VP who is two steps above me, in a different department entirely, who had specified his approach was ‘better to ask forgiveness later, than ask permission in advance’, and had already explicitly disobeyed directives from the CEO.

      That particular grandboss laid the blame at my feet and deemed it my failure that the rogue VP kept going rogue and refused to follow process. Because I was ‘lacking the proper diplomatic skills to succeed’.

      That bee hive is behind me now, at least.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Wait, you mean extortion isn’t in your work toolbox? No wonder nothing is getting done!


          And yes, both OP and Narvo’s situations are impossible situations caused by the poor quality management abdicating their responsibilities.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I keep thinking Anna from HENCH would have a solution, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal. (sad)

    3. ferrina*

      I’ve had this happen too! My coworker refused to collaborate, refuted everything I said, and would flat out ignore me. I tried so hard to fix whatever was bothering her, I tried literally every trick in the book (and I still have the book to prove it), but she said “it’s just your personality, and you can’t fix it.” (direct quote). She also liked to tell me that everyone else hated me. I could live with the mental health tax, but it completely undermined my ability to do my job.

      We were teachers who spent 6 hours a day together in the classroom.

      My boss told me I had to live with it, they wouldn’t even let me transfer to a different classroom. So I quit. I gave my two weeks notice and was impeccably professional. On my last day, my boss tried to get me to stay by offering me a 20% raise. I refused. Several months later my boss was forced to resign- the parents of the kids I worked with had read between the lines with my departure, and that was only the latest in a long string of issues with that boss. Did I mention our clients were mostly lawyers and similar high-paid white collar professionals? They went above her head and demanded instant change, and got it.
      The karma was beautiful.

    4. Luna*

      Unless I am their manager or even higher up than them on the inter-workplace ladder, “I don’t get paid enough” to inspire or motivate anyone to work.

    5. Limdood*

      is letting Jane and her team fail a viable option?

      Jane’s clients are contacting you because she won’t help them AND YOU’RE CLEANING UP HER MESS! instead, make sure they know that Jane and her team SHOULD be helping them and give them Jane’s boss’s contact info.

      Jane doesn’t prepare for a presentation and drops the ball? throw her under the bus. say that you can’t speak for your colleague, but after doing the proper preparation yourself, {and then give a superb presentation of your material}

      Jane made her bed, sure gets to lie in it

    6. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Wow, that sounds exactly like what all those group projects at school were preparing us for! (Sarcasm)

  2. June*

    I think the letter writer was trying to say that she chalked up her interactions with Jane pre-phone call as “not everyone will like you,” not the phone call itself.

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I get the impression that OP might be male, so Jane finds him “threatening.” It’s still bizarre.

      1. Crooked Bird*

        I wondered about that. Male and tall/large… or, some kind of racist thing going on? Whatever it is, Jane seems to find her own bizarre response to OP perfectly justifiable, which is… bizarre.

        1. Miette*

          This crossed my mind as well. OP needs to watch their back, because who knows what kind of nonsense about them Jane is spreading.

        2. Festively Dressed Earl*

          That’s what I first thought – that OP is a different race than Jane and that’s de facto scary in Jane’s book.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Or that he’s a man who is bigger than she is, and she has some past experiences with men threatening her. Not an excuse for her behavior, of course, but maybe makes it more understandable, and maybe understanding would make it easier to deal with until he finds a better job.

            1. A reader stopping by*

              I highly doubt this because otherwise she would have brought that up earlier. It reads to me that she’s bringing it up now after making a fool of herself in front of the higher ups and is now looking for an excuse.

              If she does have past trauma then it’s on her to deal with it, seeks therapy etc and not treat her co-worker like trash. If this was the case, any decent manager would have supported her but made it known that any past trauma does not give her an excuse to mistreat anyone in their workplace.

      2. CLC*

        To me the biggest red flag in this letter is Jane telling other coworkers she is afraid of the LW. Either there is a legitimate reason Jane is afraid of this person or she making serious untrue allegations against them—either way this suggests to me it might be time for HR (and to make sure the manager knows this detail). The letter seems surprisingly unconcerned on this point.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          That’s a good point. The OP can’t have Jane she’s afraid of the OP. That could make it seem like the OP is threatening her or doing something intimidating. That definitely needs to go to HR at this point as Jane is basically accusing the OP of doing something wrong.

      3. Phil*

        Interesting. After seeing your comment, I realized that I read this assuming that OP was female, even though there is nothing in the letter that indicates gender either way.

        Do you know what it was that gave you the ‘OP is male’ impression?

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            People find me scary and I’m female, 5′ tall, and almost retirement age. I am apparently too direct and too smart – I’ve been told both. They fear competence and my willingness to speak up.

            OP was the interim in Janes role I think? That would make OP a threat.

            1. 2 Cents*

              Any NCIS LA fans? They’re all terrified of their boss and she’s a tiny thing. Size doesn’t always matter!

            2. Sophie*

              I am a small lady that intimidates people frequently, too! Life is too short for me to humor other people’s nonsense. As a white woman, I didn’t consider the racial / gendered undertones of Jane’s assertion. I’m grateful someone pointed that out.

            3. Reluctant Mezzo*

              My husband once observed an admiral from the Coast Guard. 5 foot *maybe if she lied* terrify a whole table of Congresscritters just sitting there and *looking* at them. I have a funny feeling that hurricanes just slowly backed away from her.

            4. Old sea hag now but still scary.*

              This. I’ve spent my entire career being called scary by incompetent people. Feedback: too smart, too hard working, too beautiful when I was younger. Fuck ’em.

            5. Sopranohannah*

              Ah yes, I fondly remember the time that I made a grown man who was a foot taller, twice my weight, and physically threatening me and my coworkers to break into tears. Didn’t even raise my voice or threaten him. Fun times.

        1. Rainbow*

          I’m a woman in a field with an oversupply of men, and tbh I also thought OP was probably female (though I did wonder whether actually Jane was in fact male!). The only one time I’ve had a problem remotely like this, it was another woman.

          Actually, even though we were both white, her issue was that I am (/try to be) anti-racist. Yes you read that right… the mind boggles. Not a nice lady, it turned out.

      4. H3llifIknow*

        So funny because I 100% got a “female” read off the letter! But what it seems to come down is Jane is toxically threatened by the LW’s competence and rather than try harder to be better, she tries to make LW worse and herself better by comparison. CC and BCC are your friends in situations like this (not a fan of BCC but once in a while you have to). Every.Single.Email forwarded, complaining whatever, gets responded to with “Jane, as I have mentioned multiple times, Sue is not the proper POC for this information. Please contact me directly when there is an issue with XYZ.” Or, “Jane, as I explained multiple times during training, ABC process requires XYZ actions. This client is the 5th to reach out to me for fix this month, because you/your team missed step 4 of that process.” EVERY.DAMN.TIME. CC boss, HR, grandboss, her priest, whoever!

      5. New Day*

        Or female, I have had women do that to me and I am a woman. It’s just a very low blow to anyone when you call them out as someone you’re ‘afraid off.’ Like, you are secretly going to bring a hatchet to work or follow them home in your car. People will use all kinds of weird things to make you the baddie, if they want to.

        It’s especially hurtful if you are in fact a kind, warm and friendly person because then maybe people wonder, ‘is there some secret side we don’t know about?’ Very low blow for sure.

        1. MM*

          I, as a short, female grad student, had a PROFESSOR go around telling other faculty that I had been bullying her. All I had done was tactfully point out that the statement that “It turns out that Timbuktu was actually a really important city, and it was so sad when the Europeans came with their boats and all they had was camels!” was a misguided statement on several fronts. I didn’t even use the word “racist.”

      6. Ellie Rose*

        not necessarily.

        i was talked about the same way by a former co-worker/very ex friend and we’re both women.

        in her case, it was a combination of lying exaggerating to make herself the victim and her mentality that if you weren’t 110% for her, you were actively plotting (literally, this was an accusation) against her

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          Yeah, my impression from the letter was that any fear that truly exists (rather than being an excuse for refusing contact and spinning herself as the victim) comes from LW not immediately submitting to Jane. Which isn’t logical–what would that even look like?–but some people feel the need to dominate things they feel threatened by, rather than try to improve their own standing. Insecurity.

  3. Peanut Hamper*

    I’m wondering how the manager is at handling other issues. If she’s generally good at handling conflict, I’m thinking she’s possibly misinformed/under-informed. But this just doesn’t sound like that.

    There might not be missing stairs here, but there are definitely some wonky ones.

    1. Heidi*

      It sounds like the manager has witnessed the OP explaining simple procedures to Jane multiple times during their daily (!) meetings about Jane not knowing things. That in itself should indicate this this is more of a Jane issue and not an OP issue. I’m wondering if this is going to end with an Aubrey’s bananapants-level meltdown (I’m still getting over that one).

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I definitely get Aubrey Bananapants vibes here. My first thought was that the manager and Jane are work buddies but in that case I suspect manager would actually blame OP for the conflict, not tell OP to work it out with Jane. Either way, manager is the worst and OP should certainly consider going over her head to HR. This is an HR-worthy complaint.

            1. Good Enough For Government Work*

              See yesterday’s update post! And bring popcorn, because it’s a wild, wild ride…

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I think we have Aubrey Bananapants for sure and I fear we have the full banana ensemble with the “you fix it” manager.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      Maybe misinformed, but if I had to guess I would say she is of the ‘I can’t deal with Jane so I will just make her someone else’s problem’ variety.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I think she regrets promoting Jane (understandably!) and can’t admit it to herself.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          I’m not convinced that LW and Jane have the same manager. LW only talks about “my” manager, never “our” manager. And if that’s the case, is there a shared grand-boss?

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            She did say “She schedules daily meetings after hours with our manager, to complain about not knowing things.”. It seems like they are probably organised in semi-independent teams of people assigned to support specific customers (so that a customer has a named contact/team they work with) and perhaps the manager is more in charge overall of something like “client servicing”. You’re right though that it isn’t fully clear. If OPs manager isn’t Jane’s manager, why hasn’t OP’s manager (or OP herself, since she’s been asked to handle it) taken it up with Jane’s manager, who seems absent from any mention in the letter.

  4. anonanonon*

    I thought she chalked up the other meetings (where she thought they didn’t get along) to the “not everyone will like you”, not the phone call? It seems it can be interpreted either way….

  5. bean*

    Not to advice column fanfic too hard here, but surely Jane’s “after hours meetings” with the manager are… not strictly business related. Right?? I’m not normally one to assume ulterior motives, but I genuinely can’t think of another reason why the manager would be so blind to a ~terrible~ employee.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This was my thought:

      3) Jane and Manager are personally invested (friends or whatever) and either manager cannot be impartial and Jane’s wacko-ness or they actively want to push OP out of the job.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This was my wonder. After hours meetings *daily*? After which OP is supposed to help Jane with some mysterious problem she can’t address during the work day? I wonder who is scheduling these – Jane or Manager? Jane can complain about early meetings but you’re supposed to respond to late ones?

        I think OP and their whole team need to meticulously CYA re: Jane. This may not yet be a duck, but sure seems to be quacking.

      2. Lizzie*

        It’s giving sleeping together vibes. Daily meetings after hours????? They are doing too much

        1. H3llifIknow*

          Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t get that vibe at ALL. I get more of a “let’s talk about her when she isn’t here to defend herself,” vibe. If it’s during hours, LW could be there, insert herself, defend, etc.. if it’s after hours, Jane has the manager’s ear AND the added “bonus” of “look at me staying late because we really need to work on this issue.” But, maybe I’m wrong… just didn’t “feel” affair-ish to me.

          1. LIBJess*

            Yeah and that only lends credence to the manager either being a bad manager or personally invested in Jane in someway. I mean, how else could you continue to attend daily kvetching session and not start to think “hey, maybe the person who is chronically late, underprepared, and unprofessional is actually the problem here?”

    2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I can think of many reasons why a manager would be this blind, but this is definitely one of them and I am desperate for an update on what LW finds out!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      It does have shades of stealing spicy food, where the food thief and HR had a connection and thus all problems involving office food theft were cruel attacks on the poor innocent food thief.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yep, I’m getting flashbacks to both this and the one where OP and her team were “managing out” the one employee who they deemed too uncool and frumpy for them. OP, you say Jane was recently promoted, by whom? was it your manager? I hate to say this but is there another friend of Jane’s or your manager’s, or both, that they could want to replace you with? It looks a lot like the two of them pushing you out.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        That is exactly what I was thinking. Either OP’s boss is friends with Jane or someone else high up has a connection because she’s getting away with a LOT of bad behavior here and not knowing her job, and either upper management is extremely blind and incompetent or there’s some other political something behind this that OP doesn’t know about.

      3. Bern Notice*

        HA! I referenced this one in the “Aubrey Bananpants” letter comments yesterday! I think the food thief was sleeping w/the HR person, it was that egregious.

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Call back to the letter where the OP writes that her manager labels any disagreement between women as a “personality clash.”
      Kelly doesn’t reply to Brenda’s work requests? That is between the two women.
      Brenda runs the Friday report on Wednesday, so Donna doesn’t have up to date information? That’s between the two women to work out.
      I think the after hours is Jane staying to complain and making sure that OP is not available to well, honestly defend herself, contradict the accusations or otherwise prove this woman is bananashorts.

      1. Lils*

        Your comment is sound but also thank you for using these names. It’s incredibly appropriate for many of the workplaces described in this column, hehehe

    5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      The whole thing struck me as weird as well, and my top three thoughts were:

      1) Jane and manager both have the same horrible boundaries around work so are always there late

      2) they are drinking buddies complaining about OP while “deep in their cups”

      3) they are friends/related and nobody else knows so boss is carting water to keep the relative from being fired

      And none of these could be correct. It’s just really odd.

      1. JustaTech*

        Given Jane’s complaint about 9am meetings, I’m leaning towards Jane and the manager both being later-in-the-day people *and* having boundary issues.

    6. Tio*

      If you mean they might be friends… possibly? But I wouldn’t necessarily stay at work all hours with a friend, I’d go out.

      To me it sounds like the manager doesn’t know how to handle problems like Jane, and Jane is sucking them into their spirals because the manager doesn’t know what to do. Since the manager can’t wrangle Jane, and OP is more reasonable, they figure they’ll make it OP’s problem instead.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            They are ROOMMATES

            Which would make Jane’s recent promotion (by the manager, I assume?) extremely sus.

          2. Your local password resetter*

            Oh my god they’re CUBEMATES!

            In all seriousness, I doubt this is some spicy trist. It’s most likely just a bad manager trying to push a difficult job off on other people.

            1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

              Thank you for this comment.

              There’s been a trend on AAM lately where people speculate about nefarious reasons for terrible decisions by management or HR. Certainly we’ve seen salacious examples of this, but really, there are tons of awfully incompetent managers out there.

              Keep in mind Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

              1. Allonge*

                I live by Hanlon’s Razor every day but even an incompetent manager will eventually not take the meeting with an annoying employee.

                Having meetings contradicts the ‘trying to push a difficult job off on other people’ idea quite a lot. I mean, yes, boss totally checked out of this as far as OP and OP’s wellbeing/sanity is concerned, but something nevertheless keeps manager meeting Jane.

                1. Deborah*

                  Yes but the corollary to Hanlon’s Razor is that sufficiently advanced incompetence (or stupidity) becomes indistinguishable from malice.

              2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Nah, I’m not up on AAM trends (unless I set that one) and going simply on my own experience in the corporate world, familiarity with office politics etc, what happens here transcends stupidity.

                Most functional workplaces, Jane would’ve gotten a serious talking-to after that first phone call (which was communicated to the manager) but it didn’t happen here.

                Jane systematically tanks meetings with executives and clients. Give clients the run-around (“we can’t do that” when OP’s team has been doing it for these clients). At any place I’ve worked, she’d get a warning after the first instance. Doing it on the regular? Five-alarm fire, with all levels of management involved, ending with Jane, probably not losing her job, but certainly getting demoted. And Jane’s boss is just… chill about all that?

                Lastly, I’ve seen people have regular after-hours 1:1 meetings with their boss on a couple of occasions, and on each of those occasions, the two participants were either having an affair, or at least one of them wanted to.

                There is no way simple incompetence or negligence could create the blazing dumpster fire that OP describes, no way. There’s some kind of reason behind all this.

      1. Zzzzzz*

        @Tio- I agree with you. My bosses routinely tell me to “deal with” or “resolve it” when a more junior coworker has a dramatic reaction- I’m (almost) an equal, the colleague is younger and not yet trained. I think it’s incredibly condescending to the coworker- they could handle criticism and correction!- but it’s less hassle to have me take the coworker to lunch. Unfortunately I can’t really say no.

    7. Allonge*

      I have no idea why a manager would take daily(!) after-hours meetings with an employee (other than the private). I had maybe three of these in my 20ish years of working professionally? I mean we had plenty of times when both my boss de jour and I were in the office late, and had a chat about whatever, but this?

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah it’s weird because usually my go-to advice on situations like this are that OP has to let the manager feel the pain of dealing with Jane, but if the manager is already having multiple after-hour meetings, I don’t think anything more will make a difference. I never had a manager who didn’t value their own time off above all.

    8. Polar Vortex*

      I was trying to see the best side, maybe they’re both people who do their best work in the evening – which would align with the hate of 9 am meetings mentioned. But given it’s outside the workday, it could still mean it’s more relaxed and social, and that the manager is bonding closer to Jane than the LW.

      Or they’re just a manager who can’t manage bad people, I’ve known enough of those over the years. Some truly bad managers and some who were great managers in all other ways but not in handling conflict like this. Sometimes that solution is truly only going over their heads. I hope the LW updates us.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Even if the manager is bonding closer to Jane than to LW, they’d still ALSO being a really bad manager. Because all this Jane-dysfunction isn’t just impacting LW.

        It’s creating issues, confusion, chaos for other co-workers AND clients.

        1. Polar Vortex*

          Oh I don’t disagree, it’s seriously messed up. But there could be an element of non-nefariousness in working late at night as long as it’s not expected for LW to consistently work outside of their work hours to accommodate the night owls.

    9. Ex-prof*

      Interesting point. It definitely sounds like there’s some kind of personal connection between them, of some kind.

      My thought on reading this was that boss was coming down hard on LW because coming down hard on Jane wasn’t likely to yield results. Being competent usually only carries this kind of heavy penalty within families, but I guess it can happen at work too.

      Either way, I think LW should plan to move on. The situation just sounds toxic.

      1. Zap R.*

        “My thought on reading this was that boss was coming down hard on LW because coming down hard on Jane wasn’t likely to yield results. Being competent usually only carries this kind of heavy penalty within families, but I guess it can happen at work too.”

        Just had a Jaws zoom moment reading this. What a great way to explain it!

    10. Brain the Brian*

      I think this specific piece depends very much on the company’s flextime culture, whether they are working in the office or at home (to me, it feels like the latter), and so forth. My manager and I semi-often have remote evening meetings when we have things to discuss that we can’t fit in elsewhere in our schedules.

    11. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I have a coworker like this and it took many many years for boss to catch on, here is why:

      1) we’re higher-level individual contributors and middle managers, we have autonomy so it’s harder to see errors in our stuff unless you’re looking
      2) other people thought they were being helpful and cooperative by not complaining. Lower level workers that were subject to the crazy coworker thought they’d get fired or reprimanded for complaining, even though nothing like that has ever happened. People just have that ingrained in their heads from past jobs
      3) Some of her nonsense sounded believable. “Sam is working on that.” “It’s not possible to pull that data.” OK, someone tells you that, you assume they looked into it. Why question it? Well, now that she finally started this in my boss’ area, it’s become clear that she just makes up stuff
      4) she set really low expectations that my boss didn’t have time to investigate, and just assumed were the status quo. “It takes $10K and three months to do this project.” Boss believes her. He didn’t re-do the quoting process or background work to realize it could be done for free internally in a week or two

      1. Mockingjay*

        At more independent levels – yeah this can happen. I work on a dedicated, autonomous project while my teammates get standard assignments from Supervisor as work comes in from the entire program. I have niche experience and training that none of the team have, which is directly required for this project. But…if I have issues with senior personnel or a work product on Special Project, my supervisor really doesn’t understand the context of why it is a Big Deal and how it must be fixed.

      2. I'm fabulous!*

        Same here. In my case, my co-worker was tipped off about any complaints I made about her and I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t trust management to follow through. My only solution was to leave.

    12. Peanut Hamper*

      Regardless of WHY it is happening, the fact that it IS happening is deeply disturbing. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

    13. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yeah, I’m reminded of that wacky letter about the sandwich thief who got sick and the OP was fired because it was her sandwich, then it turned out that the sandwich thief was having an affair with the HR manager.

    14. higheredadmin*

      I was coming here to say this. I had a wise mentor tell me once that whenever someone who is clearly a loon/loser gets an internal promotion, the first thing to do is figure out how and why. Then you can plot how to deal with them. Maybe Jane’s manager doesn’t touch Jane because she knows the why (e.g. a relationship with someone important in the company, a favor to move them out of somewhere else they were doing more damage – we could go on and on.)

      1. sofar*

        My old company once had an “out of nowhere” internal promotion because that person was a pest, her manager wanted her gone from her team, and the manager knew the promotion would get the person off her team. The manager vastly inflated this person’s contributions. The company preferred to promote internally (less work than finding external candidates). And so boom, promotion.

    15. JSPA*

      This kinda is fanfic?

      It’s after the LW’s hours, and after standard hours, but we know that Jane prefers later hours. Given that, it’s not totally surprising that Jane is finally buckling down to hard tasks later in the day…at which point, she realizes that she needs guidance, and reaches out. In these days of “might be available anytime” remote workers with inadequate time boundaries, that’s my default presumption.

      I mean, if it’s 3 hours after everyone else has gone home, and Jane and boss are both in the same room, I’ll maybe get on board the “something fishy” train. But otherwise, nah.

    16. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Every time I think a manager needs a reason to be blind to terrible employees, I refer back to half the letters I’ve ever read on AAM. Some people have never in their lives even seen the clue bat, and they are widespread among us.

    17. Distracted Librarian*

      I went there too, probably because many moons ago, a foreman held me responsible for an employee’s poor performance, when said employee was having sex with the foreman–in his office on the factory floor. Thankfully I was just a temp, so I asked to be reassigned and was outta there.

    18. Heather*

      We had a very similar sort of situation at my workplace not too long ago. One absolutely Aubrey Bananapants person who was supposed to be working with a competent, long-time, known to be reliable employee. Ms. Bananapants immediately began slacking, lying, and trying to undermine everyone else to cover her own ass. Eventually she landed on longtime reliable employee as her primary target and started making all kinds of unhinged accusations. Managers made them have meetings together, were talking about mediation, all kinds of useless stuff when it seemed clear to everyone it was all Ms. Bananapants being bananapantsy. Anyway, they have a pathological fear of being sued and I think were all scared into thinking they might be accused of targeting her for harassment or some such if they just addressed her behavior and/or fired her. Eventually she was fired (we’re not sure why), but the other employee had to pull in HR to protect herself because such wild accusations were being made against her. Management here is just generally terrible, unable to deal with problem employees, and overly concerned with protecting themselves from some kind of nebulous hypothetical legal liability. There was definitely no other personal underpinning reason for them to act like they were.

  6. Eldritch Office Worker*

    The dots are not connecting here, some information is missing. I don’t mean that you’re not being truthful, OP – I mean that there’s something going on with your coworker, or your manager, or something else behind the scenes that has to fill in SOME context here.

    Why is Jane so angry? Who is your team getting in trouble with? What alternatives do they propose? What manager is investing this extra time coaching someone this adversarial? What manager doesn’t care about the customer experience being impacted here?

    The picture isn’t coming together for me, and the one I’m forcing into place doesn’t include a competent HR department. I hope I’m wrong and someone can be in your court, OP. But this is just…a lot.

    1. AnonToday*

      From reading the letter, no one is coaching anyone here. Lots of managers don’t care about or don’t do a good job, and at the same time will scold you for not doing the thing that you told them you needed help with and didn’t get any. It doesn’t take special circumstances.

      The comments here overall have a tendency to go for the zebra when it’s just another horse. I don’t really get it.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Yeah sometimes people just make really baffling decisions and/or have really baffling priorities. But I’ll grant that it’s much more exciting for a reader when there is hotter goss at the source of the problem. And there sometimes is so it’s not unreasonable to look!

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        The manager is taking after hours meetings with Jane to discuss Jane’s performance and training. I agree, there’s probably not active training happening, but time is still being invested that most reasonable people would not agree to.

        1. Tio*

          It sounds more like the manager is being held hostage by Jane’s after hours complaining sessions.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Which means either the manager wants to be there for some reason, or they are truly afraid of exercising their authority even to protect their own time off.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              ^ this

              Neither one of those things points to a super good manager.
              – Because if they are staying late for a work reason, their time is getting sucked up into Jane’s chaos.
              – If they are staying there for a non-work reason, they are granting Jane a lot of access to their time and attention, in a way that is not helping whatever TH is going on with her, fanning the flames Jane’s stoking, giving credence to whatever Jane is saying, and behaving like the support the Jane-World-View which is not only bad for LW, it’s negatively impacting the department and clients
              – and if they are afraid of exercising their authority to rein in a combative dysfunctional employee, they are not the right person for this management job.

              1. Me Just Mee*

                I’m wondering if Jane might be a friend/relation to someone above OP’s manager’s head? Maybe the manager is stuck in a position where someone above them is advocating for Jane and they’re stuck, too. IDK

    2. Ann Onymous*

      I wonder if Jane realizes she’s not very good at her job so she’s trying to stir up drama to distract from that and doing it in a way that lets her point the finger at OP if somebody does get around to noticing that Jane’s job isn’t getting done. If that’s the case, she may not have anything against OP specifically, but would have done this to whoever happened to be in OP’s role.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        I think this is pretty likely too, but she started this behavior right out of the gate, which is super weird.

      2. TN/GA Lady*

        This explanation sounds pretty plausible to me, and Jane could be throwing in the self-protecting distraction unconsciously (but probably consciously). This theory is also perfectly compatible with other ideas people have posted about Jane being a relative or having some other link to the manager that led to her promotion .

      3. GammaGirl1908*

        I fully agree that Jane is threatened by LW’s competence and is defensive and acting out. But there’s still weirdness / missing information on the part of the manager who can’t SEE that Jane is incompetent at her job.

      4. The Prettiest Curse*

        I am wondering if Jane went full tilt at OP right out of the gate because she feels insecure or jealous that the OP used to cover her job. Some people just decide to be all back-stabby because they’re so unprofessional and territorial themselves that they can’t believe that other people can be professional. Regardless, Jane and the manager both sound awful.

      5. Ampersand*

        This answer makes the most sense to me; I’ve dealt with coworkers like this before. Drama really will throw you off someone’s track and make it harder to realize they’re not good at their job. It eventually comes out (in my experience) but takes longer, and it’s so confusing along the way.

        But also, what kind of manager is okay with multiple after-hours phone calls from an employee?! That part is so baffling.

          1. JSPA*

            can we please not? This really is one of the oldest site rules–that we not default to assuming that an incompetent woman who’s been promoted must have slept her way into the job.

        1. Julia*

          If Jane’s hours are 10-6 then the after hours calls are still within Jane’s work day. It’s also quite possible the manager isn’t OK with the calls but is taking them because it’s “easier” than arguing about it.

      6. sofar*

        This was also my read. It also seems Jane is trying to “document” or create some aura of the LW being a bully (the “afraid” stuff, picking fights hoping the LW will lash out) and that the LW isn’t helping her in a timely manner (reaching out after she knows LW is done for the day, possibly so she can say she didn’t get help/feedback “until the next day”). She’s really really bad at it. But add in a bumbling manager into the mix, HR that’s slow to act, and Jane will be able to milk a paycheck out of this for a very long time.

        Unsure why she was promoted, and that’s probably the juiciest part of this whole thing. If LW’s manager promoted her, perhaps he was just over her being a pest and gave her what she wanted. If someone else did, maybe a promotion got Jane off their team?

      7. Retired But Still Herding Cats*

        The timing doesn’t really support that theory – – OP mentioned that in the two interactions they had with Jane prior to Jane’s promotion, they “didn’t gel,” but OP just chalked it up to not everyone will like you.

    3. Polar Vortex*

      Good call out. Plus the fact that she said she didn’t know the material (!) in front of a group of executives (!!!) and nothing seems to have come of it. That’s a bit mind boggling.

      1. Earlk*

        If their manager was responsible for training Jane in the new role they might be trying to also shift the blame to LW for other Jane issues.

    4. Katie*

      I agree. Jane is completely off base. She’s wrong as can be. The missing part of this story is WHY is she so angry. What was the initial inciting factor, because there has to be one.

      1. Katie*

        OP, when you said you and Jane did not gel on previous occasions, can you be more specific? Because Jane apparently does think something happened.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Even if “something happened” Jane’s behavior is so out of bounds, so disruptive and so unprofessional it almost doesn’t matter? Like if it was something THAT egregious that Jane thought donning a bananapants HazMat suit was the right course of action, Jane should have raised it to someone (HR, management) before her declaration of “I hate you” and refusal to speak to, much less collaborate professionally with someone when the work requires it.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            OP would just drive herself insane trying to figure it out anyway. Because it could be she wore red shoes and Jane hates red shoes. You cannot rationally discern irrational behavior.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        It’s impossible to know. Because whatever it is, it probably doesn’t make any damn sense.

      3. New Day*

        Asking ‘why’ when it comes to messed up, dysfunctional behavior is the eternal question. Unfortunately, there really is never and good reason ‘why,’ it just is. We want to use reason with unreasonable behavior, that’s one of the hardest things about dealing with weird toxic behavior.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I wrote out a few reasons above from my own experience with a Jane. To add context: let’s say they are Accounting and we are general Operations overlapping with QA

      Jane is head of Accounting and “in charge” of integration with various outside vendors. Outside vendors email specific questions, she sends back vague answers they can’t work with.

      They call someone from Ops behind her back, a low level person fills in the gaps, then Jane nasty-emails everyone that all answers should flow through her. She feels undermined, low level workers are afraid to speak up. Rinse lather repeat . Upper upper management only gets involved when it gets escalated. Jane says she will play nice. But her definition of “play nice” is off, so it repeats

  7. phira*

    The fact that Jane is having frequent after hours meetings with the manager makes me think that the manager is either 1) very sympathetic to Jane and that’s one reason they keep getting this situation wrong, or 2) sick of Jane complaining and just wants LW to handle it. Either way, what on earth is going on here???

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, either they are so conflict-averse that they aren’t willing to manage Jane, and are expecting OP to deal because she is a more reasonable person , or manager and Jane are best buddies.

      1. JB*

        If this manager is conflict averse they shouldn’t be managing people. There’s more to this than meets the eye, and needs someone with more power than OP and will to act than the manager to look into.

    2. Kelly*

      That’s what happened when I had an assistant bullying me and trying to get me fired at a previous job. The boss chalked it up to “women can’t get along” and refused to handle it. We didn’t have HR so the office manager tried to talk to her, but the assistant started crying about how awful her life is and the meeting turned into evening therapy sessions. Nothing changed for me. When I quit the assistant told the rest of the staff I was a traitor for leaving.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      2) sick of Jane complaining and just wants LW to handle it.

      This is what I’m assuming.

      It’s pretty common for the person who seems more reasonable to be given the task of compromising to make peace, because everybody knows the unreasonable person isn’t going to do it. I think the manager is probably thinking Jane’s pretty mad, she says LW ‘s behavior is why, so if I get LW to change her behavior Jane won’t be mad anymore and work will go back to being peaceful and collaborative.

      The problem is that LW’s behavior isn’t actually why Jane is mad. It’s just the excuse she’s giving their manager. She was mad from the first moment of their relationship before LW even had a chance to do anything. The manager is operating in a faulty premise, and LW can’t fix what they didn’t break.

      1. EPLawyer*

        If manager is sick of Jane complaining she could — just not take all those meetings with her.

        Something is really weird here.

        1. JustaTech*

          The manager has no spine? The manager gets something (emotionally) out of listening to Jane complain? (I’ve known people who aren’t themselves drama llamas, but *love* to watch a drama llama in action, like they’re free reality TV.)

          1. JB*

            Could the manager be Michael Scott? Maybe they’re using the whine and cheese club to do some venting of their own. It reminds me of the episode where Kelly screws over Jim and Dwight with falsified customer reviews (they didn’t attend a party she organised) and when Michael is brought into it instead of being a half-decent manager talks about how he’s had similar pains with hosting social events.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        > It’s pretty common for the person who seems more reasonable to be given the task of compromising to make peace, because everybody knows the unreasonable person isn’t going to do it.

        Yup. I’ve seen this play out in family settings a lot, and in social groups formed around a shared activity (in other words, settings where people can’t or don’t want to leave the group, so they put up with nonsense until they can’t anymore).

  8. too many dogs*

    Is there any chance that Jane has some high level connection in the company that makes the manager reluctant to challenge her? Either way, I would cc the manager on ALL correspondence with & about this person, and document everything. I might also print everything so that stuff can’t be removed.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Maybe cc manager and grandboss?

      While also updating resume and kicking off a focused job search.

      Because unless there is a top notch HR department with a backbone, or a grandboss who will be like audreyBananaPants’ HR director who will go all “Hang on! WHAT did they do? WHAT did they say? Tell me again, slowly because I cannot even believe anyone thought THAT was a idea, much less a good idea”

    2. Lady Blerd*

      That or more simply, she’s friends with the manager. Possibility #2: said manager is a pushover. No need to imagine some kind of relationship to explain why Jane is having so many calls after hours with their boss when there are more bening plausible reasons.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        I imagine Jane always starts it as a “quick question” conversation that drags on big time.

  9. MourningStar*

    OP, this would also be a situation in which I would reccommend keeping a detailed record of your interactions with Jane. The language that Jane is using, that she is “afraid of you” is possibly foundational for future action on Jane’s part.

    You have stated that you have “responded promptly” and had to repeat yourself. Without making this too burdensome, I would begin keeping a log – in a way that best works with your workplace – of your interactions with Jane. Perhaps by project: Project #1, email one on date, reminder X sent on date, reminder X sent on date, reminder X sent on date. Jane requested email about X on date/time.”

    This should be an unemotional log with little details, kept in a private location. It is mostly to CYA should *Jane* go to HR in the future. I wish you luck.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Yeah, the fear claim seemed to me like it was setting up something more serious down the line. It’s so hard to tell with people like this how much is manipulation and how much is just being unhinged.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Jane does feel threatened. I agree with that part. She and OP are now equal. To the lawyers here in the Commentariat, say it with me:
        “if you can’t beat the law, beat the table.”

      2. Hannah Lee*

        I had a friend who went through this with a co-worker. Just him speaking emphatically or sitting upright in a chair was enough for her to react as though he was threatening her.

        He wound up a) avoiding speaking to her or even looking at her unless they were in a formal department meeting, so that he could address anything she said or questions she had to the group as a whole and
        b) when that wasn’t possible, using some combination of only speaking with her in public places, like in the hallway where other people were moving around or purposely making sure there was always a 3rd person around to witness the interaction (his boss, the department manager, a respected colleague, their union rep) so there were witnesses who could attest that he wasn’t threatening her.

        That was after he had twisted himself into pretzels trying to police his posture, tone, choice of words to be as non-threatening as possible. Because once she had decided either he was a threat or it suited her to paint him as a threat for whatever reason, she viewed his very existence as a threat and he could have been sitting on the floor facing away from her patting fluffy puppies and she’d claim he was being threatening somehow.

        He wound up having to spend way too much time with HR, his union rep, his manager thinking about the right course of action to document what was going on and how to avoid situations that could be misconstrued or purposely spun for some agenda … basically, keeping a defensive posture around her at all times and documenting everything. His boss and the grand boss and union rep all recognized that it absolutely was a her issue, not a him issue. And still it was unmanageable. He left that job and went elsewhere, and his stress level has gone down 1 million %.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      Concur. A log of all interactions, even the seemingly innocuous ones, written very matter-of-fact but detailed. And print copies of all your emails, in case something with the tech goes “wonky”. And I’d take this to HR before Jane decides she’s going to.

      Something is going on with Jane, your manager sucks to not correct this, and I’m sorry this is happening to you.

      There’s some great resume advice on this site… just saying.

      1. A Bug*

        I did exactly this in a private Google doc when I was in a similarly bananapantsy situation. Never needed to use it, but just getting it out helped me to process it, in addition to serving the CYA aspect.

    3. Bagpuss*

      The fear claim is also why I would be speaking to HR now, and explicitly asking them to record that Jane set up a meeting for the sole purpose of subjecting you to verbal abuse, stating that she hates you, despite having had minimal interaction before that and having no idea at all as to what triggered this.
      Tell them that you are struggling because of Jane’s refusal to speak to or message you even when it is necessary for your job and that you are concerned about retaliation for raising it.

      State that you have been told that Jane now claims to be scared of you but that you have done absolutely nothing to her, not even spoke to her, and have no idea what is causing this.
      I’d be inclined to say, specifically, that you are worried that her behaviour may escalate further, since she has already subjected you to verbal abuse and is apparently now escalating to making false allegations against you to third parties. Ask them what they can do to ensure that you are safe and are not subjected to further abuse or bullying.

      And document. Keep all emails that are sent to you because she won’t contact you directly, keep your responses so it can be seen that they are polite and neutral in tone, and helpful.
      Also, cc your manager on every single one and periodically send one on to your manager with a written request for help – e.g. “Jane is still refusing to ask me directly when she needs help. As you can see, I am still trying to help her but this is very inefficient. Could you advise about how to address this? ” (Or whatever is appropriate) so you can show both that you have not done anything inappropriate an that you have been consistently flagging the issue with your manager and asking for the issue to be addressed.

      But t this stage I would also probably be starting to job hunt because this is probably not going to get any better,.

      1. Rook Thomas*

        ALL of the yes to this. Documenting everything, using as neutral language as possible, is helpful. I have been known to bcc myself on emails to certain people, just so I have a record of it. Jane’s version of things does not reflect reality, so documenting each and every interaction may help. But if the manager isn’t taking care of this, and there isn’t a way to go above them to their grand-boss or HR . . . . Jane will likely continue along the Crazy Bananapants path.

        It’s frustrating that looking for another job might be the only other option, since it seems like OP has a good team and has built a good reputation with clients.

      2. I have RBF*

        But at this stage I would also probably be starting to job hunt because this is probably not going to get any better.


        Quite frankly, the situation has been allowed to fester and get worse by your manager so long that it may not have a resolution aside from firing Jane or you leaving. It’s obvious that your manager sees nothing wrong with Jane’s behavior, or they would be shutting it down, not telling you to “fix it”.

        When a bully has the backing of their manager, there is nothing you can do to make it better. Your manager has chosen sides, and they haven’t picked yours. You are likely to get fired because Jane claims to be “afraid” of you and will create incidents to justify this, even if what she does is harass you until you lose it.

        Seriously, run. Let your manager deal with Jane’s incompetence without you to pick up the slack and the blame.

        1. Nodandsmile*


          I’m saddened by the fact so many of us have worked with “Janes” and similar managers. My manager had an attachment to my Jane – not romantic but where they were a mentor and felt protective (almost parentally) towards Jane. That’s not an easy dynamic to counter. Important to recognize that managers don’t always act rationally and when they are not you can’t sway them with objective information. Unless you LOVE this job and are willing to exhaust all avenues to get people (who don’t want to) to see sense, then I’d suggest you look for another job.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      I would cc the manager (and anyone else who can be reasonably included) on every single email I send to Jane.

      Have to repeat instructions 3 times – cc manager every time.
      Have to request a report repeatedly – cc manager and the end person who needs the data

      It is also definitely time to talk to HR or if not HR, I would seriously consider going over Manager to their manager.

      Also, I would start job hunting, because this is just ridiculous.

    5. MsSolo (UK)*

      Maybe it’s just recent news, but “afraid of you” is making me wonder if there’s a racial element in play*. Behaving as though OP is the aggressor, failing to listen to them when they provide basic instructions, expecting them to pick up any work Jane doesn’t want to do, and expecting them to “enable Jane’s success”, (and that this appears to have erupted out of pretty minimal interaction, where Jane has made up her mind to dislike OP before they had spent any significant time together) are all part of a pattern where OP has been cast in a subservient role to Jane, and attempts to reject that role are seen as a threat.

      I absolutely think documenting Jane’s abuse is important, but the less information kept in the log the better. If Jane learns of the log (or if your manager tells her about it, because frankly, that feels like this is where this would go) it risks being turned into another way OP is a threat to Jane, where she’ll claim it’s evidence the OP is targeting her. It exists so you can find evidence if you need to put your hands on it, and demonstrate a pattern, and to prove to yourself you’re not going mad, but be very careful about who you share it with.

      *or trans/homophobia, if OP is, for example, a transwoman or butch lesbian, where Jane can cast herself as a delicate white ciswoman

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        I also thought of this. I pinned the “fear” on Jane’s being threatened by LW’s competence, but ONLY because LW did not mention any racial element.

    6. Cam*

      And make sure you BCC your records to your personal email. You need copies you can easily access if they were to suddenly disappear from company servers, or you lost your job.

  10. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    Absolutely wild. I wonder if letter writers ever show their managers Alison’s response to stuff like this? I imagine it wouldn’t be helpful (and would actually make the situation worse) a lot of the time, but if you’re dealing with a manager who’s generally got good judgment but for some reason is just missing pieces of the puzzle, it feels like it might be helpful perspective.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Even just the letter itself might make it click, IF anything is going to make it click (which, yeah, wouldn’t count on it in this case). Seeing it all laid out in one place instead of processing each occurrence as it comes.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      “Here ya go, boss. The universe said that Jane is bananapants and that you won’t do your job, either because of incompetence or laziness or both.”

      Yeah, I can’t imagine that would go over too well. But gosh, if I ever wanted to burn a bridge on the way out, this would be my version of resigning in cod, but I would probably just email it to everyone in the building.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Not a manager, but there was one letter-writer who printed out the post and left it on their coworker’s chair. See “update from the reader whose coworker appointed herself the food police” from December 18, 2011 for details.

  11. SMH*

    First step is create a timeline starting with prior interactions then the phone call with all the details listed including what names you were called and subsequent interactions. Document your conversations with your manager and all steps taken to help/assist Jane. This is not sustainable for you or the clients and I’m not understanding why your boss cannot see this as beyond any normal office relationship. I’m not against going to HR but I would also consider a one on one with your manager’s boss to make them understand how this is impacting your team and the clients. You cannot work with Jane because she won’t speak to you and she’s telling people she’s afraid of you for no reason.

    Emphasis how the clients and you and your team are impacted- delayed responses, being told ‘I don’t know instead of I’ll find out,’ late night meetings, repeatedly going over the same things with Jane. Explain that Jane needs more coaching but that it cannot come from you with the current restrictions Jane has placed. I would also make it clear you will not meet alone with Jane at this time. Let them know from the beginning that you have discussed with your manager but no assistance has been provided and you cannot come up with any way to fix this situation on your own. Hopefully this helps resolve the issue.

    If going to manager’s boss and HR are not options I would start looking for another job ASAP but still set up meetings with HR and document the entire situation. It may not help but at least they cannot state they were unaware.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      I forgot to add ‘document, document, document’ to my response below. All of the above from SMH is good advice.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        Agree with both SMH and Relentlessly Socratic. Sometimes, documentation and writing things down — though a big PITA because you have work to do — can help bad managers and/or HR see that: (1) Jane’s problems aren’t transitory or imagined by you; and (2) her behavior will affect the bottom line, not least of which because customers don’t like being told that their rep can’t and won’t help them.

  12. Still not picked a username*

    I’m wondering whether the fact that it took a while to register just how, off…., Jane is, and then the manager too, is a sign that other things in your workplace are perhaps not in align with how good workplaces run either and your viewpoint has got skewed on what normal behaviours look like. Are they really two outlier points or are they part of a wider cultural issue?

    1. Double A*

      Yeah this is kind of a classic letter where we get a follow-up that’s like, “After writing my letter, I realized Jane was a symptom of widespread bananapants. It was bananapants all the way down, bananapants as far as the eye could see. A bananapants ensemble, if you will.”

      1. Walk on the Left Side*

        Bananapants, bananasocks, bananaunderwear……
        “On a scale from pants to lingerie, just how bananas are we talking?”

  13. Falling Diphthong*

    Jane has discovered the power of being the most unreasonable one in the room, the one everyone else must bend to accommodate.

    You have a management problem. I do think it’s worth one meeting with your manager to give this every chance to be that she didn’t realize the scope of Jane’s shrapnel. Don’t use softening language. And practice some scripts so you’re laying the scope out succinctly and calmly, not getting down into the weeds of one small thing that really irks you.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Your comment kicked me in the teeth with how succinctly it articulates a situation I’ve been struggling to illustrate in my own office. Blessings upon you Falling Diphthong.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Yes. This is where OP meets with manager, presents a documented list of what Jane says and will not do. Then sits back and lets the manager speak.
      “Well, you have to get along with her.”
      She won’t answer emails, phone calls or meeting requests.
      “You need to find a way.”
      That is why I’m here. I need you to find an option for me.
      then wait.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes. I’ve tried everything I can think of. You’ve seen my messages to her, they’ve never been anything other than polite and helpful. I’m here because I am out of ideas – what specifically are you saying I should do?

        I’d also say “I still have no idea what I have done to make Jane, in her own words, ‘hate’ me. How can I fix something when I have no idea what her problem is? “

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I suspect this is going to go one of two ways. The first way is that it will clarify for the manager that the OP is trying their best to make it work and is consistently helpful and polite, while Jane is being ridiculous. It could change things for the better.

          The second way is that the manager won’t be able to come up with specific actions the OP can take – because they can’t unilaterally solve the problem of Jane being ridiculous – and will take their frustration out on the OP. It definitely seems as though the manager doesn’t want to deal with this. Making it clear that they have to if there’s any hope of the situation improving might just piss a terrible manager off.

          I’m not saying don’t take this approach, just think through the possible outcomes based on what you know about the manager. Are they usually quick to anger and to blame others?

          1. Lizzo*

            This is good advice to think through possible outcomes here. I had a grandboss who was SUPER AVERSE to any kind of conflict. I knew that going in to a conversation with him about how my boss was not doing her job. I also knew that if he wasn’t willing to deal with the issue, then I wasn’t willing to continue working there. Thinking through that ahead of time gave me much more confidence during the conversation.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          I’d skip that last bit.

          Because for LW, the WHY Jane is doing what she’s doing isn’t the thing causing the problem or LWs problem to solve. It’s Jane’s unprofessional behavior in the workplace, failure to engage in normal business communication needed for the department to function is the problem. Or at least the one LW should be focusing manager’s attention on.

          Partially because it’s the right approach (like the advice gives managers to focus performance feedback on behavior that needs to change, not the myriad reasons why the behavior is happening in the first place … eg for an employee with horrible attendance) but also because when you’re dealing with A Jane, taking the lid off the cracker-box to explore her many reasons and justifications is just going to make things worse, focus on her emotions, perceived slights and derail attempts to focus on what needs to change from a process and communication and accountability standpoint.

      2. Boof*

        Or simply be equally “unreasonable” (actually totally reasonable given the situation) “I will no longer work with jane or cover her work until she can treat me with standard professional civility” and direct every jane based request to manager

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yes, exactly. And focus on how it’s affecting your productivity and the company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, they’re going to care more about her making bad decisions about clients and not being able to perform the basic functions of the job than they are about how she’s making you miserable.

    4. Quinalla*

      Agreed, Jane is so far out of line here it is unreal, but I agree the true problem is management. If there was even a hint of good management, Jane would be kept reasonably in check or have been fired already. So yeah, go to your manager and lay it all out – keep it fact based with a lot of Jane did X, I tried Y, Z & A with no change on her end. If your manager STILL insists you need to solve this, then A – start looking for a new job B – escalate to HR or someone above your manager and then if HR is no help C – make this all your manger’s (or whoever in management it makes sense) problem. Try something, make sure to CC your manager on it and when it of course doesn’t work, follow up with your manager for ideas/mentoring. If Jane has made herself so out there that no one wants to manage her, keep putting that problem back in front of management to deal with.

      And I agree with documenting as others have suggested and take that documentation to HR.

      So sorry you are having to deal with this OP!

  14. Angela Zeigler*

    My gut instinct towards the situation is Jane’s got the benefit of nepotism, so no matter how she acts out, it’ll be up to everyone else bending over backwards to make it work. (Obviously I could be wrong, but it would explain a lot of how placing any kind of responsibility on Jane is out of the question.)

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I feel sexism. I know we don’t know boss’ gender; I don’t think it matters. I think however boss identifies, they feel that this is personality conflict, not a work issue.
      And by not managing Jane, they are making it personal between the two. Which it never had to be.
      “I don’t like her.”
      “I won’t work with her.”
      Not OK.

    2. Zarniwoop*

      After Jane got away with “admitted not knowing in front of 10 executives” I suspect it’s a high level connection rather than the immediate boss, which makes going over immediate boss’s head riskier and less likely to work.

  15. Relentlessly Socratic*

    I personally don’t like to start my day with meetings, but I don’t put on my best 3-piece bananasuit to let other people know that.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see a path forward with Jane’s full-frontal hostility and manipulation. The best you can do, I think, is continue to behave as cordially as possible, keep manager looped in, maintain impeccable business manners with the clients, and (sadly) job search.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Same I have a pretty strong “no meetings before 10” policy if I can help it – but you can’t always help it. And I certainly don’t *hate* anyone who doesn’t have the same preferences.

      1. Lurker*

        I dislike first thing in the morning meetings (like before 10am) because I’m not a morning person (and never have been). I live in a place where I’m reliant on public transport so on any given day I may also fall prey to unavoidable delays. I also like to have 15 minutes before meetings to organize my thoughts, notes, materials and so having a meeting first thing means I’m already not at my best/awake and I have to rush to either get to work earlier to prepare, or not be prepared as I’d like. I solve this by blocking out my calendar every morning for the first 30 minutes of each day. I use this time to check emails to make sure there are no “fires” that need immediate attention.

        The WORST is when people schedule meetings first thing on Monday mornings. Why?!!?? (Also Fridays at 4pm. )

        1. Student*

          We have an informal rule that we aren’t supposed to schedule meetings with any of our military contacts (routine, but not constant, for our jobs) before noon on Monday or after noon on a Friday. Rest of the work week is fair game. Those specific times, we’re told it’s a cultural thing that we just Should Not Do because the military folks will think we are jerks.

          Within our own office, it’s considered completely reasonable and normal to do meetings any time within the range of 8 am to 6 PM on all work days.

          1. Lurker*

            My former a**hole supervisor tried to schedule our standing 1:1 for 9:30am on Mondays. When our normal working office hours were 10am -6pm. When I told him “no, I couldn’t come in regularly before office hours for a standing meeting” he argued with me that it was *normal* to schedule meetings outside of work hours and people do it all the time. That’s just one example out of many of his unreasonableness and the total dysfunction of that workplace.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              I had a manager who liked to do that after normal business hours, or worse, wander by 10 minutes before the normal end of work with some important thing that needed attention, discussion for 60-90 minutes.

              Eventually we (his staff) figured out what was going on: he was hanging around late at work so that his wife (who also worked full time) would have picked up their toddler from day care, made dinner and got the kid ready for bed before he got home. So all he had to do was come in, pour a drink, heat up his dinner and “vent” to her about his “hard” workday instead of lifting a finger for the weeknight routine at home.

              It was just one of the many unpleasant things about that boss.

            2. Luna*

              If the meeting is outside of the common work’s business hours, I insist on being paid for taking part in them. It’s a work thing, the only way you have a right to my ‘free time’ is if you turn it into official work stuff, meaning I get paid for being there.

              I had a meeting with my district manager half an hour before the store starts, and I was officially written in the schedule as starting at 9AM instead of at 9:30AM. Same when we had a store-wide meeting. Every employee had to be there, and those that were not scheduled on that day were written down as being on schedule for the duration of that meeting, meaning we got paid.

          2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            At my previous job, there was an informal understanding that you didn’t schedule meetings for Monday mornings, or Fridays, and should try to avoid half term dates (but those didn’t work: we were in London, our staff lived in multiple different educational authorities, it would in practice mean you couldn’t do three weeks)

        2. Prospect Gone Bad*

          Friday afternoons are great because everyone has all of this stuff floating around their heads from the week. Mondays and early mornings are horrible, I find meetings are much more productive if people have had a chance to look at work and speak to eachother and customers first. We can be putting out a fire on Friday afternoon and by Monday morning half the people forgot it. So I found it’s better to schedule later

        3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Hard same. It’s not my favourite. I will gently express this preference to people. (No, this doesn’t not include yelling! WTF?!). But sometimes it’s unavoidable. Especially with busy executives. Which sometimes means meetings start 30-60 minutes before my workday typically does. Especially especially when there’s some urgent thing to deal with and we need to get everyone together ASAP.

        4. AnonInCanada*

          …or any day at 4 pm for that matter. Especially where I work. They drag on and on and on and it’s relevant to me why?

      2. Aggretsuko*

        Hahahah,we have to have 95% of our meetings between 8-10 a.m. and usually it’s 8:15 or 8:30 to 9-9:30.

      3. higheredadmin*

        Same. If someone schedules a meeting before 10am then I take it at home and then come in. I take public transportation but it’s not reliable enough to get kids out the door and hit a 9am meeting.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I don’t like to start my day with meetings, but my day also starts before 9:00 (our start times are staggered around core hours) so a 9:00 meeting is a mid-morning interruption of my work, which I like even less.

      1. AnonToday*

        SAME. When I see someone who thinks 9am meetings are too early I wonder which coast they’re on. In my experience the midwest runs earlier.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          9 am meetings arent early but still kinda annoying since if I get off work at 7 or 9 I like to slide in a little late ..

        2. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I’m East Coast (currently on a call with the UK where it’s nearly 17:00) and if I know I have anyone west of me on a call, I try like heck to make sure we don’t schedule too early in the morning. Not always possible, but I do try.

        3. beedy boop boop*

          Midwesterner here and 9 a.m. is my preferred meeting time because I can get in, make sure I have my life together, then proceed to the meeting. Also allows me extra travel time if it’s in Capitol City instead of College Town.

          When I lived on the East Coast, I was so confused with what to do with a 9 a.m. start time that I asked to switch my hours to 8-4. (Helped with traffic, too!)

          1. Fishsticks*

            Also a Midwesterner by birth, currently living in the deep South. All my coworkers start at 9 and work until 5, except for two I think come in at 8 and work til 4 (or, for hte Gen Xer who struggles a little with work/life boundaries, until 5 or 6). I negotiated to start at 730 and work until 330, and when I can get there at 7, I work til 3 instead. It works so much better for me, and I don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to get their day over with early if they have an option!

            Obviously many people flat out don’t have the option. I just mean for those who could.

            I’m not even a morning person. I just loathe working over dinnertime. That… might actually have to do with having been raised in a farming family where my dad was diabetic and so our mealtimes were pretty set in stone and we never ate later than 6:15.

      1. AnonInCanada*

        It’s peanut butter jelly tiiiiiiiiime! Who has that song now stuck in their head?

    3. Lenora Rose*

      And even if it is a preference, it sounds like Jane went from saying nothing about the time to calling the OP names without trying any of the dozens of possible steps before then, ranging from just sucking it up to asking nicely in private if future meetings can happen at better (for her) times to asking AT the next meeting to see if anyone else agrees.

    4. Single Parent Barbie*

      My work day starts at 7 am. A 9 am meeting interferes with naptime. But also in my workplace, and most I have at worked, when a meeting time is set for a bad time, particualrly a one on one or small group, we can suggest an alternative time. Is that not an Option here?

      1. Lurker*

        You take a nap at 9am? I guess, based on your user name, you mean 9am meetings interfere with your child’s naptime, which, honestly, should be irrelevant. If I was asked to reschedule a meeting during business hours because you were regularly prioritizing something not work-related (like taking care of a kid) I’d be annoyed.

        1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          Eh, it’s pretty routine in my office to set your lunch or lunch-equivalent unavailable time to make things work with standing commitments, whether they’re childcare related or a standing gym schedule or a therapy appointment. And if SPB is starting at 7, a standing commitment at 9 is equivalent to someone who starts at 9 and takes an early lunch at 11. Not unheard of.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I hate first-thing-in-the-morning meetings because I work in DC, and daily traffic is a crapshoot, regardless of how early I leave my house. Give me until at least 9:30, preferably 10. But I would never in a million years yell at a coworker or tell them I hate them over it – or anything.

      Jane is behaving in a manner that is beyond sending coworkers to figure it out. If I were her boss, I’d have wanted to know what the whole I-hate-you call was about because that is not an acceptable way to communicate with anyone (even if you do hate them and everything Jane thinks about OP were actually true) in a professional environment.

    6. JB*

      Keep as many interactions possible in a way that can be recorded, like email (with the not so managing manager CC’d in) and whatever instant messenger service the office uses. That presents a paper trail which can’t be so easily dismissed. If her vendetta is affecting productivity that too can be used as evidence for it having wider consequences.

  16. Bagpuss*

    This all sounds maddening.
    Givne the managers refusal to manage, I would second Alisons recomendations to documents and describe the situation in detail, including setting out the abusive behaviour of Jane towards you and asking that this is addressed with her.

    The other thing I would suggest is that the other people who are getting dragged into this shoud also raise concerns – you mentioned that members of your team are getting queries from Jane because she won’t speak to you directly, and that clients are also contacting them. Would it be possible for those people to stop forwarding the queries to you, but instead have a blanket “you need to ask LW” and for them also to raise their concerns directly with Jane’s boss. It’s possible that this may make it clearer to her that this is a Jane problem, it’s not something you can fix.

    The only other thing I can think of is for you to speak to your boss again, go into more detail including Jane’s verbal abuse, and ask her for specific advise on how, exactly, you can fix things.

    I would also contact HR and make a formal complaint about Jane’s aggression towards you, even though the verbal abuse isn’t recent, , explain that you were too shocked and upset at the time to do anything and since then, you’ve tried to do everything possible to help her but her hostility seems to be escalating with her now making malicious allegations about you to others. Do you have any kind of anti-bullying policies or formal grievance procedure?

    Is her manager the same person as yours, and is there a grandboss you can speak to ?

    Is your boss generally this bad or is there something else going on?

  17. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    There is some major context missing here. My suspicion is that Jane is being protected by the manager for reasons that are being withheld from the LW. You should kick this all the way up the chain with HR so that this can be investigated. No competent manager would allow this abusive behavior to continue. It’s a recipe for disaster, legally speaking.

    1. Phony Genius*

      It may not be the manager themselves. Jane looked bad in front of 10 executives, but it sounds like nothing was done. At the very least, the manager knows that they also looked bad to the executives, but still nothing. That’s not normal unless the executives are also protecting her for some reason.

      1. Qwerty*

        I doubt the executives are protecting her. Odds are they said something to Jane & OP’s manager, who used the excuse that Jane is new, and tasked the manager with fixing things.

        Having been in many meetings with executives where someone “looked bad”, often it doesn’t leave as much of a impression as you would think. They may or may not flag it for someone else depending on whether they got the info they need. Most of the executives I’ve worked with are so busy that they forget 80% of what happens.

        A question I have is whether the manager feels empowered to actually do anything about Jane. It can be surprisingly hard to move forward with any performance management at a lot of organizations, as we’ve seen in many letters. Doubly so if it is perceived as a personality clash. It doesn’t excuse the manager telling the OP to fix it herself, but it is a common response from an inexperienced manager.

  18. AnonAgain*

    It sounds like the promotion was a mistake and your boss knows it and is trying to save face in hopes that Jane will get her act together.
    Something similar happened to an old manager of mine when they brought on SEVERAL horrible workers (thankfully contractors) despite feedback that they shouldn’t have been hired. But they tried to “make it work” until it didn’t and they had to let them all go. Eventually my manager was demoted and sent to another department due to their mismanagement of new hires.

    I vote on CCing your manager on all the emails from Jane with your replies so there is a paper trail of her incompetence.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That’s a fair guess. Maybe the manager really went to bat for Jane against some others who had doubts.

  19. Wallflower*

    Similar situation where I work some years ago. Manager actually facilitated the discord and despite my sincere attempts to apologize for (??) and find new common ground, I was further spurned. It was as if the co-worker and manager were trying to force me out. Long story short: I’m still here – they’re long gone.

    Some managers just shouldn’t be managers.

    1. anonymouse*

      I’ve outlasted a series of workplace bullies and I’m proud of myself for that. It’s a great job with a good boss who listened. The misfits saw themselves out when they didn’t get what they wanted.

    2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      What a happy ending to a sad story. :) Glad you outlasted them, Wallflower. I do hope you got some petty satisfaction in the resolution of that situation.

  20. Observer*

    In addition to Alison’s advice, can you bump this to your GradnBoss? Also, start putting your manager’s instructions to fix Jane’s behavior into email, and start cc’ing Grandboss (and perhaps bcc’ing a persona account outside of the company, as long as you only do that for information that’s truly non-confidential.)

    The reason I’m suggesting the outside email is because I am ALSO going to suggest that you start looking for another job. You are being set up to fail, intentionally or not. And if you wind up getting pushed out over this, or it gets so bad that you need to leave without anything lined up, you’ll have a better chance of collecting unemployment if you can show that your working conditions were bonkers.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, in my experience, she who is bullied is usually the one who gets punished/in trouble/loses her job, not the actual bully, or bananapants in this case. If you’re getting the blame and you’re being told to make her cooperate with you, it’s gonna be on you, not her.

    2. 2cents*

      My thoughts exactly… grandboss might be an option here if the manager is fully aware of what’s going on but unwilling to do anything about it.

  21. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    There are two possibilities here: (1) Your manager doesn’t fully understand the situation, which is why her response to it seems so off, or (b) she does fully understand the situation but is a terrible manager with awful judgment.

    I’ll offer possibility (C):
    Manager is in cahoots with Jane to undermine and/or “quiet fire” OP.

    1. JB*

      Based on the daily after hours meetings it would seem there’s more than the professional relationship between manager and employee at play. Granted, there’s no much professionalism at play here. If Jane had a legitimate grievance where she was being mistreated she’d have taken it to HR, but at present it’s vicious cycling between Jane, OP and the mis-manager. OP needs to get someone outside the cycle in to try break it.

  22. Phony Genius*

    The manager’s behavior reminds me of something I heard an upper manager say recently. It was along the lines of “If you come to me with a problem, I will say to you ‘What do you think I will tell you to do? Do that.'” Not very helpful if you need his direct intervention.

    1. Observer*

      What if the answer is “I don’t expect you to tell ME to do anything. I’m expecting that you will do something.”

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Depends on the scope of the problem. I have a huge backlog of stuff because other middle managers are waiting to discuss really low level stuff with their managers. For example, should we give someone a $200 adjustment or let someone go onto a sale price. It’s such low level stuff that it’s almost embarrassing that they can’t decide for themselves without running it by their managers. And yes, their managers are nice and give them leeway, but people tend to get decision paralysis and procrastinate.

    2. LCH*

      Come up with truly bananapants advice and tell him that’s what you think he would say? Oh, no, it isn’t?

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      In other words, this boss expects everyone to be a mind reader, and then will get upset when people don’t ask him what they should do and instead do something different from what he would have proposed.

      Can I just have his job, please? I have no problem brainstorming with employees and I could really use the money.

    4. Festively Dressed Earl*

      That’s helpful if most of his reports never even try to problem solve, infuriating if you’ve just told him “I tried A B C and D and it didn’t work. You have the authority to try E-H.”

    5. Luna*

      “Does that mean I have your full permission to go bananapants onto the other person?” =)

  23. Fishsticks*

    this sounds like management doesn’t want to actually do the whole managing bit to me. Manager knows this is bad, but they don’t want to be the “bad guy” who shuts Jane’s little crusade down, so they just shove it onto the LW and hope it goes away or they at least don’t have to hear about it any longer.

    I’ve had managers like that.

    Time to get a new job, LW, because managers like this don’t improve in my experience.

  24. Hell in a Handbasket*

    In addition to the other good advice, I think this is another scenario of “you can’t care more about your company than your bosses do.” If Jane is making the company look bad in meetings, presentations, etc., it’s not your job to fix that — and doing so may be what’s allowing your management to continue to sweep the Jane issues under the rug. I know this is hard advice to follow, but I would take a big step back and start letting some of the chips fall where they may, while still doing your great work in your own job.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Was gonna say this.

      After hours calls — oh darn didn’t see it.
      Email inquiries from people Jane should be dealing with — redirect back to Jane.

      Stop covering for her. Managment won’t act as long as the work is getting done. Make it a management problem, not a you problem. If they have to deal with the squeaky wheel, then something gets done. As long as the squeaky wheel is being dealt with by others, they can ignore it.

      Also, as someone above noted, are there other issues here? Even if not, you might want to start a soft job search. You can’t maintain this stress for long.

    2. Too old*

      True story, if the Company doesn’t care, why should you. I had a Jane and it took me awhile to figure this out. I quit doing her job, and I was let go. Best thing to happen to me! Good Luck!

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yeah that’s my concern because right now neither Jane nor OP’s boss is in OP’s corner.

  25. TeenieBopper*

    I would bet all the money in my pocket against all the money in your pocket that OP is black and Jane is white and racist. Side bet that OP is a black woman, Jane is a white woman, and the manager is a dude and sexist.

    1. Portia*

      If we have to go there…

      It is also possible that OP is white and Jane is not, and massively incompetent manager wrongly believes that means MIM can’t do anything about Jane’s insane behavior.

      This situation is so messed up, many scenarios are possible. (I vote for “MIM and Jane are trying to drive out OP” myself.)

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      I thought there was a whole thing about how you’re not supposed to negatively speculate on facts not mentioned in the original post.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I feel like everyone here wants to diagnose ADHD or some ism as the first answer to everything. I’ve worked at large companies with diverse staff and one that was very white, and we’ve had all of the situations written about here with every combination of people. Bad employee + manager that isn’t fully involved is such a classic situation that there is no reason to dig deeper

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Hear, hear on not diagnosing anybody with any mental issue (or racism, if it wasn’t brought up).

    4. Peanuts*

      I will admit this thought came to my head as well, but there isn’t enough information here to run with this line of thinking. The claim that Jane is “scared” of the OP is what arched my brow. IYKYK.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        People claim that I am “scary” sometime and I’m just a plain ol’ fat, middle-aged, white woman. I do speak my mind, tho.

        1. Not a Drill Instructor*

          Apparent I’m scary too. But I made a Marine cry once (I am not even in the military!), so I guess it’s true.
          His CO privately thanked me and thought it was hilarious.
          I wasn’t even middle-aged then, I just channeled my mom’s teacher voice very well.

  26. Looper*

    Your manager sounds weak and completely out of her depth. Given that Jane has proved herself irrational and willing to say outrageous things in a work setting, I think it’s safe to assume she is making threats, vague or overt, to your manager who is falling for it. I would document the hell out of this entire saga and start going to HR and possibly to your manager’s boss.

  27. JustMe*

    Had a terrible coworker who hated me and managers who wouldn’t do much about it. I just cc’ed managers in all of our communications. Whenever there was an issue with them, I would bring it to my managers as a, “Hey, how would you recommend that I approach this with Fergus?” rather than “Fergus is deliberately undermining us by doing x.” Once the managers were actually forced to think through how they would deal with Fergus and realized there was nothing TO do with someone that unhinged, he was eventually PIP’ed and then let go.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yep, this. They are deliberately taking it from their plate, where it belongs, and putting it on your plate, where it most definitely does not belong.

      Good job on you for making the managers do what they are getting paid the big bucks to do!

  28. CV*

    If it’s legal where you live, I recommend sound recording conversations with Jane about this. Managers might not believe you otherwise, as it is so bizarre.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Sadly, my understanding is that there was just one conversation, where Jane told OP she was going no contact – then she went no contact. It would’ve been great if there was a recording of that meeting, but who could’ve seen it coming?

    2. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Even in single-consent states, recording conversations with coworkers can backfire spectacularly on the person doing the recording, and erode trust with that employee. Even when they are in the right.

      1. Phony Genius*

        Most places where I have worked, secret recordings of conversations will get you fired, even in single-consent states. For the reasons you stated.

  29. Meep*

    I ended up having to go no-contact with a bullying coworker and even then, it was limited to “I am not going to be alone in the same room as you because you are verbally abusive and I want a paper trail.” If she called, I responded via email asking what she needed. If she tried to call again (because she didn’t want the paper trail), I told her email was easiest. Our manager was CC’ed on everything. When she removed him, I put him back on.

    Let’s just say that OP is rude, cold, and nasty to Jane (which seems like a huge stretch, but stick with me), wouldn’t Jane also want that paper trail too? It would protect Jane at the very least!

    My guess is Jane is like my former coworker to which I would just cc your manager on everything so she can get the complete picture. It took my manager awhile, but after a lot of “[Toxic Coworker], as I have said and you have acknowledged….” he finally got the picture because it wasn’t just a he said/she said situation.

  30. LawBee*

    Jane sounds exhausting. I would consider going to your manager’s boss, as they are clearly not handling the situation at all. After hours bitch sessions with Jane? Nope.

  31. Yellow Springs*

    Why does OP think Jane is “scared” of them? I think it’s curious that OP did not speculate on this point.
    I’ll believe OP that the statement is unreasonable, I’m sure they’re not being intentionally scary, but I agree with commenters above that there is something going on that we don’t have enough information about. Whatever the answer is (OP is a different race? OP is super tall? Has a loud voice? Is male? Went to a better college?) I’d think that there’s some germ of something that is making Jane act so bananacrackers to this person, even if totally unreasonably.

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      That was a red flag to me! I would be tempted to behave as if taking that seriously: always have a third party present for whenever meeting face to face with Jane. This is not just to “make Jane feel safe” but to also protect yourself from Jane’s false accusations or even (heaven forbid) physical attack by Jane. Her behaviour is so odd that it is hard to entirely rule out that possibility.

    2. Observer*

      Why does OP think Jane is “scared” of them? I think it’s curious that OP did not speculate on this point.

      Why would they speculate about this? It’s not like Jane has been reasonable about any part of this?

      Also, it sounds to me like the OP doesn’t believe that Jane is actually scared, but thinks that she is saying that as a way to make the OP look bad. Given your reaction, I’d say that the OP is right.

      I’d think that there’s some germ of something that is making Jane act so bananacrackers to this person, even if totally unreasonably.

      There always is. But that doesn’t mean that this has anything to do with what the OP has done. And if somehow the OP’s mere existence or history has triggered some issue for Jane, what exactly is the OP supposed to do about it anyway? The bottom line is that there is simply nothing here that is in any way relevant to the OP. Jane is acting like Aubrey in the letter from the person (see yesterday’s update) who lost a ton of weight sue to emergency surgery to remove a huge (and life threatening) tumor.

    3. Waiting on the bus*

      Considering that Jane also told OP directly that she hates them and called them names, I wouldn’t put too much stock on the assertion that she’s scared of them. The latter seems more like groundwork for a narrative to cast doubt should OP ever try to defend themselves against the former. Same with the late night meetings with OP’s manager.

  32. jax*

    Here is what I would be inclined to do. Any time a client came to my team for answers that are under Jane’s purview, I would respond with “I’m kicking this back to Jane-her department is best equipped for this question!” and CC Jane, my manager and Jane’s manager. Rinse and Repeat. If I got a message forward to me by someone that Jane sent it to originally I would say “Jane, I’d be happy to explain this to you, reach out to me directly so we can clear it up” and cc bosses, etc. And just wait. Jane is making her problems everyone elses so return it to sender. “I’d be happy to help Jane but she never approached me” “I didn’t want any nuance to get lost in a game of telephone” “I just want to be courteous to Jane’s department and not step on any toes!”

  33. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    OP, how large is the company? Can you go over your manager’s head? Can you get a transfer to another department or division? I’d nope out of the situation and let those two dig their own graves, if I could. One possible complication of this though, is that OP’s team might end up reporting to Jane if OP leaves. Is there any way for the whole team to get a transfer? (I know the answer, but a girl can dream.)

  34. Mensa Maid*

    I had a coworker who refused to speak with me. If I walked over to their cubicle to ask a question, they would turn away from me and refuse to answer. The problem was, my manager was their “work spouse” so I had no help there, and their own manager was 2000 miles away and someone I had never even met or spoken with.

    Office life can be like the worst parts of junior high!

  35. Selina Luna*

    I have a coworker whom I dislike. She’s a conspiracy theorist who complains constantly about how the school where we work doesn’t take her conspiracy theories seriously. This morning, she had some information that I needed. Do you know what I did? I marched into her classroom… and asked politely for the information, as well as touched base on a class we’re coteaching (admin requirements), and then complimented her artwork and returned to my class. That’s how to be a professional, dang it.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I wish Jane could read this comment.

      (Writing this as I hear Montell Jordan “This is how we do it” chorus in the background…)

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Perfect. There is usually nothing to be gained by being rude or cold with coworkers you don’t like. And some of them probably HATE IT when they can’t get a rise out of you.

  36. Baron*

    I’m just gobsmacked that anyone in a professional work environment would tell someone else “I hate you” in a non-joking way. That’s…not a word I use at work. Especially for someone I’ve barely interacted with!

    1. irene adler*

      I agree.

      Something is going on with Jane – in addition to what the OP is aware of.
      My thought: someone is telling Jane things designed to upset her. And attributing these things to the OP.

      My bro experienced this as a new manager. Someone kept telling him how much a manager in another department was unhappy with his work on various projects, decisions he’d made, etc. When he suggested he talk directly to this manager, he was warned not to. She had a huge temper. Best to keep clear.

      Only, he did go talk to this manager. At first, she was very snippy towards him. He learned that she had no issue whatsoever with his work. She was told HE had a problem with her work. Which he did not.

      Lesson learned.

      Unfortunately, in the OP’s case, can’t talk to Jane- cuz she’s crazy!

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oh I made a stupid mistake at my first US job that resulted in something like this. I stupidly made a comment to a teammate, about a coworker who’d recently left for a better job, that I thought the departed coworker was “not that creative”. Which is totally cool! Neither am I, as it turns out!! We can’t all be the new Bill Gateses or whatever. Well it somehow got to her, and apparently by the time it made it to her, it had gone through a few rounds of the telephone game, and my ex-coworker Jane was told that “IWTITB says you’re dumb and know nothing about programming.”

        Fast forward a few months and my Jane called my boss and met up with him after work to warn him – about me. She told him that I had a habit of seducing or having sex with managers in exchange for raises and promotions. He told me the next day. I cut contact with her as quickly as it was possible (we had a large group of friends in common). Blocked her on FB as soon as we both got accounts there in 2007. Hopefully will never see or hear from her again. She and I used to be friends and it felt like a horrifying level of betrayal to me then, but also – it wouldn’t have happened if I’d kept my mouth shut and kept my comments about Jane being any less than the model of perfection, to myself. Lesson learned, now if I say anything about a coworker behind their back, it’s always me singing their praises. Let *that* get back to them.

        1. irene adler*

          Jumpin’ Jack Flash!
          Making up lies out of whole cloth is a level of crazy I don’t even want to deal with!

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I’d had a crush on a dev lead at our first job together, and (because I was young and sleep-deprived I guess??) confided in her. I also changed jobs to get away from the crush so I wouldn’t be tempted to act on it. She ran with this info and it became “she tried it with Dev Lead, it didn’t work out, now she’s trying it on you.”

    2. Sloanicota*

      Yeah that level of emotion is waaaay too high for workplace interactions even if colleagues don’t care for each other.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have worked with people I didn’t like, but I’d never tell them that! You just can’t approach not liking someone at work the same way you’d approach not liking someone in your personal life.

    3. Observer*

      I’m just gobsmacked that anyone in a professional work environment would tell someone else “I hate you” in a non-joking way.

      Yup. Which is why it’s clear to me that whatever is going on, it’s not the OP’s behavior that’s the problem.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      That’s not a word I’ve heard anyone use past sixth grade. And not just “I”, she said that OP’s team hates OP too?!?!? and then, because that wasn’t enough, she called OP names???

  37. WillowSunstar*

    Agree, this is bizarre and I say this as someone with major sleep issues due to medical stuff who hates morning meetings. Still though, I would not refuse outright to work with someone if mornings are they only time they can schedule meetings. Even when I’ve had coworkers I strongly disliked, still worked with them because what else is a person to do?

    1. E*

      it honestly makes me think of early onset altheizmers :( which can be so hard to notice until its way late.

  38. LCH*

    “She will not send messages to me and directs them to others who are not familiar with the subject, which are then forwarded to me for response. I have responded to every question promptly, letting her know that I’m the appropriate contact.”

    Do you respond to Jane, the coworker who forwarded it, and to your manager on every one of these? Because you should. Spread around the knowledge of just how helpful you consistently are and just how incompetent Jane is.

  39. Cyclist1*

    Jane may be someone’s favorite that you’re not aware of. Last year I was repeatedly belittled, micromanaged, demeaned and outright lied to by a manager who ~was not even my boss~ and when I talked to my actual bosses about it, I was told it was a “he said/she said” issue even though I had emails to demonstrate. eventually they laid me off and he got sent on a work trip to Italy. So tread carefully here, OP.

  40. TitosandCoffee*

    Something doesn’t gel and while I typically give people benefit of the doubt and don’t think worst case scenarios, something shady is afoot.
    Jane was promoted to this position 8 months ago. How did that come about? How was she introduced to the team? What was her role and relation to the team before that? Is the LW’s manager being deliberately naive or not dealing with it (sounds like LW has keep the manager in the loop the whole time) in the hopes that LW gets so frustrated and leaves?
    Jane’s behavior seems just too awful and egregious for it not to be somehow condoned by higher ups.

  41. Quiet quitter*

    I once had a crazy boss and I was in the headspace of just being ready to walk off the job. She proposed something really outrageous and I was just like “no, this is what’s going to happen” over email and it worked! I ended up in an awkward relationship of basically managing her upwards on certain matters but she seemed totally fine with it and I was a lot happier. I can’t tell at all what is going on with Jane and your boss but you could try something like “obviously having me try to manage Jane when she’s saying she hates me and is afraid of me is not going to work, I’m going to need you to step in and meditate this”?

    1. M. from P.*

      I know what letter you’re referring to but could we not use this name as a shorthand for unreasonable person? There are real people with this name who might be hurt.

      1. Sal*

        Even my aunt Karen would probably admit that the general ship of your point has sailed. Also, Fergus is pretty much site slang for a crap boss or colleague at this point (though I’m sure there are some neutral usages).

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        To which name are you referring? Jane? or Aubrey?

        At some point, this kind of policing becomes ridiculous and we will be completely depersonalized because we can only refer to other people by numbers. The internet is not the Hall of Mirrors at Versaille.

  42. Lyngend (Canada)*

    Had a similar situation with a coworker. Manager decided that since we worked graveyards and she wasn’t there it was an interpersonal issue and I had to fix it. 2 years later the other person had reached the point of refusing to talk to anyone. Mad that people were trying to talk to him, or using his legal name, and upset that he was told that he had to improve his performance by a new manager and their boss. He ended up attacking a shop lifter and on medical leave. Then forced to stay on leave when he produced letters from his doctor requesting accommodation for “no interaction with customer or management” among other things. He was also usually late for work and I was left to deal with customers alone. (violation of local workplace safety regulations). So glad to have changed careers.

    1. Boof*

      I am… having a hard time imagining what doc would write such a letter. I try to give my patients the benefit of knowing best what they can and can’t do, and try to write letters accordingly, but I don’t pretend to alter reality for them! Or enable bad behavior!

      1. Lyngend (Canada)*

        I have no idea, I do know he didn’t have a gp/family doctor. Likely one of those cases where the doctor wrote the note knowing that it wouldn’t work (in my mind, just to get him to leave). The guy needed a lot of therapy to work through his trauma, and the job was absolutely not a good fit for him.

  43. the cat ears*

    I left a job I’d been at for multiple years over behavior like this manager is showing. My coworker became impossible to work with and he refused to do anything to intervene. This is how you lose good workers and keep bad ones.

  44. Jen (she or they pronouns please)*

    I know that’s not what you’re asking about, but: are you getting paid for the evening meetings? If you’re not exempt (which is NOT the same as salaried) they’d probably need to pay you since you’re working. Maybe even time and a half if it puts you above 40h a week, since you’d be owed overtime pay then.
    I’m sure your company would not be amused by the extra pay… Doesn’t remove the annoyance for you, of course, but better than not getting paid I guess.
    Good luck!

  45. Parenthesis Guy*

    If you’re worried about losing your job, then your situation is unfortunate and there’s nothing you can do about it. Your manager knows what’s going on and has made it clear that they’re on Jane’s side.

    If you’re not worried about losing your job, then one thing you can try is to talk with your grand boss about this. The grand boss may decide that they’re horrified and will get involved. Or else they could forward your email to your manager who will not be happy. It’s a risk.

    The other thing you can try is to tell the clients that you’ve been told not to help with this sort of thing and that they need to talk to Jane. Make sure your team does the same thing. Either your manager will release they have to get rid of Jane or will decide to blame you for this. Again, risky.

    1. Observer*

      If you’re worried about losing your job, then your situation is unfortunate and there’s nothing you can do about it.

      They most definitely CAN do something about it. If nothing else, they can most definitely job hunt.

      If you’re not worried about losing your job, then one thing you can try is to talk with your grand boss about this.

      That’s something the OP should be able to do assuming their grandboss is at all reasonable. Sure it’s a risk, but Manager is making their life miserable anyway.

      1. Zarniwoop*

        “assuming their grandboss is at all reasonable”
        Which I know from reading AAM is a pretty big assumption.

        1. Observer*

          True – which is why I put the qualifier in. But we do get the most ridiculous bosses here – that’s what keeps people coming back. Acting as though it’s not even a thought that the GrandBoss would be reasonable is an even bigger reach.

  46. HonorBox*

    Whoa! Here’s my question: Is there a boss to your boss? Because in addition to HR, I think it would be worthwhile to chat with them. There is so much inappropriate happening here that I think it is worth noting to everyone who has ability to oversee this. The fact that you’ve been directed to “deal with it” when someone has told you that they hate you, when you’re dealing with clients who aren’t getting what they’re supposed to get from another team, when the communication has broken down so much is something that is ultimately going to impact the business in a very negative way.

    Plus the fact that you’re being contacted after hours when the manager is meeting personally with the person perpetrating all of the negative … there’s something amiss here. I won’t list all of the potential things I could speculate are happening, but the optics are really bad. Your boss is actively undermining you and not seeing the absolute shit show that has been created by someone who is still relatively new to the organization.

  47. KP*

    This shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

    Not helpful, I know. But for real, this isn’t on you to fix. This all wildly bananas.

    1. Jen (she or they pronouns please)*

      This is not specifically an answer to you, but what does the banana that gets mentioned here so often mean? Was there an old post about a completely unexpected banana or something? I’m sorry if it’s a stupid question, but I’m clueless where the banana is from or what it means.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        It’s a common idiom, at least in the United States. Bananas is a less ableist way of saying “crazy.” And the person you’re replying to appears to be quoting the song from Gwen Stefani called Hollaback Girl which was extremely culturally significant here in the mid 2000s.

        1. Jen (she or they pronouns please)*

          Thank you, that explains a lot! Not from the US, and wasn’t aware of any other meaning of bananas than the fruit.

          1. Relentlessly Socratic*

            Also, see yesterday’s “update: HR won’t do anything about a coworker who’s angry about my weight loss” for an education in how many ways we can repurpose Bananapants into a fresh, spring 2023 wardrobe of terms.

        2. Velociraptor Attack*

          When it’s used as a clear stand-in for “crazy”, is it really that much less ableist?

        3. KP*

          I was quoting Ms. Stefani, you got me :) The song is stuck in my head and I just had to share.

          For a little more context about the idiom, I’m pretty sure that the origin of calling something bananas comes from the phrase” going bananas”, which is a cuter way of saying “going ape”. Apes are scary and unpredictable when they start raging. Bananas make you think of chimpanzees, who engage in a variety of antisocial behaviors….but they’re much cuter when they do it. ;)

  48. Jaybeetee*

    Some potential insight as I dealt with a similar, but less extreme, issue a number of years ago.

    Jane may have been rubbed the wrong way somehow by OP early on – but may well be exaggerating her “hatred” for her own ends.

    Jane appears to be doing poorly in her role. Making mistakes, not knowing key information in front of VIPs, not retaining what’s being told to her, etc. If OP wasn’t part of this equation at all, Jane would just be a bad worker – and she probably knows it. Scapegoating OP and inventing some massive personality conflict between them muddies the waters enough to take the focus off Jane’s poor performance at her job.

    That is, whether or not Jane genuinely hates OP – hating OP is *useful* to Jane in this situation, so Jane will do it.

    For me, the situation finally resolved when I a) stiffened my spine enough to basically dump the issue on my manager, and b) when my “Jane” made some pretty significant errors that couldn’t be pinned on me in any way (our jobs overlapped, but were not identical). Jane was retained, but IIRC, faced some heavy consequences – and was also essentially told to “get over” her issues with me. Jane and I never became friends, but she at least became superficially polite after that.

    OP, you need to be very square with your manager that this isn’t an “interpersonal issue” with Jane, and it’s not something you can deal with.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I think this scenario sounds very plausible. Jane is insecure and knows she isn’t doing well, hence blame someone else, the OP.

      I had a similar situation, only with my manager. She was insecure and micromanaging of me, and in the end, worked hard to get me gone. She won’t last.

  49. E*

    jane sounds like she has a mental health issue! which is not an insult to her at all. these are all very common weird emotional reactions and inability to do work of early altheizmers. :( maybe a health assessment…

    1. M. from P.*

      I think Alison has requested we not speculate on someone’s mental health unless it would change the advice to the letter writer.

    2. Blue*

      In addition to not doing armchair diagnosing, it would be really inappropriate for OP to tell Jane or their manager Jane needs a health assessment.

  50. Pete*

    Respond to Jane’s clients that if she is not providing the level of service that they are accustomed to they should contact her manager. Clients have way more influence than employees.

  51. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I had a manager tell me to “fix it” with an employee that apparently didn’t like me, but gave no reason to me (but told others she didn’t like working with a younger coworker – everyone else was her age). She made it absolutely miserable, apparently I was her only topic of conversation at lunch outings. The others would tell me what she said but couldn’t figure out why she was saying it when to everyone else, I was doing a really good job. My first real post college job.

    Manager told ME to fix it, be nicer, include her in my own lunch plans (no) do things to make it nice between the two of us, so I did. I handed them a resignation letter. When they asked how this was ‘fixing it’ I said I wasn’t interested in fixing it for THEM, but that it was now resolved to my satisfaction. Those last two weeks that coworker was sweet as pie to me. Thought nothing of offering to take me to lunch on my last day and I declined. I guess she got a serious talking to, finally, when someone decided not to normalize her abuse. I was asked to reconsider. “I’m sure coworker wouldn’t like that.” It wasn’t long afterward that she was politely asked to retire. They never backfilled my position and struggled with office help. It was unfortunate, but even at that young age I knew I didn’t bring the BS. It wasn’t up to me to fix.

    1. Luna*

      Just saying, good on you for having such a strong spine and boundary set when you were younger.

      1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

        It really was one of the most pathetic environments I worked in. I was going up against people (this coworker) who’d been with the company many years, was young, ok I’m going to say it – mildly attractive, you can see where this was going. But I liked the work. I was learning a lot and enjoyed helping clients, and some of the other higher ups. Literally no one else had a problem with me. On my exit interview I asked them, “is this a consensus of peoples’ feelings toward me?” A resounding no, which is why they tried to get me to stay. They needed a lesson to learn. I know I learned one. I’d often get an email, “Hi hope you’re well do you know anyone in need of an admin assistant job?” No. No I didn’t.

  52. Michelle Smith*

    Personally, my next step would be to call a meeting with my manager’s boss. If that meeting didn’t solve it, then I’d go to HR. Your manager is not managing this appropriately. I’m really sorry.

  53. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

    The fact that it is impacting presentations with executives and client relationships suggests that Jane has friends you don’t know about protecting her and allowing her to think her behavior is okay.

  54. Good Enough For Government Work*

    Damn, looks like it’s Banana Fashion Week at AAM.

    Everyone else has covered any advice I’d give, so – best of luck, OP! And PLEASE update us with the outcome!

  55. CoinPurse*

    When I read this, my first thought is “Who is Jane related to?” Because she sounds untouchable.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      And she’s only been there two years! Fascinating and I’m hoping for an update.

  56. Festively Dressed Earl*

    Ironically, this is where Bananapants HR’s mediation idea would be helpful. “Okay, Jane, this is a safe space. You’ve said you hate OP and that you’re scared of her. Could you tell us why you feel that way?” Clearing the air wouldn’t excuse Jane’s childish behavior, but since Jane’s manager is determined to salvage her (or more accurately have someone else salvage her), that would hopefully get everything on the table and lamplight the fact that OP isn’t the problem here.

  57. Dawn*

    If you have the freedom to do it, this is one of those moments where an “I would need to consider moving on if you can’t resolve this” can light a fire under a manager who otherwise refuses to do their job.

    Not saying that you can, having a stable job is no small thing, but this sounds like it’s becoming increasingly untenable for you anyway.

  58. Luna*

    Does Jane have blackmail material on a higher up? An inappropriate relationship with them? A personal, non-inappropriate relationship with them? Or is your manager just super incompetent? Or a combination of any of them. Because any of those reasons could be why she can get away with this behavior and not be repimanded, if not let go over it.

    Maybe you have already documented everything, but do so now or keep doing it, writing down on what date Jane has said she doesn’t know X, has made it clear that she refuses to ask for help on X or listen when you explain X to her, even if you had to explain X multiple times.
    On the one hand, she says she won’t ask for any help from you, then turns around and whines about how you aren’t helping her. You can’t complain about your cake while continuing to shovel it into your mouth.

    Maybe even put your foot down and tell your manager that Jane is refusing to do her job, which is affecting her team’s ability to do their job, your team’s ability to do their job — especially if they end up spending more time doing Jane’s (team’s) job than their own, and is also damaging the entire department/companies reputation. Flat-out saying, “I don’t know” at work is never good, regardless of what position you have. “I don’t know, let me ask a colleague” is okay, you are finding a solution to an issue.
    And keep a focus on how Jane’s behavior is affecting workflow, not necessarily how it may be hurting you personally. That’s also a thing, but the focus should remain on this affecting ‘more than just one person’, to put it like that. As Alison says, make it clear that it’s not a simple case of two people that just don’t get along with each other, but it’s a genuine work-wide issue.

    If your manager still doesn’t do anything, perhaps go higher up the ladder. I don’t know if the execs she was this willfully ignorant towards were any of the higher ups or executive investors or some other form of outsiders.
    And brush up your resume, just in case.

  59. Orange You Glad I Didn't Say BananaPants*

    This is just a comment to register that having read the comments to this letter, I am glad that the phrase “bananapants” and variations thereon are amusing to others, and that nevertheless, I have now personally read the word “bananapants” a sufficient number of times in close succession that I do not feel the need under any circumstance to ever read it again.

    1. Dawn*

      There was a discussion previously about other words that were being used, which have generally come to be seen as ableist, and when someone suggested “bananapants” Alison decided to adopt it.

      I’m sorry you’re finding it tough going, but the adjustment will come.

      1. Orange You Glad I Didn't Say BananaPants*

        At this point I would gladly settle for an outcome in which every instance of the phrase as an alternative to ableist language (or, you know, the actual words “outlandish” or “ludicrous”) is not followed by seven additional comments of “teehee haha bananapants that’s so funny bananapants I love the phrase bananapants because it means her pants are bananas and did I mention I nearly spit my drink on my keyboard!”

        1. Orange You Glad I Didn't Say BananaPants*

          (Any way, quite obviously nobody is obligated to stop using it on my behalf, nor am I asking that they do, but since a number of people had weighed in with their positive opinions I felt it was equally fair game to share my own viscerally negative reaction.)

        2. Lucky Meas*

          fwiw I agree and I think it’s silly to replace “crazy” with “bananapants” and act like we’ve solved ableism. I’m just waiting until “bananapants” is considered ableist…

          1. Dawn*

            I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we’ve “solved ableism,” but in general and particularly in the workplace, we’re hoping to get people to lean away from demonising mental health. There are plenty of ways to express that someone is acting irrationally without using language that invokes associations with straitjackets and padded walls.

    2. musical chairs*

      I just end up skipping the whole thread once I see the word twice. I get the reasoning, but it’s the overuse and remixes that push it from “thoughtful rephrasing” closer to the realm of “immature inside joke”.

      If you don’t want to be ableist in this way, just…don’t ascribe bad behavior to a perceived or invented condition at all. Call out the situation behavior you’re talking about specifically enough or discuss the impact.

      Simply remarking “this is krAaZy” or any equivalent doesn’t add much to the conversation, imo.

  60. OhNoYouDidn't*

    “She schedules daily meetings after hours with our manager…” I suspect there’s going on between the manager and this worker underneath the surface.

  61. Ellie Rose*

    so that’s where my former co-worker went! (joking)

    LW, in case you’re doubting yourself, she is very much the problem and you are not overreacting.

    When I took something like this to my boss, I prepared notes to make sure i communicated clearly, made all my points, and could answer my boss if my brain stopped responding.

    I hope your boss sorts themselves out and does their job. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

  62. boof*

    LW, my guess based on the letter is your manager is just nonconfrontational and Jane is the one complaining. Not saying you have to complain, but clearly and vocally refuse to do every outrageous thing, don’t apologize for it, and don’t try to manage jane. At all. CC your boss on every problem jane tries to send your way.

  63. Johannes Bols*

    It’s harrassment plain and simple. Because I am a victim of workplace backstabbing, I would bring my phone to any interaction with Jane, start recording and POINT IT AT HER. Tell her you are documenting everything. If she makes a move to take the phone away it’s assault. Don’t stop.

  64. Retired But Still Herding Cats*

    I can’t shake the feeling that there is some factor not mentioned here – race, gender/orientation, religion, political beliefs? And if it’s not something obvious at first glance (e.g. race or gender), OP might not even be aware of the role it’s playing.

    Jane may have Googled or found OP on Facebook and be reacting to something that OP doesn’t discuss at work.

    And that thing could be anywhere on the infinite spectrum from “Jane’s visceral reaction to the OP is entirely understandable” (e.g. OP’s social media is full of violence, sexist/racist slurs, and/or swastikas) to “Jane’s visceral reaction is batshit crazy” (e.g. she is one of those antivaxxers who believes vaxxed people “shed virus” and endanger everyone they come into contact with.)

    1. Chelsea*

      I agree with this – or that the OP is a much greater part of the problem than they stated in this letter. I can’t imagine anyone being dysfunctional enough to let behavior like this slide unless they felt it was somehow justified.

  65. Penguin Pants*

    FWIW, when I have been the manager in this situation, it is often because we are in the middle of a _super_ complicated performance management plan (filled with counter-accusations that need to be fully investigated), although I would never tell my report that it is their job to fix the issue (I sometimes tell them that their attitude is becoming part of the problem, even if the other person is being egregious in their behavior).

    If you have super conservative HR and the other person knows how to work the system, trying to address the issue can takes many many months (I had one case that took over a year to resolve).

  66. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    This is absolutely bananapants. Jane is full of bees and your manager sucks. Keep a document of all Jane’s behaviour, copy your manager in on every single written interaction where Jane blocks you or harasses you, and take it all to HR.

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