employee keeps pushing for a promotion we’ve already said we can’t give him

A reader writes:

I have a direct report who is regularly (every three to six months over the past 18 months) asking to be promoted to a position he has created for himself. While there is merit in his idea, the company simply does not want to move forward with this position at this time as there is not enough work to justify it. He wasn’t interested in accepting a compromise (a position that is opening soon that could be blended with some of what he is proposing).

A different department recently created a position for one of their staff members, and now he is questioning me on why the same cannot be done for him. I understand the frustration, but if that area has different needs that took priority, there is not much I can do about that.

How can I advise him to stop asking, as this has all been explained multiple times and now he is just coming off as pushy? We’ve told him that when advancement opportunities open up in our area, he would be a primary candidate, but that did not appease him. His initiative is appreciated, but business decisions cannot be made just because someone wants something.

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

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My office is incredibly quiet
  • Two resigning employees asked me to fudge their sick leave

{ 119 comments… read them below }

  1. Hijinks*

    If you’d like, you’re welcome to raise this again in a year, but I want to be very transparent that nothing will change before then.

    Be cautious about that last sentence bc sometimes, things change when you don’t expect them to. I would say something more like, “I want to be very transparent that there are no plans to create this position in the next year.”

    I of course understand if you end up needing to look outside the company because of that.

    Say this, and he will look outside the company. If you have no interest in retaining him, then YOLO.

    1. Not A Manager*

      “Say this, and he will look outside the company.”

      You say it like that’s a bad thing. But if the only way he can be happy is to have a job that literally doesn’t exist, it’s better for him to find that job elsewhere. Telling him that isn’t a threat or a game of chicken, it’s doing him the favor of being honest.

      1. Hijinks*

        I say it like it’s a thing. Whether it’s a bad thing or a good thing is situational for the LW. I make no presumption on that front.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I haven’t said it as a manager, but I said it to a colleague once.
        “If you want to move up, you have to move out.”

        She was complaining that she was still an editorial assistant; the department had a senior editor and an associate editor. And the workload wasn’t changing at all.
        I pointed out that if she got a title bump, she should get changes in duties. But every duty was already assigned–should the associate editor give up editing a column for her? And then who would do the expense reports or write the two-paragraph news items–that same associate editor, in a demotion?

        Promotions don’t come with time spent, I told her. They come because the organization needs work to be done.

        And the company was completely fine with her moving to a different company–they’d hire a new person. It was expected, actually. Editorial assistant moved frequently in our field. They’d take their current experience and argue that they were ready to expand, and another company would hire them–if they had an opening.

        You wouldn’t expect another company to invent an opening just to hire you, I told her–so why are you expecting our current company to invent an opening just to promote you?

        I’ve never -wanted- to lose the people who worked for me, but I was always ready for it to happen. I’ve never seen a job for which there weren’t options for who would replace them.

        Maybe in small towns–where the labor force is very limited and recruiting from outside the community isn’t easy.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          In small towns you get to keep people because there’s no place for them to move to unless they leave town.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, exactly. Managers should be honest with their employees when the way they want to move up isn’t going to happen in the current company.

    2. Random Dice*

      I actually think it’s 50-50. A lot of people find the work of applying for another job really daunting, when “here” is easy and free.

    3. Yes, we know what it says*

      I think this columns scripts are intended for people who want to manage authentically and transparently. If you don’t want to be that kind of manager, the advice in this column may not be right for you.

      1. Vio*

        Indeed, several letters in the archives have been from managers who didn’t respect their employees or had less than ethical practices and were appropriately called out for that. It’s also been pointed out many times how honesty and respect are, in addition to just being plain decency, are also very beneficial in the long run for all parties.
        Most of the managers who write in have seemed the kind who would be good to work for, even if some did still have some learning to do (don’t we all?) the important thing is that they were open to trying to improve. The funniest and the most depressing stories seem to both be about the very worst of managers or colleagues

  2. KHB*

    “While there is merit in his idea, the company simply does not want to move forward with this position at this time as there is not enough work to justify it.”

    Is that how you broke the news to him (i.e., with the “at this time”)? Because “not at this time” comes across as “maybe at some other time” (especially to people who are determined to hear it that way, so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s kept asking.

    If what you really meant to say was “not now, not tomorrow, not ever,” then you need to tell him that – not only for your sake, but also for his, so that he’s not feeling strung along with false hope of a promotion that’s not realistically ever going to happen.

    1. Artemesia*

      Some people never seem to learn that asking repeatedly when told ‘no’ is a huge misstep in an organization. I have seen managers lose promotions over this; they are viewed as unprofessional when they keep pushing for things when they have been told ‘no.’ Time to educate this guy that he is reducing the chance of promotion by not accepting a decision.

      1. KHB*

        But does he really know that this was the decision? If all he’s ever been told is “not now, maybe later” (or words to that effect), he 100% should not be punished or scolded for taking that message to heart.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          This may be exactly how he is seeing it and he is just trying to keep it on everybody’s radar.

        2. Artemesia*

          He isnt a small child — he should have the good sense to know that in a business a couple of months is not later — and especially if he has done that several times. This is the behavior of someone you really don’t want to promote to any sort of management position because he lacks subtlety and common sense.

          1. allathian*

            That’s definitely true. When he was told no the second time, a person with some self-awareness should have taken that as a sign to look elsewhere instead trying to convice them to create the position that he wanted.

          2. Kelly*

            That same thought process also is applicable for people who apply multiple times to internal positions in organizations that on paper claim to promote staff from within. If you’ve made a couple attempts at positions that sound reasonable for you to do and haven’t gotten interviewed for any of them, then it’s time to think about what you could improve upon in both your applications and current job performance. They aren’t going to promote someone internally who has gotten not great feedback in performance reviews, does the bare minimum required, and isn’t a team player.

            Most people with some common sense and humility know that if they are marginal they don’t have much of a chance at advancing internally. Sadly, those more grounded people are in the minority. Most miss out on even those obvious cues that they aren’t ready for more responsibility, even after over 10 years of experience in the organization. Don’t blame diversity or equity pushes on why you can’t get promoted. It’s your personality and lack of a work ethic, including dumping your work off on others, lying about and slandering your coworkers to make yourself look better, and leaving out very relevant information to avoid giving up scheduling flexibility that is no longer needed.

    2. ferrina*

      Or even “Not in the foreseeable future”

      But the problem is that some people don’t understand that while business needs change, they don’t change when you want or necessarily how you want. Business needs don’t care about your personal career interests.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Business needs don’t care about your personal career interests.

        This is very true. That’s why you should never feel bad about leaving a job for one that’s closer in line with your personal goals.

  3. kiki*

    For the third question with sick leave:

    I think responding to them both initially as if they must have just confused sick leave and PTO is probably the best approach. It honestly might be what happened for both of them! Especially since they’re good employees and they are coming to you, their manager, to ask if this can be done, I bet they have somehow gotten the impression this is a normal and above-board thing to do. I might expect, though, that Todd will feel a bit under the weather on a Monday or Friday before he leaves.

    I think using Alison’s wording is great: “Sick time is different from vacation time in that it’s intended as a safety net for times when you’re actually sick; that’s why it doesn’t typically get paid out when people leave.”

    1. Patrick*

      My unused sick time got paid out on retirement. Not as cash, but as a medical savings account. Can be used for direct medical expenses, or to pay medical insurance premiums, can even be inherited if I die before using it all.

      (Why, yes, there was a union…)

      1. doreen*

        My two main employers each allowed some sort of “payout” at retirement. But only retirement – when I resigned from Job 1 to go to Job 2 , there was no payout of sick time (every other sort of time resulted in me staying on payroll until I exhausted the leave. )

      2. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Alas, while my collective agreement and benefits overall are very good in my town, pay out of sick time is not part of it. That said, there appears to be no cap on the number of sick days I can accumulate. The last time I counted, I was at 106 sick days. (Yes, I do take days when I am sick; I’m just not prone to being sick, generally.)

    2. Also-ADHD*

      Honestly, it sounds to me like they were trying to be conscientious and call out when it would cause minimal impact though, and while it’s technically “right”, the tact to say no can do is likely to lead to them or possibly others they tell in the future (who don’t try to ask and do the wink) to just call in and inconvenience to get their payout (unless the sick time requires documentation etc).

  4. Punk*

    Has he had any kind of promotion, raise, or increase in duties in the past 18 months (or for as long as he’s been there)? If none of these things are happening organically, I can see how someone might think this is a way to create his own opportunities.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      We have no information about this, but this is a good point in general. It really helps when organizations have fairly well-defined career paths, to the extent that such things are possible.

      If such things exist in LW’s organization, it may be helpful to point him to them. (Then again, it might not.)

    2. Becky*

      I was also wondering if the worker was already doing the work that the position would demand without it being part of their original job description and without being properly compensated for it.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I’d say it’s pretty clear that that’s not the case.

        the company simply does not want to move forward with this position at this time as there is not enough work to justify it

        1. Becky*

          It is not clear – if he is already doing this work, even if it is not enough to justify an entirely new position, then even if the company is not going to create a new position, they should still re-examine if he is being compensated fairly for the work he is doing.
          I am not saying this is absolutely the case – but nothing said indicates it can’t be what is happening.

          1. GythaOgden*

            I think it’s time to stop nitpicking language or trying to divine what LW actually means and take it at face value that she can’t simply create a role solely focused on the guy’s exact needs but can combine that with other duties. The guy has declined the hybrid position and that’s the point where to be frank he’d probably be better off looking elsewhere…and if he can’t find what he’s after that should tell him something.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      A different position was proposed as a compromise, so I’d say yes.

  5. Allornone*

    On the off-chance OP thinks that actually might change at some point, but knows that, at the very least, it will be a while, they could use the phrasing “at this time and for the foreseeable future.”

    But yes, you’re right, if OP knows that this position will never be created, they should say that. He needs that information to best decide how he wants his career path going.

    1. Allornone*

      sorry, I meant to reply to KHB- that’s who I’m referring to when I say “you’re right.”

  6. T.N.H.*

    Please do not grant the requests for falsified sick time. Remember they will be gone and the impact on them — should you be discovered — is minimal. You will be fired.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This. They’ll be gone and you’ll still be there. But you soon won’t be.

  7. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    I’m a retired public library director and I once had an employee come to my office and inform me that now that she had been promoted to assistant branch manager (she wasn’t, no such position existed), she wanted to discuss her raise. I asked her why she thought she had been promoted and she told me that she had been there long enough and thought it was owed to her. When I explained that there was no promotion and given the small size of the branch there would never likely need to be an assistant branch manager position, she angrily demanded to know how she could get more money is not from a promotion. I had to explain to her that unfortunately she would have to go back to school and get a degree in library science before she could get the kind of position she wanted. Not a happy camper.

    1. Allornone*

      But, but, gumption!

      (or entitlement or insanity or a fundamental misunderstanding of reality and how the working world works, whatever).

    2. Patrick*

      Wow. So not how public sector employment or libraries in general work.

      This is like a competent sergeant asking to be promoted to 1st lieutenant based on seniority.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        Very true. Most of our employees were wonderful. But she was something else.

      2. doreen*

        The only time I’ve seen that is in jobs where you get hired as a Llama Groomer Trainee 1 and after a year get “promoted” to Llama Groomer Trainee 2 and after another year you get “promoted” to Llama Groomer. But no one sees that as a promotion precisely because it is so automatic.

    3. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

      “She had been there long enough…”

      At my current (unionized) place, a candidate, S, used this logic. Indeed, she had the seniority but not the full qualifications for the job that would have been a promotion. She grieved it and won the job without having the full qualifications.

      The minute she retired, they made sure the next candidate had the all the boxes ticked. A basic requirement for that particular job title across all departments was EN/FR bilingualism. S was the sole executive secretary who was not bilingual…which meant other people had to handle that part of her job when needed.

      (That said, she was a decent exec sec otherwise.)

  8. Misshapen Pupfish*

    That quiet office sounds like heaven to me. Just the clacking of keyboards, the hum of the lights…I could fall asleep just thinking about it.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      I was thinking that! I mostly work from home these days, and I don’t mind my in-office days, but we have an open office plan (and walls, where they do exist, are thin) so sometimes I get frustrated trying to draft an important letter and not being able to concentrate due to all of the noise (sometimes needed, sometimes not).

    2. Heidi*

      I also think that the quiet office sounds nice. It’s nice to be friendly with the people you work with, but some people want to do their work and not socialize, and that preference should also be respected. I get the impression that LW2 wants to socialize more and is hoping that maybe everyone else does too and they just need the right catalyst to get the party started, like that town in Footloose.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Same here. I have my own office and I don’t play music or anything, which blows some people’s minds. I like my peace and quiet.

      I’m especially glad for it after reading that letter about two weeks ago from the poor soul who had to put up with speakers blasting out brown noise all day.

    4. Still Nameless in MN*

      Sounds like heaven to me too.

      My work area is a cubicle farm with low partitions. I have coworkers who never stop talking to each other across the aisle from the time they start until they leave. 90% of their talk is gossip and disparaging remarks about employees they work with at other sites.

      I use my earbuds and podcasts to drown them out. Perhaps LW can use earbuds and music/podcasts to make her work area less silent without offending those who prefer silence.

    5. Orange You Glad*

      Same. I willingly went into the office a few times each week during the pandemic because it was so quiet there. Now that we have back-to-office requirements (still only 2 days per week) it’s a zoo on the days I’m there. There are more people but also the people there don’t want to be there so they just loudly complain to each other about being in the office all day and I just want to tell them to shut up so I can hear the calls I’m on.

    6. World Weary*

      I sometimes have issues with intrusive thoughts when it is too quiet so then I can’t concentrate. I generally play nature sounds like songbirds and a stream, very low. If my near neighbors don’t like it, I’ll put in a single earbud.

      That said, too quiet is always better than noisy!!

      1. Clisby*

        Exactly! Just like in a restaurant – I don’t go to restaurants to have noise blasted at me, either.

    7. My own boss*

      I worked in a quiet office and almost lost my mind. People wouldn’t even have work related conversations because they didn’t want to disturb anyone. And we worked in a highly collaborative environment! It was awful to be a new person because there was no way to get to know your coworkers personally or professionally without getting nasty stares.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I worked in an office with another translator and a couple of software engineers, ours was the “quiet office” because we had to concentrate on our work. We would even message each other to avoid disturbing the others. But then at lunch, or after work if we had a few drinks together, we’d be nattering non-stop.

    8. Avery*

      Sounds nice to me, too… and I work from home! But sadly I live with my parents, and they don’t always grok that “home office” for me includes “maybe don’t have conversations from different floors of the house at the top of your lungs while the TV’s blaring with nobody watching it”. Sigh.

  9. Pu*

    The flip side of this is that if a company never promotes people who are hungry for advancement, or fails to take into account their career development goals, it will eventually lose them. To be sure, that may be justified in some cases, but it may not in others.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      In my experience though (and this may be because I worked mostly in smaller and mid-cap companies), but promotions sort of happen organically. If you need to put a huge amount of effort into either getting the role created, or getting put into the role, it may not work out or be meant to be.

      Most people, if not all, that I know that got promoted, naturally attracted more responsibility and were doing part of the new role, and the promotion was the official acknowledgment

    2. Littorally*

      Sure, yeah, but just because people are hungry for advancement doesn’t mean there’s higher level work for them to do, or payroll to pay them to do it. If there’s no scope for it, then pestering people won’t make a difference. If the answer is no, just look elsewhere and move on.

    3. Aelfwynn*

      Right, but that’s just a normal part of business. Some businesses don’t have the capacity to give out promotions at the rate in which employees want them. Those employees can and will go somewhere else if they would like that advancement, but businesses can’t just create the jobs people want when they want them.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Maybe because I’ve worked in a field that has lots of people who want to work in it, and in a city, but I’ve never thought it was a bad thing when someone left.

      I don’t want to drive them away, or have them leave after only a short tenure, but it’s almost expected that people will move on. And I’ve always observed that they get replaced without a lot of pain.

  10. Michelle Smith*

    I think it would be a kindness to the employee to let him know that the position is not going to be created in the foreseeable future and to stop asking, or moving forward the repeated requests for a new position will negatively impact his reputation with you and others in the company. I don’t think it’s fair *necessarily* to hold his asking against him unless and until you more explicitly state this. I say necessarily, because it depends on the conversations you’ve had previously, how direct you’ve been, and how respectful or not he’s been about his inquiries. A lot of people think they’re being direct, but they’re actually using softening language. You need to explicitly state that the position is not being created and that you won’t be discussing it with him further (you can say until X date if you think it’s reasonable to raise this with your bosses again after a year or however long, but leave that out if it’s not true).

  11. Obsidian Egret*

    At least you’re not telling him that you’re working on creating this position in order to string him along so he won’t leave, like my boss did to me for several years before my new boss admitted to me there was never such a plan.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes. Your boss was being “nice” but it requires being “kind” as Alison has taught us. Candor is kind.

  12. Ben*

    LW1 might be asking the wrong question. It doesn’t sound like an employee asking every 3-6 months is, in itself, all that disruptive or even unreasonable. Especially for a proposal that you admit has merit, reflects initiative, and has some recent precedent at the company. Assuming he takes a “no” in stride, dealing with this whole issue ought to take only a few minutes out of your year. So why is the goal to get him to “stop asking?”

    A more useful question might be how you can help him and the company work out an arrangement that better serves his interests and the company’s needs.

    1. Pretty as a Princess*

      But didn’t the OP explicitly do that already?

      “He wasn’t interested in accepting a compromise (a position that is opening soon that could be blended with some of what he is proposing).”

      It sounds like they really took to heart the idea of what he was proposing and tried to marry it up with something that the business does need, effectively customizing a new position to this employee’s stated career interests.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, exactly. It sounds that he is being incredibly inflexible because he is fixated on this role that he created himself.

        It’s possible that even if the company came up with something that was 75% what he proposed, he still might not be happy, because it’s not 100% what he proposed.

        And the issue with him constantly asking is that while it only takes a few minutes to have this conversation every few months, it’s clear that his focus the rest of the time is elsewhere. It’s fine to make proposals, but once they are rejected, you really need to focus on the actual job you have, not the one you wish you had.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This compromise position that he turned down is what makes me think this time around the company isn’t the bad guy. They just can’t support at this time a position that only does X – but we can support a position that does X plus YZ is possible – and employee turns it down? That to me says that employee isn’t just asking and dropping it every 3-6 months – he’s making a big “to do” and then sulking every three to six months.

        Honestly he’s about to grump his way into not being considered at all once the workflow supports the just X position. Soft skills are still valued – even if not by him.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      It sounds like they already tried to work out an arrangement.

      He wasn’t interested in accepting a compromise (a position that is opening soon that could be blended with some of what he is proposing)

      Whether it’s disruptive or not, someone repeatedly asking for the same thing after a firm no is exhibiting poor judgement.

    3. Kella*

      It’s unreasonable for the employee to continue asking because the answer is no, and there’s no indication that the answer will ever be yes. Continuing to ask a question you’ve already received the answer to implies one of a few underlying problems:

      1. The employee genuinely doesn’t understand that this is never going to happen, and he’s making decisions about his career based on something that’s not true.

      2. He thinks that he can make it happen by continually asking over and over, which shows a blatant disregard for boundaries, is disrespectful of everyone else involved, and is very concerning if he’s applying that strategy to any other professional relationships.

      Neither of these scenarios are good and it would be irresponsible for OP to just ignore the potential consequences of either one of them.

      1. Hijinks*

        If it’s never going to happen, managers should say “never going to happen.” What the LW has been saying is not “at this time as there is not enough work to justify it.” Employee is not blatant disregarding boundaries or being disrespectful by taking statements like that at face value. “Not at this time” and “not enough work” mean “maybe at another time” and “maybe if more work arises.” If you mean “never,” say “never.” There is no indication that the LW has ever said “never.”

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yeah, but he keeps bringing it up. His mind should be focused on the job he has now, not the job he wishes he has but which doesn’t exist. It reflects a real lack of focus on his part.

          And “not at this time” generally implies “not at this time, but we’ll keep it in mind if the situation changes”. By being annoying, he is pretty much shooting himself in the foot for actually getting this job should it actually become a reality.

          1. Hijinks*

            lol, it doesn’t take a lot of focus to bring up a proposed position every 3 months.

          2. MsM*

            I don’t think it’s even implied in this case. OP’s outright said “when opportunities open up.” When that happens, he’ll be told about it. It’s not like no one knows he’s interested. Until then, the reasonable assumption is that nothing’s changed – and if he’s tired of waiting, he needs to be prepared to look elsewhere.

            1. Hijinks*

              “When that happens, he’ll be told about it.”

              In my experience, that is not a guarantee. Maybe I’ve just coincidentally worked at the only companies where when new needs or opportunities arise, the people who have expressed interest are not necessarily contacted. Usually what happens is that people have to be on the constant lookout to know when a need has arisen and then remind all the people they have already spoken to that they are interested. I don’t exactly work in a niche field, either.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          A lot of people don’t want to say ‘never’, because things could very well change–even within the next two years, say. If their business needs change in such a way that the proposed position makes sense, they’ll do it. They don’t want to say ‘never’, have the guy leave over it, and then eight months later it makes sense to create that position.

          OP can be more firm with him, especially if he’s trying his spiel on people besides her. “When you keep bringing this up, you are coming across as overly pushy. If we ever do make this change, I will let you know–you’d be a great candidate for it! But we’ve talked about this a half dozen times now and the answer hasn’t changed.”

          1. metadata minion*

            Yeah, it’s really hard to get across “this is not a bad idea, and it’s certainly possible that we’ll need a position like that at some point, but I don’t have any *expectation* that it will ever happen”. Especially if, as seems possible here, the person is really really dead set on the thing happening and doesn’t want to hear “no”.

        3. Kella*

          While it may be theoretically possible for this to happen someday (it’s unclear from OP’s letter whether that’s the case or not) that does not change the fact that this employee continually bringing it up is never going to be the *reason* that it happens. This employee either believes that there is room for him to argue his case, or that if he pushes on the boundary enough times, his employer will give in. Neither is true and that’s a problem.

          If OP has already been clear exactly how likely it is that this job position will be created, and what will or won’t influence that, and the employee is still pushing, it’s possible OP may need to frame it as “Assume this will never happen” in order to get him to stop. If OP hasn’t been completely clear about what expectations he should have going forward, OP should start by doing that.

    4. MsM*

      I would argue that bringing this back up every three months is in and of itself not indicative of “taking a no in stride.” And either he’s not listening to the feedback he’s getting about the circumstances under which this might be possible (either take the compromise that’s been proposed, or wait until something gets posted), or he thinks he can simply overrule it with sheer persistence. At a certain point, it stops looking like initiative and starts looking like “I don’t want to do the job I was hired to do, or the tasks the company actually needs, and I lack the self-awareness to recognize when I’ve gotten my answer and need to let it go.”

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      Asking repeatedly for your employer to create a new position for you when you’ve been told no is pretty unreasonable. Asking your employer repeatedly for anything that you’ve been told no (yes of course baring safety and legal issues), is being unreasonable.

      It is not typical that employers magically create new positions based on an employees request. So not only is this individual missing the mark by continuing to ask, they’re pretty out of touch with employment norms in general.

      Now, it does sound like OP may not have been as direct and clear as possible, and they should correct that as soon as possible.

    6. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      It doesn’t sound like an employee asking every 3-6 months is, in itself, all that disruptive or even unreasonable.</i)

      Change the context and it might make more sense. Say this is a friend of yours who asks to borrow your car, and it's March. You've got perfectly good reasons why you can't do that, even though you like the friend, and maybe you've even explained them. But in September, the friend asks again. And then again in December, the following June, the September after that.

      Your answer has never changed, your reasons are still valid, why can't your friend just see that and stop bugging you about it?

      1. Hijinks*

        Again, if the answer is “never,” say “never.” Saying, “not at this time” is a time-limted answer that could conceivably be different in 3 months.

        1. Myrin*

          With the amount of times the guy has brought it up, I think it should’ve become pretty clear by now that no, there isn’t going to be anything different in three months.

        2. Ben*

          This is exactly right. And I think there is a reason the LW is not saying “never.” It might be to soften a harsh message, or it might be because the answer isn’t “never.” I just don’t see how this is the employee’s duty to stop asking for what he wants when the company hasn’t conveyed to him that he is never going to get it. If you want him to stop asking, tell him to stop asking. Otherwise, you can deal with the incredibly minor nuisance it creates.

  13. Peanut Hamper*

    Some people have learned that if you keep asking, you eventually get. (Yes, I’m a former teacher.)

    That said, I find the problem to be less that he keeps asking, and more that this is a position he created for himself. Yeah, no, businesses don’t work like this. 95+% of proposals get shot down. He needs to be made to realize that.

    “We appreciate your input, because we expect good employees to make suggestions like this all the time. But we simply can’t implement everything that people propose, and your idea, while a good one, is simply not feasible right now. We’ll keep it in mind should business conditions change down the road, though.”

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I am actually flabbergasted that someone made up a job for themselves, and is now annoyed that no one has willed it into existence for them.

      1. Littorally*

        Ha, true! And they even tried to work with him on it too, and he wouldn’t do it.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        In some organizations, you can propose things like this, especially if your current job description doesn’t quite fit what you are doing. Department reorganizations are a thing, and bottom-up input is sometimes welcome.

        But that doesn’t sound like what is happening here. It sounds like he created an entirely new full-time position which does not merit being full time.

      3. metadata minion*

        There are places where that sort of proposal isn’t at all out of line, and given the LW’s description of their initial reaction and the proposed compromise role, this office may be one of them.

  14. Sharon*

    Sometimes it helps to define roles. Make it clear that leadership’s job is to make staffing decisions based on business needs, and they have decided an XYZ position is needed and not an ABC position. Your direct report’s job is to do XYZ and not to lobby for new positions based on their interests.

    If you keep explaining WHY a new position is not possible, he just thinks he hasn’t been convincing enough.

  15. This is the way*

    I have to say, though I have been a reader for many, many years, I really dislike the Inc. paywall for these posts. Its a “hit and miss” approach and I get frustrated when the question is interesting and I can’t get Allison’s direct answer (unless I’m missing something). Thanks for letting me vent!

    1. Littorally*

      I don’t believe there is a paywall. They want you create an account (which I did with my throwaway email) but then getting into it doesn’t have a charge.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Do you mean the process of paying for Inc is hit and miss? I don’t understand, you only have to do it once and it should recognise you going forward.

    3. KatEnigma*

      You dislike Alison being paid and want to read everything for free, you mean.

      That’s not an attractive thing to say out loud.

      1. Boss Scaggs*

        Not wanting to subscribe to Inc has nothing to do with wanting Alison to get paid or not. There is plenty of free stuff on this site to read

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      This comes up every week. I understand its frustrating not to be able to read things you are interested in, but that is how Alison gets paid.

      Almost all her posts are free.

    5. HonorBox*

      I said this last week when it came up, too, but the “cost” for the Inc. subscription is nominal at most. And it may be free. I don’t remember. But if it was more than $1 a month I’d be surprised. I’ve found really good content beyond Alison’s too.

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      FWIW, an Inc. subscription is US$6.99 for six months, and brings you a lot of other interesting articles besides the ones linked from here. (I’m really looking forward to the Computer Freaks podcast!)

      If that is beyond your means, you may be able to access it through your local library, which does at least ensure that contributors get paid for their work.

    7. BubbleTea*

      I think a lot of people have misunderstood what’s being said here. I have the same experience – sometimes there is a paywall/some other form of access barrier (which I can’t read properly because it doesn’t scale for my phone screen), sometimes not, with no apparent pattern or logic. If it’s the case that I just need to register once and that will stop being the case, I’d be delighted! I don’t object to paywalls; I do object to poor UI and inaccessible Web design.

      1. Green great dragon*

        I believe you get a limited number of free articles per month, so the barrier pops up when you’ve hit your limit.

    8. Not A Manager*

      It’s not random. The paywall specifically says “you’ve run out of free articles this month.” The following month, you get another set of free articles. I think it’s three.

  16. Alex*

    Besides his wanting a promotion, are there other reasons he keeps bringing this up? Because I was in a position once where I was essentially doing my job with a bunch of “extras” and I proposed a new job be created that actually included those extras. I was turned down over and over again, saying that they couldn’t create that position. I kept saying that I was ALREADY DOING these things and that a) I wanted to be compensated for it and b) it confused others because someone with my job description would not do those things–I was one of four, say, llama groomers, but only I mixed llama hoof polish, and the other groomers did not.

    So I wonder if he is asking over and over for the same thing, if there is another reason, as in, he can see a definite business need that needs to be filled and is trying to fill it/is perhaps already filling it. Because if he just wanted more money, he could look for promotion via other avenues.

    P.S. When I left that job, they suddenly realized they had to hire a llama groomer/polish mixer, and created that position.

    1. Littorally*

      It sounds like they’ve taken that into account, with offering him a custom blended role that mixed the things he was looking for with things the business legitimately needed, and he turned down that possibility.

    2. KatEnigma*

      “the company simply does not want to move forward with this position at this time as there is not enough work to justify it. He wasn’t interested in accepting a compromise (a position that is opening soon that could be blended with some of what he is proposing).”

      They attempted to let him prove the need.

  17. KatEnigma*

    Personally, the person in LW1’s scenario is so pushy and refusing to take no for an answer- or even compromise on a hybrid role that might lead to what he wants – that I wouldn’t be promising him any kind of future promotions. Especially the tantrum he threw when another department created a new role for someone else! I would be warning him that this kind of behavior makes people question his fitness for higher positions in the company. I bet he has shot himself in the foot.

    1. Boss Scaggs*

      Where are you seeing he had a tantrum? I don’t think that’s a fair assessment from the letter.

      Still, he needs to be told to chill or it will reflect poorly. But also OP needs to be clear as well that this isn’t likely

    2. allathian*

      It doesn’t sound like he threw a tantrum. That’s more aggressive than calmly, even if it’s in a slightly aggrieved tone stating that “the other department did it, why can’t we?”

      My issue with him is that he’s not willing to compromise even on the hybrid position that the LW proposed. Sounds like he needs to be told firmly that what he wants isn’t going to happen at any time. Maybe saying straight out that he’s free to look elsewhere if he isn’t happy with his current job might help.

  18. HonorBox*

    Re: Letter 3 – Definitely do not give in. I’m all for working with people and finding a way to make things work to everyone’s benefit, but wouldn’t approve a direct violation of the rules. You’re being told that someone is planning to use sick time. Knowing that, you’re going to have to schedule someone else to cover those hours. And I have to imagine someone above you is going to ask you why you are scheduling more coverage than you typically need. Don’t put yourself in the line of fire.

  19. not a hippo*

    LW 1: be prepared for hm to quit. Doesn’t sound like you’d be losing out too much, based on his attitude.

    LW 3: be firm, don’t indulge those two. You not only risk losing your job but also sick leave for everyone. Your employer could use their shenanigans to yank sick time from everyone. Unsure where you are but I’ve never had sick time at any of my jobs so if I found out my (or any) manager’s fooling around with time cards/sick time so that we all ended up losing sick time, I would be piiiiissed.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      LW1: I dunno. He sounds like a good employee besides this. I don’t think it’s fair to say his attitude is a deal-breaker.

  20. BrianTheTeapot*

    LW3 –
    The TL:DR – Had a good guy GM who would do it under the “it’s your money, and I’m making sure I get it to you”.

    Longer version:
    Not going to give any details but at one of my former jobs, our GM would 100% do this. His rational was “you earned it, and we don’t give part-timers vacation/personal hours. I’m not going to let the company take money you worked for.” He was absolutely the type who would stand up to corporate when a dumb policy change would come down, “if they catch me, I’ll get them to explain their reason and I’ll explain mine” (and won most of the time), often implemented his and our ideas that would shift into other locations when they heard it worked, and the like. A great guy to work with.
    Anyway, he’d schedule you as many shifts as sick time you had (part time, so usually only one or two) and tell the other managers on the shift or leave a note (so no paper trail). Since it was a job with 90% part-timers made up of students, and a very busy location, along with overscheduling generally (and since we were always busy, he didn’t get slag for it) it wasn’t noticed. It helps we work in a city that is “if you say you’re sick, you’re sick; even if you have a pattern for calling out on a particular day” (which I support) so marking “sick, pay them” was enough.

    1. FroggerMan*

      Agreed here. I understand Alison’s position of doing right by the spirit of the rules, but those rules do screw over the part-timers who don’t get their sick leave or PTO paid out once they leave.

      If it were me, I would 100% fudge the numbers so the part-timers could get access to benefits they’re otherwise denied by an unfair system. Then again, I’m fairly anti-capitalist to begin with so I’m always on the side of the workers.

      1. Goldie*

        LW said they have generous sick leave. Good sick leave would be enough for at least two weeklong illnesses a year. Most people don’t need that much time in any given year. But you might. It’s like car insurance, hopefully you don’t need it but if you do you are glad it’s there.

  21. Jackie JorpJomp*

    Re: LW 3 and “pre-planned” sick time, I am curious about what consequences there will/can be for employees who are quitting anyway. Any thoughts?

    1. constant_craving*

      Depending on how much time is involved, time card fraud can be a felony. If the company didn’t choose to pursue legal options, it would still probably not be something you’d want to come up in reference checks, etc.

  22. My own boss*

    I worked in a quiet office and almost lost my mind. People wouldn’t even have work related conversations because they didn’t want to disturb anyone. And we worked in a highly collaborative environment! It was awful to be a new person because there was no way to get to know your coworkers personally or professionally without getting nasty stares.

  23. SB*

    I respond to this in my office with noise cancelling headphones on because on the other side of my wall is an industrial workshop & inside my office are three team leads & my assistant having a robust discussion about which subway bread is better…a quiet office sounds magical.

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