coworker keeps complaining he didn’t get promoted, my boss increased our work sevenfold, and more

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

1. My coworker keeps complaining he didn’t get promoted — but it’s his own fault

I’m a project manager for a small engineering firm (12 employees). Due to our size, I’m involved with all aspects of the business, including staffing.

The engineer with the most seniority, Roman, has just been passed up for a promotion to become the lead engineer and the firm’s owner has hired from outside the company to fill the role.

A year or so ago, he had approached the owner and asked to be made the lead engineer, and the owner gave him a list of things to work on to be considered for the role. Roman was not successful in fulfilling the requirements; he is technically proficient but lacked the proper soft skills. Roman is now very upset that he has lost out on the promotion and he keeps coming to me and asking me questions (“What did I do wrong?”) and frequently talking to me about it (“I know I’m not perfect, though I guess I didn’t think my lack of perfection would result in a bit of a demotion, even though I acknowledge I wasn’t technically considered a lead at any time”). It’s making me uncomfortable.

He is now saying that it’s unfair that the owner never told the whole team that Roman was looking to move into the role of a lead, so therefore the team never respected him as a leader.

I feel stuck between giving him honest feedback and just hearing him whine and complain. I want to keep the peace so I keep letting him just talk at me, but I’m growing impatient because his ideas on team leadership (total control over how the entire engineering team works) and his general lack of soft skills are making me want to be brutally honest. Should I just let him keep complaining at me and hope it blows over soon?

If part of your job is to manage Roman or give him feedback, then you really need to be direct with him about why he wasn’t selected for the job and the specific things he’d need to change to be considered in the future. But I’m guessing that if that were part of your job, you would have already done that. So assuming it’s more of a peer situation … it’s really up to you. Some people wouldn’t want to get involved at all, figuring it’s Roman’s boss’s job to talk about this stuff with him and you’re not obligated to say something that risks drawing his resentment over to you. If that’s the case, you can still try to shut down his complaints by saying something like, “I know you’re upset but I’m not the right audience for this. If you want to talk about it, you should talk to (boss).” And if he keeps complaining to you after that: “You should talk to (boss), not me.”

But if you’re willing to give him some honest feedback, it could be a kindness to say, at a minimum, “Look, (boss) gave you a list of things you’d need to work on to be considered for the role. If you want to know why you didn’t the job, it’s those things.” And if you’re really willing to get into it: “The team hasn’t looked to you as a leader because of the issues (boss) talked to you about and and things like (insert soft skill specifics); it wasn’t because they didn’t know you wanted the job.”

But either way, you don’t need to let him keep complaining at you.

2. My boss is doing 27 events next month … the average is 4

I work in a public-facing job where a part of our job is setting up events for the public (but that’s not all we do.) I have a new boss (to the location, not position) who has major issues with work life balance. She’s constantly staying late to do extra events that one person asked for that she can’t say no to. She brings her work home, a practice discouraged by everyone at our location, and once told me that she likes to stay busy so she won’t be “left alone with her thoughts.” It has slowly built until I realized that next month she has a whopping 27 events! She regularly has 2-3 events in a day. She has other aspects of the job that are starting to get overlooked, including being the manager to our department, which is me and two new people still being trained.

I’ve been told that telling her to do less is 1) above my pay grade or 2) not my problem as it’s her work-life balance at stake. I considered that, but I work on the marketing for these events and it adds to my plate greatly with this number of events. Also, the two new people are already struggling with finding their own place outside just assisting her with her projects. Finally, it’s hard to rely on her as a manager when I look for her and she’s always in an event.

I’ve broached the issue lightly to test the waters, asking to put a cap on a maximum number of events per month, and she asked if I felt like I had too much on my plate. I said we just need to get through the month and would like a further conversation after the busy week ahead of us. How do I start this conversation and what points do you think will help her cut back? I also worry this will set a bar for the public that will make it hard to lower if they’re expecting multiple events a day.

Yeah, you don’t really have standing to tell her to do less or to address her work-life balance (although it does sound messed up). But you definitely have standing to talk about the impact it’s having on your own workload and stress level — and it sounds like she has explicitly invited that.

For example, you could say: “Traditionally we’ve done four events per month, and that’s been a good number because it’s left room for other prioritizes like XYZ. But we’re doing seven times that many next month, which means I don’t have the time I need for XYZ.” Ideally you’d talk in specifics here — you’ve had to push back X, Y has been delayed for weeks, the only way you met the deadline for Z was by working over the weekend, etc.

That said, be prepared for the possibility that she might prioritize events in a way her predecessor didn’t, and that could be her call to make. But if that’s the case and the increase interferes with you being to do other parts of your job, then you need to have a workload conversation — since if she wants you to do X additional events every month, then presumably it means other work needs to be pushed back or cut entirely.

Unless you’re in a fairly senior role where you have some responsibility for training/managing the two new hires, I wouldn’t get into your observations about the impact on them, at least not until you have a better sense of her response to the first set of concerns. Start with the pieces affecting you and see how that goes.

3. Meeting a nanny on her first day

My husband, infant, and I (she/her) are all living at my parents’ house while my husband and I try to sell our condo. Every adult works full-time, but my husband is a teacher and hasn’t been working over the summer, so he’s been the full-time childcare. We have a nanny that’s starting soon and is working 8 am – 4 pm from my parents’ house (and eventually our new place when we sell). We are very lucky to have our current arrangement — my Mom watches the baby Mondays and Tuesdays, and the nanny is Wednesday through Friday.

Over the summer, I pick up a very part-time second job in our religious community. My husband starts school on a Wednesday, the nanny’s first day. On that day, I have a non-negotiable commitment at this second job that will mean I’m out of the house from 6 to 9:30 am … so I won’t be there when the nanny is supposed to be there! My mom can stick around the house until the nanny gets there, but my Mom is understandably uncomfortable since she hasn’t had any contact with the nanny herself. On the other hand, the nanny is going to be in my mom’s house, so they’re going to see each other eventually.

My mom suggested having the nanny come in the day before (Tuesday) so she can see the house, but the commute is not insignificant for the nanny, and she won’t normally be working Tuesdays anyways. How do we handle the nanny’s first day in a way everybody is comfortable with?

I’m not totally clear on how your mom is comfortable having the nanny in her house all day, but not comfortable greeting her when she first arrives … but can you solve this by just having your mom and the nanny meet on a video call before her first day? If for some reason that’s not a solution, would the nanny be up for coming by the week before she starts if you pay her to do it? (I agree it’s not reasonable ask her to make a long commute otherwise, but if you pay her to do it, she might be up for it — although it’ll of course depend her availability that week.) The other option would be having her start late on her first day, so that she doesn’t arrive until you’re back from your morning appointment … but hopefully a video call could solve all of this.

4. Is it worth it to submit a resume to a “general talent pool” without a specific opening?

I’m applying to jobs, and I’ve noticed that about half the company job pages I see either have a posting for “general interest” or a flag saying something like, “Don’t see a job that matches your qualifications? Click here to submit an application to our talent pool.”

Is it worthwhile to do this? Does anyone ever get considered or hired out of these kinds of applications? If yes, how would you recommend tailoring the resume and cover letter — particularly if you have a broad skill set and/or are willing to consider multiple types of positions?

It happens occasionally, but less often than those instructions make it sound.

If you have an unusual or hard-to-find skill set, submitting a “general interest” resume is more likely to pay off the next time they’re looking for someone with those skills; in that case they’re more likely to go back to past applications to see if anyone already in their database of candidates might be a good fit. If your skill set is less specialized or easy to find, they’re more likely to just advertise the job the standard way and might never even look at past applications.

In any case, there’s no harm in doing it if you can do it quickly, but I wouldn’t invest significant time in crafting an application specifically for that type of listing.

5. Asking about training in an interview

I am job searching. One of the Very Bad Things that’s happened to me in the past when changing jobs is not getting adequate training for the new job after being hired. This makes me wonder if it would be appropriate to ask about the company’s training during an interview.

Absolutely! You could say, “Can you tell me what the training will look like for this position?” or “What has training typically looked like for this position?” You can also ask how long it usually takes before someone is up to speed, and where new hires typically run into challenges.

{ 262 comments… read them below }

  1. Aaron Poehler*

    Script for #4’s mom: “Oh hi! You must be the nanny, come on in!”

    “Problem” solved.

      1. Goldie*

        Hmmmm I think it’s a little more. The first day of child care is really tough and just awkward. It does feel like a parent’s responsibility to me. I’m sure the grandma is thinking of all the things that can go wrong and she doesn’t want to be responsible for that hand off

        1. Quill*

          The grandma is already providing care part of the week though, so it’s a little different in that she’s clearly more up to date on the kid’s habits, needs, etc. than she might be otherwise. I think OP should leave some things in writing so Grandma doesn’t have to do all of the instructions, socializing, and meet the kid stuff herself off the top of her head, but the kid lives with Granny and is being watched for 40% of the week by Granny, that’s a lot easier than if grandma was popping in for an hour or so of babysitting once in a while.

    1. pcake*

      Not really. Mom would need to show nanny where everything is, introduce her to the child – who may or may not be happy to meet and be left with a stranger. The nanny may have questions to be answered, as well.

      I’m assuming that the parents have communicated the kid’s schedule, what foods to give them and when, what to do if the kid is upset, whether or not to answer the door if someone knocks, whether or not to answer the home phone, but maybe they haven’t. It might be best to give the nanny a list of emergency phone numbers on paper (assuming nanny has already been given them previously).

      When my son was little and we had nannies, I always had them come over for a day or half-day (paid, of course) to learn all this stuff and answer any questions once the nanny saw our place and met my son.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        The first time I babysat my infant grandkid for a few hours, my daughter had me come over a few days ahead of time to show me how to change, feed, dress the baby. I had done all of that for her and countless other kids in my babysitting days but it was important that I be familiar with their own childcare routine.

      2. Allonge*

        From the way I am reading the day OP describes, she will be back home by 9:30 am, so the nanny is alone with the child from 8am to 9:30 and then OP comes home, and can go through all that.

        I am not saying it’s ideal, but as long as OP briefs the nanny in advance and the nanny and OP’s mom can have 5 minutes on the absolute essentials, it’s also not an insurmountable thing for an hour and a half.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I’m not sure that is the case– LW says every adult works full-time, so I was assuming she was out of the house for the 6-9.30am commitment and then going straight to work. She doesn’t say she’s working from home or taking the rest of the day off from her main job.

          If that is the case, an hour and a half with nanny and baby alone before LW gets home doesn’t seem too bad. But if she is envisaging her mom handing the baby over and leaving a few minutes later, and that’s it until 4pm, that seems pretty hard on everyone and definitely something to avoid if you can. It’s the kind of thing you only really do in an emergency situation when everyone’s just got to figure it out, not something you plan for when you have other options.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I read it as the 6-9:30 committment was an unmoveable work thing and OP would be able to go back to the house after that to do some sort of introductory something, but now I’m unsure.

    2. Jade*

      No. There’s a ton to go over the first day. Schedule, feeding, meds if any, layout, baby’s preference or quirks, safety info. Mom or dad should be there.

      1. Green great dragon*

        I reacted like that, but then I saw Mom’s back by 9.30 am. But I’m not sure whether she then heads off to her main job or not.

        I agree there needs to be at least a few hours where nanny and an adult is in the house, whether that’s after 9.30 on the planned first day or a paid shift beforehand.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My inclination–if schedules allow–would be to start the nanny the previous week. Even just Friday.

      3. Student*

        However will the professional nanny manage without all that information for two whole hours, until a parent gets home? They might as well throw the baby in a ditch by the side of the road! /s

        The baby will be fine. The nanny will manage. They could write some of the more urgent or timely information down, if there’s anything very pressing, like medication or unusual safety information.

        1. Princess Buttercup*

          This is not what anyone is saying. The OP wrote in for advice. People (and actual parents) are opining that it’s better to have a parent there to show this new employee around the workplace and introduce her to the baby. That’s not unreasonable and actual nannies down-thread agree that this is the best approach. If it’s not feasible, then, yes, they will be able to make it work with written instructions or whatever, but ideally taking some time to actually orient the nanny to the workplace will make the transition easier for literally everyone.

        2. Goldie*

          What other job do you have someone start without an orientation and even a bit of on-boarding?

          1. Ogress*

            Right? Nanny may be super qualified, but that doesn’t mean she knows where the diapers/wipes/bottles/milk or formula/nipples/burp cloths/toys/crib/bathroom/etc etc etc is located.

            If I were the nanny, I would be pissed if someone just handed me a baby and walked out the door without any explanation as to where anything was located or what the preferred procedures were for anything. The OP wrote in asking for advice on how to make this transition easier for everyone, people are giving it. Not sure what Student is so upset about.

            1. sparkle emoji*

              This is all in the grandma’s house and grandma participates in the care so she should be able to tell the nanny where all of the things you mention are. Other things like rules, allergies, dr info, etc could be shared by the letterwriter before the nanny starts. I get this isn’t ideal, but LW isn’t just dropping the baby on the new nanny with no communication.

    3. nodramalama*

      is it really that crazy to expect that when handing an infant over to a stranger more would be required than “here is the baby”?

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Removed this and the long derailing thread that followed. – Alison

    4. Earlk*

      I tend to skew on the side of paranoid but I woiuld be very concerned that I actually left the baby woth a door to door sales person that was too awkward to correct me.

      1. Antilles*

        That particular scenario is incredibly unlikely given that grandma would know the time the nanny is going to arrive (and probably the nanny’s name too). So even if there was a sitcom-esque misunderstanding, it’d get cleared up pretty quick when the nanny shows up at the same time or a couple minutes later. And in any case, salespeople nowadays typically wear some kind of company shirt/merch (to “prove” who they are) so hopefully grandma would realize that the woman in a Bob’s Roofing Company polo is not the nanny.
        If you want to skew on the side of paranoid, the real worry here is whether grandma would pass along all the normal information a nanny gets on the first day. Emergency phone numbers, allergies, specific toys/music the baby likes or dislikes, etc. That’s why there’s normally some overlap with the parent(s), to make sure all this stuff gets mentioned.

      2. Observer*

        I tend to skew on the side of paranoid but I woiuld be very concerned that I actually left the baby woth a door to door sales person that was too awkward to correct me.

        Uh, that’s beyond unlikely.

        In addition to what @Antilles points out, the idea of a *door to door* sales person whose whole job is *knocking in the doors of strangers* being to awkward to correct a mistake like that just makes no sense.

      3. Allonge*

        Door-to-door salespeople (well, successful ones) are incredibly unlikely to be as shy as not to flag that they are not a nanny. Their whole business plan is about going past the awkward.

        But I like the imagery :)

    5. Observer*

      “Problem” solved.

      Tell me that you’ve never had to leave your kids with someone in your home with someone you didn’t already know, without telling me.

      Aside from the pragmatics which (even if you’ve all done your homework and communicated a lot of information already), it makes for smoother hand-over and it’s a rather fraught situation. Sure, women do it all the time, and we don’t generally freak out about it. But it’s still a thing. And having some sort of more “normal”, for lak of a better word, handover absolutely helps with that transition to Us and Our parents being the caretakers to adding this outsider who is going to become an insider.

    6. MsClaw*

      I agree with those who think this is a rare miss by Alison.
      If the nanny has not been to the house and had a chance to be run through everything about the kids, the supplies, the routine, etc then I understand why grandma is not 100% comfortable being the one to introduce all this.

      Would it be possible to have the nanny come by the day before for an hour or so (with you paying for her time of course) to give you the opportunity to run through the first day items?

      1. Sweet 'N Low*

        When I first read the question, I (mistakenly) assumed that all of those things would’ve been done already and this was just the nanny’s first day on the actual job; I wonder if Alison read it with the same assumption?

    7. M2*

      Most nannies I know get paid for a day of work and in that day they meet the family, are shown around the home where things are, etc.

      Having a nanny start on a day where they haven’t met you, your child, the house, etc I think makes it confusing for everyone. Your child also might cry and not want to be left with a stranger! Having the nanny come for a day and maybe leave her with your baby for a couple hours alone to start is really the best way to do this I think.

      If you’re just going to be gone until 9:30 am and then home the rest of the day for the first day I think it’s fine. If after your PT job you will be going to your Ft job I think you should ask the nanny to come before your spouse starts teaching and pay the nanny for that day (or half a day). Ideally, she would have a (paid) day or half day before she starts and maybe an hour or two alone with your child so your child realizes you do come back!

      Everyone who I know who has a full time nanny does this and any babysitter I have used I have had them come over for an hour or two (and I pay them their rate) have them meet the kids, show them around, have them ask questions etc. Sometimes I offer to leave for 30 -60 minutes to run some errands and then they have the ability to ask questions again at the end. It also gives me an idea of if they are a good fit for our family. I had one sitter after this two hour window I realized would NOT be a good fit, but I paid them for their time (and travel time) and was around to realize it wasn’t right for our kids.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, no matter how detailed the instructions, there is always just some stuff that’s best learned in-person or by observing. I’m kind of wondering if LW’s mom is saying she’s uncomfortable because she’s never met the nanny before when actually she’s more uncomfortable being the one who is going to, inevitably, start showing the nanny the ropes of the household.

        I think it’s very common to have a nanny’s first day or two be shadowing the parents rather than fully taking on the childcare.

    8. NannyBoss*

      OP mentions that the child is an infant, so I’m inferring that this is their first nanny. DO NOT have grandma be there to greet the nanny on the first day. If you can’t move your meeting, move the nanny’s start time later so you or your husband can be there to greet her and help her settle in. Onboarding a new nanny is different than other kinds of employees – they are a caregiver and you will be PARTNERS in caring for your child. It’s especially important that there is trust and respect and open communication, particularly before the child can talk to let you know what is going on. I’ve onboarded 4 full time nannies over the course of 12 years for my family. For each, I spent most of the first day and parts of the rest of the first week at home to answer questions, show how I wanted things to be done, and generally keep an eye on things. A nanny is also way different from a sometime babysitter because they are with the child for longer periods, more often. They have an enormous influence on your child’s wellbeing. Good ones help children thrive!

      Having grandma greet sets up a dynamic that you aren’t going to want going forward. It tells the nanny that grandma is also an equal partner and she’s just not. Like if grandma says to take away the pacifier, or that it’s fine to feed formula, or that the child doesn’t need naps, what are you going to do? You need the nanny to understand that you and your husband are the ones who define the care for your child.

      Having a nanny is a wonderful option for child care and it’s great that your family can swing it. Just please set yourself up well for a great partnership!

    9. Lucia Pacciola*

      The problem is that LW#3 is essentially having to onboard a new contractor to a sensitive position of trust and responsibility. That’s not really something they should be blowing off so casually as a minor question of personal comfort in a social setting. LW should take steps to be present when the nanny first arrives, and to be able to watch the nanny at work before leaving them alone with LW’s child.

      Since apparently it’s too late to make arrangements with her employer for the time to do this during her work day, probably the best solution is to pay the nanny a fair rate to come up the day before, perhaps with a bonus for short-notice or other inconvenience.

      I mean, if we’re thinking about this in terms of a employee-manager scenario, and not a social comfort zone scenario.

      1. Ann*

        Yes, LW should definitely make sure to be there. Whether that involves the nanny starting the week before, the same day but after 9:30, or the following day. It’s doable, and it’s important.
        I really want to know if LW has met the nanny in person before, too. That makes a difference. If their only interaction was a phone call, it’s even more important to meet on day one and make sure you feel you can trust the nanny and have a good working relationship. And you’d want to see how she interacts with the child.

    10. Ogress*

      Removed. Please don’t use multiple user names in one post; it comes across like sock puppetry. – Alison

    11. Tiger Snake*

      I feel like that’s not the problem though. The problem is that this is the nanny’s first day.

      If I’m here and my daughter isn’t when meeting the nanny for her first day, it really feels like I’m overstepping boundaries because I’m now in mom’s role instead of the grandma role.
      It feels like I shouldn’t be here yet. I shouldn’t be the default-female-caregiver that the nanny is getting first impressions from. I shouldn’t be watching what the nanny does and judging or offering suggestions until we’re confident in the routine, my daughter should be.

      And yeah, my son-in-law is here, but gender stereotypes exist and all that. A young woman comes to buy a car with man, and the salesperson directs much of the conversation at the man. A man and a woman meet the nanny to introduce them to the children, the woman’s opinion is going to pull weight.

      If I were grandma, I’d also be uncomfortable. I don’t know the nanny, she doesn’t know me, and I’m not who she should be getting first impressions from.

  2. Janeric*

    When I was a nanny, it was pretty standard to have me come for a day of shadowing the parent and learning their schedule/parenting style/house rules. Also I’m sure it made the kids more familiar with me as a safe person and made the parents more comfortable that I didn’t have a very short fuse or similar.

    Anyway it was not uncommon for these days to be a half day on a weekend, just due to scheduling.

    (I did something similar to OP’s solution in that I filled in day care gaps for multiple families)

    1. JR*

      Yes, this is my experience as well, as a parent who has hired nannies. I usually try to plan a time when the new nanny can come with me for any tricky part of the work – school pickup, etc. On the first day (whether that’s a real work day or more of a preview day – of course paid either way), I expect to spend some time walking them through the house, routines, etc. And then I usually try to work from home for the first week or so – obv that last part is not an option for everyone, but it’s been tremendously helpful in my experience for getting all of us comfortable, especially the kids.

      OP, can you have the nanny come by one or twice before the first day to do some babysitting where you and your husband can fade into the background, but be available as support?

    2. Emmy Noether*

      I came here to say that havig the nanny start on the day the dad starts school and the mom has an appointment seems like a terrible idea.

      When we had a nanny to bridge a childcare gap, we did as you described – spend at least half a day with nanny and child first to make everyone comfortable, to get the child to see the nanny as a safe person, etc.

      In this case, additionally, this first day sounds like a day of stress for everyone. First days always are, the routines are changing, the dad will be stressed about not forgetting anything, the mom will be stressed about her early important appointment, grandma will be stressed about the nanny she’s never met, and the baby will guaranteed pick up on all this stress, kick up a fuss, and make everyone even more stressed. It will be a very challenging first day for the nanny (and the baby). If at all possible, have the nanny start on an earlier day.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*


        There’s not much of a worse recipe for a rough, stressful day than what’s been described here. If at all possible, even start on the Friday before, heck, with what I see on the parent-side of back to school, it would help Dad even more!

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          A shadow day while the dad’s getting ready for back to school might be a great idea. I always have what I call a “work” from home day (work in quotation marks, because it’s unpaid, ah teaching), where I hunker down with my laptop and focus on updating class lists, editing welcome emails and such. It’s all stuff that needs to be done, but it doesn’t require intense concentration and Dad can still be available to do the house tour or answer any questions.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I realize I may be reading something into it that isn’t there, but I sort of figured the nanny wasn’t available to start sooner? But if that’s not the case, yeah the choice of first day seems to be the root of the issue.

    3. Gronk*

      yup, have had multiple nannies and always do a couple of half day shifts prior to their ‘first day’. In my experience, most children find it distressing to be left with a new caregiver without any chance to get to know them.

    4. birch*

      This! I would not trust a stranger, regardless of their CV, without that period of getting to know them–not with a house, a pet, a garden, and especially not a child and an elderly parent in that parent’s home. Even in the best case scenario where everyone is wanting to do their best, there are always little idiosyncrasies of households that need to be taught. The kid doesn’t like the texture of this specific blanket, we’d prefer you not to use these heirloom dishes for your lunch, here is where we keep the paper towels, this tap tends to drip so you need to pay extra attention to it, etc. etc. Not to mention introducing the child in a safe context! A shadowing/training session is part of the job.

      1. Seashell*

        There’s no indication that the LW’s mother is elderly. All we know is that she’s old enough to have a daughter who’s a teacher and that she has a full-time job herself. She could easily be 45 or 50.

    5. M*

      This! It doesn’t have to be a matter of *trusting* the nanny – it’s smoothing the kid’s introduction, identifying any unexpected missing gaps in your instructions (“oh, when we said there’s extra milk in the freezer, we meant the one in the garage, not the kitchen!”) and generally making sure your new employee feels comfortable and well-briefed before being left alone with your child.

      That doesn’t have to be the week she starts! You could do it any time between now and then, and given the commute, ideally give the new nanny a list of possible dates so she can hopefully find one when she has to be in the area anyway. It’s doubly important to do if you, your husband, *and* your mother all have other (by the sounds of it, stressful, for most of you!) plans that day and can’t pop back in if the kid isn’t settling with a new person, or you discover something important wasn’t in the instructions you left her.

    6. Harper the Other One*

      Yeah, this would be my solution too. Have the nanny come the weekend before or on the previous week (paid, of course!) for an orientation/meet and greet.

      If they’ve already done that and OP’s mom is still nervous… then I think it’s appropriate to just say “Mom, all you have to do is let them in.”

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. I don’t have children, but I know from my young nephew that he would need to at least meet the new nanny a couple of times, and then they can also familiarise themselves with the house, where everything is kept, any quirks like ‘this is how the blackout blind in Fergus’s room works, it’s a bit tricky’ or whatever. I don’t think any child would be happy to be left with someone they’ve never met before, even if they are a childcare professional. When children start school here they usually do a week or so of half-days to settle them in, and they usually do at least one visit to the school so they can see what the classrooms look like and meet their teacher, and I think it’s similar here. Not only does the nanny need a bit of time to learn the child’s routine and make sure they know where everything is in the house, but the child needs to know who the nanny is before they start work.

    7. Kiki Is The Most*

      Concur! There is a big difference between having a telephone/video conversation and reading notes, as opposed to actually being in their home and seeing everything for yourself as a nanny. What may be obvious or clear for the family “We keep the baby wipes here…” might not be obvious for even an experienced nanny walking into a home they’ve never been in before. Is it a key or keypad to get into the home? Do you answer the door for deliveries? Where do you like to stroll with the baby? What is the favorite toy? Experiencing this first hand is much easier and being able to ask your clarifying questions as a nanny on the spot is key rather than texting the parents throughout the day with things that could be solved beforehand. If not a half day, then have the nanny over for dinner? (Paid travel and work time, of course)

    8. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Yeah I was little confused by the nanny starts the day we actually need her to care for the child. OP also says the person can’t come on Tuesday because that would not be there regular day. Okay. Unless the nanny has something that day, it doesn’t really matter.

      As someone said above, its not like you open the door, yell the nanny’s here and they take over.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Unless the nanny is working for one family on Monday-Tuesday and LW’s family on Wed-Fri, which would be a pretty normal way for a nanny to work. But then it would probably be better to have the nanny come over for half a day on the Wed-Fri the previous week, or even schedule your weekend around having a half-day introduction and orientation, than expect a perfect 5-min transition on their first day.

    9. Boof*

      Yes; it’s very nice to have the nanny’s first day (or week!) be when you are home to get everyone used to things!

  3. Sammmmmmmmm*

    When we hired new nanny’s we scheduled a few shorter shifts before their offical start day to shadow the family. Normally it was a house tour and a “we prefer this… not that”.

    More importantly it allows for kids and nanny to adjust to each other a bit. And gives me a little more comfort seeing the interactions.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      I’m glad so many people are sharing this experience. I’ve not been a nanny or hired one, but I was thinking that it was just odd that the Nanny wouldn’t have been to the house, met the family before their first official day.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Have not hired one, had several as a child, and yeah it was super common for them to come in a day early or have an extensive walkthrough as part of the interview process. We always got involved since meeting us was part of it. I agree that having the first long interaction be while a parent is present was super valuable since it gave us all time to get used to each other in a low stakes environment. It was also a good way to walk through schedules, meal prep, what each kid can be relied on to do (Bob can be trusted with the microwave but you will need to supervise Mary at all times, things like that).

  4. Bee Eye Ill*

    We had a situation similar to #1 at my work recently, where somebody thought longevity made up for poor decision making and a lack of professionalism. They were also given goals which they did not meet, and ultimately transferred to another department. They also angrily unfriended most everyone in our department on social media. Now we just laugh about it because we know we’re better off with their replacement.

    1. Zweisatz*

      Same, but he extorted a promotion first (make me teamlead or I leave) and was then terrible at that job for several years, before enough people caught on to the fact that he always volunteered for visible side projects, but could not be relied on to do his main job well.

      Also he was just a generally unpleasant human being when he wasn’t sucking up to you.

      Where did his complaints come in? He was scandalized that he wasn’t asked to become a teamlead, but had to help the issue along.

    2. StarTrek Nutcase*

      Yeah, I too was in a similar situation. Despite it being obvious to everyone in our department, Sandy just could never understand why… why she was put on a pip, why others didn’t think the boss was unfair, why coworkers had issues with her… I spent way too much time listening to her and trying to get her to understand the problems until finally I had had it one day. I very bluntly laid it out that her boss was unfair to the rest of us by not firing her long ago; being likeable wasn’t a reasonable substitute for competence; that her errors were numerous, repetitive and caused massive issues especially for me (I was senior so my work load was seriously impacted having to untwist her convoluted errors).

      I’d like to say she “heard” my message, but nope – her one real talent was self-delusion. But I decided that day that I would never again listen or console her and that I would always be brutally honest with her – this relieved alot of my frustration. (I had equally frank discussions with my boss which resulted in some changes.)

    3. Lionheart26*

      Same. We gave our “engineer” every opportunity to improve, including extra training, coaching and a supportive Performance Improvement Plan. He just couldn’t do the job. We realised through all of that that the situation was compounded because we really need a “lead engineer”. We thought it would help him save face if we could say “the position has grown and we need someone with different skills / more experience than what we hired you for”. But he just got upset and said “I’m already basically doing the lead engineer role! Why would you need to hire someone else when you could just promote me?!”
      He could have left on good terms with dignity, but decided to cause a fuss and badmouth us to everyone who would listen and on social media instead. We’re not sad to see him go.

    4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      It is one of the ironies of workplace life that the people who lack the soft skills for a managerial position are the ones who think they’re entitled to a managerial position due to hard skills/longevity. And the ones with the least self-awareness to see why they’ve been passed over.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Yeah its the uh soft skills — like being able to LEAD people that is the issue. This guy complaining that people were not told to treat him as the lead when he wasn’t the lead is the problem in a nutshell. A complete lack of understanding of how roles work and what they entail.

        1. MassMatt*

          The idea that someone should be introduced as “going to be your manager someday, so treat him like a leader” is something bad managers do when introducing their brother in-law on workplace sitcoms.

      2. Worldwalker*

        What’s worse is how many higher-ups agree with them, and promote accordingly. Management is a skill. Engineering is a skill. They are not the same skill, and there’s no more reason to assume that someone who has one will also have the other than to assume that a good llama groomer will also be a skillful teapot designer. But companies do, resulting in bad (and unhappy) managers.

      3. There's Alway the Reverse to Consider*

        Soft skills can be taught. People with “difficult” personalities shouldn’t be unilaterally excluded from management if they are willing to be trained.

        1. The Rafters*

          One thing AAM has taught me is that most people who need to work on their soft skills is that they double down that those skills are not necessary or pretend to not understand what soft skills are.

      4. lyonite*

        And the fact that he described his failure in this area as “just not being perfect” suggests to me that he doesn’t actually value the soft skills, and never intended to put in the work or take the guidance about them. I’m sure all the other team members had quite the sighs of relief when they went with the outside candidate.

    5. A person*

      I’ve also seen the flip side of this where managers didn’t want to have the tough conversations in a very direct way. They would always be blunt when discussing it with others and then waffle as soon as the person that needs to hear it is there. Then those people are left feeling confused about why they didn’t get a promotion or a raise or whatever.

      I know some people won’t hear it no matter how blunt you are, but when stuff like that is going on, sugar coating it isn’t doing anyone any favors.

  5. Quake*

    Just to commiserate OP5, my first ever job was as a cashier at THE big retail store. I got no training whatsoever, just thrown on a till. I know cashiering is far from the most difficult job in the world but when you don’t know what button does what, where to find the produce codes, what to do when you run out of change, who to call for help… YIKES!

    Since then I always ask about training schedules in interviews.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Ooof, that’s so rough. I’d say cashiering needs more dedicated training than office work. With office jobs, I’ve had some training on the basic policies and systems, but the work part was always like: here’s the assignment, here’s a report someone wrote a year ago, give it a shot. And then I’d learn by going over my work product later. It wasn’t an issue, because I wasn’t given time sensitive work.
      But with cashiering, you can’t exactly give it your best shot and wait a couple of hours to go over it with your boss!

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        And in the meantime, you’re being thrown in front of Mr or Mrs Public, who may or may not be having a fantastic day and may be looking to punch down with their ire about roadwork or something similarly ridiculous.

    2. allathian*

      Oof! When I started my first summer job working retail, we had *two days* of training, including dealing with difficult customers.

      1. Betty*

        allathian’s comment made me laugh because it jogged my memory about a job I had in private banking (the “white glove” service for “high net-worth individuals”). We had (and needed) lots of training in dealing with difficult clients.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Yeesh. I went to the liquor store the other day and the cashier was clearly brand new – he flagged someone to ask what to do about double-scanning an item. She coached him through that, made several other suggestions which I appreciated (“the bag with four bottles of wine should have a double bag”) and then thanked me for my patience (which was unnecessary – it wasn’t exactly a long transaction and the new guy was very nice). As I was leaving I heard her say “I know they give you three days of training but it’s different when you’re doing it for real.”

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “I know cashiering is far from the most difficult job in the world”

      Don’t undersell your experience! Cashiering is difficult, and no two systems are exactly the same. Almost 100% of the success of the job relies on being trained. Even if you’re a lifelong bank teller who can count money at warp speed and has an eidetic memory for produce codes, not knowing how to use GrocerySoftware 9.8 is going to send you into a spiral.

      1. OP5*

        Absolutely. Even now, years and years into a professional career, my memories of some of the experiences I had as a poorly trained retail worker (primarily checking) can re-traumatize me.
        I also hate people who act like retail staff are important. They are critical to our lives and economy and deserve much more respect and consideration.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Also, they’re human beings, and should be treated with respect for that reason alone.

          1. Observer*


            I am really glad that we are beginning to realize how important so many of these roles are. But even if a role is legitimately and genuinely NOT “important”, that doesn’t make it OK to be rude or to mistreat people. People don’t need to “earn” basic respectful treatment by being “important” or playing an “important” role.

            1. Lana Kane*

              People don’t need to “earn” basic respectful treatment by being “important” or playing an “important” role.

              Agreed. Unfortunately, at least in the US, there’s a “respect is earned” mentality that often leads some people to feel entitled to lead with disrespect.

              1. Calpurrnia*

                I just wish this went both ways (well, realistically, I wish the opposite, but yknow)… so often, the people who think folks like cashiers have to “earn” their respect are the exact same people who will get all offended if you treat them the same way. They stand there on their phone while you’re trying to help them, ignore or interrupt you, act like you’re beneath them because you’re in customer service… but if you, say, ask a coworker a question or wait for them to be done with their call, they blow up about how they can’t believe you don’t respect them. Like… you can’t have it both ways! If you want respect to be an earned thing, then act in a way that earns my respect. If you want me to give you my baseline respect for strangers who need my help, then treat me with baseline respect as a stranger who can help you.

              2. There's Alway the Reverse to Consider*

                I hate that phrase “respect is earned”. That’s what rude, dismissive people say. Basic respect should be given to everyone, full stop.

                1. I Have RBF*

                  Yeah, while I do believe “(additional) respect is earned”, there is a baseline level that everyone starts at, and goes up (or down) from there.

    5. Michelle Smith*

      Yikes, that sounds awful! I worked at a large retail store with a bullseye logo. It has been a very long time, but IIRC they had two days of classroom instruction and a week and a half more of on the floor training just for a floor guest associate position with no cashier responsibilities.

      I did quit after those two weeks because they refused to accommodate my other job’s schedule and I hated retail so much I was willing to stay with my sandwich artist job making 50 cents an hour less than Bullseye paid. But the training was solid at least.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        A lot has changed, my first job 20+ years ago with that same bullseye company. I watched a 2 hour video which had a section that included cashier but that’s it. I was thrown on a register and given another 5 min training and told to switch the line light to blinking if I needed help (with floor managers that would regularly disappear and/or took 5+min to answer the blinking assistance needed light). In under a week I was assigned the customer service counter with even less training than on the registers (where the floor managers took even more time to answer calls for help and you needed twice as much assistance). In under a month, I found a job at another retail company that had floor managers that actually worked with you. #1 thing I learned, work for companies that actually support you.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Any job that requires handling money, and for which you can be fired if you make a mistake that leads to having the wrong amount of money in your till at the end of the day, should ABSOLUTELY involve careful training.

      1. Observer*

        I’m gad you said that. Because I read the comment and was thinking “Huh! That’s weird. Why would they do that?!”

      2. Lynn*

        I work at the fuel center for a *major grocery store chain* as the lead

        I notified my direct manager in May that I submitted a week vacation request for June several weeks in advance

        I asked her if she could find backup that I and the other fuel center employees could train so that there would be someone to cover

        She found 2 backup employees

        One employee was a uscan attendent

        The other employee was a bagger, who never learned how to count money

        When I and another employees trained the bagger, he needed help counting change back to the customer. For example, a customer who paid at the window for their gas was owed $9.65 in change. That customer wanted $40.00 put on pump #, but did not use the entire amount. I had to show him how to count that amount of money before giving the customer their change. If the fuel center was cashless, he would have worked out fine since he learned fairly quickly how to take debit card/credit card payments, but that was not the case. The other employee who trained him told me he had the same problem too. Both of us felt he was not the right fit for the fuel center especially since he could not count change. He ended up being transferred to the bakery.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Ugh, and I think I got that bagger. I asked for $50 in gas, and the amount I actually needed was something like $40.61. So I gave him 61 cents more to make the change easier. He tried to give me $9.39 in change, and I don’t think he ever was completely convinced that $10 was the correct change. (Plus, I finally ended up with a 5, four 1s, and 39 cents, plus my original 61 cents – and I wanted a $10 bill.)

      3. MassMatt*

        I’ve worked and managed retail. It boggles my mind that an employer would think it’s a good idea to have someone in a customer-facing role HANDLE THE MONEY FOR THE BUSINESS with no training. This is just asking for disaster.

    7. Anonymosity*

      Same, especially since many companies have cut back on training and want someone who can “hit the ground running,” so to speak. In reality, a new employee will always need training, as every company is different and they won’t know routines, communication preferences, and other quirky ways of doing things that may be peculiar to the new workplace.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Have you read Shirley Jackson’s My Life with H R Macy? It’s about precisely this–getting hired as a retail cashier at Macy’s department store and not having the slightest idea what was going on the entire time.

    9. sparkle emoji*

      My first job was similar, my first day was a few hours of completing the mandatory safety modules and then 15 minutes watching another cashier before getting thrown into it.

  6. Emmy Noether*

    #4 This is called a spontaneous application here and I have seen it work. The applicant has to be really, really impressive. Usually I’ve seen that either a job opening was tweaked to match better or newly created, not so much applications kept on file until a matching opening came up naturally (Europe, my company doesn’t keep CVs very long on file anyway due to automatic rules in our SW to comply with data protection).

    It’s more likely to work with small companies, where a person with the power to create openings is actually directly involved with the hiring and knows what a unicorn candidate looks like. Large companies with strict procedures (like you have to request headcount and then it’s approved three levels above by someone who has no clue what you actually do) are less likely to do it.

    1. Graciosa*

      From a large company perspective, the other thing to think about is that a recruiter may not be compensated for presenting you to that employer once you’ve submitted an independent application.

      Our rules are that an individual applying directly to our company prior to being presented by the recruiter does not generate any referral compensation. In the case of multiple referrals of the same candidate without a direct application, the only compensation goes to the first to submit (sometimes the first within the last X time period). These types of rules result in recruiters checking to see if you’ve already applied (directly or with another recruiter) before they put your name forward.

      I would consider the low likelihood of a direct application to the company generally against the potential of being recruited for a specific job. Know that you can expect to lose your chance for the latter if you try for the former.

    2. Tick-of-approval*

      I got hired when I applied to such ‘open position’. It was for a big tech company (in Europe), where everyone in the field is almost constantly hungry for people. I have seen many companies publish such vacancies, so I was quite surprised by the answer above. From my side I didn’t expect to hear back, just wanted to put time pressure on myselft to polish and start sending out my CV and thought it won’t hurt if noone in the company actually checks the CVs received :)

    3. Holly*

      I agree, it’s more likely to work with smaller firms.
      I’ve been lucky enough to get hired a couple of times when applying to firms with no listed openings.
      I wasn’t a unicorn, it was just amazing timing, and I was available to start immediately. One job was temporary – to cover for a chap who had broken his leg that weekend, another was permanent, to replace a chap who’d handed in his notice that very day.

    4. Mairead*

      I got my current job that way. I had applied for a different position, but it got cancelled. So the recruiter suggested applying for what looked like a pretty generic posting on the site. TBH, I was very doubtful but it worked and here I am.
      US company, I’m based in Europe, internal recruiters. Not sure how often it happens as they haven’t hired much in my area since I joined (except former interns).

    5. Government Worker*

      I’ve actually seen the opposite in that with some big organizations and especially government, they put on big hiring processes to create pools of candidates that other departments pull from when they need a new staff member.

      Rather than each department or team needing to conduct a hiring process from the beginning, it’s put on by a central department. You submit your resume, answer screening questions, do testing, and interview all without ever knowing which specific job you would be hired for, only the classification (IT, clerical, analytical, etc). It’s only at the final stage, once you are placed in the pool that you would have an interview with your prospective team to see if it’s a right fit. If not, you go back into the pool to be picked again by a different team.

      This isn’t exactly what LW#4 is describing, but more and more it’s how I see government positions be filled, rather than individual hiring from the beginning. It’s becoming the standard, I would say.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Federal government or the government of a specific state or locality? Only asking because I worked in local government for a long time and never heard of this before.

        1. Government Worker*

          Federal and provincial government departments where I am, this is becoming the primary way to do external hiring and still fairly common for internal positions as well.

    6. Gumby*

      I applied to a big tech company and though I applied for a specific position, I got the feeling that they treated all applications as general when, despite the cover letter that described why I absolutely did not want to do SQA any longer but these are the transferrable skills and the classes I had taken and side jobs I had done to position me for a PM role they called me with a surprise screening call…. for a SQA role. No. I know it is in my previous job title but the reason I am looking for a new job is that I. want. out.

  7. nodramalama*

    For LW3 is it possible that your mum is concerned about answering questions, giving instructions, explaining expectations on the first day to the nanny considering she’s not the parent? If that’s her concern then the video call would handle it, otherwise written instructions might be useful?

    1. linger*

      As a nanny does not normally have any need to work out of an office with videoconferencing software, and may not have access to the bandwidth or suitable hardware to run it successfully … it’s certainly worth asking, but a video call may not even be possible as a solution.

      1. urguncle*

        The nanny does likely have access to a smartphone and a decent enough connection to connect to FaceTime or Google Meet. This doesn’t need to be a professional webinar quality call, just something so that Grandma recognizes the nanny’s face.

      2. metadata minion*

        It’s certainly something to keep in mind, but unless the LW is in a very rural area or something, it seems fairly unlikely that they can’t manage a brief Zoom call or FaceTime.

      3. Observer*

        This would have been a reasonable take 10 years ago. Today? What are the odds that a nanny doesn’t have a smartphone? I mean, yes there are people who still don’t have smart phones, but that’s a pretty distinct minority, so it doesn’t make sense to assume that a nanny doesn’t have one. Sure, don’t assume that she *does* have one, but it’s so common that it’s not weird to ask.

        As others noted, no one needs professional quality video. Any basic smart phone will do Google Meet or WhatsApp. Most will also do Zoom, Signal and Telegraph. If everyone concerned has an iPhone (not a terribly unlikely scenario), FaceTime will work too.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        As of a 2016 Quinnipiac poll, 84% of adults in the US had smartphones. It’s almost definitely more now. If this nanny doesn’t, they can cross that bridge but you’re talking about a shrinking minority.

    1. Dr Sarah*

      Like this!

      In situations like that one, I also like just refusing to respond to sarcastic subtext and responding to the words. “Yes, it’s going to be great! Really looking forward to the break. Hope you get some time off soon.”

  8. Fikly*

    LW1’s complaining employee needs to understand that respect is earned by behavior, not title, desire, or demand.

    However, he does not sound like the type, hence the lack of promotion, and good for the employer for not promoting him because of it.

    1. Zweisatz*

      Yeah I’m glad that this company seems to be very good at spotting what a appropriate candidate looks like instead of ruining a team of engineers just to avoid upsetting one of them.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Although perhaps they are not so good at providing direct feedback of why he didn’t get that promotion (could be that they did and he didn’t ‘hear’ it, though).

        1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          I vote for the latter. People often do not hear what they don’t want to hear about themselves and prefer to blame others for their issues.

          1. Never The Twain*

            He doesn’t even hear himself:
            “He is now saying that it’s unfair that the owner never told the whole team that Roman was looking to move into the role of a lead, so therefore the team never respected him as a leader.”
            AKA: “People won’t respect me unless someone else tells them to.”
            You got it, Roman.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              The fact he expected the owner to tell people someone wanted to move into a role is bizarre. I mean maybe some offices do that, but in general no. That’s something for 1:1s not the general office to know.

              1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

                I can almost understand his logic though: “in order to demonstrate an aptitude for being a Lead I need to show I can lead, but I can only do that if people know I am ‘auditioning’ to be a Lead, otherwise they will just tell me to mind my own business as they are my peers”. A fallacy for sure but I can see the thought process.

                1. Observer*

                  I can see that thought process too. But the thing is that this kind of thought process proves that he is nowhere near close to being ready for leadership.

                2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

                  I’ve worked in organizations where in order to be promoted you have to be doing the work for 6 months already. One of my colleagues was working toward a promotion that could include management, so our boss told her she was unofficially in charge of our other colleague. I don’t think anyone told him what was going on. Their responsibilities were completely separate and without the context that the peer management was an assignment from our boss, it just looked like she was suddenly overstepping her role like crazy. Predictably, it was a total mess.

              2. Anon for this*

                Yeah, at my workplace we get people promoted to lead very very often, and this is not how it works here at all. It is not that hard to tell from a teammate’s day-to-day work if they’d make a good lead or not. But our leads’ responsibilities are maybe 1% “control over how the entire engineering team works” and close to 99% support, release management, cross-team work or work with the business side of the house, and meetings. And, while our lead’s work does have the exciting (to an engineer) component of learning new tech, assisting the teammates with their individual tech development, and working with the architect team to coordinate that, we also had several leads find new jobs and leave because they didn’t like being leads, were tired of sitting in meetings 30 hrs/week, and wanted to go back to engineering. (We even had an incident where a lead left the company, and the most senior engineer on the team suddenly also left a month later, I’m suspecting because they knew they were next in line to be the lead.) So I don’t know if we can be a good example of how to properly promote someone to a lead.

                Roman is wildly misunderstanding the actual responsibilities of a lead, which is where he’s coming from with that expectation, but which also means he wouldn’t have done any of the actual lead work if promoted.

                1. Worldwalker*

                  It’s not the responsibilities that he’s interested in; it’s the authority. Which he understands all wrong.

            2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

              I’m intrigued that he seems to think that he would be regarded as a leader simply he expressed interest in promotion.

              1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

                Opps, I messed up. It should be:
                “I’m intrigued that he seems to think that he would be regarded as a leader simply because he expressed interest in promotion.”

          2. pally*


            I’m betting Roman thinks the list applies AFTER the promotion as these are the things one does in the role. Not that these are the skills needed to GET the promotion.
            So no need to acquire them until the promotion comes through. And even more reason to feel indignant that he’s not been promoted.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Considering the owner gave him a list of things to work on and he hasn’t done them all, I’d say the wanna-be lead isn’t good at ‘hearing’. Possibly the owner could have been more direct (we don’t know the details) but wanna-be had all the information.

        3. Observer*

          Although perhaps they are not so good at providing direct feedback of why he didn’t get that promotion (could be that they did and he didn’t ‘hear’ it, though).

          I’d bet that he didn’t “hear” it. Because some of his complaints simply made no sense. I mean the idea that the owner somehow owed it to him to tell the team that he was going for the position? And that somehow that would cause the team to treat him like he was *actually* the team lead? In what world does that make any sense. And if he really thought that being in the running was enough to “require” people to treat him like the team lead, of enough standing for him to try to enforce that non-existent status, this is someone who is probably not coachable.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah it sounds like the team (and probably the firm as a whole, because as someone already said it in this thread, Roman would’ve run people off) dodged a bullet.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      The fact that his idea about leadership = “total control over what the engineering team does” is a tremendously bad sign for his understanding of leadership skills, soft skills, and people in general. I agree that the employer made the right move!

  9. Not A Manager*

    I can’t imagine handing off my kid to a nanny on their first day and not being there. Pay the nanny for whatever day works for both her and one actual parent prior to the Magic Wednesday and have her come and meet your mom and the baby and get used to the house. If not, find a way to cover the 6-9:30 shift on the Magic Wednesday so you are there when she arrives.

    1. Princess Buttercup*

      Yes. There needs to be an easing in of this, for everyone’s sake. The nanny is going to feel overwhelmed if she doesn’t get the lay of the land ahead of time, and the baby is certainly going to feel very stressed at being left alone with a stranger all of a sudden. I get that it’s not an insignificant commute for the nanny, but she needs to come for a few hours ahead of her official “start” day. Don’t make her do it for free — but this is a thing that needs to happen. No video call is going to be able to recreate that.

      1. Allonge*

        So – I see why this is not ideal, but:
        1. the nanny is a grown up adult taking on a job to take care of a baby. If she feels this setup is too much for her, she should say so.
        2. the baby might indeed be scared – on the other hand having met the nanny one time before may or may not help at all as we are talking about an infant. If possible, do it, for sure! But it’s not a foolproof thing.

        1. Princess Buttercup*

          Look, as a parent, I just can’t get my head around handing off my baby to someone completely new who has never been to my house before and who has never met my child before. If it’s an absolute emergency, you have to do what you have to do, but it sounds like here there are options to make this easier. Having a nanny who has no idea where the things are in your house, or what the routine is, just makes it worse for everyone.

          Even when my kid went to daycare for the first time, she had a trial hour where we brought her in for a little bit to help her acclimate. Yes, there may still be a struggle for the kiddo even after a meet and greet, but as a parent, it’s your job to make sure you make this transition as easy for the child as you possibly can. You as the adults may know that mom, dad, and grandma will come home in a few hours, but to the child – they think they’ve just been abandoned with a total stranger and will instinctually have a bit of an existential crisis. The child should meet the nanny with someone who they know is safe ahead of time. Every kid is different, but you have to try to make it easier for them (and for the nanny!)

          1. Allonge*

            Just to be clear: I have nothing against making it easier for everyone involved, and I agree that it would be much better to have the nanny there on a day before already.

            On the other hand OP seems to be in quite a pickle as she would not have written in to an advice column otherwise. So while it’s fair to point out that there are issues with the plan, I would like to avoid catastrophisizing (especially combined with criticizing a mother of a young child).

            In my reading of the situation, worst case scenario is that OP/ her family / the nanny cannot afford anything else and so the baby will be surprised and may be upset that grandma leaves after only a short intro with nanny. OP will be back in an hour and a half (although this is not 100% clear).

            This is not optimal, but it’s very far from a tragedy too – especially, again, as the baby is likely to be just as surprised to be left alone with the nanny on the day after!

            1. Princess Buttercup*

              That’s fair – if the nanny absolutely can’t come ahead of time, everything will still ultimately be okay and is not the end of the world.

              My read on it was that ]OP isn’t comfortable asking the nanny to come ahead of time because she thinks it will be too much of an inconvenience for her based on this statement: “My mom suggested having the nanny come in the day before (Tuesday) so she can see the house, but the commute is not insignificant for the nanny, and she won’t normally be working Tuesdays anyways. How do we handle the nanny’s first day in a way everybody is comfortable with?”

              I think if you pay the nanny ahead of time, she would likely be grateful for a chance at an orientation before she starts, but definitely just talk to the nanny ahead of time to see what her situation is. Ideally, though, grandma is right and the nanny would come on Tuesday for a period of time. If she can’t do that, and no one can move their schedules around, it will likely be okay since it sounds like it’s only for a couple of hours. Just be sure to leave detailed instructions and an emergency call number for the nanny.

              1. Allonge*

                I totally agree it’s something OP should discuss with the nanny if the only issue is the presumed inconvenience! It only makes sense in any case, as the day approaches, to clarify what to expect – as you say, instructions are a must and a call or two with the nanny and OP’s mom might even be better.

                In any case, do connect grandma with the nanny before the day of, I do think it’s a big ask to handle the handoff if they had zero contact before.

            2. Observer*

              On the other hand OP seems to be in quite a pickle as she would not have written in to an advice column otherwise.

              Yes, but part of the “pickle” seems to be simply that they are being very boxed it.

              There is absolutely no doubt that not having the nanny come in once or twice ahead of time can work – a lot of people have that situation for one reason or another. But also, there is no doubt that it definitely makes things easier for everyone. So, if they CAN make it work, the *should*.

              If they can’t make it work, then there are some decent suggestions up and down the comment section.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          1. Did the NANNY request a meeting ahead of time. If not, I wonder how good this person is. Because I can’t imagine taking on responsibility for a tiny human with just a oh hey here’s the kid? Or does the Nanny not know all this is about to go down this way and expects at least one parent to be there for the first day?

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Grandma is available to be home and presumably the nanny hasn’t been told that grandma is uncomfortable being the one to acclimate nanny to grandma’s home and the baby. I don’t think we should assume anything negative about the nanny’s qualifications based on this post.

        3. MassMatt*


          3. The grandmother is not comfortable handing off the baby to a brand new nanny she has not met yet without the mom or dad being there.

          The grandmother is likewise a grown up adult who has taken on the job of taking care of the baby, multiple days a week. She evidently feels this plan for the handoff is too much, and is saying so.

          1. Allonge*

            Sure, but that was not in the comment I was reacting to, so I did not address it. Also – OP seems to be on it, even if there is no firm plan yet.

            1. MassMatt*

              Not directed entirely at you, but IMO few comments seem to be taking the grandmother’s feelings about the situation into account. It would not surprise me at all if she were thinking “I’m taking care of your kid multiple days per week and you (the parents) can’t even make the time to be there the first day the nanny is here?”.

              1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                Yeah, I doubt grandma thinks “I am not capable of doing this”. I’m guessing it’s more like — this is a responsibility that belongs to the parents and a new relationship with a nanny shouldn’t start this way.

              2. Gyne*

                BINGO (possibly.)

                If everyone is on board this handoff is a perfectly fine plan. But grandma is not on board. OP needs to ask Grandma why, and replan accordingly. You push too hard and Grandma may soon be unavailable for those Mondays and Tuesdays.

                1. Allonge*

                  Oh, gosh, yes – if they did not have this discussion, OP should definitely ask her mother what’s the issue (mostly because otherwise it’s difficult to solve). I really expected that it’s clear between them, that they talked about it and OP just did not describe the whole situation here.

  10. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    What I can’t figure out in #3’s situation is if the LW is working Wednesday, the husband starts his teaching job Wednesday, and the LW’s mother works Wednesday-Friday(?), who is with the infant before the nanny shows up? The LW mentioned living with her parents, but that they all work, so I assume her father wouldn’t be there, either. is it a somebody-toss-the-infant-to-the-nanny-in-the-driveway situation?

    1. bamcheeks*

      “My mom can stick around the house until the nanny gets there”— so yes!

      I think LW’s mom is right here— just handing the baby over and heading straight off sounds incredibly hard on everyone. I’d definitely get the nanny over for a half-day shift WITH dad before he goes back to work so they can get to know the baby and ask lots of questions.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Right, I have no experience with employing or being a nanny, but even in daycare in Home Country when my oldest started it, a parent was encouraged to hang around on the kid’s first day, so the toddler isn’t overstressed when they’re suddenly left alone in a room full of unfamiliar people. And would the nanny even know where everything that they need for work is located in the house, if they’re just handed the baby as soon as they walk in the door, and then all adults leave right away?

        1. Worldwalker*

          I was once crashing at a friend’s place and had a distressing moment of “OMG where does he keep the spare toilet paper?” How much worse is that going to be when it’s not just some TP, but everything needed for the care of an infant for a day?”Sink or swim” is not a good strategy here.

    2. A person*

      I agree that it seems unwise to do a nanny first day this way as it is all day and such…

      But I nannied in my younger years for a family and I was 18… and my first day with the kids was pretty much this. I did get to see the mom first day but I only had like 5-10 min before she had to leave. It was three kids (ages 7 year, 4 year, 9 months) and again, I was 18… we did just fine. While this situation isn’t ideal, it seems a far cry from catastrophic.

      Also… do people not babysit anymore. Aside from nannying, I did a ton of babysitting as a teenager, which again, I realize it’s only for a few hours usually not a full day, but man… the number of times my parents dropped me off at some house with children where I was left in charge having never met the kids or been in the house before for anywhere from 1-6 or so hours was enough that I can’t count it anymore. It seems like a professional nanny can probably handle one uncomfortable day with one infant. I would also assume she would speak up if she wanted a prep day.

      1. Ann*

        I feel like that might be different because the seven year old could help you find things and explain what their siblings need/like. If someone asked my seven-year-old where we keep the spare clothes, diapers, paper towels etc. she would know, and she could totally tell you about her little sister’s likes and dislikes. It’s not like being left alone with an infant to figure everything out on your own.

  11. The Prettiest Curse*

    Too many events – I can’t imagine doing this many events, and I really like holding events! If you had funders, this issue may eventually solve itself when someone looks at a report and says “wouldn’t it be more efficient to do 6 events attended by 10 people each then 27 events attended by 1 or 2 people each?” Your boss may also eventually burn herself out with this pace and number of events.

    If not, you’re just going to have to ask your boss which events should get the highest priority for promotion. This may not be feasible with your timeliness, but in my last job, we had different email groups according to event type/attendee interest and would just send info about most events only to that specific group, promoting several events per email. It stops the constant fire hose of promotion to a certain extent. But unfortunately the issue is still going to be the ridiculous event volume.

    1. English Rose*

      I wonder if the manager is trying to make an impact being new, and will calm down a bit once she thinks she’s gained a sufficient reputation.
      (Of course it may be a reputation for being someone who is absurdly gregarious, but…)

    2. obleighvious*

      It might depend on the kinds of events? My fiend did a lot of event support for her job and it was more like “setting up a table at an already planned event/convention” which wouldn’t impact the number of people attending, or limit the scope/reach of the company, but would require more planning on the event coordinator person (do we have enough brochures, do they provide tents or do we need our own, etc.) even if they weren’t the ones actually manning the booth.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I wonder if that OP should go to her grandboss to explain the situation, after of course first talking to her boss about it. Grandboss might have asked Boss to do all these extra events, but it’s also possible that Grandboss would be surprised to hear they are happening, especially if they are impeding that location’s abilities to complete other tasks they are supposed to do.

  12. legalchef*

    For LW 3 – you need to schedule the nanny to come on an earlier day (with pay, of course). On that day, you’d show the nanny where everything is, how you want bottles made, etc etc, and the nanny should spend some time with the baby in your presence so they make the connection between you and her. It also gives you the opportunity to show the nanny things that won’t make sense on paper (ie you can write down the baby’s schedule but show the nanny how the baby likes to be rocked before nap time, or whatever).

    Otherwise, it sounds like you are basically just handing your kid off to a stranger, who won’t know where anything is or what to do specific to this child. I don’t blame your mother for not wanting to take on that responsibility.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – also, consider the child’s point of view!! There needs to be some kind of introduction / transition, with hopefully enough time for the child to get used to the person.

    2. margarita water monday!!*

      agreed, this is the first day and can make or break the relationship. Its hard to find a good nanny (we had a terrible time) I can’t imagine taking the risk of loosing them or having someone just do a handoff with my baby for the first day. I would go in late or have her come another day, this would not work for me.

  13. English Rose*

    #4 – if you were applying to my company it would absolutely be worth your while putting in a non-specific application. Our recruitment team routinely goes through the talent pool for each location BEFORE posting new openings, to see who’s there and might be appropriate. We fill a lot of vacancies this way.
    If it’s a company that particularly interests you, worth following and engaging with them on LinkedIn as well.

  14. English Rose*

    #5 – asking about training has the side benefit that it’s a great way to signal to the hiring panel that you’re interested in the role and want to progress.
    And if they blink and fluff their answer – well you have what you want to know.

    1. Samwise*

      Yes, I’m always impressed by candidates who ask about training — so few do! Especially if they ask intelligent follow-up questions to our answer.

      1. OP5*

        Thanks so much! I’ve always felt anxious about asking questions in interviews. I always worry that asking any questions will make me seem like I’m not really interested in working, and that asking about training specifically would sound like I don’t think I have the skills to do the job. So it’s great to hear from Alison and commenters that it really is okay. I’d started asking some of the questions in Allison’s interview guide, but still feel uncertain in myself coming up with other questions.

        1. Peon*

          OP5, for some jobs, asking about “training” might not make sense, but you can also ask about what the “onboarding process” is like. I’m in IT for example, and we might expect our new hire to know C# for example, but they might not be familiar with our development style so we’d have them do paired programming. Some positions we assign a mentor, or we set up informational sessions with various team leads, or do shadowing, or all of the above. You can also ask about what they do to encourage career or skill development – do they pay for you to attend conferences, classes, give access to online learning tools, etc.

          1. OP5*

            Thank for that wording. I think that asking about the onboarding process will be a better fit for the jobs I’m applying to than training.
            For what it’s worth, I have been doing the same type of work as I would be in the new positions, but mostly with a focus on a small, specialty subset that will be expanded to a more generalist position with this change. So I feel pretty confident about my ability to do the work, I just know that I’ll have to have some guidance on differences between only making fancy fondant decorations for cakes to taking on actual baking duties, as an example.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          Huh, I’ve usually encountered the opposite assumption (no questions = not interested). Asking about training/onboarding is actually a very good question that makes one seem more interested, because it shows one is thinking about how the job will go and want to succeed. Everyone needs training in a new job – a candidate assuming he wouldn’t would actually be a red flag (unteachable know-it-all).

          Just don’t make all your questions about time off, breaks, etc. There are some hiring managers where this will land badly.

      2. pally*

        This is good to know!
        I usually get vagueness when I ask about the training. Like they’d rather not talk about it.
        I feel like they don’t want me to press further on the topic beyond ‘yes, we have training’.

        (talking about mid-career positions. So maybe no training is needed at that point in the career and I’m too stupid to know that?)

  15. Purple Halo*

    LW4 I got a previous job by sending an email to the boss basically saying I think what you am do is awesome hire me. It was a more professional version, and I’d heard they were expanding, but nothing was advertised so it was a bit into the pool.

    When job hunting I’ve met up with people I want to work with and asked if they have anything and gotten positive responses that at least had them reaching out when stuff was in the pipeline.

    In my current industry it occasionally happens that a place will advertise 25/50/100 open positions. There might be a rank constraint, but not always. This happens when they’re fishing to see who might jump ship and join them. I know a few people who got positions that way.

    I know what you mean is a little different, but if you like what the company does and want to work for them in a specific function – apply through the general pool. If you stand out they’ll talk to you. Or they’ll look at you if something comes up. This is especially helpful if they are not required to go through a formal hiring process to appoint.

  16. Jules the First*

    As a single mom with a big career, I have often had to navigate a short term or last minute nanny…and what OP4 describes simply isn’t going to work. My toddler is the most easygoing toddler on the planet (has never needed much settling with new people, was always happy to go to others, etc) and even he won’t settle with a caregiver unless he’s had a couple of hours with them and a “safe” person. OP4 needs to find a day where nanny can come and spend at least 90min with the family getting to know baby, the house, and the routine. Even when I have to get emergency agency nanny, I know that it will be a disaster if I’m not overlapping with the nanny by at least an hour. I understand that a nanny is expensive and paying for the nanny while you don’t *need* them feels crappy, but they absolutely can’t start on a day where all the adults in the household are busy.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I would agree with this, and I’d also say that if you are looking at the $120 or whatever it would cost to have the nanny come over and spend an extra half a day with the baby and your husband and thinking, wow, that’s a lot– think of it like any other induction process you’d do as an employer! It significantly increases the chances of a smooth transition, a happy baby, a nanny who fits in around your family life, and everyone being able to concentrate on their job. The easier you can make that transition for your baby, the easier it is for everyone.

  17. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, I think all you can comment on is the impact on you. You said that your boss asked you if you had too much on your plate. That was the moment to speak up, if it is placing too much on your plate and it sounds like it is. I think you could also address the difficulty in contacting her, though this is more difficult.

    I don’t really think you can help her cut back, especially since it sounds like she doesn’t want to. All you can do is ask her to mitigate the effects it has on you. Your boss’s question was an appropriate one and should really be what you focus on.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I agree but I was a little surprised the advice didn’t include a mention to the new people that they can have the same conversation with the boss about how the constant events are impacting them too. Do people think it would be overstepping for LW2 to say: “I’m going to be talking to Boss about the impact that the increased number of events has been having on my workload. I wanted to give you the heads up about that in case you have also been experiencing issues and want to have a similar conversation with her on your own.”

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Eh, I can see how a conversation that starts with “why, do you have too much on **your* plate?” could put OP#2 on the defensive. It’s really, really hard to say “I cannot keep up” especially when the Boss is someone who clearly blows through all other working norms at the office.

  18. FashionablyEvil*

    #2–another angle you can bring up us the impact on your target audience. Unless you’re adding Taylor Swift tour dates, if you go from 4 to 27 events a month you’re likely going to overwhelm people with marketing and have lower attendance per event which is not a good use of resources. It’s good to position these things as trade offs—“Jane hosted three llama permitting info sessions yesterday and each one only has 2 or 3 attendees. Historically, we’ve done two a month and the average attendance has been 15 people.”

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, with that many events, you will reach saturation point pretty quickly. There’s only a limited number of people out there who might come to one of your events, and if you overwhelm them with event volume, they will eventually get sick of hearing from you and get turned off from attending at all.

      Also, unless most of these events just involves OP’s boss sitting at a table with some brochures or giving a canned presentation, there’s no way to do that many events and maintain the quality of your event content and overall event offering. This will also eventually be a turn-off to potential attendees.

    2. Nethwen*

      This is probably true, but if they work in public libraries, it’s possible that the boss gets a lot of professional kudos and community goodwill for having lots of events.

      I was the big meanie who took over from someone like OP2’s boss. I cut (over time) all programs that consistently had 0-3 attendance. The community was so mad at me for cutting the weekly children’s story time, but *zero* people would show up week after week and it took 60-90 minutes of planning and prep work for the level of program they expected (3+ books plus full-on 15-minute, adult-involved craft). And the 4-hour (or overnight!) teen events that got 0-3 attendance? Cutting them convinced the community that I hate teenagers.

      My point is, OP2’s boss may be motivated by status and doing things that are fun for them rather than efficiency or positive ROI. If that’s the case, then OP2 will need a different tactic than talking about the impact on her work or the new people not getting trained. The person I took over from didn’t care about the impact on their staff; they were looking at the fun and status they got from all her projects.

      1. Former public librarian*

        100% I assumed this was public libraries. And if the events are aimed at different demographics, the public won’t necessarily feel overwhelmed or like this is too many events. And yes, the public loves to see events on the calendar and then not actually show up for them.

      2. Three Dogs in a Trenchcoat*

        Children’s librarian here, this absolutely reads public libraries! 27 programs/events on one staffer is unsustainable, full stop. The rest of my comment assumes this is libraries, so please ignore if not.

        I agree with others that focusing on the impact on your work is key. If you have a regular check-in meeting with your boss (ESPECIALLY if that is also the workaholic’s boss!) I would try bringing it up there but keeping it narrowly to the impact on your work, so you don’t come across as meddling.

        Also, I agree that they may be motivated by stats, etc. Simply offering x number of programs boosts those stats (in my state it is part of our mandatory annual reporting!) and they may have a very low threshold for “success” if they aren’t personally motivated to protect their time. Do you have a good sense of where your director and board are on this? Are you familiar with your library’s strategic plan? If not, I would quietly try to figure that out because if this is coming from above then the situation is less likely to change and harder to address going forward. You want to know this info now rather than later.

        Finally, if you’re a library worker and don’t know about Fobazi Ettarh’s concept of Vocational Awe, get thee to the Googles, because all work is not necessarily good work.

  19. A big mess*

    Dealing with the same problem as LW #1 at work. Experienced engineer. Very technically proficient but horrendous soft skills. Lack of said soft skills have been a point of contention (among other important things, like time management.) Despite his love of being logical, engineer can’t fathom why he isn’t technical lead in charge of managing the team and the time for the team.

    1. Generic Name*

      Uh, if dude can’t manage his time appropriately, he is not technically proficient.

    2. JustaTech*

      Frankly I appreciate any company/organization that recognizes that someone can have *amazing* technical skill and be 100% not suitable as a lead/manager.

  20. Irish Teacher*

    LW3, what time does your husband have to leave for work? If he is leaving after 7am, would it be possible to have the nanny start an hour early, so that he can show her around and do the handoff before leaving (obviously, paying her for the extra time). If she is using public transport and it doesn’t arrive before 8 or if your husband has to leave at 7 or earlier, obviously, this won’t be possible, but if he is leaving at 7:15 or 7:30, could it be a possibility?

    I do think it is understandable that your mother would be uncomfortable with being the one to do the handover, in case the nanny has any last-minute questions or anything.

  21. cabbagepants*

    #4 data point. I got my job from a giant job pool in 2016. It was for people graduating with a physical science STEM PhD and the company was a giant Fortune 100 tech company that hired hundreds of people like that every year. The good was that I got three offers from one fairly generic resume. The bad was that none of them were especially specific to my background. I did accept one of them.

  22. Yellow Springs*

    Suggested script for LW #1:
    “Hey, Ronald, I know you’ve been upset about not getting that promotion. You’ve been bringing it up a lot. I totally get why you’re frustrated, and I know there’s not much to be done about it now. I’ve been wondering, are you open to hearing any feedback?”
    Then if he says yes, you go into kindly explaining a bit of what you noticed.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      That’s a nice way of bringing it up. It’s kind of like what I have been trying to get better about asking my friends: “do you want to vent right now, or are you looking for help?”

  23. Nancy*

    LW3: Pay the nanny to come in on a day where all adults can meet her, so they feel comfortable leaving their home and infant to her and she will feel comfortable later being alone with the baby.

  24. Taketombo*

    Re #3:

    It would be a kindness to everyone to set up an hour (or two!) paid, for “orientation.”

    I’ve had a half dozen or more Nannie’s/part time domestic help I’ve the years for my special needs kid, and while the first interview over the phone is unpaid, it’s best to have in person. This is a job and you are an employer – use this time to go over:

    – onboarding paperwork (I-9s and equivalent)
    – all required employment postings (this is our employee comp insurance, etc)
    – payment plans (you will be paid every Friday via Zelle, let’s try sending the orientation payment through to make sure it works)
    – emergency contacts – who are they, where are they posted
    – important numbers/addresses – pediatrician, urgent care, preferred Et
    – review daily schedule and where everything is/how to use it (clothes, diapers, milk or formula, what you’d like done with a 1/2 empty bottle of milk, sunscreen, how to fold/unfold the stroller, what solid foods baby eats, etc)
    – review/introduce who else might be in the house and if the nanny should ask them first or just call you with any questions.

  25. Happily Retired*

    LW3, you mention that the baby has a long commute. Pay her for her commute time on the “get-acquainted” day as well as for the half-day or whatever she visits before the Wednesday start.

    Remember, she’s checking you and your family out, as well as vice versa. If she thinks you’re going to be cutting corners all the time, she might decide not to continue.

    1. Myrin*

      I know it’s a typo but for some reason, reading “the baby has a long commute” made me laugh almost hysterically.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Baby behind the wheel, sighing, taking a big swig of coffee and turning up NPR.

      2. Happily Retired*

        Nesting fail on my other reply, so I’ll try here: I obv needed to take one more big swig of coffee myself!

  26. Art3mis*

    #5 I’ve asked about training in interviews and have been lied to about it almost every time. I keep asking though.

    1. pally*

      Interesting! I’ve asked and I get a wide variety of responses. Not all good ones.

      Most all acknowledge that there is training for new hires. But many cannot provide details.

      Some have training modules. Lots and lots of modules one has to master. They cover “everything you’ll need to know”. Like what? “Everything.”

      Some say that there will be a lot of reading when I’m first hired. I ask if there’s anything else beyond the reading, and they chuckle. Some shrug.

      I don’t get why this is such a difficult issue to articulate.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        The kind of work my company does is VERY learn-on-the-job oriented and it’s definitely hard to articulate that without sounding sus. There are supports in place, and you’re not put on anything alone, but I think any way I explain it there’s always a hint of implied “we’re going to throw you to the sharks” because they have no reason to trust me yet.

        1. pally*

          Fair enough.

          Just for myself, the “learn-on-the-job” statement tells me a lot. I don’t find that vague. In fact, I’m good with that (maybe I like being shark bait? **wink!**). Especially if there’s comments like working on things on a case-by-case basis as the tasks present themselves. AND there’s resources available (ask X, or Y or look at the documents that pertain to this task-then ask Z).

          Does the “lots of reading” pertain to my work tasks (i.e., “How to do Task 1”)? Do the modules on “everything” include my work tasks? Or are these more “about the company and its values and policies” sort of thing? I get no specifics.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      One way to get honest answers is to ask someone that works there who would be a peer. Another is to ask someone who recently left and therefore has recent knowledge and no incentive to sugarcoat.

      1. Art3mis*

        Sometimes hard to find that though, people don’t update their LinkedIn, or if they do, training might vary wildly from team to team. The last couple of jobs I didn’t even interview with my would-be manager, or my manager changed between when I accepted and when I started.

  27. Immortal for a limited time*

    #1 – Years ago I had a teammate like this. We worked in a technical field and every year the parent company sponsored a peer-nominated award. Out of approximately 100 employees at our site, three or four would win the cash bonus and plaque associated with the award. I don’t know how many of us took the time to nominate our peers, but I’d guess 10 to 20 of us did. And we couldn’t nominate ourselves, of course. This team member would complain every time he didn’t win. One year, another person and I won the award for the second time. That was too much for this guy! Cue the complaints about “SOME people who already won it!” — spoken loudly enough to ensure I overheard (as though I had somehow pulled strings to be nominated and chosen). Yes, there was some sexism at play. I finally said, “Hey. Maybe this is why you haven’t won. Try being happy for your teammates, or at least respectful.” In your case, you could say, “Maybe it’s because you can’t accept or be happy for anyone else who gets a promotion. It probably doesn’t show the kind of leadership and diplomacy skills they want in a lead engineer.” Sometimes self-focused people need to be told these things directly to “get it.” Or at least to shut up about it.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Good for you. I think people tend towards ignoring those people and trying to keep the peace. Which is an understandable strategy. But sometimes you just really need to tell someone to shut up.

    2. BatManDan*

      “Employee of the year” awards, and the like, are always self-defeating and demoralizing. Either the same (or the same few) employees win it over and over (because, they SHOULD. Most folks aren’t high-performers once and never again) and that leads to frustration among the others, or they “circulate it” in the interest of fairness, and everyone realizes quickly that it’s meaningless. It NEVER has the effect that leadership thinks it will / wants it to.

      1. JustaTech*

        We used to do Employee of the Quarter (nominated by peers) for one manager and one individual contributor at each of our three sites. At the end of the year the Employee of the Year was chosen from the people who were nominated (not just the winner) for each quarter.

        We had to stop because one quarter no one from our largest site was nominated. Not, there weren’t enough nominees, *no one* got nominated. Lots of reasons were suggested – personally I found the nomination form to be a lot longer and more complicated than I expected (what do you mean I need to write an essay?), which I’m sure contributed.

  28. HonorBox*

    OP2 – Without knowing what the events are, it is hard to know how increasing from 4 to 27 really impacts attendance. So I would probably refrain from any comments about the attendance until you’ve run through this month’s events. But, have that data point in the back of your mind when you do address this with your boss.

    As much as I hate to say it, you may have missed your best opportunity to address this situation in the immediate term when you didn’t comment about the impact this is having on your work load. But I would definitely make notes over the next month so you can have a good conversation with your boss. What are you having to put to the side in order to promote the events? What does attendance at each look like, especially compared to previous events? When have you had to jump in and do something last minute? How often are you working extra hours in order to get things off the ground or in order to make sure other duties don’t fall through the cracks. Armed with that information, you can go back to your boss and note how the seven-fold increase in events has impacted your work. You should have all the information you need in order to point out what has been set aside, missed, etc. And you may be able to point out that attendance has dropped significantly from previous events.

    If one of the new coworkers comes to you with questions or feels like they’re not getting the training they need for their roles, you can note that, too, but I’d also push them to have a conversation with your boss. You shouldn’t be forced to be the spokesperson for the group. But if their lack of training does put you in a position for you to have to do more because they’re not properly trained and ready to do their jobs, you can also note that to your boss when you have the larger conversation.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I disagree that the opportunity was missed. LW2 says “I said we just need to get through the month and would like a further conversation after the busy week ahead of us.” That sounds like LW2 just needs to ask for that further conversation sometime this week and in it focus on the workload points.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. I think “I’m too busy to even have that conversation right now” communicates quite a lot, actually. But if the events are going to happen regardless, trying to course correct in the middle is probably just going to add more stress and confusion. I think OP handled this correctly.

        1. HonorBox*

          Both make fair points. I read it a little differently, but can absolutely see your point giving it a second read. Well stated on both accounts.

  29. Dust Bunny*

    it’s unfair that the owner never told the whole team that Roman was looking to move into the role of a lead, so therefore the team never respected him as a leader.

    Translation: “I wasn’t given the opportunity to rally my coworkers to pressure our boss to give me the job.”

    Tell Roman to review the list of requirements and leave you alone.

    1. Heidi*

      Telling the whole team sounds like it could have backfired spectacularly. The team might threaten to quit if Roman were put in charge. It’s a bit sad that Roman assumes that the leadership role is what garners the respect and not the other way around.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “It’s a bit sad that Roman assumes that the leadership role is what garners the respect and not the other way around.”

        God that’s such a good point. And it is sad – it’s easy to read it as shallow or power-grabby, but I’ve worked with so many people who are sure that their inherent issues with self esteem or imposter syndrome will magically go away if they’re given direct authority. Spoiler: they don’t.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        This is a definite possibility! Personally, I’m always kind of surprised when people are really loud about not having gotten a promotion. Where I work, we are scrupulous about not telling people when someone is applying for an internal promotion, because if they don’t get it, we don’t want them to have to face coworkers who know they tried for it and failed. When I applied for a promotion, I didn’t tell ANYONE who worked directly with me, just my mentor on a completely different team, who helped me figure out that I wanted to go for it in the first place.

      3. LynnP*

        I had a coworker angling for leadership and several key people who would be quickly recruited by other departments threatened to leave.

      4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        And if he didn’t get the role, he’d be mad that the boss embarrassed him.

      5. Dust Bunny*

        It could have, but if Roman is the type to ignore the list of recommendations and complain endlessly, I would not be surprised if he’s too out-of-touch to have considered that.

    2. Generic Name*

      For real. I would refer to the requirements once, and then go gray rock/broken record. “You sound really upset. Why don’t you talk to Boss about it?” Maybe even throw in, “You’ve complained about this a lot. What are you going to do about it?”

  30. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: I really, really hope you read the link at the end of the response to your question and follow that advice.

    *I want to be very clear that the comment I’m writing here is about ME and not about diagnosing anyone else.*

    I am neurodivergent. I can fixate on things for weeks, months, or even years and it can be difficult for me mentally to avoid falling back into those negative thoughts, which then bleed into my conversations. I’m the person who struggles to follow the implied social contract of answering “Fine, and you?” when someone asks me how I’m doing and I’m ruminating on intrusive, negative, or self-defeating thoughts. I can struggle to know, if people don’t explicitly tell me, when to stop talking about certain things that bother me. They are constantly front of mind for me, so it just comes out. I think I lost a friend over it last year by complaining to her too much. Instead of telling me that our conversations were too much, she just stopped answering my calls. I’m still pretty upset about it, mostly because I wish she valued our friendship enough to just talk to me instead of ghosting.

    The 2017 advice ends in part by saying “I actually think this approach is the most helpful thing you can do for him. He may not realize how bad his complaining has become, and by setting boundaries like this, you might nudge him toward realizing that it’s gone way beyond a useful point.” I wholeheartedly agree. For me, it would have been a kindness if my friend had said “I love you but I can’t talk about your current job or your job search anymore because I don’t have the bandwidth for any more negativity with all the other stuff I’m dealing with.” I often cannot tell in the moment whether I’m complaining too much and then spend hours or days worrying that I have. Would it have hurt my feelings or sent me into a shame spiral? Possibly. One of the other attractive features of my mental issues is overreaction to perceived rejection. But I would have dealt with it with my therapist and hopefully been able to keep the friendship intact, with the advantage of knowing I could trust her to tell me what she was thinking instead of constantly worrying about it.

    Please, tell this person (obviously in a kind way) to talk to their boss and tell them that you are not open to these conversations anymore. You might be doing them a massive favor (and at a minimum letting them know how to preserve a positive working relationship with you benefits you both).

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Also ND here: Rule of Three. If I’ve brought it up three times to this person, I can’t bring it up any more unless I have a possible solution or new insight and genuinely want their feedback on it.

      One, I don’t burn out my friends.

      Two, if I still find it hard to stop bringing it up, I consider getting actual help (therapist, professional advice, whatever is applicable).

  31. introverted af*

    #5 – other questions about training and ramping up in a new job that have worked well for me are:
    “What would you expect from someone in this role at 3/6/12 months?”
    “What kind of goals have people had in their first year here?”
    (if there was someone in this role previously) “What documentation did the predecessor leave that will be used for training? What will I be taking on that my predecessor didn’t do?”

    These questions let me get a good picture about how much do they expect me to be doing, what the timeline is for that, and from an honest interviewer usually get at the vibe for training.

  32. Ht*

    I’ve been a nanny who started on a first day when the parents weren’t able to stay longer than 5 mins to orient me. We’d planned it differently, but had to postpone my first day due to covid so it’s how it worked out. The mom made and shared a word document in advance explaining household things (like to the level of listing where the pasta pot was, suggesting different activities, how to work washer and drier) and the kids schedule (when they’re used to playing, eating or resting). Then at the end of the day we talked for about 15 mins about how things went and questions I had (also time I was paid for). This was actually really helpful for the entire time I worked with that family. I’d also met the kids during my interview, which included babysitting time I was paid for. Definitely ask the nanny what she’d prefer and yes of course pay her for her time if she chooses to come out the day before to meet everyone or if you set up a call.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      I think having a childcare binder would be really helpful even if you were told all of that information before.

    2. Ali + Nino*

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I especially appreciate the advice about sharing that document in advance – great idea.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      “Ask the nanny” is the one thing I’d focus on. This can’t be solved without them! Hey Nanny, Wednesday is going to be a tough morning, if you start as we discussed it can only be a quick grandma handoff. Some options we’ve thought of are x, y, or z…what would feel good to you?

  33. kiki*

    It’s 100% appropriate to ask about training in interviews! Even at pretty senior levels, there is the expectation of onboarding and training– nobody can just come into a job at a whole different company and know exactly what to do! I once had an interviewer make me feel weird for asking about training– I ended up taking the job and that was really a mistake for me. They really expected folks to just jump into the role with no assistance or time to learn, which does work for some people, just not most.

    I do think there is an interesting discussion to be had about expectations for training being greatly reduced over time. My parents are retired now and when they talk about their first professional jobs, they talk about months of ongoing, organized trainings. Every job I’ve had seems to think a week of some pre-recorded videos and some links to random documentation is sufficient.

  34. Petty_Boop*

    Simple solution: “Hi Nanny, I won’t be here to greet you on Wednesday but my Mom will be. I’d like you to meet and get a quick tour of the house so everyone is comfy on Wed. Can you come for an hour on Tuesday? We will PAY YOU for the travel time, and time spent here.”

    Also, as an aside, I–like others–think it’s weird that your Mom is weirded out about meeting the person who will be a primary caregiver for her grandchild! I would be all over that for my granddaughter!

    1. Picket*

      I suspect that the grandmother’s objection is less about meeting and being alone with the nanny than having to do the informational set-up that a new nanny will need. That’s a pretty big job, even if the LW will be home at 9:30.

    2. Expelliarmus*

      My guess is that OP’s mom doesn’t have as much of a grasp of the baby’s childcare routine to give a proper orientation to the nanny?

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        Gramma is a primary caregiver 2 days a week! And the LW explicitly stated that it was that “Mom is understandably uncomfortable since she hasn’t had any contact with the nanny herself.” So, it’s all about not having met the Nanny (I think if they’re sharing caregiving of the baby, Mom should’ve been involved in maybe the Nanny interviews at some point since it’s her home, but I digress). I think the best solution is that proposed above: ask Nanny to come Tuesday for an hour and pay her for her travel time, gas and time spent meeting the family.

  35. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (senior engineer wants to be a lead) – I would give him my thoughts kindly but directly. If he is just venting he’ll soon learn that you aren’t a suitable audience for that – or if he is truly open to feedback it may help him to hear from someone other than the boss. I do think that although the boss provided a list of areas to work on a year ago to be considered for the promotion, he may think he has improved ‘enough’ in those areas. I would also put the thought into his head about whether it is time to start looking outside the company for opportunities.

    I’m curious how (if the new Lead has started yet) Roman’s interactions are with the new Lead. Can OP1 elaborate on that?

  36. DivergentStitches*

    #5 asking about training is a good move. In my most recent job, I didn’t realize I was being hired onto a new team that would have little to no training and it would be fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants on a day-to-day basis, getting answers to questions in Teams when possible. It was pretty stressful for a couple of months. I’ll definitely ask about that for new jobs going forward.

    Would love to hear, additionally, how to ask if my direct supervisor will be working and doing the same job I’ll be doing, or if he/she will be more of a manager. My current supervisor is a very nice person, but is handling a heavy workload of stuff I’m not trained to do, and so he’s not available for most of my questions and any client escalations.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      I think you could break it into a few different questions. Something like “what is the Managers role both in the company and with the team? If there are escalations or questions who do I go to? If the manager is not available is there other leadership or senior team members that can help?

  37. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

    #5 as someone who was recently on a hiring committee I found it very thoughtful of the candidate to ask about training. Especially in the very odd role they would be coming into and the complexity of the role. I can’t speak for the others but I found it very impressive and it stood out from other candidates.

  38. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Roman is now very upset that he has lost out on the promotion and he keeps coming to me and asking me questions (“What did I do wrong?”) and frequently talking to me about it (“I know I’m not perfect, though I guess I didn’t think my lack of perfection would result in a bit of a demotion, even though I acknowledge I wasn’t technically considered a lead at any time”).

    LW1, if Roman gets to be a net negative, I’d remind him that “you have to move on to move up,” even if it’s not true at your company.

    Be prepared for him to come to this conclusion on his own, no matter what you decide.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        We had a Roman. he left for another company and made sure to tell anyone that they’d given him a manager position, which he hadn’t been able to get at our company. The reason why he was never made manager at our company was that his technical skills were meh and his people skills were nonexistent*. His title at the next company was project manager, which is very much not a manager. Couple of years later, he asked if he could come back to his old job and his old job said no. If Roman wants to go, let Roman go. I agree with you that I don’t see how anything bad will come out of it for any coworkers that Roman leaves behind.

        * I may or may not have had a celebratory drink on the day that guy told us he’d given notice and was leaving. He was THAT bad to work with.

  39. My Useless 2 Cents*

    I think people here are being a little harsh to Roman in LW#1. LW mentions that it is a small 12 employee company and that changes a LOT of the dynamics that other commenters are dragging Roman about.

    In a small company it is much harder to change perceptions and grow in a position without some indication and help from management. Any move on Roman’s part to expand his skills into leadership/management would be regarded extremely unfavorably by coworkers, especially if Roman is a little light on soft skills. So I see where Roman is coming from, that management didn’t give him a chance by not announcing the possibility of him getting promoted. (Not that he is correct, just the thought process for why he may feel that way)

    If LW#1 is a true friend (which Roman obviously thinks but given the letter I don’t know if LW feels the same way), it may be better for LW to focus on how difficult it can be to be promoted in a small company, where opportunities come along less often. It may also be beneficial to put focus on the soft skills the job requires to see if Roman has really thought about what moving into management means and isn’t just looking to grow in his role of engineer. It may be the best course of action would be to encourage Roman to look elsewhere for career growth.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m sorry but I just don’t think that makes any sense. Announcing that someone is *interested* in a promotion would be a very weird thing to do in any sized company. And in fact I think most people would actively not want that, because then everyone knows that you ended up *not* being promoted and that’s super awkward.

      And it doesn’t make any sense to suggest people should be treating him as a leader just because he *wants* to be a leader. He’s not a leader, so why should they treat him like one? Certainly no one should be actively *disrespecting* him and hopefully they all show their coworkers respect in general. But it sounds like he wants his coworkers to treat him like he is their team lead even though he objectively is not and has been told he has not shown the skills his manager would want to see to make him one in the future.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Chances are everyone knows Roman is wanting to move up without an announcement. It doesn’t have to be formally announced that Roman is interested in that particular promotion. “He’s not a leader, so why should they treat him like one?” is exactly my point.

        There are things managers do that indicate they are trying to groom someone into a position that would have more leadership responsibility, like having them be point on a project or giving them a special project to work on. Even if temporarily, seeing that Roman is being given more responsibilities and knowing they are wanting to move up, would show managements intentions in that direction. The smaller the team or company the more fundamental it is to have others see that faith in potential from management.

  40. Critical Rolls*

    Adding to the chorus that the nanny should have a paid introduction and orientation half day if it’s humanly possible.

  41. Bookworm*

    LW4: Agree with Alison’s answer that it’s probably more like throwing your resume into a black hole, but I will say that as I’ve been doing this more recently and I have had some bites of interest. It hasn’t panned out into anything (2 orgs reached out for jobs that I didn’t qualify for at all and I suspect they just needed a pool of applicants) but I have also gotten responses saying they found my background “interesting” (YMMV! :P) and encouraged me to keep an eye out for any openings.

    If anything, I found it useful for tweaking my resume and/or exploring other organizations, etc. as a way to get my materials out there, even if the answer is nothing.

  42. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Unfortunately for Roman, this behaviour seems like a good example of how his soft skills are in need of development.

  43. Snell*

    2: If the boss is neglecting the actual management of the department (including the development of two newbies!) and can’t be relied on as a manager, never mind her work-life balance, it sounds like she has major issues with her work-work balance.

  44. Allonge*

    Neurodivergent in Germany – don’t you think that same thing will happen the second day the nanny shows up? I know there are some baby geniuses but it’s incredibly likely that the kid will need a few days to file nanny under ‘known element in the world’. It’s just life when you are a baby – every day there is something weird and new and sometimes that is scary. And sure, we can do our best to minimize the number of these, but everything is new!

    I also would assume that a nanny experienced situations before when kids were a bit surprised by them showing up and not Mom/Dad or other Familiar Figure, and has some ways to deal with a crying child, especially with some pre-briefing. It’s really unlikely that this will be the only time she will have to do so.

  45. with all due respect*

    The nanny question is better suited for a parenting forum, not a work advice column

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      The parents are the managers of the nanny in a sense, so I see no reason why it can’t work here as well. I think Alison is better equipped to decide which letters are well-suited for her column.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Completely agree. Plus, it’s nice to see questions that are different from those usually covered. And it has parallels in other situations.

        I found the question to be a good one, and many of the comments here to be insightful. (Also told me which commenters never had to deal with child care, as well!)

        1. Ann*

          It makes me think in a way of a long stretch when my company would send new employees to new job sites with basically a video-call briefing and some documents. It very much Did Not Work. Complicated new jobs call for a thorough in-person briefing whenever possible. This really does apply to many kinds of work situations.

  46. LovesBooksTeaandCats*

    This! When I worked in the corporate world ages ago I didn’t know you were allowed to ask about training, time to get up to speed and graded expectations (I know, very naive). Those two jobs turned out to be terrible fits for both of us. Hardly anyone loves being dumped in deep water and expected to survive six foot waves their first month. Tip: if you walk in that first day and are show a cubicle literally buried in work left undone while the team waited on the new hire, run! Oh, and my ‘training’ was forty minutes max, no manuals, no computer login codes and no access to the network. I should have quit before lunch.

  47. LW4 / OP4*

    Hi all, I’m the person who wrote in asking about general interest applications.

    An added layer of difficulty for me is that I’m trying to change careers — so, I’m selling a track record for a job I won’t be doing anymore, to try to get a job I’ve never done before. I’m getting the vibe from the answers that a general interest application might work out for either a small-medium company that’s really looking for a good culture fit, or for a large company that’s just looking to see what they can poach away from other companies’ potential talent pools.

    I appreciate everyone (including Alison, of course!) posting their advice and thoughts. Good luck to everybody out there.

  48. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    LW#2, your new boss is a workaholic (doesn’t like to be alone with her thoughts–and her lack of a life outside of her job). She isn’t going to change, she thinks everyone else is a slacker, and her norms of how much and what hours to work will metastasize to the whole team. Been there, and wow, don’t ever want to be there again. Alison’s scripts are good, but it’s also time to look at an internal transfer (if your company is big enough) or a new job. People like this are a misery.

    1. Peanut Hamper*


      “Roman! This right here, this stuff you’re doing right now. This is why you didn’t get the job.”

  49. IndustryAndJobMattersForTraining*

    OP5, training expectations are very different for different types of jobs. If you’re expected to operate machinery of any sort formal training is essential. Ditto if a company or boss is particular about the way things get done rather than just that they get done. In many technical, operations, or business process type jobs training consists of being given a whole bunch of stuff to read.

    In one of the latter jobs, I’d think someone was a bit out of touch and perhaps too needing of detailed oversight to be successful. However, asking about onboarding more generally or questions about how long a typical employee has to be productive or how long it takes a typical employee to get up to speed are likely okay unless you’re in an environment that expects instant productivity (which sounds like a bad fit for you anyway and is something you could use to weed out incompatible employers). There are industries and jobs where you will be thrown right into it, though – I once unexpectedly found myself given 2 weeks to full update an 800 page API reference on day 2 of a new job. I did it too. I used that story to get lots of future jobs too as proof that I could jump right in and be productive immediately.

  50. Elsa*

    I would recommend that LW3 read letter #5. It’s not fair to throw an employee right into working without any training, and paid training time needs to be part of any job. This applies to your nanny as well. She should be coming in for at least one day and ideally a few days before your husband starts school in order to learn the ropes, and she should be paid for this like for any work day, since training is part of any job.

  51. That wasn't me. . .*

    regarding person with sick cat: “verbal” warning? (I’m reading this as “oral” as that’s the way people usually use “verbal” these days.) So, your warning here she is going to be warned! Why? Is it because a writer note goes into here file that she’s been warned? in that case, it’s a written warning, isn’t it?

    she’s hiding after feedback because she is distressed, probably dispondant, knowing she is very likely to lose her job quite soon. I f you think that can truly be prevented, share that! If not, help her find alternatives – may allow you to avoid firing!

Comments are closed.