updates: the weekend party, the demanding client, and more

Welcome to “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! Between now and the end of the year, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

1. Can I say no to a last-minute weekend party in my honor? (#2 at the link)

A bit of background: The way my boss brought up the idea of my going-away lunch was at an all-staff zoom. There were five people total in the company, including me. She asked each person except me if they were available on the weekend without saying why. After everyone said they had no weekend plans, she said that we’re having a weekend luncheon for my going-away celebration, and then announced that she’d pay for overnight travel for our our-of-town staff so they could attend. This is a big perk since our company is located in popular tourist town. After I suggested we have my luncheon during a workday and being declined, the zoom meeting ended with me saying I’d think about it.

After getting Alison’s advice, I sent an email back to my boss and all staff saying the weekend wouldn’t work and once again suggested weekday event. One “helpful” coworker (the one who would be getting a free weekend trip to attend) replied-all, suggesting scheduling it the following weekend. I initially agreed because I felt pressured, but later that day I emailed back that I was getting stressed out by adding another thing to my busy schedule. Then my boss replied-all and said, “Let’s just play it by ear.” That entailed her group texting all of us daily trying to figure out an evening or weekend time. I made up excuses for most of the suggested times, but finally relented and agreed to a dinner out with the team on Friday evening after my last day working for the company.

Trust me, the last thing anyone wants to do after their last day is going out with their boundary-stomping boss and coworkers. Turns out that none of my coworkers showed up, I guess they realized they didn’t like spending Friday after work at work events, so it was just me and my boss having the most awkward dinner together at the romantic restaurant she picked. She brought me a really nice gift that everyone had chipped in for. I can only imagine the pressure they had to spend money on my gift. After I left that job, the contracts I was working on completely fell apart, making the company look really bad. It was satisfying.

2. My coworker won’t stop doing my job (#4 at the link)

Your advice about going to my manager was the only thing that stopped it. Beyond that, getting a new manager was the biggest change — although I can see that my difficult coworker is miserable now and he pushes back against every “change” which is really just him going back to doing his job and not mine.

It turns out that it wasn’t just me who had difficulties with him. Others were complaining, but also felt like they had no recourse with him. Coworker is definitely a type who tries to control the environment around him and creates arbitrary rules based on an off-hand comment or something someone said to him years ago that cannot be tracked. He felt these rules gave him license to “help out” (his words) whenever he wanted whether it was wanted or not.

New manager has cleared that up. New manager has also clarified what is my job and what is his and anything that he does that is my job is now pointed out, corrected, and tracked to remind him that he’s overstepping. I can tell coworker is angry that things are not “efficient” anymore, but I spent so much time correcting his work that it wasted my time and company time.

My days are so much better. It’s also become blatantly aware that he’s been neglecting his own job and because he is no longer busy doing mine, he has no more excuses for why he wastes his time. It’s made our department faster.

I am happy. It required a change in management and definitely someone following up on him weekly. Pretty sad that was what was required, but I am very grateful to my manager.

3. A demanding client complains we won’t give him unlimited time (#2 at the link)

First, thanks to all your commenters on their overwhelming support. I particularly loved Sparky’s comment about shrinkwrapping the very item the customer complained about. That made me laugh.

We took your advice and started reminding Benjamin about “what do you want to make sure we cover?” and “let’s focus on XYZ in the remaining time we have.” My colleague found it helped manage his attention better.

It looks like he got the picture. No more outbursts like the original one occurred. He started coming less often, too.

For reasons other than Benjamin, I started interviewing for other positions. About three months after I wrote that letter, I got a new job. I don’t have to deal with him any more. But thanks to your advice, and thanks to all the commenters, I’m prepared for the next Benjamin clone when s/he comes around.

My coworker, for similar reasons, transferred to another job. My guess is that both she and I had one too many Benjamin fires to extinguish, and not enough support from management that was indifferent to our workload.

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. Antilles*

    #1: The fact nobody else showed up for a work dinner on a Friday night is pretty unsurprising. Especially since it sounds like the team was at least partly remote, so it’s not just “stopping somewhere next to the office so I get home an hour or two later than normal” but likely going to take up most/all of my Friday night.

    1. Airy*

      Deeply unserious and speculative reply: oh, so it was a romantic restaurant! Boss called everyone else and told them it was cancelled. The old sneaky move of inviting someone to a group event which then mysteriously becomes a date. This was her master plan to woo and win #1 as soon as she was no longer a subordinate employee.
      I mean obviously it’s irrelevant because if that were what she were doing she had zero game and failed utterly, but I find it funny to think of.

      1. starsaphire*

        This is the kind of AAM fanfic I live for. :D (Mostly because it’s clearly labeled as such!)

        Seriously, though, I think no one ever planned to show up. Hopefully, at least, the gift was useful!

      2. Rainy*

        Honestly, having wound up on some friendly excursions that turned out to be an attempt at a romantic date myself, including once with the “oh…no one else could make it!” excuse and once where I was the companion brought to a “group hang” by a pal who had a suspicion that was what was happening (it was SO AWKWARD, y’all), the vibe would have been thoroughly indistinguishable. :D

        1. Always Tired*

          I’ve had a few of those myself. I call them tank dates, because I go in suspecting as much, and proceed to do my level best to make them decide I am not a good match after all. The glee I feel as they slowly start to angle their body away from me halfway through cannot be properly described.

          1. Vio*

            It can be fun to think up things you could say to ruin a date… but the scary part is when you imagine somebody actually being turned on by them. One of the many things the internet has taught me is that one persons absolute nightmare is another persons kinky fantasy.

      3. Kat*

        Haha, my mind went here too! Not least because it’s exactly the sort of thing an (awful) old manager of mine would have tried, right down to the extravagant gift he’d paid for most of himself

    2. WellRed*

      I would have been so irritated by that but at least OP moved on after that. Good riddance to the whole annoying lot of them!

      1. Momma Bear*

        And honestly, the last day probably helped that there was no awkward Monday morning. Just one and done.

    3. rollyex*

      Good that OP1 is leaving. OP1 should practice saying no to things they do not want to do.

      It’s not always easy I know.

  2. Was the Grink There*

    OP2: “creates arbitrary rules based on an off-hand comment or something someone said to him years ago that cannot be tracked…”

    Oh gosh why is this such a type? You see that person in so many workplaces. It’s like it’s a blustery day in their brain and stray data breezes through and sticks to their face, and all of a sudden it’s everyone’s problem.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I have someone currently that keeps not following processes by saying that a specific someone who hasn’t been at the company for over a year (who was not in a role to set processes while they were here anyways) told them once(!!) to do something a different way….

    2. NeurospicyEnby*

      Speaking only for myself, I need things to be consistent. If I was once given instruction on how to do TPS report cover sheets, I’m going to keep doing the TPS report cover sheets that way in perpetuity until someone comes around with the memo about the new cover sheets.

      This doesn’t address the behavior where co-worker was directly told to stop doing the tasks and pushed back, mind. I’m just offering a possible answer to “why is this such a type”: Lack of proper communication from those in authority plus a need for structure.

      1. Boof*

        I think this is a different type who grabs on to the instructions/ procedures they prefer and then insist that’s the way it has to be done no matter how much anyone else says otherwise

        1. Clare*

          I agree, this is less about following the original instructions and more about cherry-picking in random order from anything that could be even vaguely construed as an instruction, just so they can do whatever they want. Which isn’t to say these people won’t sometimes in poor faith claim that their situation is just like what NeurospicyEnby describes, but it’s not. They’re lying.

          NeurospicyEnby if you’re not lying (and I don’t believe you are), you’re all clear. No need to change anything (until instructed, of course). No reasonable person would be bothered by your approach or group you together with this ‘type’.

      2. Just me*

        I worked with a person with a similar outlook years ago. Three managers prior she had been told to do process xyz a certain way. Several changes in adjacent processes had occurred in the meantime that could have made things a bit easier but that was how it was supposed to be done forever in her mind.
        I do get where she was coming from in regards to it being easier to just continue on doing things the old familiar way rather than switching gears to following a slightly different method.

    3. tinaturner*

      What surprises me is that someone can sound surprised that going to the manager worked! The manager managed!

  3. Catabouda*

    I’m so curious. Did the coworker, who was going to get a paid for trip, get a paid for trip and then not show up to the work event?

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I’m thinking they didn’t show because, since it ended up being a Friday, they weren’t going to get a sweet weekend getaway paid for by the boss.

  4. Bookworm*

    LW1: LOL, dang, that was some update. That last paragraph went from so extremely awkward and cringe to LOLOLOL. I am so happy you got the last laugh!

Comments are closed.