coworker wants us to read her Christian novel, managing a colleague’s feelings, and more

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

1. Coworker is pushing us to read her self-published Christian novel

I work for a nonprofit that is provides a government-mandated service, is entirely funded by the government, and has very close ties to the government. Most, though not all, of my coworkers are fairly liberal due to the nature of the service we provide.

I have one coworker who is very religious and talks about religion a lot, which I guess is fine. (I’m also religious but hardly ever mention it in the office.) However, she self-published a Christian fiction novel and brought copies for me and some of my coworkers, personally signed to us. She now keeps talking about her book and heavily hinting that we should be reading it. At one point I flipped through it and the literal first thing I saw was a priest explaining why all life begins at conception.

What do you think of this? Is it okay because she’s not forcing us to read it and not in a position of authority over us? I find it pretty inappropriate to promote a religious book in any secular office, but especially one with government ties. But I’m also queer and not cis so I could just be overly sensitive to this kind of thing.

Not okay in any work setting, not just government-affiliated ones — just like it wouldn’t be okay to pressure your coworkers to read erotica you’d published. (Not that they’re the same thing, but they’re both inappropriate things to push on coworkers.)

It’s fine for someone to mention they published a book! But they shouldn’t be pushing it on coworkers. For that matter, that’s true even if there aren’t religious or sexual themes; a lot of people just really don’t want to read their colleagues’ novels.

If your coworker raises it again, it’s fine to say, “Christian fiction isn’t my cup of tea.” Or “my to-read list is so long I can’t add another thing to do it” or “I only read apocalyptic sci-fi” or however you’re most comfortable declining.

2. Is it my job to manage a coworker’s feelings?

I occasionally work with a relatively new (two years) hire from another department, “Claudine.” I don’t report through their management but I have a lot of technical skill and experience that their department needs, so I consult with them regularly. In the year or so since Claudine has joined them, I have noticed that she does not appear to have absorbed any office norms and regularly gets offended when it is pointed out that the reason she is not getting the info she’s asking for is because she is working outside expected channels (for example: scheduling meetings with technical experts directly on top of their technical meetings, then being surprised when her meetings are declined, scheduling daily tag-ups for work that takes weeks to complete per standard flow times). I wondered if this was just a personality conflict and asked around to other technical experts she works with, which confirmed that the behavior is not limited to her interactions with me, and that people are frustrated with her behavior in general.

I went discreetly to her manager, “Kyle” (who is a new manager with less than a year of experience in the role), with my concern that Claudine is alienating the technical experts she relies on. Kyle informed me that he is a supportive manager and sees nothing wrong with Claudine’s behavior, and that my feedback should go directly to Claudine.

Now, whenever I work with Claudine and explain why the things she is asking for cannot be done in the way she’s asking (for example, a standard three-week review process with multiple sign-offs cannot be expedited to three days) or explain why people decline her workshops (because she schedules them over industry events that take precedence), she complains that I am “hurting her feelings” by explaining why she is not getting the results she wants.

I am not a part of her team, and this sort of basic coaching seems like it should be coming from Kyle, who has made it clear that he believes a supportive manager supports their employees unquestioningly. I also feel uneasy about having to manage Claudine’s feelings when my role was meant to be as a technical consultant.

Am I out of line in thinking that it’s not my job to manage Claudine’s feelings? How do I best communicate that the reason she is not getting the results she wants is, well, her behavior? Or am I just showing my age and not recognizing that the new generation of office workers don’t put much stock in things like “office norms” and “the way things are done” and are more concerned about feeling validated? Have I become the office curmudgeon without realizing it?

No, it sounds like Claudine is objectively a problem (as is Kyle, her unconditionally supportive manager). You are going wrong by making this a generational thing; this is about Claudine, not her generation. Plenty of younger people understand how work works!

In your shoes, I’d stop trying to coach Claudine or soothe her feelings. Provide the technical assistance that you’re supposed to provide to her department, but don’t put more energy into trying to teach her why she’s not getting the results she wants. You don’t need to keep trying to explain why people are declining her meetings, for example! She’s made it clear she doesn’t want that sort of feedback, so don’t keep investing time in trying to get her to understand. If she’s making it impossible for you to do your own job, take that to Kyle — but keep it focused on the “what” (for example, Claudine refuses to allow three weeks for the X review), not the “why” (“she’s offended by having to stick to normal workflow processes”). And loop your own manager in too, so she knows what’s going on in case Claudine or Kyle complains to her.

3. How to explain an angry ex-employee is review-bombing us on Glassdoor

I’ve recently taken a job in management at a mid-size employer that until recently was a small employer. Part of my task is building up my historically neglected department so we can start obeying all our industry regulations and making fewer errors. So far, I really enjoy my job. I operate independently with freedom and trust in a supportive environment.

The last person in this position had a negative experience — so negative that when I spoke to him (our field is small and he was easy to find), he tried to persuade me not to apply. He also wrote a one-star review of my employer on Glassdoor. In the review, he claims to have been suddenly fired for no reason, but since I was hired here, I’ve heard that he was on a PIP for horrible work quality (he told people, HR didn’t break confidentiality), disappeared frequently in the middle of the day with urgent tasks pending, and randomly insulted several coworkers. (I actually found documentation of him insulting someone in a file that people forgot to delete. It was bad.)

This would not be a huge deal, but I think he’s also making new Glassdoor accounts and writing up new negative reviews for the company on a regular basis. Pretty much whenever my coworkers and I write positive reviews about our experience, a highly negative one pops up within a couple days specifically addressing our reviews and claiming that leadership at our company is making us write them. These negative reviews all use about the same tone of voice and complain about similar issues, and none are from before this guy got fired.

As I go about building this department, how can I address the review bombing with job applicants? A couple have asked, and I’m sure even more are just not applying or dropping out of the process early because of the increasing number of one-star ratings. “Ignore all that, our former employee is a weirdo” sounds like the sort of excuse people would make at a toxic workplace. But it’s true, and I don’t really know what else to say.

The most important thing is to ensure your hiring process includes opportunities for candidates to talk with other members of your team without you there, so they can see what your team says about the work environment when they’re not in your presence (and so candidates can see you’re comfortable with that).

If anyone asks about the Glassdoor reviews, you should say matter-of-factly, “As far as I can tell, there’s an issue with one unhappy former employee. In part because of that, I’m going to be very deliberate about making sure you have opportunities to talk with team members one-on-one to ask anything you want about culture and what it’s like working here.” In other words, be transparent and then emphasize that you’re being transparent. That’s really all you can do, but it’ll count for a lot with most people.

It doesn’t address the possibility of people not applying at all because of what they see on Glassdoor, but that’s not within your control (and that’s probably fewer people than you think).

4. Stopping a client’s endless apologies

I’m a creative freelancer and right now my main client is a small company that I’ve been working with for a few years now. I really enjoy the work I do for them, and the employees are personable and great to work with.

The person I work most closely with often takes a very long time to respond to me or give me his notes. I know this is because he’s perpetually swamped, and I don’t take it personally. The problem is that when he does make contact, he’ll often make a big apology, lamenting how terrible he’s being for taking so long. I know the apology is genuine, but it’s starting to get grating. I usually respond with “it’s okay,” or “I know how hectic things can be,” but is there something else I should be saying? I feel like I’m running out of synonyms for “no worries.”

For what it’s worth, this bottleneck usually creates more of a strain for my client than it does for me, and I can roll with it and trust that I’ll get a response eventually (even if “eventually” means anywhere from 1-5 weeks.) Short of saying “stop apologizing!” I’d love to know if there’s a better way to cut off the apology song-and-dance short and skip to the part where we actually talk about the work.

Try to always have another topic ready to go, so that you can quickly redirect the conversation. For example:

Coworker: “I’m so sorry this took so long, I know I promised it to you ages ago—“
You: “No worries, actually I’m glad you called because I was just thinking about X and wanted to ask you Y.”

You could certainly try just saying outright, “I never need you to apologize, I know you’ll get back to me when you can, please don’t spend any time on apologizing” … but I’m skeptical it will change his strong need to apologize. You’re better off just cheerfully and briskly redirecting to another topic that he’ll have to respond to, which will hopefully short-circuit the sorry soliloquy in his brain.

{ 412 comments… read them below }

  1. KT8*

    I was in a situation in the opposite way as #1. I was involved in writing a non-fiction liberal leaning book and worked in a fairly conservative office. A few people asked about it so I put a stack on a table and took the few remaining ones home after a few days. I don’t know who took them or not, never asked for feedback, but did receive a lot of positive comments later. I tried to be as no pressure as possible and it didn’t seem to be a problem.

    1. PickleMum*

      When I worked at the prison library, I had one of the drug counselors (a group notorious for pushing boundaries and not always in a positive way) asked if she could “donate” (read: have the state pay for) 10 copies of her self-published memoir. I agreed to two, per policy.

      I read it, because we had censorship rules and the aforementioned boundary issues and oh my goodness. It was badly written, hard to follow, and had no real redeeming…well, anything…at the end. Or only had any meaning if you knew her a little more than her patients should have in this type of environment.

      She Moved On To Bigger And Better Things a couple months later and I was able to pull both copies after 12 months based on our stats policy.

      Ugh. Very uncomfortable situation.

      1. Sam I Am*

        Being a prison librarian is such an interesting and important job! This would be really cool for one of Alison’s profiles — just wanted to put that out there.

            1. Resentful Oreos*

              I don’t know, libration might be truly applicable in prison situations. You know, library-libation combo! I’ve heard some ridiculous prison book policies.

              1. Festively Dressed Earl*

                A prison librarian that starts a prison book club where they drink wine and discuss The Count of Monte Cristo = Librarian’s Liberation and Libation club.

        1. MigraineMonth*


          I worked for a while at a nonprofit that sent books to those incarcerated in jails and prisons, and half the job was trying to keep track of the different restrictions and censorship rules. Is that a large part of your job as well?

    2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I think with sharing any sort of art or product with colleagues (or an otherwise ‘trapped’ audience) the trick is to let people know about the thing, make the thing easily available for them to access/enjoy, and then not push.

      Honestly, I love enjoying the art of people I know and supporting them. But that genuine interest and enthusiasm will curdle into resentment if I feel as though I am being pressured or scrutinised. In one scenario, I’m someone they’re sharing a piece of themselves with. In the latter, it feels like I’m just a tool to prop up their self-image.

      1. Peaches and Scream*

        A former co-worker, who is a good singer and comes from a musically gifted family, gave everyone in the office a copy of her family’s Christmas album one year, then proceeded to ask everyone what they thought of the album after the holidays were over and folks were back in the office. Super awkward. Sharing is fine but don’t definitely don’t pressure people to partake if they aren’t interested.

        1. Abogado Avocado*

          Grandboss at long-ago job had a husband who was convinced he could sing. Grandboss’ husband hired a coach (who apparently told him the guy he was the next Placido Domingo; maybe in an alternate universe), rented a hall (fortunately 500 miles away from the business) and an orchestra, and recorded a CD, which Grandboss then gave as a present to everyone at job.

          And it was excrutiatingly awful. After listening to as much of the first song I could stand, I remember skipping around the CD, thinking that there had to be something about the music. Which I guess there was, if you were the well-paid coach, the hall owner, or the orchestra members.

          When Grandboss later came through the office, asking us what we thought of hubby’s CD, people were stammering, trying to come up with something to say. Finally, one of my canny co-workers burst out: “It was incredible! Just incredible!” Grandboss swanned off, extraordinarily pleased, not knowing my co-worker meant “beyond belief.”

      2. Elsewhere1010*

        “Sorry, don’t have time to read your book right. I’ve only just started The Devil in the White City, next is The Satanic Verses, and then Dante’s Inferno. Plus I have a movie date tonight and we’re going to see Humphrey Bogart in Beat the Devil. But thanks for thinking of me.”

          1. K+*

            Naa, for those instances I always keep my “Practical Demonkeeping” book in plain sight. I even snagged a Copy with a more scary cover! Works wonders for intrusive people while you are waiting somewhere…

        1. Emily Byrd Starr*

          I’ve never read Dante’s Inferno, but it’s my understanding that it’s actually a Christian book, and that the point is to illustrate how horrible Hell is, so that you won’t be evil and get sent to Hell.

      3. Emily Byrd Starr*

        Yes, I was just going to say this. Letting your co-workers know about your book (or any other form of art) is fine, but don’t push it on them or give them copies and ask them for feedback. If your book is related to the type of work your office does, you can donate ONE copy to the office library.

    3. Writer Claire*

      Same here. I worked in software plus had a number of novels published. Sure, I’d talk about my writing and my books, just as I’d talk about my latest vacation or my cats, but I never asked anyone to read my books, much less buy them.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t either, although if they ask for a link, I’ll give it to them. One of my coworkers read Tunerville and said it was “the perfect beach read.” I was shocked that she actually did! So many people say they’ll check out your thing and then don’t do it. Which is fine; I don’t want to shove it on anyone.

    4. Baby Yoda*

      I gave signed copies of one of my (small press published) novels, and then never brought it up again. One did comment about enjoying it, the others never said one way or the other. And that was fine.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Like putting the lemon bars on the file cabinets, rather than going around to each desk to insist someone take a lemon bar.

    6. ABW*

      One thing that surprised me when I shared my self-published book with people was that they’d comment months later that they were part of the way through the book. I wasn’t sure how to take that–it isn’t a huge book, so it wouldn’t take more than a week or so to read the whole thing. But maybe they were saying that they were savoring it, taking time to contemplate each chapter.

      For the LW1, I would go further. Not necessarily about the religious messages in the book, but just about navigating the amount of self-promotion that becomes overbearing. Maybe say, “You really need to stop pressuring people to read your book. It’s getting to be a lot.”

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I suspect that it’s simply how people read. People are regularly shocked that I finish a book within a week or so of receiving it. In reality, I would probably have read three or more books in that time (unless they are really long ones, in which case, probably one or two). I think a lot of people only read a chapter or two at a time and don’t read daily, so they might only read five chapters of a book in a week.

        Or they may have had a long list of books to read and not gotten to yours immediately. I wouldn’t read anything into it. I see posts on facebook about people not getting around to books they were really excited about for months or even years after they bought them.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I think you’re right. I am very much a binge reader. In my youth, I’d often read until the wee hours of the morning and finish a decent sized book pretty much in one sitting. Nowadays life and children get in the way, but if I manage to start a book, I’ll either read every available moment and finish within a week, or abandon it entirely. I can’t read to fall asleep – it doesn’t make me sleepy and there’s a real danger that I just won’t sleep until I’m done (and be fried in the morning, which is sometimes worth it and sometimes not).

          My whole family is like this, so I’d always be surprised at school when people had only read part of the assigned chapter in a week. But some people do indeed read a few pages at a time, with breaks. Some people also have multiple books going in parallel.

          1. LTR, FTP*

            Same here. My parents learned to have me open any books last on Xmas morning, because otherwise I’d just start reading them and would lose interest in opening any other presents, lol.

            I can’t count how many books I’ve just HAD to finish before going to sleep…

          2. Random Dice*

            Different situations can make it hard to read in any stretch of time. Parents of young kids especially don’t have tons of free time, and are always exhausted.

          3. Gumby*

            I hated the reading schedules in school. I would finish the entire book the week we started and then read 4 or 5 other books on my own and then get dinged for “not doing the assigned reading” when I didn’t know what metal the buttons were made of in chapter 4 of Johnny Tremain because I read chapter 4 a month ago. (Sigh. They were silver. Of *course* I’m not holding a grudge from 7th grade English class from 30something years ago…)

            1. DontAssignChapters*

              I often read 15 or 20 other books in between. I basically ended up rereading the book every time a deadline came do it was fresh in my head. If it was a book I didn’t enjoy I’d re-read to the point of the assignment and stop, otherwise I’d read the whole book each time. I think I read Gone with the Wind 18 times in 8th grade. One of the nicest changes between Jr/Sr High and college was just having a deadline for finishing the whole book. Assigned chapters were the absolute worst.

        2. Devious Planner*

          It can take me years to finish a book! I am a sampler; if I actually counted up how many books I am currently reading, it would be… 50? I don’t even know. I have no problem picking up books, putting them down, returning them to the library and getting them back out again 6 months later. Plenty of books I never come back to, but there are also plenty that I do.

          It helps that I mainly read nonfiction. I can just read the first part of a biography, then put it down and learn about somebody’s later years in a few months.

        3. Willow Pillow*

          I used to be able to read intense stuff, but the general turmoil around COVID (not getting it myself, just all the stress) really affected my ability to focus. Sometimes I can read something quickly, but most of the time I have to pick away at things slowly. This has nothing to do with the book or the content – I have a 100-page, easy-to-read book on a topic I really connect with that I’m ~30% finished after a few months.

          1. Elle*

            1. My reading habits changed similarly after COVID too. I used to basically speed read everything but I’m trying to listen to myself a bit more?
            2. Not sure if your user name is a Willow Pill reference but, if so, yaaay I love her and have a photo of myself on my office cork board.

            1. Willow Pillow*

              Not a big pill, just a wiwwle pill! What I’m not able to read these days, I make up with all the Drag Race content available…

            2. Lydia*

              My reading habits changed dramatically after grad school, and that was 15 years ago. I’m just now getting back to being able to sit down and enjoy long form articles and books.

        4. ABW*

          That’s true. And I definitely wasn’t egging them on and asking, “Hey, have you read my book yet?” I really didn’t remember who I had given copies to. It was just surprising that people would tell me about it.

          I certainly have friends’ books on my to-be-read pile. Good friends are nice enough not to pester me about them.

        5. ferrina*

          So true! I’m ADHD, and I need to be in the right mood to read a certain book. It’s nothing about the book, but if I’m not feeling it there’s no point in picking it up. At any given time I keep a healthy supply of books from various genres so I can pick the one I want as the mood strikes me.

          (I’m also the ADHDer who has multiple beverages at a time, because I vary my taste/hydration needs throughout my meal)

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            I once had a coworker ask me with an impressive amount of polite interest if I was in a liquid diet because I had coffee, a juice smoothie, fizzy water, and a canned breakfast shake. I’ve never had a stomach for solid food early in the morning, but I absolutely do love eating normal solid food in the afternoon and evening!

          2. Elle*

            This is me! I need multiple beverages for different needs (eg regular water for hydration, a NA beer for interest, protein shake for calories) and my reading habits are similar- I must also be reading at least a couple of different books at any given time (at least one fiction and one nonfiction, but sometimes I need to also be rereading something I’ve already read for comfort/stress relief, and if the fiction is kind of “fluffy” I may need something more literary to balance it out).

      2. Beth*

        If they’re volunteering that information, it probably means that they’re enjoying the book, and are not fast readers.

        A woman in my volunteer group has a friend who published a non-fiction book a few years ago. My contact got multiple copies for several of us, personally signed and dedicated to each of us. This wasn’t unreasonable, since the book is about a field that’s a specific interest of mine.

        Fortunately, she’s never asked how I liked it, because . . . the book is a mess. I know a LOT about this field and have read many works covering much the same ground, and this book is not contributing anything to the field. I don’t think I’ll even be able to use it as a reference for any detail, even things the author got right, because the overall work is so poor.

        I haven’t been able to finish it, and I’m a fast reader. As far as I know, none of the other recipients in my group have read it, either.

        It does have really handsome cover art.

      3. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

        I can either read a book in a day or it takes me months. Audiobooks have helped a ton by letting me multitask.

      4. JustaTech*

        I will fully admit that I have been “part way” through a friend’s self-published novel for like 10 years because I don’t like it, but I can’t provide useful or actionable feedback because it’s a taste thing not a technical or structure thing.

        But I did start it, and I wanted her to know that I really respected the *huge* accomplishment of writing a whole novel!

      5. ErinW*

        That would’ve been me. Even if I was really interested in your book, it might’ve sat on my coffee table while I finished a couple book club reads and whatever had recently come through on my library holds. I rarely if ever just start reading a book as soon as I get hands on it.

      6. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think it’s super normal for people who aren’t voracious readers to take that long to get through a book! I read all the time as a kid but as an adult it’s just harder to find the time/energy to burn through a whole bunch of chapters in one sitting.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve gotten through quite a few books on the bus and train, but not everyone uses public transit. When I’m at home, I often have other stuff to do so I don’t sit and blow through a book like I used to.

      7. Nina*

        For me it’s simple – library books take precedence, in order of ‘how soon does this have to go back’. A book I own can be read any time, and will usually be ‘sipped’ a few pages at a time, or dipped into, over the course of months. But I regularly max out my library card (50) and read 2-3 books a day on weekends and about half a book on a weeknight.

    7. Trippedamean*

      Agreed. I had a dinner at a conference with a group of people outside my organization that I regularly work with and their manager decided to do the icebreaker for something no one knows about us. I decided to go with the fact that I had just written the last part of the first draft of a novel. Everyone was really interested, asked lots of questions, and told me to let them know when I had published. They still ask me periodically but I honestly wouldn’t even think to update them if they didn’t. Not only do I not expect anyone, let alone colleagues, to be interested, it seems like a weird, overbearing, and Not-suitable-for-work thing to bring it up repeatedly and expect people to read it. I don’t even expect my friends and family to be interested and to read it – why would colleagues and coworkers?

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      That sounds like a pretty good way to handle it! I think in this particular case of being a very religious book in a government office it’s probably best not to bring it in at all. But in general, writing a book at all is honestly a pretty big accomplishment and I think it’s not unreasonable that someone’s coworkers might want to support them in that and read it–but definitely should not be pressured to do so.

    9. Artemesia*

      No one wants to read other people’s amateur novels regardless of content. I remember a book club that was enraged but too polite to resist being forced to read one of the member’s dreadful fantasy novel in draft form when it was her turn to choose and host. And to add to the misery she invited him to the discussion so no one could even say anything about the imposition or the horrible book.

      Announcing and making copies available is probably okay — but pushing people to read or discuss it is abusing her position.

      1. ferrina*

        I think it’s fine to make it available to people to read IF there is no questionable content (i.e., a religious book being handed to coworkers unsolicited is not great), but an author should NEVER ask for commentary.

        I’m a bad person, so if I were LW1 I would spite-read the book, write a scathing review on Goodreads, then when coworker pesters me for the thousandth time, I’d coldly say “I read it. It was not a pleasant read. I won’t say more, because we are coworkers and I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

        1. Lydia*

          Unfortunately, if you get that far, it’s too late to care about hurt feelings. But I understand where you’re coming from. It’s one of those situations where they shouldn’t ask if they don’t really want to know.

    10. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

      Yeah, I wrote a very queer fantasy novel (even using made-up pronouns for the main character and an entire gender category) so I won’t be mentioning it at work. Maybe if I write something a bit more normal, but all my current projects are about alien races, have nonbinary protags, or have elaborate scifi worldbuilding.

        1. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

          It’s called The Cloudship Trader. It’s on Amazon. I’ve improved since I wrote it but it was a fun project, and I’m happy to put something out into the world for the handful of people who’ll enjoy it.

          Might change my comment name now…

          1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

            That’s the great thing about fantasy – it lets us explore other ways to be, and posits questions about how cultures would evolve on very different worlds (to mention just a couple of examples)! It encourages us to stretch our imaginations and challenges us to explore ideas and attitudes that we haven’t thought of before…but now that we think of it, yes, that COULD happen!

        2. OtterB*

          Me too. Telephone Sanitizer knows their coworkers, but I would likely be interested to read this one. I might also be interested to read the Christian fiction one depending on its overall approach. In general I would be interested in reading most things a coworker wrote unless it seems like something I don’t want to know about the inside of their head, e.g. something libertarian postapocalyptic (which I don’t read) or erotica/highly spicy romance (which I read but probably don’t want the personal touch to). In general, I think announcing it and putting a few out for people to take if they wish, without pushing it, seems like the right approach for pretty much anything.

    11. RagingADHD*

      If it comes up in conversation that I have books out, I just tell people where they can go to download the first one for free on my website, or that they can look me up on Amazon. Occasionally if they really expressed strong interest and I like them, I will give them a print copy out of my stash.

      I never ever follow up, and let them know that I will not: “If you read it and don’t like it, please don’t tell me. If you do like it, tell everyone else!”

      I don’t need or want personal validation. I want to sell more books.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Thank you for the thought! I will take it in the good spirit it is intended.

          However, I write under my real name and do online / social media marketing associated with that brand. I do not cross the streams with forums where I post under a pseudonym.

    12. Hats Are Great*

      I had a very Christian colleague self-publish a “horror” novel he was very excited about and let us all know we could read on kindle, and I did because I’m a nice person, and I spent the whole time I was reading it SCREAMING because it was so so so bad and hacky.

      He’s a lovely person, but in my head he is now forever a Catholic school 10th grader attempting a “horror” short story that won’t offend Sister Mary Michael and that has the proper moralistic ending.

      The book itself was not terrible — it was well-paced and the horror bits were legitimately a bit hair-raising — but every time he got to the part where the bad actions by the protagonists would result in REALLY BAD OUTCOMES, either they died from doing bad things or a PURE INNOCENT CHILD PROTECTED BY AN ANGEL appeared and they turned away from sin, and it was just like, “BRO.”

  2. Zombeyonce*

    #2: I’m willing to bet LW isn’t the only person complaining to Kyle (and many others) about Claudine. Eventually he’ll either get so many complaints that he has to do something, or people will just flat out stop working with her because of her ridiculousness; both ways will make their way around the office and hopefully produce some results.

    Or both Claudine and Kyle will become the missing stairs and basically get nothing done while keeping their jobs and having people work around them. All potential results mean that LW can likely leave this alone and just do their own job the best they can.

    1. i exist*

      I misread that as “missing in the stairs” and thought you were referencing one of the office romance stories from this week

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I am not sure why AAM didn’t recommend OP to go to their own boss about this issue. I’m sure the boss already knows what’s going on (and possibly is also getting meeting-bombed by Claudine) but if OP very diplomatically mentioned to their boss that it takes a lot of time out of OP’s day to continually tell Claudine that they can’t meet with her nor can they speed up the three-week procedure, perhaps OP’s boss would stand up and take notice. If OP’s boss has been there for longer than Kyle (seems likely), the boss might have a lot more sway with Kyle than OP does and Kyle might actually listen to OP’s boss (and also Kyle might be more likely to listen to another manager than to someone who is not a manager). If Kyle still refuses to do anything about Claudine, well…this might not be the kind of behavior that warrants someone being put on a PIP but if Claudine is breaking protocol with any of these behaviors it could be. And Kyle should absolutely get more management training because what he’s doing is definitely not good managing.

      I want an update on this letter!

      1. Scott*

        She actually did in the last sentence.
        “And loop your own manager in too, so she knows what’s going on in case Claudine or Kyle complains to her.”

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yeah, AAM said loop in OP’s manager, but she didn’t specify what or how OP should loop in the manager. What AAM said made it seem more like OP should say, “Hey, Manager, I’m going to stop worrying about Claudine’s feelings, ‘kay?” rather than “Hey, Manager, can you help me solve this problem I’m having?” I’d recommend the 2nd, just because managers tend to have more sway over other teams and other managers than us regular lowly employees do.

          1. Saturday*

            “What AAM said made it seem more like OP should say, ‘Hey, Manager, I’m going to stop worrying about Claudine’s feelings, ‘kay?'”

            Where are you getting that? The advice was to “keep it focused on the ‘what’…not the ‘why'” when talking with Kyle, and that would obviously be true of the conversation with the manager too.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              AAM was suggesting “looping in” the manager; in other words, telling the manager what they were doing (stopping worrying about Claudine’s feelings and maybe telling Kyle that) but I didn’t get the impression from what AAM said that OP should actually ask the manager for help in reining in Claudine’s behavior. Perhaps I misinterpreted, but even if so I think my advice is not unhelpful because it gives OP more ideas on how to approach a conversation with their manager.

      2. Happy meal with extra happy*

        It doesn’t seem like OP is that inconvenienced in ways that they can’t prevent or that the boss can reasonably fix. It takes two second to decline a meeting invite, and if Claudine wants something faster, she can pound sand. OP is investing more time than they should into this, and if they stop like Alison suggests, there should be few issues for them.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Good point. I guess my suggestion would be if Claudine still continues to behave this way even after OP stops worrying about Claudine’s feelings, then it would be worth bringing to OP’s manager’s attention. But I was also thinking that it really does sound like Claudine has no idea how office norms work* and since Kyle isn’t inclined to do anything about it, OP’s manager could have more standing to get Claudine to understand that what she’s doing is not great.

          * There could be many more instances that OP didn’t write about in the letter, so it’s possible that some of them are problematic. Not to mention that it’s not great for Claudine to be alienating OP’s team by annoying them with meeting requests they have to continually decline and have her get mad about. Again I ask, are these fireable offenses? Probably not, but there are a lot of work behaviors that aren’t fireable offenses that also should be stopped because they are frustrating to other people. (One could argue that almost anything could raise to the level of fireable offense if someone were asked repeated to cease and they did not.)

      3. Hell in a Handbasket*

        To me it sounded like the main issue is that OP keeps trying to explain things to Claudine (even things outside her own responsibility, like why other people are declining meetings), presumably hoping that she’ll learn better office norms. This was worth a try at the beginning, for Claudine’s own benefit as much as anything — but at this point she is just causing herself frustration. She hopefully can make this mostly a non-issue by just using quick matter-of-fact responses. “Sorry, I have a conflict and can’t make the meeting”, “Sorry, this review will take three weeks” etc.

      4. Friendo*

        It seems like the issue is that Claudine’s behavior is mostly harming herself, not OP. It’s a good idea to loop in their supervisor as suggested but it’s also not OP’s bosses job to remediate Kyle’s department for him.

        1. Observer*

          I totally agree.

          The OP should stop trying to explain things to Claudine. And not expect their boss to explain things to her, either. But they should let their boss know so they don’t get blindsided if either one complains – whether to the boss or a mutual GrandBoss.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I wonder if Kyle is just not willing to manage her feelings or if it has no impact on him so he’s unmotivated to act. I would loop in Kyle and my own boss if I had someone routinely impeding work.

      “The normal workflow for this product is 3 weeks. We do not have the resources to expedite your request. We can add this to the schedule with an anticipated delivery on x date.”

      Same with the meetings, “We are unable to meet with you on Tuesday because there is a standing all-hands meeting for the technical staff at the same time. Please select another time from the calendar.” Or “We are not able to attend daily standups. I can meet with you once a week at x time/day.” She may not like you taking the lead, but she obviously doesn’t take care in planning meetings so…

      Her failure to plan is not your emergency. It’s not about a particular age of person. It’s about Claudine. I’ve met many forms of Claudine. There’s this amazing thing in Outlook where you can see everyone’s schedule and pick a time that works for most. Claudine needs to learn to use it. I wonder if she also needs to recognize that her projects are not the only things you are working on.

      I wouldn’t worry about trying to soothe her. She either works with what you have or she doesn’t get what she wants. I have a small department. Occasionally I’ve gone to my boss and said, “Here’s what three Directors want. We can’t meet all their deadlines. What is your order of priority?” Often he will also loop back with the Directors to ensure that they know he’s given us direction and if they have a problem with his list, they can go to him. If Kyle won’t manage, will your boss help, especially if you show your boss the impact to your work?

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I would loop in my own boss a good bit because of Kyle.

        Especially if Claudine’s behavior is effecting the OP and other tech team member’s than OP’s Boss, presumably a tech team manger of some sort, might have more capital/standing to go to Kyle manager to manager and let him know that being a supportive manager does not mean supporting their direct reports to do whatever they want.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      From the letter, it sounds like LW keeps trying to help Claudine and getting feelings-bombs in return, but it isn’t actually impacting their work. LW, you should probably stop trying to help her and just gray-rock all of Claudine’s reactions.

      And no, this isn’t a generation thing, though it may be a “newer to the workplace” thing. There have been people in every generation who want to do things their own way and feel persecuted when it doesn’t work.

      1. Random Dice*

        I’ll be honest, I was very sympathetic to the OP until they took that abrupt turn into “YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY AMIRITE?!”

        Then I wanted OP to pound sand along with Claudine, and wonder how much of this conflict is actually coming from her own ageism.

        1. Observer*

          and wonder how much of this conflict is actually coming from her own ageism.

          Not at all. The OP gives examples of objectively problematic behavior. You are right – it has nothing to do with “the new generation of office workers”. But I suspect that part of the problem is how Kyle is using “new generation” talk to support his being a wimp who won’t manage.

          The concept comes up here – a common form is what is often referred to as weaponized therapy speak.

        1. UKDancer*

          I read that having heard people online talking about it (I hadn’t heard of it before as it wasn’t a big thing in my friendship groups in the UK) and I thought it was hilarious. It wasn’t meant to be but it made me laugh a lot. There was a chapter set in London which was evidently written by someone who had never visited the UK and had clearly never spoken to anyone who had.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Oh no, the weird mythical London where the plucky heroine will “walk three blocks north to get tacos”?

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              He is re-running the series, if you want to revisit the good times. I won’t name the blog, because I did in another comment that is stuck in moderation. Which comments go there is a dark mystery, but naming it may be why here.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes. People driving in London from Scotland Yard to a pub (which nobody does really – people would walk from there or get a tube) and driving “sedans” which isn’t a way anyone in London would describe a car. Also the protagonist paying for food with Euros (not our currency).

              There were several other oddities about how people talked to each other as well as the police forces having “captains” which isn’t something we’d ever use as a police rank.

              1. Woolly sheep*

                It’s already difficult to convince people too far south to accept Scottish pounds, let alone Euros.

                Thanks for the laugh.

              2. Elitist Semicolon*

                It’s amazing to me how some authors, despite living in an age where mounds of information about nearly everything is readily available via interwebs, do absolutely no research on the locations in which they set their work. I just read an otherwise good novel that was in part set at my uni and it became very clear that the author hadn’t even googled a map of our campus, much less talked to anyone who went here.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  My favorite and fairly recent one was a British writer who wrote a mystery series set in Galveston, TX, the place I am pretty familiar with. Errors (easily remedied by google):
                  1. You cannot see the ocean and the Texas City* refineries at the same time. They are on the opposite sides from the island.
                  2. The main character’s husband worked as a petroleum engineer at Texas City, so he had to stay there on location for 3 weeks at a time. Texas City is a 25 minutes drive from Galveston, it’s a short commute by the area standards.
                  3. The main character walked a mile in the incoming storm surge of 4ft deep. Like a damn hero she is.
                  4. A Category 4 hurricane hit Galveston straight on, then turned around and went back into the Gulf, and dissipated.
                  That last point made me so mad, I had to leave a book review on Amazon, which I never do.

          2. Woolly sheep*

            I’m always amused by American authors who have people *drive to work* in London.

            Yeah, good luck with that.

            1. MassMatt*

              Well SOME of all that traffic must be people going to work, right?

              As Yogi Berra famously said “No one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

              1. UKDancer*

                I’d say given the congestion charge, the difficulty of driving there and the slowness compared to the tube and the lack of affordable parking, it’s not a major way of getting around for people working in central London. You can get across London by tube a lot faster than you can drive it.

                People who commute to work in offices / shops / other buildings get the train from outside London, the tube and bus from closer in or cycle if they like that sort of thing. Most of the people driving in London aren’t driving to work in that sense. I’d say most of the drivers are buses, taxis and white van drivers (so plumbers, delivery services, supermarkets etc) who need to move things around.

                After 20 years working in a variety of white collar jobs in London, I can say that while people may drive around London for work very few people drive to work.

              2. Testing*

                Well, not the many cabs, white vans going to “a job” not their regular place of work, delivery vans, buses, etc.

                Not much space left for “people going to work”, and certainly not enough space to make it a predictable way of getting to work every day.

              3. Testing*

                Nope, the taxis, white vans going to do “a job” rather than to their regular place of work, buses, delivery vans, etc. will fill up the streets well enough to make it impossible to reliably get to your place of work.

            2. JustaTech*

              My husband’s coworker was on a work trip to London but wanted to visit friends outside the city so he rented a car (he’d lived in the UK before so at least he mostly knew how to drive).
              After a harrowing trip from the airport into the city, the guy gets to his hotel and they’re like “no, we don’t have parking, you can park on the street but there’ve been a lot of break ins.” So the guy gives up, drives all the way back to the airport, returns the car, meets a coworker who had been on the next flight, and takes the Elizabeth line back to his hotel.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Putting in a plug for Fred Clark’s delightfully detailed take-down of Left Behind. He is re-running it over on Slacktivist.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        When I lived in Memphis, I saw a co-worker reading the book. I asked her about it and she told me that “left behind” meant that in the Rapture, only Saved people would be assumpted up or whatever happens to them. Anyone who wasn’t saved would be left behind in the earthly mess.

        “But Catholics don’t get saved,” I said.

        She shrugged.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Removed an off-topic debate about why the commenter censored the word Zionism. I assume it was because they mistakenly worried the moderation filter would otherwise flag the comment as political. Please move on, all.

    1. Dog momma*

      There are post apocalypse novels that are Christian out there, since I like that genre I’ve read one series ( which was quite good) & A couple more. I noted some praying & no cursing
      ( which was good, every other word F bomb gets really old after a while) but not pushing of religion or faith in any of these. Otherwise they are really no different than any other novels that I’ve read.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, gosh – I needed to hear about Amish Vampires in Space today! (Turns out it’s the first of a “Plain Space” series, which goes on to deal with Amish zombies and werewolves.) The author does include a note saying that while the books are not without humor they’re meant to be hard SF, not camp, so “be warned”, which I found rather helpful.

    2. MsM*

      A Canticle for Leibowitz is not subtle with the Catholicism in its last third, but it’s a classic for a reason.

    3. sofar*

      I was gonna say … “I only read apocalyptic sci-fi” could actually backfire and give the coworker inspiration for her next novel.

    4. Cat*

      If you used a very loose definition of Christian novel you could probably include things like Evangelion or even Trigun in your scifi apocalypse category. I don’t think it would resolve your issues with your coworker if you brought that sort of thing up at work, but I think it would be a very funny conversation to watch from a distance.

    5. NoWayImUsingMyRegularTagForThisOne*

      I was thinking perhaps the book might be about the priest actually reading his Bible and end with him learning that in it, life is consistently depicted as beginning and ending with first and last breath, and that the only mention of abortion is instructions on how to cause one in a case of known marital infidelity – but perhaps that’s too much to ask for.

  3. Zombeyonce*

    #3: This is such a tough one because you want to think that the ex-employee’s review bombing looks obviously like the same person using different accounts, but it can be surprisingly hard to tell from an outside perspective even if they’re using the same kind of language and phrasing in each comment.

    The worst part is that a lot of people don’t start looking at Glassdoor reviews until they’re well into the interview process and possibly considering an offer, so LW could have people dropping out after putting a lot of time into interviewing them for positions. That’s another reason it’s so important to be transparent right away and setting up conversations with other employees (not just offering it as an option, but proactively giving them those connections).

    1. Kim*

      I also check dates. If I see a bad review and then six glowing ones within a short period of time, I’m gonna assume HR made people write good reviews to keep their jobs. This happened at my last company.

    2. Just another person*

      Agree, I don’t look at Glassdoor under I have an interview scheduled with the hiring manager, because there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to go down that rabbit hole with every company I want to apply to! So please be proactive in scheduling candidates to talk with the teams they will be working with.

      I take it as a red flag if there are multiple negative Glassdoor reviews from people in the roles I’d work most closely with, AND the interviews scheduled during the hiring process are only with managers. I’ve got one of these coming up next week and I will end up walking away from the company if I don’t get good answers to my concerns. Another reason to be proactive with this.

    3. Venus*

      My best interview as a new hire had a tour at the end with an employee who had a few years of experience. He showed me their desks, introduced the team, saw the cafeteria and a conference room, heard about their latest projects, and he walked me out. I was told that I could ask any questions and none of it would be reported back to the hiring committee. A tour was a useful reason to spend a bit of time together, because it didn’t feel awkward if I didn’t have many questions.

      1. Ama*

        I really like that approach! I wish more employers would do that (although I feel like that offering that you know the employer is really confident their culture is going to be a selling point).

        I once had a really candid interview with the person I was interviewing to replace and it turned out several things she thought were great about the job were dealbreakers for me (she happily talked about sometimes working at the boss’s house and the variety in her day when she got to go pick up the boss’s drycleaning — this was for a department admin job at a university and none of that was standard). So you really never know what’s going to turn a candidate from interested to “nope, I’m out.”

      2. GetATour*

        In before times I always asked for a tour of the premises if I wasn’t offered one. Just seeing the normal dress code, desk spaces, amenities, etc was helpful and, of course, if a company refused that was helpful too.

    4. Bast*

      I notice more by what ISN’T being said on reviews. Having worked at a company that forced employees to write “good” reviews for the company, I’d notice that MANY people would write about things that were technically true and omit the juicy stuff, so you’d see a review along the lines of “Pros: We have weekly meetings with free pizza and on your birthday you get a cupcake and card!” and the negatives would be something along the lines of “Parking is bad.” Both things were technically true, but left out anything about actual working conditions.

      I also try to suss out the “raging, just fired employee” type reviews. “OmGz this company is the worst@!!!!! Everyone here SUX!!!!!” type of review I won’t give much thought to. I do believe where there’s smoke there’s fire, so if there’s a lot of different voices mentioning the same problems over and over again, particularly if it seems to be over a span of time and not just one little blip, it might give me pause.

      1. amoeba*

        Sometimes things are also actually mentioned as negatives that I personally consider positives – like the company I looked up where multiple comments complained about “too much DEI” and “men are being discriminated against”.
        Kind of like 1 star reviews for books – if people are complaining about “liberal agendas”, it’s generally a sign I’ll enjoy the book!

        1. RunShaker*

          I looked at some of Glassdoor reviews for my old company & had to laugh. There were the occasional review about allowing gays and other marginalized groups being not only allowed to work there but to flourish! And that if you’re former/retired military you shouldn’t work there because of this. It blew my mind that these few were comfortable posting. I guess I’m naïve on racist and their comfort level. The good thing was that the few that posted this shit had marked that they were no longer employed at my old company.

        2. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

          I’ve read an entire book series because the only review on the audiobook was a 1-star saying how awful it was that there was abortion and homosexuality in it. Very pleased to find a subplot about a gay WW1 spy in a series about a London department store! (Harper’s Girls)

    5. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, glassdoor is one piece of information, but people are pretty savvy, and at least for me personally I wouldn’t look before I even applied to something. OP should just ignore these hijinks. It’s one of those things where it looks worse for the company to get too invested in the reviews than to just have some weird reviews (like authors commenting on bad book reviews, it just always comes across kind of weirdly, even if they’re factually correct).

    6. ILoveLllamas*

      My current company had bad to mediocre Glassdoor reviews. When I read the reviews, I could see what the issues were and those issues weren’t part of my department. I did play close attention during the interview process and asked a lot of questions. The hiring manager was very transparent and also had me speak with 2 other people in the department that had the same role I would have. Plus I was referred by one of their consultants, so he shared a lot of behind the scenes information as well. Here I am, 2+ years later with the company that definitely has its short-comings, but I’m happy with my role.

      1. ferrina*

        Ditto- my current company didn’t have great Glassdoor reviews. I don’t read the review until I pass the screening interview and am scheduled for the manager interview.

        Transparency is the way to go on this. I think if you actively tell your candidates “hey, we do have an ex-employee who is review-bombing us on Glassdoor, so we have an extra step in our interview process to talk to people that would be your co-workers” you’ll be okay. As an interviewee, I proactively brought up the bad Glassdoor reviews and my interviewers candidly talked about the company’s issues and how they were proactively being addressed. I really appreciated what they said, and their candor was one of the selling points on the company. But I also know plenty of people don’t realize they can reference Glassdoor in their interview.

      2. Nina*

        I have had success with brining up in an interview before ‘hey, I see on Glassdoor that a lot of people in Y department seem to be having X problem that plausibly seems like it might be a company-wide thing. Is that something you’ve noticed or is that just a Y department issue?’

    7. Artemesia*

      I am not familiar with Glass Door management but isn’t this the sort of thing a business should be able to point out and have taken down?

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        Glass Door technically has reporting but they don’t actually do anything. We get spam negative reviews from people claiming to have worked for our office in India. We don’t have an office in India. It would be against a lot of laws for us to have an office in India. Our website lists all our offices. No action from Glassdoor.

        I have also seen people who I have turned down for positions lie about their experience on GlassDoor, too. (With a timeframe and very specific info that was posted, I know exactly that it was a position I was hiring for, and how we are structured.) A candidate to whom we extended an offer flat out lied about how our process was structured.

        GlassDoor reviews are at best a possible tool, but one should always triangulate with other evidence.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Yeah, Glassdoor reviews are increasingly like Instagram comment sections. And neither entity will do anything about the rampant fraud, because that would require hiring actual humans to review things, and their owners need to maintain the illusion of profitability. *rolls eyes*

        2. Language Lover*

          I think people lie on Glassdoor because Glassdoor forces users to review/add job information if they want access.

          I’ve reviewed businesses that closed just to gain access.

    8. Honoria Lucasta*

      LW3 says “whenever my coworkers and I write positive reviews about our experience….” which makes me wonder how many positive reviews they are writing and how frequently. I would be very suspicious if it looked like current employees were making some kind of coordinated effort to improve the rankings. If the positive reviews seem genuine (e.g. not all using the same language, not all posted at the same time), and are always rebutted by one obviously disgruntled person, I would put far less stock in the negative comments. So the advice to LW re Glassdoor specifically is “don’t feed the trolls” and let your company shine through. Hopefully, as others have said, the people looking at the reviews will be going there only after they’ve had a chance to talk to you all in person and to see your company culture for themselves.

      1. LW3*

        I really wish people would stop trying to convince themselves my coworkers and I are the problem. Obviously, none of us are writing multiple reviews or making a coordinated effort.

        The company has been scaling, a lot of new hires have come on recently, and once some of them are a few months in and decide they really do like it here, it’s normal they might want to write a review.

        1. Honoria Lucasta*

          I’m so sorry it came across that way! My apologies, I didn’t intend to convey that I thought you and your coworkers were the problem.

    9. Parakeet*

      My org has pretty bad Glassdoor reviews, and even though the bad ones are relatively close together, they aren’t fake (and are in fact very detailed about the reasons for the ratings). We still manage to hire good people when we have jobs open – I’m sure it helps that most of the bad reviews are largely about the CEO and and we no longer have the same CEO. To be honest, I didn’t even think to look at Glassdoor when I applied, because the appeal of the org was mostly the specific team that had the open position and I was thinking in terms of the team. I agree with the transparency approach.

  4. Viette*

    To OP #2 “Is it my job to manage a coworker’s feelings?” No, so you can and should stop doing it!

    It’s kind of you to attempt to coach her, and obviously it would be great if she learned to act professionally in her workplace, but this is so not your job and largely not even your problem. Her poor job performance — and this is not some New Fangled Generational Thing That The Olds Have To Learn, this is just a woman who is unprofessional and therefore not doing great at her job — is not your responsibility and it doesn’t sound like it even gets in the way of your job that much.

    It’s fine. You tried. Some people are ridiculous. She’s going to keep saying ridiculous things about how she’s angry that her dysfunctional meeting requests were declined, but you can’t do anything about that and you don’t need to.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Yeah, this seems like a place for a stock supply of “hmm, anyway…” comments where you acknowledge she spoke words and then pivot back to the actual work at hand.

      If she at some point expresses desire for some guidance on how to get stuff done, point her back to Ryan: he’s her manager, in theory knows what her priorities, workflow should be and could see that she gets the proper guidance, training.

      Note- the chance of anything in that second paragraph happening is < 5%. But LW you’ve already gone out of your way to assist these two incompetent co-workers. This is a not my circus not my monkeys situation. Deal in good faith with her, but you can take helping with her responsibilities or Ryan’s responsibilities off your to-do list. And give your manager a heads up of what’s gone on just in case something goes sideways or they act up.

    2. Also-ADHD*

      It struck me less as generational than what has happened for aeons between technical departments and nontechnical folks who do not understand technical workflows or workers. I actually am a semi-technical worker who is often in a space crossfunctionally to see how nontechnical and technical departments work together, and these kinds of conflicts happen constantly. I’m also often the person who has to jump in during projects and tell SMEs “no, our technical partners can’t do xyz in 2 weeks—that’s scoped at 5 sprints or 10 weeks of work minimum, without bells and whistles, and calling them in for more meetings reduces their work time and extends that”. Nontechnical workers constantly underestimate how much heads down time technical workers need, how firm processes are, and the scope of work, and they always will, in every generation.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      OP2, it was kind of you to try to change the dynamic. It didn’t work. The correct thing when you have done the kind thing a couple of times, and the results are not what you hoped for, is to consider other tactics to try, often disengaging. Turn down her conflicting meetings and get on with your work.

      Also, I was with you until Claudine was suddenly the voice of her generation.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah there was strong “snowflake” energy there – and ironically at that point OP was the one bringing in external feelings and emotions rather than remaining focused on the task at hands.

      2. Annoyed Millennial*

        Yeah, I was sympathetic to LW2 up until the “do young people these days care too much about their poor widdle feewings????” Especially their use of the word “validate” which I often hear used in a way to mock younger people for daring to complain about perfectly reasonable things (like systemic sexism/racism/homophobia/etc).

        Now obviously Claudine is not being reasonable, but why would you take the strange behavior of one (1) person and try to apply it to the 10s of millions of people her age? Do you think an entire generation of people doesn’t understand how conflicting meetings work? Or projected timelines?
        Maybe the LW needs to re-evaluate their own soft people skills if they’re immediately jumping to this level of conclusion about people.
        I have met several people in my work life who seem to lack basic logic and reasoning skills as Claudine, and several managers who seem to be as much of a wet noodle as Kyle, and they were mostly an even mix of boomer/genX. But it would be truly wild to say “are all genX just terrible managers???”

      3. #2 OP*

        I do apologize for the generational comment. It was meant more of a hyperbolic “am I old? Have I turned into the office curmudgeon who can’t handle people working outside the norms I’m used to???” kind of inward panic but did not come out that way.

          1. #2 OP*

            I’m staring down the 40 milestone too! Maybe this is going to be my midlife crisis? Instead of buying a Corvette I’m just going to panic internally about “am I the cranky old person at the office now?”

            At least it’s affordable…

            1. TeaCoziesRUs*

              Just embrace it. Get a small square of astroturf and put it on the edge of your desk so you can mentally tell your coworkers to get off your lawn! ;)

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I always want to solve problems and fix non-functional systems, but this looks like one you aren’t going to be able to fix, OP. Sorry. Time to gray-rock like it’s your job.

        2. Myrin*

          I actually think it mostly did come across that way but many readers are very literal and it wasn’t overtly humourous, so I’d say that’s where those comments came from.

          1. ThatOtherClare*

            Dear me yes, a surprisingly large minority of the commenters here are highly literal with very little humour.

            So much so that I was originally going to write “zero sense of humour”, but I censored myself because I knew I’d get replies of “That’s wrong and offensive” if I attempted to go for the humorous hyperbole!

            Humour often doesn’t translate well across languages and sometimes even across countries that share a language, so with such a popular site it’s to be expected. When a joke falls flat here I mostly just shrug and ignore the comments telling me I’m a terrible person. It happens. The internet will move on in 5 minutes anyway :)

    4. Tiger Snake*

      If only we lived in a world where I was allowed to say “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way. Regardless, you need to do X, Y and Z”, dealing with people like Claudine would be easier.

      Unfortunately, that does cross the line from not-responsible to deliberately-callous.

      Instead, I have to stick to trying to find nicer ways to brush off the statement without acknowledgment by saying “You’ve hurt other people’s feelings but making them feel like you don’t appreciate the effort they’ve already given you, and that you don’t respect them as people or your coworkers because you don’t respect their time.”. Those words are much harder for me to find.

  5. RLC*

    OP#2, could you quantify/document the amount of time you spend coaching Claudine above and beyond the usual amount of time you’d spend on typical technical guidance? This would help convey to your manager how it impacts your workload management (and help them if they discuss the situation with Kyle). Having specific numbers is often the only way to convince management that “minor extra tasks” are actually consuming an enormous amount of time.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      But its not OP’s job to coach Claudine. They just work with Claudine on some things. So its okay to say, X takes 3 weeks it will not be done in 3 days. But not explain that her behavior is why people don’t want to work with her or her feelings are not relevant to how long something takes.

      OP, loop in your boss on the ridiculous requests. Claudine’s manager may not listen to you because you aren’t a manager. But he may listen to y our boss explaining that Claudine cannot keep demanding the impossible and just expecting it to be done so she is not unhappy.

    2. RagingADHD*

      So, instead of stopping the totally unnecessary and annoying task they have taken it upon themselves to do, they should also take on the task of tracking and reporting the amount of time they spend choosing to be annoyed, so they can convey to their manager how much extra time they are wasting on things the manager doesn’t expect or have a need for them to do?

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      But no one is asking LW to do this coaching of Claudine. So the manager’s response, hopefully, would be the same as Alison’s response: you don’t need to do that, stop wasting your time.

  6. Viki*

    I had a Claudine, she did not last long. She had never worked in technology before, coming into the team via health insurance and had no clue how technical things work.

    On a team full of analysts, she was a peer (a project manager) who seemed to think she was our superior. She tried to circumvent all communication to upper management through her, gave unrealistic and impossible deadlines (why no, three people can’t work on the same power bi at the same time. We have to save, upload our version and then someone else works on it), couldn’t do basic math and did not understand how network works.

    Luckily our boss understood it, and let her go within 4 months.

    (I personally dislike her because she showed up while I was on vacation and demanded after I got back we do a 1-1, and got mad at me for rescheduling her because I had an ask from my SVP, which clearly took priority and I couldn’t give her an eta on my availability due to how fluid the ask was.)

    1. niknik*

      Let’s just hope that Kyle’s superior doesn’t drop the ball a least, and either introduces some strongly formulated guidelines about this ‘supportive manager’ approach of his or rethinks his management position. Depending on who else is on his team, Kyle might be the actual bigger problem for the company here and do some real damage. Claudine is just an annoyance (and maybe a time sink) in comparison.

    2. ferrina*

      Most Claudines I’ve worked with ended up getting worked around. Everyone ends up ignoring them, declining their meeting, and doing what they were going to do anyways. Then Claudine doesn’t get why no one ever listens to them, but Claudine never listens to the explanation of why no one is listening to them. And so the cycle continues.

      I think OP has done enough and is justified in working around Claudine and moving on with their life.

      1. Mr. Mousebender*

        I read that as “at the time she started working for the company, I was away on vacation.”

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      If it weren’t different industries, I’d wonder if we had the same Claudine. Mine was a project manager who had substantial experience in both software design (pre-agile days) and environmental remediation projects. I think it was assumed that she had generalizable skills and could PM in any industry, and that ended up being very wrong.

      She was hired at a law firm I used to work for to PM IT projects and really did not understand that IT projects generally did not take precedence over a client or attorney need. It was a smaller firm, so the IT people did some light consulting on the legal side and helped the attorneys troubleshoot issues with accessing evidentiary materials, etc. She literally expected resources to tell attorneys that they would have to wait so the resource could work on an internal, firm project because their need wasn’t scheduled and put through the stakeholder review panel. That’s not how law firms work. At all. Client-related deadlines aren’t flexible; internal ones are.

      She lasted longer than I expected, but she nearly drove her boss crazy the entire time.

  7. Sunny*

    OP#2 – I don’t know if this is so much office norms even – it sounds like this person just doesn’t understand how things like meetings and deadlines work. If someone already has something scheduled, they’re just not going to be available for other things at that time. That’s just… how calendars work? Or how time works, really.

    I wonder if a more hands-off, cheerily matter-of-fact approach will work better? Claudine complains that no one accepted her meeting and you just say “Oh yes, they’re very busy with the Big Industry Convention this week. So about the changes on slide 2…” Like it’s just obvious and known that everyone is already booked. If she wants to stew about trying work her way into their calendar, it’s on her. You’re not saying anything about her feelings – just a cheery acknowledgement of reality.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      “That’s just… how calendars work? Or how time works, really.”

      Count this as one vote for LW to start implying that Claudine must be scheduling her meetings in an alternate timeline if she expects people already booked in other meetings to attend.

    2. Myrin*

      Yeah, I was confused as to why OP framed this as an “office norms” issue when Claudine just sounds clueless in general and like she doesn’t understand how time and space work.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, “office norms” are generally things that are specific to the office environment and that usually wouldn’t even apply in other workplaces, like retail, building sites, schools, hospitals… so somebody coming from a different career might not understand and somebody new to the working world might also be unfamiliar with, but the things Claudine is doing sound like they would be unacceptable, not only in any workplace, but even in life in general. Asking your friend to meet you at the time she has a hospital appointment or is at work would be an issue too as would telling your school teachers not to correct your work because it hurts your feelings when they do so.

        I don’t think these issues are at all office specific.

        But my guess is that the LW wants to be sympathetic to Claudine, especially since she is relatively new and since Kyle doesn’t see a problem, I guess the LW is wondering if she is missing something. So she was probably trying to think of something that explained Claudine’s behaviour.

        1. Jaydee*

          The only thing involved in this that I can see as an “office norms” thing is maybe not realizing you can see other people’s availability on a shared calendar in Outlook or Google or whatever. But that should be such a straightforward thing to explain to a new person if they didn’t know that. And I think that’s where LW was coming from. But that’s clearly not where the problem with Claudine is.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        The examples aren’t really office norms things, but OP also mentioned Claudine not going through normal channels, and that is an office norms thing. I took it as something like “team X has a standing bi weekly meeting to go over Y with Claudine” (or whatever cadence or process). Meanwhile, Claudine keeps trying to schedule 1-1s on demand with people, not only sooner than makes sense (the established standing check in thing) but ALSO on top of existing higher priority things. So she’s falling down both in understanding how calendars work AND in not understanding that her role here is to go to the standing team thing and get her answers there and then, not to go to individual team members whenever she wants and expect them to drop everything to give her an update.

        1. Myrin*

          I actually thought about exactly that but OP uses the “meeting-on-to-of-other-meeting” thing as an immediate example following up on the “not going through proper channels”; I assumed if the problem was more what you describe (and what I initially thought would be what the letter would be about), she would’ve spelled that out more clearly. It’s still quite possible, though!

        2. #2 OP*

          All of the above, actually. I was trying to be succinct and not give too many examples because there are colleagues of mine who do read AAM and I wanted to keep the question general enough that people aren’t immediately going to be banging on my door going “IS THIS YOU” on a Friday.

          But yes, all of the things you’ve described have been observed and experienced by multiple people.

    3. WeirdChemist*

      Right, office norms are something like “don’t barge into people’s office if their door is closed” or “only listen to music/podcasts with headphones”. Claudine just seems to lack basic logic and reasoning skills? (And Kyle seems to lack basic management skills) (And neither of these things are a sign of “young people these days” LW2, that’s just people being bad at their jobs which happens with people at any age!)

      Agree that LW doesn’t need to put this much emotional effort into fixing Claudine. She’ll either figure it out or she won’t, but it seems like you only have to deal with this sometimes, and most of her issues are involving people that aren’t you, so just kind of “gray rock” any emotional outbursts and move on. Loop your own manager in if you’re worried about her behavior affecting your own work but otherwise… not your job to fix!

    4. Yorick*

      OP2 mentioned Claudine is scheduling things over industry events, so maybe those events aren’t on their calendars? Or maybe they are on the calendar but seem like external events, and Claudine expects them to skip those events to attend meetings with coworkers?

      1. #2 OP*

        Events are on internal calendars. As are out-of-office days. People in the office tend to mark those long multi-day events as “free” on their calendars since they share them with other coworkers as a “heads up, this is where I’ll be for the next 6 hours or 3 days” and they don’t want to block off their coworkers’ time as “busy”.

        So Claudine goes into their calendars (she has admitted that she freely calendar stalks people to see what meetings they have been invited to) and sees this big meeting chunk that is marked “free” despite being labeled “Teapots United Industry Meeting” or “Vacation” and goes “oh they’re free doing that time I can schedule on top of it”

        1. Sam I Am*

          That’s silly of Claudine but still…not your problem. If the people she’s inviting decline her meeting, she can work it out with them and learn to read calendars better. Or not! But either way, it’s not your role to coach her out of this behavior. (Plus it sounds like you’re trying and it’s not working. More effort from you is unlikely to change anything if it hasn’t made a dent thus far.)

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

          So I could see where the confusion could be, but if she is now aware of how those blocks are , then maybe she should be double checking.

        3. Language Lover*

          We do this too but we create two meetings in our calendars. The one we share with colleagues is free but the one only on our calendars is blocked off as busy.

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

      See I took it that Claudine knows that they have a preexisting meeting, and feels like her meeting is more important so of course they would reschedule the other meeting. I think she has thinks everyone should cater to her.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Claudine apparently expects people to cancel *other* meetings in favor of hers.
      Then she’s hurt that they don’t, and more hurt when LW explains that the other things are simply more important or unmovable.

  8. RCB*

    Maybe I’m the grumpy old outlier here, but Glassdoor is just not something that people use or put any stock in. You can’t even do more than the bare minimum without having an account, and they are absolutely one of those websites that will start sending you endless emails when you start an account, so I absolutely refuse to start an account or sign in with my google account, so I can’t even read company reviews, and I am willing to bet that most others can’t either, so it’s probably not turning too many people away. But again, maybe I just don’t use it any everyone else does (I also refuse to use LinkedIn, I don’t need forced social media for work people).

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I’ve looked at Glassdoor reviews for all the companies I’ve interviewed with for a long time. I have an account, but I don’t get emails from them (I must have opted out years ago). Whether or not I put stock in the reviews I read depends on the number and variety of reviews and how often they bring up the same issues (while not sounding like the same people review bombing). Company responses to bad reviews can also be telling.

      1. Just another person*

        Yes, for the company I’m interviewing with next week the company responses are almost as horrifying as the employee reviews.

        A for-profit company trying to justify calling people all hours of the day and night and yelling at them to work unpaid overtime to fix problems is not a good look.

        1. Camellia*

          So, pardon me for asking, but why are you interviewing with them? Are you hoping to determine during the interview that the reviews and responses are not real or accurate?

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I was once pressured by a recruiter to interview for a job I was pretty sure I didn’t want. It did give me a chance to ask them what they’d changed about their sales practices since the State of California found them liable for fraud and racial discrimination a few years earlier.

            Their answer came out to “not much”, so I declined the offer.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        How do you get GlassDoor to show you reviews? They’ve only let me look at reviews once. Then they started blocking and saying I had to post another job. I had had the same job for almost 10 years, and I was not going to make something up!
        I don’t have time to deal with their mess, so I just look at ratings.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        I don’t know if I have weird luck or what but any time I’ve tried to look at reviews for a place I’m considering it turns out they just don’t have very many. Doesn’t matter if it’s a huge company or a tiny one. 12 reviews tells me didly squat. So yeah, I don’t put weight onto it.
        BUT somebody must or else the site wouldn’t gone defunct by now.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve had a fair number of candidates mention looking at our Glassdoor reviews before applying and as a reason for doing so, so people absolutely view and put stock in them. Whether people should put a lot of stock in them is another matter – I know what’s true/untrue in our reviews and it’s definitely not all true, as I imagine is the with other companies (and really any other review system). Looking for trends in comments is usually the most telling, as well as how a company chooses to respond to negative reviews.

    3. Editor Emeritus*

      For me it depended on whether or not I was employed at the time, and twice I chose not to move forward based on reviews.

      The first time, there was a place near where I was working, that had the same job posted over and over. That was a red flag in itself, and the reviews confirmed that it wasn’t a place I wanted to apply to. I really disliked my job, but felt it wasn’t worth the risk of being just as (or more) miserable. When my boss was made redundant, he took that job and confirmed it was awful. He lasted 9 months in it.

      The second time, I liked my job but was casually looking for a change. I found a listing for a job at a voluntary organisation, doing basically the same thing I was doing at a government organisation. I applied, and got an interview. When I looked at Glass Door reviews, the ones for the (more or less independent) local offices were great, but the ones for HQ were terrible. I cancelled the interview, because, again, I didn’t think it was worth the risk.

      In both cases, it might have been different had I not been already employed.

    4. Green race car*

      I use it -it is helpful information, especially how companies respond. It’s easy enough to sign up with a temporary email address, or a hidden account you can disable.

      Personally I’d be sceptical of a pile of negative reviews linked with overly positive ones from current employees. Even if the negative reviews sounded unhinged or unreliable – I’d wonder why a bunch of staff suddenly decided to rave bout how great their employer is soon after they got a negative review (but weren’t doing so prior).

      It really does sound like they are being encouraged to write reviews.

      1. LW3*

        I promise nobody has asked me any of my colleagues to write reviews in the time we’ve been here, and I’d appreciate being taken at my word per the rules of this site.

        1. Genevieve en Francais*

          I don’t think Green race car means they think that’s the case in your situation, just that that’s the reaction they would have if they were looking at Glassdoor and saw that pattern.

        2. Bast*

          No one is saying that your company has people write fake reviews. From an outsider’s POV, particularly as someone who worked for a company that DID have people write fake reviews, there are certain things that stick out to me that make me question it ie: reviews that dance around what working there is really like (It’s so great! We get pizza Fridays!) but fail to mention anything substantive about the culture or work-life balance, reviews that all sound the same (positive or negative) or reviews that in general just sound like a bitter, angry ex employee (see THIS COMPANY SUXXX DON’T WORK HERE) type reviews. Annnd for some people, having one bad review suddenly be buried by a barrage of glowing reviews in a short time might set an alarm bell, whether or not the reviews are fake. It’s about how it COULD appear to someone from the outside who truly doesn’t know.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Green race car is literally saying that…

            “It really does sound like they are being encouraged to write reviews.”

            1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

              Correct, and if you take that *in context* with the previous paragraph, it reads like, “Company reviews that show a negative followed by many sudden positives sounds like they are being encouraged to write fake reviews.”

              Since you and I don’t know which of the 2 they meant, I’m going to go with the one that doesn’t break site rules.

        3. Kara*

          I believe you, but it’s an optics thing. You came here seeking advice on handling a disgruntled employee review bombing you. What Green Race Car is flagging for you is that an outsider is not going to be able to tell the difference between compelled and voluntary reviews, and that you might want to keep in mind that too many brand new positive reviews right after a negative review will have the appearance of being suspicious, even though in this case it’s not. There’s only so much you can do about it, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you were hoping that positivity would head this mess off at the pass.

          Question: didn’t you say you were working on improving a department that had historically been neglected? That might be something you could mention to candidates, that hey we’re working on really building this department up and that a lot has been happening very recently. Then go on to explain some of the good changes you’ve made to the department. A bunch of recent activity goes a long way towards explaining why now all of a sudden there’s a flurry of reviews.

    5. E*

      I don’t put much stock in Glassdoor reviews either, especially for smaller companies where it’s easy to tell who left the review. I would love to write a scathing but truthful review of an ex-company, but they would know it was me and I am still in the same industry and don’t want to burn a bridge. There are probably a lot of unwritten negative reviews like mine.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, same. The last place I worked was tiny (actually, everywhere I’ve worked has been tiny) but there were some negative reviews written by a couple of employees who’d been fired. Then a couple of current employees wrote very positive reviews to counter them and someone (not sure if one of the fired employees or someone else) wrote a review saying that the company was writing fake positive reviews. If I were to write a review I’d probably agree with some of the things in both the negative and the positive reviews, because they all had some truth to them.

        But I will not write a review, because they’d probably figure out it was me, and the company is closing at the end of this year because the owner is retiring, so it’s all moot anyway. But it was fascinating to read the reviews and try to figure out who wrote them. (Despite it being a tiny company, I’m still not 100% sure which of the former employees wrote which reviews, but I am pretty sure about some of them.)

    6. Bast*

      I do look at Glassdoor when I’m applying. For one thing, if it does look like there are fake reviews happening –BTDT, don’t want to work for a company like that again. On another note, there are some things that big deals to me that may rule a company out. In my world, companies that are noted for not allowing employees to use their PTO and/or expect them to work ridiculous amounts of OT are out. Personality conflicts are another thing — I realize some people just don’t get along, and that’s fine, but if I read that managers scream and throw things on a regular basis, again, not a place I want to work. “Managers are mean” could be someone got fired and is upset, personality conflict, someone got written up and is upset, etc. “Big Boss regularly loses his temper and slams doors and throws office supplies” is a little more specific and details a situation I don’t want to work in.

    7. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Glassdoor always seems about as useful as most other review sites, i.e. people who had a bad experience are more likely to share their feelings than people who have an okay or even great experience. I’ve never felt compelled to leave a review of a workplace, but I’m sure if I did it would be more likely to leave one as a warning to others than as encouragement to apply there.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, I looked at it once for my old company and most of it was negative and complaining. Which, fair, there were a lot of issues. But it felt like the sort of site where people with bad experiences are more inclined to write reviews than people with good or neutral experiences.

    8. MassMatt*

      Glassdoor definitely has its problems but unless you have a huge network where you can talk directly with people who have worked at the place you’re interested in, what’s the alternative?

      Just about every industry is so large with so many players it’s really not possible to have your own network cover it all, unless it’s confined to a niche area or industry, and people with a network that comprehensive are generally well established in their careers and not job searching anyway.

    9. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      I agree, I’d look at it but use it as one data point in everything else I know about the company.

      When I applied for CurrentJob there were quite a lot of negative reviews. I asked around, asked questions in the interview, did some general research and took the job. I’m so glad I did! I love it here.

      They weren’t fake reviews I don’t think. Just people who had a very different experience. Different line managers, different department, different things they value at work, enjoy a different pace etc…

  9. MPerera*

    I’ve written some romances which were released by an actual publisher (who sadly went out of business). I didn’t tell anyone at work about them, but one of my coworkers found out anyway and told others, to the point where the manager asked me if she could borrow one and read it.

    I said certainly, but then added very quietly so no one else could hear, “I should let you know, it’s a steamy romance. There are explicit scenes.”

    She likewise lowered her voice to confession level and replied, “It’s okay. I can handle it. I’m a big girl.”

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      As a fellow romance writer, this is a delightful story, although I never ever want my work knowing about my books.

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

      I used to work with a steamy romance writer. I had only been working there a few months when I went to a writing workshop. She was hosting. Afterwards I went up to her and said Do you work at company X and she said yes i thought you looked familiar. I said I didnt know whe was a published author and she said “really, I thought everyone knew I was the kinky writer in IT!”

  10. John Smith*

    re #3 The problem with interviewees being able to speak to staff members is that (in my experience) the interviewer will cherry pick the staff that can be spoken to, and you can bet it will be all happy-clappy, pure joy orthodoxy from them.

    I remember a time when a chief exec was scheduled to visit our call centre and I was amazed how for the first time ever and announced he wanted to speak to us, the plebs. Well, managers were positively encouraging certain staff members to take leave for that day, some forced to.

    Of course employers aren’t going to say “feel free to speak to John who is on a final warning”. I’d be impressed with an employer who allowed free choice as to who the interviewee can speak to, but its equally telling who they choose and how they respond.

    1. TechWorker*

      At the same time does this surprise you though? The interview process is a representation of the company, it would be pretty terrible management to suggest you talk to a) someone who hates their job or b) someone who is a poor performer and thinks they’re not… that’s not quite the same as ‘only choose incredibly happy drank the kool aid people’

    2. Cabbagepants*

      This is so true. I remember almost accepting a job offer at a notoriously high-turnover, high-burnout company because everyone *I* had spoken with a happy, long-time employee. A friend connected me with someone currently working there and of course their perspective was completely different!

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I wouldn’t say this is “a problem” or “telling”. The LW only has these options: do nothing and hope the interviewee believes them over the Glassdoor reviews or offer to let the interviewee talk to other employees.

      If they are as cynical as you, there is no good outcome. If they are neutral to positive, these will be reasonable responses. You are essentially saying the LW should just give up now because no one will believe them (also with a tinge of nobody should). In that case, they might as well throw up their hands and close the business.

    4. Kathenus*

      I’m a hiring manager, and when I’m hiring for a member of a team, the candidate meets with that team with no managers present as part of the process. Then we get feedback from the team on candidates, but also make it clear that we welcome and take in their feedback but that it is not a vote and that we will make the final decisions. It works well for us, because it helps us get a sense of fit from both the team and candidate to the work culture, in addition to the other meetings we have during their interview about experience and skills.

    5. Your Mate in Oz*

      I’ve had one interview where the technical side was handled by someone who basically said “please take the job I’m desperate I work 60 hour weeks and haven’t had a whole weekend off in months”. I reacted appropriately by declining the position when offered and making a mental note to never apply for a job there in the future.

      I guess sometimes the best the employer can offer isn’t very good?

      But equally, even the most company-loving employee is likely to give away details of the culture and environment inside the company “it’s great, they provide dinner and bedrooms so we can work longer hours more easily” or “I went above and beyond last year so I got an extra 0.5% pay rise for a total of 1.5%”. Yes, yes, those things are great, I am impressed by the generosity of your employer…. backs away slowly.

  11. Woolly sheep*

    LW2, it absolutely is not a generational thing – I have an older colleague who does things like throw meetings into your calendar without checking availability because “that’s how they did things at her previous company”.

    It frankly explained *a lot* about that company.

    This is not about generations but about people being inconsiderate, and I would also encourage you to think about *why* you went to “is this just a thing youngsters do” as an explanation.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      The generational comment bothered me. Does LW not work with any other younger people? Why would they attribute Claudine’s behavior to her age when they didn’t mention other young people having the same issues?

      1. Woolly sheep*

        Honestly I’m not going to assume any malice on the LW’s part because I can think of a few explanations for this (though that would be veering into fanfiction so I will keep them to myself). I merely want the LW to take a moment to reflect on this – working out whatever is causing it may help avoid it in the future.

      2. Myrin*

        I honestly don’t think it has to be particularly “deep”.
        OP’s possible thought process: Claudine does things I have never encountered and don’t understand. -> What is one obvious difference between us? -> Claudine is very young and I’m not. -> Age can be reason for difference.

        It doesn’t necessarily make sense – like you say, is there really no one else of a similar age working with OP? – but I can see someone coming to that conclusion once and then just kinda sticking with it; I’ve certainly seen that with all manner of things before.

        1. Phryne*

          That would be an excuse for the first part of the sentence
          ‘Or am I just showing my age and not recognizing that the new generation of office workers don’t put much stock in things like “office norms” and “the way things are done”’

          There is really no good excuse for the second part of the sentence though
          ‘and are more concerned about feeling validated?’
          that is purely insulting for the sake of it and it made me lose a lot of respect for OP.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Yeah that screams “oh these young people and their feeeelings are so sensitive, just suck it up and deal like me!”

          2. Friendo*

            In fairness to OP, Claudine is the one who brought up her feelings. I don’t think it’s insulting in that context.

            1. Phryne*

              OP is very much making a generalisation about all young people here though. And that makes it insulting.

      3. Non non non all the way home*

        It bothered me too, and I’m in my 60s. It’s not cool to stereotype on the basis of age or any other factors.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        I took it as a genuine question, not an assumption that it is generational. They’re spitballing potential reasons.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      That was a headscratch, no type of stereotyping is great, but also I’ve never heard of the stereotype of young people being bad at technology!

      1. Woolly sheep*

        You’d be surprised. As someone who works in IT, we’re starting to see a generation of people who were never taught anything about tech because “they’re digital natives”. The result is they only know what they know, and how often does a student or high schooler have to schedule meetings in someone else’s calendar?

        On top of that, constantly being told that they should magically know how tech works because “digital natives” leads to quite a few being unwilling to ask for help – either out of shame because “everyone tells me I should know this and I don’t” or because they are convinced they know how things work when they really, really don’t.

        Tbh it is something you see in all generations, but with different underlying reasons.

        1. UKDancer*

          I think it’s that people who are young now didn’t grow up making and fixing computers. My father saw computers becoming mainstream in the late 1980s and early 1990s and he’s got a mind that likes knowing how things work and fixing them so he moved into an IT project management job when they were first becoming a thing. So he’s always been someone who has known how computers work because he’s seen them through early adoption into the mainstream and now ubiquity.

          A lot of younger people in my experience have technology as a fact of life and grow up with smart phones as a tool but haven’t ever needed to know how they work on a technical level. So despite the stereotype on television of the young hacker, there are a lot fewer young people wanting to “hack” IT than people think and a lot more who use some functionality but have never had to programme a computer or take one apart.

          This is just my experience and observation.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Taking this a step further, this is a normal pattern. A new technology is going to be twitchy. If you need, or just want, to work with it, you have to know how to dive into it to make it work. This was true of early automobiles. One of the advantages the US had in the Second World War was that America of the 1930s was car crazy, but cars of the 1930s were terrible: cool, but didn’t actually work well. This resulted in a generation that was really good at auto mechanics, which transferred well to keeping military vehicles running. In countries with fewer autos before the war, routine maintenance and light repairs were specialty skills, resulting in more down time for vehicles. Into the 1960s shade-tree mechanics were a common guy thing, again for routine maintenance and light repairs. Then cars both got more complicated, making it more difficult to have the equipment for shade-tree mechanics, and cars got vastly more reliable, resulting in less need for them. Back in the day I could change my oil, and in theory knew how to do a brake job but didn’t trust my brakes with my skills. Nowadays I can’t even change a headlight. Seriously. The last time I tried I realized that the design had progressed beyond guys like me. The Kidz? I doubt they even know how to top off the oil. But then again, with a modern car they don’t really need to.

          2. Beany*

            Most people of *any* age didn’t grow up making and fixing computers, though; it’s a pretty niche activity in any generation. The number of people who are comfortable with using computers for common office-type tasks is much, much greater than the number comfortable with messing around with their innards. The natural hardware hackers might be running some flavor of UNIX or Linux, but the other 99% (Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z) are using Windows or MacOS.

            1. Silver Robin*

              yeah, I did not grow up messing with the physical innards. But I *did* grow up messing with all sorts of settings, highly encouraged by my mother, who suggested reading manuals to the programs if I was ever bored. I never did, but I am pretty good about clicking through everything to see what it does. And I do have a reasonable grasp of what computer programs can be expected to do, how they “think”, and how they talk to each other. That is not a given, for anyone in any generation, and I am constantly pushing folks to click around and find out XD

              That said, I just learned yesterday that in Outlook you could drag an email into your calendar to turn it into an event, so there are always more things to learn.

            2. Also-ADHD*

              Maybe not “grow up” but most technical workers in some eras (Gen X, early Millennials) were more likely to be early adopters who were self-motivated to explore new tech, do things like build computers, etc. in the case of Gen X, build websites and code applications and teach themselves with few resources/through trial and error, etc.

              Though in this case, the offending employee LW talks about isn’t a technical worker anyway, and whatever the equivalent of her role was in that “era” would be equally or even more clueless of tech.

              There are also highly technical workers who could pull apart a computer with ease and rebuild a server for you but don’t necessarily think to check calendars and use Outlook or Excel to its full potential.

              But I do think the notion that younger “digital natives” have their technology prowess overstated is true. They use some technology “more naturally” perhaps (and every generation has different technology adoptions, as does every individual) but the tech they are native to is meant to be used by a common audience and has strategically designed UX for ease of adoption. It doesn’t give an advantage in the case of other, less accessible technology, and could cause a barrier if people are buying into the idea all young folks are tech whizzes.

            3. Phryne*

              When I started History at uni as a Xennial in 2001 we did get a basic computer skills test that involved stuff like changing lettertype in word and pasting a picture. I had classmates who had never turned on a pc before as they did not have one at home and the ones in the school library were already on, and most (but not all) people starting a humanities course are not native tech users in any age. By the time we finished of course we were all experts in blind typing and text editing at least.
              But though I did not need that introduction (only 10 out of 10 I ever got, and I was an hour late for the test…) and one eyed king in excel skills I am now, I never concerned myself much with the innards. I have at some point in the noughties added some RAM and a hard drive in a dell tower, but that is really the extend of my hardware experience.

          3. ecnaseener*

            That might explain part of it, but I think it’s mostly explained by schools adding computer classes and then taking them away. I (zillennial) very much didn’t grow up fixing computers, but I did get explicitly taught basic computer functions in elementary school (touch typing, copy-paste, exporting to different file formats, using file folders, etc) — true basics, but more than some people just a few years younger than me were ever taught. They grew up using tablets and apps, so their school systems thought that meant wouldn’t need computer lessons.

            1. Junior Assistant Peon*

              A lot of the computer skills I learned in school in the early to mid 90s turned out to be highly applicable to office work – how to use Excel and word processors. A kid today growing up with tablets and Web usage isn’t going to encounter Excel until he/she enters the working world.

            2. zaracat*

              It also doesn’t help that even devices and apps/ software don’t seem to have much in the way of instructions available. I was a latecomer to smartphones and had no idea how to do even the most basic things when I first got one. Apparently you’re supposed to *just know* or use trial and error? Framed as the process being “intuitive”, but in reality this is a view biased by the preexisting level of knowledge and experience of long term users.

            3. ComputerClasses*

              Everyone I know who took computer classes in school (80s) took programming classes. These types of basic skills classes were given as continuing ed or community classes at places like the local Y and generally populated by adults (and some were specifically aimed at seniors). Even in elementary school any computer lessons I had were focused on basic programming skills.

              Did they really teach basic computer skills in public schools?

        2. Ellis Bell*

          To be fair we had a recent discussion at school because were getting fed up with the higher ups assuming kids can type when the vast majority grew up with touch screens.

          1. French Pastry*

            In my training job, I had to show some younger people the key combinations to type symbols like @ on a physical keyboard because they’ve never used one before due to doing everything on a a smartphone.

            1. Woolly sheep*

              The most extreme example I saw was someone who asked how to type lowercase letters on a keyboard. He was so used to your keyboard changing to lowercase on a smart device he genuinely thought a physical keyboard could only do uppercase.

              Admittedly, he was an outlier, but still.

          2. Chas*

            Yes, I’ve supervised a few undergrad and Masters students who got confused by some of the old Windows XP computers we have in our lab, and didn’t know things I thought were basic knowledge for all computers, like the need to shut down the computer via the Start button on the desktop (not by pressing and holding the power button), or how to save files to a location they can find later, because they’ve always used phones/tablets and they work differently.

            Now that Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant are a thing, it wouldn’t surprise me if some kids start growing up using speak-to-text instead of typing on their smartphones, so they wouldn’t even need to know how to type on a touch screen. And as more options for computing become available, there will be less of the basic knowledge that everyone knows, because we’ll all be approaching it with different input methods.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I have two Gen Alphas at home, one of whom does pretty much all his Google searching by voice.

              None of my children can type worth a damn.

              1. Bast*

                Same here. A Gen Z/Alpha cusper and one solidly in Gen Z and while the cusper can hunt and peck a little bit, both kids mostly just speak their search.

            2. Texan In Exile*

              “need to shut down the computer via the Start button on the desktop”

              To be fair, using the Start button to stop is kind of nuts. That’s always bothered me.

          3. Irish Teacher.*

            Yeah, I teach secondary school and I am constantly surprised by the number of my students who are bad with basics of technology. Now, some are brilliant, but there are a significant proportion who may have been using phones and computers since toddlerhood, but they use them almost entirely for gaming and watching videos and stuff like that, so they do not know how to send an e-mail (I have seriously asked students to e-mail me their work and been told “but I don’t know my e-mail address to sign in, Miss” and “how do I get into my e-mail?”) or how to research online (I asked a student to google the magazine Time and he didn’t even notice that the hits he was getting were on the concept of time and used them in his answers) or how to do much on a word document (how to use bold or italics or create a heading) and in many cases, their typing speed is stuff like 10 words a minute.

            But yeah, my students run the full spectrum, from the ones who know so much about technology that they can do amazing things with it to the ones I have to help turning on computers. So you can’t make assumptions.

          4. Yzmakat*

            I worked in a hospital library, so helping new starters and students get set up with access to journals etc. – a lot of them were as bad as the older housekeeping staff trying to do online elearning (who had previously never had to use a computer for work).
            A fair few of the young students/starters I had to let them know how to sign out of computers, how to open files etc. because some had only ever used tablets before (some of them had typed all their uni essays on their phones!!), and a larger number had only used mac books, so were thrown by the different operating system.
            I hope schools goes back to actually having IT lessons, it seems like it would help younger students out a lot.

          5. BlueSwimmer*

            I’m a high school teacher and we recently created a lesson for 9th graders on how to do basic things like use keyboard commands, how to double space, how to move and organize Google drive folders, etc. The students are great on their phones but never had to take keyboarding so they do things like put a return at the end of every line to double space. One kid whispered, “It’s like a miracle” when I showed them how to highlight their entire essay with control+A. I thought to myself, “Just wait until you learn about mail merge, my friend. “

        3. LCH*

          I feel like expecting younger generations to innately know tech because they grew up with it would be akin to me knowing how to plumb a house because I grew up with indoor plumbing. Nope.

          1. Woolly sheep*

            This exactly.

            I live in a house, doesn’t mean I can build one. I can barely be trusted to put a nail into the wall.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            ^This is a really good example.

            My engineer spouse was frustrated that the techs running the ultrasound machine were really good at bringing up the pictures of the baby, but could not give him a detailed breakdown of how the machine worked.

            1. HowItWorks*

              I once went for an MRI and the tech claimed they couldn’t do the scan for scientifically impossible reasons. He was intrangisent so I gave him an impromptu 40 minute lecture on how nuclear magnetic resonance works and why what he was saying was impossible so give me a better reason or do the scan.

              I was young and didn’t realize that being told someone was an expert in something didn’t mean what I expected it to mean so his comments incensed me – I couldn’t decide if he was playing a trick on me, trying to cover up that he broke something, or had some other bizarre/evil reason for lying to me. The lecture started as “I’m on to you, don’t try whatever this is with me” then moved into “OMG how can the expert not know this basic stuff, I must fix this”

              I was obnoxious, but it came from an honest place. And it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been hyped as an expert.

        4. Sloanicota*

          When I was working with first-generation college students, it turned out they were doing almost everything on their phones, so they were quite unfamiliar with some desktop features of standard programs. This was a great learning moment for me, as I was just assuming they would be very tech-savvy due to their age. I mean, they were, in some things, but not everything.

          1. Betsy*

            Yeah, the more I read the comments, the more I realize that you know what you know, not what other people assume you know. I work in IT, and I’ve always felt slightly guilty and stupid for not being super familiar with ALL of the tech things. So I’m going to adjust my attitude because I’m really good at what I do, and I always want to learn more, but I’m not deficient just because I don’t know (or care) how to use/troubleshoot tech that I don’t need to know. Thanks, AAM commenters!

            1. Woolly sheep*

              No one in IT is familiar with all the tech things. I particularly do IT support, so I know a little bit of everything, but complex questions go to the specialists.

              And those specialists usually don’t know anything beyond the basics (if that) of other specialists either – I’m pretty sure the people managing the HR applications have zero clue as to how the databases are managed.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Depends on the technology! I’ve frequently heard that younger people are unfamiliar with older tech, things like email and file systems, because they’re used to other communication methods and to all storage being in the cloud.

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      It didn’t have a tone of “urgg young people” though. It was more “is this a thing that has changed, and I’m actually the one in the wrong?”

  12. Sharpie*

    LW1… Self-published Christian fiction? Oh no. Oh, no, no, no. I’ve read a lot of fiction over the years… Christian fiction is very obviously so, and self-published fiction is generally not good (there are exceptions, I will recommend The Comfortable Courtesan to anyone – I first read it as it was being written, when the author posted it online).

    But Christian fiction that’s not had any sort of editorial oversight? That’s going to be really overt and cram its message down people’s throats, I can’t imagine it’d even be as good as Francine Rivers’ books which (imo) are ok rather than being really good.

    I’m sorry.

    1. Worldwalker*

      Self-published books of any kind are a minefield. Sturgeon’s Law is squared: 99% of them are drek. The reason for that is that the writer’s feelings are so deeply involved. They insist that you read their book. They insist that you tell them what you think about their book. But what they don’t say — but definitely want — is for you to tell them it’s great, it’s awesome, it’s Pulitzer Prize material, when in fact it made your eyeballs try to crawl into the back of your skull so you didn’t have to read any more of it. They are overly invested in their writing, and your entire social and possibly work relationship with them is dependent on you delivering the over-the-top praise they think it deserves; if you don’t completely praise their writing, they act like you’ve attacked them as a human being.

      Amusingly, I was on a livestream this afternoon, along with another writer, discussing writing for a specific publication. I brought up — and he fulsomely agreed with — the long-standing writer’s advice: “Kill your darlings.” If something doesn’t work, doesn’t move the writing where it needs to go, doesn’t pull its word-count weight, a writer must delete it without remorse. Writing might feel like pouring out your soul, but it isn’t; it’s producing a product that satisfies its market. (anything not written for a market should be left in the writer’s diary where it belongs) This is a thing that the self-published writers so frequently don’t understand. They’re writing for themselves, not for readers, and it shows. Oh, how it ever shows. And … they want you to praise it. Or else.

      That’s a reason to make every excuse not to read the book. If you haven’t read it, you can’t be either required to lie through your teeth and praise it, or totally destroy your relationship with the writer by not gushing over it as they want. It’s much, much safer to avoid the whole situation.

      And for the love of all that’s holy, if you’ve written a book, don’t demand that your co-workers read it. Yes, it might actually be really good. But a lot of people have met or even worked with one of those writers, and you’re just going to make things weird. Don’t make things weird.

      1. Kyrielle*

        All of this. Also, if you’re sure *anyone* who reads your book will love it…nope, some people just won’t, even if it actually IS that good. Maybe it’s not to their taste as far as genre, maybe they’re just not into the plot, maybe it’s a quirk of how you write your prose and how they read.

        I promise you, I have disliked award-winning books; I have disliked books that were popular with large groups of people who like the things I like, in general. (Most of them, I can even see some of the reasons others liked them – but they aren’t reasons that work for me, or there’s some issue deeper than those reasons that makes me bounce from the book.) Sometimes a book and a person just aren’t a match.

        And that’s okay…until you start pushing your book like Of Course it will be All That to everyone (or even just to specific people), and that’s going to make things, as Worldwalker said, weird. To repeat that point: Don’t make things weird.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        I am very loosely hooked into the self-publishing community. These are writers trying, sometimes successfully, to make this a primary source of income. The key is to collect a body of regular readers who will eagerly buy your books, then produce books in vast quantities. In extreme cases this can be one a month, though three or four a year seems more typical.

        How is this even possible? These are not literary novels, with carefully crafted prose and narratives following the arc of a character’s development. They are commercial genre fiction. It all came together for me when I realized that these are the modern version of the dime novels of a century back. The price asked is even about the same, once you account for inflation. In more recent memory, they are the equivalent of Harlequin romances.

        There is a class of reader, typically characterized as “voracious,” whose primary leisure activity is reading commercial genre fiction in vast quantities. This is the market for these self-publishers. Godspeed, but that isn’t me. I sometimes read commercial genre fiction, but as mind candy. I more often want some meat. And when I don’t go for the mind candy, I still want something that wasn’t speed-written, and was edited.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I’m a voracious reader, and there’s more than enough stuff that’s been edited, and that at least one person other than the author thinks is worth reading (the bare minimum for traditional publication) to keep me busy for the rest of my life. I think self-publishers also rely either on niche interests or on people whose preferred reading length is long series.

        2. Baby Yoda*

          Richard that is so true. I once joined in with a group of authors to self publish a novella collection, they did it 4 times a year, and that made more money than most of my full length, small press (and very well edited) novels.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            It is definitely a financially viable strategy, but you need to get hooked in with your readership. The novella collection strategy might help, if it combines the various authors’ readers. The problem with self-publishing as a replacement for your day job is burnout from the endless fast-paced cycle of churning out text alternating with self-promotion.

        3. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, there’s different audiences out there. There is definitely a core of people who *want* the comfort and familiarity of strict-genre novels that follow the conventions, particular in long series, and they want as much of it as they can get. To be fair, this has always existed as a readership base, I mean, people subscribed to category romances that arrived every week long before the current publishing era.

          1. Woolly sheep*

            It can also just depend on the time period…If memory serves Georges Simenon continued writing as many Maigret novels as he did because he realised people just…Needed this kind of simple genre fiction, especially against the backdrop of world wars. His “romans durs” had a lot less success so…He spent about a week (or a few weeks at most) on writing a Maigret novel and it kinda shows.

            This of course also leads to some funny moments like a character who died in the first book (or one of the first ones at any rate) randomly being alive in a later novel (that wasn’t a prequel) without it being mentioned. Simenon probably forgot he killed this guy off already.

            1. Nobby Nobbs*

              Someone I follow online wrote a silly Hallmark-style romance novel because he needed a low-pressure “doesn’t matter if it’s good, as long as it’s fun” project after finishing something much more involved and artistic. Then a global pandemic happened and it turned out all his readers needed the exact same thing. He’s currently five books in and dealing with the consequences of giving his fictional monarchy a joke name.

                1. Nobby Nobbs*

                  Fete for a King by Sam Starbuck, screen name Copperbadge. The (elected) king-to-be of the small and sardonic nation of Askazer-Shivadlakia accidentally hires an exuberant American tv chef to cater his coronation and they fall in love. (The chef does *eventually* learn to pronounce the country’s name.)

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            Take a look at George Orwell’s 1936 essay “Bookshop Memories.” He describes the same thing, though with different vocabulary.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        A writer friend tells me the book ceases to belong to you the second you show it to another soul.

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing just for yourself, but it’s incompatible with writing for profit or fame. They’re different tasks.

        I beta read for friends. My rule is that I always tell them how proud I am of them and their great endeavour BEFORE I get the manuscript, so they know that is separate from any comments I have on the text itself.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          There was a line in Jane, Unlimited about how letting your art out into the world is letting its meaning be changed, as different people will take different things from it. About art umbrellas, but applies widely.

          This book is one where I admired the technical skill but was left cooler and cooler as the story progressed. But that line has really stuck with me, and resonated in a lot of places.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I really like the insight about writing for themselves vs writing for readers.

        That can be a neat thing you do for you! But not if you then want to share, but don’t understand why the thing doesn’t work for other people. (Insight upthread from pickle(?) re a self-published book from a drug counselor, which was not going to make sense if you didn’t know the writer really, really well–more than would be appropriate for the prison population they worked with.)

        Also there are books I once liked, but now I don’t reread them; books I felt like I should like, but they just didn’t click for some reason; books I could tell were well-crafted, but the effect was cold. Being a biped mammal in the vicinity of a writer doesn’t mean that biped will be the writer’s audience.

      5. JB*

        Too many self-published writers haven’t learned a crucial writing technique, kill your babies. Not everything you think of needs to go into the book and sometimes you need to take things out to make it more cohesive.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I feel like even if the book is a really popular genre and published by someone great at pleasing a wide market… you’re still asking a lot when you ask someone to read your book! There’s a time investment. I say that as a speed reader who gets antsy when there’s nothing to read. I think literally any excuse will work here: “Oh I’m really busy”, “Oh I really struggle to get through even my usual reading right now”, “I don’t really read that genre” or anything! Like if it’s a really close relationship you might feel obligated to glance it over, but a colleague?! Just say you aren’t putting that kind of time in.

    3. Emily Byrd Starr*

      There’s some really good Christian fiction out there, such as “Mary, Called Magdalene” by Margaret George, “The Book of God” by Walter Wangerin Jr., and of course, the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. But still, not the kind of stuff you’d want to push on your co-workers unless you work for a Christian organization.

  13. Knitting Cat Lady*

    This reminds me of the time when the PM forgot about our part of the project and needed it done in three days.
    The problem with that? Our part involved a computer simulation that required three WEEKS of CPU time on the server farm.
    PM was very irate about this, threw a massive tantrum, went to our boss, who went to his boss. Ended up with it going all the way up the chain of command, PM having to grovel to the customer about the project delay, and PM getting a serious write up.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Me too, because at least one recent Prime Minister might indeed forget to do something important because he was too damn lazy and scatter-brained.

  14. UKDancer*

    I’ve had the situation come up with books twice. One of my colleagues wrote a fiction book ad it was published while we were working together. He mentioned it but without being pushy. I bought it on kindle to support him and read the first chapter. It was not my type of thing so I did not read further. It wasn’t terrible or badly written, just not my style. I told him I’d read it and said something nice about it.

    Another colleague wrote a tediously long and very technical non-fiction book which he insisted on trying to get everyone to buy but which was on a subject that was of extremely marginal interest to most people. I declined to buy that one because he annoyed me by pressing it.

    I’m happy to buy things to support people I like (if they’re not pushy) but may not commit to actually reading them. That’s why I have a copy of my aunt’s history of Methodism in Suffolk and my grandfather’s academic works, none of which I’ve actually read. I don’t like people trying to push me to buy and read their works so may push back.

  15. kalli*

    How does interrupting someone help if it’s by email?

    Just put in ‘no need to apologise, I get it’ if they do, just one more time, and be really clear about the date you need stuff back if it’s important, and if it’s not time sensitive acknowledge that.

    And then skip reading the apology and ignore it. They’re not late if there wasn’t an expectation of a response by a certain time.

  16. English Rose*

    LW#3 We had something similar happen with Glassdoor reviews a couple of years back. The person managing our Glassdoor page contacted our account manager who was able to see somehow (I’m not sure how – IP address maybe) that the reviews did come from the same person, determined they contravened Glassdoor’s guidelines and deleted them.
    In our experience Glassdoor are tough but fair – they won’t let employers massage the reviews, but they will react to unjustified malice by ex-employees. Although maybe we just got lucky with our particular account manager.

  17. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*


    I’ve read online that companies can (possibly for a fee) have Glassdoor suppress reviews.

    1. civil disobedience*

      Glassdoor let’s employers flag reviews that violate glassdoor’s policies. Things like provably false information, defamation, or posting multiple reviews are all violations.

      If the same person is writing multiple reviews under different accounts, they’re probably not being super slick about disguising their IP address and may leave evidence that Glassdoor would be able to check.

  18. Dog momma*

    I’m Christian and was in the work place for over 40 yrs, even I know asking people at work to read your self published books; Christian or not, is a big no no.

    And I have a friend who writes Christian novels, is self published and quite successful… he’s never done this.

  19. Richard Hershberger*

    I actively avoid reading fiction by people I know who will want feedback, because the odds strongly favor that I won’t enjoy the book. This is true even if the book is fine, but not my usual reading material. It is vastly more likely if it is self-published. There are perfectly cromulent reasons to self-publish. This is a legit career path for writers of certain sorts of books, and some of these are even books I might read. But any random self-published book is much more likely to be unedited prose, both in the sense that it hasn’t been copy edited and no one ever looked at the manuscript with a critical eye.

  20. Ellis Bell*

    OP4, have you considered just not closing the loop? Like, at one end of the spectrum you have loads of synonyms for “no worries.” and at the other you are telling them to “stop apologising!” I feel in the middle of those options, you could just let the ball drop, like give one “it’s fine” and then stop doing it. After that just go”Uh huh, anyway..” or “Yeah. So…” or “Sure. As I was saying..” and just go right into what you want to say. Another idea might be nodding and just saying “Like I said it’s fine”, so you just keep referring back to the fact you’ve already accepted the apology. I think if you really, really want them to tell them to stop apologising you might be able to very kindly and humourously one time, say something like “You already apologised and I said ok: remember?”

    1. Sloanicota*

      That one was tough for me because actually, the coworker is correct that the notes are taking too long and it’s causing problems. I would honestly be looking for solutions like, “what if Justine handles the notes next time” or “what if I get them started or polish them for you” or something. I don’t want apologies, but I would like to get these notes sooner, and it sounds like the coworker acknowledges that.

  21. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, assuming that the part where the priest explains life begins at conception is meant to be the “correct” view and not just the priest’s personal opinion (since this is a religion novel, I am guessing that is likely to be the case), then I think there are extra problems with pushing this at work. Don’t get me wrong, pushing a religion book would be problematic anyway, but if it is coming down firmly on the pro-life side of the abortion debate, then it is also including politics and one of the most issues that really brings out strong feelings and divides people and it’s also an issue that could be very sensitive for a lot of people – people who have been judged for having abortions or even just for getting pregnant, people who had crises pregnancies in general and so on.

    From the little you’ve seen of it, it sounds like a book that even many Christians might be uncomfortable reading. Add on Richard Hershberger’s point about how reading books by coworkers can be awkward anyway, especially when those books have not been accepted by a traditional publisher (which generally is some indication they have undergone some level of quality control whereas a self-published book could be one of the best things ever written or could be really, really bad or anywhere in between) and it sounds like a really bad idea all round to push this book at work.

    LW2, it sounds like what Claudine is doing is more than just not putting much stock on office norms. I agree it’s not an age thing (except that younger people might not have learnt as much about office norms yet), but I would also say listening to feedback without complaining that “people are hurting your feelings” by expecting you to do your job properly, breaking policies, etc are not just office norms that some people put less stock on.

    Generally, people who don’t put much stock on office norms are talking about norms that neither have an impact on the work done or really affect others. Stuff like dressing in business clothes when all you are doing is sitting at a computer.

    There are people who, for all sorts of reasons, find business norms difficult, though I don’t think that has anything to do with generation, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t realise that they shouldn’t respond to work feedback with “you’re hurting my feelings.” That isn’t just an office norm. It wouldn’t be appropriate anywhere. I had a student who used to do that and even from a 12 year old, it came across as really immature. Most kids mature out of that long before they enter secondary school because it’s really not appropriate in school to tell the teacher not to tell you to stop talking or to put away your phone or that you got two sums wrong because being corrected hurts your feelings. It also wouldn’t be appropriate for a child to respond to their parent that way when the parent tells them they need to tidy their room or for somebody to respond to their partner or housemates by saying “don’t tell me I should do my share of the housework and not leave it all to you. That hurts my feelings.”

    So I really don’t think this is about not caring about office norms.

    I also think Kyle is as much the problem as Claudine. He sounds like a very hands-off manager and I would argue that he isn’t being supportive because he is allowing Claudine to alienate everybody, making her job way more difficult for her, without clueing her in to how she can improve things. Supporting her would mean helping her to improve her relationships with the rest of the staff, not just telling her, “you’re doing fine” and ignoring the issue.

    And telling the LW to deal with the issue instead of him doing so is definitely not being supportive. “I won’t tell you what you are doing wrong. I’ll just tell those who are annoyed by it to point it out to you instead” is not support.

    My guess is that this is less about Kyle wanting to be “supportive” and more about him just wanting an easy life and hoping somebody else will do his job for him and deal with the issue.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I am definitely getting “Don’t upset Claudine because if you do she will come and whinge to me” vibes from Kyle.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Kyle is really falling down on the job here. It’s not supportive to let your (fairly new to the work world) direct report just do whatever they want how they want to do it! It’s Kyle’s job to sit Claudine down and tell her how to schedule meetings, and that she needs to learn to accept feedback with ZERO mention of her feelings about it, because feedback is there to help her do her job right. One or both of them is going to have a nasty awakening at some point.

    2. BubbleTea*

      That part of the self-published book made me think of the Jodi Picoult book about a hostage situation at a clinic that provided abortions; casually flicking through, you could easily land on a section about life beginning at conception but that is neither the view of all the characters nor the message of the book. I don’t think we can or should start barring people from talking about or even recommending books because they contain opinions someone might disagree with.

      The problem in this scenario is that the author of the book is pressuring colleagues to read it. If it were an innocuous children’s book about counting, that pressure would still be a problem.

    3. Artemesia*

      He has defined ‘supportive’ as ‘although I am a manager I choose not to manage’. He is worse than Claudine.

  22. fort hiss*

    I’m surprised Alison didn’t mention it, because didn’t she interview someone who works to remove false reviews from Glassdoor? It sounded like they had fairly robust investigative measures, if nothing else. I hope you’ve reported the reviews to get the site’ s eyes on them.

  23. Elizabeth*

    I had a colleague (Frank) push his recently published book during a speech he gave during a memorial service of another colleague that had died suddenly and tragically. Everyone just stared in shocked horror as Frank went on and on even bragging about how many downloads he had gotten. He concluded by directing everyone to copies he had brought and left on a table at the back. It was a technical book that most people in the audience (large gathering industry colleagues) might be interested in but still! Not the place….

    1. sagewhiz*

      Wow! I’ve ghostwritten numerous books for industry experts but using a memorial service to pitch back-of-the-room sales is the most bizarre tactic I’ve ever heard of!

    2. Woolly sheep*

      Such gumption.

      Seriously though, what in the name of newly-knitted socks possessed him to do that?

      1. Sloanicota*

        haha there’s a LOT of well meaning advice online that’s like, think of EVERY encounter as an opportunity!! Push to flight attendants on planes, coworkers in your office, any chance to speak to a crowd!!

    3. MPerera*

      This is an actual quote from a writer that I saved because it was so jawdropping :

      “Once my novel is available, I too will target a market other than bookstores. It has a huge story line of murder, so I plan on doing signings at the local morgue. Funeral homes too!!!”

    4. AKchic*

      That sounds like my uncle. He self-published and told everyone at my grandma’s funeral (he eulogized as a brand new minister) that she “whole-heartedly supported” his writing dreams and “would have encouraged everyone to download [the] book from Amazon”.
      My grandmother knew nothing of the internet. She thought it was “playing on your phone”. Books were what you bought at a store and were made of actual paper. And she absolutely did not encourage his writing because she didn’t understand sci-fi (let alone mixing sci-fi and evangelical Christianity).
      My family didn’t really bat an eye. I think that uncle has self-published 3 books in that “series” now. I don’t know. I only see occasional updates (I.e.; “I got my 20th download!”)

  24. OrigCassandra*

    OP3, are the Glassdoor shenanigans actually making it harder for you to hire?

    If not, there’s a case to be made for ignoring them, including when talking to applicants.

    I have a scathingly acid review on RateMyProfessor from a student who should never have been admitted and flamed out utterly within the first semester (I can’t give more details for probably-obvious reasons, but they rival some of AAM’s best OMG moments). Is the review hurting my enrollments? Not even slightly. From what I know of that former student, I suspect the review was so over-the-top that its ax-grinding unfairness is obvious.

    So I haven’t even bothered to go read it (a colleague with their own scathing review from this former student let me know) and I won’t. I’m certainly not worrying about getting it taken down.

    1. Fellow Canadian*

      One of the math profs at my university was very popular on ratemyprofs, but had one review that called him a “Mean little man who didn’t know the first thing about math” (or similar).

      anyways the prof got a t-shirt with that review on it and wore it around campus.

        1. Jam on Toast*

          I once taught a profoundly misogynistic college student who resented me, my gender and my expertise with every fiber of his being. Teaching them was endlessly challenging but I persevered. He had a very distinctive, artificially formal way of speaking designed to prove his intellectual prowess. On the course review, I recognized his anonymous comments, in which he wrote what I’m sure he thought was a scathing denunciation of my shortcomings, both intellectual and pedagogical.

          My favourite comment though was his conclusion, where he complained that the worst, most unbearable part of my course was the fact that I had the gall to be a feminist who believed in the equality of the sexes. This, he was certain, was a bridge too far!

          When I stopped giggling, I found myself wanting to put his comments on a shirt and wear it to future classes. If I can disrupt a misogynist’s worldview, even if it’s just for a few hours a week, I feel it’s a good day’s work overall!

    2. new old friend*

      Oh, scathing reviews were always hilarious to see, but I also think the only time I actually used RateMyProfessor to choose a class was when I was taking a class for fun that wound up having a pretty draconian attendance policy, and I was trying to determine how thoroughly the teacher actually enforced it. (The answer turned out to be “very thoroughly”, and I dropped the class because it was just. Way Too Much.)

  25. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    OP1 I’ll give you a dollar if you say “since the Bible clearly explains that life begins with the first breath, I was really disappointed in the lack of research in your novel.”
    A whole dollar, OP. ;)

    1. anonny*

      The standards of research, Biblical or otherwise, does not appear to be high in some Christian Fiction novels. I once saw one called “Goats Gone Wild” that clearly had sheep on the cover. Despite what Matthew 25:32 has to say on the matter.

  26. Riggs*

    LW3, Is there any way your company can report these reviews to Glassdoor? I know they wouldn’t just remove any bad reviews, but they would likely not want the same person creating multiple accounts to review-bomb a company. I know of other websites where admins are able to see the IP address of users and so could identify when duplicate accounts were being created.

  27. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 I’d compliment any colleague who wrote a book for the achievement, but if was about religion, other woo, politics or sex, I definitely wouldn’t read even a freebie copy.

    #2 No, don’t try to manage her feelings or explain how the world works; everyone needs to manage their own feelings.
    Just do your job and raise with your own manager if Claudine’s behaviour is delaying or increasing your work, or if she becomes too unpleasant. Useless going to Kyle again, as he has completely misunderstood the role of managing reports.

  28. Riley*

    LW1 here. First of all, thank you for your response, Allison. I know you must get a lot of questions, so I appreciate hearing from you!
    Tiny update: I’ve now speed-read the entire book (I wanted to see what else would be in there), and the paragraph I initially saw about life beginning at conception was not the extent of the pro-life material in the book. The entire story is about abortion being wrong, and there are multiple moments where characters demonize people who get abortions and call them murderers, etc. My coworker is of course free to believe whatever she likes, but the political nature of the book as a whole made me very uncomfortable, and I’m going to mention something to a supervisor. Not in a “you must immediately do something about this kind of way,” but in a “you should know what’s going on” kind of way.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yikes. That’s definitely politics rather than religion, not that either has any place at work.

    2. new old friend*

      AUGH. It’s worse than I could have imagined. I was inclined to agree with the people below suggesting that you come up with something blandly encouraging about a hobby, but now…absolutely not. Oh no. Oh no.

    3. Happy*

      Oh, that’s so deeply uncomfortable!

      I hated finding out that a coworker who otherwise seemed lovely was deeply invested in supporting crisis pregnancy centers. You can un-know that stuff.

  29. Fellow Canadian*

    For LW 3, you could bring up the Glassdoor reviews with your HR department. At previous companies, HR made a point of responding to all Glassdoor reviews (positive or negative). There were some negative reviews that listed the employee’s position and tenure, and HR would respond saying “thanks for your review but we do not have a record of someone in that department leaving the company when you claim to have left”.

    As someone else mentioned too, I believe companies can pay to have negative reviews removed if you think they are damaging to your corporate brand.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Just my $.02 but I dislike it when companies do that. It would be a turnoff to me to see HR all up in the reviews commenting on each one or trying to correct – and with this nutty ex employee, likely to inflame them worse.

      1. Dot's Hat*

        Same. I have seen my employer doing this, and it seems desperate.

        Also, I have absolutely played with exact dates when leaving reviews on Glassdoor. Just enough to make it so I’m not identifiable easily, but not so much that it feels like it would affect the quality of information an applicant was hoping to gain from looking at the reviews, etc. I assume lots of people do this, just as I assume that there are people who change up irrelevant details when writing to AAM to help protect themselves if their employer or co-workers read it.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes, I also obscure my reviews to create plausible deniability, or I post while still employed there but in the voice of a former employee – and I have seen HR furiously insist that this couldn’t be true and therefore must be FAKE and needs to be TAKEN DOWN. Companies that ignore the internal reviews / exit interviews of their employees seem weirdly certain that we should all be completely transparent on Glassdoor even though we are beholden to good references etc.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        These always feel a bit weird and desperate to me, like when a business owner gets up in their own Google reviews responding to every perceived insult.

    2. English Rose*

      I commented on this earlier but it seems to have got lost.
      It’s not that companies can pay to have negative reviews removed. It’s a question of raising it with the Glassdoor account manager if you believe the reviews are malicious, inaccurate and/or contravene their posting guidelines.
      We’ve done that successfully in the past in very similar situation to OP, where our Glassdoor contact was able to establish it was the same person under different accounts (maybe through IP address, not sure), and they took the reviews down.
      They won’t delete bad but accurate reviews though – and nor should they.

    3. pally*

      I find these responses to be a bit disingenuous. Okay, so you don’t have a record of an employee that matches the reviewer’s stats. Is that the most important aspect of the review?
      How about addressing the issue(s) brought up in the review itself? Maybe explain how they are nonissues, or what changes have been made to remedy them.

      The best HR response I read on Glassdoor was one that did exactly this. The reviewer indicated that they company was teetering on the brink of closure as their paychecks were shorted and that there were harassment issues pertaining to an “unfair” supervisor who picked on certain employees.

      The response: “arriving late and leaving early so as not to work the full 8 hours each shift will garner a smaller paycheck. Failure to complete assigned tasks will result in a supervisor who can be unfair as they expect tasks to be completed thoroughly and on time.”

  30. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #2 A coworker pushing something at work can be an intrusive pain – a massive pain if it’s an MLM, but a book just merits a polite brushoff unless she’s persistent.

    Now if it were your manager urging you to read her book that’s much more problematic, especially one about religion / politics / sex. I’d push back against a manager and if she didn’t back off, then escalate my complaint.

  31. cp*

    LW #4 I am the chronic over-apologizer in certain situations, and for me the thing that diffuses my over-poligizing is a quick “its no problem” and then honestly proceeding as if it’s no problem. Of course, if the lack of response causes delays that will affect the timeline, flag those, but for me acknowledge/accept the apology (they likey do feel quite bad about it!) and just keep the convo moving will likely be your fastest and most politically kind maneuver.

  32. Ex-prof*

    1. I find the easiest thing to do with the self-published novelists is to pretend I’ve read it. Say it’s whatever they say it is: Funny, sad, deeply meaningful, in this case spiritual, and then let them talk.

  33. Ali*

    LW1, I think someone who is queer and cis likely has the exactly right amount of sensitivity to any topic that might be affected by those identities, and everyone else should take notes on how to be more sensitive. If you are in the U.S., it’s not like the cultural status quo around gender and sexual orientation is as considerate as it should be.

  34. KatAlyst*

    LW4 It’s not me, but the apology-writer could be me. One alternative perspective on if/how to speak up as the recipient: An aspect of anxiety can come into the apology/ explanation phase that can actually delay the response & action phases. It might be helpful to clearly state you DO know they will reply (trust & affirmation) and do NOT take it personally (grace) and that might cut down not only on the apologizing but the response times, if you can alleviate some of their potential anxiety.

  35. HonorBox*

    The thing about Claudine is that she’s taking what appears to be normal, straightforward feedback and turning it into a “feelings” thing. If you initiate a conversation and ask for feedback, suggestions or support it can’t be turned into a feelings thing. Unless of course the person offering feedback is a jerk about it, but it doesn’t seem like LW is that kind of person.

    LW, I’d agree that looping in your manager and letting them know you’ve spent a bunch of your time working with Claudine to offer support, talked to Kyle, and nothing more is being done. You can then move forward and not continue to put yourself in a situation where your feedback isn’t being considered. Moreover, it isn’t just not being considered. The reaction should make you less interested in providing feedback.

  36. Ex-prof*

    #3. Is it possible to tell Glassdoor what’s happening? Surely it’s against their policies to create multiple accounts to reviewbomb a former employer?

  37. DisneyChannelThis*

    LW3, I had an interview with an intense guy and I had heard through the grapevine that he was intense. The best thing was in my first interview for the job, he opened with wanting me to have time to meet one of his current employees away from the office and had us go for coffee together without him. It was really transparent that he wanted me to be able to ask about the culture and him without any risk of being overheard and get real answers (not the canned answers you give about the culture when you’re asked in front of HR if you like working here). He ended up being a great boss, he was really intense but you could adapt for that.

    So I’d make sure you give interviewees a chance to meet employees in private without you or HR looming :D

  38. BecauseHigherEd*

    LW 1 – ugh, I knew a Christian author once who gifted me one of her books once. A lot of what was in it was tone deaf at best and offensive at worst. Don’t entertain this any more than you absolutely have to to maintain a healthy work relationship.

  39. Lacey*

    Thank for saying it’s not ok to push any novels on coworkers.

    I am so, so glad that my coworkers have a creative outlet they enjoy.
    But, I don’t want to feel guilty for not enjoying the results.

  40. Dust Bunny*

    OP4 This week I had a patron apologize for asking me to take time to help her locate a brochure her organization printed in the early 1980s.

    We’re the institutional archives. It’s literally the reason we exist.

    It was fine. She was very nice. It turned out that we didn’t have the brochure but someone in their executive offices did and they sent us a scan of it. But some people are just gonna apologize.

  41. Littorally*

    #3- Depending on what the reviews say, it’s entirely possible that he’s just self-sabotaging here too. Do they sound like valid criticisms written by a measured and reasonable individual? My last job had a similar experience with someone who was fired for very good cause who went on to leave lengthy Glassdoor screeds against us, and imo his comments wouldn’t have turned away anyone with a lick of sense because his grudge was so obvious. Thoughtful readers — ie, the people you probably want to hire! — will look for reasonable-sounding reviews, even if they’re negative. All you can really do is focus on giving the best and most honest interview experiences possible, with lots of transparency, and be prepared to answer questions about Glassdoor in a way that is not dismissive but is clear that his experience is not representative.

    1. LW3*

      You have a point. The more recent reviews, which I think he’s been writing as his mental health continues to tank, are just bitter, incoherent rants, although I worry the number of them is off-putting to people anyway.

      Then there’s the very first one he wrote, which has been liked by a couple dozen people on Glassdoor and got asked about by a potential hire who I desperately wanted to bring on. This first post was written very shortly after he was let go (so when he was still lucid), and it’s clearly something he spent a lot of time on in a strategic way. It does a great job of appearing balanced to any person who doesn’t know the situation … while still managing to sneak in a lot of statements that are objectively untrue.

      It’s like he sat down and thought hard about how to make hiring hard for me. When I’m not annoyed, I’m genuinely impressed.

  42. Yes And*

    LW1: I work for a theater company, and I go out of my way to NOT tell people I have a play published (by a real publisher) and a cast album (from a real record label). I want to be thought of as The Guy Who Is Great At His Job, not the Disappointed Artist Who’s Really All About His Side Hustle. Though maybe that’s a problem common to my specific industry.

    I’m curious, are people treating your novelist as a person who’s a little weird about her hobby, or are they reframing their opinion of her vis a vis her relationship to her day job?

  43. DJ Abbott*

    Does anyone else think #1 is pushing religion in the workplace and should be taken to HR?
    One of the reasons I have PTSD is from growing up in a fundamentalist area, where people were always trying to force religion on me. I would be offended and triggered by a colleague giving me a book that pushes religion and trying to make me read it. I would most likely take it to HR right away.

  44. #2 OP*

    #2 OP here. I do want to apologize about the generational comment. It came off poorly when I meant for it to be a bit of hyperbolic “is it just me have I gotten old??”

    And to address some folks comments that I’ve already seen:
    1) yes, my managers (both direct and grandboss) have been looped in to Claudine’s asks. About six months ago I had to make a chart showing Claudine had scheduled over 15 man-hours of daily tag ups in a week with people on my team and asked my managers to intervene.

    They are, unfortunately, non-confrontational types and so gave me some “that’s… a lot, we’ll talk to Kyle” but the meetings continue to churn without end.

    2) I very much appreciate the folks who are reminding me that mentoring/coaching Claudine is not my circus. As a woman in a still very male dominated field, there’s an undercurrent of “you need to help the new women coming into the field” and I am having trouble shaking that off. Thank you for confirming she’s not my monkey.

    1. Artemesia*

      Looks like these wasteful ‘touch base’ meetings are the most aggravating (you can ignore much of the rest). How about having your team simply decline them with ‘we don’t need to touch base more than once every two weeks on this — so we will see you at 9 on the 21st.’

      1. Momma Bear*

        I also wonder what her motivation is – is she a micromanager? Is she insecure or anxious and needs to see people to be assured they’re making progress? If she needs confirmation of progress, a quick quad chart might be just as useful as a week of meetings and take less time.

    2. Woolly sheep*

      Hi OP 2, I was one of the people questioning why you made that leap. For the record, I don’t think making that leap makes you a bad person or anything, just that it might have been worth looking into.

      I also concur with Artemisia – that is way too many dailies. Definitely try to matter-of-factly push back on those.

      And I feel you on the “you need to help the new women coming into the field” part. But even then, it’s worth remembering that some people you just cannot help – either because they refuse to be helped, or because the help they require is beyond your capacity to give.

    3. Momma Bear*

      If you brought it up and it persists, I would only make the team attend what is truly necessary and cc anyone who might need to know why you aren’t making your team be at her beck and call. Another tactic might be to spread out the team. Maybe SHE thinks she needs Joe, Chris, and Mary, but if she really only needs Joe, let Chris and Mary decline. We often have meetings where people slide in/out of the invite based on where the project is at the time.

      Claudine doesn’t want your help, though, so don’t feel obligated. She’s refused to learn industry norms and that’s on her. You’ve given her advice. She’s the one that needs to learn to use it.

    4. Kt*

      WRT to the check-in problem, I’ve had to deal with that! One way I’ve done it is this: “Hi, I want to streamline communication about this so we’re going to designate one point of contact for the team. This will free up the rest of the team to make progress and should cut down on miscommunication. X will manage communication with you, Claudine, and will be available for check ins twice a week, with additional communication handled asynchronously with a response time of 8 working hours.” Loop in your boss but declare it, don’t ask permission. Loop in Kyle if necessary. Give all your people a script to use by email or voice to redirect contact through X, your comms lead. Mention “manager time” vs “maker time”. Talk about empowering people to innovate and work efficiently.

      Go for it! I too am a woman in a male dominated field. You can’t help Claudine. You can look like a leader by calmly and assertively protecting your people’s time and sanity.

    5. new old friend*

      FWIW, as one of The Kids These Days (on the oldest end of Gen Z– which, by the way, makes me closer to 30 than 20), I didn’t think anything of that comment, and I’ve got a finely tuned sensor for that sort of thing.
      I also think it’s a good instinct of yours, as a woman in a male-dominated field, to try to be supportive of a young woman; I have a lot of gratitude for the women who have done the same for me. But you don’t need to be the monkey trainer, either. I guess I’m trying to say that like, Claudine is not your problem to deal with, but don’t let her shut you down completely from mentoring people in the future!

    6. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      Hi OP2, I didn’t take your “generation” question to be a negative assumption about younger people. I read it as you checking in whether this was something that has culturally changed, and whether you might be out of touch or in the wrong.

      Which is definitely not the case!

  45. Hendry*

    “the new generation of office workers don’t put much stock in things like “office norms” and “the way things are done” and are more concerned about feeling validated?”

    Yes, this is happening with young people throughout our society. It started in 1971 with that episode of The Partridge Family and has continued to spiral out control ever since.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Personally, it started back in the time of Socrates, back about 350-400 BCE. (or earlier)

      That said, I am frequently amazed at what is common knowledge to and foreign to younger co-workers (and vs versa)

      1. Random Dice*

        When I was new to the work force, I didn’t know what the collate button on the copier did. I made multiple copies of long documents and sorted each page into a series of piles. The kind person who didn’t call me “idiot” while explaining the collate feature was much appreciated!

  46. VP Tech*

    LW #1: a generous take here is that they are really excited about publishing something. I worked with a guy like this- I think it was actually some kind of heavily Christian mystery series? Anyway, I’m not sure because I never read it, but he was a coworker I cared about. I asked him all about The Process.
    “Here is a signed copy of my new book.” “Ooh, you wrote a book? How was it? What is the inspiration for the characters? How did you go about publishing?” Etc. etc. In my case anyway, it was not about getting me to read it so much as sharing something from his life.
    Anyway, if you feel pressured to read it, consider if it’s really just pressure to engage with this coworker in a conversation about her hobby. You definitely don’t have to read it to chat about what she does in her free time.

  47. Bumblebee Mask*

    Thanks for your bit about allowing candidates to speak with your team without you. I do that and our former talent manager thought it was weird that I do. I do it more for my own self to ensure that I’m not missing anything glaring or red flaggy on my top candidate, but I also them to know who the team they will be working with is. She asked me what I would do if they all hated my top candidate, and I said then they’re seeing something I missed and I need to re-evaluate and have them talk to my 2nd candidate. So far it’s worked out very well. As a candidate, I also find it a red flag if I only get to meet with boss and/or big boss. The two jobs I’ve taken where I only spoke to potential boss were both shit shows. (And I should have trusted my gut the 2nd time but I was desperate.)

  48. House On The Rock*

    Re LW 2, I’m not sure I’d be so quick to judge Kyle.

    While it is true that (taking LW at face value) Claudine does sound pretty clueless about timelines, schedules, etc. I can see a manager being prickly over someone from another department coming to them with complaints about their staff. I’ve been in that situation before, and it’s natural to feel protective of depending on the approach and tone of the complaint.

    Early in my career as a manager, I had an outside person take a deep, personal, and really unkind dislike to someone on my team. It rankled. But, more importantly, it made it harder to manage some of my employee’s deficiencies because they were getting so much weird hate mixed in with more legitimate issues.

    Not saying that’s what is going on here of course, just that it’s usually better for someone to escalate to their manager and then have that manager speak to the other person’s manager. That both helps to take personalities out of it and puts the discussion on a more even footing. Also, even if a manager agrees about some of the problems, they can’t really say that to an individual contributor. Imagine your boss saying “oh yes, I agree, I am trying to deal with that” about you to a coworker!

    1. Friendo*

      This is not a good defense of Kyle! A manager feeling prickly that someone from another department is sharing (valid) concerns (that are directly related to that person) is not good management.

      Also, I disagree that the correct course of action is for a manager to not acknowledge issues, but that’s not what’s happening here. Kyle is explicitly saying that he thinks there isn’t anything wrong with Claudine’s behavior and also directing OP to speak with Claudine directly (which is also bad, if there isn’t an issue with Claudine’s behavior than Kyle shouldn’t direct OP to raise it with Claudine).

  49. Bad Wolf*

    OP #1, I think you’re focusing too hard on the Christian subject of the book. It doesn’t sound like your coworker is forcing the text for some sort of mass conversion. More likely, she’s looking for support and validation. Writing is hard. Self-publishing is hard. She wants affirmation that her efforts where not wasted. You could say something like: “Christian fiction is not my thing. But I read a little, and you’re clearly a talented writer. Congratulations on finishing and publishing a book. That’s an amazing accomplishment.” If you can stomach holding back your feelings on religion and give her support, it would be a kindness. And it would probably be enough to get her off your back about reading the book.

    1. Redaktorin*

      Writing something that need meet absolutely no quality standards and is guaranteed to be published is not really that hard? In fact, it’s the easiest possible mode of writing?

      I don’t really feel the need to pat someone on the back for filling up something approximately the length of a book with literally any words at all, especially not if said words take the form of a noxious political rant that she’s trying to make me engage with at work.

      1. Bad Wolf*

        Writing 500 pages of complete nonsense is still hard. It takes time, effort, and dedication. Self-publishing means the writer has to take on ALL the work of a publisher to make their work public. From layouts, to graphics, to promotion, to sales tracking (or lack there of). It’s a lot of work. It’s not easy.
        You don’t want to encourage your coworker, that’s your hill to die on. Even though it would be a lot easier to disengage from her noxious political rant by simply giving her small a pat on the back for making something.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah one of my co-workers did a craft thing which was (in my view) tacky, ugly and an eyesore. I think co-worker is wasting his time and I wouldn’t give his ugly junk houseroom. I didn’t say any of this to the co-worker. I found one thing to praise and said I could see how long he’d taken and how much of himself he’d put into it.

          Most people don’t want honest feedback on their endeavours. Just say something blandly nice and make them feel good and most people go rejoicing on their way and feel good about themselves.

        2. Redaktorin*

          Meh, patting someone on the back for bothering me at work might be easier in the moment, but you and I both know this sort of person becomes a long-term problem if given encouragement. Like how many more self-published reactionary tirades am I going to hear about because I said the first one was nice? No thanks.

          Self-publishing authors are not, in fact, doing the work of cover designers and marketers. Look, I don’t call myself a professional baker because I made my daughter’s cake from a box of cake mix the other day, and I don’t pretend to have a Michelin Star because my daughter liked the cake. Self-publishers are cobbling together a vague approximation of design and marketing jobs, only in less time, with more outsourcing and no quality control or education.

    2. Friendo*

      What are you basing your assumption on? We know that the writer:

      1. Talks about religion a lot, in a setting where that is somewhere between iffy and inappropriate.

      2. Wrote a book where the only thing we know about its contents involves a stand-in character delivering a moral lecture (which is not what all Christian literature is).

      3. Is “heavily hinting” that their non-religious/liberal coworkers “should read it”.

      To me, that does not sound like a writer who would like someone to acknowledge their hard work, this sounds like someone who is trying to proselytize and/or talk about abortion post-Roe with their colleagues that do not agree with them.

      Maybe not! But I would really advise that someone not open this can of worms in this instance.

  50. NotARealManager*

    LW3, When I read Glass Door reviews (or reviews for anything), I try to consider the responses in aggregate. If it seems like the similar unhinged rant every time then I can can usually piece together that it’s one person’s bad experience, particularly if all the other reviews seems to be 3-5 stars.

    I think a lot of folks also know they’re only getting one side of the story from Glass Door. We had a long time employee recently leave a one star review because they didn’t get promoted due to “cliquesh behavior from management”. But I was at internal interviews with this employee and they were not qualified for the positions they applied for and overall they interviewed poorly. There were stronger candidates both externally and internally. They had also received verbal warnings (and a few written) during their time at the company. So it wasn’t a clique out to get them so much as it was poor performance.

  51. new old friend*

    Re LW 3… is it common for people to look at Glassdoor before applying? I usually consult it only after an interview or two to see what people have said, but I think most people are aware that Glassdoor is gonna err on the side of being negative, just by virtue of how it works.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      When I was job hunting I always looked at reviews before applying, because I didn’t want to waste time or be drawn into a nightmare company.
      Neither glassdoor or indeed well let me look at reviews because apparently you have to post many before they will, but I looked at the ratings and didn’t apply to any that had less than three stars. My current company didn’t have any reviews posted.

  52. Michelle Smith*

    LW3: I took a job working for an organization with negative Glassdoor reviews. The reviews were accurate – it was a toxic place to work in all the ways the negative reviews described. I was grateful to go into it eyes wide open and that job turned out to be the right thing for me to take on at the right time, despite the toxicity.

    Don’t sugar coat things with the interviewees. You specifically state that your task is to start “building up my historically neglected department so we can start obeying all our industry regulations and making fewer errors.” That sounds like your department historically has been neglected, doesn’t obey industry regulations, and makes a ton of errors. That could be a nightmare scenario for a prospective candidate. Be honest about the problems and what you’re doing to improve them and the right candidates with the right temperaments to handle the pain of structural change will naturally rise to the top.

    1. LW3*

      I’m not quite sure where you get the idea that I’m sugar-coating things or that my department was making a ton of errors. We were making more than we should, due in large part to the fact that the Glassdoor review bomber was incompetent, and I’m honest with prospective employees about that, but it still wasn’t a ton. Nobody has ever said it’s a nightmare to work in my department, including the review bomber, who said he enjoyed the work but like most cranks is fixated on the idea that “toxic leadership” somehow “suddenly fired him for no reason” when he was actually failing to meet objective measures of success after being put on a PIP.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Hey, listen, the comment you are responding to literally quotes your own words. That’s where they got the idea from.

        I suppose you can quibble with the number or source of errors if you really want to, but if you are out of compliance with regs and the department is historically neglected and has negative baggage / a backlog of cleanup work, then those are in fact issues candidates should be aware of.

        As Michelle Smith points out, candidates would rather have a realistic idea of what they’re walking into, warts and all. So if there are difficulties, you need to find candidates who can cope with them and aid you in your turnaround efforts. That takes transparency.

        1. Redaktorin*

          Sure, but I’m not quite sure why I’m being told this? I have proactively brought up these issues with every candidate while hiring.

          I suppose it’s just frustrating to ask for advice about one thing and be told to do some other, unrelated thing I was already doing.

          1. spiriferida*

            If the advice isn’t applicable, you can ignore it! It might feel a bit snarky to respond like that, but a lot of the time commenters can’t know the full picture the way you do, so they spin off a few scenarios related to the brief summary presented in the letter. If they’re telling you to do something you’re already doing, you can consider it a sign that you’re on the right track already.

            It can be really frustrating when you know people are hesitant about you and your work because of a lie, or because of something that isn’t true any more thanks to your own efforts. Ultimately, if you’re being transparent with candidates, and giving them a chance to see what your department is like now… you’re doing all you can do.

  53. KitCaliKat*

    LW #2 — Wow, did your letter speak to me. I’ve managed a Claudine who weaponized their “hurt feelings” to both scare people into not giving them feedback and to report anyone who dared to give them feedback (aka me) to HR. IMO as soon as an employee or colleague uses this tactic, you should feel zero guilt about limiting your interactions with them so you can spend your time and energy on something productive, because Claudine doesn’t want to be coached.

  54. ragazza*

    For #3, I think most people can tell the difference when there is a pattern of bad reviews vs. one person with a grudge, even if they are using different accounts.

  55. Lizy*

    #3 I checked Glassdoor before I accepted my current position. It was… not great. Not HORRIBLE, but definitely gave me pause.

    I’m still not entirely sure what they were talking about, but I’ve been here 2+ years and have no plans to go elsewhere. Is it perfect? No. Have I seen any of the things the complainers were complaining about? Nope.

  56. blood orange*

    OP#2 There are a few words to describe Kyle’s management style, and none of them are “supportive”.

  57. Sorry if this isn't helpful...*

    For the apologiser, I know it’s not exactly buisness professional ettiquet, but as someone who is also a constant apologisee and who often interacts with constant apologisers, I find that one of the best ways to deal with it is to double down in a silly way. So they’ll say “oh, I’m so sorry about X” and you reply “you should be” in an exaggerated, jokey tone. It knocks the person off kilter, which is what you want because their kilter is way too apologetic for the situation.

  58. e271828*

    LW#1, just saying “No, thank you!” pleasantly and returning the book is enough.

    She knows what she’s doing: she’s proselytizing. If she continues, a word to your boss/HR is in order.

  59. Laura*

    For what it’s worth #3, I would only check Glassdoor reviews after applying or, more likely, after getting to the interview stage of an application. And then it’d be to see what I want to get more information on or watch out for in the interview process. I just don’t bother getting *that* invested in the research phase before even applying, when I still don’t know if I’ll ever hear back from the company!

  60. Sad Desk Salad*

    I’m in the midst of writing a novel as well. If it’s not good enough to get picked up by a publisher, I may self-publish, throw it on Amazon and see if it makes me a couple bucks. It’s sci-fi/mystery, extremely wholesome, no sex, religion, race, or controversial topics, with language no spicier than what we’ve used in team get-togethers. (I realize this makes my book sound a bit dull, but I’ll let the market decide.)

    I still have zero intention of bringing it up to my coworkers (who are all as liberal as I am). If they happen to find it on their own, it’s the kind of work I’d have no objection to them reading, but it’s not my coworkers’ job to consume and critique my work. Same thing if I started making and selling candles, cookies or friendship bracelets. Same as when I had some performances last year, I didn’t ask them to attend.

  61. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    Pushing people to read your writing is a terrible move at the best of times, but with coworkers?

    I get asked to read writing from my friends quite a lot because I do so much creative writing and I’m always like “do you want feedback, or do you want someone to read it and say well done on writing a book”? (I can do the latter without spending my time reading it for a start.)

    If someone pushes you to read things that aren’t your thing at all, they better be willing to hear real feedback. So if she really won’t drop it, you could go the messier route and eventually say (politely and calmly) “I started reading it and I didn’t like it at all.”

    I do not recommend this but it would surely shut her up. And it would be quite hard for her to make a fuss about it, unless you said it in a very aggressive way.

  62. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    Oh, and on being queer and “sensitive”, I don’t see it that way at all. One of the many reasons this isn’t cool in the workplace is precisely because she could have queer colleagues, or colleagues from other faiths etc, which brings another dynamic into what she’s pushing on them.

    Your queerness probably gives you insights into this that maybe others don’t have, maybe even means you’re atuned to certain aspects of Not Okayness about her writing. And I would bet money on you not being the only one.

    Also, fun story: I had a colleague (a cis het white man in a senior position) who pestered another colleague (a woman who was younger and junior to him, being mentored by him, and out as a lesbian at work) to read his (clearly self-published) novel. It was cringe and clichéd at best, veering into some pretty bad tropes about queer women at worst. Tenuous threesomes, badly written lesbian attraction, laughably strange attempts at getting into the mind of a bisexual character, who ends up realising she’s straight and being with a man, because of course… I thinkthe only lesbian character ends up alone with a cat, mentally ill, then dies. (Nothing wrong with any of those things but come on, man.)

    She was super uncomfortable and shared bits with me in confidence because she wondered if she was overreacting to it. I have never been able to look at him the same way again. (I am also a queer woman.)

  63. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    People at work keep asking to read the novel I’m writing now. We work in reproductive rights and the novel is about reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights. But I absolutely refuse because it just puts everyone in a weird position, especially as there’s some sex scenes in it etc.

    Also, I assume they’re probably being a bit polite. I mention my writing in passing sometimes (“what did you do at the weekend?” “went to my writing group” etc.) I suspect some people feel a polite response is “oh I’d love to read it.” Even if they keep asking. If I presented them with a piece to read I can picture the sudden horror on their faces haha.

  64. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    With the Glassdoor reviews, the best thing you can do is make sure the claims being made are visibly, demonstrably not true.

    I love Alison’s advice on demonstrating transparency. If there are specific claims being made you could think about how you can make sure it is clear they’re false. (And do, of course, consider whether any of them are legitimate or make fair points even if they do come from this ex employee. Who knows, maybe there’s snippets of truth or things to address among the madness, although it doesn’t really sound like it.)

    But as our writers on this thread would say, show don’t tell. (Or, show as well as tell, at least.)

  65. SelfPublishingHasChanged*

    Self publishing is a lot more mainstream now than it used to be, and many very popular authors who have and could publish via traditional publishing houses have chosen to self publish some or all of their newer work. They get a lot more control over it that way (and there are other reasons as well). The very well regarded SF/F author Gail Carriger (also writes as G.L. Carriger) has made this choice and writes about it publicly in several venues – many other authors have too.

    I know dozens of full time authors who partly or entirely self publish these days. With the advent of social media you don’t need the big publisher media machine to successfully promote a book and they pay for editors, cover artists, etc themselves instead of having a big cut of their profits go to the publisher to pay for them.

    Of course, there are still many poorly written, poorly edited amateur self published books too.

  66. DeathRidesAPaleVolvo*

    #1: In the sitcom version in my head (please don’t do this in real life), go through the book with a red pen, mark it up with proofreading & copyediting marks, and then give it back.

    “Fixed it for ya.”

  67. misquoted*

    Similar to the person over-apologizing, I once worked with a department secretary who overly thanked (for everything — even just sending her expected information that she needed from us). She was a lovely person, great at her job, but we all had to sort of build in a bit of extra time with every interaction because although she’d thank us in chat or email, she’d do it again, in a long-winded way next time she saw us. It’s funny and a bit charming in retrospect, but in the moment (especially on a busy day or a “quick” phone call) it would be frustrating.

  68. Caro*

    For me, the solution to OP1’s dilemma is simple – and an option as per Alison’s suggestion: ”Oh, that’s amazing that you published your work, what an achievement! Thing is, I am a hardline atheist and thus uninterested in religious-message fiction of any sort. I find it offensively wrong, in fact! I’m unlikely to be your target audience, lol. Anyway, how was your weekend?”

    But OP1 is themselves religious, so that specific thing is unlikely to fly. ”I’m not sure many of our colleagues are very into that brand of fiction, right? Might be best to soft-pedal asking them to read it. What an achievement though! Did the process take long?”

    1. Tiger Snake*

      I don’t think it’s that simple. See, being an atheist doesn’t mean you can’t read and enjoy a novel for what it is. Thousands of people enjoyed The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe regardless of where they standard on religion. An entire generation devoured The Dark Materials without needing to convert to atheist beforehand. That it’s a religious novel doesn’t change the fact it is a novel.

      So; it’s really a non-reason even if Coworker is too practical to start romanticising the idea of “Oh but what if my book is the thing that resonates with you and starts you on a new spiritual journey”.

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