coworker tells me how to do my job, no one wants to take notes, and more

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

1. If I send someone home for being too high to work, should I stay late to finish their work?

I’m a closing manager at a restaurant. Several Sundays ago, I found myself staying an hour late to finish stocking and cleaning. When my GM asked me why, I told him that we were busy, short-handed, and one person was so high that he kept forgetting what he was doing while he was doing it. Rather than keep everyone late, I let everyone go at the usual time and finished things by myself.

My GM’s eyes lit up. “Next time, you send them home! We will write them up!” He excitedly starts opening computer documents, looking for the write-up form. He looked through six or seven filled-out write-up forms, giving me an eyeful of what past employees got in trouble for, but couldn’t find a blank one to show me. Then it got busy and he forgot about it.

Flash forward to last Sunday. Right after his break, it became obvious that the same guy was high again. Based on the conversation with my GM, I sent him home. We were already short two people, but I was pretty sure the GM would be mad if I didn’t send him home. We were slammed, and I stayed late to finish stocking and cleaning.

Today, I happened to look at the Crew App and saw that my GM had posted, “____, you must leave when everyone else leaves! You are not allowed to stay and milk the clock!”

I’m furious. I worked my butt off Sunday night. If he checked the camera footage, he could clearly see me running around in a frenzy, cleaning and stocking. Instead, he accused me of wage theft in front of the eight other managers on the app. My question is, what should I have done?
A) Not send the high guy home.
B) Make my four workers stay an extra hour to help me finish.
C) Shrugged and left without stocking or cleaning, or
D) Something else.

I should mention that morning shift pitches a fit about any little thing that closing shift forgets to do, and publicly shames us in front of every employee on the Crew App.

Your manager sounds like an asshole, so he probably wanted you to choose B. In reality, what you should do is talk to the guy who keeps getting high on his breaks and tell him you’re going to fire him if it happens again, and then follow through on that. (This may be out of sync with the labor realities in your area, but that would be the ideal solution, at least.)

In theory you should also talk to your GM and ask why he would accuse you of “milking the clock” when you were following his advice and were working frantically on your own to finish stocking and cleaning, and ask what he wants you to do if that happens again. But again, he’s an asshole so I don’t know that it’s worth the effort.

Ultimately, though, if the labor market in your area means you can’t fire the repeatedly high guy without ending up short-staffed, then you yourself will probably have no trouble leaving this job and working somewhere else for someone who’s not an asshole. Weigh all that accordingly.

2. My coworker acts like I don’t know how to do my job

I have a question about a coworker who was hired after me. She’s been here for about a year, and I’ve been here for a year and a half. We’re both central receptionists at a corporate office. When I sit with her at the main desk, she’ll always try and butt in on what I’m doing. For example, she’ll say, “Well, I do this this way by adding all these meetings in like this.” And I want to be like, “Well, I’ve been here longer, I know how to do things.” I just don’t need her advice all the time and it’s really irritating me. Also, if someone comes up to me at the desk, she’ll immediately start butting into our conversation, and it makes me trip over my words. She’ll even tell me what I shouldn’t and should say to people, which really annoys me.

I’m about to go to a manager because I don’t know what else to do. I just don’t know how much longer I can deal with her because she makes me feel like I can’t do my job when I sit with her and I don’t feel that way about anyone else on my team.

Speak up when it happens! The next time she tries to tell you how to do something, pause, turn to her, and say this: “Have I done something to make you concerned I’m not doing my job well?” She’ll presumably say no and then you can say, “I’m not sure if you realize how often you tell me how to do something I know how to do. Please assume I’m set unless I ask for help.” If that’s too much of a mouthful — or if she keeps doing it anyway — then just start saying dryly, “Yes, I know.” Also useful: “I’ve got it.” “I know how to do it, thanks.” “I don’t need any help with this.”

Then next time your coworker butts into a conversation, say this to her afterwards: “Please let me handle conversations I’m already in, rather than interrupting.” Hell, you could even say in the middle of the interrupted conversation, “I’ll take care of this, thank you.” (Just make sure you say it cheerfully so the person you’re talking to doesn’t feel like caught in the middle of something uncomfortable.)

If you do all that and it continues happening, then sure, talk to your boss. But your boss is likely to ask you if you’ve tried talking to your coworker about it yourself first and you want to be able to say yes.

3. People want thorough meeting notes, but no one wants to take them

I manage an entirely remote team in different time zones, and people need to be able to catch up on discussions from meetings that they weren’t in all the time for various reasons (conflicting meetings, PTO, conferences, etc.). Often meetings involve someone sharing their screen so we’re all looking at something and that person can’t take notes, but no one picks up the slack.

Usually one or two people do all of the note-taking (I’m often one of them) and if one of us doesn’t do it or isn’t in the meeting, it doesn’t get done. We all make it clear that we rely on the notes (example: “I can’t make meeting X but I’ll review the notes afterward”). I’ve also received negative feedback from folks on my team that certain things weren’t reflected in the notes from meetings they missed, or do not reflect details of conversations they recall being part of but are having a hard time remembering (example: “I know we decided to do X in the meeting due to Y, but the notes don’t state detail Z”) when I speak to them one-on-one, so it feels like meeting notes are essential to folks.

However, it feels like if I or one of the other one or two folks don’t take the notes, they don’t reliably get created, and I’m often the one leading the meeting/sharing my screen so I literally can’t. Do you have any suggestions for getting people who appear to value reading notes but not helping create them to start pitching in on this more?

Four things:

1. At the start of each meeting, assign someone to take notes. Rotate each time so it’s not always the same person.

2. Since not everyone is great at taking notes, especially when they’re not experienced with it, when something of significance is decided in the meeting, say to the note-taker, “Can you make sure that’s captured in the notes?” Make a particular point of this if you don’t notice them writing/typing.

3. Consider whether you have someone whose role would make it appropriate for them to be trained to take good notes and be the one taking them every time (even if they’re not normally in these meetings, as long as it would make sense for their job.) This is work admins used to do when offices had more admins.

4. It’s possible that when someone complains to you about the notes, you should suggest they take the notes next time. But in reality, note-taking doesn’t make sense for every role or every skill set and you don’t want it to be a punitive thing (“you asked for this tool to do your work better? fine, you do it!”). On the other hand, if the people who do take notes don’t have roles that it makes any more sense for (and/or if they both happen to be women, who commonly get stuck with this stuff), consider this.

You could also look into AI note-taking programs, although there may be reasons that’s not right for your context.

4. Accidentally low-cut uniforms

My department just ordered some uniforms (scrubs in this case). A coworker mentioned to me that she doesn’t like them because they’re awkwardly low cut. They’re far from NSFW, and we don’t have public-facing roles, but that made me realize she’s right that they’re a little too low cut (both in her size and mine, at least).

It’s worth asking for better designed scrubs to be ordered, but I don’t know if she has mentioned it to anyone else yet. The issue is that I’m a cis male and at the same level of the hierarchy as her, so I don’t know if I have standing to pass along something like this. What’s a good way to get this good idea to the people who can do something about it without causing anyone undue embarrassment or other negative outcomes?

“Female colleagues have told me they’re uncomfortable with the low cut of the new scrubs — and I’ve found the same with how they fit me. Can we order ones that everyone can wear comfortably?”

You have standing to say this! Even if the new uniforms didn’t cause fit problems for you personally, you’d still have standing to say that you’ve heard they’re causing issues for others.

5. How big a deal is secretly recording a workplace discussion?

Are there employment risks associated with using a secretly recorded workplace conversation? I have such a recording that would unambiguously uncover a significant lie (a senior employee denies that a problematic conversation took place, and the recording would verify that it did in fact occur). If it matters, the recording captured the audio of a Zoom meeting where everyone was remote. I am tempted to make the recording available to help out a colleague who I feel is being wronged by the lie.

I am in a one-party consent state but am mostly interested in whether an employer would consider the act of making the recording to be an issue, regardless of what it contained or corroborated.

Is this “oh, look, Zoom happened to record this so we have a useful record of it”? Or is it, “I purposely and secretly recorded this meeting and normally wouldn’t have wanted anyone to know”? The first is fine and unlikely to be an issue. The second is very likely to be an issue. Intentionally recording people in the workplace without their knowledge is a big deal and usually considered a significant security issue (possibly a firing offense and definitely a trust-destroyer), regardless of the laws on recording in your state.

{ 356 comments… read them below }

  1. Nodramalama*

    LW5 I would be VERY wary of secretly recording workplace discussions and then wanting to disclose it relying on a single party consent recording law. For one thing, unless you have a very good understanding of the entire framework, there is every chance that that single party consent is caveated when read alongside privacy laws, security laws, confidentiality obligations.

    Additionally even if it’s technical legal it may be against any number of company policies

    1. Observer*

      Agreed. Especially since everyone in the meeting was remote. If one of those remote people was in a 2-party state, you could be in trouble.

      1. JSPA*

        That’s not cut- and-dried, in that there’s no general rule that the most restrictive state law wins. I’ll drop in a link in the reply.

    2. Educator*

      This is so important. In industries that handle sensitive data, which is most of them, having *anything* work related saved on personal device, like a phone, can be illegal. I am so baffled by people who think only about recording laws and not all the other overlapping policies on which they have hopefully been trained.

      And honestly, if I found out that a member of my team was recording our conversations, even if the content was just small talk and not confidential in any way, I would feel like that assumed bad faith and was such a breach of trust that I would have a hard time working with them going forward.

      1. Nodramalama*

        I think it can be a really easy mistake to when you read an article, or official guidance, or even a specific piece of statute in isolation. But it doesn’t take into account how laws work together. I mean that’s why lawyers exist, right? Go navigate through those intricacies.

        1. Educator*

          Exactly. In my industry, education, FERPA is the first big law that should pop into any US educator’s head when they think about privacy. We all get trained on this, and the rules are super strict because there can be implications for student safety. (Other places I have worked, it’s HIPPA or GDPR that would be top of mind.) So the idea of just recording something because of a recording law, not thinking about that training…it would put us in direct violation of federal law, open us to huge liability, and, honestly, do terrible things to my blood pressure as an administrator! Recording off the official record can be really serious.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yup, agreed. Recording one set of meetings is actually encouraged as a raw record (with minutes pulling out the important parts for actual circulation). Recording another set of meetings — ironically the ones with much more need to capture the detail of the conversation as well as the outcomes and action items — goes against GDPR. Doing anything like #5 in that latter situation would definitely be a disciplinary offence and probably amount to gross misconduct, particularly if you used it outside of the department as part of side-stepping an official investigation.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        And sometimes those policies are just a line in a handbook, which you may forget x amount of time after your onboarding but which you definitely signed and agreed to.

        “What I did isn’t technically illegal” is not gonna cover most workplace issues

        1. ferrina*

          Even if it’s not in the handbook, most companies won’t look favorably on it. There’s plenty of things that arent’ written in handbooks that are still fireable.

    3. Katie*

      My company would fire someone for secretly doing this regardless of the consent laws.

      Even for trainings, you have to get permission from the security team to record activity.

    4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Does Zoom not warn people that it’s recording? We use Teams but there is always a legend informing people if the meeting is recorded.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I haven’t used Zoom recently enough to say for sure that a warning pops up (I ~think~ one does), but the exact wording of the letter is “the recording captured the audio of a Zoom meeting.” It’s possible that the recording wasn’t made through Zoom itself. A person’s phone or a different device could have been used to record the meeting audio, and that wouldn’t come with a warning from Zoom.

        1. Sneaky Squirrel*

          This was my take as well. I know of at least one person who does this for their personal note taking situation when they’re dealing with fast talkers. They listen to the meeting again afterwards to understand what was asked of them and then they (supposedly) delete it.

        2. Anonym*

          Yeah, Zoom requires you to acknowledge before participating in a meeting that’s being recorded, at least in my experience. You have to consent to be let in or to continue participating if the recording is turned on mid-meeting. It does sound like OP recorded outside of the Zoom application, which is going to seem deliberate and deceptive.

          1. cottagechick73*

            I recorded a Zoom meeting once to get the nitty gritty details/measurements right since one person participating loves to talk fast and lots of numbers were going to be swirling around. Both participants instantly knew I was recording before I mentioned it (I was always going to tell them). They were able to see it on their Zoom screens or got a notification.

          2. Reluctant Mezzo*

            We record our meetings (Oregon public meeting law) because we’re a political party, but the recording are deleted after a month. Zoom tells you right up ‘you are being recorded’.

      2. StressedButOkay*

        This sounds like OP has a recording through another means – phone or something on the computer that allowed recording. Because, yes, I believe all meeting tech has the warning if the recorder in the meeting tech itself is being used.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, Zoom and Teams both have clear warnings that require you click OK to clear them when recording or transcribing, so if the LW was actually using another method, that’s going to look very bad for them as it will come across as intentionally deceiving the other participants.

        Honestly, though, about #3, I record certain meetings I host for that very reason, and I have had to go back and review what we worked out/agreed upon in the meeting. But I use the built-in Teams feature, which warns you, and I asked the other participants before I set up the meeting to record by default.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, I’m wondering how “secret” this recording actually is. Did people definitely not know it was happening or has no one just really thought about it? I thought all these meeting softwares usually both announce when a recording is started and also have some kind of visual indicator the whole time a recording is happening!

    5. Caroline*

      Years ago, I recorded a daily meeting I was responsible for coordinating. I did it because I was responsible for both leading the discussion and sending out a summary afterward, and I found personally that I was not capable of fully focusing on the discussion while also keeping a record of what was discussed. The content tended to be quickly rattled off metrics and action items, and I was responsible to interject if a metric was off and there was no action item mentioned to fix it, or if the action seemed insufficient. I never used my recordings for anything other than writing up my summary a few minutes after the meeting ended, and then I deleted it. I don’t regret doing it but can’t imagine confessing to it at work. This happened years ago – today I would just use the meeting software to record the meeting and it would be no big deal.

    6. Not on board*

      yeah, I think it’s tricky. But if the meeting was recorded by zoom or something like that, they could feign ignorance and say “I was going through some files and realized that I accidentally recorded this meeting”.
      Making it seem like you did something by accident can go a long way to keeping you out of trouble.

      1. Double A*

        If Zoom is recording the meeting, everyone in the meeting had to click a button acknowledging that they know the meeting is being recorded.

    7. Glen*

      also keep in mind that if ANYONE involved is in a 2 party state, simply making the recording is a breach of the law and can be taken very seriously. There is no exception for “but I wasn’t going to show anyone”. (I have seen people confused on this point)

    8. Love to WFH*

      If the recording was done using the Zoom app itself, then everyone in the meeting saw an onscreen message that it was being recorded, and clicked an acknowledgement in order to stay in the meeting,

    9. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yup. Not against the law is not the same as there not being potential consequences.

  2. AJ Payler*

    Your employer will 100% consider the making of the recording the offense, regardless of its content.

    If it’s worth risking your job to save your coworker, then follow your conscience. But regardless of whatever laws apply, management will never allow you any trust again, make no mistake.

    1. mcm*

      I was also thinking, if it’s worth sticking your neck out for your coworker, I guess I would volunteer that I heard the same conversation/verify their account that this conversation took place without mentioning a recording. If you were recording the meeting, you were presumably also in the meeting, and can at least back up their account that the conversation took place.

    2. Purpleshark*

      Do you even need the recording? I mean if everyone at the meeting can vouch for what was said why do you need recorded verification? I am unclear as to why the LW can’t come forward to indicate they were there and heard. The standard procedure I would think when something like this happens is to question the other participants.

  3. Dina*

    At my last job, we had a rotating notetaker and chair for our all-staff meetings. This worked really well.

    1. MassMatt*

      Teams I have been on made this work but it can take some buy-in or enforcement from senior attendees that people can’t weasel their way out of it when it’s their turn because they think it’s beneath them.

      Someone who takes no notes themselves but is full of complaints about the notes someone else took just volunteered to be the next note taker IMO. Perhaps permanently.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        This used to be the issue in my department. Those of us hired more recently started taking minutes on a rotation, but once it got to the senior faculty, they very explicitly said, “I’ve been in meetings where I’ve taken minutes for decades. I’m not taking minutes ever again.”

        Experienced faculty who had already had their turn earlier staunchly refused to take any further minutes until the most senior faculty had their turn. One meeting had a 5 minute stand-off before a newer faculty member (me, not the newest faculty member, but also not in any position of power) just volunteered because this was the stupidest way to extend an already long meeting and I just wanted to go home. I think I took minutes three meetings in a row as a result.

        I think the older faculty were used to the secretary or another staff member of the department taking notes. I seriously doubt they had ever taken minutes, let alone for decades.

        These days, person running the meeting takes the minutes using the agenda, only filling in details about decisions voted on and made, with no details.

    2. I can read anything except the room*

      Also, if it hasn’t been offered already, see if there’s money in the budget to provide their staff with external monitors or reimbursements for their home setups. If some of them only have one screen that makes taking notes just enough more annoying to be bothersome – you’re either off-and-on not seeing the people you’re talking to, or trying to split-screen on an already small laptop screen. A fully remote staff is worth outfitting with good home workstations, and monitors don’t have to be very expensive to be very helpful!

      1. DifferentStrokes*

        Ugh. Please don’t assume the setup that works for you works for everyone else. I have two coworkers who swear by having a second monitor to the point of actively evangelizing it and I end up having to waste time, effort, and capital fending it off. It’s great you find it helpful, but that’s not universal and please don’t foist your preferences off on your coworkers or act like they’re the only possible way anyone could successfully work.

        BTW, I take excellent notes on a single screen all the time. It’s fine unless I’m the one running the meeting. I deliberately don’t have anyone visible on video – another assumption you’re making – and if there are relevant slides or other screen sharing I flip between them and my notes. It’s not hard.

        If someone asks for an external monitor that’s a different story, of course. Each person should have a work environment that works best for them (if possible).

        1. I can read anything except the room*

          I certainly didn’t intend to suggest anyone should have a mandatory second monitor! Just that it should beoffered if it hasn’t been already. Maybe companies that transitioned to remote work during the pandemic haven’t quite made the leap yet to ensuring that remote workers have the same access to a nice, ergonomic, helpful setup that they routinely provided in-office employees. But goodness, the thought of shipping someone a monitor and insisting they use it against their wishes wouldn’t have ever occurred to me as a thing to do!

      2. Perfectly Particular*

        Re: Note-taking – if the team is full remote, why is anyone taking “official” notes during the meeting rather than recording it? Recording it allows the organizer to focus on running the meeting, and then there is a reference to go
        back to as they are writing up the meeting summary.

        1. Amy*

          Because rewatching an hour long meeting is brutal when it could be summarized in a 6 bullet points.

          1. Frank Doyle*

            If the meeting could be summarized in six bullet points, I doubt this whole thing would be an issue.

          2. AngryOctopus*

            You can fast forward to the relevant place if you’re looking for a “we discussed X for Y but I don’t recall detail A” confirmation.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              Unless you weren’t at the meeting or don’t have perfect memory of the order, and still need to listen to the whole thing.

              1. Kristin*

                Teams creates automatic time-coded transcripts – they’re full of the usual hilarious mistakes, but good enough so you can go through and be like “oh yeah, that’s when we talked about XYZ”. Recording the meetings and using an auto-generated transcript to navigate to relevant info could work

              2. Quill*

                You can at least listen at 2x to a recording, and skip the “does anyone know if Waukeen is here? No? Is Waukeen going to be here? Okay we’ll go ahead without Waukeen.”

        2. Ashley*

          I will never speak as freely when I know I am being recorded. Sometimes this isn’t a big deal, but I am not going to dive into details or provide comments at the same level if I am being recorded. Things can easily get taken out of context and clipped in pieces to make someone look / sound inappropriate. It is almost like the letter writer a few weeks ago talking about cats but when someone walked in they didn’t have the cat piece of the puzzle and it sounded obscene. (And sure I could try and keep originals myself to prove my case but I would rather not add that on.)

          1. PNut Gallery*

            And nothing is stopping whoever is responsible for note taking from summarizing wrong, misquoting people, they might misinterpret the context or details, or just forget to write down an important short word like ‘not’ or ‘and’. Taking notes of things that have already been said while other people are going forward and still talking is hard, which is why there used to be people who studied shorthand and there still are stenographers. Recordings leave no space for accidents or doubt.

            1. Beth Jacobs*

              Not a huge issue in a normal, non-contentious workplaces. Whoever takes the minutes sends them out to everyone else who review, suggest changes. Minutes are then approved either per rollam or at the next meeting.

              1. djx*

                “Not a huge issue in a normal, non-contentious workplaces. ”

                And if the following is happening, the workplace has deep deep problems: “clipped in pieces to make someone look / sound inappropriate.”

            2. Smithy*

              Honestly….I have more trouble seeing how what I’ve said is written down in detailed notes vs how I speak while recorded.

              For a team meeting, I’m already going to monitor myself a little – but reading notes back from meetings that I’ve attended on occasion, I usually have far more issue with how what I’ve said has been summarized. Even when I don’t have a problem with how I’ve spoken.

              If these meetings are actually that important for people to have detailed notes – and “bad” notes actually matter. Where it’s not enough to just know that you talked about upcoming XYZ and the dates – but actually need the details – I do think that having a recording makes sense.

              If the people attending this meeting want notes because it’s far faster to read than rewatch AND have the seniority to demand it, then they can impose both that note taking always happens and provide oversight that it’s happening at a high level. But if this is more about preferences and cooperating, then recording accompanied by an annotated agenda really does seem like the simplest solution.

              This either needs to be supervised by someone with authority and desire to supervise this function because it is that important. For example, notes from Board Meetings are an assigned task, and if the person doing that task isn’t meeting a certain quality level – that will be addressed either via coaching or replacement. But if that oversight function isn’t there, this always risks falling into the “why isn’t this school group project going well” trap.

        3. JFC*

          There are also tools that create transcriptions of meetings. I think some platforms like Teams are starting to do this in real time if you opt in to the feature. I also know of Otter AI and that create similar transcripts. They are usually AI-generated so they won’t be perfect, but normally close enough to where the participants can get the main points and then follow up with their colleagues for clarification.

        4. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah I’m not watching an hour long meeting to find out what they talked about. It’s even more annoying than actually attending an hour long meeting. Maybe that’s helpful for some people, and maybe the note taker could watch the video and make notes afterward if that’s easier for them than multitasking or getting a person who just takes notes and doesn’t participate, but if I want to know what conclusions they came to and why, I’m not watching an hour of people going back and forth.

        5. Elle*

          I can’t speak for other companies but at mine they’ve told us we’re no longer allowed to record meetings.

    3. BellaStella*

      We have this now and it does not work well because the missing stair never takes notes and is never held to same standards and the boss always wants to start at top of alphabet so some people never chair either and it is a mess.

      1. Testing*

        That’s not a problem of the system of taking turns, that’s a boss problem. I’m guessing the missing stair manifests their nature in other situations as well (as does the boss).

        1. Alright Alright Alright*

          Exactly. Why blame a system for what is clearly an implementation problem? The turn-taking system is dead simple, as long as you actually follow the system.

    4. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

      We have assigned note takers and facilitators for each client meeting, which rotates depending on whatever criteria is going on that week. In theory, it’s great because the facilitator can focus on the meeting and screen sharing while the note taker just has to take notes. In practice, it’s hit and miss. Some people are just bad at taking notes. I try to meet with the note taker beforehand to tell them what info I need but often I’ll get the notes back and there will be large gaps and critical details missing. This is why I now have three monitors and do my own note taking even if I have a dedicated note taker for the meeting.

      1. AVP*

        At mine, every client has a lead and a designated second person, and the second person takes the notes on all of the calls so the lead can present or run the meeting. (It’s not all hierarchical — the same people will lead some clients and assist on others).

        This works a little better in practice than rotating, because presumably repeated exposure to the subject matter and context leads to better results.

        However, some people just absolutely suck at taking notes and it’s a job-skills issue after a point. Training and showing examples of good notes doesn’t seem to help for everyone, it’s like a brain processing / typing / attention thing.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, I’m one of them. I do not type fast, and I can either write notes or pay attention to the meeting.

          One thing I’ve found works is that the facilitator or note taker has the agenda in a document, and shares their screen. Then, as things are discussed, they get added to the notes/action items and others can see it and/or correct it. Yes, sometimes there will have to be trading off of screen sharing.

          Another thing that works is to open a shared google doc and have the agenda in it, then everyone in the meeting can add/expand the notes as things go along.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Haha this question is tough for me because one of my side-hustles is to take notes at technical meetings. That is harder than most people think. I charge a lot for it, and sometimes people (not generally my clients) are like “jeez who would pay that much for meeting notes??” – but AI transcripts often struggle when things are really important (did you know how similar “can” and “can’t” sound through a tinny zoom microphone?) and, like self-driving cars, ideally they require someone who’s not doing anything most of the time but is attentively watching to look for issues – which humans in general aren’t great at.

      1. Victor WembanLlama*

        How does that work? You’re just invited to attend a meeting and take notes although you don’t work there? On the surface I also wonder who would pay for this when you can either record or have a team member do it, But I’m not in a technical role so there must be a nuance I don’t see. Interesting!

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          I used to do it in my pre-law days. I got gigs via word of mouth … after doing it once for an organization that had infrequent but very high-stakes quarterly meetings, one of the board members asked me to do the same for another NPO where they were on the board.

          It didn’t pay a whole lot, but since it was an all-day meeting I would get lunch out of the deal as well.

        2. Sloanicota*

          I’m a freelance sub-contractor to an entity that has a contract with big firms to do meeting logistics. I got into through a friend of a friend who used to work at the firm. These are generally all-day or even multi-day meetings and they’re very technical and also confidential. I guess the firm doesn’t have junior level people they’re willing to devote to this; it’s certainly cheaper to hire me 2-3 times a year versus employ a fulltime admin (but you’d think there’d be plenty of other work the admin could do).

          1. Helewise*

            Note-taking is a different skill than some administrative work, so finding people who can do both well is hard. We have certain meetings that we’re legally required to have notes taken for, and it’s a position that’s been surprisingly difficult to hire for because it’s apparently much harder for a lot of people to do well than it seems like it should be.

            1. AMH*

              People for sure imagine taking minutes is easy, but it is absolutely a skill that needs to be honed, and some folks may never take to it. It’s different, I think, when you’re talking about legally mandated minutes vs. internal meetings, of course, but for the former the combination of needing to make sure all pertinent information is captured, that you’re being very careful to not misrepresent anyone’s comments, and that the minutes are clear and readable — it takes time and a surprising amount of brain power to do well. Depending, of course, on the subject matter and the requirements!

            2. mango chiffon*

              I do administrative work and I am horrible at notetaking. I assume it’s the undiagnosed ADHD and auditory processing issues, but I have a very hard time with listening and taking notes. ESPECIALLY when it’s on topics I don’t have a full understanding of myself. I’m not the subject matter expert for the teams I support administratively, so I won’t necessarily know what is important.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                I have ADHD and I don’t want to diminish the fact that makes everything harder – but what you’re describing is a nightmare for most people and is rarely going to result in quality notes. Some people can take verbatim notes and figure out what’s important later, but I many people trying to document a conversation they’re only half following, trying to listen, pull context – it’s a lot!

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. I am a bad note taker. I tend not to take notes myself … just generally in life.

        A notetaker not involved in the discussion is better in that they can focus on the note taking and not participating.

        When I am engaged in a meeting, I am thinking about the topic and what I am going to say next (probably a somewhat bad listener because of this) and listening and I forget to take notes.

    6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      This is what we do at my current company too. We have a twice-weekly all hands (over Teams since we’re almost all remote), and there’s a schedule in our shared drive of who’s leading the meeting and updating the notes and action items each week. If it’s your week, you do both meetings. The notes live on the shared drive with the schedule.

      Some people are better note takers than others, but since there’s a written record of whose week it was, if someone has an issue with the quality of the notes then they know who to go to about it. We alleviate a lot of note quality issues by using a standard template. This also helps us keep to a broad agenda, so we don’t get fatally sidetracked. It’s a good method.

    7. I DK*

      Yep! One of the first things when joining my current team was to sign up for two sessions as Note-Taker and two sessions as Facilitator. It works well.

  4. nnn*

    Another notetaking option to consider is a single communal note document that everyone can edit at the same time. I’ve seen this done with a google doc, I’ve also seen it done with a document attached to a Teams chat. (I’ve also seen the document attached to a Teams chat approach be too laggy when the employer’s network was too slow)

    Whether this will work for your team depends on personalities. It tends to work in situations where everyone agrees on the importance of notes but no one is good enough to do it themselves singlehandedly, and everyone has bought into the idea of doing their part. Everyone writes down what they can manage, maybe leaves questions for others to answer, and the result is extensive notes with only a small amount of labour from everyone, with the group collectively catching what others have missed.

    However, it doesn’t work in situations where a critical mass of people just won’t do any of the work at all. OP knows better than we do which category their team falls into.

    1. NforKnowledge*

      I think this approach is very tricky even with everyone’s buy-in because you all also need to be ok with the document being a sprawling mess with duplications during the meeting, and then assign someone to clean it up afterwards. Or really be able to coordinate super well on the fly because it’s hard enough to listen and participate while taking notes, but if you also have to keep the document neat and free from duplication whoever is doing that at the moment will probably miss what’s being said.

      1. allathian*

        Depends on how it’s done. We have an agenda in OneNote that turns into meeting notes when people add stuff during the meeting. We also have action notes that only contain decisions and what was discussed, not details of the actual discussions. Mostly it’s our manager who also chairs the meeting who takes notes at the same time. Others can add comments during or after the meeting as needed. Most of our notes are bullet lists.

        We used to have a rotating schedule and I hated that because I hate taking notes for anyone else to use, and my notes were always far too wordy and I spent a lot of time editing them that I could’ve used more productively elsewhere. I vastly prefer the current system. Given that our manager takes the notes, at least it’s guaranteed that they contain the info she considers relevant.

    2. Patsy Stone*

      I think a crucial part of what my organization does well, along with the shared docs, is every meeting having a clear agenda. That’s our reference point so all key details, important links, POC, and action items needed are already in place before the meeting. That framework means the burden to capture notes is significantly less.

      If folk are still mad because meetings often spin off into multiple directions and they miss the nuances of those conversations then they should simply rewatch the recording of the meeting – virtually every platform has this as an option.

    3. Sloanicota*

      One thing I like to do is create a notes document in advance, based on the agenda, where some key items are pre-flagged (“Make decision on X Project – decision was …”) as well as a general “discussion” section for each category. One reason people struggle to take good notes is because much of the conversation may not be important and you have to have the discernment to understand what we’re supposed to be discussing, what we’re actually discussing, and if that’s important.

      1. londonedit*

        That’s what our meeting notes/minutes are like. They’re basically the agenda, but with decisions/outcomes/notes listed under each item. The main meetings I attend are acquisition meetings, where everyone discusses new book proposals, and the cover meeting, where Design presents a series of cover designs for upcoming books and everyone debates the merits of each and tries to nail down a final design for the book. So the notes after the meeting end up something like this:

        – Keep That Llama Still! How to achieve the best llama grooming outcomes
        Author prefers options 1, 2 and 6 from the initial designs. Sales raised a concern about whether the title in option 2 reads out well enough; if this is the preferred option then they would like to try a tweak to bump up the title. Marketing would prefer option 1 or 2; they do not like the blue background colour of 6.
        – Design to move forward with options 1 and 2, bumping up the title on 2 if possible. Editorial to present revised cover designs to author for feedback.

        1. I can read anything except the room*

          This is what always works best for the meetings I’m in that need note-taking. Often the agenda will be a Google doc shared on one person’s screen and the designated note taker will add questions that need follow-up up and decisions that get made, which I’ve always suspected helps keep everyone more engaged in a remote setting. It’s so easy for someone to get an “urgent” Slack message from someone who isn’t in the meeting, think they can just give a quick reply, but end up getting distracted for 2 or 3 minutes and it’s less obvious to others that someone isn’t paying attention when none of us can see what’s on the screen everyone else is looking at – whether it’s the meeting we’re all in or they’ve toggled to another window.

          With the key points being added to the agenda on screen in real-time, it’s a lot more seamless for people who do that to bring themselves back up to speed and jump right back into the discussion. It could be a coincidence, but I’ve noticed that participation is more even when the meeting is either fairly small and everyone has a significant action role in the work being discussed, or it’s a large meeting but the agenda is sent in advance and edited with notes on-screen in real time.

          Large meetings without an on-screen agenda are the ones where I most notice that as the meeting wears on, you’re increasingly likely to lose the attention of people whose involvement is more narrowly limited to specific aspects of the work, who get distracted while others are discussing the parts that don’t directly impact their own work. They either have a rough re-entry when they try to bring their attention back to the meeting and end up asking people to repeat things, or they don’t realize when they miss something entirely that actually was relevant to them, because it came out in an unexpected tangent off a discussion item that they thought was irrelevant enough to their own piece of the work that they could safely check out to answer a message “real quick.” With the agenda/notes on shared screen that just doesn’t seem to happen as often, even in very large meetings where not everything is relevant to everyone.

    4. Ashley*

      One thing I have done for in person meeting is take the notes on the screen while we are meeting in person. This gives the advantage of comments in real time. Everyone would need a second monitor for this to be effective, but you can catch the notes in real time to make sure the group is aware of exactly what is captured and can weigh in then.
      One big reason I started doing this was because someone wasn’t completing assigned tasks so it was a forced acknowledgement and it helped let everyone know what their assigned follow up items were when they came to meetings without paper. (There were definite management issues but this helped us get work done while most of the issues were dealt with … although technically waiting till someone retires in a year I guess is an action plan.)

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        This is how my job usually does it — we have a Confluence doc that everyone can edit, and typically the person running the meeting (or sometimes someone they designate) is taking live notes as we discuss, so everyone can see that the notes reflect the discussion and capture important points.

        I don’t think it would work for LW, though, since the sort of meeting where someone is screensharing data or what they’re doing doesn’t lend itself to also screensharing notes at the same time. (We have both kinds of meetings, but usually don’t need notes on the ones where we’re watching someone do something.)

    5. Festively Dressed Earl*

      The communal google doc worked well for study groups of 4-6 people in law school. Because we were all accustomed to taking notes for ourselves, all the major points were covered, and group members would add questions we had that we didn’t have a chance to ask in class. Usually at least one person in the group would be an SME in the making and answer the questions; if they didn’t know, we’d tackle the professor or hash it out when the study group met.
      This would be trickier in meetings with people talking over each other, but I believe it actually helped us get the hang of communicating with a group, of listening to understand, and of processing the information that was flying at us.

  5. Mark*

    #2 Just record the meetings, essy to do on teams and people can check the recordings themselves for actions. But they probably won’t so have a rotating note taker who focuses on actions. Mark to do task a by the end of week, etc. As the manager, you have standing to decide who takes notes, so start at the person top left in your screen and rotate clockwise until everyone has taken a turn, or else list all the attendees on the first shared slide and go with the next person present.

    1. Nodramalama*

      There are a LOT of industries, organisations and meetings that people do not want to be recorded

      1. properlike*

        And a LOT more who don’t want to have to listen to an entire recording for action items. An egregious waste of time and executive function. Just assign the meeting notes!

        1. TechWorker*

          Right but the recording is a backup. Standard practice in my company is to record technical meetings & someone takes notes & sends out minutes & AIs after. The notes are not intended to be a blow by blow account of everything that happens.
          If a circumstance comes up where someone actually needs that, the recording is there (auto-deleted after a year I think) to fall back on.

        2. Also-ADHD*

          You don’t need detailed notes or even during meeting notes for action items though. So the recording would serve LW’s purpose and provide that level of detail if people wonder. I don’t need notes to type up 3 actions from a meeting, even less so if there’s an agenda. It sounds like people want details after.

        3. Sloanicota*

          I agree though, if people are complaining that OP’s best-effort notes are not detailed enough, it sounds like having a recording (if possible) would be valuable.

        4. Flor*

          That’s why Mark’s original suggestion was to record the entire meeting, and also have a note-taker who records action items for that reason. It’s a lot easier for the average person to get all the salient information down when the salient information is just action items than when it’s the details of how the team reached X conclusion.

        5. Reba*

          Waste of time and server space!
          We went through a series of meetings that we recorded and saved for the sake a transparency with a partner…. I’m responsible for the project files and those recordings have been accessed all of twice.

    2. Educator*

      Seconding this. The team OP describes wants a very high level of detail, and the meetings include visual aids. Recording makes sense. Most virtual meeting platforms offer recording with transcription so that you can jump to the parts that are relevant to your role, as well as the ability to watch the meeting on 1.5 or 2x speed. I don’t record meetings where people just need the takeaways–those only take a few minutes to write up together at the end, and that is a nice exercise anyway. But it sounds like this team really wants a level of detail that is not realistic for people who don’t have proper note taking training to capture. Store the video files carefully, of course, but this seems like the clear solution. Lean into the technology!

    3. Joe*

      The problem with just relying on recording meetings is that if I want to review the action items I have to watch a whole hour long recording. (Obviously I can skip through sections that are clearly irrelevant, but it’s still a pretty significant investment of time).

      If someone had taken notes then I only need a 2 minute scan of a word document to get the same information.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        You also miss backtrack or out of sequence items.

        So if say 15 minutes in, Agenda item #2 is discussed – finalizing agenda for an offsite, including attendees, program, presenters, location and outline logistics, and discussion of that results in a Action Item of “John Grey to arrange travel for non-local attendees Fergus, Jaime and Claire from their satellite locations”

        But then 30 minutes later on Agenda #5 about a corporate meeting later in the week, and it’s decided that Marseli will come to HQ for that because she’s a SME on content of that meeting, and the team decides it would be good to have Marseli at the offsite too, so Lord John needs to arrange her travel too, he’d either have to rewatch pretty much the whole meeting, or could watch just the part where travel details are ‘supposed’ to be, and miss the oh, BTW, add to that action item.

        I have a system implementation vendor that pretty much refused to give any written instructions for certain functions of the system, insisting that videos of training sessions plus the in-app help was plenty. Having to fire up and sit through/FF/REW/Play that a 90 minute “using the report builders, creating custom extracts and reports” video training session one more time to find a *different* fiddly little detail I need to do what I’m trying to do that particular day annoys me anew every single time. Because I know if I had a simple 4-5 page summary with some key details it would take less than 3 minutes to get what I need vs hunting through an un-annotated video.

    4. Beany*

      Don’t Zoom and Teams both have built-in audio transcription that can be toggled on at the start of a meeting?

      The quality is obviously variable, but it’s a good starting point for a detailed set of notes, and is probably a good enough end point for end-users to get detail on part of a discussion, once they’ve located the general area from the human-taken notes.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        I’m seriously wondering why they don’t do auto-transcription… it’s such an obvious solution.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It’s hit or miss. If you’re in a meeting with multiple speakers, a lot of jargon, people who aren’t good at taking turns talking, bad audio quality…auto-transcription can be dicey.

          Also – rightly or wrongly – a lot of places have AI policies that prohibit auto transcription.

      2. M*

        Zoom and Teams do, and Tactiq works well as a plugin scraping the captions from a Google Meet call, even if you have the additional AI features turned off. It won’t be word-perfect, but it’s generally enough for someone to be tasked with turning it into notes after the fact, if everyone hates doing it in the moment.

    5. Jamjari*

      Yeah, if this is a remote meeting, it’s via something like Zoom or Teams. Record it for those who want all the details and assign someone to take down bullet points for the actions.

    6. Typity*

      I think we can all assume LW is aware recording devices exist. And the organization doesn’t use them, so the issue is note-taking.

    7. Yorick*

      People are mentioning that you’d have to watch a whole recording to get action items. Maybe you can start a practice of summarizing all action items at the end of the meeting, so someone who just wants those can skip to the end.

    8. Fernie*

      If anyone from Microsoft is listening – a feature suggestion for Teams is to add an AI assistant that listens for the words “Action item”, pulls a list of them from the recording/transcription and auto-emails it to all the participants.

      No human person will ever want to take the notes, so recording and automation are the only hope for a permanent solution.

  6. Awkwardness*

    #3: I came to suggest rotating the role and 5 min at the end of the meeting to review the notes as a group. The person who took the notes will share their screen and everybody can quickly scan over the notes if everything was included.

    1. Lionheart26*

      This is a great suggestion.
      I find I take excellent notes if I’m not actively involved in the meeting, but if I get caught up in the discussion I will forget all about notetaking immediately.
      When I’m assigned as notetaker, I usually ask a buddy to be my backup (and others ask the same of me). The 2 of us share a doc, and if she sees me not taking notes or being otherwise distracted, she jumps in. At the end of the meeting we look through it together for 5 minutes to make sure we got it all.

    2. Zircon*

      And have a template. If every meeting is written down in the same format, as people get used to being the note taker, they will be able to do it more and more succinctly.

    3. Quinalla*

      This! Rotating note taker is a good idea (but yeah some people are bad at taking notes so sometimes there needs to be training or adjustments made), but I agree that going over all the actions/main points from the meeting at the end is crucial. Then everyone has a chance to say “Oh, you missed X and add this detail to Y.” We do this in most of our meetings and it works great. A lot better IMO than sending out meeting notes and expecting people to read and comment after the meeting is over. Folks have gotten busy with other things, forgotten, etc. by then.

  7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (sending someone home who was high) – generally I respond to communications in the same channel where they were made – email in response to an email, etc. GMs method of communicating about this is in the crew app, so I would continue with that and explain the situation “in front of” the other managers (in the app) and ask what you ought to do instead next time. My guess is there’s an owner (who isn’t the GM), or “corporate”, who are putting pressure on GMs to keep wage costs down. I worry that his actual intent wasn’t any of your options 1-4 but additional option 5: clock out and then finish up. This is illegal in many places.

    1. Catherine*

      Used to work in a chronically understaffed restaurant and your secret option 5 was the one we were explicitly ordered to take. My money’s on that one.

      1. Just Another Cog*

        I am almost certain free labor was what the GM was aiming for. I used to work for a bank manager who tried to do this with her employees as her bonus amount hinged on how much labor cost. We were even scheduled to be at our teller windows ready to go at exactly 9 AM – nevermind we had to spend about 20 mins putting our windows together beforehand. She wanted us to do that on our own time, without actually saying it.

      2. ferrina*

        Yep, also betting on this. I also worked in an industry that regularly expected staff to clock out then finish up (the managers couldn’t explicitly ask, but they could make your life miserable unless you did this)

      3. Beka Cooper*

        I worked at a daycare where this was what closers were supposed to do. I got a random check a couple years later after an employee was let go, the daycare falsified records to fight against her unemployment claim, and she won. I provided her a letter helping to prove the records were falsified (I didn’t work there anymore so it was no risk to me). One of the reports made claimed I was in the classroom when a certain incident happened, and I was at a completely different daycare location that day and clearly remembered returning to my usual location to clock out and learning of the incident. I guess during that whole thing, they also uncovered all the unpaid overtime and it was paid out to us.

    2. Rivikah*

      I often find it easier to take notes when that’s my only time in the meeting. it’s much more difficult to take notes while participating in the discussion in other ways.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I was also thinking, hmm if I had to choose between morning shift being irked at me, and my *boss* being irked at me, then I get morning shift isn’t going to get everything perfectly set up the way they want.

      1. Perfectly Particular*

        Sounds good in theory, but the GM usually works first shift, so they’re going to be irked either way.

      2. Who the f closed last night*

        As someone who worked retail for 20 years I assure you boss would have been mad about a bad close as well.
        The expectations in service industries are asinine.
        No OT but things better be immaculate.

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Preach. When I worked at a department store, different managers opened and closed, and if day shift inherited fitting rooms full of clothes or disaster displays, the opening manager would spend half their shift gathering eyewitnesses and preparing a rant for the evening manager.

      3. Ivkra*

        Re: #1, I’m sad but unsurprised that this catch-22 hasn’t changed in the 10ish years since I last worked at a fast-casual restaurant. I agree with everyone else that the desired option is probably that you send the high worker home on time, clock out, and then finish closing off the clock yourself. (I suspect “the morning shift is mad” is not actually exclusive to “the boss is mad,” btw – the GM is probably as likely as anyone else to have an opening shift.)

        There may be one other option, though, which is that the GM is looking for someone else to be the “bad guy” and do the write up. In my case, the slow worker (definitely not the only high worker, just the one who took over an hour to do one step of closing) was someone the general manager liked, and I was not – so she avoided having to write him up by making sure he was always on someone else’s shift. The shift managers she did like always got the competent workers, and me and the other unpopular shift manager got the slower, less trustworthy, more problematic people. But you could be direct about it – request that your GM avoid putting the problem guy on your shift, and see if there’s a solution one of the other shift managers has. (Or if he does get assigned to other shifts, ask the other shift managers how they handle it.)

        1. Ivkra*

          Just to clarify, by “desired option,” I mean your manager desires that, not that you should do it. I’m less of the opinion that closing alone is super dangerous (unless, ofc, there’s someone you work with who is creepy/dangerous and knows your schedule), and more of the opinion that You Ought To Get Paid Legally (and if shift managers all do this, then the GM gets to say, from my memory, something like “Well, no one else has a problem clocking out on time with a short crew…” Which is obnoxious). But because it IS the law, getting them to admit that that’s what they want you to do in writing (or even out loud, if there’s a witness) is helpful.

    4. doreen*

      The only reason I don’t 100% think it’s free labor (assuming this is in the US , and I’m sure it is) is because it’s easier to get “free labor” out of the closing manager by treating them as overtime exempt. It doesn’t make sense that the restaurant would pay for extra hours when (“milking the clock”) and simultaneously expect the OP to punch out and continue working when it would be so much easier for the policy to just be ” this is your pay, doesn’t matter if you work 40 hours or 60″. The GM is an asshole because of how he communicates – but it might be just that the GM doesn’t want the OP to stay behind alone. That was sort of standard when I worked in fast-food restaurants – everyone left together and whoever was done with their tasks first helped pitched in to help another area.

      1. Jay*

        Most likely it’s a case of: 1) they are paid well below the overtime threshold, 2) the owner doesn’t know this is going on and the GM wants to keep it that way, or, most likely, both.

    5. Honoria Lucasta*

      Having been a closing shift manager myself, I would suggest that if this happens again you just send a quick closing report in the crew app. either “hey, sorry we took so long to close up, Seamus was high again and wouldn’t focus so I had to redo all his work” or “Seamus was too high to close so I sent him home and stayed late to cover.”

      Two other notes, though: one, as a manager, your labor cost is higher than the other employees on the shift (especially servers). It would make good business sense to keep the whole closing crew late until the job is done, rather than sending everyone else home and finishing by yourself. Of course you send Seamus home, but keep somebody else on.

      Two, where/how is Seamus getting high mid-shift? If he’s lighting up outside the emergency exit when everybody else takes a smoke break, maybe swing by the break and say “Whoa, you can’t get high at work! Save that for later” in front of the other employees. If he’s sneaking off, tell the GM about that. If he’s doing on his regular break, catch him before he leaves to warn him.

      A final thought: do you have the ear of whoever does the scheduling (if it’s not the GM) to let them know that Seamus shouldn’t be scheduled to close because he gets too high to work?

        1. Person from the Resume*

          If someone is so high they cannot work and need to be sent home more than once, it’s time to fire them.

          If they’re “just high” but can work or if the guy learned his lesson and didn’t do it again then keep him on.

          1. Not that other person you didn't like*

            So GM aside, I think the conversation to have with the crew member isn’t “don’t get high or your fired” but “dude, if you’re so baked you can’t do your job, that’s not cool… the rest of the team ends up taking your load and my ass is on the line for it. Like you do you, but you still need to do your job as part of the team.”

            This comes from my experience with this particular industry in which “dude, you got I little somethin’ something’ under your nose” is more in line with workplace norms than “illegal narcotics in the workplace! On no!”

      1. Tio*

        1. That’s not that big of a deal in food service and 2. It’s hard to find food service labor right now because of the terrible conditions and pay, so the options might be “a guy who gets high while doing work” and “No one” and they’ve decided that he’s slightly better than no one, even with the getting high.

      2. some dude*

        I live in a tight labor market and at least one employee at most restaurants or retail places smells like weed. The employees at the sandwich shop by my old office in a fancy, high-rent office building in downtown San Francisco used to smoke blunts outside of my office on their breaks

    6. Ultimate Facepalm*

      Yes; I have had good success with ‘What should I have done differently?” because it puts the solution on them and takes the heat off of you. Especially when they are bloviating about how you didn’t do X right, then Y wasn’t right, then Z, etc. You tell me then.

  8. DobbysSock*

    LW5 – Not disagreeing that an employer would take massive issue with an employee recording a meeting secretly, but I wanted to share that this technique has saved my tail a few times. Most recently, I was on a committee call about a proposal where there was disagreement. I got the gut feeling that things would go south, so I started an audio recording on my phone (we were meeting on Zoom). It turned out I was right, because me and another colleague got an email a few days later accusing us of bullying, harrassment, and a slew of other things. I ended up going straight to HR after I talked about it with my boss (she said she didn’t want the recording at first). I explained my side to HR and was upfront that I had a recording of the meeting. Other than my boss asking if the recording was legal (I pointed out that only mattered in a court of law, and yes, because we were in a one-party consent state), no one batted an eye. In fact, the emailer got reprimanded for recounting the story in such an exaggerated way. I don’t go around recording conversations willy-nilly, but I did want to share that sometimes we get the gut feeling that we need proof about the way something went down, and a recording is incredibly useful.

    1. Scott*

      It does male more sense in the situation of a one off like this where you have bad vibes. I swear reddit thinks you should record every second of every day though just in case. I know from a coworker sense I would have zero camaraderie with someone who was regularly recording, they would only get simple answers about work related questions and nothing else ever.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Unless you have a law degree, I would not jump to “that would only matter in a court of law.” Your general counsel could very much have a different opinion of the legality of this recording (or whether it created some kind of noncompliance with a contract or policy).

      If it did violate the law, it could very much come in to play if this HR action gets escalated. Were all parties on the call in one-party consent states? There were other people on the call besides the problem person – what if one or more of those people objects to being recorded without their consent and files a complaint about it with your manager or HR?

      Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad this didn’t blow up on you. I have dealt with many a “storyteller” at work in my day. But it was a HUGE risk and there is still potential for significant fallout. I would always aim for contemporaneous notes over the temptation to engage in ad-hoc recording of nonconsenting parties. If your company hasn’t already, they should be issuing very clear policies about when recording is or is not acceptable.

      1. Tippy*

        I would imagine if the unlawfully recorded individual found out about it they could have charges filed (at least that would be the case here in FL since it’s a felony).

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        All of this. Don’t give legal advice to your boss based on your google search.

      3. Zelda*

        I’m getting the sense that a few folks may have the impression that “the recording isn’t legal” means something like “doesn’t have legal standing; is not usable as evidence in a court case.” When in fact, some recordings are *illegal*, as in, the act of making the recording is itself *an offense* that can carry criminal penalties. (Although, if law enforcement is not involved in any way in the making of the illegal recording, it might still be admissible as evidence; that’s a whole other tangle where I know just enough to back away slowly.)

      4. Nodramalama*

        Yeah as as a working lawyer I can tell you the conversation would not end with an employee telling me “thats a matter for the court”.

        Plus not even having a law degree is really enough. Plenty of my clients have law degrees but don’t know the ins and outs of how the law works in practice to their industry. People will law degrees will often be more dangerous because they think they know the answer and don’t bother getting actual advice.

    3. M2*

      You need to tell people when you are recording them. It is such a breach of trust especially in a work environment. Honestly, this would be a reason for an organization to return to the office!

      Also, if I ever heard a candidate for a job recorded a conversation without notifying people on the conversation I would not hire them. No matter how good of a candidate they were. It’s a judgment issue.

      All you had to say was this meeting is getting a little much so I am going to start recording or I am going to start recording so we can have correct information about this meeting. Or if it was getting dicey speak up and say this seems to be upsetting people why don’t we sign off and come back on at x time and regroup?

      You did it secretly so people didn’t know they would be recorded. I would never trust you again even if you were right about what happened. I don’t have social media at all or my voice anywhere. If you look at anything about what is happening with peoples identities being stolen, a lot now has to do with peoples voices being recorded. That’s why you should never say anything on a # you don’t know even hello.

      Whenever we have a call like this we inform the audience it will be recorded and it’s in red. We also let people know if it will be online so people can decide. I will say on the call this call is not recorded so not record the call. But not always because I trust my teams!

      Also, people do background references. So sometimes people will call and speak to your old office or know your former manager and say hey what did you think about Jane? If anything came up about recording without authorization or anything like that I would NEVER hire that person. Ever. I work in an area with sensitive information, so maybe some people would not care, but unless it’s a whistleblower Boeing type situation I won’t hire you.

      Also, this gives your employer all the more reason to return to the office. Then they can tell people not to bring their phones or have an idea if people are recording. Then people complain when they loose the Wfh option!

      Any smart HR department should also bring in general council or a lawyer if a call is recorded in secret for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t matter if you are in a one consent state. As other people noted people on that call could have been in a two party state and companies have policies so you could have gone against a policy.

      1. Jeez-it*

        People record things because the organization or the management is horrible. Obviously people get burned by things and they feel like a (last) resort is to record so they don’t feel gaslit. How do I know? My old horrible boss did this all the time. I am not one to automatically record, but goodness, I had to with her. While it may be a “breach of trust”, well, who breached it? Why do people feel the need to record? Why do people need proof of things going on in the work place?

        1. Prof*

          This. I started looking into secretly recording because of a hostile work environment that I couldn’t prove without witnesses or a recording. Fortunately, I left before it became an issue.

    4. Festively Dressed Earl*

      I’m really glad that did work out for you, Sock! And your point about not recording conversations willy-nilly is important. In general, secret recording is risky in a workplace regardless of legality. (“Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s okay”, etc.) In a normally functioning workplace, getting the receipts might sow distrust and cause more problems than it solves. In a toxic workplace, having proof can actually backfire because the miscreant(s) in question can now make covert recording the central issue instead of focusing on the root problem.

  9. Workaholic*

    LW 2: I’m pretty certain I’ve said “I know how to do my job, thank you!” to people in the moment before. but… I’ve also gotten in trouble for snark before, and I can hear it reading my post.

    LW 3: Is it possible to record the meetings?

    1. Boof*

      Honestly a recorded meeting is much clunkier to review and reference compared to notes

      1. I can read anything except the room*

        Yeah, there’s no video equivalent to “but Ctrl+F, search for key term of interest, and absorb multiple sentences surrounding the keyword in a glance that takes less time than it took just ONE of those sentences to be spoken out loud.”

        I hate when I’m looking for instructions and all I can find are videos because even edited instructional videos take so much longer to absorb than written instructions. A long, meandering discussion with the normal conversational sidebars and jokes and pauses peppered throughout? It will assuredly waste far more collective time and energy if everyone who needs to refer back to what happens has to scan through unedited video, than it takes to just take even halfway decent notes.

        1. pally*

          This is certainly becoming the bane of my existence. Can’t I just have an owner’s manual with a page of instructions I can simply read and follow? No videos, video series, YouTube shorts, chats, calls to customer service, etc.

          I cannot imagine using a video (or just audio) of a meeting as the recorded minutes. Unless someone is using this to create written minutes. So much faster to absorb the key points with written down minutes.

      2. Festively Dressed Earl*

        A happy medium would be to have the notetaker add the approximate time when a specific agenda item is discussed or when an action item is created. For example, #4 alternative llama shampoos – Fergus suggested product x, Wakeem’s team to test and report back. @22.37″. If the notes are insufficient, coworkers could fast forward to the section they need to hear instead of going through the whole thing.

    2. Petty Betty*

      For LW 2, I KNOW I’ve said “I know how to do my job, thank you” and I have been written up for being “snarky”, “rude”, and “condescending” to my co-irker.
      My manager did absolutely nothing to stop her from trying to micromanage me, even though I was the senior, both in role and in time at the employer. But, that manager was also a known issue. I finally got fed up and left the company, and stopped being nice during my notice period. I wasn’t worried about any write-ups, they needed me to train all of my replacements.

  10. properlike*

    Isn’t it a liability to have someone working high in a restaurant? All you need is one injury — of themselves or someone else due to their negligence — and it’s a workman’s comp claim or a lawsuit.

    1. Annie*

      It is.

      However, it’s tolerated (or even encouraged!) in many places as a rite of passage or a cost of keeping the wheels turning on the leanest of margins. Furthermore, to many business managers, a cost, even as a likely consequence, doesn’t exist until they receive the bill.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Yep – and in food service (especially lower-end places like fast food), it’s EXTREMELY common. When you have a ton of employee turnover, you pay peanuts, and you’re happy to just get warm bodies who show up on time, you tend to look the other way if they’re still capable of doing 75% of their job while high/drunk/making out with each other in the walk-in freezer. There’s one fast food place near me that always has a solid 2/3 of the employees clearly stoned so you have to plan time to sometimes get your order fixed – but the food is good and they’re just as likely to give you double onion rings as they are to mix up your onion rings for fries :-P

    2. Pescadero*

      “Isn’t it a liability to have someone working high in a restaurant? ”

      Yes… but reality is, a very high percentage of them are.

    3. Zona the Great*

      Honestly–I worked in food service for several years in the back of the house. I’ve never not been stoned while working in the kitchen. Most back-of-house staff I worked with either smoked or drank while on the job. Food becomes so offensively gross that you have to medicate to even look at the stuff. It is a very dysfunctional workplace.

  11. Awkwardness*

    #1: I think I would have responded in the app with saying sorry and that I obviously had misunderstood previous communication how to handle the colleague in question. If he could clarify what should have been done instead?
    Key is to really sound confused instead of accusatory, as this will backfire otherwise.

    1. MassMatt*

      I think Alison is right the boss is a jerk but it probably goes much deeper than either she or the LW suggests.

      What the boss wants is for the LW to stay late to do everything that needs to be done to clean and shut the place down and not put it on their time card, AKA work for free.

      Sadly all too common in both restaurants and retail.

      1. Testing*

        Indeed, but sounding confused forces the boss to either say so explicitly or shut up (or pick an acceptable option, which they probably won’t).

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Boss will probably just respond with — I don’t know why you are confused, I gave you options, figure it out.

      2. London Lass*

        I agree this is what the boss is likely looking for, but nonetheless it can be a useful tactic to play dumb and act as if OF COURSE they intend to keep things above board. Particularly if you can do it in writing.

      3. Jay*

        That is EXACTLY what the boss is looking for.
        Zero doubt.
        Weather it’s a case of he’s doing it just because he can (common everywhere in the US, sadly) or, my personal favorite(/S)
        “You sent him home, now it’s your fault we’re short handed, so it’s your moral responsibility to make things right”. That’s one I used to hear a LOT when I lived down South, working crap jobs and hanging around with other people who worked equally crap jobs.

  12. Storm in a teacup*

    LW3 we have the same issue and our team meeting is routinely recorded. People are aware nd it makes it a lot easier to catch up. Additionally for more sensitive items, we can cover the first before starting the recording but in my industry this is a rarity. Also if I’ve missed a meeting being able to get the context and discussion is super useful

    1. Comment*

      ^ This. Take down notes and action items, but also record the meeting so if the notes are lacking in some way the person reading them can also review the video.

    2. GreenDoor*

      Came to say the same, the more popular meeting platforms have a recording option. I would just record the meetings and post them to a shared drive accessible by anyone who needs them.

  13. Observer*

    #5 – Recorded meeting

    In most functional workplaces *secret* recording of meetings can be a firing offense.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Key word: functional!

      One of the many reasons I left my last job: My skip-level boss encouraged direct reports 4 levels below her to secretly record their 1:1s with their manager. We are a two party state. I knew I couldn’t trust her as a boss, and I couldn’t trust the others since they were given the big level OK to secretly record! I mentioned it to HR in my exit interview and HOPE she was told this is not okay behavior but who knows. I would not describe the workplace as well-functioning…

  14. Observer*

    #3 – Meeting notes

    Is there any reason you are not recording calls. It’s a standard functionality on most of the meeting software – and they all do let you know it’s happening.

    Also, transcription of meetings are common for a lot of meeting software. Not notes, although that’s also available (often for an added cost), but just a transcription. Would that be enough to get people what they need?

    1. Pam Adams*

      Zoom allows closed caption transcripts as well as recording, and notifies all parties.

    2. amoeba*

      That’s *really* not the same as good notes though – I’d assume the notes would be half a page or maybe one page, and reading through a whole transcript? That must be pages upon pages full of irrelevant stuff, I’d go bananapants trying to extract information from that!

      1. kiki*

        Good notes are better, but good notes are also harder to have for every single meeting. Transcription offers a good happy medium for anyone who missed the meeting and just wants to catch up. Reading is much faster than listening/watching the whole recorded meeting.

        It’s worth

  15. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

    It’s fun that this comment section so far is half “#3, why don’t you record the meetings” and half “#5, how dare you record a meeting!” I hope the situation works out for both LWs!

    1. Nodramalama*

      Well I don’t think anyone is advocating that LW3 secretly record their meetings. It would defeat the whole reason to start recording in the first place haha

    2. TechWorker*

      It’s the secrecy that’s potential problem.

      Plus probably responses vary depending on what’s normal where you work or in your industry. We would never record anything personnel related but recording technical discussions or training sessions is totally standard.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Same here. Some meetings have an impact on delivery to client promises, therefore they get recorded (although we make minutes available as well). Some meetings are highly sensitive and need to be kept strictly within the room, and any kind of recording compromises that. (Even when there are other issues at play, people have a right to their dignity and privacy in certain situations even if they’re being a dick to others.)

      2. Observer*

        It’s the secrecy that’s potential problem.

        This. 100%

        Where detailed notes are a common practice it should not be a big deal to record a meeting – and as noted if you are using the built in capacity of any of the major players, everyone is informed that the recording is happening. And it makes a lot of sense to do it for the most part, even when you do get good notes.

        But doing it secretly, which is what #5 seems to be advocating? Yeah, *major* problem.

    3. Educator*

      It’s both the secrecy and the security. If I record a meeting on my work laptop within the meeting platform, everyone knows they are being recorded, the recording can be stored securely within our systems, and everything is officially part of the company record (just like notes would be). That’s a totally different thing than recording a meeting on an unsecured device without the full knowledge of all parties. I actually think recording some types of meetings as a standard practice is not only handy for absent employees, it is also a good reminder for everyone that they are on the clock representing their business function–which they are, recording or no–and problematic conversations should not be happening in the first place.

      1. Zelda*

        There can still be a chilling effect even if nothing anyone was going to say is “problematic” in the sense of being harassing or *ist. I’m going to be on edge about any social chit-chat if it’s not going to disappear. And even more importantly, working out solutions can be hampered if people can’t just float things out there to see how they fly– what if I’m on record sounding dumb? Some things are better forgotten.

        1. Educator*

          Eh, who would go back and watch random internal meetings if the content did not pertain to their job? It’s not like senior leadership has time to dig around in our files, watch how my team discussed a product on some random Thursday, and judge an offhand comment that Ted made.

          Even when I was in a role where we legally had to record and post certain types of meetings for the public, they got very few views, almost always from internal folks.

          It ultimately gets forgotten either way.

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Yeah, the juxtaposition of the same act being a potential solution to one issue and a likely problem with the other is amusing to me — context matters so much! I once read that (paraphrasing) actions are like keys on a piano; just because they exist on the piano doesn’t mean they’re always the right note to play.

    5. Cat Tree*

      Really? You can’t see the difference between secretly (and probably maliciously) recording someone, and recording a meeting that everyone is aware of for a practical reason? Do I really have to explain the difference here?

      1. Myrin*

        I’m pretty sure the commenter was being humourous/tongue-in-cheek, and I personally found the juxtaposition of the two questions amusing myself, for the exact same reasons.

      2. Victor WembanLlama*

        Do I need to explain the difference between someone noticing an amusing juxtaposition and someone saying something earnestly?

      3. Good Enough For Government Work*

        This is called ‘humour’. The commenter noted a contrast between recording being the solution in one case and the problem in another, and was amused by it.

        Nothing they wrote suggested they couldn’t tell the difference between the situations. Please simmer down.

    6. Also-ADHD*

      I think it’s unclear how/why the recording in 5 got made. In my workplace, we absolutely record plenty of meetings, but it’s not a secret. I’d be a little weirded out if someone secretly recorded me (though I’m very transparent & have never been bothered by meetings being recorded or transcribed by AI). The secret part is what’s weird. Of course, if it veers into whistle blower territory at all, I’m on LW’s side.

    7. WellRed*

      I was thinking that! I’m also thinking of recorded transcriptions that have had some wacky translations!

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oh gosh, the auto transcriptions getting … creative. That is so much fun. Although the best one I encountered, the meeting was mostly in French. The transcription bot (automatically on and no one turned it off – the meeting was recorded so others could see the info later) was transcribing in English. It was exactly as incoherent as you’d expect.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      I was thinking the same thing!

      One of my clients records meetings and uses AI to extract the “to do” list – that works okay, but I find it a bit creepy.

  16. there are chickens in the trees*

    Re: note taking, if you use Microsoft Teams for the meeting, set to “Record and Transcribe.” The transcript is created automatically after the meeting ends, and is a lot easier to skim to find out what was missed. You can also use it to create your own set of notes.

    1. niknik*

      Please get buy-in from all people in the meeting before doing that, and also be aware of privacy issues. We had a letter before about someone being confused when getting an automated email after a meeting with a complete transcript.

      1. Nonsense*

        That was from a third-party service, and the meeting attendees had not been informed it was being used. Using Teams’ built-in recording and transcription app means all attendees are notified that the meeting is being recorded upfront.

        1. Zeus*

          It also turns off everybody’s cameras and microphones by default when the recording starts, and for anyone new entering the meeting.

          Source: I recorded a meeting for the first time recently, and it was more of a palaver than I had expected! Mostly due to my organisation’s rules around privacy and stuff, not the software itself, to be fair.

  17. Pam Adams*

    Having been a restaurant shift lead, I would have done a modified version of C. I would send the high guy home (or leave him off the shift rider to start with, and work to get the rest of the staff to pitch in. (This works better if 1) you’ve requested their cooperation in advance, and 2) give them some kind of bonus.

    Please also remember that as a manager with access to cash drawers and safes, you are putting yourself in danger by being there alone. Should ‘high dude’ or another employee/former employee decide to rob the store while you are there alone, you are more likely to be killed.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      And it doesn’t even have to be that you’re a manager with access, either. You’re a body in the store, all by yourself. I’ve listened to enough true-crime related podcasts to know how this could go…

      Closers shouldn’t be by themselves.

    2. Just Thinkin' Here*

      It sounds like the solution is not to send the team home until everything is done – so the shift manager leaves with everyone else. If the shift manager does this, does he get yelled at for everyone milking the time sheet? This GM has poor communication for what he wants – instead he communicates in what he doesn’t want.

  18. No touchy!*

    LW5, just because it’s not illegal (and there may be caveats to one-party consent) doesn’t mean your employer cannot choose to punish you for having made it.

    If this was through Zoom (which warns participants that something is being recorded if I recall correctly) it’s probably fine. If you were, say, making a screenrecording of your screen for a training video and forgot to turn it off during the meeting, it might be okay. If you purposely used a recording program outside of Zoom and neglected to tell anyone, that may be an issue, even if you originally did it for your own records.

  19. Roeslein*

    OP #5, where I am an illegal recording is not just grounds for wrongful dismissal, it also wouldn’t stand in court if e.g. an employee was dismissed because of it and decided to sue. Same applies to information obtained through e.g. keyloggers which are illegal here. But then folks here are very privacy-conscious and also quite litigation-friendly…

    1. Zelda*

      I don’t think “wrongful dismissal” is what you meant here? (That would mean that a dismissal was wrong.) Perhaps “firing for cause”? I guess I’m also unsure what you’re saying wouldn’t stand in court– the recording, or the dismissal?

      1. kalli*

        Illegal recordings can’t be used in court, and making one would be grounds for dismissal for serious and wilful conduct.

        1. Broadway Duchess*

          Being fired for making an illegal recording wouldn’t be wrongful dismissal, though.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        That doesn’t mean they won’t get in trouble at work, but their question is not on the legality of the situation

  20. The other sage*

    LW5: can you use your recording to document what happened and when? Pretend you documented it short afterwatd and then give the documentation to your coworker.

    1. Kate, short for Bob*

      this would be my advice too – you can speak up as a witness just because you were there

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Came here to say this. If the LW was in the meeting, they can confirm that the discussion happened. If the issue is that the person is lying about the conversation even happening, saying that you were there would be supporting the colleague without the risk of revealing the recording.

    2. document document document*

      yes, this! dont mention the video at all. just record it verbatim in a doc and share it with HR.

  21. CityMouse*

    Definitely speak up about the scrubs. Those really aren’t supposed to be low cut and are supposed to be utility wear.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m having trouble even picturing low scrubs! Perhaps they were made by Nike ; )

          1. Beth*

            If they balk at buying new scrubs, they can still use the exisitng ones if they hire someone to sew in “modesty panels” — an extra piece of fabric to fill in the bottom of the V neck. Just as long as they don’t voluntell one of the women on staff and make her do it for free . . .

            1. Scrubs lw*

              I doubt they’d balk at it. When it’s not absurdly expensive or overflowing our storage they’re pretty good about just getting whatever is helpful for us. The awkwardness of bringing it up is really the only barrier.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        With apologies to TLC, and also I’m not sure if it’s the shirt or pants that are too low cut…

        No, I don’t want low scrubs
        Low scrubs are a thing that won’t get no wear from me.
        Cheeks hangin’ out over the side
        Boobs slip and slide
        Tryin’ to embarrass me

      2. Nightengale*

        The scrubs I had to wear for my surgical rotations in medical school gaped open in worrisome ways unless I safety pinned them shut. Thankfully I saw someone wearing a second scrub top backwards and switched to that strategy. We weren’t allowed to wear a tee shirt underneath. I also had to pin up 6 in cuffs in the small sized scrub pants. Everyone else was asking if we were allowed to wear scrubs on various rotations and I was asking when I was allowed to change out of them into clothing that actual fit and was warm enough.

    2. Dragon_Dreamer*

      Reminds me of when the bent metal fastener changed uniforms, and then declared that all female employees HAD to wear the female babydoll style shirts. No wearing men’s shirts.

      These shirts were designed for a very specific body type. I’m not sure how any overweight employees could have fit into them. As for me, I was skinny enough, but my chest was NOT.

      The district manager INSISTED that I wear the shirt she handed me. So I went into the bathroom and changed, to make a point.

      It literally made me look like a mushroom. A three headed mushroom. My chest was nearly up to my chin, and a generous amount of cleavage was exposed. Hooters uniforms cover more skin.

      I came out to the horrified looks of the management team, and laughter on the faces of everyone else. “At least I might get more sales this way!”

      With a defeated look, the SM gave me a men’s shirt. I never heard another peep about it.

      1. Petty Betty*

        I remember when I was pregnant working at an AAFES Burger King. We had corporate-issued uniforms at the time, and no deviations to the uniform were allowed, including the pants.
        They had only ordered two pairs of maternity pants, and three of us were pregnant at the same time. I was the smallest of the three of us and all of the maternity pants they ordered were larger than I could have reasonably worn. Even at full term they would have fallen off of me.
        On top of that, all of their *regular* pants were too big for me. The women’s pants were for larger hips/waists and the men’s pants were for taller people (at the time I was 5’3 and all of 100lbs soaking wet when not pregnant, and carried my weight in my chest). When I wasn’t pregnant I had to make do with the skinniest men’s pants available and have the cuffs rolled up. When I was pregnant they “graciously” (read: begrudgingly, and made sure I was aware every single day that they were doing me a favor until I brought the union into it) allowed me to wear my own black maternity pants.

    3. EC*

      Scrubs are also meant to be unisex. Just don’t order the sexy version. Order the same scrubs for male and female employees in a range of sizes that will cover everyone.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        The situation in the letter is that both the LW and their coworker, who are different genders, both found the v to be too deep. So they did what you said, but it was the style of the scrubs that was problematic for everyone.

  22. AlwhoisthatAl*

    #4 As a male the solution is to buy a ’70s medallion and wear it (suitably sanitised) to illustrate the issue, if you lack the necessary hirsuteness, a chest wig may help.

    #3 – record the meeting then if anyone says they missed something, ask them to look at the recording. From what you are saying they are using the lack of complete minutes as excuses. Minutes are supposed to be a summary of what was said, not a word by word transcription of what was said.

  23. PennyFarthing*

    I would just make a throwaway email and anonymously send the sound file of your recording to the boss / whomever is dealing with the complaint ;)

    1. Varthema*

      This reminds me of the viral video where a guy (the one filming the video) walks into a room with a couple of people working, exclaims brightly, “Hey! F* your life! Bing bong!”, throws a flying pigeon into the room, and leaves.

      1. WellRed*

        Well that’s certainly interesting! If he was quitting I’d put it up there with spelling it out in tilapia.

      2. Minimal Pear*

        Yes! I think I read that he also worked there and was told off for taking the time to extract the pigeons that sometimes got into the workspace, and that video was him making a point about how necessary his service was. Haven’t fact checked this at all, though.

  24. FirstnamelastnameUK*

    Re Notes, sounds like decisions aren’t being followed through because of this and some people might be using it as excuse. So OP needs to formalise the process and highlight its importance within the team to ensure a consistent approach.

    Although recording a meeting can be useful, if you’re managing an issue it doesn’t help you or your staff at performance review to say the instruction was in the recording at 2hrs 37mins last August. A good minute and SMART decision is significantly better.

    to formalise I would suggest:

    1. Assign someone to draft minutes (not notes) either rotationally or ideally make its someone’s job. But if its rotational do it well before the meeting on the basis of who doesn’t have an item at the meeting, this person is not you.
    2. Get them some training and give them time to do the minutes (at least 1.5 times the length of mteeting).
    3. At the meeting, pause and affirm each decision at the end of an item eg So we’ve agreed….
    4. Make sure those decisions are SMART.
    5. Once minutes are drafted, you review them and ensure they include those decisions before they go out as agreed. Make it an expectation that staff have read them and give them a short time frame to raise an objection.
    6. Keep a separate record of actions available to all & update it (obv keep your own private record of actions with more info on who is not complying and why)
    7. At the next meeting, first item, just confirm everyone was happy the minutes are correct (you don’t need to invite much discussion here).

    By doing this, you are reiterating the importance of meetings, formalising clear actions with deadlines and ensuring down the line nobody can say ‘I didn’t know’ or ‘the minutes were incorrect’.

    it sounds like a lot of work, but it will end the whining, ensure compliance with decisions and assist you in managing your team whenever you meet your staff 1 on 1, you have a handy list of things they’ve not done.

    1. linger*

      “Meetings: where minutes are produced and hours wasted.”
      (And per #2, it takes hours to produce useful minutes.)
      #5&7 could be combined as an email step to minimise meeting time spent on previous minutes: send out a draft of minutes for feedback, with corrections incorporated into the next meeting’s first-item revised draft.

      1. FirstnamelastnameUK*

        Re #2 I dont see it as wasted time, rather an investment which if done properly has a whole host of benefits across the team/ department.

        As some have said, not everyone is good at it, it’s a skill and sometimes its just given to the most junior member of staff. I am biased working in governance, but often the cause of a huge problem is not the decision itself, but rather unclear expectation of staff, poor comms.

        re #5 & #7 they can be combined, but as the manager you want to be clear that the minutes reflect the message you needed to convey and that everyone is signed up to them. This gives your problem staff member less opportunity to say, I didn’t know or you didn’t tell me.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I’ve been involved in some years-long projects and it’s super helpful to be able to go and find documentation from 4 years ago when someone asks why we decided to do X instead of Y.

          And to document what decisions have been made and approved when someone decides that they don’t like the decision; I can say, well, your grand-boss approved that, so if you want to change it, take it up your chain of command.

      2. linger*

        I’d also add as step 0 the importance of having a detailed meeting agenda, written and distributed in advance, which the chair sticks to as far as possible (explicitly signalling the topic sequence, and any alterations thereto, as the meeting progresses); this becomes an essential outline for the minute-writer.

        1. I Have RBF*

          This. If you want good minutes, start with a clear agenda, and enforce it. When you schedule the meeting, include the agenda, or at the least a link to where you keep it.

    2. bamcheeks*

      The only thing I’d add here is to decide whether you need MINUTES or ACTION NOTES. Minutes are only really required for governance purposes, to show the discussion that took place and what points were raised, so someone can come back and say, “I did warn you this would be a disaster at the Steering Group meeting on January 21st.”

      If you just want to keep track of the actions and what people said they were going to do, it’s a much quicker job and ideally I’d say it should go in the email itself rather than an attachment.

      1. amoeba*

        Might be used “wrong” though – we call them meeting minutes and they’re definitely mostly action notes, plus some additional bullet points like “- no progress on point XY”, “process X produced result Y”, and then “check in with purchasing for Z (action: amoeba)”. Not long and super detailed at all.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      In this era, I wouldn’t focus on minutes unless you needed them legally and had a really good reason no other strategies would work (AI, recording). Most legal settings where someone takes actual minutes, you have a specific secretary/admin/role doing that routinely and mutual approval of the minutes for legal or governmental purposes, like government, unions, etc. It may be alienating folks to just do that randomly if it’s not actually needed, and it may be both hard to rotate and unfair not to rotate if none of the roles lend themselves to it.

    4. Cazaril*

      Yes—the important things to record for useful notes are decisions and action items. Maybe with a bit of the reasoning behind them, but that depends on how complicated the decisions are. Short is good—if it’s just a list of bullet points, then it’s a lot easier to produce and to read when you missed the meeting. Firstname’s protocol is great—I’d only add that I’d start the next meeting by reviewing progress against the action items from the last one. I once managed a volunteer committee that met monthly, and since this could suck up a lot of time, I’d ask for people to submit status on their action items in advance of the meeting and update the status in the agenda (e.g collateral went to printer March 1), but the importance of holding folks responsible was key.

      1. FirstnamelastnameUK*

        yep, we used to do this and it’s really useful. For us the likelihood of an an action being completed was inversely proportional to the seniority of the individual tasked so we dropped it out of sheer embarrassment.

    5. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      You’ve just tripled the length of meetings. Not all meetings need to be so formalized! 99% of the meetings I’m in would be poorly served by this structure.

      1. FirstnamelastnameUK*

        The meeting length is not significantly different, I’ve given someone some work to do around the meeting but this should be gained back through less complaints, more empowered staff etc etc etc.

        as a manager consider the following scenario has taken place:

        6months ago you (Dave) were told by your boss under no circumstances is anyone to feed Mowgli after midnight.

        3months ago Jim in your team (who is a lazy arse and is always blaming others for his poor work), fed Mowgli at 1am. You tore into Jim, gave him a formal warning.

        today, in a HR meeting, Jim holds back the tears and mumbles, Dave never told me, he’s always had it in for me. He’s brilliant Oscar worthy.

        Now, do you want your evidence to be:

        a) I think I said it at a meeting 5 months ago, there are some notes somewhere about not giving Mowgli crisps, I don’t know if Jim attended that day.

        b) I told a team meeting 5 months ago, not sure what item, the meeting is 3hrs I think, yes it sounded a bit off hand on the video. I suppose people could have forgotten.

        c) Yes, as you can see in the minutes of date, I specifically told people what they should not feed Mowgli after midnight and how important this was. Jim was there, there was a discussion but no objection recorded in the minutes and the minutes were agreed by all team members at the subsequent meeting.
        Indeed, you can see that all other members of the team have completed an action log confirming they have not fed Mowgli after midnight and that I ensured they had done so through regular 1 on 1 meetings.
        Jim told me he had followed these new procedures on several occasions

        1. bamcheeks*

          It can go both ways. I think this kind of retrospective evidence is important for work where there is risk and liability, and you need a clear evidence trail of decisions being made.

          I worked somewhere where have the department was compliance focussed (the safety of the llama aerial dance troupe) and half of it was not (the choreography of the llama dances and their costumes. We had someone who came from the first side become director, and they treated the our half of the department as if we were working with the same levels of risk and liability as the safety side. It is super important to have a paper trail about the decision to use the Strength D carabiners for the llama performance and that the llama counterweight has been checked and signed off. It is not necessarily to have a record of the decision to have sunset pink costumes instead of the more traditional lilac. If Fred claims he wasn’t consulted and would have objected to lilac most strenuously, a manager tells him the decision is final and to get back in line.

          1. Happily Retired*

            Just here to say that I would pay hella money to see a llama aerial dance troupe, whether in sunset pink or lilac.

        2. linger*

          Monitoring the workflow is important, but is not dependent on keeping detailed minutes of meetings. All the minutes themselves need contribute to this example is that “Instructions for feeding Mowgli were presented as item # on meeting on Date at which Jim is recorded as present, as reflected in minutes distributed on Date+Y and signed by Jim as correct.”

        3. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah for that example you don’t need minutes. You just need anyone else who was in the meeting to say “yeah we were all told that and Jim was there”, and ideally, you’d have a documented “no feeding after midnight” policy somewhere that’s easily referenceable and not dependent on one-and-only-one meeting.

  25. Ex-prof*

    LW 1, it’s so easy to get restaurant jobs right now in a lot of places. If High Guy has a job, then I bet you can have a better one for the asking. With a different boss.

    1. pally*

      Very true. And probably the best way to get away from a doofus boss.

      But why is it always the one on the receiving end of bad behavior that has to go to the trouble of finding a new job?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Because the person executing the bad behavior is almost never going to reflect soberly and discover “Oh wow. I am the problem here.”

      2. Kara*

        Because it’s highly unlikely that the bosses here are going to be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Future, and as a retail alumni i agree that management sounds like they’re pushing OP to fix the problem by working off the clock. Yes finding a new job sucks, yes there will probably be similar dysfunction there, but in the place that OP is currently working they have bees for bosses and it’s highly likely that their job conditions are about to go sharply downhill because they’re not making this all magically work out.

  26. A. Nonymous (on phone)*

    OP2– be open to the possibility that your coworker’s method is, in fact, better. Being overly precious about a correction isn’t a good look.

    1. Also-ADHD*

      Nothing suggests this, though, because the coworker is acting intense about EVERYTHING so seems much more likely a personality than “hey I really have one calendar idea that’s awesome”.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            And we only have the LW’s word for everything. We only have their word for the fact their coworker is behaving like this or that they have a coworker or even that they have a job. Once you start suggesting the LW could be exaggerating or making something up, well, where do you stop?

            It’s one thing if there are contradictions within the story or something to suggest the LW’s account may not be entirely accurate (like “I’ve been fired from my last five jobs and it’s never been for any good reason. Why do managers always fire their best employee? Are they threatened by me?”) or if the LW is stating something at fourth hand and couldn’t possibly know what happened themself, but I see no more reason to assume that the LW is exaggerating about how often this happens than that they are making up that the coworker is behaving like this at all or the respective lengths of time they are working in the company or anything else in the account.

        1. Audrey Puffins*

          We only have OP’s word for everything in the letter, which I believe is why one of the guidelines of the site is to please take letter-writers at face value

        2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          Correct. We only have your word for it being an exaggeration. You have no reason to think so. You weren’t there. So of the 2, obviously we should believe the person who was there.

          I assume you are a corrector of others; therefore, you’re identifying with the person who didn’t write in. FYI, it’s not a good look to constantly assume everyone else is inferior to you and doing things wrong. It’s overly precious to correct others constantly when they haven’t asked for your input.

    2. Colette*

      I ultimately don’t think it matters if the coworker’s method is better – it’s still not appropriate for her to be constantly correcting the OP or inviting herself into conversations (unless she has something urgent and material to add). If she has concerns about the OP’s work performance, she should talk with her boss.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Agreed. My experience is that there are some people in the world who INSIST that theirs is the ONE TRUE WAY to do things. In fact, an awful lot of people are sure their way is better than yours, just because they personally like their way of doing things.

        (I may be one of them, wrt to folding towels.)

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yup, towels have to be folded in three, so that they fit in the cupboard propery, and placed with the last fold facing outward, so there’s no doubt how many towels there are. No negotiation possible and if you don’t like it you will be assigned to clean the loo instead of fold laundry. ^^

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I didn’t take it as the coworker was necessarily making corrections at all. Perhaps I am biased because I have a co-teacher who is currently doing this and what she does is tell me to do extremely basic things that I’m sure even people who aren’t teachers could figure out and I have been teaching 20 years and have been in this school for 6 and a half. I’m talking stuff like “he came in late. Write him in as late on the roll now.” Often after I’ve already done it.

      I assumed the coworker was doing stuff like that. Like “the client arrived at 3:37. Write that down. Write their name in the column for names and 3:37 in the column for arrival times” rather than their having some new ideas the LW hadn’t thought of.

      And when my coworker does suggest something I neither had already done nor was about to do, it’s because I have a reason for that. Now, these are judgement calls and I’m not going to say her way is better than mine (well, I think it is but other teachers have different opinions and that’s fair enough) but I’ve been using my way for 20 years and it has worked for me. I am talking things like her telling me “what (newly qualified teacher) does is that she puts students sitting one good, one bad. I can help you make out a seating plan if you like,” when I had said nothing to suggest I was unhappy with where my students were sitting. (And quite frankly, a) putting the well-behaved kids beside the ones who tend to act up is something I swore when I was in primary school I would not do when I was a teacher, because it tends to put pressure on them to “keep the other kid quiet” and b) in my experience, it tends not to work anyway. The most trouble I’ve had in classes is where the students who tend to act up are sitting in the opposite corners of the room because then you can only watch one at a time. I prefer to have them sitting together and then stand where they are right in my line of vision. Never mind that referring to them as “good” and “bad” is a bit of a Freudian slip anyway and while I know what she meant, it wouldn’t exactly encourage me to take her advice.)

      In other words, even if this is actually a matter of the coworker making suggestions as to how the LW could do things differently, it is very likely those are ways she has already thought of or perhaps has tried in the past and has found they don’t work for her.

      There is nothing to suggest that the coworker is making a correction about something the LW is struggling with.

      1. Bird names*

        All good points and also thank you for not putting a quieter kid next to a disruptive one on purpose.

      1. Billy Preston*

        I’m guessing they recognize themselves in it as the unsolicited advice giver.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Agreed. It’s a much better look to be confident in how you do your job than it is to be giving constant unsolicited advice to a peer. Particularly if you’re interrupting them or correcting them in front of clients.

  27. Also-ADHD*

    It obviously depends on your settings, but it don’t see the suggestion yet. In online workplaces, I’ve not run into note taking issues because we just record the meeting (which also creates a transcript) if someone can’t attend or we’re going to want to check details. The kinds of things we’d send after in summary, if anything, don’t require active note taking (ie maybe a sentence on the major decision and next step in an email, but if anyone was curious on why or detail, they’d pull up the video/transcript).

    1. Also-ADHD*

      Between when I loaded this and posted this, a bunch of other folks did suggest this, so ignore my assertion no one has said it! Those comments had not loaded for me

  28. musical chairs*

    At the risk of pedantry, LW1, working while clocked in and being paid for that work is the exact opposite of “wage theft”. I say this to state that if anyone is using those specific words to berate you for expecting payment for doing your assigned work they may be trying to manipulate you in other ways, so be careful. It’s just as likely that they just misunderstand the phrase, so take that with a grain of salt.

    Basically, you can’t steal wages unless you’re an employer. As an employee you can only steal time, which you absolutely did not do. Working extra to cover for an incapacitated coworker is still work and you are not milking the clock by doing that.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I get that you’re coming from a socialist point of view on this and you are absolutely correct about that particular definition of “wage theft”.

      However, a lot of employers use the term to refer to things like taking an eleven minute break instead of a ten minute break or going to the bathroom while you are clocked in. I have seen many, many examples of this.

      Capitalism is a crushing system and the people on the bottom get crushed the most.

    2. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Agreed, this isn’t a time/wage theft in this situation. It’s more the equivalent of unauthorized overtime to which an employer still has to pay out for it but can still consider penalizing an employee to prevent it from happening again.

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      This is not pedantry, it’s subtlety and it’s great that you pointed out this form of manipulation. Some of us have trouble noticing when we’re being manipulated, it looks like OP was worried about this point, so thank you!

  29. Victor WembanLlama*

    FWIW, the Zoom transcriptions I’ve seen lately are incredibly thorough and accurate – better than any human could note-take

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’m seriously wondering why they aren’t already doing this. Seems better than passing someone’s unofficial notes like they are in 9th grade history class.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      But they also can’t distinguish between tangential side issues and actual relevant action items. You’ve just shifted the task from “someone takes notes” to “someone reviews and summarizes the Zoom transcript.”

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


        Not necessarily. The people who want to review the action items for their particular projects just have to look at the Zoom transcript at the proper section. Someone could probably remember roughly when in a meeting a certain discussion had it and look at that part of the transcription to find out what they wanted.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I guess this would work for huge meetings where any individual person only has to look at a particular section, but I also think those would work better broken out into smaller meetings, or that in that case each person should be responsible for taking notes about the part that pertains to them. Generally the sort of meetings I’m thinking about are project-specific meetings; think an interim progress update, where every couple of weeks we present the current status to the stakeholders, answer questions, get input on next steps, etc. My typical notes for a meeting like this are questions / suggestions / next steps along with who’s asking for or suggesting each piece. A transcript wouldn’t be helpful in this situation.

          1. Elsajeni*

            I think the best use cases for a transcript might be as
            1) a note-taking aid — probably best to still have someone taking notes during the meeting, but (especially with the task rotating from person to person) if that person doesn’t feel confident in their notes or isn’t a very skilled note-taker, they can always review the transcript for things they might have missed and add those to the notes before circulating them — and/or
            2) a supplement to the notes — if the OP feels that notes are being taken at an appropriate level of detail, but they still have some people complaining that specific details are missing from the notes, maybe what those people need is access to a transcript so they can refresh their minds on EVERY detail of that conversation

      2. Victor WembanLlama*

        Well presumably if you’re in the meeting and involved, you have some idea already of what the main issues are and tangential side matters.

        Besides, whatever method you use to capture the information, at some point someone’s going to have to do something with it, so i’m not sure what you mean in the last sentence.

        But also, I don’t think there’s one universal way of capturing notes that works for every meeting in every company, so this is just one suggestion

      3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        But it is quicker to skim through and delete unnecessary tangents and extract the important bits from a transcription than from a recording, so I think it’s still a viable option.

    3. Dinwar*

      We tried that. The issue is that Zoom is precise–it’s going to write down whatever it thinks you said. This may or may not be a good thing. Often we’ve found it necessary to re-word things on the minutes to make it clear to others. Any team is going to use shorthand and have common references that they develop over time, often without realizing they’re doing it; we’ve found it’s valuable to have someone actually take notes in part to mitigate that, and make sure that the notes are comprehensible to others.

      To be clear, I’m not saying we’re lying. What I’m saying is that the terms used by the folks on the jobsite aren’t necessarily the terms that other people will comprehend. To give an example, one building on one of our jobs has been nicknamed the Barn, because at one point we stored a bunch of straw in it (to re-seed the jobsite, part of our required erosion control measures). The folks in the meeting refer to it as the Barn. But our client refers to it by a building number. So in order to provide accurate information to our client we need to change “the Barn” to “Building XYZQ”.

    4. ZoomTranscripts*

      The ones I’ve seen are awful and often wildly misleading if not downright incorrect.

  30. Glomarization, Esq.*

    1. At the start of each meeting, assign someone to take notes. Rotate each time so it’s not always the same person.

    In the past when I’ve had trouble finding a reliable note-taker, we would set the note-taker for the next meeting at the end of the meeting we were currently holding. When that didn’t work, we started setting the next meeting’s note-taker as part of the housekeeping agenda item at the beginning of the current meeting.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Either way they do it, I definitely think they should do one of these two things. Because I do take notes in every meeting I’m in, but if I don’t know in advance that other people are going to rely on my notes specifically? I just write down what’s relevant to me personally, and I don’t necessarily format or proofread in a way that will make it easy for someone else to pick them up and get caught up. I’m far more thorough when I’m clear that the notes are not just for me, but for the group.

  31. I Laugh at Inappropriate Times*

    #4 – I’ve found wearing a tank top underneath is a game changer for too loose, cut too low, etc. scrub shirts. Also added insulation if your facility tends to be of the freezing ass cold variety.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        This was my thought too. Very common to layer tanks, tees, or even long sleeve shirts under scrubs. Even if the v-neck isn’t especially low, it can gape when you’re moving around.

    1. HealthcareWorker*

      This isn’t allowed in some healthcare facilities because overeager supervisors or policymakers decide it’s “not sterile.” I was scolded and made to take off my undershirt and continue working with my cleavage showing through my scrubs. (They allow under shirts but only if they’re fully covered by your scrub top, which by definition means they can’t help cover any cleavage. Yes, they expected hairy men to show a lot of chest hair too.)

      1. Angstrom*

        So scrubs magically stay “sterile” for a full shift but other freshly-laundered clothing doesn’t? And exposed skin is cleaner than clean clothing?
        Amazing. I’m sure they have the studies to back that up. ;-)

    2. Scrubs lw*

      Could eventually be a solution, but all clothing not covered by the scrubs needs to stay in the area and be laundered onsite, so that’ll still have the same “escalate to the supervisor” solution.

  32. Knitting Cat Lady*

    i can’t take notes in a meeting i’m supposed to participate in.

    cause writing takes so much effort for me that the words go from my ears to my fingers without touching the brain…

    1. Nobby Nobbs*

      Same. I’d probably have to request an accommodation, and we all know how popular using the ADA to get out of a chore nobody wants to do makes you…

    2. For This I Am Anon*

      Yes! I have a child who does okay with processing sounds, and does okay with processing visual/writing, and whose scores TANK when doing a task that requires both. They literally have a disability that makes this difficult. In school they need an accommodation of notes provided, so they can attend to the lesson. In work, they would need similar – and it’s even more fraught to ask for it there.

  33. Bog Witch*

    #3 Since all the meetings are virtual, record them and make sure the transcript option is turned on. Maybe assign someone on rotation to clean up the transcript where necessary.

  34. Mim*

    In my experience, having an extra person to take meeting notes is the best solution if their work is close enough that they will understand the nuance, and they are a good note taker.

    I have been in that position, and can say that it can take a freaking lot of work to write up good notes. It can also be really difficult to take good notes while you are an active participant in a meeting.

    When I did this as part of a former role, I’d usually spend an hour after the meeting cleaning up, formatting, and simmering down the voluminous notes I took into something that captured the important discussions and takeaways/decisions made at the meeting. Between that and the meeting time itself, consider it 1/4 of a workday devoted to that meeting. But they were freaking amazing notes. And not at all doable when I moved into a role that required more active participation in the meeting, and where I didn’t have the time in my workday to devote another hour to the writeup.

    Actually, the true #1 thing that helped was having a very specific agenda, which we stuck to. Detailed and organized, with clear topics and conversation goals. Like, we’re not just talking about Blue Teapots today — we are talking about how many Cornflower Blue teapots we sold last quarter, and whether we can use that information to decide whether to discontinue them. And after that discussion and/or at the end of the entire meeting, whoever is leading the meeting should restate any action items that came out of the discussion, who holds them, and what the general timelines should be for them. Because that will feed right into creating the agenda for the next meeting.

  35. Dido*

    Why on Earth isn’t LW3’s team just recording the meetings for people to review later?

    1. Czhorat*

      Watching the recording of a meeting is not only an incredibly awkward way to get information. You can search the meeting notes document. You can screen capture parts of it to attach to an email as an explanation/backup from something said in the meeting. You can even copy/paste parts into a document that requires the meeting information as an input.

      I’d take written notes over a recording any day of the week.

      1. Nancy*

        Recording is much better than relying on a coworker to take notes detailed enough for what you need.

        1. Czhorat*

          I one hundred percent disagree.

          If sometime in a two-hour meeting someone said where they want microphones placed, I can read the notes in ten minutes, or keyword search for, say, “microphone” in ten seconds; I might have to listen to an hour of the meeting to find that one bit of information. If the microphones in different spaces are discussed at different times in the meeting I might have to watch the ENTIRE THING to get information I could have found in less than five minutes from the notes.

          Taking meeting notes is part of the job; I consider a meeting to have not really happened if notes weren’t taken, and people who weren’t in the meeting but need information from it shouldn’t need to spend an hour or more re-watching it. If they had that much time they’d have signed into it in the first place.

    2. Hyaline*

      It would be much easier to scan a page of notes than watch an hour long meeting. The notes should be notes—easy to skim quickly and get what you need—not transcripts of everything said.

  36. Dinwar*

    Regarding notes, what my team has found works is that the person leading the meeting takes the notes. When our meetings require notes (not all of them do) there’s an agenda. We draft the agendas such that they become the meeting minutes. This allows the person leading the meeting to fill it out as we go, and as soon as the meeting is done they send it out to the participants.

    This does lead to some awkward pauses while the person tries to write things, but what I’ve seen is that those pauses happen when the issue is complex. And seeing the notes on the screen allows the participants to immediately make corrections or discuss issues that folks don’t quite understand. This doesn’t necessarily make the meeting more efficient (I’ve seen this sort of discussion go for 45 minutes or more!), but it makes the meetings more effective (in the end everyone is on the same page and we can do the work more efficiently). If you have to stop work to discuss the plan it’s much nicer to do so in an air conditioned office at a prescheduled time, than it is to do so on a jobsite with a dozen pieces of heavy construction equipment running around and all kinds of hazardous materials being used!

  37. Czhorat*

    For LW1, it sounds like the GM wants you to quietly get the closing tasks done off the clock, which would be illegal.

    I’d respect a manager who puts in extra time to cover for someone who had to be sent home like this – once. Maybe twice. After a certain number of time, I agree that a long-term solution needs to be found, and likely one that doesn’t involve the unreliable employee.

    1. HonorBox*

      Yep. The solution to the problem is getting rid of the problem employee so you don’t have to be put in a position to do the closing duties yourself.

      While restaurant work is full of sex, drugs and rock and roll, if those things happen to the detriment of others, you need to eliminate that problem.

  38. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

    #3 reminds me of the time I spoke up during a team meeting when yet another woman volunteered to take notes and said, “Why is it always the women taking the notes? I think we should have a man once in a while” and all the women said “Yeah!!” and finally this guy disgruntingly agreed to do it. Management took notice and after that, we rotated.

  39. InquisitiveDodo*

    For LW5:

    When we got a new phone system that started recording calls, we were told by our legal team that even though we were located and operated out of a 1 party consent state, EVERY call we made we need to get consent to record. Why? Because if you’re calling someone, and they are NOT in a 1 party state, it becomes illegal. Even if they reside in a 1 party state, if one of your coworkers happened to be remotely working from a state that was 2 part consent, then it can be considered illegal.

    1. Czhorat*

      That’s a good point, but I also think there’s a bigger concern beyond “is it illegal”. In most industries, norms are NOT to record every interaction and most people have an expectation that they’ll be able to conduct their business without being recorded.

      If someone is upset about having been recorded against their will, then telling them “we didn’t literally break the law” isn’t going to make them less angry.

  40. Plume*

    #2 Alisons advice and scripts are spot on. I also know from experience that it can help to assume positive intent.

    If everytime they show you something you assume it’s because they want to help uplift the team instead of thinking they assume you are inept it will really take the edge off.

    Still work on shutting them down since they are wasting time but no need to weigh them down as signs she thinks your incompetent either.

  41. Hyaline*

    LW5 I hope this doesn’t sound mean, but the pretext of the letter that having this “proof“ of senior employees or management lying is going to make a difference feels somewhat naïve to me. Essentially, what you should be asking is, is it worth it to stick my neck out for this colleague with proof of a problem that may or may not make any difference in the long run and may, even if legal, get you in hot water if not fired. This feels kind of like the LW expects the climax of an episode of TV or a mystery novel where someone pulls out proof that the big bad boss was lying and suddenly everything works out OK in the end. Unfortunately,“Proving” that someone lied doesn’t have the same outcomes and effects in a real life workplace. It’s entirely possible that no one will care. Or it’s possible that the only thing they’re going to care about is how you got that recording. Tread carefully.

  42. Office Lobster DJ*

    For LW#2, that sounds maddening, but I notice you mention that you want to defend yourself by saying you’ve been there longer. You were hired within a few months of each other, which means that’s probably not a strong enough argument for either her or your boss as to why she should stop. Please notice the scripts in the answer are all about you being competent at your job. This is the approach you want!

  43. Ink*

    4- PLEASE speak up! Pointing out that they’re low cut *on you* makes it harder to ignore your female coworkers. Plenty of clothing can turn a bit risque if you’re busty enough, but men having the same problem might make it suddenly clear that no, these scrubs really are *that bad* and need to be replaced.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, the sad reality is that OP will probably get more traction if they complain than their female coworkers would. So definitely don’t be worried that you don’t have the standing, please speak up and it will benefit everyone!

      1. Scrubs lw*

        I think it’ll get fixed eventually whether or not I say something since most of the team (including my boss and grandboss) are women and several are pretty vocal, but it’ll probably get done faster if she or I say something since we’re the only ones who have worn the new batch of scrubs more than like a quarter shift so far.

  44. HonorBox*

    LW1 – In addition to what others have stated with the idea that the GM is seemingly expecting you to do the clean up work off the clock, you have a problem on your hands with the high employee. I think I’d respond to the GM in the app and indicate that 1) you had to send high boy home AGAIN and 2) you actually kept costs lower by doing the closing work yourself rather than keep more than one person on the clock to do that work. I assume you need to be there at closing, so your costs will be included no matter what. If you kept another person on, you’re incurring additional cost, even if the work gets done a little more quickly.

    Then ask him 1) can you fire high boy because he’s twice been too high to work and you’ve had to send him home and 2) how does he want you to handle the closing, if not this way?

    He owes you an answer and if the expectation is that you’re to do that work off the clock, you can escalate that answer to whomever you need to to indicate that what is being expected of you is illegal.

  45. BellyButton*

    Note taking- At my company we use Zoom, and everyone in the company uses an AI tool to record, transcribe, and summarize our meetings.

    I know not every company allows this, but if yours does it is such a time saver. It summarizes the meetings, highlights action items and will make the agenda for the follow up meeting if needed.

  46. BellyButton*

    If it was Zoom the recording likely wasn’t a secret. Doesn’t it announce it- “This meeting is being recorded” and the person has to select ok, or leave meeting.

    1. LizB*

      I read the letter several times since this was also my immediate thought, and I think the recording was not made in zoom, but some other software or device was used to record the audio during the zoom meeting. If it was zoom’s native recording, there should be no problems, because everyone on the meeting will have been aware it was being recorded.

      1. Broadway Duchess*

        My guess is that the recording was made during a Zoom call but by the LW’s own device.

  47. KeinName*

    Note taking: if people rely on things said in a meeting, why would they not take note of their takeaways themselves (if they attend it)? It wouldn’t occur to me to rely on someone else to write down what’s specific to my tasks. I don’t like how people make this your problem. If you are going out of a meeting and can’t remember what it wa you were supposed to take from it, you should have taken a pen and write some stuff down during it.

  48. LizB*

    LW5, can you just vouch for your coworker based on your memory of the meeting? If asked for more details about how you remember, then you get into the question you asked about whether your employer would be okay with recording, but maybe your support would be enough to help out your coworker without bringing in more concrete proof.

  49. Healthcare is grreeaat*

    I do find active in general tend to be lower cut than I prefer. If under scrubs or tank tops are allowed, that is my solution at hospitals where I’m expected to where something that is too low. Depending on the cut, sizing up or down can also help. If wearing something underneath isn’t an option and the scrubs are required then I agree that it’s time to take it to leadership…the squeaky wheel gets the grease though so if you’re the only one complaining the solution might be a change for only you even if you try to at that others feel similarly, so gathering all people with this issue and going together to discuss might help (unless you’re management would see that as causing a ruckus).

  50. BellyButton*

    LW2 — one thing I have learned in my 25+ years of professional life is I do not need to defend or justify why I do something the way I do it or that I know what I am doing. Use the scripts that were given- what they are doing is clearly setting a boundary. If you make an excuse of “I have been here longer” it distracts from the fact that you are competent to do your work without help or interference from her.

  51. Nomic*

    OP3: I do the majority of presenting in most of our meetings, and am also expected to take notes. It is very frustrating. When I complained, it was suggested I record the meeting and re-watch and take notes from the recording.

    1. Mango Freak*


      Record the meeting, sure. But then why do you need official notes?

  52. Princess Pumpkin Spice*

    I’ve been in OP 1’s situation (retail instead of restaurant), and while I agree the GM is delivering his objections poorly, I think these are likely on his list of concerns:

    1. There’s no paper trail of write-ups for this employee. You sent him home with no documented reason. So there is no “three strikes your out” if he gets fired, and nothing to cover YOU for why you stayed late.

    2. Why didn’t you have the staff stay with you and help clean up? If you were there an hour working alone, you and four others could have been done in half that time (if not less).

    3. You were there with access to registers and cash by yourself. This could be a HUGE issue if the restaurant is robbed, and you’re there solo. This could be a HUGE issue if the drawer comes up short.

    That’s a lot of liability, OP. Again, the GM is probably a jerk, but any one of these seem plausible to me.

    1. JSPA*

      I’d suggest “notify GM in some way, the moment you take the action” would be appropriate. Even if it’s an asynchronous message (slack, email, direct-to-voicemail).

      “Hi, that incapacitated employee problem we talked about is happening again tonight. Per your prior instructions, I just sent them home for their own safety, and will stay late to cover the essentials. Could you explain the situation to the opening shift manager, if I miss anything? PS Did you find those forms we talked about? Thanks.”

  53. Former Retail Lifer*

    For the meeting notes, can you just do the meeting on a platform that lets you record it? We have all of our recorded Teams meetings available for anyone who missed them. I’ve asked for notes from people in the past and found them to be lacking. I just watch the recordings and take my own notes.

  54. Sneaky Squirrel*

    LW1 – Your GM is probably just going to be a jerk no matter how you respond, but I would speak with him privately to let him know that if he has a concern with how you handled the situation, you’d prefer he reach out to you directly so that can have a chance to resolve it. You should also ask him to explain how you should best handle situations where you are short staffed since he didnt like your solution (a completely reasonable solution) and ask for him to fire your high employee immediately since this is twice now you’ve had to deal with this situation.

    LW5 – I feel like there needs more information here because I’m getting the sense that this was recorded during a zoom meeting but the recording wasn’t done via zoom’s features or following normal corporate practices. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t bring it up. But was this something you and others would have overheard directly because you were on that zoom meeting? Why not just say that you overheard it and others on that call could corroborate it?

  55. Sam I Am*

    L #1, “wage theft” I’m curious, the OP used it in a way that implied they were accused of “wage theft” by staying long. I’m not trying to correct them, but I do wonder about this usage. I’ve only ever seen in relating to the employer keeping earned wages from an employee. Is it used like this as well? To describe an employee working unauthorized overtime?

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I think 1) LW1 uses the term incorrectly and that unauthorized overtime is the more appropriate descriptor of the situation and 2) unless there was more that GM wrote that isn’t disclosed here, it doesn’t actually seem like GM accused them of wage theft at all.

    2. Higgs Bison*

      I think the term “time theft” is usually used for the employee-benefitting version

  56. H.Regalis*

    LW2 – I think you should speak up! Do it now, calmly, before you get so frustrated that you snap at her. Be prepared for some possible, “I was JUST tRyInG to HELP,” and your coworker getting huffy about it. She’s not actually trying to help; she’s trying to control, and it’s not her place to do that here. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but if it does, it’s not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong by politely telling her to knock it off.

  57. She of Many Hats*

    LW 3 – It may make sense to use the transcription tool in Zoom/Teams then to assign a different person each time to use an approved AI to turn it into notes for everyone. Then everyone can focus on the discussion and the notes afterwards will be relatively searchable.

  58. MCMonkeyBean*

    I’m not a huge fan of AI a lot of the time but this definitely seems like a good use case for it if you meeting software offers that. I would recommend you still rotate through people being ultimately responsible for the final notes, they can review and clean up the existing AI notes just making sure there aren’t any glaring issues like someone says “we decided NOT to do xyz” and the AI noted it as “we decided to do xyz.”

  59. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

    For LW3- can you record meetings so that people can watch it later instead of relying on meeting notes? I do that for many of my Teams meetings so that everyone can take their own notes or add items into the Notes or Chat features while the meeting is going on.

      1. SusieQQ*

        I get what you mean about it being inefficient, but I would actually do a practice like this if I were to take notes. Humans can’t multi-task; if you’re taking notes then you are not fully present in the meeting. If I were to take meeting note I would want to record the meeting and write the notes afterward so I could be fully present. Usually when people want a notetaker though they want someone to take notes in the meeting, and what i just said is why I don’t volunteer.

        That being said, I do understand the value of doing it in the moment, especially if you’re sharing your screen so if decisions are made, everyone is present when the notes are taken to ensure the accuracy.

  60. Peasant*

    Regarding Meeting Notes. Let the guy running the meeting type up a summary. Let the King or Queen do it.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The person running the meeting isn’t necessarily “the king or the queen”, and the concentration to both take notes and run a meeting doesn’t typically let you do either well. It also doesn’t sound like they’re looking for a summary so much as granular detail.

  61. HermiaDCA*

    LW#5 – Zoom generally announces to everyone in the meeting when someone starts recording or that the meeting is being recorded when they log in and has them acknowledge that to remain in the meeting – so everyone who was in the meeting should have known it was being recorded

  62. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

    OP 4, scrubs that show too much bare flesh do seem NSFW, in the OSHA sense. Can you bring it up in that context? And then have your coworker bring up the issue she discussed with you to them? If they get multiple complaints it might have a higher chance of getting fixed.

  63. Raida*

    “milking the clock!”
    response: “I was following your instructions. If leaving the restaurant in an acceptable state is a problem then you talk to me instead of posting this here.”

  64. The Ear*

    re: note-taking… Delegate this tedious task to AI! there are some great services out there that will simultaneously record, transcribe, and summarize meetings so no one is stuck taking notes. is one that I have used. it’s simple to use and accurate!

  65. Student*

    #3: “Often meetings involve someone sharing their screen so we’re all looking at something and that person can’t take notes, but no one picks up the slack.”

    This is incorrect. Every single major platform for video conferencing, like Zoom and Teams, has options that will let you display stuff to the group AND work in an area of your desktop that is not being displayed to your co-workers. You can take notes and also display a screen at the same time.

    There are also options that will allow you to still see group chat, let people into the meeting, etc. even if you are the one showing something on your screen.

    Do a quick search on whatever the specifics of your situation are.

    For example, there’s an option in PowerPoint that will stop it from taking up YOUR entire screen when you present slides, but will still let it fill the display space for your colleagues to stare at your slides.

    Also note that if you are using a machine learning assistant to take a transcript of a meeting, you should assume those notes, and perhaps the original audio they were derived from, are getting sent back to the program owner, where they will be used. So, fine for a public meeting or non-sensitive meeting, but not a great idea for people’s private info or company trade secrets.

    1. Cinnamon Stick*

      I don’t think it’s a physical issues about taking notes when presenting that’s being described, but a question of how much attention can be paid to notes when presenting. It’s damn hard to make more than very basic notes when you’re the one doing the talking, presenting, and managing the discussion.

      I can’t get anyone to take notes–many of my meetings include C-level people who woulnd’t dream of it–so I just record meetings and write them up later.

  66. Mango Freak*

    OK the LW3 situation is driving me nuts.

    Meeting notes should not be intended to replace meeting attendance. If there are legal reasons you need *minutes* that border on transcription, that needs to be a dedicated role (or AI), but otherwise notes should record *decisions and facts that might need referencing later.* The questions and the answers, not the full discussion in between. If the agenda item is “Product Launch Date” the notes should say the date you all decided on, or the next steps towards choosing one.

    People in the meeting who want more than that are free to jot down their own notes. People who can’t make a meeting but want to experience the *entire conversation they missed* can watch a recording.

    If a meeting needs to *be a meeting at all,* it depends on attendance and participation. If this many people are relying on super-detailed notes afterwards (whether due to non-attendance, non-attention, or material complexity), maybe these meetings need to be emails.

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