Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here recently.
1. My employee constantly talks about waiting for 5:00 and the weekend
This employee’s overall performance did not improve. I did not speak to her about her “5 o’clock” habit, but I did address other performance concerns as they arose.
She called in sick two days in a row, and because of deadlines, I had to get into her email to check the status of some things. While doing this, I came across an email with an odd attachment. It was a word document that our company normally sends to candidates as a PDF. I opened the word document with a sinking feeling because I knew what I would find.
Yep, she had taken a perfectly good PDF that was approved by the company for distribution, converted it to Word, and sent it out without looking at it. She had never asked me or a coworker any questions about whether or not we had a Word version/if she could produce one herself/etc. The PDF had been highly formatted, and some pages had scanned inserts — the word version was an absolute mess. There were literally pages with just random symbols on them and not a single intelligible English word. (But don’t worry — our company name was still prominently displayed on the top!)
She was fired the next day. During her termination she revealed that she had not looked at the Word document prior to sending it out. I honestly don’t know whether that is better or worse than her having looked at it before sending it out.
2. My company is insisting my employee use a chair that’s way too big for her (#2 at the link)
The employee in question ended up leaving for a new job. She was open and upfront with me that the chair and being uncomfortable was one of the main factors for doing it. She was a great worker and I was sad to see go leave but I understood why she was going and gave her a good reference and made sure she knew she can count on one in the future. Her issue with the chair was the width (side to side) and not the depth (as some of the comments suspected). She was tall enough that the chair was fine from the front to the back, as I said it was the side to side causing the problems. There was room enough for a second person of her size to sit next to her and even then they both still would have had some room. It was wide enough to cause issues with her comfort and she could not use the armrests at all.
If it was up to me, I would have given her a different chair but our company clearly stated they would not approve an order for any other chair for her and would not pay for it. We don’t have any petty cash and she (rightfully) refused to pay money for a chair the company would have disallowed her from using anyways. We sent HR and the health and safety department a photo of her sitting in it and the response was that most people like their chairs to be roomy. I’m job hunting because I’m upset at how this was handled. My other team members were upset at how she was treated also.
3. I want my department’s monthly public praise (#5 at the link)
Reading the comments from readers was especially helpful getting through this problem. I was feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated at work, and seeing everyone but myself getting acknowledged was eating at me. The overarching theme from comments was spot on: it might feel good in the moment but doesn’t do anything in the long run.
How do I know it was spot on? Because last month, I was given the award. (Five people nominated me at the same time because they all thought it was unfair I had not received it. I had also completed a difficult project.) It felt good for about five minutes, and then everything went back to normal. I was still overwhelmed and under-appreciated — the only difference was this brightly colored ornament temporarily living in my office. However, getting the award did give me a boost of confidence and some confirmation that I’m good at my job, which was a message I needed. Thank you everyone!
I have just been offered a position at another university (had a great application thanks to your general CV, cover letter and interviewing advice, hence my thanking you yet again for running your blog). This halves my commute and is a $15k payrise to put me into six figures, which I never dreamed I would achieve as a female academic with two young children, before I was 45-50 (I am 38).
I am so excited about my career progression now – sorry about the gushy email I am just extremely high on life right now :D.
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4 updates from letter-writers (the clock watcher, the over-sized chair, and more) was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.