You Really Couldn’t Manage This

, , , , , | Working | February 22, 2021

I’m a manager. One of the other managers pulls me to one side and begs me to talk to one of my team members. Apparently, he has been applying to every job available and then harassing the manager for updates. The problem is that he is not suitable for any of them; the guy barely manages to do his own job and is only still employed because he has been here for so long.

I go to speak to him and he is clearly in a bad mood already.

Me: “Can I speak to you about your recent job applications?”

Worker: “Can you tell [Manager] to respond to my emails? It’s been days and I haven’t heard anything.”

Me: “Okay. One: it takes weeks to interview and get back to everyone. And two: it’s human resources, not [Manager], that will give you a response.”

Worker: “Oh, I should be chasing HR. I knew it would be that woman somehow. She doesn’t like me.”

Me: *Already regretting this* “No, don’t do that. She will send all the responses out at the end. Can we talk about the roles you applied for?”

Worker: “I don’t see what business that is of yours.”

I’m screaming internally for him to shut up and let me help.

Me: “No, but I would like to help. You applied for several management positions—”

Worker: “Yeah, I could do that. I mean, you only walk around. Seems easy.”

Me: *Swearing internally* “That’s not the only thing we do. Do you have any experience in management or managing people?”

Worker: “Well, no, but I get along with everyone.”

He does not; people find him aggressive and difficult.

Me: “Okay, well, just something to think about — if that is really suitable given your experience. I see you have applied to a number of design roles, as well.”

Worker: “Yeah, yeah, drag, drop, copy, and paste. I can do all that.”

Me: “Have you used [Design Software] before?”

Worker: “Well, no, but I get all my reporting done right.”

He does not, in fact, get it right. After many attempts to help him, we long abandoned using his Excel reports due to the many, many mistakes. A grandmother working a few stations past him does it for us without problems.

Me: “Listen. These roles are not for you. But we can sit down and work out what we can do to progress you. I invited you to a development session next month.”

Worker: “Yeah, I suppose so.”

He did not turn up to the session but called in sick, apparently bedridden. But he was later spotted shopping in the supermarket right next to work at lunchtime. He stopped to chat with several employees, not expecting anyone to say anything. I left the company years after; he never got a promotion. Managing people is hard work sometimes.

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Read The Room… And The Sign

, , , , , | Working | February 22, 2021

Our company has been bought up by another company. As of January 1, 2021, we’ll get all new systems, so they start training us “early” — in late November 2020. This means that some of us have a LOT of training to go through, at least two hours twice per week for different software and systems.

Due to the health crisis, the training takes place via video call. My colleagues next door, both adult women in their forties or fifties, have by far the most training scheduled. They put up a sign at their door that says, “Online training from [time] to [time]. Do not disturb!” every time they are in a video call.

Today, another colleague — male, in his early forties — comes into my office.

Colleague: “Hey, do the girls next door have remote training right now?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Colleague: “There’s a sign on their door.”

Me: “Does it say that they have online training and to please not disturb?”

Colleague: “Yeah.”

Me: “…”

Colleague: “Should I go in and ask?”

I’m dumbfounded by this amount of ignorance, so I tell him the truth and decide to give him a little hint.

Me: “You shouldn’t. But if you tried, you probably wouldn’t get in anyway. They locked their door from the inside during yesterday’s training because too many people ignored the sign.”

Colleague: “What?! They locked their door yesterday?”

Me: “Yes.”

Colleague: “But why?”

Me: “Because… too many people ignored the sign that asked them not to be disturbed.”

Colleague: “Oh. So they locked their door so nobody would get in?”

He then left. I don’t know if he may have tried to go in there anyway.

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I’m An Idiot; Please Don’t Advise

, , , , , | Working | February 22, 2021

I’ve held a bit of a mantra for getting on in life: work hard and don’t make your boss’s life hard.

That is, don’t be the one that he has to chase; get the stuff he thinks is important done as a priority. That way, when job losses and promotions come up, your name will be associated with the right impression.

I’m working with a guy that is a bit younger than me. He is good at what he does and wants to climb the ladder as soon as possible. The problem is that he does it all the wrong way.

He is constantly one or two minutes late. While it’s not a big deal, his name is on the list of “worst offenders” that all the management sees. He constantly parks like an idiot, taking up two spaces or even blocking people in, so he’s seen as not a “team player” by many. And he is always scruffy; it’s fine for his job, but it is hard to picture him in a senior position looking like that. 

I try to talk to him and perhaps give him some advice.

Coworker: “You don’t know what you’re talking about. [Boss] likes me and I’m good at my job.”

Me: “Yes, you are, but remember in these situations that it is often other people pulling the strings and making those decisions.”

Coworker: *Defensively* “What do you know?”

Me: “Look. It’s just friendly advice; you don’t have to take it. But remember, I used to do [Boss]’s job in another company, so I know how they think.”

Coworker: “Yeah, and look at you now. Clearly knew what you were doing, to be demoted!”

I took my current job as the last one made me redundant, I took this role as it was a shorter commute and we just had our second child. However, [Coworker] didn’t deserve the explanation, so I just stopped trying to help him and walked away.

Months later, our boss took a long break to deal with personal issues and I was asked to step in temporarily. What my coworker didn’t know was that they knew our boss wasn’t coming back and this was like a probation period for me. Six months later, I had the job in full, and [Coworker] was now working for me. I gave him plenty of opportunities to develop and tried to help him many more times, but he fought me all the way.

He transferred out of the department and was let go shortly after for gross misconduct, backed up with poor attendance and a poor attitude. You can’t help them all.

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Being A Nerd Pays Off

, , , | Working | February 22, 2021

I work in an office and we have an issue with a client. We haven’t received a payment, so he sends me proof of payment. I contact the bank, but they can’t find the transaction listed. 

When I talk about it during a coffee break, a coworker I barely know and who just started asks if she can see the proof of payment. I don’t know what she can do with it, but since it’s a very large sum, I grasp every straw I can get. 

She takes one look at it, and within ten seconds:

Coworker: “This has been faked.”

Me: “What? Huh? What do you mean?!”

Coworker: “This screenshot has been edited.”

She looks nervous and uneasy, but she points at the big bar on the top.

Coworker: “This bar is missing a few pixels; here, it doesn’t match up. This description is a different font from the rest of the text here. And this zero is slightly lower than the other numbers. There’s also a slightly different hue of white here and here. If you move a bit over here, you can see a few digital brush strokes.”

Me: *Baffled* “How did you spot that?!”

Coworker: “I… ehm… I used to do art on the computer. Pixel art… eh, game sprites. Just for fun. It’s kind of… my thing.”

I don’t get why she was embarrassed but I didn’t press that any further. She saved us a lot of money!


This story is part of our Best Of February 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of February 2021 roundup story!

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In Bad Company

, , , , , | Right | February 21, 2021

I work for a small start-up website used for producing yearbooks. As the main non-technical staff member, I’m almost always the one who answers the phone.

I answer a call from a man claiming to represent a company doing much the same as us, only in India. They apparently want to partner with us but want to get some more information about the business first.

I’m suspicious of his actual motives, since all my requests for information about the company he is calling from are met with vague and evasive answers. I send over some basic marketing materials — nothing proprietary or even un-Googleable –hoping that will satisfy him.

The next day, he calls back.

Caller: “I’m very upset with you! I wanted much more detailed information about the company! I wanted financial data! You not sending this is clear evidence that you aren’t taking this partnership seriously!”

Me: “We aren’t prepared to hand over any private information to anyone who refuses to tell us anything about who they were or what they want.”

The caller becomes extremely aggressive and rude.

Caller: “Who do you think you are to make that decision? You’re just an account manager! You’re not anybody of consequence in the business! Put me through to someone who has the power to decide things!”

While “account manager” is my somewhat official job title, the nature of the company means that my actual duties are many and varied, effectively covering anything non-technical or executive. The organisational structure of the company is very flat; there is the CEO and then there’s everyone else.

Me: “The only person who can decide on partnerships is, in fact, the CEO, and if I take the proposal to him without being able to even give the company’s name, he will not be interested. You’re asking for a lot of extremely sensitive information about our company, but since you are unwilling to even give the name of your company, there is very little incentive for me to trust you.”

By now, the whole room is staring at me.

Caller: “What would it take for you to trust me?”

Me: “At the very least, you could give me the name of the company and a contact number so that I can do my own research before getting back in touch if I want to.”

Caller: *Shouts* “FINE, I’LL EMAIL YOU!” *Click*

I recapped the exchange to the CEO, who said that while I’d handled it well enough, I’d been far too patient and polite, and that if the guy called back again, I had his full backing to tell him to “f*** off” or to pass the phone over so the CEO could say it himself.

I never did get the company name or hear from the man again. To this day, I’m not entirely sure what his goal was, other than being vaguely shady, but if his principal tactic is to berate and belittle the gatekeepers at a business, I don’t think he’s likely to achieve it.

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