Was this a really crappy thing to do?

Ok, I kinda think it was.

Here’s the scoop - I have a few jobs, one of which involves market research - basically, I run focus groups. This is not a difficult job, however, there is a certain amount of responsibility involved - handling large sums of money (cash), dealing with a large number of people, ensuring that the clients, who pay big money for the service, are happy with whats going down, etc.

When I work, I have an assistant. Essentially, this person shows people to the elevator and helps me clean up. No responsibility, but important, nonetheless.

One of the assistants at my job has been making inquiries about being promoted to a job comparable to mine - last night, she was given the opportunity to do my job, with me, and we would see how things went.

Well, I don’t know what to say. It was a complete farce. She complained about EVERYTHING I asked her to do, complained about having to buy her own dinner, complained about the restaraunt at the facility we were working at, insisting that she would just “run out” for a minute to buy a snack (she was gone for over an hour), etc. etc.

In addition, she seemed to be trying to make tasks as difficult and time consuming as possible - “I don’t want to put these envelopes in order - can’t I just put them in pretty piles instead?”

Finally, she has been spoken to about her clothing on numerous occasions - she consistantly dresses inappropriately for work - wearing “fat” (phat?) pants, tank tops that tie on her body, belly shirts, bare feet or skank ass runners, etc. etc. As an assistant, it’s not a huge deal, however she was told by at least three different people that she would have to more professionally dressed last night - I even brought in a selection of more conservative tops for her to wear, because she said she didn’t have anything appropriate. She refused to wear any of my tops and instead wore a belly shirt with a fleece over it - GAH! This is * just not cool*! Other assistants have commented that they also like to wear fat pants and tops that attach with string, however, when they come to work, they put on more appropriate atire.

So, here’s the thing. When the Operations Manager and scheduling person asked how this girl did last night, I told them. I said in no uncertain terms that she was too irresponsible to be promoted, that she was gone last night more than she was here, she refused to do tasks, or did them so slowly that I had to do them myself, etc. etc. Needless to say, she’s not going to be getting the promotion and now I feel kind of bad. She’s a nice girl - just totally irresponsible. I felt that I couldn’t, in good conscience, recommend her promotion and now I feel kinda crappy about it.

So - do I suck? Please be nice here folks - I’m feeling pretty guilty about this.

You did the right and responsible thing. No question about it.

I think you did exactly the right thing.

If she cannot do the job it would have been wrong of you to gloss over her performance and allow her to get a promoton to a job she is, form the sound of it, neither suited or qualified for.

Sometimes it’s tough being the perosn in charge but it comes with the territory.

Don’t beat yourself up

No, you don’t.

If you said you had never addressed this with the girl, then yeah, you would be a terrible manager. But it sounds as if you’ve tried to give constructive criticism, and even demonstrated what is appropriate. Since the girl has chosen not to accept those directions, she has made the choice to not be promoted.

There was nothing you could have done to gloss over it… if you had indeed done that, you would have been making a mistake. You should not be feeling guilty ove this; it was the girl’s own behavior that landed her in hot water with everyone. If she refused to dress more professionally or to do her tasks the way you would have liked her to do them (after she was told multiple times by different people), then that was her own fault. Nothing you could have said after the fact would have ameliorated it.

Usually I’m a complete cheerleader for assistants when they’re looking to be promoted - I think it’s great that they have initative and I enthusiastically support their bids.

The really crappy thing is that there is another assistant that does a SUPER job. I totally pushed for this gal to work with me last night rather than the first gal, but was vetoed because the first girl has been with the company longer.

It’s a shame, because the first girl has been with the company for a long time - it just seems like as time goes by she’s becoming more and more difficult to work with, more sulky about being asked to do stuff, etc. etc.

I know that she has some personal issues (as do the rest of her supervisors) and I think we’re all trying to be accomodating and understanding, but her behaviour and performance has been sub par for almost a year.


No, you don’t suck. Er… never mind.

I did notice that you handle large amounts of cash, Alice.

So, do you wanna go steady?

Stop beating yourself up. You did exactly the right thing. Unprofessional people should not be given professional responsibilities or everyone suffers. If you passed her along your judgement would be considered suspect when she crashed and burned.

Thousands and thousands in small, unmarked bills.

Unfortunatly, I almost never get an opportunity to roll around in it naked…

The only thing I can see here (and I may have missed the obvious, sorry), is that you provided your brief to the Operations Manager and scheduling person before you could provide feedback to the individual.

FWIW, if it were me, I would have discussed the situation with the individual and identified whether there were reasons (not excuses) for some of the things done.

I always feel better when I’ve had the chance to discuss the situation with the person before making a recommendation to the management.

Avoids the later situation where the individual comes back with ‘well why didn’t you tell me’.


Actually, I have had numerous talks with this person, as have other members of the staff.

She was told that she would be given this opportunity to try out in the new job, and that her performance had to be higher than it had been in the past. She was told she would be expected to be professionally dressed, that she would have to stay at her post for the entire evening, and that she would be responsible for the outcome of the evenings procedings.

I discussed the aspects of the job that were different, which things she was going to have to focus on, and areas that she would have to concentrate on for improvement (specifially, her appearance and demeanor).

Essentially, we were giving this person an unearned opportunity to see if she would rise to the occasion - unfortunatly, she did not.

Even though I know that she would be a disaster if promoted, I still feel bad. I’ve had her to my home fer crying out loud.

As I said - GAH!

Well, a girl has gotta have some fun, RIGHT?

alice_in_wonderland I still think it’s worth you following up after the event.
Setting expectations beforehand is the correct way to go.
Talking to the person to explain why they weren’t recommended after the event is just as important.
It’s the whole circle of expectation and performance feedback.

I prefer to find out from the person who made the recommendation (either way) rather than get the notification from ‘management’ that I didn’t perform.
I really like to hear first hand what went wrong.

From your posts, it would seem that the individual should have known what was expected and they chose not to, and that fact needs to be reiterated in your performance feedback.

FWIW, I think you made the RIGHT decision, I just would have handled the ‘post decision’ process a little differently.

Giving a false good review would actually have been a grave disservice to the individual. You did the correct thing.


See, the thing is, it’s not really in my job description to hand out performance reviews. When I’m working with someone and they’re doing a good job, I always make sure to tell them, as well as the General Manager/scheduling person, as well as recommending that person for promotion. However, it’s not really my place to criticize job performance, except at the time.

While I supervise the assistants while at work, I don’t really make any of the hiring or firing decisions. Well, not entirely true, assistants have been fired based on my assessment, as well as being promoted, but I’m not exactly their direct supervisor.

Man, this doesn’t make sense, even to me.

Suffice it to say that had this person asked what I was going to say about her performance, I would have told her, but it didn’t seem appropriate to spontaniously offer it.

Thank you for standing up for what is right in business. Doing otherwise would be a Bad Thing[sup]TM[/sup].

It’s nice to know that you are bothered by this. I’ve had supervisors who cared not one whit who they hurt or how much. Always stay human.

I have also had many experiences with employees who believed they deserved extra responsibility, but didn’t want to demonstrate it ahead of time. Then, when they weren’t rewarded with the raise/promotion/task, they were shocked that we couldn’t just take their word for it that they would change or improve.

It sounds like you went above and beyond (bringing her clothes) to help her succeed. You wouldn’t have helped her by not being honest about her performance. You might help your conscience by asking her why she chose to make such a bad showing. Maybe she just doesn’t realize how much importance is given to appearance because she has been allowed to be slack in this area before this.

Didn’t you say the bosses ASKED you? Where you supposed to lie or cover up? You didn’t burst into their office and say “That bimbo Mary came in dressed like a hooker and screwed us up!”

They asked for a report. You gave it. Called doing your job. You did the right thing.

Thanks guys - you’re making me feel a bit better about things.

I hate to be negative about people, but I hate to lie more.

The problem is, with this particular person, when shes told that she will not be promoted at this time, I can promise that she will chalk it up to me being a bitch, life being unfair, and her always getting the short end of the stick, rather than anything she may or may not have done herself, despite repeated comments about her level of professionalism and job performance.

Unfortunatly, this is another reason that I couldn’t recommend her promotion - if you can’t admit or recognize when you’ve screwed up, you’ll never be able to correct the problem.

It still sucks though, because I do like this person.