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Incompetence

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


Several people I work with now think it is hilarious to tell ethnic jokes. They are also using e-mail to send them around. I find them to be offensive, and I'm sure there are other employees here who feel the same way. What do you suggest?
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I have asked an employee to do a certain project the way I want it done, but he simply does it his way, and his way is wrong. When I have spoken to him, he agrees to take the correct steps, and then he does it his way again. How many times do I have to tell him what I want before it's time to take more serious action?
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In the past few weeks, I have spilled coffee three times in my office. One of the spills ruined a keyboard, and the others simply stained the carpet a little. My boss told me that if I have one more spill, he is going to fire me. I'll do my best not to have another accident, but isn't his reaction a little over the top? How should I deal with him?
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When I was looking for an administrative assistant, one of the job requirements was knowledge of office software. I hired an individual who had all of the other skills, but no experience or training on office software. She said she could learn it easily, but she still makes mistakes every day. The program has a help function, and I have suggested that she use it, but the result is the same. Do you believe this is grounds for termination?
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I have a boss who can hardly teach me anything, but he takes all the credit for what I do. He threatens to get rid of me if I cannot figure something out and then ask him questions. Is it justifiable for him to take credit and provide no guidance?
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A year ago, my boss hired "Joe" to help me with my workload. Joe gets along well with the boss, but everyone else in the office is afraid of him. He has a violent temper and swears constantly. When someone talks nicely to him, he'll make a violent threat like, "How about I smash your head in with a sledgehammer?" I told my boss that we don't feel safe with Joe working here, but he refuses to do anything. In fact, he thinks the whole situation is funny. Should I search for a job elsewhere before Joe gets totally out of hand?
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During our department meeting this morning, my manager looked at me and said, "You are the weakest link." Everyone had a big laugh but me. I was practically waiting for him to say, "Good bye." I'm very upset by this "joke." Am I overreacting?
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I am supposed to coordinate my work with a person in the publicity department of our company. She works in another city, and I have left her several telephone and e-mail messages, but she hasn't returned any. On my last call, I got her voice mail and it indicated she is out of town and to call her assistant. When I called her assistant, her voice mail said that she herself is out of town too. What should I do now?
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I am very available to the employees who report to me. I look over their projects, but I keep finding that the quality of their work is questionable. I give them feedback, but they are still making errors that they should be catching. How do I get them to improve?
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Over the past several weeks, our manager has hired four new people in our department, and each one is less qualified than the next. This has created more work for all of us. We told our manager about the problem, but he thinks it is a case of longer-term employees resisting new hires. What should we do now?
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In reviewing one of the managers, we noticed his tendency to terminate the better employees in his department, and keep many of the plodders. We have some different theories as to what might be behind this, but we would like to know your thoughts on it.
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Our company recently hired a new office manager, but she does not know how to manage at all. She runs around here doing menial tasks and getting in the way, and we have to train her in so many areas while she is supervising us. This seems unfair, and there are several of us who should have been promoted instead of hiring her from the outside. What should we do?
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Our company has a computer specialist on staff, but we have difficulties dealing with him. When we have computer problems, he comes into our department at his convenience, makes some fast adjustments, gives an incomprehensible explanation, and treats us like we are fools. His repairs are not that great, so we have to call him again and the cycle repeats itself. Any suggestions?
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A good friend of mine works in the back office of a small medical practice. She feels picked on by the doctor and the receptionist. The receptionist complains constantly, and the doctor allows himself to be drawn into her gossip about the back office staff. I've told my friend that she should find an office where there are more employees because what she is experiencing is typical of small medical offices. What do you think?
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We have monthly meetings that have turned into monthly beatings. Last month two people thrashed me publicly in the meeting. I informed the department head that if this happens again, I will leave the meeting. One of the people complaining at the meeting has a ten-year friendship with the department head. What do you advise?
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Another manager called me to discuss one of his employees, and I started to make some unfavorable comments about this employee when his voice suddenly came onto the call. It turned out that I was on the other manager's speakerphone and the employee in question was in his office. I was embarrassed and annoyed over this, and I'm not sure what to do next.
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What can be done about a woman supervisor who makes crude remarks to one employee about another? This supervisor is not liked, as she is a total control freak.
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I gave an employee a fairly easy assignment, and she did it poorly. The assignment did not require much follow-up from me, and this is not the first time that her work as been poor. I was pretty firm when I told her that the work was sloppy. If I have to fire her, I will, but are there any steps to try before that?
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I just had a performance review with my manager, and he included statements that are not accurate. To anyone who reads them, I look like a bad employee. He used words like "lazy" and "incompetent" to describe me, and that's not true and I can prove it. What should I do?
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Our manager is forever saying that everyone here can be replaced, and we should not forget it. We get the point and we are tired of hearing it. What should we say to him when he does this?
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I recently changed jobs and things were going well except for the fact that the guys in the office pick on and harass the new guy, me. I have repeatedly asked them to stop. I talked to my boss and he told them to stop, but now they are ignoring and excluding me. My boss says this is their way of backing off. I didn't do anything to deserve this treatment. What should I do?
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I am a Department Head and my manager has been going around me and dealing directly with my employees. He gives them orders and assignments, and this is upsetting me and them. I asked him to stop, but he has not done so. I am not sure what to do now.
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All of us work hard, but there is one person in our department who is just plain lazy. Her work is sloppy, she is late on everything, and she causes the rest of us to fall behind. Our manager says we should take care of this ourselves, but we have met with her, and she has made no effort to improve. What should we do now?
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Before my annual evaluation with my manager, I did a self-evaluation and gave myself honest ratings that were pretty high. I then met with my manager, and his evaluation of me was much lower. He knew practically nothing about what I had accomplished, and his ratings are the ones that will be used for raises and promotions. What can I do?
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My manager gave me an assignment, and I worked long hours for several days to complete it on time. When I gave it to him, he said that he changed his mind and does not need it. With that, he set it aside on his desk and gave me another assignment. There was no apology or explanation. How do I prevent the same thing from happening again?
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I have an employee who deserves to be fired. His work is not very good, his attitude is often negative, and even his honesty is questionable. I have talked to him about the problems and documented his performance, but the problem is that I have never fired anyone and I don't feel good about putting someone out of a job. What can you suggest?
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Our company had a project that we needed to contract out, and one of my friends got it based mainly on my recommendation. He just submitted it, and the work is not acceptable. I think my reputation is damaged, and I'm wondering what to do.
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I gave my most recent employer two weeks' notice, and on my final day of employment, I had an exit interview with the human resources representative. I was surprised that she did not ask me many questions, but used the opportunity to criticize me. She said my manager was not pleased with my work, and it was good that I was leaving because I was not going to be promoted. Is this how exit interviews are supposed to work?
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I work for a national footwear chain in one of their stores. I am a top salesman, a Jewish male, and my regional manager refers to me with an anti-Semitic term. He also uses racial slurs to describe an African-American woman in our corporate office. I emailed a letter to Human Resources, and they called other witnesses and spoke to the regional manager. He admitted to the slurs, but nothing was done after that. Now I have to work with this manager, and I feel like a fool. What should I do now?
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I just changed offices, and my new one needs more light. I asked my manager if I could bring in a small lamp for my desk. He said he does not want the clutter, and all of the lighting meets the required minimums. How can I change his mind?
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My manager gave me some very important responsibilities on a major project. I have had to meet with managers all over the company, and they are now coming to me for decisions, and thatís the problem. I have no decision-making power. My manager is calling all of the shots, undoing things that I have done, and saying that all decisions are his. How am I supposed to work on this project?
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I have a co-worker who constantly finds fault in all of us. She brings up petty stuff to management, and she yells at other co-workers, is very confrontational, and becomes angry at the drop of a dime. This past weekend she purposely pulled a stunt that caused me to get written up. Iíve tried to resolve conflicts with her personally, and Iíve talked to management about her, but they almost seem afraid of her. What can I do now?
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I put together a summary of information that my manager requested, and I thought I did a good job. His response to me was a question mark, and nothing more. When I responded that I am not sure what he means, he emailed back and said, ďfigure it out.Ē What am I missing?
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I gave a project to one of my employees two weeks ago, and I wanted him to complete it within a week. As the deadline approached, he said he was too busy and needed extra time. I gave him an extension, and then another one earlier this week, and now he wants even more time. I donít want to be a tough guy, but what can I do to put an end to this?
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Iím thinking of leaving my current job, and Iím wondering what I can do to assure the good work my boss has often praised is mentioned after I leave and a prospective employer calls for a reference. I have heard my boss rip into past employees. How can this be prevented, and how can I prepare my interviewer for this likelihood?
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Our company brought in an outside trainer, and during the session I thought he made a technical mistake, and not on a minor issue. When I politely asked him about it, he turned my question into a joke and got a big laugh from everyone in the room. Afterwards, I did some checking and found out I was right and the trainer was wrong on the issue. Should I say something or just forget it?
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Our company is introducing several changes in assignments and responsibilities, along with a revised overall structure. As planned, I discussed the changes with another manager. He then met with my manager and totally misquoted me. My manager then tore into me. What should I do?
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I have done excellent work during the year, but I am concerned that I am not going to get a raise because my manager is heavily influenced by another manager who does not like me. My manager let this happen last year, and I am afraid he will do it again. What should I do?
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I have two employees in my department who have not been performing well, and I gave both of them poor evaluations. They got together and complained to my manager. He believed everything they said, and he called me in and criticized me. What should I do now?
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My manager advised me to pick a certain day every month and use that day to give my employees some recognition for their work. I can tell that he does the same thing, because he seems to show up every other Friday in our department to thank us for something. Is this a worthwhile step to take as a manager?
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I just went through a performance evaluation with my manager, and I thought I would get a good review. I was totally surprised by the negative comments my manager made. I had no idea he was so dissatisfied with my work. I asked why he did not tell me about this earlier, and he said the purpose of the performance review is to provide this information. Is that right?
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My manager called and asked my opinion about a co-worker, and I spoke candidly about this person. I knew my manager had me on her speakerphone, but I did not realize this employee was there. My co-worker heard what I said and instantly became defensive. Now what should I do?
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We received a resume from an applicant whose background looks good for an entry level marketing position with our company. My concern is that she uses a very babyish nickname on her resume and cover letter. I think this is a sign of immaturity. Do you agree?
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Whenever we meet with our manager to talk about questions or problems on the job, his reaction is always the same. He says, ďDeal with it,Ē and then goes back to whatever he was doing. We end up making mistakes and then getting reprimanded. What are we supposed to do?
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My manager is always trying to find fault with my work. She looks over everything I do, and if there is even a tiny error, she will jump all over it. She has sent me emails about insignificant mistakes, and she has verbally reprimanded me as well. She doesnít do this with others in the department. How can I get her to stop doing this to me?
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I just had a job interview that lasted ten minutes. The interviewer kept me waiting for thirty minutes and did not even apologize for that. He said he was very busy and then rushed through a few questions. I have not heard a word from the company since then. Is this common, and should I take any action?
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I have an employee who blames others whenever she makes a mistake. Even when there is no question that a problem developed because of her decisions, she will still point the finger at someone else. If I tell her she is wrong, she becomes defensive. How do you deal with someone like this?
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I am looking for a summer internship, and my college referred me to a company. I am a 20-year-old female art student, and one of the interviewers said he knows he is not supposed to ask, but he wanted to know if I am 21-years-old. I begrudgingly told him my age, but I am wondering how to answer this type of question.
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A friend at work and I discussed some problems I was having on a particular assingment. Afterwards, he tood what I said and went to our boss. Without any notification, our boss took the assignment from me and gave it to my friend, and neither one informed me. I heard about the change from another co-worker. I am very upset. What should I do?
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Our general manager recently sent out notes of appreciation to almost everyone, but I never received one. I feel annoyed and humiliated, and I donít know if he is trying to tell me something or if he just forgot. I am reluctant to ask him because I think I would look too needy. Is there anything else I could do?
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My granddaughter has been on her current job for over a year and has been doing an excellent job. Before her review, her manager gave her a booklet about her duties and asked her to rate herself. She gave herself all 4ís, the highest rating, except for a 3 on one item because some of the duties were not part of her job. At the review session, her manager accepted the 3 and dropped some of her 4ís to 3ís, saying it would not be right for them to be a perfect score. What do you think of this evaluation, and what do you think about deductions for unassigned duties?
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One of my employees goes to my boss whenever she wants to voice her complaints or concerns. After these meetings, my boss calls me to go over what she said. This is a big waste of time, and I have told this employee to come to me first, but she still goes directly to him. How can I change this?
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Today, my manager ripped me to shreds in front of an employee that I supervise and had to reprimand for taking long breaks, an issue which my manager recently addressed with the whole dept. After I spoke to the employee (as gently as possible), he ran to my supervisor describing my "abrasive and accusing" remarks. My manager believes every word out of my employees mouth and then acts on these descriptions. This employee has, for several months, been "getting in the ear" of my supervisor telling him things that are going on within the department that are exaggerations and misrepresentations of the truth. He has effectively manipulated my supervisor against me. Somehow, I'm now the mean, rotten supervisor while my employee is viewed as the innocent victim. I am being sent to management training now because, as he stated in front of my employee "my management technique stinks". I would welcome the training more if it didn't seem like a punishment based on the "stories" of my employee. This employee seems to have my supervisor wrapped around his little finger and I've noticed strong favoritism. The beating and humiliation I took today is too much. My manager is far better equipped for confrontation than me. I am a mild-mannered and easy going manager and I have good, friendly work relationships with 99.9% of people in the building and, for 16 years, I've delivered and got things done well. My manager, who I recently found myself under due to a shuffle of departments, has a lot of management training and effectively backed me into an embarrassing and humiliating corner(all in front of my employee). I plan on trying to call a meeting with upper management to address what happened first thing tomorrow morning. This will undoubtedly enrage my manager and I expect things could get worse. My main complaint is that my manager ripped me to shreds in front of the employee I was trying to reprimand. All I said to my employee was "You took a half hour break today. Please keep it down to 15 minutes as company policy states." That's when he ran to my manager and all heck broke loose. I'll take any advice or words of wisdom you can offer. Thank you very much for your time!
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This individual constantly talks bad about everyone in the company when they are not there. He has condescending nicknames for everyone and looks for problems, mistakes or anything and blows them out of proportion to be the one who found it or to destroy their reputation. He has been sent to HR for multiple issues but come out unscathed. He is in middle management and everyone just accepts his behavior. Upper management spends more time curbing his behavior than developing his peers. Cursing and tantrums follow any confrontation and physical intimidation comes into play (getting in your face)when someone talks back or stands up to his antics. Management has found themselves "eating crow" when they investigate I individuals that he has made derogatory claims about. He was taken to hr for referring to middle easterner as "the terrorist" but came out clean and acts the same way. Very unprofessional, hypocritical but never has a problem and is accepted as that is the way he is.
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I work in a relatively small business that is now very, very successful. Iíve worked my way from $8.00/hr + Commission (@28,000/yr) to $20.00/hr + Commission & bonuses(@65,000/yr) in 6 years. I know that Iím the highest paid employee, and that Iím satisfied with my pay. I also know Iím an over achiever and Iíve brought the company from 130th in our industry to the top-dealer in 6 years total. I know for a fact Iíve made huge improvements to this business and I have a great relationship with the majority of the other employees. Although, I am not the ďgeneral managerĒ and have yet to receive an actual title - Iím definitely the coordinator and actually manage the dealership. Now the ownerís daughter has decided to come in more often and try to take on the role as general manager. She has no management experience (other then hiring & firing 10 or so employees within this company). She causes extreme amounts of drama with and extremely flirty attitude with employees, customers, and even local delivery men causing more issues than you could ever imagine. She does not come in at normal hours, maybe 3 to 4 days a week and if sheís there maybe 4 hours sheís paid bills and sent me off to run her personal errands. (Today I picked her up a fountain poured coke, and picked up two rings from the local jeweler) She does not have a real business plan, nor a true job description, or standard order of operations for the employees and their job duties. The rules change on a daily basis. She is extremely demanding and does not like to be shown how to do something, even if it is imperative to the business or a prospective new customer. For instance, this week I was delivering a purchased unit to a new customer out of state when she called and informed me that the salesman were all away and that she needed to know how much the two units we just finished up cost were... I told her the retail figures and she wanted to know actual cost so she could intelligently talk to a potential customer about pricing. I informed her that I knew one unit was completely entered in our dealer management system, but the other was not. I also informed her that I did not know the actual dealer cost of this unit, nor the other unit off the top of my head. I informed her that she could easily look at the cost in our system for the one unit that was entered. She said ď Iím not going through that, that takes entirely too long, this is absolutely ridiculous that we do not have the actual dealer cost written down in the units files!Ē ((Yelling)) I had the phone away from my ear and even the owner could hear every word she was yelling. (He looked confused during this) She kept yelling at me, and I expressed that if she wanted to know the actual dealer cost that there was a very easy 30second procedure she would need to do... she just kept yelling... I told her that we could go over everything tomorrow morning, and she kept yelling, I said we can discuss this tomorrow... she paused for a moment and I heard nothing so I hung up the phone. She immediately called the owner (right next to me) and started yelling at him about the situation and he said ďwe can deal with this tomorrow, no big dealĒ. Just from his looks I only assumed that he understood that she only wanted it her way and that she was not going to it the way everyone else does it. That wasnít the case the next morning... The next morning I was called into her office with her and the owner. I was written up for insubordination because I hung up on her. I spoke my peace that I was not to be yelled at like a dog, and that I was not a child and should not be spoken to in any other fashion. She said that she never raised her voice and that I refused to do what she said. I kept my mouth shut... I never refused anything... I looked at the owner hoping he would be a more logical person because he witnessed the confrontation, but he agreed with her and even to the point saying that I was in the wrong and that was uncalled for. I did sign the paper with a very shaky hand.... I have addressed a multitude of other issues that she has caused to the owner, but it's been no help... it is only getting worse now that she is coming around more often. I also keep a very close eye on the bookkeeping and the profits and loss reports. She has started two new credit cards under the businessí name and she and her husband uses them for personal usage. (Vacations, fuel, hotels, food, clothing, home furnishings) Iím taking thousands and thousands of dollars! This has now put a financial burden on the company and it makes it very hard to buy product to resale if the money is gone. I rely on this for a huge part of my income. Iíve put in for other jobs, and Iíve received a few offers, but nothing close to what Iím making now. I would accept a pay cut for happiness, but I canít accept a 50% cut. Recently, weíve had quite a bit of employee turnover at the dealership and weíve lost a bunch of good people. A retired industrial plant operations director decided to try selling for us, and he said it best on his personal goodbye letter left for myself... ďGet out of here, youíll do great, open your own shop! I canít take the drama and abuse, I donít have to work, but I thought I would enjoy this... boy I was wrong - You canít work under someone who operates their business by the ďseagull management methodsĒ ďComes in every now-and-then, squaks a lot, shits on everything, and then just leaves!Ē I need some advice... I have the knowledge, I have the customer base that I know would follow, my other half is very supporting and is always after me to open my own business.... but I donít have the finances... HELP KEN! P.S. please excuse any and all dramatically errors, run-ons, and incomplete sentences... itís nearly 11pm after a 13hr day that has dragged me down...
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I have an new coworker. Since she has been working with us she has done the following:Threw keys at another coworker because she had to work 30 minutes more than she was scheduled. Left her keys out where other people had access to confidential information and cash.Force balanced, left items out unlocked overnight.Lied about several things. Every time she is approached by management she turns the tables saying we don't like her, we act like we don't want to help her and we talk to her in a mean way.She has been treated the same as everyone else and doesn't complain unless she is approached by management about something she has done.Our local management seems to not be addressing the fact that she is doing this but questions us on how we speak to her.
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My boss has recently put me on an action plan to assist me in sales improvement. When I don't make sakes, she calls me into her office at odd times (esp. when I'm very busy), then puts hard pressure in me by saying that I'm on the "chopping block." She recently told me that I need a "fire under my ass." Today she told me that everywhere I go there is drama and blamed me for the internet malfunction when it was CLEARLY NOT my fault. Then she told me to go and pick up food for our entire office with her credit card and never offered me any food but expected me to drive and pick it up. She wrote me up for tailgating someone out of the garage saying she's "never had an employee like this." She told me that I can't fax documents any longer because of the internet, and one of my favorites is that she doesn't allow me to have my office door closed at all--- not even when I'm on a conference call. Oh yeah... She also told me that another employee has had complaints about her and that's she's "crazy or probably going through menopause." I want to notify HR, but I'm so afraid. She warned me that if I don't back her up or go against her I will regret it. What should I do?
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