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Young co-worker problems

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Question: I have a Junior AA working with me who is pretty young and this is her first "real" job. She is a good worker when she's here. My problem is that she sits in the reception area and walks in a half-hour late at least two or three times a week, or dresses inappropriate for a business office.

While I understand that she's young and a good worker, I don't want to keep reminding her that working hours are from 8:30 to 5:30 and not from 9:00 to 5:30. I have tried talking to her about dressing and being late, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. I have tried to give her verbal warnings. I'm not sure what to do next.  -- Needing Help in New York


Sounds like you need to put something in writing in her file. Counsel her and perhaps get HR involved. Looking at it as a learning and teaching tool, you WANT her to be successful, a feel that these things will hinder her performance, reviews, and future jobs. She SHOULD appreciate the candidness, and be open to suggestions and change. It's a hard world, and she has to learn what it really takes. Give her a reality check.

Are you her supervisor? If so, you need to start documenting these things (especially the tardiness) and addressing it more formally. If you are not her supervisor, I would contact either the woman's manager or human resources to find out what to do.

And, do you have a formal dress code? It's easier to help someone know what's appropriate to wear if a formal dress code is provided. At the credit union where I work, many of the younger employees simply don't know what's appropriate. If this issue has been addressed with them before and they continue to flaunt the dress code, the supervisors send them home to change (and don't pay them for the time they are gone); that sends a strong message. We also hosted a "dress for success" fashion show with employee "models" showing the do's and don'ts of what to wear to work. (We did it with a light, funny touch, even going so far to show what happens when the models in lower-rise slacks bent over to get things from their lower desk drawers. Believe me, it was an eye-opener!! People really got the message.)

I started my first "real" job out of college as an administrative assistant in a small company. There are a lot of changes from being a student to an employee and an adult in the real world, and sometimes it almost felt overwhelming. I count myself lucky that I have a co-woker who would look out for me, and tell me straight-forward when I was making mistakes. As a person who has been in your Junior AA's position, she will appreciate your advice and help if you let her know that everything you are telling her is meant to better her career (the way others perceive her, getting into good habits, etc). If you have already tried friendly talking and written warnings, take the next step. I would rather be corrected early on than continue to make the same mistakes that could be detrimental to my career.

I think older, more experienced admin pros have a responsibility to younger, more inexperienced admins. We need to mentor them, teach them the real meaning of being a "professional" admin, teach them to respect themselves and the work admins do and just generally take them under our wings. When constructive criticism is given in a tactful, caring way, I believe it is appreciated.

If you have a supervisor, have them handle it.

I am known for being late! There have been a few things in previous jobs that have helped me with being more ontime. At my last job, we had to punch a clock. If you were more than 5 minutes late, you were given a tardy and after I think 8 tardies, you were fired. So that was definitely an incentive to actually get to work ontime. Although, I usually ended up coming in within those 5 grace-period minutes. Currently, I usually come in before my boss. But she doesn't always have the same hours; so I don't know what time she's coming in on any given day. So, now my goal is to be ontime so my boss doesn't see that I'm late. Granted, on the days she isn't here when I get in, I think 'I could've been late today and she wouldn't have known.' But on the days she is here and I'm on time--that's really rewarding. So sometimes I tell myself, if I get to work early enough, maybe I can check something online (because I don't have a computer at home). Also, depending on your job titles, schedule a meeting with her first thing in the morning. Even as late as I usually am, I would make sure I was ontime, if not early, if I have a meeting first thing in the morning.

This is for the young co-worker. If she's not responding to your verbal counsellings, then you need to write her up and have her acknowledge this action. Also, go over your employee handbook that addresses these issues and ask her if understands company policies. Tardiness and inapproriate dressing should not need countless reminders for an individual young or old. Blantant disregard for company rules are grounds for dismissal.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary July 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I started working for a small company as an office admin straight out of college. There is 2 people in the office-the president who is my boss and an HR manager who I sometimes work with. For some reason, they tend to treat me as if I am a child which irritates me. I try my best to dress and act professionally but since they are much older and experienced they see me as their child and put me in that type of zone while I am working. For example, my boss started lecturing me about being professionalism and the right way to speak. Then he goes right back to a customer or another employee and exhibit an unprofessional behavior. One time he decided to tell me that he would not approve my time sheet because he walked by my desk at 3:30 and I was not there so I should not have claimed 8 hours but instead 7.5 hours. Then I replied to his e mail telling him that I have proof that I have been working there the entire time until 4 pm and that he can check my word document that I saved on my computer that says it was last modified at 4pm, as a matter of fact. I think this must have made him angry that I had proof and his accusation was only backed by his memory. So he decided to approve my time sheet (we don’t punch in on time cards, we only report the hours worked). He then brings in an IT guy to look into my computer the time I logged in and out which said that I logged in on the computer at 8:15 am that morning and logged off the comp at 4:00pm. He then used this “evidence” to make me admit to reporting my time worked incorrectly and then made me changed the time. I don’t care for the stupid 15 minutes but it upsets me that managers/bosses can do whatever they want. They initially accused me of leaving early but then their own evidence shows that I left on time. So then they used the same evidence to show that I walked in 15 minutes late which is also untrue because I never go straight to my computer to log on when I walk in. Of course now I definitely do sign in the minute I walk in… And the funny part is the HR person was actually backing him up saying she was there when he walked by my desk at 330 and I was not there when even my log off time says 4:00pm. They were both wrong but never apologized to me. They are so quick to put my mistakes out there but they never accept theirs. Anyway I have learned a lot through this process but I just want to know was there a better way to handle this situation??


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