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Lindsey Novak


How to Handle Workplace Violence Q: We've had layoffs but expect more. We just don't know when or which departments. Most of us have just accepted it, but a few are really angry. My co-workers don't say specific things, but every comment seems angry, even when it's inappropriate. …Read more. When Bosses Fight for Power, Employees Lose Q: I worked at a restaurant franchise owned by two partners. Everyone took orders from the two owners and the head manager, which was fine with me. One day while I was in the lobby area, I heard one of the partners in the kitchen yelling and …Read more. Boss Hires Young Bartender as Office Worker Q: I work at a small, privately owned company. The owner is very involved in the business and controls all hiring. As he has gotten older, he has developed a thing for blondes. This wouldn't be bad if he hired smart blondes, but his most recent hire …Read more. A Professional PI's View on Employee Theft Q: I think you should have told the employee who discovered employees stealing food from a chain restaurant to bring in a video camera and record it all on tape. He could capture the bad behavior and turn it into the corporate office rather than …Read more.
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Promised Recommendation Never Delivered


Q: I left my job when my contract expired, as I was very unhappy with it. Originally, my supervisor and I expected that I would sign on for another year, but as tensions mounted, we agreed it was best for me to move on somewhere else. She agreed (in writing) to write me a strong recommendation letter. She has not done so, nor do I think she will. I already have strong recommendations from past supervisors, so I don't think this will hurt me.

My position required me to have a lot of institutional knowledge and expertise, something that the people I worked with did not have. I wrote instructions and trained everyone before I left, but the information they needed was challenging for them to grasp, since they were so inexperienced.

I am getting emails from my former colleagues asking questions about how to the job. I hold no animosity towards them, and I have helped as they have needed. Since I have not received my recommendation letter, I am wondering if I should still be spending my time answering all of their questions. I want to act professionally and not be spiteful, but I think my time is best spent looking for a new job rather than continuing to train my former colleagues. What do you think?

A: Don't assume that your former supervisor is refusing to write you a recommendation. In fact, never assume anything in business. Your supervisor singed an agreement to give you a strong recommendation letter, something that is rarely, if ever, done. Call her to say you have not received the letter, and ask her if, in the interest of saving her time, she would like you to write and forward a draft to her. Tell her that you have continued to train your former colleagues and that you would like that included in the recommendation letter.

If she agrees that is a great idea, write a letter describing the job requirements and all that you brought to the position.

This is your chance for you to promote yourself as a marketing letter would do. Whenever you ask someone to write something for you, you are at that person's mercy. She may not have the time needed to craft a well-written letter. She may not remember all your accomplishments on the job. She also may not be a good writer. Writing your own recommendation letter is your best option.

If she refuses your help and says she will do it on her own, ask when you can expect to receive it. This is also the perfect time to ask if she would like to go into a written contract with you for consulting/training time, since you have spent many hours of your own time helping your former colleagues.

If she says she no longer wants to write the recommendation letter, remind her you have a signed agreement stating she will do so. If she is a smart supervisor, she will acquiesce, knowing she needs your continued help training her employees.



Q: I am a student working occasionally for a health care agency, helping disabled seniors with various errands. A senior woman who wasn't able to go out gave me $500 to pay her bills and buy her food. When I returned, I handed her the receipts and the remaining money, and I left.

She called me later and said, "Don't bother coming back if you're going to steal from me!" I didn't know what she was talking about, so I agreed to return to talk to her. I helped her look for her missing money, which we found stuffed into one of her pockets. Before I arrived, she had torn apart her place looking for the money, so I also straightened up the mess she had made. How do I protect myself from this kind of thing happening again?

A: This senior citizen may be suffering from dementia, so report all unusual incidents to your employer. The agency may need to contact the woman's family or doctor and assign a highly experienced caregiver to service this client.

Email all your workplace questions to She answers all emails. To find out more about Lindsey Novak and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at



2 Comments | Post Comment
I'm guessing Miss Novak (or Creators!) is sparing herself the business expense of a proofreader or copy editor, lol. They really need to "sing" someone up for that duty!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ms. Rowena
Sat Apr 7, 2012 4:59 AM
Whenever you ask someone to write something for you, you are at that person's mercy. She may not have the time needed to craft a well-written letter. She may not remember all your accomplishments on the job. She also may not be a good writer

Be prepared, too, to hear that regardless of her written promise to write you a recommendation, she may have since learned that doing so violates company policy There's a reason that written letters of recommendation are now "something that is rarely, if ever, done" in our lawsuit-happy society.
Comment: #2
Posted by: hedgehog
Mon Apr 9, 2012 4:51 AM
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