A couple months ago I started working in a store. The training portion is over. The store recently had a lot of turn over (even for retail). Aside from the manager, the longest employee has been there for 5 months. He is extremely bossy towards me and its really getting on my nerves. To be clear, he is in no official capacity my boss. He is not a supervisor or a manager.

He frequently gives me lists of things to do. Yesterday just as I arrived he said "take over, I'm going to the bank". Just the way he says and does these things sounds really domineering. I think this may be his first job. Hypothetically I could just do what he tells me to do but I think the expectation I have with management is that this job is done more autonomously in that employees ascertain for themselves what needs to be done at an individual level. With the other employees we sometimes ask each other for help to do a task which requires two people (which there aren't many of). But just telling me to do something by myself is different. If nothing else, I have difficult reading his short hand in the lists he gives me.

Also somethings he tells me to do, I can't possibly believe are right. For example when we get an online order for pickup (e.g. Door-Dash) he tells me to hit confirm right away even before we check to see if we have the items in inventory.

What are some ways I can try to address and change this behavior? I'm considering saying "I'm about to do x, why can't you do that?". It's the same person who had asked me to stay late.

  • 9
    If you're still having problems all the time (you have 4 questions complaining about the same colleague in a month) and are not comfortable with asserting yourself, you should be looking for another position more suited to your temperament.
    – Kilisi
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 7:46
  • It sounds partially as your taking an assertive tone by a family member to be something that it’s not, if it’s part of your job to take over for the employee so they can go to the bank you shouldn’t have a problem taking over for the employee so they can go to the bank. It sounds like the bank run was for work and not personal. It’s possible they are talking to you not as another employee but someone in their family. You could say something but that might do more harm than good
    – Donald
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 13:33
  • This is right. I don't know why I didn't see it as an assertiveness issue. Now that I know this, I will just tell him no. Commented May 2, 2021 at 7:49

3 Answers 3


Next time say

"Sure, let me first email our boss to double check that it's OK. We might have to wait a bit before we get their confirmation though.”

It could well be your coworker agrees (highly doubt it) or they will accuse you of being uncooperative and/or a snitch (most likely). Tell your coworker that you value your job position more than hurting their feelings.

Learn to be assertive, and draw the line between doing what is your job and covering up someone's laziness. If you continue to act like your coworker's dogsbody, guess what. They will continue to treat you as one.

  • The only thing this shows is that you would be hard to work with, not flexible and not having any initiative or own agency. Commented May 2, 2021 at 10:16
  • @MarkRotteveel I suggest you look at the OP's previous questions. The solution is offered when the person demands that you take over without so much as a please, a thank you or full explanation. Perhap's the coworker had no choice but to go as quickly as possible before the bank closed or maybe they had to sort out an issue connected with the company. In those cases, of course you cover your coworker. But as a newly hired employee who wants to keep their job, a line has to be drawn between being cooperative or being bossed around by a coworker.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 10:24
  • "take over, I'm going to the bank" might be a bit terse, but the response of "lets email the boss first" to that is just plain wrong. You either accept and do it, either because the co-worker needs to go to the bank as part of the job, or as a courtesy if it is private. If it is private and you don't think they deserve that courtesy (e.g. because of how they ask, etc), then you can reject it, and tell them they need to stay at work and do their banking in their own time. Commented May 2, 2021 at 10:30
  • @MarkRotteveel Exactly. You said it much better than me. But the email to the boss is a backup, a written document, a paper trail, which the coworker might want to avoid. We're talking about a history of orders (or if you prefer, instructions) that the OP feels uncomfortable with.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 11:06

Also somethings he tells me to do, I can't possibly believe are right

Then find out what is right.

In the short term, you can ask your colleague why they think you should do the thing that you're sure is wrong. If their explanation isn't convincing (and they don't outrank you) then say no, you're not going to do it.

After that, approach your manager, and ask what to do in the situation you were in. In your example, you could ask your manager "When should I hit 'confirm' for an online order? I've heard a few different things" if you don't want to throw your colleague under the bus, or "[Colleague] told me to hit confirm immediately when an online order comes in, is that right?" if you're happy to burn your working relationship with them to the ground.

The bottom line is you have a manager with a new team, who all need to be trained. The official "training portion" may be over, but from what I remember from my retail jobs some people can be useless even after years in the job. Your colleague sounds like one of these people. If you want to learn to do your job well, then in the situation you've described your manager is the only person you can learn from.

Don't mistake your colleague's confidence for competence or authority.


Try repeating back to him in the proper corporate language.

"I'm leaving, take over" you reply with short form: "I'll cover for you." Or long form: "You're free to step out, I'll do my job when I'm the only one here."

It's on the gentle side but it's a really consistent form of correcting someone that you can do unilaterally.

If he wants to do something the wrong way just remember your ass is on the line for doing it right, not for not offending him. Just think of the worst way to correct him and do that, because it's still better than messing up an order or something.

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