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Ask Amy: Employee uses PTO to go AWOL

Dear Amy: I have managed many work teams throughout my professional career and enjoy it very much. I generally try to find the good in each employee, appreciate their strengths, and accommodate individual personality quirks to foster a culture of tolerance to accomplish team goals.

However, one employee's "quirk" is increasingly irritating to me. She does not ask permission to take time off, but instead tells me when she'll be taking time off. This happens for advanced-notice vacation time as well as short-notice emergency time. For example, she recently texted me in the morning, that she would be leaving at 1 p.m. that day.

This employee does excellent work. She is friendly, reliable, competent, and does not abuse her earned paid leave time.

Am I being too sensitive? Am I wrong in thinking that employees should respectfully ask their supervisors for permission to take time off? (I have never denied an employee time off.)

Should I let it go because she's such a great employee? I don't want to upset her, but I find this practice annoyingly passive-aggressive.

I also don't think it's fair to other employees who ask my permission to take time off.

— Miffed Manager

Miffed Manager: If your employee declares to you when she is taking time off and you are worried about being “too sensitive,” as well as the prospect of “upsetting her,” then I’d say she has you right where she wants you.

Do you have a company policy about scheduling (non-emergency) time off? If not, then you should enact one. Here is some sample language for PTO (paid time off): “To take PTO requires two days of notice to the supervisor and Human Resources unless the PTO is used for legitimate, unexpected illness or emergencies.”

And then you should enforce it.

The way to enforce your policy is to do what my various managers have done over the years: make your policy clear to all the employees, and, if this one employee continues to violate it, deal with her directly.

By all means, highlight her positive contributions to the company, and let her know that being a great worker also compels her to adhere to the guidelines that each employee is expected to follow.

Dear Amy: I have no children, but I do have seven nieces and nephews.

Some of my nieces and nephews make a point of staying in touch.

Some ignore me, don't acknowledge gifts, or otherwise correspond at all.

For the most part, they live 2,000 miles away from me.

In drafting my will, leaving money to all of them doesn't seem appropriate, but leaving money to only a select few may create hard feelings.

My attorney says I can leave my money to anyone I want. After all, I guess I won't be around, so who cares what they think?

Your thoughts?

— Speaking of Wills

Speaking of Wills: I agree with your attorney. I also hope you will look at some local causes that you might want to support.

Dear Amy: A couple of years ago I read a response in your column about a narcissistic husband, in which you recommended the book, "Should I Stay or Should I Go."

I got the book and couldn't put it down, realizing that I was married to a manipulative, gaslighting, using and abusing narcissist.

Long story short, I am in the process of divorcing him.

I haven't felt as free or been as happy in a long time.

Your column set me off on a path to a healthy life. Thank you.

— An Appreciative Reader

Appreciative Reader: I am somewhat conflicted that the ending of your marriage should be counted as a “win” for either of us, but I definitely understand that an “aha” moment can lead to a major life change. I’ve experienced this myself.

I highly recommend the work of Ramani Durvasula, author of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” (2015, Post Hill Press).

Narcissism is an overused descriptor, as she notes in a recent talk. A garden-variety “jerk” is not necessarily a narcissist.

A true narcissist lacks empathy, constantly seeks attention and validation, is hypersensitive, angry, grandiose, and has a tendency to “manipulate and exploit people.” A narcissist can experience hair-trigger rage when their ego is threatened.

Some of these characteristics can make a person seem extremely compelling and confident at first, but narcissism is thought to be a cover for deep instability and insecurity.

These are tough and potentially terrible characteristics in a life-partner and parent.

2021 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency