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I have our department's student assistants housed with me, therefore I spend most of the time with them.  While I'm their "supervisor," I'm not the only one who can give them tasks or criticisms.  Lately, one of our student workers seems to have gotten a bad case of senioritis or just sheer laziness.  We're just gritting our teeth until he's gone at the end of this month.  The kicker is he's asked me to write a letter of recommendation for him for "whenever he needs it."  Since he's an international student he means a letter that can double as a referral or a recommendation.  I agreed before he started really messing up.

How do I politely put in a Letter of Recommendation that I'd suggest they keep him away from anything electronic so he can get his work done?  How can I say that he'd be best working for a micromanager?  He's really nice and very friendly, but dear god!  Once he's touched his cellphone, or listened to music through his earbuds, or looked at his work computer his brain immediately dumps all work info in favor of whatever he was doing.  He's always very willing to do whatever task you assign him and doesn't act like he's being inconvenienced and he's never come to work in a bad mood, but lordy, do NOT give him critically important tasks!

Does anyone have any sites they can recommend that I can use as a basis for writing his recommendation without saying something completely mean?  I've written letters of recommendations for previous student employees for specific educational opportunities, but never for something generalized and these other students were just outstanding.  He's just so-so.  Any ideas or suggestions?


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 19th, 2017 11:20 pm (UTC)
You spin it in the reverse (and you'd honestly be doing other people a favor to warn them if he actually used the damn thing).

"Works extremely well under direct supervision and with challenges permitting exclusive focus, alternatively he can also be excellent as a receptionist or any task requiring lots of social interaction."...something like this. You could even make his usage of his cell phone into a joke, so that it gets in there, but that it doesn't seem mean-spirited.

Now, he may also take this letter as a wake-up call, versus using it as a reference, which would also be good. It's disgusting how often these types are getting away with sub-par work AND expecting to have their back patted for it. Some of us worked our butts off.

Jun. 19th, 2017 11:22 pm (UTC)
I suppose it's impossible to TELL HIM your concerns and give him time to improve, in order for you to write a more honest letter of recommendation? (alternative idea)
Jun. 20th, 2017 12:47 am (UTC)
Don't write him a recommendation if it's a lie; that's your name and your reputation on the line. You would do him a bigger favor by explaining to him why you're not going to write one. Better yet, tell him where he's going wrong and let him know he won't get a letter unless you see real improvement.
Jun. 21st, 2017 12:42 pm (UTC)
I would try to talk to him about his recent behavior. Something along the lines of "It's been great having you with us, and I know you're reaching the end of your time here, but I've noticed you seem to be not as engaged with your work lately and it's concerning me." If your library has a written policy regarding the use of cell phones and the internet while at work mention it. His response should give you a idea of whether you want to go ahead with a letter of recommendation. In my experience it's not uncommon for employees to kind of drop off a bit when they know the end is in sight, but if it's negatively impacting the work that needs to be done, and will go on once they've left, that's a problem. A verbal agreement to write a letter of recommendation, especially before they've finished their service, is not in my mind a binding contract, but if you're going to write one, it should be a letter of recommendation, not a letter of your reservations. If you have significant reservations, don't write the letter. If you feel he's been generally a good worker, but you weren't pleased with his performance at the end, you need need not heap effusive praise, but be a bit generic. Or ask HR for advice, where I work we actually have guidelines and policies relating to what we can and cannot say in a letter of recommendation.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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