accepting an offer without negotiating, having employees drive me to work, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Is it bad form to accept a job offer without negotiating?

If you get a job offer and the salary is actually much more than you were expecting, do you negotiate? You always read that negotiating makes you a “stronger” candidate and that managers appreciate that you don’t just accept the first offer. But, if you’re truly happy with the offer, does it look weak or is it bad form to just accept it?

If an employer makes you a generous offer that you’re happy with, it’s fine to accept it. It doesn’t look weak, and it’s not bad form. Most hiring managers will think “great,” not “what a weak move.” Loads of people accept offers without negotiating.

That said, make sure you’ve done enough research beforehand to be able to evaluate if it’s truly a great offer. A great offer isn’t just “wow, this feels like a lot of money”; it’s “I know the range for this role in this market and in this field, and I know from actual data that this is the top of the range.” You also want to have a sense of whether you could still ask for a bit more or whether the offer is clearly so strong that you’ll look out of touch if you do that.

2. Coworker’s compliments on my work rub me the wrong way

My coworker will often compliment other team members and me with “you’re doing great work,” “job well done,” or “thanks for all you do/all your help.” The first few times he did this, I thought it was because he was an excited team member and he was new. Now, I notice he does this for projects that he’s not even lead on. Part of me feels that he is trying to assert himself as a manager even though he doesn’t supervise me or my other team members — we’re all the same level. Am I taking this the wrong way? Any tips on how to communicate that this makes me feel uncomfortable?

I’d say it’s a little off for most workplaces, but not offensive. Unless it’s accompanied by other signs that he’s trying to establish some authoritative dynamic with you, I’d let it go and figure that he intends to be warm and friendly, even if it’s coming across a little strangely. He could come from a workplace where it was more normal for peers to praise each other’s work like this; some offices are like that.

If you want to say something, I’d thank him right back — as in, “Thank you for all you do as well.” That will at least make it feel less one-sided, which is part of what’s making it feel weird now.

3. Is it okay to have my employees drive me to and from work?

I just shifted my residence and coincidentally one of my reports live nearby, so in order to save time I go to office with him. Likewise, upon return, one of my other employees drops me halfway towards my home. This saves me energy and time, as I live very far away from office.

From an objectivity point of view, I do not think it has any impact as at the workplace I conduct myself very professionally with them, and this picking up and dropping at home does not in any way impair my objectivity and does not in any way discriminate them with returning the favors.

From an HR standpoint, is it okay to get such small and petty favors from subordinates?

Nope, not from an HR standpoint and not from a management standpoint. I mean, if it were very occasional and they made the offer, then sure, that’s fine. But having it be a standing arrangement is an abuse of your power. Because you’re their boss, they’re much less likely to feel comfortable telling you that they don’t want to continue to drive you. And you’re setting up a situation where they get much more face time with you than others, and your other employees may assume there’s favoritism there even if there isn’t — and may even wonder if you’ll be less willing to address work problems with those employees if doing so could jeopardize your rides. (It doesn’t matter if that’s true or not; the appearance of it is a problem all on its own.)

I get that this is a more convenient commute for you, but you can’t let that trump your obligations as a manager.

4. Should I be recording this work as overtime?

I work in development at a nonprofit in a mid-level coordinator role, mostly managing events and administrative work. I’m a non-exempt worker and fill out timesheets on a biweekly basis, so if I work more than 40 hours a week, I’ll get overtime in either overtime pay or comp time I can use to take time off later. I always choose overtime as I have enough vacation days when I do want to take time off and I like the extra pay.

I normally work 40 hours a week and leave my office around 5 or 5:30. I’ve gotten into the habit of working for 30 minutes to an hour at night. It’s mostly just gathering my thoughts and planning next steps through making to-do lists and drafting emails. Sometimes I do this on weekends as well. Occasionally, I work on a longer project that involves concentrating for more than an hour. These are along the line of data clean-up or writing/editing a document. I’ve never recorded this on my timesheet or brought it up to my supervisor. I think of it as getting myself ready for the next day and that it means I have less to do tomorrow. It’s also a benefit that I get to do it relaxed and in my pajamas and I don’t think of it as “real” work. But should I be recording this as overtime? Or should I not be doing this kind of work outside “work hours” at all? I record overtime for things like staying a few hours late for a meeting or coming in on the (occasional) weekend. I’m curious your take on what I see as more casual working at nights or on weekends, especially for non-exempt employees.

Legally, it counts as work time and you need to be paid overtime for it. It doesn’t matter if you see it as “casual work” or “just getting ready for the next day”; the law requires that it be paid.

But in most places, you should clear that with your manager first; most managers would want the opportunity to say “yes, that’s fine” or “I’d rather you save that for work hours and not run up the overtime.” But regardless, it is work time — it’s work you would not be doing if you didn’t have your job, after all — and your employer is legally obligated to pay it for you if you do it. There’s no exception to the law for work done in your pajamas while drinking a glass of wine.

By the way, that “choose overtime pay or comp time pay” arrangement is also illegal, unless they’re having you use the comp time in the same work week. Employers aren’t allowed to pay legally-required overtime pay in comp time. You may not care, and you’re not legally obligated to speak up about that, but it’s worth being aware of.

5. Mentioning a job in an interview that isn’t on my resume

What are your thoughts on referencing a previous job in an interview when you’ve chosen not to list it on your resume? For instance, I have a previous job that I worked at for only two months before being let go. Due to the short amount of time I was there, I am not going to include it on my resume for any future job hunts. However, if I were to be asked about my biggest weakness in an interview, I would want to reference this job, because it would be a concrete example to support my answer (namely, that I struggle to stay productive an a disorganized or unstructured environment). Is mentioning a job in this manner likely to raise any red flags for hiring managers?

It’s not a big deal to mention work that isn’t on your resume if it’s clear why it’s not there — like it’s from a long time ago or a very different field. But once you bring it up, it’s fair game for questions. So no, I would not bring up a job that you were fired from. Any benefits you get from raising it aren’t going to outweigh the potential negatives.

{ 271 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Engineer Girl

    #2 – You can’t know someone’s motivations. You’re on thin ice when you assume the reasons behind someone’s actions. You could be way off base.
    Do the other projects feed into his projects? If so, he would appreciate a job well done. Or perhaps he enjoys working at a place where there isn’t dysfunction and everyone actually focuses on work. Who knows?
    I’d just ignore it.

    Reply
    1. Polabear

      I’m a woman who praises other people for work well done. While I’m usually involved with the project, I’m not a manager. Why do I do it? Because I think if someone does a good job, they deserve recognition. Managers often don’t have visibility to everything that happens on a project. If someone does an exceptional job I’ll also mention it to their manager as well. However, if I find that it makes a person uncomfortable, I’ll stop.

      Reply
    2. Business Cat

      I could definitely see it being the second option. I came out of a toxic workplace prior to this job, and I have been so overjoyed to be out of that situation that I’m pretty effusive with my thank yous and kudos. For example, we just came out of a busy and difficult period at work and there were two student workers that made my life a lot easier by running paperwork back and forth as needed. As a thank you, I got each of them a cupcake. Both of them were surprised and told me I didn’t need to do that since they were just doing their jobs, but they were cheerful and helpful at a time when I was stretched thin and overwhelmed.

      However, I think tone can make or break how those gestures will sound to others. I enjoy being praised for my efforts at work, but if the praise seems condescending or less than genuine, it really gets my hackles up.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        It’s something I’ve seen suggested as a way to improve morale (only for already functioning offices)–more compliments, in all directions.

        Agreeing with various people that tone does make a difference.

        Reply
      1. Triplestep

        This exactly. I am always sure to thank teammates and peers for help (as in: going above and beyond outside their job description to help me with something.) I try to slip it into conversations with our manager as well. But I think thanking teammates for simply doing their job, or saying “great work!” when – again – they are just doing their job, can come off as condescending.

        But I’m someone who kind of bristles at my *manager* saying “thank you” when, really, I’m just doing my job. I’ll take any recognition anyone wants to give when I’ve gone above and beyond, or even if I’ve done something technically part of my job, but particularly innovative and/or will be helpful to others in the long run.

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    3. Artemesia

      A man constantly thanking me for my contributions would set my spidey sense tingling as that feels like a dominance move. It is at least very patronizing. Now a ‘Wow you did a great job on the Fergus contract’ is a little more neutral and if occasional not such a big deal. But thanking me for my work is to suggest the work is done for the person doing the thanking i.e. that he is ‘in charge’.

      I would just start thanking him for his contributions. If he is just ‘being nice’ then he will see you being nice back. If he is exercising his male dominance as the judge of all things, then it will disconcert him right back.

      Reply
        1. MillersSpring

          I agree with Artemesia 100% and I had the same reaction to OP#2’s letter. It’s the thanking that comes off particularly weird–as if the thanker was somehow managing the project or task.

          Reply
            1. Just Doing My Job

              I wrote in a while ago about a colleague “Jane”. She does this too and I’m sure it’s a way for her to feel like she’s more senior than she is. It makes me cringe. She has no problem complaining behind the scenes about how certain teams don’t know what they’re doing and are doing a terrible job, but in a meeting / to their face, she showers them with thanks for their “Wonderful work”. It comes across as terribly condescending.

              Reply
  2. Ramona Flowers

    #2 That does sound a bit annoying. Like a verbal pat on the head.

    I don’t know the gender situation and therefore don’t want to jump to conclusions, but this reminds me of a female coworker of mine who was pretty infuriated when a man from another team kept thanking her for “helping” in front of other, more senior people when she was just doing her job.

    Reply
    1. Chocolate Teapot

      Yes, I know of a fairly patronising man who keeps thanking people (usually women) for doing things, as if it was him they were assisting. He is not even involved!

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        Basic rule of intersectionality. Jerks tend to be jerky more often to to those generally more socially vulnerable than to those they see as appropriate peers or superiors. Anything questionable, even if it “happens to men too” or “happens to white people too” or “happens to cis-straight people too” or whatever, generally is going to happen more to those less able to object.

        Reply
      2. Wendy Darling

        I had a super domineering, pushy, credit-stealing coworker who liked to thank/praise people for doing stuff she wasn’t involved with. My response was always along the lines of “You’re not the boss of me!” because… she spent so much time trying to be the boss of me (and everybody else).

        I expect it would have bothered me less from someone who didn’t have a track record of being nasty.

        Reply
    2. Mookie

      I’ve definitely witnessed this dynamic. It is… really hard not to murder these people because it’s so infuriatingly presumptuous and, when pulled off well, the passive aggression is almost undetectable.

      That her new colleague says this to all of the LW’s team members gives me slightly less pause. A lot of this depends on delivery; there’s a difference between “I see you; I acknowledge you; I appreciate how your work elevates mine, and I’m grateful to be here,” authentically and not sycophantically, and “good job trying hard at being your middling, serviceable self *gold star for attempt*” but not everyone can communicate that well. I think this is a watch and verify moment. Don’t discredit your initial reaction, but take a closer look next time it happens.

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      1. Mookie

        Also, when you can tell they mean well (not treating you like a subordinate or assistant) but it’s a little much, a “right back atcha” with double finger-guns and clicky-tongue-trigger-action-sound work well on men who’ve done this to me. In written correspondence, though, I don’t know. “Ditto,” mebbe?

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      2. Business Cat

        That her new colleague says this to all of the LW’s team members gives me slightly less pause. A lot of this depends on delivery; there’s a difference between “I see you; I acknowledge you; I appreciate how your work elevates mine, and I’m grateful to be here,” authentically and not sycophantically, and “good job trying hard at being your middling, serviceable self *gold star for attempt*” but not everyone can communicate that well. I think this is a watch and verify moment. Don’t discredit your initial reaction, but take a closer look next time it happens.”

        That was my train of thought as well, but your sentiment is worded more beautifully!

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      3. babblemouth

        “I see you; I acknowledge you; I appreciate how your work elevates mine, and I’m grateful to be here,”

        I wrote a message like this to two colleagues last week, and took pains to make sure it did not sound patronizing in a “you actually work for me” kind of way. And it was in the special circumstances of a particularly difficult week at work, so it was also meant as a pick-me-up.

        I can totally see how it would bother OP to get compliments in a different way all the time.

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        1. OP #2

          Yes, I think it’s all delivery and timing. My teammates and I have gotten a job well done after doing things that aren’t really spectacular (i.e. sending out an email, calling a person, etc.)

          Reply
    3. polabear

      I’ve actually told managers that I work for “head pats”. I’m happiest at work where I feel like I’m doing a good job, and am being recognized accordingly. I don’t need it every day, or even every week, but I can last a long time through a lot of crappy tasks if I know that I’m appreciated. Maybe this employee is the same way, and that’s why he gives them out.

      Reply
      1. Viva

        Do you mind sharing the general script you used? I’m getting better at assertiveness in-the-moment but could always use script examples.

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    4. Nonsenical

      Okay, so I am the type of person that gives out kudos, in fact my boss has made it part of our expectation that we give out compliments. I do this because I come from Disney where we were taught to recognize other people for doing good work. I have no idea how this is meant but if someone was generally helpful for me, I will recognize them because I believe there is not enough of that going around in the world. I don’t expect anyone to give it back and yes I do intend to be a manager some day but this has nothing to do with that. I compliment people if they help me in a manner I don’t necessarily expect. I don’t do it all the time but I know that any kudos I give them will reflect well on their annual review because bosses DO take it into account and not everyone may see all the hard work they do. So I take time out of my day to give a compliment out on their public page. I don’t do it a patronizing manner, I try to word it in a way that will help them when annual review comes up. So I hope people recognize there are situations where a person can be doing this to give you a leg up and they’re not doing it for any other reason than they want to recognize you for good work in an environment that rarely recognizes good work!

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      1. the gold digger

        That’s my approach as well. If someone has done something to help me, I write a note to that person (citing exactly what she did that was so great) and CC her boss. I want people to get the recognition they deserve!

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    5. OP #2

      Yes, Fergus is a man and my team and me and mostly women. Yes, it happens a lot in front of senior leadership. I think this is why it raises my hackles.

      I love all the suggestions of “throwing” it right back at Fergus and see if it diffuses it.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        The fact that he’s doing it in front of senior leadership changes my response. Most small gratitude gestures are in the moment and private. If the majority are in front of leadership then a pattern of not-normal is emerging.
        The back at ya response is the best option. Always said cheerfully of course.

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      2. Bagpuss

        The best part about this approach is that it should work whatever his motives!

        If he is just trying to show appreciation, then it may be because he sees that as positive, and would react well to you showing him a similar level of appreciation.

        If it is a dominance thing then he won’t like but it’s just as hard for him to object openly as for you to do so, and if he does challenge yo and say it isn’t necessary, that gives you an opening to explain you assumed that it was his preferred approach with peers, as you’ve noticed that that is how he approaches you and his others colleagues, but that you agree that it is not necessary for either of you do it, and that you’re happy to remind him that its unecessary if he slips back into the habit.

        And equally, if it is a habit he has got into (maybe he used to work with Margaret, the Happy Dance lady from last week) then having someone do the same to him may draw it to his attention and remind him to dial it down.

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      3. Artemesia

        Oh doing it in front of senior leadership is definitely a dominance gambit; he wants to look ‘in charge’ to the big hats and it may be successful. It is the kind of thing that seems petty if you bring it up but it not fundamentally petty. Thus next time the boss is around how about “Fergus, I wanted to thank you for helping me on the TPS reports, you did a great job.” Next time it is ‘. . .thank you for assisting us with the . . .’, ‘ . .. running those errands, filing those reports etc, really freed us up to focus on the grant, thanks so much for helping out.’ Make it clear that he is a great AA and he may cool his jets. And never admit that is what you are doing.

        Reply
      4. SoMuchNope

        Oh this is so a dominance move especially as it is a male peer doing it to female peers because as everyone knows the man (even a brand new to the job equal peer man) is “in charge.” Shut that shit down yesterday.

        Reply
  3. neverjaunty

    OP #3 – “small and petty favors”? You are having your direct reports drive you to and from work – expending “energy and time” on your behalf so that you don’t have to do it.

    Reply
      1. Annonymouse

        Agreed.

        This doesn’t sound like coworkers with a carpool arrangement where you take turns driving or one person pays for the others fuel.

        This sounds like you found out your reports live near you and put them on the spot by asking them to drive you every day.

        Who is going to say no to their boss in that situation?

        I’d worry about the impact on my standing with the boss if I said no at the start or if I said no down the track – even for something reasonable like going on holiday, being sick, a change to my after work schedule or having a personal emergency.

        It’s costing them time, fuel and stress not to mention probably adding tension to their relationships with their coworkers.

        This is not a fair situation to put them in. You’re the boss and have power over them so they can’t feel secure in refusing you like they would a peer.

        It also reflects very poorly on you to both your team and higher ups.

        Please make your own travel arrangements for everyone’s sake.

        Reply
    1. A project manager

      This and I use that time during my commute to mentally run through my day. If there’s someone in the car with me, I’d lose that. Plus, I’d feel pressured to be social and, being an introvert, being social is exhausting for me. I’d be starting my workday already worn down on energy.

      Reply
      1. Caro in the UK

        Me too. This wouldn’t have me quitting my job on the spot, but I’d certainly be very unhappy and resentful about it, and given the way the letter writer describes the situation, I’d probably feel unable to bring it up with her. Unless the job was great in other ways, I’d probably low-key start looking elsewhere if there was no end in sight.

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      2. Portia

        I carpooled with a coworker for a week due to a temporary tight parking situation. It was inconvenient for so many reasons: having to take a different and longer route to work, having to arrive and leave work at the same time as she did (so I couldn’t go in early if I felt like it, or run late at all), not being able to go somewhere immediately after work, etc. And even though this is a good work friend and I enjoy her company, I generally use my commute to think through the day ahead, drink my coffee, and mentally prepare. I found making small talk at 7 am really draining. I was really relieved when that week was over and I think she was too! So OP, keep in mind that there may be other costs for your employees that you’re not taking into consideration.

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    2. Kiwi

      Yeah, it’s definitely not a small favor, especially if it’s a long commute. That’s a lot of time they’re obliged to spend with you, which may be great now but could easily turn awkward. Imagine having a difficult conversation with someone about their work quality and then getting a ride home with them that night. Ouch.

      It’s also putting you under an obligation to them, which feels like a weird dynamic to me.

      Are you covering any of their commute costs? If not, you’re taking advantage of them and they’re likely to become resentful. If yes, you’re paying them for more time than others in your team, which could make others resentful. Lose/lose.

      If you can’t be persuaded to stop, I think you need to have frequent “are you sure this still works for you?” conversations and make it VERY clear that if their commute plans change for any or no reason, you’re fine with them stopping driving you.

      But really, I think you’d be better to just stop.

      Reply
      1. Joke de Vivre

        Yes, you need to stop. It looks bad for the reasons Alison gave and your reports may feel they can’t say no.

        Reply
      2. fposte

        I was wondering about compensation myself–OP doesn’t mention it, which concerned me. If people are driving you places five days a week you need to contribute, and contribute generously, to gas and wear-and-tear.

        But those people shouldn’t be your staff in the first place, for all the reasons enumerated.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          I can’t figure out what “does not in any way discriminate them with returning the favors” means, but I doubt it’s enough to pull this into okay territory.

          This sort of ask would usually be fine for a rare one-off like your car being in the shop, but not as a regular thing.

          Reply
          1. Optimistic Prime

            The thing is…many of the biases that we form are unconscious. Despite OP’s protestations I have a hard time believing that some kind of bias towards (or against, if things go wrong with the commute) won’t form, even if it’s low-level.

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          2. JessaB

            This and not only rare but you pay for gas and stuff and maybe if they’re the kind of people who drive through the coffee shop or the Maccas you buy them brekky too. You make it really clear that it’s a one off or at most two off (if your car is in the shop.) It really needs to be rare.

            Reply
      3. Jerry Vandesic

        Beyond the commuting costs, if the employee wanted to make a case of it they might be able to argue the the commute should be paid time for them. If it’s a job required by their supervisor, it is work and therefore it should be paid. If the relationship with the employee ever goes bad, they could file a claim with the state labor office to claim back wages. Not sure if they would get it, but it could create a mess.

        Reply
        1. Statler von Waldorf

          This is the point I came here to make. According to my colleague, who was involved in a similar situation (we’re both in Canada) not only was the company liable for wages at the overtime rate to cover the employee’s time; but the manager also had to personally pay as the free transportation was considered a taxable benefit on which he was required to pay personal income taxes on.

          So not only is this a flat out abuse of management power, it could also be a major tax liability.

          Reply
      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        So much this. I had some pretty significant side-eye when OP suggested this is a “small and petty favor.” First, it’s not remotely small or petty—work transportation is always significant, especially when you live far away. And given that you’re outsourcing the stress/exhaustion of the commute onto your reports, it sound so pretty evident that’s this is a BIG “favor.” Second, this doesn’t at all sound like a favor, but even if it were, it’s inappropriate to accept it. Paying for gas/wear-and-tear is the bare minimum, but even doing that wouldn’t get around the power inequality issue. I’m in the “OP needs to cut this ish out” camp on this.

        Reply
        1. Jen S. 2.0

          “Outsourcing the stress / exhaustion…”

          This. THIS.

          Few things annoy me more than people having a problem of their own making, and then trying to make it also be someone else’s problem. It is not your reports’ issue that you chose to move to a place with a long commute and now want to make your commute easier. Giving someone a ride every single day is a pain **even if you pay them.** Someone who I give a ride once who then starts acting entitled to a ride every time quickly gets avoided. I can only imagine the added annoyance if it’s your boss.

          Find your own way to work. Immediately.

          Reply
    3. Decimus

      I can see another problem too – what if they get sick? It could either lead to someone feeling really sick going into work even when they’d rather not to because “my boss won’t be able to get to work if I call in sick” or it could lead to someone STAYING at work if they feel sick instead of going home because their boss won’t be able to get home without them.

      Reply
      1. Runner

        If it’s such a small and petty favor, OP absolutely ought to be making the small and petty alternative arrangements of getting herself there every day. (Except, that suddenly becomes a lot of energy and time?)

        Reply
      2. neverjaunty

        Eh, I got the sense less that the LW feels entitled and more that she knows, on some level, that this is not OK, so is trying to be reassuring that it’s a super minor favor and she’s being 110% fair about it.

        Reply
    4. EleonoraUK

      Not to mention they can never go and do something straight out of work because they’ve first got to drive their boss home – putting a massive limitation on what they can do with their time outside of work.

      I agree with other comments – this isn’t OK and the OP needs to make different arrangement that do not involve co-workers or subordinates a.s.a.p.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        OP, picture if you discovered that your grandboss lived even more conveniently. Would you be asking her for a ride every single day, since it wasn’t far out of her way and you’re going to same place?

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    5. AdAgencyChick

      Srsly, #3, stop it. I guarantee they resent you for it.

      They don’t like having to match their hours and plans to yours. (What if your employee used to go to the gym in the morning before coming to work, or run errands right after work?)

      They don’t like feeling responsible for your needing to make alternate arrangements if they have to call in sick.

      They don’t like having to be “on” and in work mode for extra time each day.

      They don’t like that it’s their BOSS asking, so they can’t say no without feeling like they’ll be putting their jobs at risk.

      And if you’re not reimbursing them for any gas/mileage/tolls, they resent you extra for that.

      OP, if you can’t be persuaded to stop, I hope the employees you dragooned into this “small, petty” task end up finding somewhere else to work.

      Reply
    6. Fifty Foot Commute

      Yes this. As someone who doesn’t have a car, getting a ride should never be small or petty from the perspective of the receiver. You are not allowed to choose not to drive and then place the burden of that decision on other people, especially coworkers or acquaintances.

      Reply
      1. blackcat

        “getting a ride should never be small or petty from the perspective of the receiver”

        As someone who has a car, surrounded by friends who do not (normal for where I live), this is HUGE. People who appreciate getting rides continue to get rides. People who treat it as a “small or petty” favor don’t get rides anymore because they don’t realize how big of a deal it is (I’m looking at you, colleague who lives downtown and wouldn’t ever even offer to take the subway/bus to my place OR EVEN OUR OFFICE IN THE MIDDLE). But while I can tell friends/folks at my level to f-off, you can’t really say that to a boss.

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        1. Salamander

          Oh, I’ve been in this situation and I resented the heck out of it. I’ve had to have the “I am not a taxi and you need to take responsibility for getting yourself where you need to go” discussion several times.

          Once, I took an internship in another state. The place we were housed was well outside the city and there was no public transit to many of us worked. This was known ahead of time. I was frankly shocked that people flew in and just expected those of us with cars to chauffeur them around. It was really uncomfortable, and just irritating as hell. I finally had to tell one roomie: “I am not your mom.”

          I guess it’s not quite as bad as being the only person in a circle of friends who owns a pickup truck, but still.

          Reply
    7. Everything Bagel Fan

      I consider this a huge favor. Not something I would throw around Willy-nilly and make it other people’s problem because I decided to live in the boonies in my opinion.

      Reply
    8. Triplestep

      I had a friend in my last job who had gotten roped into this with his own boss. The workplace could be reached by public transportation, which the boss had been doing. But my friend chose to drive because he had small children at home and driving made his schedule more flexible. Eventually the boss started making demands about when they could leave work, which kind of defeats the purpose of taking a car to work to maximize your family’s flexibility around childcare. I’m not sure how my friend got out of it eventually, but he definitely had a hard time broaching the subject and he is NOT a shy person.

      Reply
    9. Artemesia

      How many letters do we see here and in other columns about people being ‘forced’ to drive co-workers because they live nearby and don’t know how to get out of it? It costs a lot to maintain a car; one of the perks of doing that is that you are free to do what you want. Stop for a slushee on the way home, run an errand, visit your cousin fergus, leave early because you need to pick your Mom up at the airport — or just spend time in the car thinking about something in privacy. A regular rider is an enormous imposition on your spontaneity and privacy. It is a petty favor when it happens once a month when the boss’s car is in the shop; it is an enormous imposition when it is happening routinely. And because it is the boss, the ability to push back is zero for many people. Stop!!!

      Reply
    10. Bea

      Also if OP isn’t covering some of the costs, I’d be enraged that someone who makes more money than I do is putting me on the spot, pressuring me to do favors and on top of it, saving money by doing so.

      Reply
    11. Car sharing

      My husband and I work in the same office. Even we don’t manage to drive in together all of the time and one or the other of us ends up taking transit either to work or back (or both!) a couple of times a week.

      Coordinating starting and ending times is a giant PITA, and your view of this as a “small and petty” favor is completely out of line. Yes, its saving you time and energy – because your employee has taken on getting you to and from work. The power relationship is such that they can’t tell you they’re not going to do it, so you should be a responsible manager and stop the arrangement right now. If you want that time and energy savings, hire a driver.

      Reply
  4. The Supreme Troll

    For OP#2, I’m agreeing more or less with the response that Alison is suggesting. However, I also think that you are not wrong in the vibe that you’re getting from your coworker. I have experienced a situation somewhat similar, so I get what you’re saying.

    Kind of adding to Alison’s response, you can give your coworker a “back-handed” compliment as a response whenever he gives a “great job team!!” thank you. You can tell him “Thank you very much! You do an excellent job as an individual team member, and are among an excellent group of team members that make up this truly awesome team!”. Something along those lines.

    (Yes, this comes off as a little passive-aggressive in the way that I’m explaining it here, but if the coworker is really innocent & genuine in the thanks that he’s giving, he shouldn’t even notice anything in the reply that you give back.)

    Reply
    1. Zip Zap

      I’ve done things like that in similar situations. I have worked with people who used compliments as a sort of power grab. I tried doing the same thing to them. It never went over well. It seemed to provoke them. I’m not sure what the best solution is, but I think keeping the higher ground and not reacting is a good place to start.

      Reply
      1. Tuxedo Cat

        Me too. I had a coworker who did this and more to seem in charge. It did seem to not go well either.

        I learned to ignore it.

        Reply
  5. Ramona Flowers

    #5 People don’t seem to ask that question too much any more, which is a good thing. But if you do get asked, I think I might be wary of using something that’s so subjective – different people will have an idea of what a disorganised and unstructured environment is, and you might screen yourself out without wanting to. I’d try to find something a bit more objective and finite in definition, if you can.

    Reply
    1. AMT

      I agree. I don’t think that anecdote makes OP look good, even if they can get across to the interviewer that it truly was a disorganized environment. It just sounds too much like “I need someone to keep on top of me or I won’t be productive.”

      Reply
      1. OP #5

        That’s a fair point. I think in my field (software development) this answer might be more acceptable than in other fields, mainly because Agile methodology is fairly common. Rather than simply say something that gives the impression of “I don’t do well without supervision,” I would be able to talk about how I’ve used Agile methods to maintain productivity, such as how the structure provided by Agile development gives me enough of an idea of the medium-to-big picture to keep from feeling lost or swamped. Given that there are plenty of development teams that use Agile fairly rigorously, I’m ok with this being something that takes me out of contention for teams with a less structured approach to development.

        Reply
    2. Kay

      I kind of want to know the best thing to do in scenarios like this.

      I had a two month gap between jobs before taking one on that lasted three months. The job environment was incredibly toxic and though I did my best and worked hard, I was handed my ‘walking papers’ after three months with no warning. It ultimately came down to my boss not liking me at all for reasons beyond my control, not my work performance.

      On one hand, having that job on resume shows my versatility in terms of positions, but on the other, how do I explain being let go after 3 months? That it was a mutual parting of ways? If I leave it out, it would indicate I’ve been out of work for a year now.

      Reply
  6. Gaia

    OP 1: I didn’t negotiate with my current job. I wanted one number but I knew I could accept about $5k less and still live my normal life without having to cut back. Without asking me my expectations they offered me $15k more than my ideal number. I accepted it happily without asking for more.

    Reply
      1. Chocolate lover

        We don’t actually know that Gaia “ignored” market rate. And even if so, ultimately that’s their decision to make.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Of course it’s her decision, but I think PP’s point is that you don’t want to decide this stuff based on what you can live on; you should decide it based on market rate (because otherwise you can significantly lowball yourself). That’s the point I was making in the second paragraph of my answer too.

          Reply
          1. Fifty Foot Commute

            Besides low balling yourself, which I could see argued that you have a right to do, you’re also low balling others in your position or field who may not have the knowledge or financial freedom to say no to an unfair offer, or who can’t make ends meet with what is acceptable to you. Of course reasonable people will differ on whether or not you have any obligation to these other people, but it’s something to be aware of.

            Reply
          2. Elizabeth West

            But what if the market rate where you live is absurdly low and there is no room for negotiation? You leave it, you don’t have a job. You take it, you lowball yourself.

            It’s a conundrum for sure.

            Reply
          3. Gaia

            I could have been clearer in my post that my ideal number was mid market and my minimum was still within the market range. They offered me much higher on the scale. I definitely knew what was normal and I would never recommend someone discuss salary without having some idea of what that position, in that industry, in that area pays.

            Reply
      2. Gaia

        I certainly did not ignore the market rate. My ideal number was in the middle of the market rate, they offered me at the top of the market.

        Reply
    1. Leprechaun

      My current job did the same thing. Was expecting a number that was 5-10k more than my old job and was prepared to negotiate. They offered me 25k more than my old job, i was so overwhelmed with it i accepted immediately. On the way back to my car, i realized i probably could have negotiated for more, but in the moment that offer was way more than i was expecting.

      Reply
      1. Oilpress

        Don’t feel bad. I just spent a week reconsidering hiring someone because I offered them more money than they had asked for and then they decided to negotiate that generous offer. If the offer works for you then take it. You never know when the offering party has reached the limit of what they feel is fair.

        Reply
        1. AMPG

          A former colleague once ended up in a situation where she offered a position to a candidate and the candidate wanted to negotiate salary. She worked out the budget to accommodate the candidate’s salary request, only to have the candidate turn around and ask for even more! At that point, they parted ways.

          Reply
      2. Gaia

        Don’t feel bad. I realize I could have probably negotiated more as well but I was happy, it was a big jump in salary for me and the benefits were better so I took it and have been happy for the last few years!

        Reply
    2. Optimistic Prime

      Yeah, I didn’t negotiate with my current job either. I did a lot of research on salaries in my field, and I knew what the average was. I settled on a number in the upper part of the entry-level range and decided that if I were offered that much or less, I would negotiate higher. I was offered about $12K more than that number, so I was very happy! I did negotiate a few minor things in the relocation package, but otherwise everything else was awesome.

      Reply
  7. DMR

    OP #3 – I had a boss who’d regularly ask for rides to a nearby train station. It was probably less than 20 minutes round trip (he started very early and left mid-afternoon) and it was hard to say no, but it made me and others in the office resent him. Recognize that these employees have gone out of their way to make your life easier and start taking responsibility for your own transportation.

    Reply
    1. Annonymouse

      I’m guilty of having coworkers/people I “manage” give me lifts to a nearby station or one on the way to their home.

      (I’m more like a team lead or slightly senior coworker. I have no authority over performance reviews, raises, holiday schedules, project assignments or anything else).

      The difference is:
      1) they normally offer instead of me asking (but I do ask on occasion – maybe once every 2-3 weeks)
      2) they are free to say no – consequence free.
      3) if I can’t get a lift from them I can arrange alternate transport home.
      4) I’m in their car maybe 5 -10 minutes for the nearby station less than 20 for the one close to coworkers house.
      5) there is no obligation to do it.
      6) I’m very grateful for them taking the time and resources to do it – I normally pay them back with lunch or coffee
      7) I’m a coworker NOT their boss

      This is very different to what your situation is. It’s not fair because:
      1) either they’re getting favourable reaction from you for these lifts – which other reports don’t get

      2) or the perception that they’re getting preferential treatment

      3) or they’re going out of there way to do a big favour for you – which you don’t acknowledge or recognise how inconvenient it is for them.

      4) they risk unfavourable reactions from you if they don’t wish to continue this.

      5) you can influence their performance reviews, raises, holiday requests, work assignments and more.

      Reply
        1. AMT

          Yep. Anonymouse is senior to them and in any case, it’s hard for a lot of people to say no point-blank to this type of request, even to a peer. I don’t think it’s a great sin, but I would definitely stop *asking* for rides.

          Reply
        2. Triplestep

          Yup. No. 2 and No. 5: You don’t get to decide, Annonymouse, how this feels to someone else. Sure, you would like it to feel “consequence free” and “no obligation” to them, but there’s no way for you to know if it does.

          Reply
          1. Annonymouse

            Actually they are.

            It happens sometimes where they say “no” and then life goes on as normal. Nothing at work or in our relationship changes.

            I also only ask if they’ve brought up the subject first.

            “Hey Annonymouse, how are you getting home today?”

            “I’m probably taking the bus then train. Hey, do you go near the station?”

            “I do. Did you want a lift there?”

            “Only if you want to.”

            That’s how I ask.

            Reply
            1. long time lurker

              I’m a little horrified at the pile on against sharing rides. Sure, people might do their best thinking in the car on their own, but not to go all hippie on you or anything but this is a finite planet and I’m not entirely convinced that justifies all of these single person car commutes. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons but requiring two cars instead of one because you’re too afraid of the possibility of imposing on someone who has never actually raised an objection goes too far in my opinion.

              Reply
              1. Annonymouse

                Ride sharing and carpooling can be done.

                But the important and practical part is that it is agreed to well in advance and there is fair compensation in terms of fuel/cash/wear and tear.

                I.e A drives B,C and D to work this week. Next week it is Bs turn

                Or A always drives but B,C and D pay A $50 each week.

                This doesn’t sound like it’s the case.

                Reply
              2. Observer

                Not to get all hippie, but when there are power inequities in a situation, it is utterly unfair to take the lack of objection to mean that it’s not a problem. Also, ridesharing, where both people share the burden, is one thing and one person giving another person a ride all the time is another.

                All the worry about finite resources simply does not justify putting someone in the position of being obligated to take on the burden of transporting their boss on a daily basis.

                Furthermore, you don’t know that the ridesharing is actually reducing the use of resources, especially if the OP would otherwise be taking public transportation. There are a lot of other scenarios where this arrangement could be a net wash, or even causing higher use of resources than would otherwise be happening.

                Reply
              3. Lurker #2

                The answer is simple. Commuting time (whether by car or transit) is your own time, not your time with your coworkers, boss, etc. My commute is my unwinding time and having coworkers/bosses in the car takes that away from me.

                Asking someone for rides is a lot. I was on the receiving end of that with my last job and it was the reason I gave notice there (I was being asked to drive people over an hour while they were on the phone the whole time– very distracting). (Saying no would have gotten me fired). They were all city people with the attitude that cars should be shared (and had the nerve to ask for my keys). Not once did I get gas money from anyone.

                I have no problem with people VOLUNTARY entering a carpool. However, more often than not it is voluntold and a very lopsided agreement. For a successful carpool you either alternate drivers or the non-drivers compensate the driver in some way. IME the non drivers use carpooling as an excuse to mooch.

                Reply
                1. Erin

                  Oh hell no! Nobody drives my car but me or my husband. I would’ve given them the hertz number. You’re not using my gas or eating up the mileage on my lease and messing with my seat and changing my radio stations.

                2. Lurker #2

                  Erin it would not let me reply to you. I told them that it was against my insurance policy for anyone else to drive my car besides myself and they’d be on the hook for six to seven figures if they got into an accident.

                  I am no longer with said company.

              4. KellyK

                I don’t think the pile-on is against sharing rides in general, but against asking favors of people you have authority over. The power dynamics with a manager or team lead make it very different from asking a coworker on the same level.

                Reply
            2. Triplestep

              So you can see how it’s a hard to imagine a scenario wherein your co-workers/junior colleagues/people for whom you are Lead but not Manager ASK you “Hey how are you getting home”? And further, that these same people need to be asked by you “Hey, do you go near the station” because, well, after all this time you don’t know which ones go near the station? I’m not accusing you of lying; I think your perception of this might be a little clouded.

              I don’t think anyone is suggesting you’re anything like the OP who considers being picked up at home a “small and petty favor.” I am suggesting, however, that even in *personal* relationships people don’t always indicate how they truly feel about doing favors, so you can’t expect to know how people in this complicated professional entanglement truly feel. Even if they do offer, they may just be trying to make this thing that’s been normalized less awkward as the question of how you’re getting to the train hangs there in the air.

              Reply
              1. Annonymouse

                It’s asked because there are several routes a coworker can take to get home – some go near the station and some don’t.

                It’s also asked because we work in a niche industry where it is common to finish work at 9pm or later at night and if we are running late (due to clients, not anything we’ve done or could do) then I’m waiting at a bus stop for 30 minutes.

                If they choose to take an alternate route home that doesn’t mean they go near a station or have other plans that’s fine – I have no right to make them change their plans because of my transport situation.

                It’s also asked very rarely – maybe once every 3ish months (2-3 weeks gap spread across 4 or so coworkers) not the same person asked every 2-3 weeks.

                Yes, I understand people might not want to/feel like they can say no. I try to make “no” the default choice instead of yes.

                I feel that OP has made no not an option at all (see an example in one of my other comments – presented as a statement instead of a question).

                Reply
                1. SoMuchNope

                  Many years ago I had a job thst I finished at 8 PM. The woman that relieved me was always dropped off by her mom.

                  The walk from work to the transit center was 7 minutes, by car it was like 30 seconds.

                  Her mom would always drop me off brcause she was going that way anyway.

                  It made all the difference between getting the 8:05 and making my express convection at 8:25 or getting the 8:35 and then waiting at the airport for an hour for the 9:25 express and not getting home until 11:00 PM.

                  But… it was her mom’s idea in the first place, she had to drive past the transit center no matter what, and I always appreciated it even though it took a whole 30 seconds of her time.

                  Not having to hang out at the airport for an extra hour for no good reason when you have a four bus commute was wonderful.

      1. Optimistic Prime

        I have a couple of senior coworkers on my team, including one who is in a “lead” position like you – he’s partially responsible for assigning and assessing some of my work load, but he’s not my formal manager with no authority over any of these things. I like him a lot.

        However, 1) if he asked me to drive him to the train station 2-3 times a week, that would still feel like an imposition; and 2) I would not feel like I could easily say no, consequence-free. He’s technically a coworker, sure, but he’s still a senior colleague who mentors me and ‘manages’ my work content. No, he couldn’t FIRE me, but there are other consequences – like diminished team relations and awkwardness in working together.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Annonymouse said once every two or three weeks – not two or three times a week.

          That said, there is a HUGE difference between accepting an occasional ride from a co-worker, and regularly using people you are superior to in the hierarchy as a ride service.

          Reply
      2. Artemesia

        The catch 22 is that if the OP is NOT giving them favors i.e. preferences in return than he has turned this poor shlub into his donkey and without compensating him for rather a gross imposition. If he is then that is bad management. There is no way to do this regularly without it being an abuse of power.

        Reply
      3. Annonymouse

        I am pointing out the differences here.

        Asking a different coworker every 2-3 weeks “Hey, if you’re going that way, can I get a lift with you to the station?”

        And either being told “Sorry, I can’t today.” Or “No problem.” And it won’t come up again for say 3 months is very different to what is happening with OP.

        I understand it’s a huge favour, even for a 5 minute ride on their way home. So it’s asked rarely, repaid with coffee or lunch the next shift (if they said “no” I’d still get them a coffee next shift to show no hard feelings) and with the implicit understanding that they can say no – in fact no is the assumed answer.

        OP is doing this to their reports, daily, with a huge sense of entitlement and a lack of gratitude.

        I’m assuming these rides are far longer than the 5 minutes (10 if we catch every red light) I have.

        OP diminishes the inconvenience by calling it a “small and petty favour.” No favour is small or petty and the type this is (constant and really pretty big) is actually a huge imposition.

        From the letter it also comes across that OP is the one that came up with this arrangement that it was not asked do much as stated.

        As in “Hey Fergus, you live near Main Street of local town don’t you?”

        “Yes.”

        “Great. Then you can give me (your boss) a lift to work each morning!”

        “Uhhhhh……”

        “I live at 123 street 5 blocks from you. See you tomorrow morning at 7!”

        Also the matter of compensating your reports becomes tricky.

        Does this count as work related driving they can claim mileage for?

        Do you give them money for fuel? If so is it a full tank, a 50/50 split or some other arrangement?

        Do you even compensate them for driving you? It sounds like not.

        And even if you argue “they’re going that way anyway.” You forget to take into account the extra weight of an extra person means the car is less efficient and uses more fuel plus added wear and tear.

        Reply
  8. Observer

    #3
    Whoa. Allison was 100% correct that this is an abuse of power. What’s really troubling here is that you totally ignore the potential imposition on your subordinates. Having a standing arrangement where they have to take someone to or from work is a huge issue. At minimum, you deprive them of privacy and flexibility. Never mind the issue of flexibility around coming to or leaving the office at a different time. This kind of arrangement takes away people’s flexibility outside of work hours. That is NOT “small and petty” and it’s pretty obnoxious of you to dismiss what your subordinates are doing for you.

    There is no way this can fail to affect your subordinates’ view of you. Either you recognize the favor they are doing for you and reciprocate in some way. Which means that other people are going to be negatively affected because they don’t live near you. Or you do NOT recognize when someone is doing you a major favor. Which means that no one would have an incentive to do hard work for you, much less extend themselves or go “above and beyond” since you clearly don’t recognize or appreciate when people put in an effort or make your life easier.

    In short it’s a no win. Which is fine, because it’s a garbage thing to do anyway.

    Reply
    1. The Supreme Troll

      I don’t necessarily get a feeling that OP#3 isn’t appreciating the commute help that she is getting from her employees, or that she is entitled to it. A question to the OP: have you been offering to pay for their gas?

      But, yes, I don’t know if the words “small” and “petty” were the right ones to use here. The OP might have meant that the people who work for her see it as a tiny favor that they are doing for her and it doesn’t bother them at all (if indeed they have talked about this and that is how they have described it to the OP – that is the key thing here).

      Nevertheless, I agree with everything else you wrote and what Alison stated above. The OP’s employees might feel uncomfortable saying no to her later on, especially since this has been going on every single of the work week, and I’m assuming that the OP requested these rides to & from work. This isn’t a peer-to-peer situation, and they are on the other end of the balance of power.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        I think that the choice of the phrase “small and petty” is an indicator that the OP doesn’t get it. In any case, from the point of view of employees, they are going to see a failure to try to return the favor as lack of basic appreciation.

        Reply
      2. Mookie

        I’m also uncomfortable with “small” and “petty.” If that’s how you regard these “favors,” LW (favors, by the by, are paid in return at some point), then it sounds like you don’t put much stock in them and can find alternate methods easily. I imagine these must already exist, because most employees take a day or two off now and again. I would tap those resources as soon as possible. You’re impinging upon your staff’s privacy and personal lives, which begin when they’re off the clock.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          I got that feeling as well. And to piggyback on Observer’s point in the comment above yours, honestly, the whole letter seems like an indicator that OP doesn’t get it. I don’t mean to be unkind to the OP – this might well just be the way she writes and we know that many OPs write in with an intentionally concise and succinct version of events so as to not distract from the main point with a lot of “fluff”. But reading the letter, I get a strong feeling of “this is what is most convenient for me so of course we’re doing it”.

          But to come back to your point, Mookie: OP, to be very very plain, how you get to and from work and how much time and energy you spent on your journey is not your reports’ problem. If you move somewhere where you don’t have any possibility to get to work other than to hitch rides with your reports, that is something you should have thought about beforehand and that, again, is not your reports’ problem. But like Mookie, I’m thinking that you do have alternative methods to get to work, not only for the reasons she states but also because you speak of your “time and energy” several times which I take to mean that there are alternate ways, they’re just more time- and energy-consuming. Which, well, I’m sorry to say but that really is something you have to suck up if your only alternative to that is having your employees take you to and fro.

          Reply
      3. AdAgencyChick

        If OP thinks this is a tiny favor because the subordinates aren’t making a big deal about it, she shouldn’t assume they’re happy to do it. They could very well be putting on a good face because it’s the boss.

        Reply
      4. Artemesia

        It doesn’t matter if they ‘appreciate it’; it matters that they are stealing their subordinates privacy and flexibility EVERY dang day and the subordinate cannot refuse without jeopardizing their job. To not recognize this is simply awful.

        Reply
    2. Undine

      There’s a lot of potential problems here. You may think you are not going to do anything for your employees in return for this, but do they really think so? If you talk to them casually during the commute, they will come to feel that you view them as more than just an employee, and if you have to reprimand one of your drivers or put them on a PIP, they will be a lot more upset than if this boundary had never been crossed. And if you put someone on a PIP and they feel so uncomfortable that they stop driving you, won’t you feel somehow that they are being petty and retaliatory, and wouldn’t that affect your view of the PIP? When in fact, it would be completely understandable from their point of view. Once you cross this line, things get very blurry, and things that need to be impersonal can become very personal.

      And what about if someone wants to look for a job? Your employees have that right, but how can they go to an interview after work, or take a day off, if they are the boss’s chauffeur? Again, if they come to you & say, they don’t want to drive you anymore, won’t you feel that something has changed? And won’t you look for the cause and scrutinize them more closely?

      A lot of these rules are important not because there is a problem right now, but because problems do happen, and then these choices make things much much harder.

      Reply
      1. The Supreme Troll

        I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. If this was a once in a rare while kind of thing offered by the OP’s employees, then I don’t see anything wrong with it. But every day of the work week (and especially if asked by the OP herself) – then no.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        It’s not just job hunting – it’s the every day stuff. You mentioned taking a day off. But it’s lots of other things. Someone has to do the childcare drop off or pickup one day. Or Employee needs to do some shopping and it makes more sense to go straight from work. Or employee wants to pick up something on the way to work. Or employee needs to make an appointment that they would normally travel to straight from work. Or maybe the childcare schedule changed or spouse’s schedule changed, and Employee needs to change their schedule. Or, or, or… How do all of these scenarios play out? Worse, what happens if these are privacy implications to these schedule issues?

        Reply
        1. EleonoraUK

          Completely agree.

          I was thinking also, what if the employee has a new boyfriend and isn’t actually planning to go back to/leave from her own address some days? Bit awkward to explain that one to your boss.

          Reply
      3. Tuxedo Cat

        I think there’s also the POV of the employees who aren’t driving the letter writer. If one of the drivers gets a better shake at work (a raise, better projects…), are the other employees going to be resentful and think it’s because of this favor rather than the driver deserving it?

        Reply
      4. OxfordComma

        Here are the things I did on my way home from work just last week:
        * stopped off and picked up a family member’s mail as they’re out of town
        *dropped off dry cleaning
        *had a dentist appointment
        *stopped at the grocery store

        Most of us have to do stuff like that. It gets much more difficult when you’re having to chauffeur someone around on a consistent basis. I think if it’s a rare occurrence or legit carpooling that might be okay, but it doesn’t sound like it is. Also, presumably LW#3 had some sort of impetus for writing in which makes me think it IS a problem.

        Reply
    3. Susan K

      Just out of curiosity, would it make a difference if it were a carpool arrangement, where the boss drives every other day, so it benefits both boss and employee equally? I completely agree that the situation described in the letter is very wrong, because the boss is asking a personal favor from subordinates, but would it be out of the question for a manager and employee to carpool if they shared the driving?

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        I think it would still be something to avoid. It would definitely be better because it wouldn’t have the whiff of “my employees are a free limo service”…but all the other points Alison and others have raised are still there – employees feeling unable to say no, more face time, favoritism, awkwardness after difficult conversations, etc.
        The blunt truth of the matter is that when you become a manager, the power dynamic and your duties change the relationships you can have with direct subordinates, so things that wouldn’t be an issue if you were co-workers are trickier when there’s a manager/subordinate level involved.

        Reply
      2. Akcipitrokulo

        Many years ago (he’s retired now) my dad had something like that. He was a primary school teacher, and lived less than a mile from the Depute Head about 15-20 miles from the school.

        They took it in turns to drive – one week my dad would pick him up, next week he’d pick up my dad.

        It worked for them – but the main difference is that neither was doing a favour for the other. They were both doing the environment a favour ;)

        (And the fact they were both teachers therefore had the same holidays helped – and both were flexible with “can’t do it today…”)

        Reply
      3. Detective Amy Santiago

        I think it’s still pretty murky for the other reasons that Alison points out about it giving those particular employees more face time with the boss and can lead to impressions of favoritism.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Even if you only have a single employee, you’d have to set this up very carefully to make sure it’s voluntary every single time, and I’d still recommend against it for the bleedthrough into work people have talked about above. You really want to demand to be driven home by the employee you’ve just put on a PIP?

          Reply
      4. Falling Diphthong

        I think it might work if it arose through a neutral third party and everyone voluntarily signed on–for example, at a large company, people might post on the bulletin board looking to form a carpool with other people who commute from Wakeenville and work 10-6. If that arrangement happened to include your boss and everyone in the pool was a boring and normal car companion, and it was easy for people to drop out for a day or forever if their circumstances changed, then it could work.

        Reply
  9. LN

    OP3, please consider that you’re asking a really major favor of your employees and even if it’s a huge inconvenience to them, they are NOT going to feel comfortable telling you. No matter how good your rapport is, no matter how confident they are, no matter how good of a boss you are – the power imbalance makes this situation untenable. This is one of those situations where you can’t take someone’s word for it. If you ask them to their face, dollars to donuts they’ll say “of course it’s no big deal!” with a big bright smile, because YOU ARE THEIR BOSS. One of your jobs as a manager is to make these judgment calls on your own, because you likely won’t be unbiased or accurate assessments from your employees on whether you are expecting too much of them. If you look through the archives of this site, you’ll find dozens of examples, maybe hundreds, where employees get drafted into doing personal favors for a manager out of a sense of obligation. Every single one of them shares the common thread of being unable to honestly express their desire to get out of it.

    And I haven’t even addressed the optics. What if one of your carpool drivers ends up getting The Big Promotion purely on merit, but a rejected candidate starts gossiping about whether they’re getting special treatment because of the favors they’ve done for you? etc. etc. It’s a whole big mess. You owe it to yourself and your employees to arrange your own independent transportation.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      And speaking of the archives, I know that we had several letters and long comment threads in the past about people getting roped into regularly doing their coworkers some kind of “small and petty” favour, not knowing how to get out of it, and it absolutely souring their relationship up to downright resentment. And these were situations where no one had any kind of power over the other!

      Reply
  10. The Supreme Troll

    For OP#1, Alison’s advice is fine. As long as you have done research on your part, and you feel that the salary they have offered you is perfectly reasonable, you can accept it and you don’t need to second guess yourself about it. You are definitely not showing any weakness or making yourself look gullible if you accept an offer that is within your industry’s norms and, most importantly, you are completely happy with.

    Reply
  11. Middle Name Jane

    #1–When I was promoted, I accepted the offer on the spot because the salary was $5,000 more than the minimum I had set for myself while job hunting. I had done a lot of research on salaries in my field and knew what to expect. I told my manager it was a fair offer and that I would go ahead and accept.

    Every other job (except my first one right out of college), I have negotiated salaries.

    Reply
    1. Julianne

      I was thinking about how negotiation might differ when it’s a promotion versus a new position at a new employer. (I do realize that wasn’t the original question.) When my partner got hired at his new job about 18 months ago, he negotiated with support from his now-boss. (She’d been burned in the hiring process before when the company low-balled salaries.) But when he got promoted in January – to a position he’d planned to wait at least 6 months more to try and get – they offered him a 45% salary increase, so he didn’t negotiate. He’s on the low end for his job title in our area, according to the research we did, but he’s still very new to the field, and salaries across the board at his employer are lower than average. That plus the fact that the employer initiated the promotion, and earlier than he’d expected, led him to not negotiate. Maybe that was good, maybe not, but it’s done, but I do wonder about how similar factors might influence how others would act. (I’m a government employee with a collective bargaining agreement, so no salary negotiations for me!)

      Reply
    2. ExceptionToTheRule

      This happened with my last promotion as well. I’d identified a minimum number that I thought was fair & reasonable that rolled in the OT & Holiday pay I’d be losing plus some and they came in $4,000 over it. Ok, thanks, I’ll take it.

      Reply
  12. Susan

    #4 I think you really need to run the evening overtime by your manager. The company I work for requires management approval for work done from home – so while working on a document in your pjs in the evening might be reasonable overtime I think it would be good to have the discussion.

    As far as working overtime every night just to organize the next day – I can only imagine a few circumstances in which I would call that legitimate overtime. Maybe if you have a really big meeting the next day, or something similar. But it seems like normally you should be able to have time at the end of the previous day, or at the start of the next day, to organize your thoughts and write your emails. If not, maybe you’re overtasked. Because it doesn’t seem like that should be necessary every day.

    FYI, I had an employee a few years ago who had this exact argument for recording up to an hour of overtime every day – overtime that wasn’t planned or approved, and that also wasn’t budgeted – and overtime that nobody else in the group seemed to feel the need to work. Ultimately, what he really needed was some review of his assignments – he had taken on some tasks that really weren’t meant to be his – and some different work habits during the actual work day. A little rethinking his workload and how he worked manage to get him to the point where he could work 40 hours like everybody else, and I think in the end he appreciated that.

    Reply
    1. The Supreme Troll

      Susan, I’m glad that it worked out well for him, and that he was able to succeed with the changes that you made for him. You showed yourself to be a caring & thoughtful manager there.

      Reply
    2. Susan K

      Yeah, my guess is that OP #4 is probably overloaded and using her personal time to cram more work into her regular hours. Maybe I’m just projecting, but I’ve been there, done that, and when there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, it is tempting to do this. Ideally, you’d spend the end of your normal workday doing this stuff to prepare for the next day, but when you’re overloaded, it’s tempting to keep working right up until quitting time since you know you can do these things at home without taking up your limited, valuable work hours.

      Since you are non-exempt, though, you really shouldn’t do this unless you’re getting paid for the time. I’m guessing the employer will not want to pay overtime for this stuff that you’re doing at home, so you’ll probably have to start doing it on the clock during your normal work hours.

      Reply
    3. Antilles

      The other thing to think about for OP is that this sort of thing can really quickly become the standard. Since your manager doesn’t know you’re spending extra time off the clock, he’s learning that the quantity/quality of the work he’s getting is doable in 40 hours. Essentially, you’re training your boss to expect 45 hours of work in 40 hours. And that is a huge potential issue:
      1.) You might be OK with spending an extra hour every night right now, but if Life Happens and you suddenly can’t/won’t spend that extra 5 hours a week, it’s going to look like you’ve slipped.
      2.) The habit of working unpaid overtime is very easy for you to lose control of and end up working way more than you should. I can’t speak for your job, but every place I’ve ever worked, there’s always “just one more thing…” available to suck up time if you let it.
      3.) Your future replacement who works the 40 hours she’s supposed to is going to be less productive than you were, and your boss is going to think negatively on her.

      Reply
      1. Wintermute

        lets not forget one of the huge reasons that Unions fought for the 40-hour workweek– the endless escalator. Because a good company rewards top performers and if you sneak in 5 hours unpaid work then someone that wants to perform better than you has to sneak in 7.5 and then 10 and then so on and pretty soon just to stay in line with your boss’ expectations you’re working 60 hours and being paid for 40.

        And because they know that people have a “whatever it takes to get it done” attitude then come hour cuts, because they know the work is still going to get done, thanks to more unpaid labor.

        I see this ALL the time with my family in education, especially on the para-professional side. No one wants to “let down the kids” and the result is being paid 12 bucks an hour for 24 hours a week, but working close to 36 and spending money out of your own pocket to boot.

        Reply
    4. the gold digger

      legitimate overtime

      I can’t even imagine a work situation where an employee just decides to work OT without prior authorization. I was very clear with our intern that she was to work no more than 40 hours a week – that if we wanted her to work OT, we would tell her. (We never needed her to.) But I have never been in a situation where non-exempt people just get to decide to work OT – it has always been requested and authorized in advance by the boss. That money has to come from someone’s budget!

      Reply
      1. PollyQ

        Yes, this. It’s been a while since I’ve had an overtime-eligible job, but when I did it always had to be pre-approved.

        Reply
  13. all aboard the anon train

    #2: If he has other behavior that coincides with this, I’d find it more concerning. If that’s the only weird behavior, I’d chalk it up to a personality thing, though I do agree it can be annoying.

    I have a coworker who does this, but everyone knows he wants to be a manager and acts like people on his project team are his direct reports instead of colleagues so his “great job!” or “great catch!” comments come off very condescending and annoying. And from speaking with my colleagues, this coworker only really does it to women, which makes it even more obnoxious.

    Reply
    1. all aboard the anon train

      Also, I know this is definitely a personality team, but I do sometimes get annoyed when I get effusive thanks for doing something that’s part of my job. The compliments begin to feel fake and meaningless after awhile.

      Reply
      1. Cristina in England

        I don’t like that kind of thanks either. I also don’t like someone telling me I have done a good job of something (unless they are my actual boss). I normally don’t complain though because it seems ungracious and also I can’t quite articulate why it bothers me.

        Reply
        1. all aboard the anon train

          I feel the same way. Not to make it a generational issue, but for me, I think growing up in the millennial “everyone gets an award” generation makes effusive compliments for something insignificant feel artificial. When someone says thanks for every small thing I do (and that I’m supposed to do) I don’t really take it as genuine. There’s a difference between being polite and thanking someone for holding open a door or going above and beyond on a project and thanking someone for sending an email or handing over a file that’s part of their daily job duties.

          So when someone who says “good job!” or thanks me profusely for small things actually thanks me for doing a stellar job on something, it almost means less because they’ve thanked me so much that it has lost its meaning and importance.

          Reply
          1. Anna Held

            Thanking someone FOR something is so different from a general “atta girl!” Specifics is what matters.

            There are people who need lots of affirmation, though, and would eat this up. It is a Big Deal to some people I’ve met. It’s always possible he lives with or has worked for one of those.

            Reply
        2. Zip Zap

          There are different ways to do it, though. If it’s a specific compliment like, “Wow, that was really innovative. I’m impressed!” it can sound genuine, like the person admires your work. But, “Thank you Susan! Good job as always!” sounds condescending. It’s about the implied type of relationship and level of respect.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            This. If I thank you for your work, you are working for me. If I praise your work, that may not have that edge depending on how it is done. I tried to think about it in the context of my marriage. I do thank my husband for doing tasks from time to time but they tend to be the ones we both are responsible for, so he is taking a load off of me when he does them.

            Reply
      2. So Very Anonymous

        I don’t like this kind of thanks either. At my current position, I have way too many people who praise me effusively that way as a way of buttering me up to do things for them that aren’t my job (but are often theirs!) It’s made me fairly cynical about compliments, unfortunately.

        Reply
        1. all aboard the anon train

          Yes, definitely.

          I’ve had people who do that over-the-top thanks about the most insignificant things, and it irks me because it can come off as incredibly condescending.

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth West

          I have a relative who does this in personal interactions–“You’re so clever! Love you!” It’s usually a prelude to asking for a favor. At least at work, I can steer someone to my boss like “You should check with Wakeen; I don’t know if he would want me to take that on.”

          Reply
        1. So Very Anonymous

          Yes! I also get effusive praise before I’ve actually done anything, which is very uncomfortable. It’s also a form of buttering me up, but it’s also problematic b/c I’ve had people then turn on me for not actually being able to do all the things they’ve assumed I should be able to do/praised me for in advance.

          Reply
  14. Crystal

    #4. As someone who used to work in NP development that was just part of my life for 5+ years and I never would have considered asking for OT. That’s not the way (most) NPs work. A Manager is just going to say to get it done during work hours unless they’re a rare unicorn. You’re choosing to do the “get ready” portion for your own sanity, I would imagine, but it is a choice.

    Reply
  15. AcademiaNut

    For #3, there is a fundamental problem in the way the way the LW is looking at the situation. She says it’s okay because she “does not in any way discriminate them with returning the favors.”

    Driving someone to work daily is a pretty major favour. It’s something that should ideally be freely *offered*, but at the very least should be a request that the driver feels they can freely decline without repercussions, and can stop doing at any time. And if you’re receiving a favour like this, it’s common courtesy to attempt to repay it in some way – not necessarily the full value, but something that indicates appreciation. Buying the coffee for the commute. Paying for the gas. Taking them out to lunch occasionally, or giving them a Starbucks gift card as a thank-you.

    But the LW is asking the favour of people who are not free to say no – they are direct reports who depend on her goodwill for their livelihoods. And she is deliberately not doing any of the reciprocal behaviour that would accompany a genuine favour.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I can also see this from the exact opposite side, but that is no less problematic either: It’s not clear from the letter who first came up with the idea for this arrangement – from the language used, I’d suspect it was the OP, but it could have been one of the reports initiating it. And in that case, it’s unlikely this was done out of the goodness of their own heart but rather because they actually expect some kind of favourable view cast upon them at work. Which is… not ideal, to say the least.

      Reply
  16. Beth

    With #4: I’m curious about paying overtime as comp time being illegal. Is that a recent change, or are there specific conditions that make it illegal, or? My old job, which was for a big state government office, had that arrangement. If you chose to be compensated in comp time, it could be taken weeks (or months?) later. It’s possible they were just operating illegally, but I would think state government would be more careful about that, so I’m curious if there was any way for that to have been legal.

    Reply
    1. Newbie

      Disclaimer: not a lawyer, but successfully represented myself in a dispute with US local/state government and in front of the UK Employment Tribunal.
      Apparently, state and local government is allowed to use comp time.
      See: “However, the FLSA contains several provisions unique to state and local governments, including compensatory time (“comp time”). Comp time: Pursuant to an agreement with employees or their representatives, state or local government agencies may arrange for their employees to earn comp time instead of cash payment for overtime hours. Any comp time arrangement must be established pursuant to the applicable provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, memorandum of understanding, any other agreement between the public agency and representatives of overtime-protected employees, or an agreement or understanding arrived at between the employer and employee before the performance of the work. This agreement may be evidenced by a notice to the employee that compensatory time off will be given in lieu of overtime pay (for example, providing the employee a copy of the personnel regulations). The comp time must be provided at a rate of one-and-one-half hours for each overtime hour worked. For example, for most state government employees, if they work 44 hours in a single workweek (4 hours of overtime), they would be entitled to 6 hours (1.5 times 4 hours) of compensatory time off. When used, the comp time is paid at the regular rate of pay. (https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/overtime-government.pdf)
      Apparently, there is also a very narrow exception for hourly employees in private sector under so-called “time-off plans”. The FLSA does allow a very narrow exception to the prohibition against comp time. Known as the “time off plan” it is explained in the DOL’s Field Operatives Handbook, Section 32j16b
      See: “32j16b The time off plan. To comply with the FLSA and to continue to pay a fixed wage or salary each pay period even though the employee works overtime in some week or weeks within the pay period, the employer lays off the employee a sufficient number of hours during some other week or weeks of the pay period to offset the amount of overtime worked so that the desired wage or salary for the pay period covers the total amount of compensation, including overtime compensation, due the employee under the FLSA for each workweek taken separately.” (https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/overtime-government.pdf)

      Reply
    2. AcademiaNut

      My understanding is that there is a specific exemption for government employees. So it was likely okay in your case, but the same arrangement would be illegal a private employer.

      Reply
    3. Antilles

      It’s a long-standing rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but public sector government employees are specifically exempt.
      There have been a few discussions about changing FLSA so comp time instead of pay is legal for everyone – the Republican-led House under Obama passed a bill on this a couple times but it didn’t go anywhere. The Republican-led House under Trump passed a similar bill a few months ago, which is more likely to be approved by the administration, but is currently sitting somewhere in the Senate backlog.

      Reply
    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      State governments are exempted from the law (conveniently). For private employers, non-exempt employees cannot be paid in comp time unless it’s within the same work week.

      Reply
      1. Ask a different manager

        Federal government as well, but only at the employee’s request. I can’t make them work for comp time. For that matter, it says ‘may’ not ‘shall’; I don’t have to pay comp if I don’t want to. (But actually I do, because that’s the “head of the agency’s” policy.) Ref: 5 CFR 551.531(a) (and para. (d) of that same section gives them a year to take it or it converts to OT and paid as money.)

        Reply
    1. Anonymou

      I was once put in this position by the owner of my company. We would have meetings at a particular client and once I gave him a ride on my way once, it was assumed I would continue to do so in perpetuity. The pick-up spot was about 15-20 minutes out of my way, and even though it was outside normal business hours, he would frequently use the time to work by holding calls with the other owner/CFO/managers on his ear buds. So while he was on the phone, I would basically just sit in silence (no radio, since it interfered with his call) for an hour each way. He never paid for gas or made any gesture of thanks. And his breath smelled AWFUL in the mornings. The whole situation sucked and I was literally thinking “I hate this” the entire ride.

      Reply
      1. Everything Bagel Fan

        Oh my this is terrible.. whatever happened? How did this end? I would probably be job searching if this had been forced onto me like this.

        Reply
      2. Artemesia

        What a nightmare. I think I would have enrolled in an early morning exercise class where I had to drive and then go to work from there where it was ‘impossible ‘ to ‘swing by’ and get the boss. I hope you found a new job quickly and got out from under that. This is exactly how a one time favor turns into continuous abuse of power.

        Reply
      3. Lurker #2

        A similar situation happened to me. Down to my boss taking phone calls while in the job. When I told him that I was no longer willing to be an unpaid Uber driver (and told him that if I were comfortable chauffeuring people I’d drive for Uber and get paid for it) he told me my attitude had to stop. I also shocked him when I told him that he was not allowed to eat in my car.

        I’m with another company now.

        Reply
      4. Not a Morning Person

        What about filing for mileage? Most employers do at least reimburse for travel mileage when you’re using your personal vehicle for business travel and driving to a meeting is a business expense.

        Reply
    1. Laura

      Yes, I was thinking of posting that it sounds like OP#3 doesn’t have English as their first language, so there might be some leeway here for vocabulary choice on those words, but the more I consider that the more I think that even if they plugged them into a translator the original ones would have been 100% along these lines. So… yes! It isn’t!

      Reply
  17. Mark Roth

    I once picked up my boss on the way to work, but it was a one time emergency and he made it very clear that I could say and that he was covered for the return trip. I’m not sure what I would do if he had asked again.

    My bigger concern is the fact that he seems to think that everyone is on the way to somewhere else. My nearby boss, who lived about a quarter of the way to work, added ten minutes to my commute to go and get him. My wife often suggests that we consider picking up my parents or my brother if we are “passing” their places on our way to somewhere we’re all going. I never outright refuse, but my parents are at least 15 minutes out of way to anywhere and it could add 30 minutes to a trip to actually go directly past my brother’s place.

    I may be in the wrong here, but it is at least clear to me that many people can have vastly different views on what “on the way” and “out of the way” mean. Throwing in an unbalanced power dynamic does not help the situation.

    (Lastly, am I the only one who thought that this boss was going to be told he has to pay his drivers based on the preview?)

    Reply
    1. ExceptionToTheRule

      I’ve given my bosses rides home in emergencies and it’s usually me offering, but hey are legitimately on my way home as it feels like half the staff lives in the same neighborhood.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      We do occasional rides home or to the mechanic’s at my office–it’s a small town so it’s really not a big deal to do it once in a long while. I do need to keep track to make sure it’s not just my reports offering to me even then, but it seems to go both ways.

      Reply
    3. blackcat

      My boss as only once asked me to bring my car to work (not drive him around, but pick up/drop off a visiting scholar). And it was a slightly frantic 7am phone call to the effect of “I’m so sorry to ask this, but [my wife]’s mom fell down the stairs and so [wife] really needs our car today. Can you bring your car today and drive around [visitor]? I’ll cover any parking fees.”

      While it was clear I couldn’t *exactly* say no unless it was impossible (like him, I am in a one-car, two adult household), he was super clear that this was a one-off caused by an emergency. I think he gave me cookies or something the following week, too, as a thank you.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        I would also say that’s a work task, not a personal service. We assign tasks like this all the time and it’s NBD–it’s the last-minute thing that made this one challenging.

        Reply
    4. Gaia

      When I first read it I thought they accepted an offer but wanted to have negotiated having employees drive them. I was expecting something far more insane, but this is still pretty crazy!

      Reply
  18. Itac

    #4 most non-profit managers probably aren’t in the position to approve 5-10 hours a week of overtime for someone to make their to-do list and get caught up on email. Asking for that may look out of touch and stopping that habit or asking to work 5-10 hours a week from home in the evening and coming in a little later to balance your time sheet may be more effective.

    Reply
  19. Chelsea

    I got the impression that someone has told OP#3 that what she is doing is crossing boundaries, and she just doesn’t get it. But of course she is crossing boundaries by asking her employees to double as her chauffeur. Even if she doesn’t show them favoritism, they are going to be annoyed at the added stress of having to take care of their boss on non-work hours.

    Reply
  20. Akcipitrokulo

    About OP2 – first, trust your instincts! We’re reading it – you’re hearing it in person.

    A few things occurred to me…

    1) Is your colleague awkward in other ways? If so, it might be an over-application of some advice they’ve been given “make sure you show appreciation so people don’t think you’re rude!”.

    2) Didn’t sound like it from your letter – but if it were only you that were being thanked, that’s a red flag and needs stopped.

    3) Is it only a certain group they’re thanking? If your colleage only thanks one gender, that’s a major issue that needs stopped. (Whichever way round it is – this is not acceptable.)

    4) Are there any other signs of trying to be dominant? Just thanking everyone – could be ok. Thanking AND doing things like offering help when not wanted, commenting on timekeeping, making it clear they see themselves as on management track or criticising the work of people on same level… yeah, that’s not a good thing. I loved the idea above of always thanking THEM in that case :)

    (We have someone like that on our social committee – they aren’t the chair or in charge, but always thank people for their help, or for taking care of that or for their contribution… drives me up the wall. I’ve got a meeting this afternoon, and looking forward to thanking them profusely ;-) )

    If colleague thanks everyone and don’t seem to want to be in charge, then chances are it’s just getting social mores a little bit wrong. Then it’s up to you if it’s annoying enough to mention, or if you think it would be kind to give them a heads up – personally it would depend on whether I thought I could do it without causing anxiety or making colleague think they’d done something wrong. Maybe a casual “it’s OK, thanks not needed for that one!”.

    Reply
    1. Alice

      Since that person drives you crazy, why not ask them to stop? I mean, thanking them profusely today is not going to get them to change the behavior….

      Reply
      1. Akcipitrokulo

        Good point.

        I suppose it feels like saying “don’t have good manners towards me!” Which feels rude. But probably the best way though.

        Reply
    2. OP #2

      I guess this is why I’m bothered by it. Fergus will insert himself into a project and then say, “job well done” like he assigned it to you in the first place.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        If he says it in front of others I would get a confused look on my face and say “I didn’t realize you were a part of this project?” He’ll be forced to explain himself.

        Reply
  21. marypuppins

    #3
    I had a colleague (J) who suffered a major concussion and other injuries. When he came back to work he couldn’t drive for a bit. J is one of the partners in the business. His second in command lives (P) near him so he gave P his parking pass and P drove him to/from work for a few weeks. When P wasn’t available he got a ride from someone else, took cabs, public transit or asked his wife to pick him up. But all that was a temporary solution while he healed.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      In a situation like this, I think it makes sense. The major differences are that there was a specific need and a well defined time frame.

      Reply
  22. Legalchef

    Re #5, I wouldn’t use that as an example of a weakness anyway. Maybe it makes more sense when described w context, but to me saying you have a hard time being productive in a disorganized place sounds like a cop-out answer.

    Reply
    1. lulu

      This. The point of the question is to show that you learned from your mistake, and you know how to work around it. The conclusion of your story is: “and then I got fired”, not a great takeaway.

      Reply
      1. OP #5

        I didn’t go into more detail about my potential answer in the OP because it was tangential to my question, but just because I got fired doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a lesson learned, just that I learned it after I was fired. In this case, I learned to ask more direct questions about a company’s software development lifecycle and to seek out companies that share my enthusiasm for Agile development processes. Given that there were more factors in play than just the lack of structure, though, it’s probably better not to bring up as example, as it would be more likely to be a distraction than a good example.

        Reply
        1. Elemeno P.

          I once brought up the job I was fired from in an interview for the same reason, and I got the job. The prompt was, “Tell me about a time you tried your best and failed.” I talked about how I tried really hard at this job, but I didn’t ask for help, and I fell behind and was fired. I learned to ask for help when I needed it and not to wait until I was drowning in work. It’s a good lesson to learn!

          Reply
    2. OP #5

      What about the answer do you see as a cop-out? Ultimately I feel like my answer (or other potential answers I can think of) boils down to having a tendency to be lazy at times, and I’m not sure what a good way to word that would be. Is there a way that you would rephrase this to be a better answer?

      Reply
  23. Ellen

    I come from a zero-positive-feedback environment AND I used to be a teacher (two different jobs). My current workplace is vastly healthier than either prior job, but we have just had some major shifts in middle management.
    Given my past experiences, and what I know from my own training, if I see someone doing a job well (not just average or acceptable), I’m going to tell them that they did a really good job with handling whatever it was. This includes not just my coworkers, but also my managers, all of whom are very new to management, while I have had well over a decade of experience in it (and NO interest in it ever again, ever.)
    They seem to like the feedback, and I always make it clear how much I appreciate how well they are handling their jobs. I hope they are OK with it, I’ll have to pay more attention to body language in the future.
    And they really ARE doing a good job under difficult conditions, especially for people with limited management background.

    Reply
  24. MT

    #1, my last job offer was way more than I expected. 4 weeks of vacation plus a 13% raise. I did want to negotiate, so i asked for something trivial just to say i negotiated. I asked for 2% more salary.

    Reply
    1. Nonsenical

      I don’t think it is a good idea just to ask for something just to show you negotiated, if it out of touch with the market rate, it has a bad impact of potentially losing a job offer. Make sure what you’re asking for is still in line with what is acceptable.

      Reply
  25. BeezLouise

    Re #2, I am totally this co-worker. In my case, I think a lot of it is overcompensating for other members of my team — they tend to give unclear instructions (even when people push for clarity) and then be hypercritical when no one can meet their expectations. My team does it, I think, because we’re always super busy and they can’t focus on the details of any particular project until it’s closer to delivery, but it makes me (and I would have to assume our internal partners) crazy. As a result I overly thank and express appreciation both because I am thankful for other people’s hard work and to separate myself from my teammates.

    Reply
  26. Bolt

    #4 This is really something that should be run by the boss… people do get fired for unauthorized overtime whether the tasks are legitimate or not!

    Some bosses may find this unacceptable; I know my boss would scoff at me charging overtime for making to-do lists and drafting emails. He’d accuse me of padding my paycheque by doing things at home that probably just wasting time – these are those things that aren’t crucial to be able to get your job done.

    lets say that your boss agrees that it is beneficial to the company for you to do this stuff – then the questiom becomes whether you are maximizing your time at work to get this stuff done. There will be questions about why you can’t do this during the workday and it can be bad if your boss thinks or knows you have enough downtime to do this stuff.

    There is even the issue of you doing it at home where there isn’t anything to really show that you worked for an hour and didn’t start your draft at 9, watch Game of Thrones, then finished it at 10:05. Many employers would require you to stay late rather than work at home when you feel like it.

    Reply
    1. A Person

      Pretty much this. I have a couple of co-workers who use various means to pad their timesheets and the manager is either turning a blind eye or hiding hours. Its just waiting for a senior manager to come around and ask what the hell they’re doing.

      Reply
  27. Nonsenical

    #3 It is not small and petty to have someone drive you to work, especially if they work for you! Are you even paying for gas? You need to stop, especially if your idea.

    #4 – it sounds like you’re choosing to work overtime every week and that is not okay. You need to figure out if your boss is okay with overtime, but at my workplace, I am hourly and overtime needs to be approved ahead of time. The things you’re doing to prepare for the day you should be doing at work. Arrive earlier if you need quiet time, I get that you feel more comfortable doing it in your PJs, but doing it daily and accruing overtime is costly for your employer, especially if it accrues time and a half for work that you should be capable of doing during the regular 40 hours.

    Reply
  28. Bagpuss

    I agree. I also think that even if it was a carpool situation where you were driving them some of the time, it would be a bit questionable, as it is much harder for someone to end the arrangment or express concerns when they are dealing with their manager, than with a coworker.

    And even without that issue, it’s not enough that you believe that you can still *be* objective about the workers who are doing you this hugefavout. You need to actually be *seen* to be objective, and for all of your reports, whether or not they are doing you big favours, to percieve you that way.

    You need to stop, right away, and to start taking responsibility for getting yourself to and from work. If you have not been contributing towards your driver’s petrol costs you should deal with that now – tell them that you no longer need their help, thank them for their assistance, and give them a reasonable amount towards their petrol.
    (bear in mind that if you have not been giving them gas money you’ve ben effectively letting / expecting your reports to subsidise you finacially, and that is a *really* big no-no.

    Reply
  29. dear liza dear liza

    #3: In addition to “small and petty”, the sentence “This saves me energy and time, as I live very far away from office” jumped out at me. Wouldn’t this be true for the reports she’s riding with? The lack of empathy makes me pause.

    Reply
  30. Some Sort of Management Consultant

    LW3:

    What I don’t understand is why you can’t drive/transport yourself to the office? You have a long commute but surely the one driving you lives just as far away? I just don’t see where this is saving you any time? (effort and money, yeah, I can see how you would be saving that,)

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I assumed that the OP doesn’t drive (be that because she has no licence, no car at the moment, or for some other reason) and would need to use public transport if she didn’t have her employees which usually means more time spent in general (even if it’s not the actual driving time which at least here often is the same whether you take the train or a car, but the time you need to get from your house to the bus stop or station and then later from that vehicle to your actual place of work, maybe you’d even need to change trains/buses etc.). Completely guesswork, of course.

      Reply
    2. Gilmore67

      We don’t know why the OP can’t drive, that is the problem with giving a good answer to the OP.

      OP, can you tell us why you can’t drive yourself to work? Not asking you to give us any health or otherwise personal issues/details but just something so we understand why better?

      And why you think driving you to work are ” Small and petty issues” ? Are you getting push back ?

      Because now it just looks like you are taking advantage of your employees. So, why are you asking them to drive you?

      Reply
      1. Observer

        These are good questions, but I don’t see how the answers would affect the ultimate advice. I can’t think of any scenario where this becomes ok.

        Reply
        1. Gilmore67

          I agree . But at least our answers could maybe give other options other than having the employees drive her.

          If she is disabled are there some sort of company that she can use?

          That is all I am saying.

          Reply
  31. Erin

    I know someone who owns a construction company who doesn’t have a driver’s license and purposely hires a crew member to pick him up at his house and drive him around. It’s apart of the job when he hires them, they use his work trucks, he pays for gas and the clock starts when the employee gets to boss’s house in the morning and ends when they get to his house. But what you’re proposing the employees aren’t paid for their time. What if one of the workers wants to do things after work before returning home, or has an emergency and has to leave in the middle of the work day? What if you want to run errands after work are your employees supposed to chauffeur you around off the clock? Besides parking your car at their house can be a pain in the ass for their spouse if you block them in.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      This is okay because it is a job and he is on the clock doing it. Pretending that it is no big deal because the subordinate was driving anyway is an entirely different deal.

      Reply
  32. boop the first

    #3. So what would you have done if your coworker didn’t live near you? Or even halfway from you? Where do the other coworkers who drop you off halfway live? Do you make them drop you off somewhere sensible for you or for them?

    I have such an avoidant personality, that I would look into not just moving closer to work but in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION from you just to get out of being asked.

    Reply
  33. Kickin' Crab

    #3: The use of phrases like “shifted my residence” and “go to office” (not “the office”) and “drops me halfway towards my home” (not “drops me off halfway home”) makes me think the LW is from where my family is from, a region of the world that is very heavy on hierarchy. That just makes the coercion aspect of this worse, and to top it off, the poor employees aren’t even being compensated! LW: please stop doing this, and make your own arrangements to and from work.

    Reply
    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant

      Hm, good point!
      I could definitely see that being true and it would explain some of the oddities in the letter.

      Reply
      1. Erin

        If I was forced to drive my boss around she’d probably hate me. I listen to heavy metal, and have had the rule NO ONE touches my car stereo but me or else you’re walking.

        Reply
  34. Professor Ronny

    #4 I wonder, but do not know, if the situation is different since they are a nonprofit. The OT could be considered volunteering.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      That would be totally illegal. An employee is not permitted to volunteer for their organization, unless it’s for a role that is completely different than their paid job. Eg bookkeeper mans a table at the annual street fair.

      Reply
  35. Allypopx

    #5 I have an “other experience” section on my resume that refers to jobs that aren’t super relevant to my field but my have helped me acquire transferable skills. That way if I bring them up, it’s not out of the blue.

    But definitely make sure those are jobs you’re willing to have looked into, because if you bring them up they become fair game.

    Reply
    1. OP #5

      That’s a good idea. I learned a similar lesson in a graduate program that is unrelated to the field I am in right now. If I were to use an example, perhaps my time in the graduate program would be a better one.

      Reply
  36. Zuppa da Clams

    OP #3-Not that it matters (because you should 100% stop doing what you’re doing,) but is the person who drives you to work picking you up at your home, or are you driving a certain distance and having him pick you up there? Because I see the 2nd person who is dropping you off drives you halfway, presumably where you left your car or have public trans?

    So, in the first case, it really sucks because if the person who is picking you up from your home, they have to be ready earlier and drive a small distance out of the way and maybe even sometimes wait for you to be ready to come outside. And idk where you live, but winter is coming, so now what do you expect to happen, what if there is inclement weather or it’s dark and cold when they get up earlier, or whatever.

    And in the second case, like if you’re thinking about justifying that at least they only drive you part of the way, it also sucks, because I assume you do have your own car and are not using public transpo (because I feel like you would have said so, being that you care about the time and energy you waste commuting) so basically your employees know you have a car and you are just basically throwing it in their faces that you feel you should not have to expend energy and time to commute but they must expend extra time and energy on their part to help you commute.
    I think it’s the first one because I see you added “dropping me off and picking me up at home,” and maybe that means sometimes you compel an employee to drop you off at home and not halfway as you say?

    But it’s all SEMANTICS-STOP DOING THIS. Get in your damn car and drive yourself. I would be massively embarrassed to have one of my employees escort me to and from work in a non-carpool type situation.

    Reply
    1. Zuppa da Clams

      As an add-on, since you consider this small and petty, and yet somehow a waste and time of your energy, how would you feel in your employees’ shoes? Would you do the same for one of them on a regular basis? Would you do the same for your own boss on a regular basis? Why is expending time and energy on commuting not good for you, but somehow good for your employees?

      Reply
      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

        That’s exactly what I was wondering. If an employee said they needed the OP (or anyone else) to pick them up and drop them off from work, they’d likely be told it’s not the responsibility of the OP or the workplace to organise their commute. The employee would look very poor in the eyes of the organisation and might even be told to find a new job with a shorter commute.

        I’d honestly lose all respect for a boss who didn’t value or respect my time like this. Most people don’t like commuting but we don’t have much of a choice, so we do it and try to make it as pleasant as possible. OP is making life very difficult for their employees, whether they realise it or not.

        Reply
        1. Zuppa da Clams

          Can you imagine if one of these employees was married or had a kid or a partner? Someone going to bed early so they can get up early, or arriving home later can affect a household in a big way. I know if my partner was going to bed early so he could get up extra early to drive his boss to work, I would be concerned about his stress level or mood. Lack of sleep or change in sleep schedule affects his mood rather dramatically gives him insomnia rather easily. Like OP#3 is thinking “Oh, it’s just ten extra minutes for them.” But 10 extra minutes of driving could equal like 30 min. or more of a change for them.

          Reply
        2. nonegiven

          Except maybe that guy on Reddit that complained his boss wanted him to risk driving through high water in Houston to man a cellphone kiosk because his competitors were open. Fine, you come get me and bring me home afterwards and I’ll work today.

          Reply
          1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

            ?????????????????????????????

            I want to be surprised, but. And yep, this is a case where I’d definitely ask my boss to come pick me up!

            Reply
  37. Lalaith

    Regarding #1 – I recently contacted a former coworker about an opening at his current company, and he told me that the budget for the position was $X, but implied that X was kind of low. It turns out, though, that my salary + benefits allowance (I have insurance through my husband’s job, so my previous company paid me what they would have paid for my insurance) at OldJob added up to just under X. I told my former coworker that I’d been getting about X, so I’d be fine with it. So I’m assuming it’d look pretty bad if I tried to negotiate more salary, but I am going to ask if they would also do a benefits allowance on top of the salary – that shouldn’t hurt, should it?

    Reply
  38. Zip Zap

    #5 – The weaknesses question is a tough one because you want to be honest, but you also don’t want to make yourself look bad. My strategy is to use it to highlight how I’m a good fit for the job. For example, if they emphasize that you’ll be working in a chaotic environment, say you thrive in that kind of environment and don’t do as well with a lot of structure. If you use an example, I don’t think where it comes from is important. They’re really just trying to get a sense of how well you would do in that role, and how honest you are, to some extent. I wouldn’t mention the job you were fired from.

    Reply
    1. OP #5

      That’s a good point. I think my answer could do that, as I find that my weaknesses are mitigated in an environment that makes good use of Agile development processes. Given that I’m a software developer and Agile is quite common in my field, my answer would hopefully illustrate my buy-in on these processes. I could probably make this point without mentioning the job I was fired from, though – it would be more likely to distract from my main point than add to it.

      Reply
  39. Alice

    Wow, I’m amazed at how many people think that being thanked is misogynistic, or insincere, or a sign that someone has unchecked managerial ambition. Surely OP2 would have mentioned if there were other details that suggest those interpretations? If the Annoying Co-worker were only thanking women, or also tracking his co-worker’s timesheets, then those interpretations would make sense.
    I am lucky that I’ve always worked in environments where it was completely normal to thank and be thanked by others, and to compliment and be complimented. My colleagues are smart and insightful, and I appreciate positive feedback from them as well as negative feedback.
    That said, OP2, you are clearly different from me. Since this thanking business is not pleasant for you, why don’t you ask your colleague to stop doing it? I don’t think you’re going to get the results that you want by not saying anything.
    What to say? I would be nonplussed if a colleague said “please stop thanking me,” but I would do it. If a colleague said something more along the lines of “please stop thanking me, you ambitious/insincere/patronizing jerk,” well, I would stop thanking the person in this case too, but why do that to the relationship when it’s not obviously warranted?
    Obviously this advice doesn’t apply if the Annoying Co-worker IS doing something other than just thanking you and others.
    I hope that you can reach some kind of accommodation.

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      It’s sometimes a way to show dominance. Thanking someone for doing their job sends a subtle message that you assigned them that work. This is more true when it’s thanking someone for a menial, non-helpful task.

      It’s normal in my office, too, to be thankful and be kind. However, I have worked, in the past, with dudes who tried to take charge of things when we were equals. The “thanking” was part of that.

      Reply
      1. Akcipitrokulo

        Yep. Guy outside my department that I’m working with on other things… the thanking is a bit of an annoyance as he is tending to dominate and assign duties.

        Thinking about it… in my department we thank each other quite a lot and give praise. Genuinely. And it’s appreciated and makes for a good place because there are no power plays behind it.

        Reply
      2. Artemesia

        If I thank you, the implication is that you have done me a favor. In the workplace, the implication is that you have done work for me i.e. that you are my subordinate and your work supports mine or that I assigned it or am in charge of it. ‘Thanks for getting me those TPA reports so quickly, it really made it easy for me to make my deadline’ has a different connotation i.e. your work complimented mine and no one is likely to take that amiss. A man who does this sort of thing i.e. thanking for work that doesn’t support his or isn’t assigned by him consistently to women is implying that they are all his admin support. If he only does it to women and not men, no question about it.

        Reply
  40. CoffeeLover

    #1 I’m looking for a job right now and my salary range is pretty broad. The role I’m applying to can vary wildly in salary depending on the industry and the level of responsibility. On top of that, I’ve moved to a new country so my previous knowledge of the salary range is only sort of accurate, and I don’t have a good enough network here to build a more narrow salary range. I have an absolute minimum, but I doubt the positions I’ve applied to so far would get that low. Regardless, my plan is to basically ask for a bit more (say 5K) just because it’s worth it. The planned script:
    Them: “We would like to offer you 50K”
    Me: “Thank you so much, but I was hoping for something closer to 55K. Would that be possible?” *silence*

    Then they either say no, yes, or they meet me halfway. Either way, I won’t have to wonder if I could have gotten more. Sometimes all it takes is asking. I had a friend get 10K more just because she asked. It seems silly not to ask even if you don’t actually know what the salary should be.

    Reply
    1. Just Jess

      This is the perfect place to start if research has been inconclusive. You identified a minimum salary and a strategy for getting a better offer. A next step for serious negotiating is to identify your wildest dream salary.

      Also, don’t accept anything on the spot and let them know that you’ll need 24-hours to look over the health benefits, retirement, professional development and PTO packages.

      Reply
  41. W

    Somewhat related to #3: I know of one situation in a non-profit where there was a nine-person committee that made certain high-level decisions. Five of these people carpooled together and, of course, would often discuss these issues. This meant they would often show up to the meeting having already discussed the issue and already decided on what you do about it, and they already had the majority of votes behind this decision. Nobody died anything “wrong” but it did create a real imbalance.

    Reply
    1. Zuppa da Clams

      Which is sort of why the driving is not a good idea, that does relate to the issue–what if OP is discussing work issues and the driving employee is privy to this and the OP says “Well, I’m going to have you handle such and such an issue since I have extra time to divulge info with you,” and that affects everyone at work-even if that WASN’T the case, like the OP goes out of her way to NOT discuss work during the ride-if the OP did assign something to the drivers while at work or promoted or complimented the drivers, anyone who knew that the employees did drive the OP to work would automatically assume the favor of driving would have an impact on these decisions, even if it didn’t, because of appearances.

      On the flipside of this argument, since the OP says she is very good about not showing favoritism to her employees who drive her-I know that if I was going to drive my boss as a favor to her to and from work every day, and then my boss like gave me a hard time at work or didn’t assign me a project I wanted or something, I would be thinking a little in my head, “Come on, lady, give me a break, I drive you around every day and you can’t even do a little something for me at work?” or “Come on, I woke up early to get you here on time/was sitting in traffic an extra X amount of time because I was driving you, can you get off my back?” Like I *would* want a little extra appreciation if I was pressured to drive my boss, it’s human nature, it can’t be helped.

      Reply
  42. Doreen

    For number 4, when does “gathering my thoughts and planning next steps” cross the line into overtime? Is it when the to-do list is written down or the email is actually written or is it earlier in the process, when I am just thinking about what I have to do the next day or how I want to respond to a situation ? It seems impractical to expect my employer to know when I am thinking about work and impossible for me to ensure that I am not thinking about work when I am off the clock but it also seems kind of ridiculous that spending an additional couple of minutes writing a to-do list would trigger an obligation for my employer to pay overtime if making the list in my head doesn’t result in an obligation. ( My question is only about the planning aspect, not the data clean-up or editing projects)

    Reply
    1. Elsajeni

      I wonder about this too, for non-exempt roles where thinking and planning can be part of the job (as distinct from, for example, stocking shelves, where it’s pretty easy to tell whether what you’re doing is Work or not). If someone asks me, for example, to create a complicated database query for them, obviously I’m working if I log into the system from home that evening and start actually building the query. But am I “working” if I just think about how best to structure it while I’m driving home? If I jot down a couple lines of notes after dinner to help me remember that idea I had mid-commute? I do think actually drafting emails is work, but I feel like making to-do lists and thinking about next steps are more of a grey area — otherwise it seems like I’d have to track every time a work-related thought crosses my mind.

      Reply
    2. MicroManagered

      I am not a lawyer!!!

      I am, however, studying the FLSA pretty in-depth right now for a professional certification, and I believe writing a quick to-do list for tomorrow falls under “de minimis” time. Basically, from what I understand, that is not likely to be a measurable length of time that’s compensable. But that only applies to something that’s a few seconds to a few minutes in duration. If you sit down and write emails for an hour in the evening, now you’re working compensable overtime.

      There also has to be some kind of proof that the overtime was actually worked. The book I’m working off of refers to a case where a judge ruled that a plaintiff who claimed she worked overtime and was not compensated for it had failed to prove that she worked because she had not kept a record on timesheets or anywhere else and couldn’t explain how her employer could know she had worked. So I think it’s a bit of a gray area. There has to be some reasonable way to show you worked, so I would think something like thinking about work in the car on the way home is not compensable because how would you ever prove that? And what constructive work are you doing? But say you returned a client’s call from your car while driving home from work, and your call log shows you had a 30 minute call to the client’s phone number, then I think that’s overtime and you’d need to be reporting and your employer must pay you for it.

      It sounds like OP4 is doing some of both. Working on projects, writing emails, etc is tangible work that can be tracked and she should be reporting it to her employer or not doing it. But “gathering thoughts” or even jotting down a quick list, I would not think is compensable time. (But again, not a lawyer!!)

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Just to clarify, you don’t need to have that kind of proof. If you have a log of what you did, that can be considered verification. You could write down “troubleshooting on the X situation, 7-7:45” and that kind of documentation is often sufficient.

        Obviously if you’re the person’s manager and you don’t believe this is true, you address that (often by just telling the person that they need to get any future overtime approved in advance or telling them they can’t work overtime at all). But the law doesn’t require that the employer must be able to verify the work as concretely as “yes, the client confirmed there was a phone call then.”

        Reply
        1. MicroManagered

          Yes! Good catch–that is not what I was implying and didn’t realize my comment read that way. An employee’s self-report of time worked is almost always “proof” enough. I was trying to come up with an example to illustrate how simply “thinking about work outside of work” wouldn’t be compensable the same way making a call, responding to emails, editing documents, etc would be.

          If I’m “gathering my thoughts for tomorrow” on the couch for an indeterminate amount of time, that’s not compensable time. If I’m gathering my thoughts for tomorrow while I’m logged in to the vpn to view my work list, closing out some old items while I’m in here, sending off an email on this one before I forget…then I’m working and that needs to be reported.

          But if I’m gathering my thoughts for tomorrow and I log in to my work calendar to double check the time on my dentist appointment and then log off, that wouldn’t be compensable.

          In the case I read about, the person claiming unpaid overtime had not kept any kind of records of when she worked, had not reported the time previously, and couldn’t show any outside proof to establish when the work was performed.

          Reply
  43. Zuppa da Clams

    #4, I’m not really sure about Allison’s answer here-yes, she should get paid while working at home if they are an hourly employee, but how on earth could I verify that, as a manager? I personally keep my employees working during their shifts and keep work projects to work time, though I have never explicitly said this, I do remind my employees to clock out on time if I notice they’re working past time and I have not given them permission/asked them to stay longer. If I need them to finish something by a certain date/time, I work with them to figure out a way to get this done during work hours. Basically, I would be perplexed if an hourly employee came to me and said, “I’ve been working an hour or so here and there at night, and I’m going to record this as overtime.” Of course I would have to pay them, they’re not salaried and they’re working, but I certainly would want like a minute by minute timeline of what they did in this hour. Like did you really work 20 minutes but it took you an hour to do it because you’re pouring wine and watching Netflix in the background? Like do I really have to pay you for ‘gathering your thoughts’? It also seems like OP #4 has like the run of her hours, which, how does nobody care if she regularly going overtime, unless it’s highly necessary?
    I know I sound like a B of a boss but my field is hospitality in a spa environment so I like my hourly employees (aka all my employees) to keep a space between work and home so they come into and promote a stress-free workplace. I know some people enjoy working at home, I know I do, but I’m salaried. This situation would give me pause.

    Reply
    1. Zuppa da Clams

      Also, in this hypothetical, say the OP was my employee and she comes to me and says “I’ve been working here there at home and I’m billing it,” I would pay her but add a caveat to not do this again without my permission/request and explain why, etc.
      Now if I was in the position to do so and I really felt the employee was worth this investment, I would ask her if it was necessary to her work style to work from home and then give her a maximum allowable time to bill work from home. But considering I personally am not in an industry/business where I find this condition allowable, I would just basically flatly tell her no, she can no longer work at home.

      But then what if she continues to bill for hours from home even I’ve asked her not to? I would have to pay her but now, unless she was the best employee of all time aside from this issue, I would probably at that point consider letting go of this person (at-will hire) because they are not respecting the frame work I’ve laid down concerning clock ins and clock outs and could not afford to keep her within budget.

      Admittedly, this is for sure laws I’m not familiar with because no employee has ever done this before! I am experienced with overtime laws for hourly employees but I’ve only ever given permission for an employee to work from home or work an outside event with hours agreed upon beforehand. Definitely a good letter to remind myself to become more familiar with laws regarding these scenarios!

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s fine to tell your employees that you’re not authorizing overtime and you don’t want them to do extra work at home. If they do it anyway, you can discipline or even fire them for that.

      But you do need to pay for all time spent working. In some cases, managers trust their employees enough that they’re not going to feel they need a line for line accounting of how that time was spent. If you don’t trust your people in that way, it’s better to simply tell them not to work at home.

      Reply
  44. Essie

    My boss is always the first to offer to drive when we have an off-site meeting, because she has the largest car. I try to make it as even as possible by offering at least every other time, becuase she has a lease and needs to worry about mileage. IMO ride sharing only works at a job if everyone takes turns driving, or if the person not taking a turn driving pays for the gas/tolls/etc.

    Reply
  45. Lissa

    #3 – I don’t think that you can ever properly evaluate your own objectivity! This isn’t just you, but saying “it has no impact” on your objectivity – well, yes, everyone thinks that! The problem with these things is they are very often subconscious/insidious. People *always* think they are being objective even when it absolutely doesn’t look that way to others. I used to work at a chain restaurant and there was a lot of hiring relatives – everyone thought they could “be objective” when it came to their sister/son/niece etc. and it was never true.

    There are certain things that I think you just can’t evaluate about yourself, and with something like this, perception is also an issue. There are also traits that I think most people rank themselves higher than they are, like multi-tasking and reading people well, but with objectivity I feel like by its very nature you won’t be able to tell if you’re losing it!

    Reply
  46. Dawn

    I had a co-worker that legally couldn’t drive (heavy drinker), so my boss (co-workers bff), decided I would drive him to and from work every single day. I did this for 4 years. Luckily my co-worker was a super good co-worker. The only perk was when my car was down, the owner let me drive his M5. Super toxic place, and this just added to it.

    Reply
      1. Statler von Waldorf

        And when you get fired for saying no to the boss’s bff, paying rent becomes your problem. A large chunk of the working population simply does not have the ability to say “No” to their boss without risking their jobs. That’s what makes this arrangement so icky in the first place.

        Reply
  47. emmylou

    Re #3, I can’t think of anything worse having to bookend my day by being “on” in the car with my boss — even someone I LIKED. I’m a consultant who works mostly from home and I just did a six city trip across the country with a client I LIKE and I still arranged my travel to stay in Air BnBs away from the hotels our meetings were at and flew at different times than she did. I need that time to regroup and reset myself — I would have been total crap at the thing they hired me for if I’d had to have dinner with people I’m not intimate with every day. And that was a three week gig — I can’t imagine spending an extra 90 minutes with my boss every day trying to make small talk.

    Reply
  48. Safely Retired

    #3 Have you ever considered driving them for a change? Making yourself available to make their lives easier sometimes?

    At my first “career” job I lived a good 45 minutes away because that was where I could afford it. It was a large corporate HQ and a lot of other lived up that way, or beyond. One was my boss. I ended up being invited to join his existing carpool, bringing it up from two to three drivers sharing the load.

    Reply
  49. SoMuchNope

    #3 Stop this right now.

    If its not already a problem for your employees…who don’t feel able to say “no”…it will be… but they will feel trapped because you are their boss.

    No matter how you try to justify things, this is wrong. Go out today and buy your own car.

    Reply

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