my boss is being a jerk about my gym time

A reader writes:

My company offers a full-service on-site gym, complete with group fitness classes during lunch and after standard business hours. I started going during lunch about seven years ago. By building a sustainable routine, I managed to lose 25 pounds before I got pregnant and over 50 pounds post-pregnancy. Our office treats us like adults, so as long as the work is done it doesn’t matter if I take a full 60-75 minute lunch to work out, shower, and grab a bite to eat. The 30-45 minute lunchtime classes are extremely popular, and there is a reservation system. I’ll normally map out my workout week on Mondays, reserve my spots, and enter it into my office calendar. I’ve been doing this for years, and my calendar is public to the group so they can see why I have the time blocked. It’s always been understood that work comes first. If I need to cancel for a meeting, I will do so.

There was a recent restructuring in my unit. I used to report to easygoing Remus, and now I direct report up to the much pricklier Severus. Both Remus and Severus report up to Albus. Albus also knows me well, as we’ve worked on projects together. I was moved to report to Severus due to office politics, Remus had more people reporting to him and he technically holds a lower title.

About a week after the change, Severus pulls me aside and says I need to stop putting my gym time on my calendar. He says it looks unprofessional and that Albus has made comments that I’ve made it difficult to schedule meetings. I was surprised to hear this, and a little suspicious, but I did as told. Over the next month, this did lead to a couple of meeting being scheduled when I intended to go to classes, but I dealt with it.

Last week there was department meeting scheduled at 1 p.m. As we were wrapping up, Remus casually made a comment about how I’m normally at the gym at this time, and Albus said something like “Did I schedule over you? I thought everyone was free.” I replied something like “Oh, I was afraid that scheduling my gym time was being perceived as unprofessional.” I did not mention Severus. Albus assured me that scheduling my time wasn’t a problem. The next day, I went back to putting gym time on my calendar.

Yesterday, I got a recurring 30-minute meeting request from Severus for every Monday and Thursday at 12:30 p.m., which effectively kills any chance of me attending classes on those days. When I asked what the meetings were for, I was told that it was to “check in on my weekly performance” like he does with Draco, his other report. Draco is problem employee under a development plan. I have “exceeds expectations” ratings, recognition certificates, and I’m being eyed for a promotion.

On one hand, I can try to just adjust my schedule to work out without the classes. Going after work is not an option due to my son. But I love the classes and I’m mad that I’m being penalized due to whatever power play this is. The classes are important to me and I resent this treatment. I’m also annoyed at Remus. I think he was trying to help, but just made things worse. There have also been other little moments where I feel like I’m being used as a pawn in some sort of struggle between the two of them since the restructure, this was just the most obvious. Should I go to Albus and let him know what’s happening? Does this seem too petty?

Well, it’s possible that Severus genuinely thought it would look bad to have gym time scheduled on your calendar. And it’s possible that Albus really has said you’re difficult to schedule meetings with, either related to the gym time or unrelated. And it’s possible that this new recurring meeting just happens to be during your regular gym time but isn’t deliberately intended to block it.

But it seems lot more likely that Severus has a problem with you scheduling regular gym time.

My hunch is that he balks at you prioritizing it as a regular part of your schedule and that he thinks you should plan out work first and then squeeze in the gym time wherever it happens to fit, but who knows.

How’s your relationship with Severus otherwise? Do you have reasonably good rapport and/or do you have some capital to spend? If so, you could just ask him about this directly. You could say something like, “I wanted to ask you about something that’s hopefully a minor thing. I might be misinterpreting, but I’ve gotten the sense you might want me to handle my gym time differently. You’d mentioned earlier that you thought having it on my calendar might look unprofessional to Albus, but after Albus said he was fine with it, I went back to putting it on my calendar. But now you’ve set up recurring meetings right during that time, and so I wanted to just ask you — do you not like the way I’m handling my gym appointments? I’ve managed them this way for five years and it’s never affected my performance, but if you have a concern about it, I want to make sure I know that.”

This is essentially saying “dude, if there’s a problem here, do your job and tell me that,” but worded more nicely.

But whether or not it makes sense to do this depends on what you know about Severus. If he’s a petty tyrant who responds badly to anything that could be a challenge to his authority and if raising this will put you on an enemies list, this probably isn’t a battle worth fighting. If that’s the case, it’s possible that you could skip him and ask Albus about it (worded as “this seems odd to me and I want to make sure you don’t think I’m reading it wrong”) if you have a strong enough relationship with Albus that you could discreetly talk to him without it becoming an issue in your relationship with Severus.

But I’m more alarmed about the twice-weekly meetings, and think that may point to coming problems much larger than the gym thing. It’s actually not weird that he wants to have regular meetings with you — that’s a good thing for managers to do, and it’s not supposed to be punitive. But twice a week is a lot, especially since you’re performing well and have been in your job for a while, and especially since there’s not some explanation for it (like “let’s meet more often during the lead-up to the product launch since there will be so many moving pieces”). And the timing is suspicious.

Maybe it’s nothing — but maybe Severus is a petty tyrant who’s going to over-manage you because you challenged his authority.

At this point, I think you have to wait and see. Go to a few of these meetings and see what they’re like. Who knows, maybe they’ll actually be useful. Or maybe they won’t be and he’ll quickly lose interest in having them. Or maybe you’ll learn through these meetings that you really, really don’t like the way Severus intends to manage you … at which point you’ll have a much bigger problem than the gym time to deal with, so it might be worth putting that problem on hold anyway, until you see how this particular avenue of weirdness plays out. (And if that happens, that’s a whole separate column, but meanwhile it might be smart to spend some energy shoring up your relationship and standing with Albus now, if there’s opportunity to do that.)

{ 482 comments… read them below or add one }

    1. designbot

      I would not bet against that. In fact, I’d be trying to lay the groundwork to get out from under Severus ASAP.

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      1. Rick The Dev

        Yeah for sure. Make sure you’re on good terms with Albus and other managers in your org in case a lateral transfer is possible.

        I was in a similar situation in my first job. I had a great mentoring relationship with the guy who hired me. He left my department in a reorganization and a new manager who treated me much more coolly came in. I got an incredibly bad vibe from the new manager. Long story short: the new manager did personally dislike me and I regret not acting sooner, both in searching for a job and bringing my case up with HR and upper management.

        Trust your instincts on this one.

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        1. Gatomon

          Yeah, I had a similar experience. I was hired by a great manager, everything went well until the day she quit. Her replacement did everything in her power to demolish my stature with the higher ups, prevent me from getting promoted or transferred and reduced my duties to basically 40 hours of staring at a wall. I finally got out right as she was getting ready to start writing me up for failing to do logically impossible things. (I think she needed to make a trail of diminishing performance reviews first before write ups would be taken seriously. My previous manager was great about being exceptionally detailed in her reviews.) I really wish I had gotten out sooner, for my mental health.

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      2. VioletEMT

        Yes, 100% this. Severus is NOT the right manager for you, and he’ll make you miserable until you get fed up and leave.

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              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

                A part of me is impressed by Severus’s dedication. I mean, the man is willing to sacrifice his own lunch, twice a week, for a ridiculous power move.

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                1. Judy (since 2010)

                  Actually, it looks like he’s just dedicated to OP not being able to pre-schedule the gym classes. She posted below that he cancelled today’s meeting. She wasn’t able to get into a 12:00 class, but was able to get into a 1:00 class.

              2. Wirving

                This may be the cynic in me, but I bet 85% of those meetings will get cancelled last minute too.

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              3. MCMonkeyBean

                Yeah, I was surprised Allison didn’t mention that in her response because to me that’s what makes it super egregious. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask an employee to block off what would normally be lunch time twice a week, every week, regardless of whether that time is usually spent at the gym or at her desk. The occasional 12:30 meeting is fine because sometimes that’s the only time everyone is free. But it’s not okay to claim that time regularly!

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                1. Kate

                  I think this is probably industry-specific. In the industry I work in, lunch meetings are extremely common, especially when working with teams across multiple time zones.

            1. Kathleen_A

              Honestly, I am not completely sold on having them weekly – every other week sounds ample to me – but my boss likes them, so…

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            2. babblemouth

              How does Severus even have the time for that anyway? I’m lucky if I have 1:1s once a month with my manager.

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            3. MJChomper

              I had a boss (she was the CEO) at a start up who insisted on twice DAILY meetings with her 3 direct reports: Me (I was Finance Manager), the HR Manager, AND the IT Manager……it was insane. I has been recruited to this company from a job I held for 14 years and had been basically 100% autonomous the entire time with a few exceptions. So this was almost laughable if it wasn’t so crazy. I got out (not soon enough!) but wish I had pushed back from the start. Not only was it a HUGE waste of my time, but I wondered how she even found time during her days to do anything related to HER job, since she had 6 pointless meetings per day with her reports.

              Come to find out she had no clue what she was doing and the three of us finally realized how crazy the entire thing was. We all quit, then she went through 2 more sets of each report (two more Finance managers quit, 2 more HR managers quit, 2 more IT managers quit) all within an 18 month period until (not surprisingly) the company folded due mainly to her lack of ability to do anything.

              Every day at 12 and 4 – those were my meeting times – can you imagine being in the groove, working on whatever project or speaking with an associate and your “meeting with Lou” alarm going off..??!! And if we were more than 30 seconds late – no joke – she’d be red-faced and screaming about how her time was more valuable than ours, and how dare we show up late? NUTTY!

              That was one of about 20 hellacious issues I dealt with in that job. My hackles go up just thinking about it.

              Reply
    2. Karo

      I mean, the entire reason the restructure happened was because Severus had less people reporting to him than Remus did, and Severus needed more because Severus has a higher title. If that’s not petty…

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        1. Indigo a la mode

          Now, now, you can’t give him points all willy-nilly until you find out how many points his higher-titled coworker has.

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          1. Julia

            Isn’t that the point of the house cup? You have to award points regardless of Albus’ later redistribution.

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      1. Annie Moose

        Yes, this struck me as particularly absurd! Of course sometimes in an organization, a person with a higher title will technically have fewer people reporting to them–that’s just how work shakes out, sometimes. A higher title should, in my mind, relate to larger/more key responsibilities, not the number of people you manage!

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        1. Falling Diphthong

          …I thought this was even a thing? That when you are at the top you are directly managing fewer people, and it’s the mid-level managers with some power and also lack of power and a ton of reports who are mainlining Tums.

          Try to persuade Severus that a lack of reports means the company values him spending time on other, more valuable things. “Anyone can manage the llamas; very few understand how to modify them for flight.”

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        2. Antilles

          I think the theory isn’t necessarily “direct reports” but more of “total people underneath me” (including both direct reports and their staff). So if Severus was Executive VP of Sales and Marketing, he might only have 2 VP’s personally reporting to him, but he counts their entire departments to get up to 25 total people, because he’s bigger and more important than that puny little VP of Teapot Design, who has more people reporting directly to him, but only 20 people total.

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      2. Anonymoose

        Why wouldn’t Severus just want a higher title with less responsibility? It’s not like he actually enjoys managing people….

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        1. Lara

          Maybe Severus has fewer direct reports because his direct reports keep noping out of his department. Maybe management are keeping an eye on what happens when Severus manages a skilled employee who routinely gets ‘exceeds expectations’ on her evals.

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          1. Star Nursery

            Ooh that’s an interesting possibility.

            It’s definitely an odd time to pick for check-in’s and doubly weird to pick two per week to start.

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          2. Tiny Soprano

            Seconded! He sounds a lot like my old manager who used to dick everyone’s schedules around to make it harder for me to visit my family and my co-worker to get home in time to feed her elderly dog. For no reason other than it pleased him. He was so cranky when good people kept leaving! He didn’t even pause to think it might be a him problem…

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          3. babblemouth

            That’s a nice plan, except when you’re the sacrificial lamb employee stuck with a terrible manager just to see how things go.

            I hope OP gets house points from Albus for that at least.

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            1. Lara

              I don’t think it’s a good (or nice) plan, but I can see it happening. “Look Severus, you can’t even manage Minerva and she’s a great employee. Maybe it’s time to revisit your role…”

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            2. chicken_flavored_deodorant

              Ugh, that’s me. I, and one other new hire, was assigned to work under the manager with the least supervisory ability. Unlike Minerva’s situation, he’s pleasant. But he’s unqualified to fill his role and there is evidence (emails saved on the shared drive, lol) that his manager knows this. In fact, boss is probably not qualified to work at my level. Result? The other new hire quit after two months. I’m job hunting to get out as fast as I can.

              I’m not sure how to detect this kind of issue when interviewing at new places. That’s a little frightening.

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    3. neverjaunty

      Not just petty, but cowardly. Rather than tell the OP her use of her lunch hour offends him, he tried to shift the blame to a different supervisor, and when that didn’t work, is sabotaging LW with needless meetings.

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      1. Anonymoose

        That’s the other part I don’t get. Why is she not allowed to use her lunchtime as she sees fit? Why is he so anti-exercise? He’s kind of a weird dude…

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        1. Ego Chamber

          I don’t think he’s necessarily anti-exercise, this is just a blatant power play and he’d be saying the same kinds of things if LW had a recurring doctors appointment or was meeting with their Big Brothers and Sisters kid during the lunch hour: “It’s unprofessional to have non-work commitments during the work day, you need to schedule these things during non-work time because it is imperative to my sense of self that I am able to hold that level of control over my reports.”

          (Some managers seriously don’t understand that lunch is non-work time and take offense to anything being scheduled during that time except lunch–and some don’t even approve of that.)

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          1. Kate

            This. I worked with a guy once who carefully monitored his direct report’s lunch hour, and if they were even 2 minutes over an hour in returning to work from the break, he’d ream them out for basically scamming the company by billing for work when they weren’t actually working. He kept a tally of these infractions (same with 15-minute breaks), and if you did this a few times, he’d put you on a PIP. But then he’d openly joke that his team was welcome to take as long a lunch as they liked, as long as they’d take it with him. It was 100% just to demonstrate his control and power over other people.

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    4. General Ginger

      One on one performance check meetings TWICE a week for an exceeds expectations employee? Yeah, I would not bet against you here, Snark.

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    5. A.

      Right! The company provides a gym with classes during lunch time, so obviously the company is ok with their employees using their lunchtime to take classes. I would be so annoyed as well.
      I wonder how he will react if the OP starts using the treadmill during off times. Seems like he would have a problem with that too. Seems like he doesn’t want employees actually using any of the company perks.

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    6. Fiennes

      That’s my bet too. Though I’m wondering how much of this is “Severus is always a petty tyrant, for any reason” and “Severus is specifically using OP as a pawn in a power struggle.” The fact that OP was transferred to him primarily because Remus had more reports despite being junior…that makes it sound a whole lot like Severus is the kind of manager who measures status by very petty criteria. I also suspect that Severus took some odd comment from Albus–like, “oh, right, we’ll have to do that after OP’s gym time”–and blew it up into “Albus says you make it difficult to schedule meetings.”

      Severus sets off warning bells either way. But I think figuring out his primary motivation will help OP determine how best to go forward.

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      1. Gen

        Yup yup yup, someone who thinks HIGHER managers have MORE reports would have a massively skewed idea of norms in every business I’ve ever worked in. In many places higher titles mean more responsibility and less time to manage individuals. The same goes for treating a high performer with the same focus as a problem employee. Fix up your resume and build bridges with any other managers you can!

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        1. Oxford Coma

          I can’t even figure out how “more reports as you go higher” would work. It’s like a reverse pyramid scheme.

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          1. Iconic Bloomingdale

            Scheduling a twice weekly, one-on-one from 12-12:30 p.m. was a petty and passive aggressive move on Severus’ part. He is showing you who he really is.

            Oh, and the higher up the org chart a manager goes, that manager generally has fewer direct reports to manage, not more. So not only is Severus petty, he is ignorant. This is a scary combination, especially since it is usually fueled by insecurity and accompanied by power plays to undermine those the manager perceives as a direct threat.

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        2. Annonymouse

          Possibly ask Albus or Remus for input.

          I’ve always worked well under you and gotten exceeds expectations. I now have twice weekly check in meetings like Draco, a known problem employee. Has Severus mentioned anything about my work to you?

          I would ask him myself but he cancelled our first meeting.

          Lets see how that goes.

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  1. Hills to Die on

    I’m on team skip Severus and go to Albus. Severus seems like he’s being weird and petty. Definitely see what the meetings are about though, and ask if you can move them to a more convenient time. I think it’s worth spending capital on to try and back on to Remus’s team.

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    1. Kimberlee, no longer Esq.

      It’s so tricky, because I really do think that doing so will spoil OP for Severus forever, so if they’re not moved back to Remus’ team, OP is kind of toast at work. On the other hand, if Severus is a petty tyrant who refuses to let OP continue to take advantage of a major, important (for them) perk of their job, then OP, as a high performer, is and should be not long for this job.

      I think that before OP goes to Albus, they should consider using Alison’s script but going a step further; rather than emphasizing that these classes have been fine to schedule around in the past, OP should make it clear that this lunch gym time is a significant benefit for them to working in this office, and removing them will make it harder for them to manage their work and life healthfully, that the exercise reduces stress and helps drive her high performance, and that if there’s anything that can be done to preserve them, they’d appreciate that. It’s just making explicit to Severus how important this is to OP (and it’s totally OK if it is very important!)

      Part of getting a new report is (should be) getting to know them as an individual and making sure they’re set up for success. If OP can make it clear that this is an apriori issue for them, maybe it will snap Severus out of “jockeying for power” mode and into “oh sh*t I have direct reports I should be managing” mode?

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      1. Hills to Die on

        That’s a fair approach; the only question is whether Severus can snap out of it. I wonder if he’s too irrational to understand what OP is saying. It’s worth a shot but if Severus is not receptive, I don’t think that OP has anything to lose. Unfortunately.

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        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          It may help OP to say that at least she tried with Severus, though. I’m on team “go over his head,” but I like giving him a shot to prove he’s not a total numpty, first. That way, even if he continues his petty tyrant shtick, OP can say she tried everything in good faith before escalating.

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          1. Kate 2

            Agreed. I would also suggest that OP either ask Severus in email or email him notes about the first meeting afterwards, including her question and his response, so he can’t lie about what and how she asked and make it “he says, she says”, a personal conflict of “who do you trust more Albus?”. Speaking from sad experience.

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            1. Anon Pixie

              So many +1s here. Definitely email an “as per our conversation on [date][time]” confirmation.

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            2. Tiny Soprano

              + 1 million to the paper trail. Also if Severus ignores the email OP still has her butt covered in that she sent it to him in good faith.

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            3. Kelly O

              Agree 100% – document, document, document. Send foll0w-up emails, acknowledge EVERYTHING, clarify anything that is the tiniest bit fuzzy. Give Severus zero room to claim you were ignoring/ not asking questions/being insubordinate in any way.

              This takes tons of work on your part, but will help you in the long run.

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          2. Beth

            Agreed. Also, I bet OP will get better support from Albus if they can say “I tried rescheduling the meetings, but Severus refused. I tried to change my schedule for a while and give them a chance, but Severus keeps cancelling them last-minute/we get nothing done in them/it’s clearly a waste of time. I tried asking Severus to switch to once a week instead of twice, and he refused. I’m out of ideas, I’m frustrated, and this management style really isn’t working for me. Do you have any advice?” than if they jump straight to pulling Albus in.

            “I tried ABC, didn’t work, help me figure out what’s next?” tends to go over a lot better than “I’ve tried nothing, help me anyways!”, even when it seems obvious from the start that you’ll need support to actually resolve things.

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      2. Troutwaxer

        I think it’s gone too far. I note the following:

        “Oh, I was afraid that scheduling my gym time was being perceived as unprofessional.” I did not mention Severus. Albus assured me that scheduling my time wasn’t a problem. The next day, I went back to putting gym time on my calendar.

        My question about this is whether Severus was there for this conversation? If he was then he ignored a major hint from his boss. When speaking to Severus the phrase “Albus told me that scheduling gym time wasn’t a problem” should be used multiple times. If Severus continues to be a problem it’s time to either start looking for a new job, or to (as diplomatically as possible) explain to Albus that you’re very unhappy working with Severus and you might hint that finding a new job is one of your options. (Obviously how you’d phrase this depends on your company culture.)

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        1. Luna

          I don’t think Severus ignored the hint, I suspect he knew this wasn’t really an issue but used it as an excuse to get OP to stop blocking off gym time. Now he either was not there for this conversation with Albus and thinks OP deliberately went against what he requested of her, or is mad that he basically got called out for giving misinformation (whether intentionally or not) in front of everyone, including his boss.

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        2. Turquoisecow

          Well, it’s possible that a lower boss can have a different policy than a higher boss.

          For example, if the CEO of a company is ok with a casual dress code but your department head wants you to dress a bit more formally, you’re obligated to listen to the department head. Going to the CEO and complaining that department head won’t let you wear jeans is…kind of petty, to be honest, and might not get you anywhere.

          It doesn’t sound like that’s what’s happening here at all – but it may well be that Severus doesn’t approve of the gym time midday appointments, and unless a directive comes from Albus saying otherwise, he can do that. He’s the boss.

          I would do the following things in the Op’s place:
          1) stop labeling gym time as such on the calendar. Label it something else, or make it invisible. If you leave for an hour or so and don’t tell Severus what you’re doing, he can’t complain that you’re on lunch. Block the time off so people won’t schedule you, but don’t label it.

          2) go to a meeting or two with Severus. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, at least once or twice, or else the hostility appears one way. Maybe he wants to understand your work or you personally better, or maybe he’s aware you got off on the wrong foot and is trying to remedy this. Or maybe he’s being petty. If, at the end of the second meeting, it’s clear it’s just busywork to keep you from the gym, then call him out on it (politely), saying something like, “I’m not clear on the purpose for these meetings. Last time, we (x) and this time we (y). Is this really necessary?”

          3) if the meetings really are a waste of time, and he continues to butt into your personal lunch time, and it’s clear he’s not interested in listening to your concerns, or dismisses them (ie, you’ve had the talk about the meeting, you’ve asked what the concern is regarding gym use, and he dismisses you with an authoritative attitude), take your concerns to Albus. Be cautious with this, though, as it may make your life more difficult.

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          1. Merula

            I disagree. If a company’s direction is casual dress, which is used as an employee benefit/retention strategy, and a lower manager comes in suddenly wanting more formal dress with no business reason for it, you don’t automatically have to roll with that direction. It’s a change in your employment conditions and while some people might view that as petty, others won’t. (If you didn’t have business professional clothes, for example, and then had to go and buy a full work wardrobe, that’s a significant expense.)

            The boss is the boss, but mid-level bosses don’t often have the prerogative to override major cultural tenets of their companies like flexible scheduling, use of a company-provided health benefit or dress code, unless there’s a business need in a specific circumstance.

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            1. Renata Ricotta

              My general rule of thumb is that when there are multiple people withauthority over you, the operative rule is the most restrictive one. Lower-level managers can add requirements over and above what the higher-ups require, as long as they aren’t *inconsistent* with the requests from the higher people. Kind of like how the federal government can require X, but then the state government can make a more restrictive law and add Y on top of it as long as it’s just in addition to X, not inconsistent with X.

              A work example would be if the CEO wants a report to be generated each week, and then the SVP one level down requires that it be formatted in a certain way.

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              1. DArcy

                I agree with your rule of thumb, and would also say that how much you can reasonably push back is pretty context dependent. If the company’s dress policy allows jeans and sweats but your manager wants your team in business casual because you’re customer-facing, that’s a pretty reasonable rule. On the other hand, if the exact same manager wants you in business casual because he *personally thinks jeans are unprofessional*, you might have some room to push back because he’s being arbitrary and doesn’t have a sensible reason for going against the company dress policy.

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          2. Jen S. 2.0

            My first thought was to stop calling it gym time on the calendar as well. Block the time, but why is it necessary to label it so explicitly? I’d cut waaaaaaaay back on the specificity of my labeling on my office calendar.

            I’m a big proponent of giving problematic people only as much information as they need.

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            1. Anonymoose

              Yep, just title the calendar event ‘Lunch’. Baddah-boom. What you do on your own time is truthfully nobody’s business. You could be at the gym, you could be at CVS, you could be in the restroom. In any case, you’re unavailable. If it’s Outlook, you can also choose to code/show as Tentative, instead of Busy, maybe even including the following in the meeting’s title: ‘Lunch – email for scheduling’ so folks know that you’re available for emergency/hard-to-find-a-time meetings.

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            2. MCMonkeyBean

              It sounds like they wanted to be open about the fact that they would *like* to have that time to go to the gym, but it something important comes up it’s okay to schedule over it. At this point, I’m not sure closing that off would do anything as Severus would certainly still assume it was gym time.

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          3. Robin Sparkles

            I completely agree with labeling it as something else. I used to work for a company similar to OP that had classes and gym onsite. I labeled by times as “Hold” – and blocked it without explaining for what. I used it when I was pumping at this company too. You don’t need to explain where you are at every second.

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          4. Shelby Drink the Juice

            At a previous job the CEO had instituted officially that Fridays you could wear jeans. I even saw him on a Friday wearing jeans. A VP right under him disagreed and told everyone under him they could not and would be written up. The CEO sent out an email to all Leaders stating this is his policy and everyone will follow it. The VP announced his retirement soon thereafter.

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          5. Ego Chamber

            “Well, it’s possible that a lower boss can have a different policy than a higher boss.

            For example, if the CEO of a company is ok with a casual dress code but your department head wants you to dress a bit more formally, you’re obligated to listen to the department head. Going to the CEO and complaining that department head won’t let you wear jeans is…kind of petty, to be honest, and might not get you anywhere.”

            Sort of, but also sometimes that’s bullshit. If the thing the department head has a problem with is a known and publicized benefit of the company, rather than a difference of opinion between higher ups, I think that makes a difference.

            I worked for a place that listed their casual dress code as a benefit. Coolsies. New manager gets hired and decides their team will dress business casual because they should look and act like professionals (despite the fact that “casual dress code” was one of the few benefits the company offered and they didn’t exactly pay well enough to expect better than casual dress). Full-scale mutiny ensued and the site director told the new manager to knock it off.

            Same idea if the company has an on-site gym and classes, and as a company encourages employees to use these perks. One manager going against that established culture looks like the bigger problem than the employee trying to use the benefits they’ve been using for the past 5 years, that the company encourages them to use.

            Reply
          6. Specialk9

            Why do you think a manager can overrule the company dress code? That’s weird. Dress codes are hashed out ad nauseum by management, and it’s a policy. Individual managers don’t actually get to override organizational policy.

            Reply
          7. Someone else

            While I see where you’re going with the lower-boss-differing-policy-from-higher-boss angle, it doesn’t really fit the scenario when lower boss explicitly says the reason is “higher boss is opposed” and then higher boss literally says to OP’s face “nah that’s cool with me”. At that point, the jig is up and the original reason is known-bullshit. It makes it highly likely that if lower boss continues to push for Different Thing, it’s his own power play reasons. If it weren’t a power play, why else blame it on higher boss instead of providing actual reason?

            Reply
      3. yet another Kat

        Seconding (thirding?) emphasizing that the gym is a very valuable job benefit for OP, and that losing out on it regularly would strongly affect job satisfaction. It’s also worth bringing up that regular exercise improves productivity!

        Reply
      4. Tau

        I like this script – I did something similar to eke out permission to leave early on Friday afternoons. Of course, it helped that my boss wasn’t (to borrow from PCBH) a total numpty… I have my doubts about Severus.

        Reply
      5. Luna

        I agree, at this point going directly to Albus will basically be destroying any hope of having a decent working relationship with Severus. There is no reason why OP should not try to have a conversation with Severus first.

        I would stick to Alison’s wording though- even though the gym is a understandably important benefit for OP, it isn’t unreasonable to expect that she be available for occasional meetings during those times. It sounds like it was working fine until Remus brought it up in front of everyone. Right now the goal for OP should be to get the weekly recurring meetings moved, but still be open to scheduling over gym time when really needed.

        Reply
        1. Annonymouse

          But that has never been a problem before. OP has always been flexible with meetings over the gym.

          The problem is Severus is treating our OP Hermione like a Weasley twin. AKA needs constant watching and detentions instead of access to the restricted section to study and make higher level potions.

          And Remus is the cool boss, Severus is the tool boss.

          Reply
      6. NotReallyKarenWalker

        I’m getting the sense that Severus is a clone of my former, petty tyrant boss Fergus – laying awake at night figuring out ways to suck any kind of joy or fulfillment out of being at work. I tried the approach you mentioned with multiple things, along with Alison’s softer approach, and the only thing it netted was escalation after escalation. After I presented a few stellar ideas to grandboss AND got some unrelated outside recognition, Fergus moved from over-managing to micromanaging to micro-micromanaging, and when that didn’t work, escalated into straightforward bullying, aggression, verbal harassment, sexual harassment and lying about my performance in an effort to drive me out. Luckily, I document like a crazy person and there were multiple witnesses to the bullying. When the smoke cleared, my HR file was purged of all his grievances, I got promoted and he got canned. My advice would be to push back gently, but also document every meeting/conversation around performance, scheduled or not. I did this in the form of meeting recap emails to Fergus, quick bullet points or short paragraphs, in the ten minutes post meeting. When he started getting really unbearable, I started making short drop-ins to HR after some of our truly bad encounters, “I’m not sure how I should feel about this, but Fergus said this thing/sent this email that didn’t sit quite right with me. I don’t want to make a big fuss, but I did want to get some perspective on it”. This helped keep the dialogue open. Hopefully Severus won’t rise to this level, but these were the strategies I found worked best to keep me employed somewhere I truly enjoyed working until this began (and have once again begun to enjoy).

        Reply
        1. Canadian Public Servant

          So sorry you had to deal with that situation, NotReallyKarenWalker. But sounds like to managed it like a total boss, and I am sure others will benefit from your outline of how to document everything, and stay grounded, in a bad situation.

          Reply
          1. NotReallyKarenWalker

            Thanks… a lot of trial and error, and a lot of good advice from this site and from other well-grounded folks :) I think at times I might be hypersensitive to petty since that was how my situation began, but I really hope that someone else will benefit from my hard-won knowledge on How to Handle a Petty Tyrant.

            Reply
      7. Michaela Westen

        If Severus is as abusive as some of the people I’ve known, “OP should make it clear that this lunch gym time is a significant benefit for them to working in this office” will make him double down. It’s giving him ammunition to make her life miserable.
        If OP does try this, she should document every detail and if Severus does increase his attempts to be controlling/abusive, take it to management.

        Reply
      8. GlitsyGus

        Agree, if you immediately go to Albus you’re a snitch and we all know what happens to snitches.

        Not to say you shouldn’t eventually, but you should try to work it out with Severus first so you can honestly say you tried.

        Reply
    2. Hills to Die on

      Also, having worked for petty ridiculous bosses before, I hope OP will give an update and let us know how it goes. Hopefully sooner rather than later. ;) Please.

      Reply
    3. Batshua

      I really hope that Albus will step in and tell Severus to back off, ideally on his own so it doesn’t have to be like “I ran to Albus to ‘tattle’ on Severus”. I mean, I know it’s /not/ tattling, because there’s no such thing at work, but Severus seems petty AF, so I bet he’d see it that way.

      Reply
    4. Annie Moose

      If OP does go to Albus, I think there’s value in approaching it in a sort of “this is an odd thing that’s been happening” way rather than a “SEVERUS IS A HORRIBLE JERK” way. I don’t know what exact wording would be good to use here, but I suspect going in with “how can I address this problem” is more likely to get you good results than a more aggressive approach.

      One thing that OP should probably watch out for… office politics are already having a big impact here. It’s entirely possible that even if you go to Albus, it’ll turn out he can’t/won’t move you because of these same politics. Yet another reason to go in with a “how can we solve this” attitude, I think! There clearly is stuff going on behind the scenes, probably more even than you’ve seen.

      Reply
  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    I have nothing useful to offer, other than an abundance of side-eye (on OP’s behalf) at Severus. Twice a week meetings? This sounds shady af.

    Reply
    1. BeautifulVoid

      It sucks to lose the gym/class time, but I’d be tempted to go into “malicious compliance” mode for a couple weeks. I’d show up exactly on time, if not a couple minutes early, for those twice a week meetings with a smile on my face and ready to take detailed notes, because a 30-minute meeting during lunch twice a week had damn well better be a productive use of time. And if he’s bullshitting OP (which is highly likely), that’s just more information to have on hand whenever the inevitable talk with Albus comes around.

      Reply
      1. qestia

        I think this is the best way to go. Play along with as much sincerity as you can fake for a few weeks – in the long run this will probably do more to sway severus in your favor than going above his head.

        Reply
        1. Brett

          Ugh, he _did_ same day cancel. Not happy to be right on this, but I think that confirms this is only about blocking you from registering for the class (without impact his lunch time).

          Reply
        2. OhBehave

          Can you register for the class and then cancel at the last minute? That way you would actually get gym time in daily.

          Reply
      1. Brett

        I’ll go one farther and bet that Severus repeatedly cancels the meetings same day.
        Since the classes have to be reserved and always fill up, that would be enough that OP cannot go to them, without Severus actually having to use his own lunch for meetings.

        Reply
      2. Tiny Soprano

        My old manager used to do this too. Straight out of the Petty Tyrant handbook. It says: I am a Busy Important Person(TM) and it is your duty, humble pleb, to be inconvenienced by me without complaint whenever I please because I am so Busy and Important.

        Reply
    2. Annie Moose

      I was literally on an improvement plan at OldJob (it was… not a great fit, and I didn’t have enough experience to recognize this), and I still was only meeting once a week with my manager!

      Reply
      1. Annie Moose

        …and those meetings were certainly not scheduled during lunch, either. We had them in the afternoon like sensible people.

        Reply
      2. Mine Own Telemachus

        I’m on one right now (and luckily surviving!) and my meetings are still only once a week!

        Reply
    1. Nita

      Yes, or may just be ticked off this would put OP on the same level as himself (since she’s direct report to him now) In any case, since there’s a promotion in the works, does that mean OP will likely no longer report to him within a short time? In that case the best strategy may just be waiting it out, since it’s hard to clearly prove he’s just being a petty tyrant.

      Also, the names. I love the names.

      Reply
      1. Midge

        Yeah, a twice weekly meeting during lunch hours would be way outside the norm in many offices. Even if the OP didn’t already regularly use her lunch time to go to the gym. At my office, meetings scheduled during lunch are usually accompanied by profuse apologies, or at least an explanation as to why they’re not doing it at a different time during the day. I can’t image someone scheduling a regular check-in then!

        Reply
        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Yeah, unless there’s some sort of sudden, urgent occurrence, meetings at my office are only ever scheduled during lunch if it is purposely a lunch meeting (i.e. lunch is being provided). Having regularly-scheduled, twice-per-week “performance” meetings during lunchtime seems like a big, jerk power play from Severus.

          Reply
        2. Lynn Whitehat

          Yeah, I usually only see it when there are more than two time zones in play, so there’s no time that is reasonable for everyone.

          Reply
        3. Emma the Strange

          My office has a lunch meeting that happens maybe once a month, and the boss will at least make sure to order us sandwiches or something on the company’s dime.

          Reply
          1. Nita

            Agreed. Although if Severus does start ordering sandwiches, it may be a passive-aggressive gesture. I assume OP already eats lunch at a different time, so getting sandwiches instead of a workout will just add insult to injury!

            Reply
  3. fnom

    For the LW’s sake, I hope that potential promotion also includes a new boss.

    The gym sounds like an awesome perk! Wish we had that too!

    My sympathies, LW. I dealt with a similar micromanager for about five months before a promotion got me out, but by the end I was seriously considering leaving a company I otherwise like. I hope your time dealing with the same is short.

    Reply
  4. Mystery Bookworm

    If your company is going to offer this perk, they should expect (and be happy!) that people are taking advantage of it.

    Congrats on building a sustainable routine, and good luck with keeping it going!

    Reply
    1. Mystery Bookworm

      I also want to underline that I don’t think this a little thing to spend capital on. Exercise is one of those things where missing one or two sessions isn’t a big deal, but losing it entirely (or cutting it significantly) can seriously impact a person’s happiness.

      Reply
      1. Batshua

        And deliberately blocking people from their perks, especially ones that improve health and happiness, is some SRS BS.

        Reply
        1. Widget

          Unrelated: I knew someone who went by Batshua in college. And no I’m wondering if you’re the same person as my Batshua?

          Reply
      2. Bea

        Yes and the perk is part of the health benefits package from my point of view and it’s no different than being told to stop using your insurance plan for preventative healthcare to me.

        Reply
      3. Student

        False dichotomy.

        Most people do not get to exercise during business hours. They figure out a different time and place to exercise. The OP does not have to give up on exercise, nor do less overall exercise. She just can’t do it fully through her company’s gym perk. That’s annoying, but it’s hardly an early death sentence, and it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

        Also – couldn’t she just book the gym appointments, and just cancel THOSE last-minute if her boss shows up to a meeting? I cannot imagine she’s the only one who’d be doing that at her company….

        Reply
        1. Ego Chamber

          False equivalence.

          We’re not talking about “most people,” we’re talking about this specific LW’s issue, which is that her current supervisor has decided to significantly restrict a benefit she’s had access to for the past 5 years.

          Also – booking appointments that you expect to cancel last-minute is kind of a dick move, especially when the classes have to be booked in advance and fill up fast. Why is it more important for you to maybe get to go (but probably not) than for someone else to actually get to go? (And there’s no reason for you to think last minute cancellations are common, other than to self-justify; there was nothing like that in the letter. LW’s current manager is the first one in her 5 years there that’s had any problem with someone going to the lunch time classes.)

          Reply
          1. Paralegal

            I am also a lunch-crunch person. I do not have an in-office gym but belong to an outside gym. My boss is cool when I go and take extra time as I come in early and willing to stay late to make up the work so it all evens out. However, the gym itself holds it against you if you cancel a class last minute and for some reason it is difficult for next time you try to schedule a class

            Reply
        2. Star Nursery

          She could but I’m guessing that the company gym also has rules about cancelling last minute only so many times, etc. Plus if the company is providing a gym as a benefit then I’d guess it was a perk that they want their employees to use! Plus didn’t we just have a letter about how employers want to have healthier employees for cost saving on the health insurance plans, etc. I think Servius sounds very petty and passive aggressive power-hungry leader. Who schedules recurring check-in’s twice a week with a great employee?

          Reply
        3. Annonymouse

          On top of these comments OP mentioned that these classes have helped her lose weight post baby.

          I work for a martial arts school with free access to classes on my days off and I attend none because scheduling life around a very young child (under 3) is hard because they are unpredictable.

          So she has a work perk that is great for her health at a time that works which doesn’t impact her work and no-one has had an issue with beforehand and she is being forced to give it up because her boss is on a power trip.

          Nope.

          Reply
    2. Luna

      Especially since it probably lowers their health insurance costs, thereby saving the company a lot of money.

      Reply
    3. Minerva

      We’re a major life insurance company. Health and wellness programs are a big deal here. :-)

      Reply
  5. BadWolf

    As a sanity check, my manager is handling more than average number of people and the one time he had to schedule something with me in the lunch block between 11-1 (we are salaried exempt so lunch time/quantity is up to you), he double checked that it was fine and apologized.

    Reply
    1. Bertha

      I was thinking that it seemed kind of rude he was scheduling a TWICE weekly recurring meeting at 12:30 regardless of the gym time, since for nearly any standard office job I’ve had, that was around the time most people take lunch. Usually if a meeting was scheduled during that time, lunch would be provided. Every office is of course different but more and more signs point to this being a power play..

      Reply
      1. my two cents

        I think that’s what makes it look particularly petty and punitive – scheduled meetings over the “lunch hour” (say, 11:30-1) are either designed around the food-event (like, lunch-and-learn presentations) or that political capital is reserved for Fire-Emergency meetings.

        I do wonder how much Severus would balk at OP suggesting different meeting times…either making that request in person, or simply adjusting the meeting requests within Outlook/Lotus Notes/Calendar Program.

        Reply
          1. Minerva

            OP Here!

            First thing I tried was proposing a non-lunchtime reschedule. The response was
            “This is a work related meeting. Please schedule your lunchtime appropriately”

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Okay, yeah, he’s out to make a point. I’d seriously consider the talk-to-Albus approach — not about the gym thing specifically, but about being concerned about how Severus is managing you and what it means for your future at the company (with a hint that you’re not up for this continuing).

              Reply
              1. Minerva

                Yes, I am currently trying to feel out what his end game is. Part of me wants to make Albus aware there is an issues, because as best case scenario to stay on my team (and I do love my team and Albus as the director) is that I am in my current situation for another 6 months, unless I want to pull out the big guns and threaten to leave the team, which I really don’t want to do.

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  He may or may not have an end game. The passive-aggressive crap reeks of someone who thinks he’a very clever.

                2. Jules the Third

                  “Hi Albus! I’m getting some conflicting info, and I’m concerned with how it may affect my opportunities here at this company.’

                  This is stronger if you can focus it on the promotion (ie, have the promotion conversation with Severus and compare his requirements and timeline with Remus’s) and include the gym time as an additional data point, or as ‘use company benefits, like the gym’s lunchtime classes’.

                  GOOD LUCK. I hate office politics.

                3. Jesca

                  Grr I’m not sure if my comment is getting eaten or not, but if a reason is important to you, maybe I can speculate.

                  I think the first time he brought up the gym thing was a way to broach control. Like, testing the waters. An abusive partner never just starts with a slap to the face, but rather begins with minor “directives” you must follow that you kinda cave in on in order to keep the peace. And at the end of the day an abusive partner or a boss like this are really just bullies looking for people to lord over to make themselves feel better. He may be intimidated by you or he may feel like he is entitled to this behavior in general. But, he is doing it to control and bully to make himself feel better. He will only stoop lower and lower until he feels like he has you cornered without a way out and your self worth so low you would never think to leave. (BTW, this is basically how every person gets *stuck* under abusive bosses or toxic work conditions)

                4. Falling Diphthong

                  Agree with neverjaunty that there probably is no end game or larger purpose. It’s in-the-moment pettiness.

                5. mf

                  I would email him back and say, “This time prevents me from grabbing lunch, so I assume lunch will be provided?”

                  If he’s gonna inconvenience you like this, make him pay for it (and *literally* pay for it from his budget).

                6. Indigo a la mode

                  As an aside, bless you for staying in the Hogwarts theme with your own name. This is all very good.

              2. Jesca

                I agree. It sounded at first he was telling you about the whole gym thing as a mechanism to test the waters of control. It is sort of like how an abusive partner doesn’t just start with a smack in the face, but with more subtly controlling “parameters” you may feel at the time aren’t worth arguing over to keep the peace. But at the end of the day, a petty boss or a controlling partner or a manipulative friend are all just bullies pulling for power to make themselves feel better by lording over someone else. Go above him and let it be known (in a polite way) how this will impact the company’s future with you.

                Reply
            2. Us, Too

              Well, that’s pretty final. I’d say you’re working for a grade A a-hole who lacks basic people skills. Time to move on. Maybe see if Albus has any openings?

              Reply
            3. Quinalla

              Ugh, this sounds more and more like a power play then. I would probably try to go to him in person (it’s harder for him to say no in person) with multiple proposed times for the meeting that work with his schedule for the next month and then if that still doesn’t work, I would go over his head to Albus. I agree with wording it that this is an important perk that you would now not be able to use and you are confused why Severus is insistent on meeting during lunch time when there are other times you could meet. Depending how well you know Albus, I’d go even further that losing out on this benefit is a big deal and you may have to start job hunting or see if you can transfer internally. But only do that if you can trust it won’t get back to Severus.

              I would not stay quiet on this! If you are a valued employee, you want to speak up right away if your new manager is being a jerk. And definitely do all you can to show you are being completely reasonable.

              Reply
            4. LBK

              What a stupid explanation. Yes, you understand it’s work-related…that’s why you don’t want to do it during lunch.

              Reply
            5. Grouchy 2 cents

              Oh I’d so be bringing a three course meal with fancy china to set out in front of myself at the next meeting (in my dreams).

              Reply
            6. Nerine

              Speechless. SPEECHLESS.

              I know this probably says more about me than about the average office, but this is one of the biggest reasons why I stay as far away from an office job as I can possibly manage.

              I would absolutely LOSE IT if confronted with someone like this.

              Reply
      2. Rana

        Yeah, I reacted to that, too. Whether or not the OP is going to the gym, they *are* allowed time for lunch, and company culture says that an hour-long break is fine if your work is done.

        I wonder if Severus has ideas about “butts in seats” being more important than getting one’s work done.

        Reply
        1. Minerva

          Severus is the poster child for taking advantage of our office’s flexible scheduling. My butt is in my seat more than his is.

          And look, I’m not a perfect employee by any means. But I do my job and I do it well.

          Reply
          1. Fiennes

            That makes this even worse. It was *just* possible, I thought, that Severus was way out of step with the culture at your office and disapproved of things like flextime, gyms, etc. on the principle that “business is business,” or some such. But if he’s fully taking advantage of this stuff and actively trying to stop others from doing so, for what seems to be no reason but a power play? This guy shouldn’t be managing anyone.

            Reply
          2. Autumnheart

            From having read the comments to this point, I suspect that Severus isn’t just going to gun for your gym time, but he might well try to constructively dismiss you. I second the idea to start documenting everything and if it’s feasible for you to iron out anything that Severus could pounce on as a performance issue, do it. If he’s petty enough to schedule meetings during lunch and to try to get you in trouble with the boss, he’s petty enough to start giving you bad reviews on made-up stuff in order to get rid of you. Especially if you’re a high performer and he is successful largely because of office politics.

            Reply
            1. Happy Lurker

              Yes. And don’t label you lunch on the calendar. Just block it off, when he doesn’t.

              Reply
            1. Specialk9

              Dude, not cool. ‘Tard = Retard. The fact that you put an asterisk means you know it’s an offensive epithet but wrote it anyway.

              Reply
              1. Lehigh

                Uh…I assumed the word in question was “turd” and the * was to avoid moderation. Don’t know Rana, so I don’t know which is more likely.

                Reply
          3. Nita

            He has a second boss with a habit of scheduling meetings at random times, and hasn’t gotten in trouble only because Albus knows about the second job and feels it’s important :)

            Reply
          4. Girl frif

            Um, I think you should be careful how you refer to your boss on a public forum since at least one of your co-workers has already figured out who you are! It was fine when you were acknowledging comments, but I’m worried about how you’re starting to respond to them. But that might just be a pet peeve because of the whole quote poster child endquote thing.

            Reply
            1. Girl friday

              oops that posted faster than I meant it to, I was going to put in words that made it sound nicer haha. This whole situation is very interesting!

              Reply
    2. MeowThai

      But the other side of that is that your manager–safe to say every good manager–apologized for the lunch time meeting and explained why such a bonkers decision. Also the timing of this is too suspicious to be just an inconvenient scheduling mishap.

      Reply
      1. BadWolf

        Oh yes — my point wasn’t that lunch meetings are cool — I was trying to say that a reasonable manger checks that it works for you.

        Reply
  6. Kate

    Gym or no, scheduling a twice-weekly meeting at 12:30, WHICH IS LUNCH TIME, is a jerk move. This is a bad boss and a petty tyrant.

    Reply
    1. Antilles

      Not only is it lunch time, it’s exactly in the *middle* of lunch time. If you take the normal hour-ish for lunch and assume a few minutes before/after the meeting to prep, that basically forces OP to either take lunch crazy early (11:15 to 12:15) or weirdly late (1:15 to 2:15) no matter what.

      Reply
      1. Irene Adler

        I’d ask that we hold that meeting on the treadmills at the gym. Or, have it while walking outside.

        Reply
      2. Decima Dewey

        The week after next, I have training in the main library from 11:30 am to 3 pm. I’ve been notified that “light refreshments will be served”, which means no lunch that day. Stuff like that happens.

        It may been that the point Severus is making is “new boss, new rules.” Seeing OP’s gym sessions on the schedule gave him an opportunity to make that point.

        One more thing: Severus knows that Remus gave her “exceeds expectations” but might not be sure what that means. Or agree with it.

        Reply
        1. Elsajeni

          Sure, stuff like that happens. But it should happen pretty rarely, and there should usually be a good reason that someone could explain, like “we have to give this training to 40 people and this is the best compromise time we could find for everyone’s work hours.” Severus is scheduling a standing meeting, twice a week, and (OP has added in the comments) refusing to discuss moving it to a different time or give a reason why it must happen at 12:30. That’s ridiculous.

          Reply
          1. Antilles

            +1. My thoughts exactly.
            There’s a world of difference between “well, something randomly came up to deal with it” and “you specifically picked a really awful time”.

            Reply
    2. The Ginger Ginger

      I was just coming to say this. 12:30 is prime lunch hour time. Most reasonable people try not to schedule meetings at that time unless it cannot possibly be avoided. For Severus to schedule TWO meetings a week at that hour? Unless he is absolutely slammed with meetings on a regular basis, that really feels like a statement on his part.

      Reply
      1. nonymous

        There was one professor in my program that reserved 4P for his one-on-ones with the grad students. Depending on his whim, it was either a racquetball day or a treadmill day. On the plus side, his research group was a moderately fit bunch.

        Reply
    3. Myka Bering

      This. Sometimes scheduling a meeting during lunch hours is unavoidable, but it certainly shouldn’t be a twice-a-week regular occurrence.

      Reply
      1. circus peanuts

        I wonder if he is scheduling lunch meetings with all his employees or just the OP. It might throw more light on whether she is being singled out or not. And, this probably isn’t a professional move, but listen quietly to what his other reports say about him. If everyone else loves him or hates him, it adds to what the solution might be.

        Reply
    4. SoCalHR

      ugh – exactly…gym or no gym, I would not be happy with a recurring 12:30 appt with my boss unless there was a REALLY good reason that it had to be at that time.

      Reply
    5. FTW

      Scheduling a meeting at 12.30 would be entirely OK in some industries.

      If people need to meet today, and that time is the only option given everyone’s calendar… then 12.30 it is.

      If you make everyone stay until 7pm so that you can do X personal activity on you lunch hour, it’s not a good move.

      Reply
      1. Jules the Third

        But it would never be ok for a 2x/week ‘productivity’ meeting in an office setting.

        Manufacturing, with 6a – 3p shifts, sure, but any 9a – 5p job has a strong expectation of ‘lunch is 11:30ish to 1ish’, and scheduling regular meetings over lunch would not be ok.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          It would be okay in my office, because we eat on the fly and people do it anywhere from 11 to 2, so anything between those hours is going to hit somebody’s lunch and it’s not viable to remove three hours from the scheduling possibilities. 12:30 would actually be less intrusive than an 11:30, in fact.

          Not that Severus isn’t being an ass; it’s just that having a 12:30 meeting isn’t automatically assdom.

          Reply
          1. Jules the Third

            Regular scheduled meetings at that time? Really? Our office tries not to schedule between 11:30 and 1; a 12:30 mtg would get an apology along the lines of ‘sorry, everyone, this is the only time available!’

            One off’s, sure, not an ass move with apology, but not a regular meeting.

            Reply
              1. Robin Sparkles

                Same for us – people are understanding about that here- no one is actively trying to schedule during a lunch time. Most people try hard to not do it and if it happens- it happens. I don’t see that with Severus but the time slot itself twice a week isn’t an issue if it is truly required*.
                *Dollars to donuts it is not.

                Reply
          2. Not a Morning Person

            Agreed. Our office has flexible times for lunch and we are only offered 1/2 hour. Events and meetings that occur between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (and, of course, any other times) are common and you would be considered very odd to complain about it. Every place I’ve worked has had different culture and expectations around hours and managing your own time and your lunch time. There isn’t a rule I’m aware of that covers all jobs and companies about what hours are okay to schedule meetings. It’s a power play by Severus, obviously. I’d suggest speaking with Albus and asking about the twice a week “performance” meetings, as others commented above, and asking about how your performance is being perceived because of that concern and bringing in the schedule as a secondary issue. It is the OP’s primary issue, but I think coming from a different angle first and including the time vs. making that the first point, will come across as of more concern to Albus, especially if Albus had a good opinion and good experience with the OP. Good luck!

            Reply
          3. Connie-Lynne

            We eat on the fly here but there’s an expectation that if you must do a 12 or 12:30 meeting, you do it on Mon or Thurs, when lunch is delivered.

            If we schedule on a different day, we’re allowed to order lunch in! It’s so civilized and respectful!

            Reply
          4. Susan Sto Helit

            My office has flexi-time, with the understanding that ‘core hours’ are 10–12 and 2–4, and everyone is expected to be available for work between those times. Ideally, all meetings are scheduled within those times as well.

            Beyond that you can start any time between 8 and 10, and leave any time between 4 and 6 (or later), as long as you make sure you work your contracted hours. Scheduling a regular meeting outside of core hours is Not Done.

            Reply
      2. JeanB in NC

        But that’s not the case here. It’s a meeting of two, and he’s scheduling two meetings a week right in the middle of lunch time. Lunch is not a personal activity.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          And refusing to change to another time that’s available. And otherwise taking advantage of flex time while refusing flexibility.

          Reply
      3. Yvette

        I agree, under normal circumstances, when you have a project or a group of people who need to coordinate their time. But these meetings are 1 on 1 twice a week, they not tied to any particular project, and mysteriously became necessary as soon as the OP put her gym time back on the her schedule.

        Reply
      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        Where I work, a lunchtime meeting is entirely OK if there are 20 attendees scattered around three time zones, 12:30 is the only time everyone had available, and this is a one-time thing. Not for a recurring 1:1 that has no clear purpose.

        Reply
      5. LBK

        Yeah, I had recurring 12:30 meeting for a while because we needed to get a few high-demand people together who were all absolutely required for the call and that was the only way to do it. But it was temporary during the final run-up to a big project going live, and there was a clear reason for it. This situation is pure pettiness.

        Reply
      6. neverjaunty

        It is true that in circumstances totally unlike those here, things would be different, but isn’t that beside the point?

        Reply
        1. FTW

          It’s unclear if the culture at OP’s org is against lunch meetings, especially for higher level execs. So, it may apply here.

          It is a pretty big leap to call scheduling standing meetings at 12.30 a jerk move – this really depends on the norms of that office.

          Reply
      7. LizM

        I think the difference is, this isn’t a meeting where you’re trying to coordinate a lot of different schedules, and 12:30 is the only time that works. This is a meeting you’re trying to coordinate with one other person, and it’s in the middle of *her* lunch. To not take her schedule into account is, at best, completely oblivious. Based on some of OP’s follow up, it appears to be purposely aggressive. It’s not that he can’t have any meetings between 11 and 2, it’s that he has one employee who isn’t available at 12:30.

        Reply
    6. Troutwaxer

      What I also noticed here is that we are in the very beginning of the relationship with new boss, and he’s already pulling shit like this. This is something which will escalate if not stopped quickly. So I think the long-term strategy looks something like this:

      1.) Do what you can to get your lunches/gym-time back. This includes going to Albus.
      2.) If you can’t get your lunches and gym-time back, get a new job, because once Severus discovers that he can bully you without consequences, he will continue to bully you.
      3.) If/when you do get the new job, make sure you drop the dime on Severus.

      Lastly, I suspect that Severus’ other employee might not be as badly in need of a development plan as would first be apparent.

      Reply
    7. JHunz

      I have had some bad managers who were petty tyrants and I have still never had one that would schedule a twice-weekly recurring meeting overlapping the lunch hour without providing lunch. That is a ridiculous thing to do.

      Reply
  7. econobiker

    If the full service gym and fitness classes are company benefits that you are not allowed to access because of petty revenge scheduling then someone should be notified above and beyond the person causing the problem. It would be different if you had never attended the classes/gym before and wanted to newly insert it into your schedule but you’ve established a prior schedule for it and proven that you can still accomplish your work within this schedule. Maybe suggest that the department fund a private gym membership outside of work time for you if these meetings are so important to the department manager that you can not attend the company gym and classes.

    Reply
  8. SallyF

    My gut tells me (and from years of experience dealing with managers like this) it’s a power play and you are going to need to fake-nice to smooth this over and make Severus feel he’s “won.” Let him have his little victory but start documenting everything.

    Reply
    1. my two cents

      ‘Eat the shit sandwich once, and document document document’

      Honestly, were it me…I’d skip Severus (man, it is super clear why they have less reports!) and go straight to Albus and tell him about what’s going on in a “this seems really weird, and I’m actually a little concerned about continued retaliation and/or the longevity of my career here…?”

      Reply
      1. Rick The Dev

        I’d be a little cautious with using the word “retaliation.” It has a strict legal definition, and while this guy sucks and OP should get out of working for him ASAP, describing something as retaliation to senior management or HR as retaliation could hurt. It might make the OP look uninformed or worse, like a troublemaker, and diminish future claims of discrimination or retaliation under the strictest sense of the term. Which Severus is definitely capable of, because this guy is obviously a bad manager.

        Reply
    2. Cordelia Vorkosigan

      Yes, this. And if you’re able to make nice and get Severus to back off of the twice weekly lunch meetings as a result, maybe start blocking that hour off on your calendar as “lunch” instead of “gym time” so it doesn’t raise his hackles again.

      Reply
      1. Cordelia Vorkosigan

        Whoops, I should have read further down the thread — I see I’m not the first person to make that suggestion!

        Reply
    3. On The Spot

      Agreed. I assume Severus was at the departmental meeting when the gym scheduling was mentioned, and he felt that Rebus and Albus challenged his authority. He will attempt to regain control.

      Reply
    4. Calliope

      Thirding the “document everything.” Hopefully you won’t need it but it helped me when I was dealing with my harassing, narcissistic, tyrannical manager.

      Reply
    5. BeenThere

      document, document, document and send it in writing to Albus. Start the paper trail first before he starts it on you.

      Reply
  9. Clorinda

    This sounds like the opening expository montage of either a wacky office comedy or something that will get very, very dark surprisingly quickly.
    1. Don’t make your gym schedule visible; and
    2. Take notes during these meetings.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Yeah; I would be tempted to block out the time but not have it appear as “gym” to others. There’s certainly a universe in which Severus is not being petty, but I don’t think that’s the one we’re occupying.

      Reply
      1. Tardigrade

        Agreed, I’d be tempted to label it as “meeting” or something vague. (Side note: I appreciate the Harry Potter names because I totally get the hierarchy and personalities at work here!)

        Reply
        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          I was totally visualizing all three of these managers as the actual Albus, Remus, and Severus as I read that letter!

          Though, I am a bit of a fan Severus. I am now disappointed. I’d never thought Severus would sink to that.

          Reply
          1. youwantmetodowhat?!

            Really? I do. He tormented a child for years. The child of the woman that was his best friend – who he LOVED – because he hated his father.
            If that’s not petty, I don’t what is!

            Reply
            1. Original Flavored K

              Also, threatened to do major harm to another kid’s pet because that kid had the gall to not be “marked by the Dark Lord as his equal,” thus condemning Snape’s ex-friend to die.

              Reply
              1. Amber T

                Also, routinely belittled students/turned a blind eye to horrific bullying/harassment (“I see no difference” when… Pansy? enlarged Hermione’s teeth to the point she was nearly choking on them comes to mind).

                Reply
              2. Secretary

                Wow, I’ve read the bo0ks tons of times and never considered that Snape hates Neville because of the prophecy. Mind Blown

                Reply
              1. Jules the Third

                Oh yeah, he’s great. But don’t let the hype fool ya – Severus was a petty ass. Except when he was a stalker. It’s like the Police song, “Every Breath You Take”. Male entitlement to women’s beings is so normalized that a lot of people took it as a *love* song – Sting meant it as ‘crazy stalker song’ and was perplexed at the ‘love song’ interpretation. Iirc, Rowling meant Snape to be seriously ambiguous, with his Lily obsession as unhealthy and stalkery, but leading him to an obsessive drive for revenge too.

                Reply
                1. Specialk9

                  Yeah, people who are into Snape (as anything other than an enjoyably ambiguous moral character, and bc he was played by a terrific actor) perplex me. He was a vicious bully of children under his care.

                  The excuse of him having been bullied was, ok, character development, but unacceptable for a professional teaching children.

                  The fact that he was specifically a vicious sociopath to Harry because of male entitlement and displaced resentment didn’t help — he felt entitled to get the women he had a crush on, and was badly treated by the peer who ‘won’ her away, so tormented their innocent child in his care. Well gosh, hero material there.

                  The best he can be is proof that even the very worst people can have some scraps of decency in them after all.

                2. Julia

                  I mean, some people think Draco “my father will hear about this” Malfoy is so hot, especially in leather pants.

        2. GlitsyGus

          This is what I do on all entries into my work calendar that aren’t specific meeting with people.

          It’s no one’s business where I am or what I’m doing. I’m just letting you know I’m not available for that hour, which, really is all anyone needs to know.

          Reply
      2. Kate

        I agree, I’d probably switch it to say “Appointment” rather than “Gym”, but at this point, it seems like most people will know the OP means the gym. As someone who works for an organization that has multiple per week “check in” meetings and often schedules meetings between the 12-1 pm time slot (I guess this is when they feel people are available), I still do not see any side of this where Severus is not being petty. The timing is too suspicious. I also agree with the idea of taking notes in these meeting and with working on the relationship with Albus. If the meetings are indicative of a bigger problem like Alison alludes to, having some capital with Albus could pay off.

        Reply
        1. Amber T

          True… but his issue also is that it’s unprofessional to have “gym” on the calendar, so having it blocked off as busy with an appointment might be splitting hairs, but hey, it’s not gym!

          Reply
      3. Tau

        I wouldn’t do this:

        – OP does say that “It’s always been understood that work comes first. If I need to cancel for a meeting, I will do so.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason that Albus and others are fine with her scheduling her gym sessions is because she makes clear these are “low-priority” scheduled events which she’s perfectly OK to cancel if it becomes necessary. Hiding the reason for the blocked-out time when it’s probably going to be well-known in the office that this is gym time is likely to set others against her.
        – From the outside, there’s already something that looks like insubordination around OP’s behaviour with her gym schedule (see Lisa Babs’ comment below – it sounds like OP never went back to check with Severus before she resumed scheduling her gym events. Sure, the reason given was invalid, but her boss had still told her not to). If she now moves to scheduling them without labelling them as gym sessions, that looks even worse.

        At the moment, you have the professional high ground. It’d be good if you’re still occupying it if you need to have a conversation with Albus.

        Reply
    2. epi

      Absolutely this.

      At a previous job I had something with a similar vibe happen. All of a sudden my boss started wanting weekly meetings with pretty minute accounting for my time, and being particular about the length and timing of lunch. He started objecting to the little perks that make work nicer, things he’d previously agreed I needed and had earned, such as being able to keep my office door closed. They were the kind of limits you put on a brand new intern, or someone on a PIP. But my coworker and I (the new rules were for both of us) were very high performers. I know there are some academic and medical people here who will get how bad this is, so, we were research coordinators who were being paid way below market but accepting it because we had grad/med school plans and were getting experience and publications. Well, they tried to make a blanket policy we couldn’t be listed as coauthors anymore regardless of contribution. Each of these changes had a different rationale and no one tried to tell us to our faces that there was a performance problem since the idea would have been laughable, but it added up to “your boss has taken a dislike to you”. Like the OP, we had multiple people who could have been considered our “boss”– think a PI and an admin supervisor– who did not get along.

      The OP should feel free to go ahead and ask directly if there is a problem, and point out that the gym time is a benefit of her employment. But definitely be prepared to find out something more serious is going on and that going up the chain may not help. Being great at your job is no defense– the explanation I eventually got from people who were on my side was that my coworker and I were making other people look bad! We both got to leave on our own terms with no lasting damage since we never planned to make a career or coordinating, but the relationship was pretty much poisoned.

      Reply
      1. Fergus

        Fact is tomorrow it will be something else like you have to be in no later than 830 or lunch is only 12-1 or whatever petulant child wants

        Reply
  10. Arjay

    Maybe it’s too late to walk this back, but I wonder if the OP would have more success at framing this standing appointment as lunch time instead of gym time. Gym time might seem frivolous or whatever to Severus, where lunch time is a pretty standard part of a work day.

    Reply
    1. J.B.

      My mom had a boss who would make snarky comments about people exercising because it reduced their dedication to work. He did not exercise and looked like it. He was an awful awful boss.

      Reply
      1. The Original K.

        Yeah, I think exercise is seen as frivolous sometimes because it’s so often linked to aesthetics (I used to know someone who would say she didn’t need to exercise because she was naturally thin, but her doctor would always read her the riot act for smoking, eating junk, and not getting exercise beyond walking to her car), but it’s an important part of staying healthy. I work out 5-6 days a week and if I am not able to do so for several days in a row I feel worse, not better. I have less energy and my mood is definitely affected.

        Reply
        1. Breda

          Yeah, I once posted on Facebook about having finally joined a gym during the January promotions, and someone responded, “It’s a sad comment on our culture that someone as thin as you thinks they need to lose weight.” I’d said NOTHING about wanting to lose weight! I felt kind of sad and horrified that they assumed the only reason to join a gym was to lose weight, rather than, say, because I’d been a competitive athlete since the age of 5 and missed having regular exercise in my life after graduating from college.

          Reply
          1. many bells down

            This year is the first time in my life that I’ve tipped into “overweight” territory, but I’ve always enjoyed yoga and weight training. There’s loads of things to do at a gym that don’t involve weight loss!

            Reply
          2. LadyL

            I’d be so tempted to reply, “It’s a sad comment on our culture that so many people still labor under the delusion that being thin has anything at all to do with being healthy.”

            Reply
            1. Autumnheart

              I’d say that it’s a sad commentary on our culture that someone would shame a person for exercising and/or eating healthy food for ANY reason. Like, we’re supposed to do that.

              Reply
          3. What's weight got to do with it

            Ugh, I once had a personal trainer who asked what my goals were at the first session (to build strength in the right way to support my other activities and avoid injury). He proceeded to tell me to stop eating carbs, and do lots of cardio, in order to lose weight, because that was my goal (it wasn’t). It was very off-putting.

            Reply
        2. Rick The Dev

          +100. I took up weight lifting a few years ago and it’s wonderful for stress management. Also if you work a white collar office job, doing a difficult squat, bench press or deadlift puts a lot of the sillier stuff about office jobs into perspective.

          (seriously though, do some research before committing to a weight lifting program)

          Reply
      2. MCMonkeyBean

        Haven’t you heard? The human body has a finite amount of energy and exercising is just wasting it.

        Reply
    2. Jules the Third

      Yeah, it’s too late to walk this back. But scheduling 60 minutes / day for lunch is not crazy! I

      Once a week or so, OP might be able to schedule a late-day ‘meeting’, at 4:15 or so, and head to a 30 minute class at 4:30.

      Reply
  11. Amber Rose

    Doesn’t this guy have anything better to do with his time? Ugh.

    My personal feeling is he’ll start blowing off those meetings pretty quick, but he’ll still force you to block out that time for them. Just seems like the kind of thing that would happen next with a person like that.

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Exactly this. It is a power play.
      Boss will never get bored, because, like the game Bonkers from the 80s, it’s never, ever the same game twice. LW will have to block the time twice a week.
      Boss will cancel at the last minute. Boss will run late. Boss will use it as a weapon.
      The one time that LW has a legitimate need to take be out of the office at that time, take half a day for an appointment, Boss will demand the meeting, just to mess with LW.
      You boss is a loon and isn’t going to change.

      Reply
      1. Keanu Reeves's Patchy Beard

        OMG, a Bonkers reference! I thought my sister and I were the only ones who played that game!

        Reply
    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      My personal feeling agrees with your personal feeling, but also thinks that he’ll start rescheduling the 1:1s for random times (“move it to 1:00, I cannot make the 12:30 today” – “no, move it to 12:30 on Tuesday” – “no, 12:00 Wednesday”) before eventually canceling them.

      Reply
      1. Hey Karma, Over here.

        Whoa, I didn’t play it out that far. Not a doubt in my mind. He’s not even thinking that now, it will just be an evil light bulb over his head in the near future.
        The guy is a prick.

        Reply
  12. designbot

    I would consider having a larger, “Are you concerned about my performance in some way?” talk. I’d point to the twice-weekly meetings being something that’s usually only done for people on a PIP, plus the fact that your gym use has suddenly become an issue when it hasn’t been for *years* previously, and ask if there was some broader concern that Severus has that is causing the increased scrutiny of your time. Most likely he’ll say no, but since you two are new to working together he wants to put in some face time or some such thing, in which case I’d refer him to your previous evaluations and say that you’ve been managing your own time this way for quite some time and you hope that he can have the trust in you that Remus had. OR, if he does say there’s some concern, at least you know.

    Reply
    1. Eye of Sauron

      I think this is the best approach I’ve seen here so far.

      @OP
      I don’t see the issue with the 2x /week meetings (unless 1:1’s are not done in your office outside of PIPs) but this is pretty normal probably even more so with a new boss/employee relationship until both get a comfort level for each other. I know I’m skewed on the lunch hour thing, because my company’s culture doesn’t think twice about scheduling meetings over the noon hour (multiple locations/time zones) So I can understand that in most places this hour is usually avoided. I can even understand the ‘no gym’ on the calendar as some people get hung up on these things. But there shouldn’t be an issue with blocking out the time with a generic title.

      I typically would suggest a feeling out/benefit of the doubt period with a new boss and take a soft approach. So first things first, go to the first meeting and on your agenda go in with a bit of an open mind. Ask about expectations, ask about preferences, ask about what Severus is looking for out of your meetings and in general. Then ask for the meeting to be moved to another time. In other words, I would only mention your conversation with Albus if there’s additional push back from Sevrus

      Reply
      1. Kate 2

        But as OP mentioned in her letter 2x weekly one on ones *aren’t* usual, the only employee doing them right now is on what sounds like a PIP.

        Reply
        1. Eye of Sauron

          There’s a lot that could be going on… it could be territory marking or he could legit want to meet with her if the work is fast paced and wants more frequent updates. It’s always easier to cancel a meeting than it is to find time to schedule one.

          I did that with one of my employees who manages a fast pace team. Once a week wasn’t quick enough for updates and to solve issues so I scheduled them more frequently. The other manager under me I meet with once a week because the team’s work is more steady and less volatile.

          Reply
          1. Kate 2

            But for the past 5 years with Remus she hasn’t needed them, and she doesn’t seem to think she needs them now, and LW would know a lot better than we do. Let’s not doubt her.

            Reply
    2. BPT

      I agree – I’d almost skip the gym conversation for now or treat it as a footnote, because if Severus is actually just using it as an excuse to make you miss the gym, I’m not sure he realizes the larger message it sends to have TWO performance-based meetings a week with a high performing worker. The way I kind of see it playing out:

      Severus: *Thinks OP going to the gym is annoying, and decides to make up a bs meeting so that she has to miss gym time and at the same time make her feel like she’s not doing good work.*
      OP: *Sees that she’s all of a sudden she’s being treated like she’s on a PIP and talks to Albus.* “Albus, I wanted to check in to see if there was any problems with my work that have come up. I’ve gotten exceeds expectations on everything, but Severus is now scheduling me for bi-weekly check ins normally reserved for people on PIPs. Is there anything I need to know?”

      If there’s really nothing wrong with OP’s performance, then I’d guess Albus would look into this, and might actually come down on Severus for treating a high-performing employee like someone on a PIP. If that happens, the gym conversation might not even need to take place, and Severus might walk much more carefully in the way he treats OP.

      Reply
      1. Rick The Dev

        Yes! Absolutely! This is sketchy and looks like Severus is trying to check some boxes to put Harry (the OP, or maybe a Hermione) on a BS PIP. To do that, Severus will have to fly under the radar for a bit. So get Albus in on it ASAP.

        Reply
        1. RVA Cat

          I’m also suspicious why Severus’s only other report is on a PIP. Does he have fewer people reporting to him because he fires them all or makes them quit?

          Reply
        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?

          Yeah I was wondering about this as his next move. Happened to me, from a manager with surprisingly similar tendencies to Severus here. I was super green to the corporate workforce and now, looking back, he didn’t have me on an actual PIP, it was more his own version of it – there was nothing filed with HR, etc. God he was an asshole, of course he quickly moved up the ranks but I remain the only person he ever actively line managed and that was almost 10 years ago.

          My concern with this situation is blowback – if the conversation she has with Albus is not handled right, as in indicating the level of issue, Albus may not take it as seriously (because he sounds sane) and instead OP will be treated to all manner of passive/aggressive jerk moves for the foreseeable future. This is why I think going with the comment above that elevates the conversation around *performance issues?* rather than *gym time scheduling* will help put Severus on notice that his BS won’t be tolerated and signal to Albus that this is Serious.

          Reply
          1. Minerva

            One of the reasons I am in holding pattern is because I want to see how serious he is about these meetings or if he did it in a fit of spite that had more to do with Remus bringing it up to Albus.

            That’s what’s holding me back slightly, if he cancels the meeting in 2 weeks because he suddenly realizes it make him look insane and infringes on his own lunch (I mean he canceled the one today) then we just go back to previous states of being passive aggressive, and I can handle most of his PA tendencies.

            You’re right on the pseduo PIP though, I hadn’t considered it because being on a PIP is a very formal process that involves HR & Albus. I will be sure to document any meetings I do have and keep this in mind, thanks.

            Reply
            1. Rick The Dev

              Don’t hold off for too long. A week, tops. It’s easy to stretch it out and then if this guy genuinely dislikes you, he has a paper trail to bring to HR to say something like “I’ve been meeting with Minerva on her work performance issues for a month now and I don’t see positive change.”

              Most people are fairly reasonable and jerks exploit the system like this. Keep your guard up.

              Reply
      2. Cordelia Vorkosigan

        Totally agree. But if I were the OP, I would wait to talk to Albus until after the first 1 on 1 meeting, just to confirm that there really isn’t any legitimate work-related reason for these meetings. I mean, we all know there isn’t, but this way she can document what they actually talked about in the meeting.

        Reply
        1. designbot

          to be clear, I was advocating having the bigger conversation with Severus. If you skip him and talk to Albus first, then his response will likely be, “well, what does Severus say about it?”

          Reply
  13. Wannabe Disney Princess

    I think I sprained something from side-eyeing that so hard.

    Maybe go to a meeting or two and see what they’re about. Although, personally, I’d be tempted to just go directly to Albus at this point.

    Reply
  14. Granny K

    I say be flexible, but update your resume anyway. Severus seems petty (sorry to throw this out there, but would he have this pettiness with a man?) but if you have a semi-decent relationship with Albus, and your working relationship with Severus doesn’t work out, go to Albus and ask to be moved back to Remus’ team (and if that’s a deal breaker, tell him that too.). You’ve been at this company a solid amount of time and if you’re reviews are good/great, they’ll want to keep you; but it makes you marketable as well. So be flexible at work, but also for other options as well. (And can I just say: losing 50 pounds after having a baby with a full time job? You are already my hero.)

    Reply
  15. Lisa Babs

    I might be missing something. But did the OP put the gym back into the schedule without checking back in with her direct boss, Severus? I mean yes she caught him in a kinda lie. BUT he is still her boss and she went back on something he specifically told her not to do. Now clearly he’s the one with the problem and he added the fact about Albus mentioning scheduling to back up his point of view. BUT did she ever have the conversation like “Hey Severus, can I circle back on something you told me the other day because I need clarification. You mentioned that is was unprofessional to put the gym into the schedule but Ablus just said he was fine with it. What specifically did Albus say about me being hard to schedule appointments with? I want to make sure there are no miscommunications.” Without that conversation wouldn’t Severus feel that the OP is being insubordinate and not listening? Even though she is listening to the higher up boss.

    Reply
    1. SoCalHR

      I missed this on my first pass at the letter, but I do agree with you here. OP shouldn’t have just gone back to putting it on the calendar once Albus gave the approval. Since it seemed she was already aware that Severus is being weird on this subject, I could see how Severus saw that action as a direct disregard for his ‘authority’. I mean, Severus is being ridiculous here, but this action didn’t help the situation I imagine.

      Reply
    2. Luna

      Yeah I think this is a really important point. Severus is a jerk but OP should have checked in and explained to him first why she was putting the gym sessions back on her calendar again.

      Reply
    3. Washi

      Yeah I wondered about this as well. I don’t think that overall OP is in the wrong, but by just reinstating her gym times on her calendar without talking to Severus again, she may have inadvertently started a war of escalating pettiness.

      Reply
    4. MeowThai

      Oooh, that’s a good point Lisa. He’s being a jerk, but the appearance of insubordination from Severus’s pov isn’t promising either.

      Reply
    5. MuseumChick

      This is a really good example of two things being true at the same time. It is (probably) true that the OP’s boss is a a jerk. It is also true she should have had this conversation with him.

      It might be a good thing to acknowledge when she uses Alison’s script.

      Reply
    6. EditorInChief

      Making the unilateral decision to put an optional activity that he found unprofessional back on the calendar without consulting her boss comes off as insubordinate. She should have asked her boss for clarification based on previous discussion. Given that it seems like there are alot of politics going on there, she looks like she went over her boss’s head to get the ok on this rather than talking to him about it.

      Reply
    7. neverjaunty

      Except that his reason was “oh, Albus doesn’t like it”. Nor did he come back to the LW and say, why are you continuing to do this?

      Reply
      1. Lisa Babs

        I re-read the letter and the OPs exact words were “He says it looks unprofessional and that Albus has made comments that I’ve made it difficult to schedule meetings” which isn’t technically saying Albus doesn’t like it too. Just that Albus says scheduling is difficult and Severus is using it to back up what he wants. It’s a petty power play. But my point was that I was afraid OP might have starting playing his game without realizing it by putting the gym times back on the schedule after he told her not to.

        Reply
    8. Lady Blerd

      As much as I’m on OP’s side, I have to admit this was an offside. In fact she did throw her boss under the bus when she mader her “Oh, I was afraid that scheduling my gym time was being perceived as unprofessional” comment in the meeting even though she didn’t mention him by name so I’m not surprised he retaliated. It would have been more appropriate during a one on one with no one else within earshot.

      Reply
    9. Fiennes

      This is a fair point–but I suspect Severus would’ve been a jerk about this anyway. Severus has probably already demonstrated to his employees that he’s not reasonable about some of these things, which may have colored OP’s judgment about whether or not to run it by him. (Kind of like the bosses who freak out/harass/fire employees who give longer notice periods, but then also get upset when employees give short-to-no notice. If you punish ideal behavior, you can’t be surprised when your employees don’t trust you.)

      Reply
    10. Fiennes

      This is possible–and a fair point, if so, although one that doesn’t make Severus’ behavior okay. That said, the letter suggests this is a very informal/flexible company in ways many others aren’t, in terms of flexibility, etc. So OP’s behavior may not have read as insubordinate/unusual within her company culture, at least not to anyone but Severus. Different places have different expectations.

      Reply
    11. Minerva

      OP again here:

      I admit it was unclear in my letter. I started putting the gym back on my schedule specifically because Albus said that I should, in order to make scheduling meetings easier for him. Basically Albus’ stance was the exact opposite of what Severus said.

      I admit it may not have been the smartest move since I kinda knew all along that it was probably Severus and not Albus who had a problem with it.

      This is one of the strongest reasons I’m considering going to Albus, Severus isn’t being forthright, just insanely passive aggressive. And I’m not even 100% sure it’s directed at me, just him being pissed that Remus “tried to help”

      But on the other hand, with him cancelling the meeting today, I’d rather see if this blows over than poke the bear by going to Albus. I already have emails stating that I tried to reschedule and a response saying the meetings were required for work needs. If Severus keeps cancelling or he and I end up starting at each other for 20 minutes 2x a week I’ll address the “need” for these meetings.

      Reply
      1. Basia, also a Fed

        I agree with Lisa Babs here. Your boss is likely a jerk and a petty tyrant. However, I would be pretty annoyed if one of my direct reports didn’t do something I asked them to do because my boss told them they didn’t have to. I kept waiting for Alison to address this. I don’t think it was okay for you to put it back on your calendar without talking to your direct boss about it first. He was likely going to be unreasonable about it anyway, but at least you would have known you had no part in escalating the situation.

        Reply
        1. Minerva

          That is a totally fair assessment. I admit to not thinking too far ahead when I started putting it back on the calendar.

          Reply
          1. Lisa Babs

            Well at least you know now what kind of person you are dealing with and can plan accordingly with other issues. And hopefully these meetings will just fizzle out and you can go back to how things were.

            Reply
    12. Someone else

      I interpreted that part of the letter as Severus was in the room when it happened, so he knows the “Albus wants you not to” reason was outed as not real. It didn’t explicitly say that, and I suppose one could make the argument she still ought to check with Severus that “given that Albus said he didn’t have a problem with it, I’m going to go ahead and put those back in, ok?” but given what we know of Severus, even that might’ve just needled him even more. But if Severus were in the room with Albus’ “oh no did I schedule over you” moment, it’d potentially seem like not only does Albus not think it looks unprofessional but also that Albus prefer it be in her schedule…so… I could see it almost going back in as though it were at Albus’ request, rather than just Albus thinks it’s ok so screw Severus.

      Reply
  16. Gotham Bus Company

    Severus clearly doesn’t want you to get that promotion. If he is the ultimate decider of that, then toe his line and keep quiet.

    However, if Albus makes the promotion decisions, then discuss the whole thing with him directly.

    Reply
    1. Jules the Third

      +1 million. OP, you need to be focused on protecting your promotion opportunity.

      1) Take the gym off your calendar. Severus specifically asked you to do that. Yes, his reason was bull, but he still made a direct request.
      2) Do schedule lunch at a regular time. Maybe 1 – 2 days a week, schedule a 30 minute meeting with a neutral title just before or after lunch, like ‘Project Prep’ or ‘Quarterly Planning’, for the busiest days (M, T, W are our busiest).
      3) Use those biweekly meetings to support your agenda. In the first one, say ‘I’d discussed [promotion job] with Remus. He said I’d need x, y, z to get it. Is that the path you see for getting to [promotion job]? What’s the timeline you see?’ LISTEN CAREFULLY to his response. DOCUMENT it in a note back to him after the meeting. “Dear Severus, per our conversation, I’ve done x, am halfway through y, plan on z next quarter. I’ll keep you up to date on the progress!’
      4) If Severus gives you any pushback, then you can go to Albus with ‘Remus said x, but Severus says y. I’m confused about my career and opportunities in this company. Can you help me understand?’ I like this script because ‘honest confusion’ is easy to play off, and I think ‘opportunities’ is a quiet reference to being a female under male managers and the possibility that part of Severus’s problem is sexism.
      5) When you get the promotion, if it gets you out from under Severus, put the gym times back on the calendar and laugh all the way to the elliptical.

      I’m pretty sure that yes, Severus is playing games with you and Remus (who I mighta called Hagrid, myself, but good choice of models). You have capital and allies that you can leverage to maintain your trajectory, but because Sexism and Politics, your best angle is ‘innocent confusion’ trying to figure out what is the right thing. Neville, not Harry or Hermione. Sooooo under-estimated, that Neville.

      Reply
  17. SarahJ

    OP, I must say that going to the gym during the work day is a major and unusual perk, and you’ll come across poorly by acting entitled to daytime workouts if your other coworkers have to squeeze in their workouts when they can. Even if your manager is being a petty dictator, you can both come out of this situation with worse reputations.

    Reply
    1. AMPG

      It’s an onsite gym, so presumably the “very popular” lunchtime classes are filled with the OP’s coworkers, which means that it’s not an unusual perk for her office at all.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        Yes, I’m also a little puzzled at the assumption that the OP is being “entitled” or is the only one who gets to do this.

        Reply
    2. CatCat

      It’s not an unusual perk. And even if it were, OP gets to decide what workplace perks are the most important to her and try to address it if she is being blocked from availing herself of it. She doesn’t have to act poorly and entitled to address the issue. Yeesh.

      Reply
    3. McWhadden

      It’s really not that unusual anymore. My first lawfirm had an onsite gym for this purpose. And it was a very conservative old school establishment otherwise.

      Reply
    4. The Original K.

      I don’t think she’s acting entitled – she said she drops her gym time when she has to. If the gym and classes are there, they should expect people to use them. And other people clearly do use them since she said the lunchtime workouts are very popular.

      I’ve worked for two companies that had gyms and fitness classes and nobody was given grief for using them. (At one, our new boss gave us grief for taking lunch at all because she didn’t, but that was a separate thing. We pushed back on it. At the other, our boss was a fitness nut so you’d never hear a word from him against getting exercise – HE worked out at lunchtime.)

      Reply
    5. JustaTech

      But if the company had a problem with people working out during the day why would they offer classes during the work day? The OP said that the lunchtime classes fill early so clearly a lot of people are taking advantage of the gym. And the OP said that she has been taking these classes for years. You would think if taking lunchtime gym classes upset her coworkers she would have heard about it years ago.

      Reply
    6. Trig

      Seems like daytime gym sessions are common at this company. The gym and classes are on-site, offered by the company, and OP says the lunch-hour classes are really popular.

      Obviously acting entitled is bad. But OP has demonstrated that they are flexible around cancelling gym time for meetings and so on. That’s not entitlement.

      Reply
    7. Fiennes

      Any company that treats you as “acting entitled” for taking the benefits they specifically offer to employees is a scary, scary company.

      That said, it doesn’t sound like OP’s company is doing that. It’s an onsite gym! They schedule the classes! If it wasn’t okay for employees to do this, they *wouldn’t schedule the classes at lunch*!

      Reply
    8. chomps

      Yeah, it’s definitely not unusual at the OP’s workplace and I’d argue that it’s not unusual at all. My organization owns two buildings and has small gyms in both that all building tenants can use AND offers fitness classes to org employees 4 days a week. Also, other offices and office parks have onsite gyms for employees. I don’t think it’s weird at all.

      Reply
    9. Former Employee

      “My company offers a full-service on-site gym, complete with group fitness classes during lunch and after standard business hours.”

      It’s a perk for all of the employees, not just the OP. Why try so hard to make it look as if the OP is “acting entitled” when taking advantage of something that is available to all of OP’s co-workers, too?

      Reply
      1. Aaaaaaanon.

        It’s the same sort of thinking behind making people feel entitled for using their PTO, which happens all of the time.

        Reply
    10. Robin Sparkles

      Not to pile on- as I agree that she can’t be entitled for using a perk the company itself provided! I want to add that a company that adds this perk also needs to stand behind their words but providing a culture where people CAN take advantage. If people are constantly scheduling the the class times- then it’s a bad culture where they wasted money on a perk no one can use. That’s not happening here.

      Reply
    11. LizM

      I wouldn’t say this is unusual. I’ve worked in several offices where it was normal for people to work out during their lunch break. Not all had on-site gyms, some people walk or run during their lunch. My current office has a group that does Zumba videos in the conference room.

      The fact that the on-site gym offers classes that fill up also says that there are a number of people taking advantage of this perk.

      Reply
    12. SpaceNovice

      Except no one else HAS to squeeze in their workouts: people schedule them ahead of time. The company very specifically offers this as a benefit–not only is there a gym on site, but they have classes. It’s not just an afterthought but a formal perk–and violating her ability to use that perk might be going against the corporation’s social norms. Good companies will not look well on those that try to prevent their people from using a perk that they’re proud to give.

      Reply
    13. WillyNilly

      While I have never worked at a company with a company gym, or known anyone else with a company gym, I don’t think mid-day workouts are unusual. At all. In fact in my experience, many companies offer wellness reimbursements for gym memberships and encourage gym use. Working out at lunch, or having a standard appointment on one’s calendar blocked off for exercise is pretty standard.
      I have also worked at companies that had on-site, lunchtime Weight Watchers meetings, onsite massage (clothed, 30-minute sessions). These perks were definitely regularly used by employees, and encouraged by management.

      Reply
    14. Minerva

      The onsite gym membership is so incentivized in the company that you can get a discount on next year’s employee contribution to your health insurance if you log in X number of times a month over the course of a year. (There are other things you can do, but this is one of the easiest ways to earn the perk) Do X number of classes and you get entered into contests to win gift cards and other prizes. My company takes this perk very seriously.

      Won’t lie, the discount motivated me 7 years ago, more than the weight loss. Now it’s just such a habit that I actually feel poorly and lose focus in the day if I don’t work out.

      Reply
        1. Minerva

          Potentially yes, but I hesitate to go that far since I can still go to the gym, at this point I just can’t make the classes. This impacts my ability to get into the raffles, put that’s a perk on top of a perk.

          Reply
      1. SpaceNovice

        So Severus is going against corporate culture. And affecting your health. And affecting you monetarily, potentially. You’ve also been doing this for 7 years. It’s not considered unprofessional… it’s considered you taking part in the corporate culture.

        Yeah, go to Albus. Both Remus and Albus were concerned they had taken your time to be at the gym rather than annoyed that you scheduled out your gym times. The way Severus is acting is like you’re on a PIP, as others have discussed. What a bully!

        Reply
    15. Specialk9

      Not unusual where I am! I always see executives and managers at the very full gym during the day. It’s normal and usual, and encouraged under the guise of health and wellness. This has been true of most (white collar office) places I’ve worked.

      Reply
  18. MuseumChick

    I’m getting bad vibe from this letter. The only advice I have is to document everything. Keep as much of your communication with him in email as possible.

    Reply
    1. McWhadden

      They want it to be public so meetings aren’t scheduled for them during that time unless they absolutely have to be.

      Reply
      1. Luna

        If it is set to private her coworkers will still see that she is busy during that time, they just won’t be able to see the details.

        Though at this point Severus clearly knows what OP does during that time so I don’t think private meetings will help.

        Reply
        1. BuffaLove

          I think the point of making it public is so that it can be scheduled over if something truly pressing comes up – OP says that work comes first.

          Reply
      2. Arjay

        A private meeting still blocks the time off, but other calendar viewers will just see it as busy, not labelled as “gym time.”

        Reply
      3. MechanicalPencil

        It still marks you as being busy and unavailable though. You just wouldn’t see that Minerva is in trapeze class from 1230 – 1315.

        Reply
    2. Anna

      The issue isn’t really that the OP wants to use that time for the gym, it’s that her boss wants to be a petty jerk. Everyone knows how the OP uses that time, so the marking it as private ship has sailed.

      Reply
  19. MicroManagered

    OP I had to kinda manage-up my current manager when she started demanding texts if you were going to be more than 10 minutes late. (Our office culture is very much “manage your own time” and none of our work lives or dies by the exact minute you get to work. Boss was looking for Something To Control, which is what I think Severus is doing.)

    Here’s what I’d do.

    I’d decline those twice-a-week meeting invitations and propose a new time that doesn’t conflict with your gym time. If/when Severus asks, I’d say “I go to classes at the company fitness center on those days. Can we pick another time that doesn’t conflict?” And if/when he pushes back, I would say “My impression from Albus is that attending these classes and putting on my schedule is an acceptable thing to do. Could we ask him for clarification on how best to handle this?” and if you you can work it in: “The gym is a company-provided benefit and I’d like to continue taking advantage of it.”

    Also congrats on the weight loss & maintaining it!

    Reply
    1. Jules the Third

      +1 to the congrats, btw!

      This script works if you think Severus is reasonable and honest. I think your choice of names indicates your opinion on that. Tactically: pushing back like this spends your work capital, and leaves you less room for pushing for the promotion.

      Timeline matters, too, of course – if the promotion is 2 years off, that’s too long, you’ll lose the habit. But 6 – 12mo, maybe your partner could pick up kid 1 – 2 nights a week?

      Reply
      1. MicroManagered

        Oh it could be, absolutely. It sounds like using the gym is really important to OP.

        In my case, I wanted to push back because I felt like it was going to lead to other petty attempts to control things that don’t matter. And in my case, I actually didn’t end up spending too capital much because I think Boss knew Grandboss would’ve shut her down hard. Boss walked it back pretty quickly. So it depends on the situation and who you’re dealing with, for sure! :)

        Reply
        1. Jules the Third

          I do agree: Severus is going to have some other petty shtuff going on. That’s why I’m putting the promotion as the first priority. It gets OP out from under Severus (hopefully)

          Reply
  20. AnonResearchManager

    If Severus really is being a petty tyrant and you go over his head straight to Albus on this, get ready to for more issues with Severus. Petty tyrants like him often see moves like that as a direct challenge and will make your life more of a living hell for going over their head. Also, be prepared for Albus to back his manager (Severus) rather than you on this, at least initially, since having these meetings isn’t in itself unreasonable.

    I’d seriously consider the path of least resistance and go to a few of these meetings first without escalating the matter. Then, if they turn out to be hooey, you have more of a case to ask that they be eliminated or at least have them less frequently.

    Reply
    1. Yvette

      This is a good approach.
      If the meetings are pointless, (and I am willing to bet the end up lasting 10 minutes, tops) would it be too passive-aggressive to take copious notes of said hooey, including start and stop times, and put them in an email to Severus as a set of meeting minutes and CC Albus? (kidding, just about the email, I still like AnonResearchManager’s suggestion)

      Reply
  21. Troutwaxer

    My fantasy about how to handle something like this goes as follows: Go to Albus, carrying ten pennies with you. Put the pennies down on his desk, with nine pennies face up and one penny face down. “Albus, these pennies reflect my job satisfaction as of (date before working for Severus.) One of them is face down because there’s always something, right? But when I was told that I would be working under Severus, I turned one more penny face down because Severus has a bad reputation. One of the first things Severus said to me is that I shouldn’t use gym time because it’s “unprofessional.” So I took gym time off my schedule and turned another penny face down. Then you told me that gym time was fine, so I started scheduling gym time again, but I kept the penny face down because I’m still very unhappy with Severus, who simply is not a very good boss. Then Severus started scheduling meetings over my gym time, so I turned another penny face down, and started updating my resume. I haven’t sent the resume out, but with four pennies face down, I did feel the need to have it ready.”

    “At this point, I’m asking you to intervene, because if have to turn one more penny face down, I will start sending out resumes. Working under Severus is not, by itself, a problem, but he needs to learn to be a better boss very quickly or I will take my excellent work record, great references, and wonderful organizational skills to another company.”

    Reply
    1. Jules the Third

      That’s the nuclear option. There’s scripts you can use with Albus before you go nuclear.

      Reply
    2. sange

      The penny thing is cute, but I would find it really odd if an employee brought up her gym time so much when talking about her ambitions and career future with our company.

      Reply
    3. LiveAndLetDie

      This depends entirely on the manager. If someone came to me with this penny gimmick I’d be pretty unamused myself. There’s no need to include the pennies if you’ve got a clear argument.

      Also, this is definitely the nuclear option — I do think the OP may have more success going to Albus than by discussing things with Severus directly, but to be successful I think OP needs to frame it as “The company gym is a valuable part of the perks and benefits of this job to me and I want to continue using it, but Severus seems to have a problem with it. Can you help me sort this out?”

      Reply
      1. MCMonkeyBean

        Yeah, this is like that weird thing people say about putting out the waiter’s tips in dollar bills on the table and take one away every time you think they do something wrong. Definitely don’t do this. It’s enough to say “the flexibility here and emphasis on health has been a huge benefit and losing that would greatly impact my job satisfaction” without the unnecessary visual.

        Reply
  22. Chatterby

    Put in for an internal transfer to a different department, or figure out if the promised promotion is happening, and happening soon. If you dislike and resent Severus, which I wouldn’t blame the LW for, you won’t do great work for him or go the extra mile, and your stellar performance will tank down to average or lower. That, combined with Severus’s bizarre, petty tyranny, don’t look good for the LW’s future unless she gets ahead of things by getting out now.

    Reply
  23. CatCat

    Serious side-eye to Severus. I think Alison’s approach is great, but I have a bad feeling that Severus is going to find way to block you not only on this gym-time thing, but also on the job. If you’ve been a high achiever and may be considered for promotion (I also have a “red alert” in my mind that Severus may try and sabotage that), you have options in your professional life. Advocate for yourself at current employer, but maybe dust of the ol’ resume and start passively job searching just so you’re prepared if Severus gets worse.

    So sorry that you’re stuck with this!

    Reply
  24. Minerva

    OP Here! A couple of things I left out since I didn’t want this letter to become a novel:

    ~Severus has no problem with me going to the gym. He sits next to me and when it wasn’t officially scheduled he knew where I was going and didn’t care.

    ~ There is no justification for the 2x a week meeting. It’s not part of the office culture and I have no performance issues. In fact we *just completed* a large internal project that I ended up handling in the final stages. Despite being the lead, Severus put in a for 2 week vacation overseas and literally wasn’t able to check in due to our company’s block leave policy. I handled the final stages nearly perfectly, with no major followup required. Albus made a point to congratulate me on a job well done at the meeting. I made sure to thank Severus for leaving the documentation behind so I was able to follow through (a legit compliment, I believe in credit where it’s due)

    ~Someone suggested that Severus is eyeing the same promotion, which not the case. My promotion would put me parallel to Remus and have me directly reporting to Albus, Severus would still be higher on the food chain title and paycheck wise.

    ~I’m more and more inclined to think he is just marking his territory. About 20 minutes ago he actually cancelled today’s meeting because he’s “got more important things to do.” I’m missing the 12Pm class but snagged a slot in the 1PM

    Right now I’m leaning on continuing to schedule since Albus said to, but not pushing back on the meetings. He may let it go once he feel like I “get the message” that he’s the boss.

    Reply
    1. AMPG

      I think you’re probably right about him “marking his territory,” which means pushing back or going over his head will just make things worse for you. You can probably wait this out.

      Reply
    2. Eye of Sauron

      “Right now I’m leaning on continuing to schedule since Albus said to, but not pushing back on the meetings. He may let it go once he feel like I “get the message” that he’s the boss.”

      I think this is the best approach.

      Reply
    3. Troutwaxer

      ~Severus has no problem with me going to the gym. He sits next to me and when it wasn’t officially scheduled he knew where I was going and didn’t care.

      I’m not sure I understand this. Is he only objecting to the recording the time as “gym time” or has his opinion only changed after you became his underling, or did you mess up the tense of the word “has?”

      Reply
      1. Jules the Third

        He’s objecting to her recording the time as ‘gym time’ and having it marked off every week day.

        I sorta see why he’s picked it – it’s a big 90 minute chunk – but I also think he’s mostly just flexing his muscles.

        Like I said higher, OP, use the meeting to protect your promotion – map out requirements and timeline. Let go of scheduling the gym time in your calendar every day, maybe keep it 1 – 2 times a week. See if your partner will pick up the kid 1 – 2 days so you can schedule to a 5pm class 1 – 2 days.

        Reply
        1. Minerva

          To be clear, most of the time it’s well within our 60 minute expected lunch hour. I have class on Wed that goes closer to 75 minutes because it’s held outdoors. I’m no more or less available than anyone else at the office in the 12-2 PM “lunch zone”

          Reply
          1. Jules the Third

            yeesh – what a maroon he is.

            Yeah, petty control games. Your most effective path’s going to be lay low for a while, sweet innocence with Albus (just like in that meeting), ‘of course we’ll be doing the reasonable thing’, document document document, and use the promotion to get out of Severus’s reporting line.

            Just watch carefully that he doesn’t sabotage the promotion, or delay it.

            Reply
            1. Minerva

              Want to here something even better? I have no worry about him trying to schedule a lunch meeting on Wed because he has repeating 90 minute chunk of time blocked off every Wed so….yeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhh

              Reply
      2. Minerva

        He appears to have a pet peeve about me scheduling my lunch time, specifically with noting that it was for the gym. So he has no problem with me *going* to the gym, he has a problem with me *scheduling* the gym.

        I note that it’s the gym so that I can be flexible. Albus & Remus always did their best to respect this time, but knew that if they saw blocked time around lunch that said “gym” they could schedule over it if needed, since my gym time could fall anywhere from 12 to 2 based on what class I take that day. Other people on the team will schedule appointments all the time.

        I can’t stress how flexible my office is when it comes to how we manage our time and how great my team is (in general) about respecting boundaries. In fact I have a reputation for being the easiest person on the team to get a hold of because of how transparent I am with my schedule. One of the reasons I was suspicious when Severus said Albus had a problem with my scheduling.

        This is thing with Severus is so outside the norm it’s baffling and petty.

        Reply
        1. sange

          OP, he seems like a really weird manager! How do you put it in your calendar? Does it say “Gym” or do you get more specific? I just put “Unavailable” or “Out” to block out time.

          Reply
        2. Tau

          I note that it’s the gym so that I can be flexible. Albus & Remus always did their best to respect this time, but knew that if they saw blocked time around lunch that said “gym” they could schedule over it if needed, since my gym time could fall anywhere from 12 to 2 based on what class I take that day.

          This seems too simple to be the problem, but… does Severus *know* that? Is it possible that he has a more literal understanding of blocking time, thinks what you’re trying to communicate is “don’t schedule any meetings during this time no matter what”, and is annoyed that you’re prioritising gym over your work?

          Reply
          1. Minerva

            Yes he does. Our team is very small and I have actually worked with Severus for years, he just didn’t have any authority over me before. I literally sit next to him.

            It wasn’t said out loud, but I suspect one of the reasons I was moved under Severus is that prior to this I was the only one on the team who didn’t have some sort of beef with him. We were never friendly but we were always cordial and would chat movies and whatnot since we were the early arrivers in the office.

            He knows my habits and in the past if he has a need to schedule a meeting with Remus and I he’s scheduled over that time and I (at least to my recollection) I didn’t say a word about it. He’s never made a comment before the restructure either, not even a “joking” one.

            Reply
            1. Beth

              Well, you might be developing a reason to have beef with him, depending on how this works out….honestly, the fact that everyone else has problems with him makes me wonder why the heck he’s a manager at all. Isn’t the basic ability to work smoothly with reasonable people fundamental to management?

              If, push comes to shove, he continues to be an awful micromanager more interested in power plays than working together, do you have a sense of whether Albus would support you in switching to another manager?

              Reply
            2. Detective Amy Santiago

              Heh, the first thought I had reading this letter was that there is clearly a good reason Severus had less direct reports than Remus. No one likes working for him!

              Reply
            3. Tau

              Yes, I figured that would be too easy. :/ In that case, I have to agree with what everyone is saying – this sounds like a power play. Ugh. I’d be sooo tempted to kick up a fuss, but I think your idea of buckling down for the time being and seeing if he lets up is probably the most likely to lead to the outcome you want in the long run, never to mention boss-subordinate harmony. You can still bring up the gym thing some time in – in fact, in some ways it gives you greater standing because you can go “I was fine with giving up a lot of my lunch gym slots as a short-term thing [implied: because I am a good flexible professional worker], but long-term this is going to have an effect on my health and well-being.”

              Although it may be worth digging to see if there’s more behind this new biweekly 1:1 than just him flexing his muscles, if this is some prelude to him putting you on a PIP or trying to get rid of you – I agree with Alison, the fact that the only other person in the office with this sort of arrangement is a low performer is a worrying sign. That said, you know your office and will know if this is a legitimate danger.

              Reply
    4. Rick The Dev

      So here’s the thing. I’m a little skeptical of what Severus says he’s okay with offline. I had a manager who said he was okay with me leaving an hour early one day and working later the next (so I could see a therapist after losing a parent — don’t worry, it was a very long time ago). He refused to commit to it in writing, because “of course it’s fine.” He then wrote me up for being out of the office because I left at 4 to get to therapy. He did get scolded by our HR for this, but it wasn’t enough because I’d moved too slowly in reporting the other things he did.

      He also set up similar “status meetings” on the schedule that he always canceled in person and never took off — this was part of his paper trail to put me on a PIP.

      Obviously, you can read the intentions of someone you work with daily better than the a bunch of random Internet people, but I’d tread carefully. Alison and everyone else who’s commented has lots of great advice.

      Reply
      1. Cordelia Vorkosigan

        Whoa, so he set up the meetings on your Outlook calendar, verbally told you the meeting was cancelled but did not cancel it on the calendar, and then reported you to HR for missing the meetings? Wow, what an a**hole.

        Reply
        1. Rick The Dev

          He didn’t write me up for missing the meetings. He set up the meetings and didn’t show up most of the time, but he used their existence to build a case that I wasn’t up to par and put me on a PIP.

          The reality was that I was doing less work than because he reassigned my projects to people he hired who looked like him (it was a race thing). Thankfully I finally worked up the courage to talk to HR and while they didn’t fire or demote him (I understand his rising star is permanently dimmed there though), I left peacefully with severance and a good reference.

          Reply
    5. diaphanous

      “I handled the final stages nearly perfectly, with no major followup required. Albus made a point to congratulate me on a job well done at the meeting. I made sure to thank Severus for leaving the documentation behind so I was able to follow through (a legit compliment, I believe in credit where it’s due)”

      This might seem like it’s a compliment on its face, but to some particularly sensitive people (*coughs*me*coughs*) this might read as a subtle way of calling him out on not being there to finish the project.

      Reply
      1. rldk

        I could see this, but only if he is very possessive of work or already felt guilty/self-conscious about missing those final weeks. But then it’s still very much only an insult in the receipt, while entirely intended as genuine.
        This seems to me like a case where only people who already give side-eye to people taking vacations would see it as an insult.

        Reply
      2. Kate 2

        Assuming insults is a really big problem. We all make gaffes and say things that people could choose to interpret badly. We should all assume the best of people, unless we have good (evidence backed) reasons to think otherwise.

        Reply
        1. Jules the Third

          We should, but there’s a certain kind of person who doesn’t. A petty, passive aggressive person, who thinks everyone else is passive aggressive too. IOW, Severus. So, yeah, I could see how that might have backfired.

          Reply
      3. Minerva

        Without the prep work he did I would have been missing critical information because he has training I do not. The vacation was scheduled before we knew about the project or the deadline, and rescheduling block leave is a pain beyond just any financial loss he might have ensued. I know one of his goals for this year is to “assist in employee development” and with his other report on PIP this was an opportunity to shine by all measures of our corporate culture. I made him look good.

        Obviously I can’t control what other people think, but it was meant as a compliment and he seemed to take it that way in the moment.

        Reply
    6. Fiennes

      Severus took off during the final two weeks of a major project he was lead of, and he’s supposed to be the arbiter of how to appropriately use time away from work? Yeesh.

      Reply
    7. Aaaaaaanon.

      Are you the only one on your team who goes to the gym for this long over lunch? I’m not sure if part of what’s happening is that you’re doing something that’s technically allowed but is also non-standard and kind of conspicuous.

      Reply
      1. Minerva

        I am the only one on my team who does, but it’s very common overall. Albus’ boss is actually a lunchtime regular. (Not a connection I would leverage, that’s way too high up the food chain)

        In fact if it got bad enough to leave the group I can leverage connections I’ve made at the gym. It’s not really intended to be networking, but you get to know the people you share a hobby with.

        Reply
        1. Aaaaaaanon.

          I am the only one on my team who does – I think that might be the only thing that really matters here, unfortunately. Some managers don’t care about allowed-but-non-standard behaviour as long as it doesn’t affect the work. For others, it can be a lightning rod, either consciously or unconsciously.

          Every now and then you’ll end up working for a “follow the flow of traffic” type, and IME this can be more of an issue at a company that offers a lot of work-life balance perks. Severus-types are pretty common there because it’s difficult to vet for managers who are accustomed to, truly respect and feel comfortable working with the kind of employee flexibility that a company like yours provides.

          Reply
          1. Minerva

            It’s not the length of the time. During the months that I didn’t put it on the schedule he didn’t care where I was or how long I was there as long as I didn’t miss scheduled meetings and I hitting deadlines.

            He’s not tracking where I am. There are people on our team who take 2 hour lunches (including Severus) and no one bats an eye.

            This is purely about putting it on the schedule, which is ironic because it means that people know where I am and when I will be back. His behavior makes it clear he finds the *reason* objectionable, not the action.

            Reply
            1. CanCan

              Sounds like the solution is to not mark it as “gym” in the schedule. Just mark it as “Busy” and leave it at that. If you’re in Outlook, you could also mark it as “Tentative”, – which would suggest that it’s not an absolute “don’t book this slot.”

              Reply
          2. Jessie the First (or second)

            “Some managers don’t care about allowed-but-non-standard behaviour”

            Except that every comment from Minerva seems to be that it is actually quite common at her workplace – just not in her very specific team. She says the classes are popular, it’s crowded, it’s a well-used perk at the office.

            Reply
            1. Aaaaaaanon.

              Some managers will limit what’s thought of as standard to what the rest of their team is doing (rather than the workplace as a whole) to mark people as not being team players, though. I’ve worked somewhere where a manager tried to cut their team off from organization-wide perks just because that’s the way they wanted to manage their team. Not agreeing with it, just saying that it happens.

              Reply
              1. tangerineRose

                ” a manager tried to cut their team off from organization-wide perks ” Sounds like a manager who might have issues with rapid turnover and little loyalty.

                Reply
    8. Stolen ice cream

      One of the things I do is mark my weekly yoga class over lunch as tentative so people know they can book over it if they need to.

      I know this situation is above and beyond an easy solution like that but I thought I’d just throw that out there.

      Reply
    9. Lehigh

      It sounds like you have a really good handle on this now. I hope he backs off when he realizes how many of the meetings he’s cancelling (and after his ego is appeased). Please update us on how it goes!

      Reply
    10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      UGH. He’s totally marking his territory, and he’s being such a passive-aggressive jerk!

      I’d ride it out and refrain from pressing on it for now, but I’m side-eyeing him so hard that I nearly sprained something.

      Reply
      1. Happy Lurker

        Yup, he’s just like a cairn terrier. Figure out where to scratch him and never turn your back on him.
        I like cairn terriers, I just don’t trust the ones I have met.

        Reply
  25. miyeritari

    Severus sounds like a petty jerk, and I admire Allison’s ability to see the bright side here.

    Reply
  26. TRex

    Ugh this situation happens so often with restructures. Try to find common ground with Severus in your new meetings, give the relationship an opportunity, then communicate with Severus first.

    In the meanwhile, update your resume (and perhaps start utilizing private invites on your calendar if you can do that)!

    Reply
  27. McWhadden

    It’s entirely possible Albus *did* say something casually about being unable to schedule time on X date because of the gym schedule. It could have just been a one off thing he didn’t intend to turn into an overall change. But sometimes big bosses don’t feel comfortable having those conversations with the lower employees. That’s what their direct managers are for. When put on the spot he acted like it was fine. Or even entirely forgot the earlier conversation.

    I agree with the overall advice. Sevrus is acting like a petty tyrant. But he’s still your direct manager for now. It’s not OK to just ignore things he tells you to do like not scheduling gym times.

    And 70 minutes in the middle of the day is a long time to make yourself unavailable for meetings.

    Reply
    1. AnonEMoose

      I disagree with your last sentence. If an hour lunch break is normal in the OP’s company, 70 minutes is only 10 minutes longer than that. And if the OP is normally in the office for 9 hours (8 hours of work plus lunch), that’s roughly 1/9 of the day, at a time when it’s pretty normal to not schedule meetings unless really necessary, anyway.

      I incline to the “Severus is a petty jerk who is, for whatever reason, choosing to mark his territory in this way” point of view. Personally, I loathe these kinds of power plays and the people who engage in them, but that’s me. And I also hate the behavior some people engage in that basically amounts to “this bugs me for no reason I can put my finger on, so rather than dealing with my own feelings like an adult, I’m going to label it ‘unprofessional’ and make the other person stop doing whatever – even if there’s no reason other than ‘this bugs me.'”

      Reply
    2. Guacamole Bob

      This is a tough situation to read – for every instance of a higher-up asking the direct manager to address something, there’s another instance where a direct manager interprets an off-hand comment from a higher-up as a serious problem and sets out to solve it. So maybe Albus did have trouble scheduling once but never intended Severus to do anything about it.

      The way that some people play guessing games and try to intuit the intentions of executives drives me nuts sometimes. Someone just ask the person what he wants! Stop turning yourself inside out to make something happen when a c-level person asked an idle question about whether it would be possible, or totally changing procedures based on the fact that someone frowned once when it came up in conversation!

      Reply
    3. Canarian

      Middle managers don’t exist to protect big bosses from having uncomfortable conversations with lower employees, that’s absurd. A boss who relies on lower managers to passive-aggressively relay feedback because they’re uncomfortable having direct conversations is not well suited for upper management. Not to mention, Albus was hardly “put on the spot” and forced to act casual. If he felt uncomfortable talking to a junior employee about her gym scheduling, he would have let Remus’s comment about her usually being at the gym just slide by without engaging the subject himself, instead he spoke up to ask if he’d scheduled over her.

      70 minutes is only ten minutes longer than a regular lunch hour, so it’s not really an unreasonable amount of time to block off in the middle of the day. But that aside, OP specifically noted that work comes first, she’s not “making herself unavailable for meetings”, and will cancel the workout if needed for a meeting.

      Reply
    4. Anna

      I agree 70 minutes is a long time during the day especially scheduled every week and you know its longer than that at least once a week. I think I would have an issue too with a co-worker scheduling an hour every day to do this every week. I personally wouldn’t go to her/him and say hey can you not do your thing that you have scheduled. So saying that people know they can ask you to work during that your gym time if you need to is like saying “let me know if you need anything to someone at a funeral” It’s a nice gesture, since you know they are never going to call and ask you for anything. But your boss is taking it too far

      Reply
      1. Minerva

        You are assuming what I am doing it out of the norms for *our office’s standard lunch times.* It’s rare to have meetings scheduled between 12-2 because that is when people take lunch. And most people don’t let the boss know when they are going they just take it.

        I am very careful about the time I take. I do not run over my scheduled time. Meanwhile I have teammates (including the one on PIP) who are gone for lunch before I leave my desk and back after I leave my desk. They are taking 70+ minute lunches on the regular, including Severus.

        I am being singled out for what appears to be a ridiculous reason. The point stands that regular 12:30 scheduling is punitive and out of the norm for my office culture.

        Reply
  28. The Tin Man

    This is a fat load of nonsense from Severus, especially given OP’s clarifications in the comments.

    This is definitely one I would love an update on when it happens. Partially because this feels like one of those posts that, when it gets an update, the update is way more dramatic you’d expect from the content of than the original post (i.e. something like “I went to Albus and Severus had a complete meltdown due to his authority being challenged and ended up getting fired/demoted”)

    Reply
  29. Merci Dee

    I don’t suppose there’s a chance that Severus is acting nasty because he was secretly in love with your mother for decades, and will request to look at your eyes one last time before dying from a a horrible attack unleashed by the nearest monster snake/horcrux combo?

    No?

    In that case, I’m going with you being the unfortunate pawn stuck in the middle of nasty bit of office politics. You mentioned that the restructuring was for exactly this reason; it’s apparent that Severus had a problem already with Remus. You were one of Remus’ top performers, from what I gathered from your letter, and you were given some leeway with your gym time because of it. Now Severus has become your manager, and it seems to me like he’s using whatever proxy he can get his hands on in a bid to show up Remus. So I’m not really sure that any of this is about =you=, per se. It’s Severus’ attempt to show that he’s better than Remus (look! he must be, since he has a higher title and all!), and that the people that Remus fostered can’t really be all that great because they can’t live up to Severus’ exacting standards for them.

    Sorry you’re caught in the cross-fire. Hopefully, Albus will have his eye on the way things progress between Remus and Severus, and will keep too much of the blow-back from hitting you. But I have to admit that I’m kind of skeptical about that, because a re-structuring was already put into place that seems to have catered to Severus’ fragile ego and need to manage more people since his title is higher.

    Reply
    1. Minerva

      A lot of what’s in here. I don’t think I fully conveyed how much Remus & Severus dislike each other.

      On one hand Severus is definitely a jerk. On the other this round of jerkiness may be less about me and more about Remus.

      Reply
    1. wendelenn

      Ha, love it! *sees OP running up the stairs after gym, and Ron and Harry going, wait, weren’t you just here?*

      Reply
  30. Scott

    That’s amazing that you have a fully loaded gym inside your company complete with group classes. I am legitimately envious.

    Reply
  31. Still learning to adult

    Where the hell do people like Severus get their training? Planet Sociopath/Psychopath? Deep in the middle of the Bullying Galaxy?

    Inquiring minds want to know, because that place needs to be destroyed…..or at least quarantined.

    OP, thanks for droppping in your latest comment. But I’m thinking now that since Severus sits by you but makes no mention of it otherwise, well, this is all ‘normal behavior’ for him. But I read his method of approaching you as petty & manipulative: ‘Albus has made comments’ Really? This is often a tactic of petty tyrants, passing off their own message as if it came from above. Alison is right about trying to clarify this with Severus, first, and then if her relationship with Albus is genuinely firm, she should ask Albus directly.

    Oh, I hope it works out for you, OP/Minerva. NotReallyKarenWalker, huge kudos to you for blowing up a tyrant’s gameplan & getting him sacked. You’re my hero of this week.

    Reply
    1. Workerbee

      The jaded, Dilbert-y side of me says they don’t get training, they just get promoted quickly as nobody knows how to deal with them. ;)

      Reply
      1. Still learning to adult

        Jaded, Dilbert-y side? Nay, friend, this is the voice of experience. (not wanting to take this too far into a tangent, but one interesting book on such people is “Snakes In Suits” re: the prevalence of amoral/immoral psychopathic manipulators in business, how they get ahead for a while, but eventually leave destuction in their wake). Also, note that Scott Adams once wrote about how to make the perfect workplace. High in the list was LOSE THE ASSHOLES, those who run rough over everybody, but often get a pass because ‘They get the job done’

        Reply
  32. H.C.

    Along the lines of working around Severus’ power play, can you re-schedule your lunch/gym around the 1-on-1 check ins? Even if there’s no classes available, that’s still time for you to exercise independently at the gym.

    Reply
  33. DCompliance

    I am more concerned about the fact that he feels he needs a twice a week status meeting with OP. However, can you label the gym times something else on your calendar? Maybe that is not the upfront way of dealing with things, but I know lots of people who block time on their calendar in un-descript ways.

    Reply
  34. Carrie

    I got a gross feeling from reading this. Severus sounds awful. If I were you, I would start doing some job searching and go to the meetings for at least a couple weeks to see what happens. I have a feeling that he will run out of things to talk about. If he continues to schedule the meetings, then I might talk to Albus (possibly before this you could talk to Severus along the lines of “We have this meeting twice a week, but I’m finding we don’t seem to have enough to talk about. Would you be open to meeting once a week instead?” I think if he agrees to once a week, you might consider accepting that as a compromise as long as it stays at once a week. Otherwise, time for the next step) and frame it as asking for advice on how to handle a situation. Point out that you have a twice a week meeting when you really only have enough for a once a week meeting that is scheduled during what is typically lunch time, and you tried talking to Severus but he wouldn’t consider decreasing to once a week or at least moving the time. And his response may be telling. If Albus is unhelpful, it may be time to step up the job search.

    I might also try to be scrupulous about having your lunch and gym be an hour or less for a while.

    Reply
    1. Carrie

      I’m not totally sure about this, actually, but I think it is worth trying to figure out how to make yourself look as professional and reasonable as possible. Not that you don’t already, but the more reasonable you seem, the harder it will be for Severus to get away with this.

      Reply
  35. Hiring Mgr

    As others have said, the OP can at least suggest holding these meetings at different times. S’s response should give a pretty clear indication whether he’s a petty tyrant or not (my hunch is “yes”). Most normal mgrs would say “of course!”

    Reply
    1. Star Nursery

      The OP has already responded above as Minerva, answering this. The OP did already suggest other times.

      Reply
  36. Colorado

    meeting at lunch 2x a week when he knows you like to work out during that time? I’ll take a lunch meeting if I have to, sure, but reoccurring? C’mon. Unless his schedule is so busy and that’s the ONLY time he has, I’m calling BS. It’s a power play OP and it sucks. Please send us an update.

    Reply
  37. Lady Phoenix

    Ingot distracted by the fact Allisons has moved on from Game of Thrones to Harry Potter names! <3

    Reply
    1. Minerva

      Hah! I used the Harry Potter alias in my original letter :-) Not that I don’t love Alison’s GoT references.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes — the letter writers pick their own aliases; they’re not mine! (With some rare exceptions — I occasionally add or change aliases if it would be confusing otherwise, like if someone names four different people really similar things, or doesn’t use names at all and it’s confusing without them.)

        Reply
        1. Fiennes

          I have to say, I really liked having different names. When every letter uses GoT pseudonyms, they somehow become less memorable. It’s nice to vary it up.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            Yeah, I don’t like the misogyny in GoT so don’t watch it, so I don’t get the references. But I get the Harry Potter ones!

            Reply
  38. sange

    As an immediate measure, I’d suggest just blocking off the time in your calendar as “Unavailable” or “Out.” No one’s business whether you are at the gym kicking it up in a cardio class or sitting in your car listening to a podcast. My department’s assistant gets extremely specific in her calendar (name/address of a doctor she is at, what procedure she might be receiving) and I find that unprofessional and kind of icky.

    beyond that, I agree with Alison! Be incredibly professional, punctual, hard-working, and yes take the dumb meetings with Severus for a few weeks. Document everything. Mention them to Albus if there is a natural way of doing so.

    Reply
  39. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

    Combo of two things above:

    1) Mark the gym entries as private on your calendar. The people that know you already know that that’s normally your gym time, and your boss doesn’t appreciate that it’s visible. So, it shuts up his “it looks inappropriate” objection, because it doesn’t look like anything but a lunch time block.

    2) Give the meetings 2-3 weeks. If he cancels 3+ (or all) of them, revisit the issue with Severus, and if he gives you another answer like you mentioned above (hopefully emailed, because that would be perfect) go to Albus with the documentation and your concerns. Others here are better wordsmiths than I, but something like “Albus, do you have a minute to discuss something? I’m going to send you an email and I want a bit of clarification on how you would like me to proceed.” Then when Albus says yes send the email and tell him about how it seems like Severus specifically wants to keep you from using your lunchtime for these classes. Make sure you emphasize it’s your lunchtime, not any additional time.

    Hopefully at that point Albus reminds Severus of the vow he made for Lilly…. wait, too easy. Hopefully Albus drops the hammer on Sev at that point and reminds him that lunch can be spent on whatever you want and to stop being so petty.

    I’d honestly spend capital on this because your health is pretty important. If this was a standing Doctor’s appointment it’d be no less important for you to go to. Yeah it can “look” weird, but if you didn’t do the class and went running around the campus would he object to that, too? Speaking as a person that’s done the fitness and weight loss thing a couple of times–it is far too easy to get off of my schedule for stuff that doesn’t matter. Hang tough and good luck, Minerva/OP! I’d love to see an update on this.

    The other reason to spend capital–this may be the first feint in a long war that ends up with a bad eval for you. Best to start documentation early in case it gets less petty and more serious. Better to have and not need.

    Reply
    1. Yorick

      It could also help to block off all your lunches in the same manner as your gym days. If it’s a lunch break that’s marked off, it’ll look less like you’re trying to get out of meetings to go to the gym (in his mind, not that it really looks like that)

      Reply
    2. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Oh, I knew I forgot something. When you revisit the issue with Severus, I’d mention that you added the appointments back to your schedule after Albus specifically seemed surprised he might have scheduled over the time you normally used for the gym and assured you it was no issue to schedule it in your calendar. Just in case he missed that conversation or it wasn’t mentioned to him before.

      Reply
      1. Star Nursery

        I agree with this! Very much. I think OP would help this situation to clarify this point with Severus that the reason the gym is blocked off was because Albus’s comments. Otherwise it looks like direct disregard for your boss’s request. Also, what about just not naming the appt as Gym, but putting something more generic? “Lunch appt” “personal appt” (tentative) etc. It’s dumb of course because it’s worked for five years but when you have a new direct boss you sometimes have to change to their preferences.

        Reply
    1. Minerva

      Let’s just say that, if I know Severus, he is likely to take such an article as an attack on his own physique than an attempt to advocate for myself. He is a larger gentleman.

      Reply
        1. Minerva

          This is the reason I made no mention of his weight in the letter. I will not speculate on that particular motivation.

          Reply
      1. Mallory

        Apologies! This was kind of a subtle dig/sarcasm– I really just want YOU to read it. I think it’s awesome that you are prioritizing your health and developing a sustainable routine, and you should be empowered to know that it is *helping* your professional well-being, and there are literally thousands upon thousands of people who agree with your approach. Keep being awesome!

        Reply
  40. Nox

    You know what would be nice – some black panther or other minority led franchise names being used in letters. Would love to see less whiteout along with the auto play ads.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t pick the names in letters; the letter-writers pick their own pseudonyms. (That said, in my new book, where I picked them, I did pay attention to that and made sure they didn’t all sound like white people.)

      Reply
    2. Jules the Third

      But mostly Black Panther didn’t have any huge jerks to use as villains. T’Challa was new, learning to manage, so we could maybe see that sometime; Killmonger had some legitimate gripes, and chose asymmetrical warfare to address them. Very hard to work that into a job related letter.

      Luke Cage has villains, but isn’t widely enough known to be recognized. The Expanse would be great, but again, I don’t think it’s very widely known. (Avaserala is a GOD, I tell you, a GOD.) Walking Dead’s got too few PoC, though I think they do ok with the ones they have (not a show I watch). Star Trek, people use sometimes, TOS, but mostly the white men; I think DS9’s not widely known enough to be useful.

      There’s not a lot of widely known franchises with PoC to choose from, and calling this letter’s Severus ‘Killmonger ‘ or M’Baku’ would have been a *horrible* insult to the Panther characters. Horrible.

      Reply
      1. Minerva (Oyoke)

        I never insult M’Baku or Killmonger in such a fashion! Though I would have been cool with Albus being T’Challa.

        Reply
      2. Alianora

        I kind of like it when the names chosen are closer to values-neutral, though. Reading about Ramsay Bolton predisposes me to root against him, even though the real person in the situation is probably a normal human being.

        Reply
  41. Tata

    My company has a gym as well and offers classes during the lunch time hours. HR policy even states that employees on good standing are allowed to combine a break and lunch to go to gym at least 3 times a week. Please review your HR policies. It is frustrating since using this time is great way to manage work/life stress and to recharge your batteries for the rest of the work day.

    Reply
  42. Delta Delta

    This makes me wonder if Severus is also a jerk about use of other parts of your benefit package. You know, like sick days or PTO. Seems like there could be other problems that rear their heads with this fellow.

    Reply
  43. RB

    Back when the phrase “passive-aggressive” became a commonly used phrase, it was more often associated with women. However, men are just as frequently the culprits.

    My sympathies – this sucks that you work for that kind of a person.

    Reply
  44. Student

    I think you should accept that he’s trying to exert some relatively minor and petty manager power over you, and get over it. He’s your boss now, and your boss doesn’t like seeing gym meetings on your calendar at lunch. Go to the gym when you don’t have conflicting meetings. Figure out a different strategy for getting your regular exercise if needed.

    Regular exercise is important to you. Great! However, you have other options beyond your company’s lunch-time gym classes, even if they are less convenient to you. The question here is, are your regular gym times at the company more important to you than a good working relationship with your current boss? I have a really hard time understanding why you are prioritizing gym over a decent relationship with your boss – in no small part because you’ll likely end up losing both your regular gym class access and damage your relationship with your boss by fighting this. Really, take a step back and think about priorities here. I’m sure you can find a suitable gym-class alternative or supplement.

    If your boss IS a petty tyrant, then welcome to many normal jobs. Lots of us have to deal with dumb directives from bosses that inconvenience us. Still, using your political capital on this gym fight means you will look a bit silly to your superiors for going over Severus’s head / defying him on this minor perk, even if they ultimately help you. It will also burn capital that, if he’s a petty tyrant, you will certainly need later for more career-centric reasons.

    Choose your battles wisely.

    Reply
    1. Aaaaaaanon.

      First it’s lunch-time gym classes, next it’s PTO for doctor’s appointments. A petty tyrant may make an employee have to choose between maintaining a good managerial relationship and taking care of their health. Where do you draw the line with that?

      Reply
      1. Student

        By applying for an internal transfer, promotion, or a new job.

        You can’t assert all the same kind of boundaries and privileges with a direct boss that you would with a tyrannical co-worker. Justice doesn’t pay the bills. They have direct power over you. They can be unfair, unkind, and even ignore company policies and rules, in ways that you cannot. Heck, they can largely get away with violating laws in ways that you cannot. You can try to reason with them, schmooze them, avoid them. You can’t ignore a direct order and expect it to go well for you over the long term. You can’t go over their heads and expect it’s going to go well for you in the long term. It’s going to have a price. You have to decide whether that price is worth paying.

        Sometimes the price is worth paying. If the OP didn’t have any further career aspirations and figured that Severus was likely to move on soon, maybe this kind of perk would be worth fighting hard for and paying a career price for. If OP had a serious medical condition and was being denied regular PTO, as in your example, probably the price of longer-term career success would be worth paying for personal health. For me, the price isn’t worth paying if the boss asks me to break the law, for example, or expects me to tolerate harassment/threats/violence from co-workers – but I go into that knowing that I’ve defied the boss and it means it is time for me to change jobs, even if that is unjust.

        Reply
  45. CatHair

    Ugh. I worked for someone like that once. He basically was mistreating me as a way to get back at a former supervisor of mine who was pushing back on the new management structure. I ended up having to switch jobs because I’m a professional and I don’t intend to be caught up in someone else’s power play. This did work out for me in the end at least.

    Reply
  46. Lisa

    My take: Severus finds it embarassing that his report uses the work calendar to announce to everyone that gym time is all-important-don’t-even-think-of-scheduling-anything (his possible POV – I mean, doesn’t OP know how bad this makes him look?). Severus maybe doesn’t realize that the classes require advance scheduling to guarantee a spot, and that this is the reason it’s on the calendar, as opposed to a self-absorbed-working-out-is-my-life reason. Severus is someone who draws his own conclusions rather than ask a simple question, like why is this on the team calcndar? Maybe OP can start over with Severus by asking him how they can make this work for both of them.

    Reply
  47. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    Dude, really? I just started a job at a place with a big campus, with a yoga room and shuttles to a gym over the lunch time. They really tell people to use it! My understanding is it actually reduces ergonomic and eye problems from constant computer work, to exercise. Think long term, Severus!

    Reply
  48. Veronica

    Apologies if this has been mentioned, but would it be possible to block the time in your schedule, but simply not call it ‘gym’? Call it ‘lunch – can move if needed’? Would that offend Severus less and assure him that you do in fact bend the knee to his campaign of exercise-based tyranny?

    Reply
  49. Princess Cimorene

    I’m so curious about this letter and how it ends up playing out. I really hope LW updates us down the line

    Reply
  50. Sarah

    I think he is going over the edge and has a real issue with you that you should not disregard, but I think you are also taking advantage of the gym opportunity. We have a gym at work and I do the classes 2-3 times a week but on those days I bring a shake for lunch to eat at my desk. I cant imagine in my job me scheduling 1.5 hours in the middle of the day for the gym everyday, I would feel like I was taking advantage of my co-workers because we all know that some days that would be 2 full hours because of one issue or another. I can see how having someone that has 1.5 hours every day of their schedule off limits being irritating. The gym is great but if you need 1.5 -2 hours for it you need to find a way before or after your work schedule.

    Reply
    1. Minerva

      You have misread. My original letter even states that I am away from my desk 75 minutes max. At no time have I stated that I am taking 90 minutes to 2 hours for lunch/gym.

      I complete my gym time (walk over, class, shower, return) within a standard 60 minute lunch hour every day except Wed when it tends to have an extra 10-15 minute because the class is held outside. I then eat lunch at my desk while working. If I have a meeting immediately after my return I wait until I am back at my desk to eat. The time I spend at lunch/gym is not the issue and never has been.

      Reply
      1. Sarah

        I’m sorry I don’t buy that you have never had an issue using the dryer or got caught up afterwards, it happens and and hour and 15 minutes really is and hour and a half.

        Reply
        1. Minerva

          For 7 years I have been able to make any and all meetings scheduled around the times I block off for the gym, on time so without running late. I’m actually very anal retentive about being on time. If you want to assume that I’m fibbing I don’t know what else to tell you.

          Reply
        2. MeowThai

          It’s kind of awful the way you are sticking to this distrust of Minerva. She’s said on multiple occasions that in 7 years of working at this company, she’s never had an issue with keeping her obligations or managing her time.

          Part of the commenting rules is that we’re meant to take the OP at their word, and you’re not doing that at all. “A subset of [the first] rule: Give letter-writers and fellow commenters the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to a negative interpretation of someone’s comment or situation; instead, assume good faith on the part of others, including people whose opinions differ from your own.”

          Reply
  51. Minerva

    There is a minor update today…it appears that Remus is a reader of this blog and recognized the situation (hi Remus!) He knows I am writing this update. As with many situations, the surface problem was not the real problem.

    Remus actually apologized to me today. Apparently he and Severus are having a tiff and I seem to have gotten caught in the middle. One point of clarification that I did get…

    Albus did make an off hand comment a a few months ago in a manager meeting that it was difficult to schedule around lunch. With that knowledge, and giving Severus the benefit of the doubt, he may have had good intentions on the first “Albus said…”

    I take full responsibility for not checking with Severus before starting to schedule again, I should have. Unfortunately that action may have made it look like I was “taking sides.”

    So now it seems to be less about the gym/scheduling and more about management tug of war.

    I have asked Remus not to be involved any further in this situation, and right now I am trying to come up with the best way to approach Severus to see if he and I can come to an understanding. I’m still waiting to see what happens during the 1:1. I’m thinking a direct approach may be best.

    Reply
    1. SpaceNovice

      Thanks for the update! (Also, hi, Remus!)

      You can definitely hunker down–but be aware that Albus may quickly notice that Severus has scheduled a meeting twice a week on your usual gym time and may come to you asking about that. If it’s possible he had good intentions, you might be able to talk some sense into Severus. Not sure exactly how to approach him, but maybe apologize for putting the gym schedules back on without asking first but that Albus did prefer they were on, knowing he could always schedule over them if necessary? You having a standardized schedule is easier for everyone involved. (… Probably don’t mention Remus. In fact, make sure you have a way to avoid that when you say how it came up.)

      Reply
  52. ThisIsRemus

    I am leaving “M” to deal with “Severus” on her own, per her wishes but just to back up her points-
    *She is not asking for special treatment in the use of the gym.
    *60-90 minute lunches are not unusual in our office. To characterize what she is asking for as “entitled” is wrong headed and mean spirited. I am proud of our organization’s ability to retain talent by trusting them the manage their time.
    *”Albus” and I have always appreciated “M’s” transparency and flexibility. In the 4 years I managed her she has never treated her lunch time, her own time mind you, as more important than business needs. She is annoyingly punctual.
    She’s not perfect (no big heads M), but she’s a damn fine employee. My head to head with Severus should never have impacted her like this.

    Reply
  53. willow

    Does your company have a boldly stated “wellness plan” Can you somehow use that to your advantage? Like, not being able to work out and possibly putting pounds back on is stressful to you, and therefore detrimental to your wellness?

    Reply
  54. Rocky

    I’m delighted that ‘Remus’ chimed in. And what’s with the tone of people doubting the OP? It seems to be happening more and more in the comments section here. I’ve never gone wrong with assuming the best about people, and why would someone write in to a blog like this just to tell fibs?

    Reply
    1. Rectilinear Propagation

      It’s an unfortunate side effect of the blog becoming more popular, especially with the book promotion Alison is doing lately. Bringing in more people means that some of those people are going to have bad commenting habits like questioning the OP’s perception (either as a rule or just because it doesn’t match their own personal experience).

      Reply

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