mini answer Monday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s mini answer Monday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Where can I eat lunch other than at my desk?

I work in a very small and friendly company, and at lunch time most of us tend to eat at our desk, though we also take the time to go meet friends, go to the gym, shopping, etc. and generally get out of the office. I like to bring my own food with me, as it is cheaper and healthier, but I’m sick of sitting at my desk all the time. I would like to get out of the office and sit somewhere else to eat my home-packed food. Over the summer, I will go and sit outside, but in the winter weather I have no where to go unless I buy food at a sit-in cafe, which I can’t afford to do. Are there places that will let you take your own food? Like public indoor spaces, coffee shops or similar? We don’t have a lunch room or anything like that, just a small kitchen. Have you or anyone else found a good indoor alternative for desk eating?

Places that sell food — like coffee shops — generally won’t let you bring your own food in. Your best bet would be some kind of indoor public space (like a mall or something similar), but lots of offices aren’t located anywhere like that. If yours isn’t, you might be stuck with your desk.

2. Is this director earning too much?

I recently joined the board of a countywide nonprofit that relies on donations from the community for all of its funding. The director is a hardworking, knowledgeable, fiscally responsible woman whom I respect as a person and like as a friend. However, I recently learned her salary, which comes out to about 10 percent of the organization’s total money raised and is $30,000 more than the median income in the county.

Should I be concerned that her salary is too high? I don’t want to make waves if I’m out of line, but I haven’t been able to shake the bad feeling I’ve had in the pit of my stomach since that meeting. She’s always talking about how money is tight. But coming from the perspective of making $10,000 less than the county’s median income while working a 50-60 hour a week salaried job at a for-profit company, I guess I have a hard time buying that.

Well, someone responsible for running an organization should be making more than the average income — because the average person doesn’t have a job with that level of responsibility, and it makes sense that people who do are compensated more than people don’t.  (And the median income in the United States is $41,560. $30,000 more than that is $71,560 — not an especially high salary for the head of an organization, and one that would be considered low in many contexts, even nonprofits.)

Now, there are certainly tiny nonprofits that pay significantly below market rate because that’s all they can afford. But there are plenty of nonprofits that believe in competitive salaries because that’s usually how you attract talent — and having a great performer in a top job is the difference between accomplishing a lot and accomplishing very little. (Frankly, you might be underpaying, not over-paying.) But I’d look at what the director is achieving — what level is she performing at? Is she setting ambitious goals and achieving them? Is she bringing value to the organization that’s equivalent or more than the salary you’re paying her? If so, be glad that you have an effective director at a fairly low salary. If she’s not, then you need to address that as a performance issue. But the salary doesn’t sound like a problem here. You need to pay competitive salaries in order to attract fantastic people.

3. Is my husband’s employer setting traps to catch him job-hunting?

My husband is a very impulsive person — even at work. Things are not going well for him in his office right now (bad colleagues and politics by supervisors are making him more and more frustrated, and he has lost his temper at work a few times) and we both feel that he needs to look for a new job. Since his office is a small one, he is afraid that his company may get to know that he is looking for another job and may fire him immediately. So he is looking out for jobs through contacts. He is constantly scared that his current employer may ruin the future job prospects for him. Can this happen? Can a company influence another company to hire a person or not?

I keep telling my husband that this is not possible, but he is so low in confidence right now, and doesn’t believe anything. He is suspicious about every opportunity that comes his way, and keeps suspecting that the interview calls could be a trap set up by his current employer. But the interviews are coming from genuine companies; I googled these companies and they do exist. Maybe it is a small world and his current employer may know about these firms, but in what ways will it affect my husband?

It’s certainly possible that if your husband applies for a job with someone who knows his current manager, that person may give his boss a heads-up. But it’s very unlikely — most people doing hiring understand that they need to handle applications with discretion, and it would be pretty rare for someone to call up his boss and say, “Hey, Bob Smith is looking to leave.” Not impossible, but rare.

Your husband can minimize even the small chance of this happening by including a note in his cover letter requesting that his application be treated confidentially.

As for the possibility of traps being set up by his current employer, that’s so unlikely that’s it’s not even worth him worrying about, unless he’s working for North Korea or something like that.

4. Should I tell my father of my resignation before I tell my boss?

I work at a small distribution company comprised of about 50 employees. I have been with the company for 6 years and am responsible for operation of the computers systems, hardware and phone systems. I feel my position is critical to the company as I am the only person in the IT Department. My father is president of the company, but I do not report directly to him. I report to the Director of Administration, who reports to the president. I have been interviewing for a job at another company, which is not a competitor. If I am provided a job opportunity to work for this company, I will most likely accept the position, which will enhance my career experience and salary.

If I do, do I speak with my father the night before I meet with my manager to give him a heads-up of my intentions, or should I just speak with my manager first and then she will inform my father? Outside of the office, I have a good relationship with my father and we are very good about keeping personal and business matters separate when we are in and outside of the office. I am sure he would want the best for me and my family, as I do not have many options for career advancement in my current position. What would be the most appropriate way to submit my resignation?

Either way is fine. You can give your dad a heads-up first if you want, and ask that he keep it to himself until you’ve had a chance to tell your manager, or you can go to your manager first. I’d base your decision on what you know of your father — if he’s likely to be surprised if you don’t tell him first, then do.

5. How can I explain to prospective employers why I’m leaving my job?

I work for a small healthcare company that for 5 years I have loved. I truly believed at one time that I was going to walk out the door in 20-25 years, when the doctor retired. We have talked about that many times and we have formed a very close personal relationship, as well as a working relationship. But the past year, she has become more and more unhappy with her career choices and this has lead to nothing but bad moods at the office. Because I am the manager, I often hear from other employees about how bad the day was because she was in a bad mood. Even rare days that she is in a good mood, it is nothing to set her off into a bad mood and take it out on everyone. I have lived with this for a year, because I truly enjoy the type of work I do. I have talked to her about it and it hasn’t changed. I can no longer take the negativity day end and day out. It is wearing on me and my personal life. I want to look for another job, but not quite sure what to tell the potential employer why I am leaving.

You’ve been there five years, so people aren’t going to question it if you say that you’ve mastered the challenges of your current position and are eager to take on something new. Most hiring managers understand that the real answer may be “I’m sick of my negative boss,” but this is a more appropriate response — and again, since you’ve been there five years, no one is going to question it. If you were leaving after one year, you’d be in a tougher spot. Like this next letter-writer:

6. How can I explain to prospective employers why I’m leaving after only a year?

I accepted a new job in the spring of 2012, and while I like the actual work, I feel it’s time for me to find something else. The department atmosphere is not happy, the managers suck, transfers within the company have been severely restricted, and after getting in and doing the job I realize I’m underpaid. Not just for the tasks of this specific job, but also because I’m a high performer who does more than others who have been in the job for years. My raise for 2013 was less than half a percentage point, and my company does not do merit raises so asking for more money based on performance is not an option. And even if it was and I did get a good merit raise, the lack of promotion opportunities and department dysfunction outweighs any possible benefit of getting paid more.

All these issues have been factors in six coworkers leaving since I’ve started, and I feel like I need to do the same. My question is how to address such a short time at my current job when applying for other positions? I feel it must be addressed in some way but am at a loss on how to specifically do that and still be respectful of my current company while not appearing flaky. Do potential employers think that leaving a job before you’ve been there a year means you don’t know what you want or didn’t do proper diligence to make sure you and the job and/or company were a good fit before accepting the job?

Yep, they generally wonder what’s up. That doesn’t mean you can’t pull it off though — you just need to be prepared for questions about why you’re leaving so soon. I wouldn’t say that you’re leaving because there’s no opportunity for advancement, because people will wonder why you’re so antsy for that after only a year. And I wouldn’t blame it being underpaid, because they’ll wonder why you accepted the job at that salary if that’s the case (which is a legitimate question). It’s ideal if you can blame it on the working not turning out to be what you thought it would be, or the company undergoing changes that will affect your job, or something along those lines.

7. What does this mean?

I’m confused. I applied for a job and didn’t hear anything for about two weeks, so I sent a follow-up email. The executive director emailed me back and asked me to resend my resume, which I did. Then I was contacted about relocating. When I informed them that I was moving in a week, they told me to contact them as soon as I made it to town. What does all of this mean? I’m a recent grad, so I don’t want to think I have a job and I don’t but I’m not sure where I’m at with this company.

It means that they’d rather talk to you once you’re local, because dealing with out-of-town candidates can be a hassle, and it’s a hassle that employers especially don’t want to deal with for entry-level positions. And yes, definitely don’t assume that you have a job or even an interview. Just contact them when you’ve relocated and tell them that you’d love to talk if they think you’d be a good fit for the job.

{ 75 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon*

    It looks like #2 is saying that the director is making $30,000 over the median salary, and 10% of the organization’s money raised. Still pretty low, IMHO, but a lot more than stated.

      1. Brett*

        It sounds like this organization has a “total raised” of 700-800k or so (assuming 40-50k median salary), which doesn’t seem like a very big budget for a county-wide nonprofit. I’m not knowledgable about the non-profit worlds finances, but I wonder if there is money that the OP is not aware of? Grants, government funding, etc, beyond the funding from the direct community?

        In any case, the budget of the non-profit can only affect the salaries of the employees so much. Committed people may take less than market rate, but 70-80k for a director seems like a modest salary.

    1. fposte*

      I also thought it was median salary in the county and not the country, so that might be very different from the national median.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Could definitely be — but I’d still say that $30k over the median isn’t outrageous for someone leading an organization; I’d expect it to be at least that much.

        1. Jamie*

          I would expect it to be also.

          $30 K over median in my county is $65,994.

          For someone to accept a director’s position at that level they must really believe in that cause…and even then I’d be nervous about needing to replace a director each year as they moved on.

          Of course the OP’s county could have a much higher median salary than mine – but 30K over median sounds low end of scale (at best) to me.

          1. Natalie*

            And if the median income in the OP’s county is significantly higher than the national median, the cost of living is presumably equally high (if not even higher).

            1. fposte*

              Right, and $30k won’t make nearly as much difference. And if the median is low, that’s quite likely to be due to the kinds of disadvantage that such a nonprofit is trying to eradicate, so the disparity between somebody running a foundation and the public will be logically greater.

              So I don’t think it changes the overall implication either; I just figured that since people were drawing on actual numbers based on “country” we shouldn’t get too invested in them.

          2. Dan*

            I live in one of the most expensive counties in the nation, and I make $25k under median income. But if an ED for a nonprofit was making 30% higher than median, I wouldn’t begrudge them for making $130k!

            Median is just that. I’m in my early 30’s and just a few years out of school. I can’t expect to make the median income. I would hope that an ED of a high performing nonprofit is making multiples of the median income.

            The crazy thing is my salary is more than double the median in your county. If I made $25k below median where you are, I’d be making $10k/yr.

  2. Ashley*

    #1: I’ve actually found that most coffee shops (from Starbucks to local places) will allow outside food. I’ve never had an issue bringing in my lunch to these types of places. Some grocery stores will also have tables and chairs set-up where you can eat. I prefer coffee shops just because the atmosphere is better, but I’ve done the grocery store thing in a pinch.

    1. Lore*

      Also, a lot of bars that don’t serve food are quite happy to have you bring in food; obviously you’re not going to be drinking pints of beer with lunch, but if you’re willing to order a coffee or a soda, you might be okay.

    2. KellyK*

      That’s good to know. A lot of grocery stores definitely have that set-up, but I assumed it was for food bought there.

      For either, it’s probably better to go in or call the place *outside* your lunch break and ask if people are allowed to eat outside food there, as long as they buy something. I’d hate to waste my lunchbreak getting kicked out of Starbucks!

      1. Jamie*

        Calling is a good idea. Even for the grocery store I would always assume it was for food bought there unless it was confirmed otherwise.

    3. Victoria HR*

      Here, the local Panera says that anyone can stay and use their wifi or whatnot, but if you’re there just hanging out during the typical breakfast (0630 – 0800 am) and lunch rush (11 am to 1 pm, thereabouts) you will be asked to buy something or leave.

    4. Kelly O*

      If you’re near a mall, you can usually bring your own lunch there. I see people doing that at the mall near my office. Also, hospitals sometimes have a seating area be a the cafeteria you could use. Th other plus Sid of both of this is this you can get a little walk in.

      Oh, and schools – colleges specifically – will have places you can duck into.

  3. Worker Bee*

    If you are friends with some of your coworkers and/or some of your coworkers bring their own food too, why not just sit in their office/at their desk with them and then rotating every now and then. You would get out off your office/ away from your desk. This is what we used to do in our office.

  4. PPK*

    # 2 Are there any “public” spaces in the office? A conference room not used at lunch time? Some seats by some windows somewhere?

    One of our coffee shops has a sign that specifically says, “No outside food” so it definitely depends on the place. If you bring a car to work, there’s that option, but probably not great either in the dead of winter. Is there a mall nearby? A sky way with any public places? Could you take a walk at lunch while still eating at your desk (don’t know what the internal or external walking options are).

    Could you do something different when you eat in your office. Is your office big enough for an extra chair? So you could sit/face a different way? I know it sounds silly but even a small physical change could give you the mindset of “not working, eating lunch now.”

    1. Tania*

      We do have one conference room but it is usually in use so not really an option. I currently try to take a walk and then just sit at my desk to eat, but I find it difficult to really relax and not think about work. I get a lot of calls and colleagues will still come and talk to me about work, they will usually come back if they see I am eating but not always.

      I don’t drive to work so car option is out. We are in the centre of London so I’m sure there are some options around I’m just not sure what they are at the moment.

      1. Ash*

        This sounds like it could also be an issue with boundaries. Don’t answer your phone if you are at lunch. If a co-worker comes in to talk and won’t leave even after noticing you’re on lunch, ask them to come back in X minutes, or say you will stop by their desk at [time]. I had to do that at a previous position, and while it took a few weeks of repeatedly saying, “I am at lunch and will get back to you when I am done” in various ways, it did work.

        1. Jamie*

          This does really work – just don’t give up too soon. Like Ash said, a couple of weeks and they’ll learn that if you have a salad or burger on your to send an email or come back later.

        2. jmkenrick*

          At my old job, (there were only four of us in the office) sometimes peopel would e-mail “taking lunch at my desk; pretend I’m out of the office for an hour”. This way no one knocked at their door, and I knew not to transfer them calls.

          E-mail woudl be weird in a larger office, but the poitn is that setting boundries is totally reasonable.

        3. class factotum*

          Unless someone is being paid by the hour and has clocked out for lunch, I would be slightly annoyed at being told she couldn’t talk to me just now because she was at lunch. I wouldn’t go out of my way to bother her during lunch, but sometimes, it’s hard to get to people or things come up that need quick answers.

          1. Jamie*

            Hard to believe I’m the one saying this – since I’m not a big lunch taker – but it’s not unreasonable to allow people to eat uninterrupted. Or if not eat, take a break.

            Study after study has shown that it helps to recharge and keep people focused and interrupted breaks don’t have the same power to reboot as a solid hour or even half hour.

            Like a solid 8 hours of sleep is better than 10 hours if you’re waking up every 45 minutes.

            Not to say if I was eating lunch I’d ignore a production bottle neck or something urgent – I’m not unreasonable. But for things that would easily wait if someone was out of the office I’m certainly happy to wait until they are done with lunch even if eating in the office.

            1. BW*

              ^^This. It’s not unreasonable to take a break and expect to be able to take it without having to work especially when your job allows you a break as part of your work day, even if you are on salary. It’s kind of rude to intrude on someone’s break or lunch with non-urgent work requests even if they are sitting at their desk.

              I’ve gotten this a lot when I’ve eat at my desk, and sometimes by the time your finished talking to someone your lunch is cold and you never really got your break.

              If there’s some emergency, that’s one thing, but if it’s not something you would interrupt your co-worker if they were taking lunch in the cafeteria or some other break-type area or eatery, don’t interrupt them at their desk. If you do interrupt someone during a desk lunch because you didn’t realize they were on break, just say you’ll talk to them later or ask them to come by or call when they’re done with lunch and move on. It’s no different than when telemarketers call during dinner and want to keep you one the phone. Don’t be rude.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            If it’s not urgent, I do think people should be left alone to take a real lunch break if they want to. Sometimes you really do need to clear your mind, and if they have the right to leave the office for a half-hour lunch but choose to take it at their desk instead, I’d say we should respect that break as much as we would if they’d left the office. (So if you wouldn’t call their cell if they were eating outside, let them eat in peace inside too.)

          3. Ash*

            In this case the OP says it’s a small office. Even if it wasn’t, there is nothing wrong with leaving a note or e-mailing someone if you need something if they are busy/aren’t there. Forcing someone to work, even for a moment, while on their break just screams “My time is more important than yours and you are at my beck and call” to me.

        4. PPK*

          I was thinking you just needed a change of pace for yourself for lunch, not also the “removed from coworkers” angle.

          When I eat at my desk, I assume I am working first, eating second. However, I have several options, including sitting in my car if I need a complete lunch break. Often I will run an errand at lunch time and bring food back to eat at my desk (which is quite common in my work area)…so that’s a big difference.

      2. Kate in Scotland*

        If you are really central, big museums can be a good place to eat lunch. I’ve often eaten lunch in the central hall of the National Museum of Scotland.

        1. Jamie*

          I’m jealous – I’ve been to the one in Edinburgh…I’d never want to go back to work after lunch!

      3. AP*

        Hey, I don’t know what you’re near, but in NYC one of the best-kept Midtown secrets is that you can buy a MoMA membership for $75/year and then eat at the MoMA every day in their sculpture garden or other food-friendly spaces. Maybe there’s something like that near you?

      4. Vicki*

        If you’re in the center of London, are there any small parks nearby? Even just park benches? Or bring a sandwich that you can eat as you stroll?

      5. UK HR Bod*

        Tania, there are lots of places, depending where in central London you are. Even the mainline stations are a bit warmer than outside, and have seating. Not exactly the best environment, but most of them have reasonable shops as well (London Bridge aside). Not sure about the museums, as catering income is pretty important to tourist / heritage sites (they have had a really tough year, so even more so at the moment), but it’s worth checking if you’re near West Ken especially. There are also plenty of shopping centres – again, depends where you are, but most of them have some benches. When the weather picks up, the parks are lovely, and many areas have smaller gardens (pick up a tourist-type guide, some of them have wonderful history). Southbank’s also great once you get past the packed tourist bit at the Eye – London is so different from the river. It is also worth looking at the cafes – everywhere I’ve worked in London, if you nose around, there are a couple of little independent cafes that are actually really cheap (and healthy-ish if you pick the right thing). If you’re in SW1 I can direct you to one or two! I’ve never known any that let you bring your own though.

  5. fposte*

    I know it won’t help the OP who’s in the center of London, but mall food courts and sitting areas can be useful BYO places if your work is near them.

  6. Sasha*

    #1 – I’ve eaten lunch in my car before. Not the greatest but at least it gets me away from my desk, and it’s quiet, and I can listen to my radio/ipod through the speakers without disturbing anyone. I have also taken lunch-break naps in the car. What is your office place like, OP? I’ve worked at a couple of universities so sometimes I will just go to another building on campus to eat. At the nonprofit I worked at during college, the building was large and had several floors, so I would sometimes go sit in an empty office (with permission of the department, most people were nice about it), or sit in the breeze way.

    1. Tania*

      We are one small open plan office with 2 private offices, one conference room and a tiny kitchen. All our walls are glass so even when the conference room is free I feel slightly antisocial sitting in there, we do sometimes have group lunches in there but most of us have very different schedules so it doesn’t happen often.

  7. LA*

    I just experienced a similar situation to #4. When you’re considering who you’re going to tell first, take into account how your father would feel hearing the news from anyone other than yourself. I recently worked at the same company as one of my aunt’s and felt like I needed to resign to my boss first and foremost so I kept quiet around my aunt until I finally pulled the plug and gave my two weeks. I thought I would be able to catch my aunt just after telling my boss but he managed to get to her before I did and just said something like “oh, so she’s leaving, huh?” My aunt was blindsided. She had no idea and she was hurt that I hadn’t trusted her enough to tell her and think she’d keep it quiet – when in reality, I trusted her implicitly, I just thought it’d be more prudent to resign to my boss first.

    I say tell your father before you tell your boss. He’s your Dad, he’ll be around a lot longer than your former boss will.

      1. Anonymous*

        Wow, that’s harsh! I’d give the boss the benefit of the doubt and assume it came up casually (“Oh hey Jane, so your niece is leaving, huh?”). The boss probably assumed that the aunt already knew.

  8. SpinDoc5*

    #1, I had the same setup at a previous job and started eating in my car for privacy. In the winter I’d turn it on for heat and keep it parked, but I liked it because I could listen to the radio or make personal calls and just be in my own space. The only setback is that it isn’t the best when you bring something that requires heating, but its ideal for days you bring sandwiches. Good luck!

  9. KayDay*

    #1: Desk = Cafeteria? Hate to say it, but as someone who’s spent her entire career at places without a nice break room, you’re probably stuck at your desk. Some places might allow you to use the conference room to eat, but ask first and be sure to be very clean and don’t eat anything too stinky in there.

    #2: It’s a non-profit not a monastery: You’re using the wrong metrics to assess the Director’s salary. BTW, is this the Executive Director (aka CEO, president, or Big Boss) or a program/division Director? I’m assuming it’s the ED, so correct me if I’m wrong.

    “[her salary is] 10 percent of the organization’s total money raised”

    if there are only a few employees and she does a lot of the work, this would be logical.

    “$30,000 more than the median income in the county.”

    If this Director is running the organization, of course she should have a higher than average salary! The average person isn’t running an organization.

    But coming from the perspective of making $10,000 less than the county’s median income while working a 50-60 hour a week salaried job at a for-profit company

    You never say what your role is. Are you running a business? Are you the only person with your responsibilities, or are their other people you can count on? Not knowing what you do, there is no way to assume that the Director’s salary shouldn’t be higher than yours.

    I’m sorry to come across as snarky, but your Director’s salary isn’t too high just because it’s a decent salary. You/the board need to order a real compensation survey for non-profits –ideally this survey will break down the salaries by both location and size of the organization. In order to get a good survey, the board should considering buying a high quality survey (occasionally corporate funders and/or the employers of board members will be willing to purchase these surveys as an in-kind donation).

    A more time-consuming way to do a salary survey is to get the 990s for a few similar organizations and look at the top salaries. The advantage of this is that you can make sure you are getting info about very similar organizations, the downside is that you will get a less complete picture than with a broader survey.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Agree with all of this. One thing I’d add re: looking at 990s is to make sure that you’re looking at orgs who are performing at a similar level as yours. If your organization kicks ass, you don’t want to compare ED salaries with orgs that accomplish little. There are lots of small nonprofits that don’t accomplish very much and pay very little (in part because their low accomplishments mean they can’t raise much money). If your ED is achieving a lot, make sure you compare her salaries with EDs who are truly peers in that regard.

  10. Karl Sakas*

    #2 Regarding the executive director’s salary — as a former 501(c)(3) board member, thanks for caring enough to think about this! From the info here, I don’t get the impression that your ED is necessarily being overpaid, but you can do some background research on to get a better idea. You can sign up for a free account here:

    GuideStar has PDF copies of past years’ tax returns (the IRS Form 990), which include executive compensation along with overall revenues and fundraising/granting info. There’s a bit of a lag between submission to the IRS and GuideStar scanning, so if you want the latest year’s tax return, you may need to contact the organization’s accountant for a copy.

    Once you’ve review your organization’s info, do a similar search on GuideStar for peer organizations in your county. After comparing 3-5 other organizations, you’ll probably have a pretty good idea whether your ED’s pay is above (or below) market. Good luck!

  11. Elizabeth West*

    Re desk eating:
    At Exjob we had a break room and a conference room. I would take lunch after the shop people and sit in there with my laptop and headphones on (writing) and people STILL came up and bothered me. They would even stick their heads in the conference room when I went in there. I second the poster who said don’t do work stuff while you’re eating. Tell them nicely that you’re at lunch and will get back to them. They’ll get the hint eventually.

    Make sure you put a napkin or placemat or something over your desk and give it a wipe every now and then. I’ve read where most office desks are germier than a toilet! Not the ideal eating place.

    1. Jamie*

      I break out the toilet analogy all the time – but fwiw that’s for communal keyboards.

      I look at my own keyboard the way I looked at my kids’ runny noses when they were little…as way less gross because they are mine.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, but most people don’t clean their desks that often either. God only knows what Susan in Purchasing touched before she dropped those TPS reports on your desk…and there’s that rumor she never washes her hands in the bathroom too….shhhh…you didn’t hear that from me….

  12. Stella*

    For #2, there are non-profit salary surveys available. These are a good guide to where your director falls salary-wise. But even if she is making more than average, the Board knows that and must have thought she was worth it.

  13. Jamie*

    When it comes to salary it’s shortsighted to only worry about what you can save today without taking into account the high cost of turnover.

    If you pay people appropriately you increase the odds that they will stick around for a while. If people are significantly under market they will jump, it’s a question of when, and it’s never a good time to lose a key person. The cost of turnover is higher the higher the position and longer the learning curve – it can be up to 4x the annual salary plus lowered productivity while the new person gets acclimated.

    I would think a non-profit would want to make sure people were being paid fairly, in part to try to insulate themselves from turnover as best they can.

    1. CatB (Europe)*

      I ran once into a set of statistical data showing that replacing a person costs the organization anywhere between 6 monthly gross salaries (as in “all cost incurred by a company when paying a monthly wage”) and 36 monthly gross salaries, depending on industry and decision level. These figures included all costs, direct and indirect. If I can find the relevant link I will post it.

  14. Kat*

    #7: Thanks for answering my question. I think I was mostly confused because everything that I know about this organization is that they rely mostly on phone interviews and rarely call anyone in, so I was initially excited but now I’m on the fence.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    LW #3 –
    I feel like you might have bigger problems than your husband’s job hunt. His behavior and thought patterns don’t seem entirely appropriate – you admit that he’s very impulsive and has lost his temper a few times at his job, and now he’s being extremely paranoid about the job hunt process and how his current employer might be trying to sabotague him.

    Forgive me if I’m out of bounds here, but I wonder if maybe he should talk to a professional for an assessment. These don’t sound like the behaviors/thought patterns of a healthy mind.

    1. Andrea*

      That was my first thought, too, OP 3. A thorough checkup (mind & body) sounds like it’s in order. It’s a good idea, anyway, if your insurance might change (and you might even have a gap in between, so now is the ideal time to get it done).

    2. Anne*

      I thought that too. It sounds pretty paranoid, to me. It might not be too weird to think “ugh, I bet my boss would get me on a trap phone-interview, what a tool” once in a while in your most cynical moments, but regularly? That would worry me.

      1. Jamie*

        It would worry me, too. Besides, if he wasn’t fired on the spot for losing his temper at work they probably aren’t out to get him.

        Besides, usually when someone becomes difficult at work to the point of losing their temper, tptb often encourage looking elsewhere…they don’t try to prevent it. YMMV though.

    3. Mike C.*

      I dunno, I’ve worked for crazy people before, and this sort of thing wouldn’t surprise me too much. It’s not common, but business owners come in all shapes and sizes – I’ve seen some make some incredibly bad business decisions simply out of spite.

      1. Ash*

        Yeah but couple the paranoia with the temper issue and the impulsiveness, and you could have at best someone who can’t handle their emotions in a mature manner, and at worst someone with an untreated and/or undiagnosed mental illness. Either way it wouldn’t hurt the OP’s husband to talk to a neutral third-party mental health professional of some kind.

  16. PEBCAK*

    #3 If your husband is losing his temper and such at work, I would bet that his boss would do everything in her power to help him find a new job. Rather than throwing obstacles in his way, she probably wants him out.

  17. BCW*

    Am I the only one with a problem with question #2. Really why is it any of your business what someone above you makes? And saying you don’t feel right? It doesn’t matter. Imagine if one of your subordinates, or even just someone lower on the org chart, decided to bring up that they think you make too much money. Really, where do you get off making that type of judgment call? This is another example of mind your own business.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, the OP in the question is on the board, and the board is the director’s boss. So she’s above the director in the chain of command, not below.

      1. BCW*

        That is true. But I still feel though the board approved the salary in the first place. So assuming she came on later, I don’t think its really good to question it after the fact. I mean what does she want to do cut the salary of someone she admitted does good work?

        1. KayDay*

          Plenty of boards get lazy when it comes to things like salary reviews, so it’s good that the OP is interested. There’s no guarantee that the board reviewed her salary thoroughly (and could lead to both under- and over-payment). It is very much a part of her job as board member. While I disagree with the OP’s reasoning, it’s actually good to hear that a new board member is actually interested in their fiduciary/administrative oversight responsibilities….so many aren’t =\

      2. Anonymous*

        It’s possible everyone one the board needs some training in the nuts and bolts of non-profit compensation/budgets. What’s the percentage of administrative costs? (do not include programming) What’s the gap between the highest paid and second highest paid employees? (and then look at the gap between responsibilities/positions) This salary doesn’t seem out of line at all based on the information provided. Now, your salary might be wrong, but that’s a whole other ball of wax!

    2. Jamie*

      I know less than nothing about non-profits but isn’t it part of the boards responsibility to make sure resources are being wisely allocated?

      To that end there is nothing wrong with verifying the validity of large expenditures.

  18. Heather*

    Re #1 we don’t have a lunch room either. I eat lunch at my desk and ten take my lunch hour out of office. I spend a lot of time in my car reading (or knitting). You can bring your own food into a food court and eat it but I find them too loud. So I either run errands on my lunch hour or sit in my car and read. At least in my car it is quiet. I have an office at work it I go for lunch from 1-2 and I don’t like shutting my door when it’s technically regular hours.

    And yes I sit in my car even in the winter and the summer. I don’t sit in at my place of work tho. I drive to a small mall that’s about 5 minutes away.

  19. OP #2*

    Thanks a lot for all of your help and comments! I feel much better now about being OK with her salary in good conscience.

  20. Neeta*

    #6: I think it depends on the industry. I work in IT, where a year’s stint is actually considered quite “decent”.

    I remember when I quit my first job, and ex-colleague asked how much I’ve been there. When he found out it was three years, he was genuinely surprised I didn’t “rabbit away” sooner…

    Then, shortly after getting hired again, I get a call about a job. As I had been working less than 3 months at said company, I tried to politely refuse. The person offering was genuinely taken-aback: “Why do you want to stay? *looks at online resume* Oh, I see you’re just starting out. But are you sure you don’t want to leave?”.

    Then again, on the other side of the specter are people like my aunt, who was asked “Are you loyal to the company you work for?” and her resume clearly showed that she had been working at her current work place for 20 years…

    1. Jamie*

      Are you in management? I agree that for the beginning of one’s career a couple of one year stints are fine in IT – because you can learn a LOT by moving around and working with different architecture. (I am assuming network/system admin work – correct me if I’m wrong.)

      But an IT manager or above who is moving each year is a lot more suspicious. Because at that level you shouldn’t be maxing out your opportunities to learn in 12 months and you aren’t there long enough to see your projects come to fruition in most cases.

      Anyone can start a project – but if you aren’t still there for implementation and go-live it will raise more than one eyebrow.

      1. Neeta*

        No, I’m a webdeveloper.
        Yeah, managers generally stay at a company 5+ years or so… or well, those I’ve encountered do.

        Sorry about the confusion, I was mainly referring to QA and Devs. Sysadmins have a slightly lower turnover rate… but they change pretty often too.

        I remember I once asked my colleagues, at my first job, how long they stayed at their first job. They all said under a year.
        Also, when I looked at my clients’ Linkedin profiles, most of their stint at a company tended to be 1 year long. And these were people with more work experience than me.

  21. Jupe*

    Re: 6. How can I explain to prospective employers why I’m leaving after only a year?

    Thanks for posting this question. I’m not in IT but I have been in a position I was promoted to for a few months now and it has been nothing like I imagined it to be. I started applying elsewhere but have been having a tough time getting any call backs and I’m starting to wonder if my few months at this new position is an eyebrow raiser. However, I am in the very beginning of my career and I know a few people who left less than 1 year, so should that be an exception too?

  22. green*

    #1 – what I do is bring my lunch and eat it at my desk while I’m working (this only works if you eat something easy to pick up and put down, like a sandwich – for me, I read through all my emails that have been passed over for more important ones while eating my sandwich) and then I use my lunch hour at the coffee shop to read.

    It’s funny, until I started doing this, unimportant emails could stack up for a few days, but I’ve gotten into a good routine with this.

Comments are closed.