boss won’t let me be friends with a client, employees leaving work early, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Employees are telling me they’re leaving early, rather than asking

I have two employees who I supervise who leave work at least half an hour early almost once a week or two. This is because they have doctor appointments or need to get to the bank in time. Last week, one of the asked if she could leave two hours early to catch a flight on a Friday to be away for the weekend. It was previously them asking if they could have the time off – which I have not ever said no to. But in the last week, I have received emails from them (as they sit in a separate building from myself) with “FYI – I will be leaving work at …” Also, I have previously asked them to give me at least a day’s notice, but they contact me the same day still.

I feel that because I am new to being a supervisor that I am now becoming a pushover. Is it unreasonable for me to ask them to use their lunch break or arrange dr appointments and visits to the bank (where they are open later one day a week to allow time to get there before they close after work) after hours, except in certain circumstances where an appointment can only be made during work hours?

Well, first, it sounds like you’re resenting them for doing something that you haven’t told them to stop. So if these are the rules you want to enforce, you need to say clearly, “Please check with me for approval before planning to leave early, and please give me at least one day’s notice.” If it continues after that, you say, “As you know, I need you to get this approved by me before planning on. Would you handle these requests differently in the future?”

However … what you’re describing isn’t necessarily problematic. In many jobs, it’s quite common, and one of the perks of being an exempt employee. Are they getting their work done and are they there during the hours you need them? If so, you risk losing good employees if you burden them with rules that (a) have no connection to their ability to get their work done well and (b) are out of sync with how employees at their level generally operate. (That said, there certainly are jobs where these rules make more sense, such as public-facing jobs where someone else would need to cover for a person leaving early.)

2. Using a former manager as a reference when we both still work at the same company

I would like your advice on asking a previous supervisor for a reference when we are both still employed at the same organization. I used this supervisor as a reference when I moved out of state approximately a year ago. I ended up moving back and took a different position (working under a different supervisor) for the same company. I worry that she may tell my current supervisor that I am looking for a new job, but I don’t necessarily think I would experience any retaliation for this.

The fact that you haven’t been in your new job for very long is the complication here. Even if your new manager wouldn’t normally be upset that you’re looking for a new job, I can’t imagine she’ll be thrilled to hear it after mere months on the job (which I’m assuming is that case because you moved for a different job a year ago, and have since returned to this company). It’s a big deal to hear that a new employee is already job searching, so if you can, I’d leave your old supervisor out of the loop for now and use different references instead. (If you absolutely must use her, wait to talk to her until you’re in the reference-checking stage with a job — which is generally at the end of the process when you’re already a finalist.)

3. My boss won’t let me hang out socially with a client

I am an assistant to a financial advisor who I get along with well with professionally. Recently we acquired a client who is about my age and very nice. We hit it off and speak often, never work-related, and we don’t even mention my boss. I mentioned to him that she wanted to have lunch or dinner, not thinking anything of it. He immediately said he would not like me being “drinking buddies.” I don’t get that, I don’t have “drinking buddies” or care to. I’ve worked with other advisors and it was never an issue. It would just be two girls having a meal together like any other friends. I am not happy he feels this way and want to confront the situation. What do I do?

Find out what his concerns are. Tell him that you’re not planning on becoming drinking buddies, but that you’ve hit it off with her and would like to have lunch with her, but that you respect that he’s concerned and want to understand what his worries are. It might be that he doesn’t want anyone having social relationships with clients, and if that’s the case, that’s his prerogative (and it wouldn’t be terribly unusual; plenty of employers do discourage that kind of relationship with clients). You shouldn’t go into angry or wanting to “confront” him. Just see what his concerns are and whether you can alleviate them. If you can’t, well, keeping professional boundaries is part of the package of having this (and many other) jobs.

4. How to style yourself for a work headshot

I need help figuring out what to wear/how to style myself for a headshot for work. I am in my mid-20s and a new associate attorney at my law firm. My biggest fear is looking, well, stuffy or older than I am. I know that you have said before to wear a pearl necklace, but what are other good options? Also, I have long (to my lower back) dark hair. Do you have any suggestions for styling it? I need some advice — please help!

First I have to set the record straight: I’ve never advised a pearl necklace — you certainly can wear one if you’d like, though. But my advice is just to wear a suit, don’t go overboard with makeup, keep your hair back (a bun or anything else that keeps it from being a main focus in the picture), and don’t worry much beyond that. I’d especially not worry about looking older or stuffier than you are — older and stuffier can be an advantage for a mid-20s lawyer, at least in most fields of law. (That doesn’t mean you need to create faux wrinkles or anything like that, but you shouldn’t worry about going out of your way to ensure you look young and carefree.)

5. Sending thank-you notes after a rejection

I recently was rejected from a large company after being a finalist, and I want to send a few thank-you notes but I had a question about who I should send one to. During the almost two-month-long process, I was in contact with three HR representatives. Only one of them was in charge of filling the position, and I interviewed with a total of 6 team members. I sent thank-you cards to everyone after my interviews, but now that I’ve been rejected, should I send thank you cards to just the HR people, the people who interviewed me, or everyone? I only have the names of the HR people, but the only contact I had with them was to set up interviews with the team members. Any advice would be appreciated!

Sending thank-you’s after being rejected is an unusually gracious gesture, and you’ll stand out in a good way for it. Ideally, you’d send them to the HR people and the people who interviewed you … but send emails, not cards. You’ve already sent cards, and doing it again would be overkill — but emails are perfect for this situation.

6. Explaining my disagreements with my thesis advisor in a job interview

I recently made the decision to leave my PhD program with a master’s degree. There were several reasons for this, but one aspect was that I didn’t get along with my advisor as well as I’d hoped. We had some disagreements about how best to complete my master’s thesis work, all of which might have been simpler to resolve if we had communicated more frequently and clearly.

This advisor is known in the department for how rarely she responds to emails, for saying that she’ll be available and in her office when she isn’t, and in the last year or so, being out of the country so frequently that it’s hard to pin down when she is there. Because of this, and because I was not used to having to take all of the communication initiative, our contact was often very limited.

As I apply to industry jobs, I’d like to stave off concerns that I won’t get along with future managers. I’ve learned a lot from working with her, especially with regards to how best to deal with uncommunicative managers that expect high levels of initiative. That said, I still feel guilty about the way we worked together in the last couple of years, and I have trouble explaining it without feeling like I am very much at fault and the situation will recur. Do you have any advice on how to explain this in a way that honestly explains the disconnect and shows that I think I could get along better with a different manager, without vilifying my old advisor? I don’t want to badmouth her, but I still struggle to see this in a positive light.

Good news: In most fields, hiring managers aren’t likely to think about this at all, because they won’t think of your advisor as a manager. What’s more, you won’t even need to get into what happened — at most, they’ll ask why you left with a master’s rather than finishing the PhD (and a lot of them won’t even ask that), you’ll give an explanation that doesn’t involve your advisor (you mentioned there were other reasons), and that will be that. The vast majority of hiring managers will be utterly uninterested in your relationship with your advisor, or that there was a disconnect, and you just need a short answer about the master’s that doesn’t get into this relationship and then can move on.

7. Conveying an interim manager role on my resume

I am currently working as a contractor with a small nonprofit while I continue with my job search. My supervisor resigned at the beginning of the month, and I am currently filling his role as the organization reorganizes. My supervisor was the head of a division (well, he was the division, along with me). How can I convey the fact that I’m acting in his position on my resume?

“Served as acting Head of XYZ for nine months.” Then talk about what you were responsible for / achieved in that role.

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. Brett*

    #6 Advice is perfect here, but I felt like mentioning the advice the letter writer should have had a couple of years ago.

    When you thesis advisor is that crappy, you get a new thesis advisor.

    Professors are not supposed to take this personally, and if they do, it is on them. You go right to the department head, say, “This is not working out. We cannot communicate and disagree too much,” and then you go find a new advisor who you can work with.

    1. Sophia*

      +1 Though I have to say PhD is very independent work, and in my experience you should be the one initiating contact, after the first year. Advisors aren’t hand holders. Now, making appointments and she not being there – that’s the problem and a reason to switch advisors.

    2. Lisa*

      Yeah, I am confused, are you not allowed to switch advisors? Are you stuck with someone no matter what and the only option is to leave the program?

      1. fposte*

        In a smaller program, there may be no one else working in the relevant area. It can be a particular disaster when a professor dies, “orphaning” several students.

      2. Tina*

        It depends on the program. I’ve worked with students from graduate programs where they’re pretty much not allowed to switch, and others that are allowed to switch.

      3. TL*

        It also depends on funding-if your advisor has money to support a grad student but no one else does, you’re stuck where the money is. (At least in the sciences, where funding is really, really tight right now.)

      4. Ruffingit*

        No, generally not. As Brett said, switching advisers shouldn’t have been that big a deal. I’m guessing, and perhaps the OP will fill in some more details, that this particular adviser was the best one for the work the OP was doing and/or that other advisers were not available and/or that the OP realized she really didn’t want to complete the Ph.D. That happens more often than many people think. Sometimes you get into it and realize it’s just not what you want to be doing.

      5. Cassie*

        It’s not that difficult in our fairly large dept – you will need to find another advisor, but if you have a PITA advisor, chances are that a prof in a related field will take pity on you and agree to advise you. It’s a little bit complicated if you’re already at the stage where your committee members are set, but I think it has been done.

        We have some advisors who are less than ideal – unresponsive, rude/abusive. I want to tell their students to switch advisors but those profs still seem to attract students.

    3. Vicki*

      I was in that fix with my Masters thesis advisor (who was known in the department as a dictatorial sob who didn’t play well with others.) Unfortunately, that narrowed my choices of a different advisor because, apparently, almost everyone else in the department was in awe of the guy I “fired”.

      I got lucky when the one professor who didn’t kowtow to the dictator picked me up, but it’s not as easy as you might think when you say “get a different advisor”.

    4. Brett*

      It definitely is not easy, but when your options are to drop your PhD program or switch, you switch. The complications involved of “why not switch advisors” make it an even worse idea to bring it up in an interview.

  2. Julie*

    Regarding #1: 1. Employees are telling me they’re leaving early, rather than asking, I like that this is usually one of the perks of being an exempt employee (well – two things: telling instead of asking and being able to take time off when needed). My manager has said more than once that she knows I work more than 40 hours in any given week, and she’s never concerned about my taking time off for appointments. I do need to keep track of my hours, though, because I’m an on-site contractor (I’ve been with the same client company for 11 years), and we have to keep track of what to bill the client. As long as it adds up the right number of hours/month, all’s well.

    Usually I create an Outlook meeting request that has the subject, “Julie Out of Office,” and I send it to her (with the time set to “free” so it doesn’t look like she’s out of the office when she accepts it). Usually she accepts it, and I take that as her approval. Then I go back to my calendar and mark the time as “out of office.” If I had any doubts about the approval part, it was erased today when she tentatively accepted a “Julie Out of Office” meeting request. She’s now on vacation for 2.5 weeks, and I really do need to have that time off, so I’m not sure what to do about the tentative acceptance (but that’s another issue).

    1. Vicki*

      I’ve been exempt for my entire career. When I was new at the whole “work” thing, I would ask “May I take vacation this day? Is it all right if I leave early for an appointment that day?” Invariably, I was told “You do not need to ask. We assume you are able to handle your work load. Please let us know in advance just so we know where you are but you do not need to ask for permission.”

      (The “where you are” part was usually in case of emergency, e.g. if there was a fire alarm and the managers needed to count noses in the parking lot.)

  3. Erika Kerekes*

    #3 – is it possible her boss is worried that if the girls get too friendly, he might lose control of the client relationship? In other words, he sees his assistant as a potential competitor for control of the account. Seems to me like that’s a valid explanation – because, in all financial advisor relationships I’ve observed or been part of, the financial advisor is bending over backward to take the client to lunch etc. That’s what the T&E budget is for – entertaining clients!

  4. Elsa Marie*

    Hi, re: #6, Why would you even mention that you left a PhD with “only a Masters” – instead of saying: “I have a Masters degree”? It makes no sense at all, to me, that you would mention a goal that you didn’t achieve, when you DID successfully complete your MA. Just let that accomplishment shine alone.

    (You wouldn’t say “I joined my last company to become the CEO, however I left after only becoming an Assistant Manager,” would you?)

    1. Jessa*

      That and PhD stands for Phinally Done anyway. The truth is a lot of people get to the ABD (all but dissertation) stage and stop. You don’t even have to mention it unless the coursework is relevant to your field and then just say you’re ABD. That’s pretty usual especially since people need to stop and go to work because it’s so expensive nowadays. I can’t even imagine anyone looking twice at “decided to go to work with master’s instead of finishing PhD.” Unless you’re in a field where that’s normal to ABSOLUTELY have the PhD.

    2. businesslady*

      this is a good point–especially since (depending on the relationship between your grad-school work & the jobs you’re applying for) many hiring managers may already have concerns about whether a non-academic career is something you’re truly invested in. it’s not likely to keep you from getting interviews, but you’ll probably be well-served by developing ways to discuss your educational background as an asset to your professional skillset & you should be prepared to explain that you’re not pursuing a non-academic job only as a last resort.

    3. Anonymous*

      If you have been at a program X number of years (usually around 4-6), then you should have left with a Ph.D. and hiring managers will know that. However, it can be a spun into a plus for why OP is leaving academia and going into industry.

      What could be a negative is what additional details OP adds to why they’re moving to industry. All the problems OP lists as having with their advisor, while uncommon, do happen and most of those people do manage do leave with a Ph.D. so if OP states they left because of their advisor it’s going to look bad for them. It’s much better to list as reason leaving a Ph.D program is because of research and not getting the results needed.

      1. businesslady*

        I don’t even necessarily mean that hiring managers well say, “well why didn’t you get the degree you originally intended to get”–rather that there’s sometimes a perception that someone who originally wanted to become a professor/researcher/whatever will never be fully committed to a “less prestigious” career. it’s not fair to make overarching assumptions about candidates who’ve switched tracks, of course, but there are enough people who carry around frustrations about the academic path not taken that it’s worthwhile to distinguish yourself from them.

      2. PurpleChucks*

        It’s common convention for education on a resume that you only need to list when you completed the degree and don’t need to include a start date. As a hiring manager, if your degree is relevant, i only care when you completed it anyway!

        1. Anonymous*

          If OP is in research, the hiring manager will ask if no start date is given. They want to see how much work was done in a certain amount of time. In academia however you don’t talk about what didn’t work, or negative data, however in industry it’s much more accepted to admit failure and negative data, so OP could talk about why things didn’t work and how they tried to fix them.

    4. Alicia*

      My experience in the science community is that the time frame might point out a “back-peddling” to Masters from a PhD. For example, a lot of science programs allow you to transition from a Masters to your PhD in your second year of your Masters degree. If that’s the case, and say LW#6 decided in their fourth year to go with a Masters, it might draw some attention that it took four years to complete a two (three tops) degree.

      That being said, I have this habit which I need to break where I say “only a Masters degree” when really it should be “a Masters degree!” It come from being surrounded by PhD and PhD Candidates day-in, day-out with a PhD as the ultimate universal goal. Those who got out with “only a Masters” is pretty darn smart in my opinion. :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        One of my favorite English teachers at Lastschool (and one of the best, IMO) is an adjunct instructor with “only a Masters.” And my favorite Criminology instructor never trained as a teacher at all–he was a cop and IA for years and years.

          1. Chinook*

            “Most faculty members are NOT trained in teaching ;-)”

            I came to that horrifying conclusion in my 3rd year earning my B. Ed. I had a semester of non-education courses after doing some student teaching and, when I sat through the first day of one of them, I realized that my lit. professor had less teaching experience than I did! I had to drop the class because I all I did that first hour was critique and evaluate his teaching style.

    5. Rye-Ann*

      I don’t know what field the OP is in, but in my experience, scientists tend to go straight to Ph.D–or at least, ending school with a Masters is barely on our professors’ radar if at all. I have no idea if an industrial employer is going to look down at a Masters, but in the academic field (at least in my experience), a Masters is sort of viewed as a consolation prize (due to not being cut out for a Ph.D). It’s quite possible that her program’s culture is such that not getting a Ph.D is seen as…not lazy per se, but definitely not as good.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    4. Looking at the pictures on the websites for the law firms I work with, erring on the side of sober seems to be key. Certainly hair always seems to be tied back and I don’t recall so many pearl necklaces, but small gold or silver chains seem popular.

  6. Rhetorical Rhetta*

    3. Follow up question: Same advice if the social relationship was established long before the job? Still the company’s perogative?

    My husband and I were friends on a personal level with a restaurant owner and his wife, before the restaurant became a client of my husband’s company.

    As a result we haven’t patronized this restaurant or visit our friends as often as we used to, because my husband is worried we will “get caught” and his boss will reprimand him and tell us we can’t.

    I told my husband “catch us doing what exactly?” I feel discouraged from visiting people I am friends with, because of what my husband’s boss may think.

    My thoughts used to be that as long as we are not doing illegal or harming the professional relationship, what we do in our off time is our business, including patronizing the eating establishment of our choice.

    I understand that sometimes outside relationships ARE inappropriate, but did not think ALL outside associations by definition fell into the realm of dodgy (if they do then we can’t even talk to our neighbors since they both work for a client company).

    But am I being naive? Why do some companies (bosses?) seem to think it is so unreasonable to have a life outside of work?

    By the way, there is no company policy against associating with clients in non-work capacities in the first place. This just seems to be the boss’s personal preference, if that makes a difference.

    I suppose though it doesn’t matter, I just didn’t think we were doing anything wrong.

    1. Chinook*

      While I understand why people m$ay want to be friends with clients, my small town self wonders who that leaves you with? Unless you are using your position to influenc them (or vice versa), it should be simple to compartmentalize your life, especially if you agree to not talk business when socializing.

      1. Rhetorical Rhetta*

        To be fair, the boss DOES hail from a much larger area (and is still rather new) where there are enough people that you can easily avoid socializing with coworkers and clients; here you can’t. He still may not be used to it.

        As for our case, I would say our relationships are pretty compartmentalized. Our friends own the restaurant and most of the time are not even there when we eat out.

        But you are right, I am sure the fear is that my husband will talk shop without being properly supervised, or that he would be influencing them some how.

        Though they generally don’t have opportunities to pass us an “extra complimentary” bowl of garlic bread for …

        you know…

        “extra complimentary favors…”

    2. fposte*

      This sounds like it’s more about your husband than your husband’s boss, since it sounds like he and his boss have never talked about this.

      1. Rhetorical Rhetta*

        Fair enough. I probably made it sound that way.

        It’s true my husband hasn’t asked; the boss has already made his position on the matter known on other occasions with other employees, and it is a pretty strict view (if I do say so myself).

        Lucky for those employees they aren’t his direct reports, and since they weren’t breaking company policy, nothing was done.

        My husband is his direct report of course, and though my husband isn’t going against company policy, his boss would not like it if he found out.

        All told, an employer is free to make up any rule they like and enforce it how they see fit as long it isn’t based on protected status, so I understand why my husband worries.

        I just don’t think he should have to.

        That said, does the advice change? Does it make a difference at all if the friendship came first? I myself, have to admit it probably wouldn’t. Still not happy about it, still wishing it wasn’t a rhetorical question.

  7. Bea W*

    #1 – I have fallen into this habit with my current boss, and I feel bad about it, like almost rude for not asking rather than telling, even though it’s okay with her as long as we alert the team.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that your employees ask you for approval first if that is what you prefer, but you have to communicate that asking is a requirement. You are also not necessarily being a pushover by allowing employees for flexibility, assuming it is not causing a disruption to the team and their work. Having that flexibility is a real perk that people appreciate, and I see how it keeps myself and people on my team productive. Anyone who would abuse it can be dealt with individually.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I also tell, not ask, my own boss for the most part — and I’ve had some employees who annoy me when they tell and not ask, and others who don’t.

      The key to this is whether it’s interfering with the work. A conscientious employee who thinks about when she can take that time without impacting workflow, or who arranges coverage while she’s out? Sure, she can tell me and not ask me, and I won’t bat an eyelash. But if the employee is a little flakier and has dropped the ball on projects because of an appointment, I’ll tell her she needs to give me notice and be prepared that I’ll say no.

      So, OP #1 — I’d ask yourself if you’re annoyed because you want the feeling of being asked, or if you’re annoyed because certain appointment requests have disrupted workflow. If the former, I agree with Alison that letting them do this is a perk that costs you nothing and gets you loyalty. But if you’re dealing with flakes, then a new policy for the flakes makes sense (just make sure you do it to the flakes and not make a blanket policy that punishes conscientious workers for others’ bad behavior).

    2. POF*

      I had an employee who abused the leaving early, I tend to be pretty benign about it… these are adult professionals. But when she missed an important event because she had scheduled to have her carpets cleaned ! I had to address it. Her hobby is apprently partaking of the healthcare system. She would book appointments at 2:30, in her home town a 45 minute commute away, leave at 1:30 and not return to work. And do this 5 or 6 times a month.

      Unfortunately – I had to put rules into place for everyone because one person abused it. The rules don’t really impact the folks who never abuse the system – but it does rein her in.

      I would counsel the OP in this case to set up a dept policy, lay it out at next staff meeting and expect compliance.

        1. A Teacher*

          This. We’ve had this discussion a plethora of times on this site about addressing individual employees and not a blanket policy. Why does that seem so complicated?

      1. Anonymous*

        How would she return to work after a 2:30 appointment? Assuming your workday ends at 5ish there’s not much point, when the doctor is so far away.

        Its sad that you had to make rules about appointments just because this one person was sick.

        1. AP*

          If you’re sick enough that you need to take a half-day 5-6 times per month, you need to sit down and have a full discussion with your manager about it, including coverage options, Plan B’s, etc.

          1. TL*

            Probably, though I wouldn’t be enthused to discuss this with somebody who described medical appointments as a hobby.

            But yes, the employee needs to talk to her manager – though at this point the manager also needs to discuss it with the employee rather than laying down a blanket policy.

            1. Kou*

              Right? If someone has expressed to me that they’re of the type who don’t “get” chronic illness, I don’t try to explain it further. I know from experience that best case scenario it won’t help, and worst case it will actually make it worse. I just call it sick and call it a day.

        2. doreen*

          I think it depends on what the policy is , though. Unless the jobs are very different, I don’t really see how you could require only one person to have prior approval to take time off without risking bigger problems.

          1. TL*

            Sure you can. Just say that due to the amount of time taken off, it seems like the employee is needing special consideration, probably because of medical issues, and you want to work out a plan that allows for her to take care of whatever they are but allow the workplace to function normally. Also, since she doesn’t seem to have a good understanding of which events are important, she needs to run her plans to miss events by her manager.

            1. doreen*

              That’s what I mean about it depending on the policy, though. In your scenario I will work out some sort of plan with this employee regarding her medical absences that allows the workplace to function normally , and she will have to run plans to miss events by me. And the other employees don’t have to run plans to miss an event by me? The first question will be “Why is it OK for them to miss events without prior approval , but not for me?” Now it may well be that the other employees would never dream of missing an event for anything less than a natural disaster and certainly not without prior approval- but that’s a different issue and what is meant by a policy having no impact.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You can address that straightforwardly though and explain that when someone has missed a lot of work, it’s more important to work together to manage absences. Which is true.

                You don’t need to treat everyone the same. You just need to treat them fairly. (And it’s definitely not fair to burden everyone with a rule that’s only needed by one person.)

                1. doreen*

                  Missing the event is entirely separate from the medical issue. I truly don’t know why I would require only one person to have prior approval before missing an event while not requiring that of the others. It may be that they would never miss an event without prior approval even in the absence of any rule- but then they’re not being burdened by the rule.

                2. TL*

                  Well, yes, it is. If my boss suddenly said something like that, to the whole group, when prior it had been different, I would be worried that I had been abusing my PTO, worried that I wouldn’t get time off when I need it, and worried about what had provoked the rule.

                  The manager would probably all be inundated with all these time-off discussions that they don’t need or want to have.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I thought we were talking about absences more generally, but for something like an event that’s part of their jobs, I’d assume that people understood they needed to be there, barring true sickness or emergency. If they don’t understand that, then you need to clarify expectations, of course (but I’d also question why they didn’t already get that).

      2. KellyK*

        You know, it’s extremely harsh to refer to doctor’s appointments as a “hobby.” I sincerely doubt that your employee is going to 5 and 6 doctors a month because she finds it so much fun. Presumably, she’s sick, possibly with multiple issues.

        Also, you make it sound as though leaving an hour before an appointment is unreasonable when the drive is 45 minutes. However, 15 minutes is a pretty reasonable window for traffic or unexpected delays (particularly when you may lose your appointment *and* be charged a no-show fee if you’re late). Not to mention that most doctor’s offices ask you to come in 15 minutes early for each appointment.

        As for not coming back, even if she’s seen right on time and the appointment only takes 20 minutes (neither of which is guaranteed), it’s now after 3:30 by the time she gets back to the office. If your normal working hours go until 5 or later, that might be worth it, but to me it seems silly to drive 45 minutes to work half an hour to an hour, then drive back again.

        None of that is to say that you may not have been justified in trying to “rein her in” as you put it. If work wasn’t getting done or others were needing to cover for her, then it’s a problem no matter how legitimate the absences are. And you can certainly require people to use vacation or make up the time when they’re gone a half day. However, I find it concerning that you view doctor’s appointments with that much suspicion, and I’d hate to be in your employee’s shoes with a chronic illness to manage.

        1. KellyK*

          Also, missing an important event because she was having her carpets cleaned is not okay. It’s also a separate issue from the doctor’s appointments, unless those were also scheduled over important events.

        2. Jamie*

          You know, it’s extremely harsh to refer to doctor’s appointments as a “hobby.” I sincerely doubt that your employee is going to 5 and 6 doctors a month because she finds it so much fun. Presumably, she’s sick, possibly with multiple issues.

          And then there’s this. Unless she’s got Munchhausen’s syndrome I’m sure she’d rather be at work than a million doctor appointments. And specialists can have the most inconvenient of hours. Testing also is usually done during business hours.

          As Kelly mentioned – the carpet cleaning is an entirely different issue and ridiculous…but the dismissive tone regarding the doctor appointments bothered me too.

          1. KellyK*

            I had to look up Munchausen’s syndrome, so thank you for adding to my mental stockpile of random trivia.

            You’re right about specialists. Short hours, and often not a whole lot of choice in appointments. If I have some minor thing going and have to see my regular doc, I try to schedule first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon to minimize the effect on work. But if it’s a specialist, I kind of have to take what I can get.

          2. the gold digger*

            specialists can have the most inconvenient of hours

            Completely unrelated – but a hospital in Detroit (I think) wanted to improve patient compliance, ie, patients making recommended visits and follow-ups with specialists. They discovered that they could really improve compliance by offering evening and Saturday appointments, when people wouldn’t have to miss work. Who knew?

          3. tango*

            I don’t know. I know a few people who are continually going to doctor after doctor. And whatever they have is not chronic enough for them take short or long term disability, FMLA, nor need surgery or a long term care plan but bad enough that they need to go to mulitple doctors a month. It makes me wonder if they are really going to the doctor. More than likely I think they like the attention they get from appearing sickly.

            I also used to work with a gentleman who would call the doctor for any and every little thing and insist on appointments. Between him, his wife and baby, one of them was going to the doctor at least once a week. And when a doctor kinda wised up and started wanting to resist the baby coming in just because it had funky colored poop or the wife for a cut finger worried about staph infection, they’d move on to a new doctor.

            I’m not saying everyone who goes to a doctor often is like the two examples above but I think it does happen occasionally. Attention seekers and/or people who want to time off and a doctors appointment is a convenient excuse.

            1. TL*

              That, however, is for a doctor to sort out and diagnose (and really those doctors should have referred to a therapist if they didn’t) and not a manager.

              A manager can definitely say with the amount of work someone is missing, they need to look at rearranging their hours or getting FMLA or using up all their leave, but they definitely should not be making any kind of medical diagnosis, including “you’re not actually sick.”

            2. KellyK*

              It’s entirely possible to have one or more chronic illnesses that don’t ever require surgery or a long extended period of leave, because they’re mostly under control with meds, but they require a bunch of follow-up with various doctors.

              Yes, I’m sure there’s the rare faker or hypochondriac or attention-seeker. What I’m criticizing is the assumption that the employee must be one of those, rather than the more likely explanation that she’s sick.

            3. Anon for his*

              Wow. I have a chronic illness * for which I take medication that used to require weekly blood tests. Which I could only get at 9 in the morning, so that made me late to work once a week. And on top of those blood tests were of course appointments to talk about my treatment.

              *Rheumatoid arthritis. I hope you’ll grant me that this is a disease that can’t just be ignored, but also doesn’t need to result in medical leave when treated.

            4. LizNYC*

              You got me! I just love going to the doctor frequently because I love all the attention I get in the waiting room. And all those copays that add up to a mortgage payment by the end of the year are just the best! /sarcasm/

            5. Kou*

              I find it interesting that people assume illnesses either disable you or can be treated. And the type of chronic illnesses that require those frequent visits and bouncing between specialists also tend to be extremely difficult to diagnose– it took my dad over four years before someone figured out he had ankyolosing spondylitis. Then, even knowing that history and my genetic predisposition, I’m still two months into trying to get in to see someone who could find out if that’s what is happening to me, and I’m still not there yet. And that’s after several years of having health issues not direct enough to be attributable to AS.

              And if I DO have AS, nothing could be done to fix it. I’d just be regularly going to a physical therapist or trying yoga or something. If I turn out to be even less lucky and have RA (which is the differential at this point, I’m waiting on labs to come back at the moment) I’ll be running from doctor to doctor for the rest of my life without a fix. There are millions of people with issues like this.

              1. R. Rhetta*

                Sorry to hear that Kou. I hope you get some (good) answers soon.

                When it comes to attitudes about sickness, you hit the nail on the head, and it isn’t just people on the street, many companies seem to think that way too.

                1. Kou*

                  Aw thank you. When you get to a certain point getting a diagnosis is all you want, even if it’s not good. You just need answers at some point– it’s hard enough to have a chronic illness with a name. You take that part away and people’s cynicism gets even worse.

      3. TL*

        I also agree this is an issue you should be addressing with the employee alone. I’m having a plethora of dr’s appointments this month (but almost done! Only one or two left!).

        I also have a 45 minute commute and I *always* ask for appointments as early or as late in the day as they come – but with specialists, I don’t really have much of a choice. If the nearest appointment is at noon two weeks from now, and the next is a month from now – I’m taking the noon appointment and a half day.

      4. A Teacher*

        I also sense that you don’t like that she sees a doctor in her “home town 45 minutes away.” When you have a medical condition, continuity of care is important–especially as we move into the realm of outcome based care–or so I tell my 100 level college students entering the healthcare field and feel this way as a state licensed and board certified athletic trainer. It really isn’t your place to judge who she sees for her medical condition.

        I’m not excusing missing for carpet cleaning or even that you shouldn’t put a policy in place but when you describe medical care as a “hobby” it would make me think that you have a judgmental attitude toward the employee to begin with. I wouldn’t want to talk to you about something as important and as private as my health lest I think you are judging me for making medical decisions that you have no clue about.

        1. Jamie*

          And a lot of people have long commutes. My commute is typically an 1.25 hours and my doctors are closer to my home than my work. Unless you only hire very local people that’s going to be the deal.

        2. Jennifer*

          If you need to see a specialist for something, odds are that they are probably farther away from where you are as well. I would definitely have to spend 30-45 minutes to go to any doctor short of the gynecologist or GP in my area because they only put the bare minimum of doctors in my small town. That probably can’t be helped too much.

          1. B5SnowDog*

            I have to drive 2 hours one way to see my endocrinologist because there aren’t any in my town who will treat my condition properly. Believe me, if I had a choice, I wouldn’t be making those 4-hour round-trip drives.

        3. POF*

          Wow – I put my foot in it !
          We work as an integrated team and her frequent absences were an issue. when we mentioned that X, Y, Z didn’t get done or was a problem we heard .. .pushback about how she had to go to various DR’s appointments.

          She rarely calls in sick, but likes to leave early a lot.

          For example – she had a minor eye issue. She told me what it was – within the course of 2 weeks she scheduled 6 appointments with various eye dr’s. I think that is excessive time out of the office.

          Within one month she had 4 dermatology appointments for a minor cosmetic skin issue.

          She has more Dr appointments than any one I’ve ever worked with. Yes there are some people – especially with very generous health plans like ours who do see the DR. for minor things or who get multiple opinions ( 5 or 6 ).

          I know that sometimes you end up with your annual appointments all occuring in the same month – mine all seem to happen in October.

          But when an employee comes in every week and is leaving early, it has to be addressed.

          By the way – I have a longer commute, I have a chronic medical condition that requires frequent visits and testing. I do not expect to be out of work continually for this – its a fact of my life. I manage it and my job.

          HR felt it was excessive, advised us to put policies in place and we did.

          1. Anon for his*

            You know, she actually might be lying to you – but not in the sense you would assume. Maybe she has an actual serious illness and lies to you because she doesn’t want her manager to know this for valid reasons.

            I have certainly done this for my rheumatoid arthritis – I don’t need my managers worrying about whether I’ll be able to do my work (software developer) in three year’s time. I can do that all by myself.

            1. Llywelyn*

              I have done something very close to this.

              I have described trips to my therapist as “Doctor’s Appointments.” This was, strictly speaking, very accurate but also somewhat misleading. I’ve used expressions in a similar vein (“I’m not feeling well”) for a variety of situations in which I am deliberately obscuring whatever it is that was actually bothering me and, if pressed, would deflect questions or play into people’s assumptions.


              “I’m not feeling well” sounds better to many people than “I am one loud noise from hiding under my desk” thanks to our societal stigmas and projections.

              The smart workplace response is for when this becomes a problem to bring it up with the employee directly, not in a confrontational way, but looking to resolve the underlying issue.

              Sometimes it can be solved with long or short term disability, sometimes it can be solved by an employee making up the hours some other time, maybe it can be resolved by the employee trying to schedule it further in advance. Regardless, it strikes me that it can be solved via a compassionate discussion directly with the employee.

          2. A Teacher*

            And I understand–many of us in my family have a long term chronic condition or conditions. Migraines in my case–go to work with them all the time–unless the auras are so bad I can’t safely drive. When you describe the medical visits as a hobby that’s something that I find offensive, which is why I responded the way I did to you. Usually going to the doctor that often is also expensive–my specialist co-pay is between $40-60 per visit so over the course of 6 visits that’s a lot of money at least to me.

            I also understand the long commute as I’ve done that in the past and where I’m from if you need to see a specialist the closest places to go, either Northeast, Southwest, or West are all at least 90 miles away–and it certainly takes more than 90 minutes to get into Chicago if the Stevenson is backed up (Right Jamie?).

            1. Jamie*

              During rush hour – absolutely – I make that drive every day.

              Migraines bring up another important point – I hate going to the doctor. Would kind of rather be doing almost anything else. But I need my migraine meds – because without them I’m missing a hell of a lot more time from work because I literally cannot see out of my right eye and like A Teacher, with auras I cannot drive.

              My doctor needs to see me every 2 months or no refills. I have another doctor – specialist – who needs to see me once every 3 months or no refills. My husband and kids have the same.

              It’s not like all conditions come with a 12 month refill for meds.

              And to add on to Anon for his from above – she may be lying about the reason for the appointments. When I was in the early stages of the medical thing I have going on now I said dentist appointment – you’d have thought I was losing every tooth in my mouth – but I wasn’t ready for people to know and wonder why I was seeing the gynecologist so often.

    3. Brandy*

      I tell/ask simultaneously. “Boss, I need to head out at 2pm tomorrow to catch a flight to Zimbabwe. I’ll have everything wrapped up by then…any issues?”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what I do. My boss feels like I can manage my own time (I’m non-exempt, btw), but it’s hard to overcome the asking thing. I worked for so many years where I had to be covered if I wasn’t there that telling feels really weird.

      2. KellyK*

        That’s what I do too. “I’d like to leave at such-and-such time for blah-blah reason, if that’s okay.”

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Although, I’d give more than a one day warning for a trip to Zimbabwe, unless I’m in Botswana or someplace else pretty close. I try to let them know weeks or months ahead, perferably before my plans are finalized.

        2. Ms Enthusiasm*

          I consider using the ASKING tone as a sign of respect for my boss. I know she is cool with appointments and needing to take time off but it wouldn’t seem right just to tell her.

      3. MarieK*

        As a manager, I would appreciate it if an employee didn’t book a flight that required him/her leaving work early without asking me. What if I needed that person to be there? That said… if it’s not clear as a department policy it’s not fair to punish someone for it.

  8. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – I’d encourage you to be as flexible as the job and mission requirements allow. I set a policy on my team that as long as they’d made up the hours earlier in the week or were taking leave, they could knock off work anytime after 2:30 on Fridays. And generally they know they can pop out here and there for appointments, and just let me know. As long as the work is getting done, it doesn’t really matter, and they really appreciate being treated like adults.

    1. Leslie Yep*

      Second this and also suggest that the OP be clear about why you want your employees to check in with you in advance–be as flexible as possible but explain the constraints on that flexibility.

      If it’s that you’re concerned about work getting done, be sure to say that! (And if it’s one person who always seems to be heading out the door at crucial times, say that to her directly.) Sharing the justification both treats your employees like adults who want to do a good job, and makes your request seem less like a display of power and more like thoughtful management.

      If you’re worried about being seen as a pushover, the worst thing you can do is enforce arbitrary rules just to show that you’re in charge. It makes even the biggest goody-two-shoes bristle, and redefines those rules from “the things we all need to do to keep our workplace running smoothly” (i.e. a sort of social contract) to “stuff Boss makes us do because she’s a huge B” (i.e. “man against man,” “nasty, brutish and short”).

      1. Portia de Belmont*

        + 100 Employees who are being treated as adults tend to go find someplace they will be. Ask me how I know this…

    2. Kou*

      Completely agree. Sure it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask people to do non work things outside work hours, but fact is all the other things that only happen during business hours still have to be taken care of. People have responsibilities. You are doing you and your employees no favors by making it even more difficult for them to keep up with them.

  9. Kristen*

    With #6 I would be concerned about not being able to use this person as a reference, because when I was job hunting after finishing my M.S. my advisor was my best reference (and only one from those 2 years). In my and many cases where funding assistance is given, your thesis advisor is also your manager because you have a job (Research Assistant, etc.) in addition to being a student. Yes, some aspects of the job are related to getting your degree, but I also did a lot of other work for my lab/my advisor that was professionally relevant; so hiring managers cared very much when interviewing me about what kind of worker I was in that position.

    1. Daisy*

      I agree. Their advisor probably WAS their manager to all intents and purposes. If I fell out with my PhD supervisor I wouldn’t have a good reference to cover 4 years, since she’s the only person who knows much about paid work I’ve done in that time (teaching, odd proofreading/admin/conference organising work for her), quite aside from how we worked together on the thesis. Hopefully the OP worked with other academics so they have someone else to offer.

  10. Katrina Bass*

    #3 I work in the same field, and this is a really common thing. There are so many laws around what we do, and so many ways a slip up could result in the advisor being sued. Confidentiality of other clients is a big concern, as well as providing unlicensed advice, product details or other things you may not be qualified, legally, to discuss. He may be worried that she’ll ask you what you think of a portfolio allocation, or that you’ll eventually (as most friends do) discuss an issue that’s work or client related.

    He could well be covering his ass with the client. Like it or not, we do all kinds of things to cover our asses. Working with people’s money is no joke, and often when an advisor socializes with clients outside work, they treat the situation as though they’re still at work.

    He may be willing to change his mind, but if not, don’t take it personally! Good luck!

    Side note: this is only really different if you were friends prior to them coming on.

    1. B*

      I was coming here to say the same thing. While now you do not talk about work, it is possible something may come up. There may be a slip up, lack of confidentiality, etc. This is a field where confidentiality is the rule and he is probably trying to stop it from occurring. That is completely his prerogative.

      1. Katrina Bass*

        You certainly can’t name drop in this field, lol :) I’ve seen advisors who do, and they tend to be rather disfavored in the circles they’d like to prospect in.

    1. Chinook*

      I just read that articel and it is wonderful.

      For women, here is another tip – if you use mineral based powder foundation (or makeup in general), don’t use it the day of the photo shoot. Mineral powder reflects light and will make you look shiny in the photo even though you didn’t look shiny in real life. (This tip courtesy of a friend who sells cosmetics that includes a mineral foundation line).

    2. Calla*

      Good article!

      I’ll add to Chinook’s comment, I’m sure most women know, but foundation with SPF can cause a white cast. So picture day isn’t the time to try a new foundation that isn’t already tried-and-true in pictures.

      I’d also say that while you don’t want to overdo makeup, you may want to adjust it for pictures. For me, I’m very pale with non-pigmented lips. In every day life a nice gloss and cheekstain works to counteract that but it doesn’t always work in pictures — I sometimes still look washed out — so if I knew I was having my picture taken I’d probably do a bit more contouring and with a slightly darker lipstick. Especially since, as the article linked mentioned, your picture may be converted to black and white.

      And I think hair is fine down as long as it’s neat and brushed behind your shoulders. Most women attorney’s headshots I’ve seen have had their hair down.

  11. MousyNon*

    Re: OP #1,
    I’m totally with Allison on this. Here’s an example from the other side of the equation:

    I’m an exempt employee (not public facing, with an excellent reputation professionally and one of the best work records in the department), and my supervisor is generally very very very hands-off in terms of management. Despite this, every once in awhile he’ll choose to care about something, and it’s impossible to predict what that will be. For example, I was outrageously sick with a flu that hit me suddenly one day last year (pale, sweating, fever all in the span of a couple of hours). I did my best to stick it out, but later in the day I just couldn’t take it anymore–I emailed my department and said I was leaving an hour early because I was unbelievably sick. When I got home, there was an email in my inbox to the effect of ‘please ask first before leaving early.’ A lovely way to to kick-off my recovery.

    This kind of thing really generates bad blood, and makes employees feel like their only purpose is to have butts-in-seats rather than produce good work, which is not conducive to a building a cohesive department.

    As an aside, also please, PLEASE make sure your policies are clear from day one. The only thing worse than butt-in-seat syndrome is never-know-what-the-boss-is-going-to-care-about syndrome.

    1. Chris80*

      +1 to the “never know what the boss is going to care about syndrome”. My boss is like this, and it makes everyone on edge.

      1. rlm*

        Yes! Every boss has different expectations, so you can’t expect your employees to know what yours are unless you tell them.

      2. My boss gives me a headache*

        How about the boss who says A on Tuesday and you act on A on Wednesday and then on Thursday he says, “Not A! Not A!”

        Then he’ll agree that he is indeed indecisive. In the meantime, I’m the one who has to tell the consultant that although we did offer to pay his daily rate for a one-day meeting, now we can’t afford it. But can he still come.

        1. AdminAnon*

          That is why I confirm everything via email. I prefer email communication anyway, but after a face-to-face or phone conversation, I always email my boss with a brief “This is what I heard and what I intend to act on; any changes?” type message….and then I save it, so that when she changes her mind 2 days later, I can use it to save my butt.

    2. Ruffingit*

      OH AMEN!! Yes, this is so true. Figure out what you actually care about as a manager and, more importantly, WHY you care about those things. If it’s an ego problem, admit that to yourself. If it has an actual reasonable effect on the working team or environment, then fine, make a rule. But if it doesn’t, give it up and move on. And definitely do not change the rules mid-stream or continually come up with new ones simply because you get a wild hair and decide that’s what you want done. That’s a quick trip to bad blood with your employees right there.

    3. Elysian*

      Agree with the spirit of this.

      I also thought this was part of the trade-off with exempt employees. You, manager, don’t have to pay me overtime and sometimes you can make me work long hours and/or weekends. In exchange, I, employee, have a little more freedom about when my work gets done (as long as it does in fact get done). You could easily your problem by transitioning these employees to hourly – no more flexibility for them.

  12. Max*

    #3: Just as it’s a bad idea for a manager to be friends with the people they manage, it can sometimes be a bad idea to be friends with the client. It may seem fine at the bar after hours, but friendship can get in the way of business and sometimes you might end up having to choose between the two (and the friend will often expect you to prioritize their friendship over the business’s needs). How much this matters depends on the industry you’re in and the specific business you’re working at, but financial planning sounds like the type of field where a friendship is a powder keg ready to go off.

    #5: Although sending the thank-yous will certainly make you stand out, I feel compelled to point out that standing out does NOT necessarily mean they’ll prioritize you for a job next time around. Too many job-searchers these days think that “standing out” means “moving my resume to the top of the pile and getting a guaranteed spot on the interview list”; it’s certainly a nice gesture, but don’t get your expectations up.

  13. Jamie*

    Regarding the asking not telling OP – just let them know what you want.

    I had the reverse of this when I started my current job where I’d ask (because that’s how it was done in my previous job) and my boss asked me point blank why I was asking permission. I was told to “inform, not ask.”

    They can’t read your mind – if you want it done differently let them know. But I do echo the others who’ve said to make sure there is a business reason and not ego. If you trust them to manage their time and projects and it’s not being abused – then requiring them to ask for the sake of your ego or establishing pecking order or whatnot is petty and counterproductive to a great working relationship.

  14. Lily in NYC*

    #4 – Don’t wear a pearl necklace if your concern is not to look older or stuffy. I rarely see them on younger women, even in conservative offices. But remember, no one is going to scrutinize the photo more than you are, so don’t worry about it too much.

    1. Joey*

      Who cares? As long as you look professional no one cares whether you’re wearing pearls, gold, silver, platinum or no jewelry at all.

      Pearls only look fuddy duddy if the suit and hair/makeup/etc look fuddy duddy. I’ve seen plenty of women look trendy with pearls.

      1. rlm*

        Actually I agree with Lily. Since the OP’s concern is looking too old or stuffy, I’d advise against the pearls (maybe it’s because I think pearls are hideous anyway).

  15. Anonymous*

    #1 – You need to learn that there are more important things than keeping butts in seats during a certain, fixed set of hours.

    1. Jennifer*

      Also, it can be pretty impossible to only schedule appointments during your lunch hour. Most other places will guess what, close for lunch when you also have lunch. The only way I can do anything during my “lunch hour” is if I move my lunch to 11 a.m. But this LW doesn’t sound like they are cool with that kind of thing either.

      1. Anonymous*

        And even if they have lunch appointments available, good luck getting one! My doctor is super busy and I take what I can get.

  16. BCW*

    #1 This seems like kind of a power trip to me. Its like you are saying “I won’t say no, but I want them to know that its MY decision and graciousness thats allowing you to leave early”. You really have to look at their body of work and whether its really impacting their work and others work. In my job, if I left a half hour, or 2 hours early, it really wouldn’t impact things because in general I don’t have set timeline’s to get things done. If this was someone covering the floor or phones, its a bit different, but it doesn’t sound like its the case. Overall though, its really semantics. I mean, since they are in a different building, they could probably leave and not tell you and you would be none the wiser.

  17. some1*

    #1: I find it reasonable to give a day’s notice that you’re leaving early, but that’s not always possible. Like MousyNon pointed out, sometimes people come to work feeling fine and start getting sick as the day goes on. Sometimes emergencies come up, too.

    #3: If your boss fired you, how would you feel about your friend continuing being the boss’s client?

    If your friend decided to close her accounts with your boss at some point, do you know for a fact that he wouldn’t blame you or even subconsciously take it out on you? Or if he had to give you negative feedback suddenly, would you be able to take that feedback objectively and not be thinking in the back of your mind, “He’s just mad that Susie took her business elsewhere and he’s taking it out on me”?

  18. Pam*

    #4 – I recently got my headshots done for work. I wanted them to look more professional and less young, so I skimped the first day on makeup (went for ultra-natural look) and in the pictures I look totally washed out. Lucky for me we have an awesome lady that takes pictures who didn’t mind me scheduling 3 (yes, 3!) different days for headshots. That way I had a selection of outfits and hairstyles. So on Day 2 and 3 I had my normal makeup regime and it looked a lot more natural in the final product.

    Other lessons learned – make sure whatever you wear doesn’t pinch or have wrinkles anywhere; or just be very cognizant of how to adjust your clothing before taking the picture. Black suits look best. I wore a simple white blouse underneath and those turned out best. If the photo-taker will let you take multiple angles of your face that’s great. If not tilt your head ever so slightly in various directions with they take your picture to give you some options.

    1. Chinook*

      “so I skimped the first day on makeup (went for ultra-natural look) and in the pictures I look totally washed out. ”

      This is so important to remember – photographs of people rarely look good if there is no make-up, especially if the photographer is using professional lighting. There is a good reason that all television and movie actors wear make-up even if their character is suppose to be natural looking – lighting can play havoc with the contours of your face. If you are not used to wearing makeup, this would be a good time to get a free makeover at a cosmetics counter (maybe even the morning of the shoot) and let them know that you are looking for a business professional look. Well done make up should make you look like you but better.

      BTW, guys could also benefit from this if they are worried about looking washed out. A little concealer and powder can even out the skin and reduce glare.

  19. some1*

    Add on to #1: If/when you let your employees know you want them to request to leave early vs. tell you, please don’t act like or hint that they were breaking a rule before.

  20. Ruffingit*

    #3: I can actually understand why your boss might not want you to form friendships with clients. You’re in a field with a lot of confidential financial information and it can become very easy to let things slip when you’re in a buddy/buddy relationship with someone. “So, you can’t tell anyone this, but we have this one client who…” Or you might be more apt to do favors for that particular client that no other client is getting. “Oh, you need copies of that document? Sure, I’ll give that to you tonight when we go to dinner, don’t worry about the usual copy charge, we’re friends…”

    It can very easily go downhill from there. It’s much better in certain industries (financial, law, medicine) to keep the professional relationship professional.

  21. Cat*

    #4 – I think your concern is not looking old and stuffy, but looking like you’re playing lawyer costume dress-up. I think the way to mitigate that is to, while keeping your outfit professional, make sure it’s not entirely characterless. So a black suit; white button-down blouse; and pearl necklace is too much. A navy, grey, or pin-striped suit; a shell or blouse with some color; and/or a professional necklace that is more of a “statement” (and which has some heft; delicate pendants aren’t great either) will make you look more confident and at ease, which I think is useful. Of course, the key is to wear something that truly does make you feel confident and at ease if that’s possible.

    1. Introvert*

      I’d be cautious with pinstripes, I’ve seen them turn out oddly in photos if the pinstripes are too close together (they create some sort of weird optical illusion, I don’t know why).

      I second Alison’s response that it is indeed helpful for a 20-something attorney to look a little bit older.

  22. Working Girl*

    #4 Your picture should look like what you look like. Yes, you want to look great and so dress in your best suit. If you never wear your hair up, then don’t, get a nice trim so your hair looks neat and tidy. Pearls are great, timeless, ageless but don’t go out and buy them if you don’t ever wear them. Keep in mind the size of the picture – is a going to be a thumbnail or a 3″x4″ or bigger? Ask what the background color will be so your don’t blend in. Check out the rest of staff pictures from the office website.

  23. Working Girl*

    #1 leaving early – staff where I work just pack up and leave early or don’t show up on time and don’t let the boss – at least they are telling you – that’s a start. But you do need to make a company policy and send it to everyone, not just a few. Nothing like losing office moral when you watch your co worker leave early and come in late when you are working hard – you don’t want the rest of the staff following suit. Can your staff work the time in extra that they are taking off , like working through lunch, break, etc.? At least then the other staff can see there is no special treatment.

  24. Working Girl*

    #3 It would be interesting to find out what his reasons are. You may then decide whether you want to continue working here or not. Is he worried you will spill company secrets or does he think the lady is a nut and is trying to protect you? Do you make referrals to him of your friends and then are you not allowed to be friends with these people anymore? Your boss should not be telling you who you can have in your personal life but at the same time you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you so use your best caution and get more familiar first.

    1. Katrina Bass*

      It really can be for much more than policing private lives. There are so many things we can’t do or say, and it gets very nuanced. I’ve been in the business over 7 years, and my boss knows that I can conduct myself in a compliant manner. Some shorter term or unlicensed employees may not know the nuances and could end up getting the practice in hot water. I don’t want our three year employees discussing returns, because they may not know all the factors affecting the market, or bonds in an income portfolio, or yields on equities, or pass-throughs on non-traded REITS, or rules regarding Roth IRA earnings distributions, or RMDs on an inherited IRA. There are fine lines between providing investment advice and providing tax advice, both of which require separate licenses.

      It’s not just about company secrets or client confidentiality. So much more can come up during polite discourse.

      There’s also the point that client relationships are maintained by the advisor, policed by the advisor, and cared for by the advisor. In particular, new clients are delicate. You’re building trust with every interaction – trust with their money, their life savings. That in itself is nuanced, beyond legalities, and many advisors prefer to control that… Since it feeds their families and their employee’s families.

      It’s really, potentially, not a case of him being a Dick. He could just be protecting his livelihood. This is especially true with a newer employee to the practice. You may have four years under your belt, but if he’s only seen four months of conduct, it’s going to cause him to err of the side of caution.

      1. Katrina Bass*

        I love how my phone always capitalizes Dick. Bestiality is in the preloaded dictionary, but it only understands Dick as a proper noun.

  25. Tinker*

    You know, I’ve seen this thing about pearl necklaces crop up — on Corprette a couple times, for instance. Like it’s some sort of essential accessory in certain circumstances or something. Aside from the, uhm, extremely rude thing, what’s the deal?

  26. Cassie*

    #1: If getting one-day’s notice, and having them “ask” for permission rather than just notifying you, is so important to you, make sure you are perfectly clear with your employees about your expectations. If it seems like you don’t care (despite having told them before), they may not realize you really want them to do so.

    We have a call-in sick policy that states you have to call your direct supervisor (maybe email is okay too, I don’t know). There are people who don’t – they either call HR, or text their coworker, or whatever. If you are their supervisor, and you really want them to follow the policy, just remind them when they return. Don’t not mention it to them, but secretly stew when it happens.

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