my boss told me not to say I lead the team, is my manager blogging at work, and more

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

1. My boss told me not to say I “lead” the team, even though I do

This is my first management position, which I’ve been in for about 6 months, and I’ve tried to mind the new social responsibilities that come with the position (understanding that everything I say will be examined under a microscope, at least more so than when I was in a non-manager position, etc). So I’m wondering if maybe this is just another rule I wasn’t yet aware of, or if I’m in fact being given odd advice.

I will be giving a talk at a company off-site meeting in a couple weeks, consisting of about 200 attendees. As part of our preparation, all speakers at this event are required to practice their talk twice in front of some coworkers. Yesterday was my first practice session, which included my boss in the audience. I began my talk introducing myself like so: “Hi, I’m Wakeen, and I lead the Ceramic Team here at Teapots Inc.” After the talk, my boss privately mentioned to me that he prefers I introduce myself as “on the Ceramic team” as opposed to “lead the Ceramic team”.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I worry that introducing myself as “on” the team is going to read as me not speaking confidently about myself and my position. Even disregarding the gender aspect, if anyone introduced themselves to me as “on” a team, and then I later found out that they were the manager, I would find that slightly odd. For whatever it’s worth, about two-thirds or so of the off-site attendees will already know me, so there will be a decent amount of people for whom this is my first introduction.

Does it sound arrogant to introduce myself as “leading” the team? Should I indeed say “on” instead? Or perhaps there’s a more elegant alternative altogether? I could say I “manage” the team, but I worried that was a little too stuffy for an audience where some people will already know me. Lastly, if “lead” was indeed a gaffe, was it big enough that I should apologize to the team directly? They were also in attendance at the practice talk.

Just to be clear, you do actually lead the team, right? If so, this is baffling; it’s totally normal to introduce yourself that way, and it’s the most straightforward way to communicate your role. So I’d go back to your boss and try to get a better understanding of where he’s coming from. I’d say, “After we talked the other day, I realized I wasn’t totally clear about why you suggested not saying I lead the Ceramic team, and I wondered what felt off about that to you.”

It’s possible that your boss just has weird sensitivities around this for reasons that aren’t about you, and if it’s just a bizarre eccentricity, that’s good to know about. But if there’s something else going on here, you want to know that too.

2. Should I mention that my manager seems to be blogging during the workday?

The assistant superintendent at my workplace seems well-liked by the superintendent, but she is generally disliked by everyone else. She claims to be very busy, but I recently discovered (during off-hours, online sleuthing) that she maintains a blog. The posts are relatively long and detailed. For the most part, blog updates appear to be posted during work hours.

I understand that this could be explained in that she does most of the writing at home and does the posting/finalizing during a break, but I strongly suspect she is doing much of the writing at work. Her breaks are not at set times, so it’s difficult to prove. Is this worth bringing up to anyone? Should I just keep a record of the post dates and times in case it becomes important? I know I sound malicious; she has a good chance of promotion when our superintendent leaves, and I fear this will have disastrous consequences for the whole organization.

Is she writing inappropriate things about work? If not, this really isn’t your business and there’s nothing to report. Blog posts can be set in advance to automatically publish at certain times (I set all mine to auto-publish the day before, and sometimes even earlier); there’s no reason to assume she’s not doing the same.

3. Should I warn my coworker that he shouldn’t apply for my job?

I am leaving my job, and there is a rumor that a colleague in a different office in the org. is being considered as a replacement. I think he would be great in this position. He is very capable and creative. Even so, I feel like I should warn him about the position. He and I both experience similar frustrations in our jobs (lack of money, autonomy, staff resources, etc), and I don’t think my job is going to give him the move up he is wanting.

I don’t know him that well, but I really want to tell him, “Look, you’ll be great at this job, but it will provide the same frustrations you have now. If you’re fine with that, make sure you ask for more money and at least one more FTE for you to make it worth your while.” Would it be appropriate to send him a warning?

It sounds like the two of you have talked about his work frustrations in the past, so it wouldn’t be weird to tip him off to this kind of thing. And even if I’m interpreting that wrong and you haven’t talked about it, there’s nothing wrong with offering to talk about the job with him and tell him the good and the bad (which every job has, after all).

However, when you say “send,” I assume you’re talking about email — in which case, no, don’t do that. That isn’t a conversation for email. Talk in person.

4. Should I use vacation time for my last few days at work?

I’ve given notice at my job. I gave about 3.5 weeks, and now I’m am struggling to stay motivated. I have a bit of vacation that I could use (it would just be paid out if I don’t use it), so that I could take of the last day or two of work. I’m so tempted, but would it be a mistake?

You’d need to clear it with your manager in advance, and many companies have policies that prohibit using vacation time during your last few weeks of work — they want you there to assist with the transition, which is what notice periods are there for. If you’re leaving things in good shape and your manager is fine with you taking those days, there’s no inherent reason not to — but I wouldn’t assume that your manager won’t mind, since in many jobs (where transition time is important), that request would understandably be turned down.

5. Did I mishandle phone tag with an employer?

I’m in my mid 20’s and have been rather lucky getting jobs so far. So I’m not that strong on interview etiquette, especially on returning phone calls. (And it doesn’t help that phoning people is a very strong trigger for my anxiety.) During my last (unsuccessful) job search, over a year ago, I was contacted for an interview. The person left a message on my answering machine. And I phoned back and left a “hi, this is (my name) returning your call” message. I think it was a day later and a few phone calls (spaced at least an hour a part) later I left another message, letting the person know I would be at home for the rest of the day, and to call when it was convenient for them (it wouldn’t have sounded or worded this calm, and I was nervous and stressed at the time). Of course they didn’t, but I did finally get into contact with this person. But I realize (and did so soon after leaving the message) that what I said was the wrong thing to say/do.

What is your suggestion for situations like this? Is there any way to prevent “phone tag” from happening on the applicant’s end? (I had a really hard time getting into touch with this person, which is mostly understandable, as they have a lot of responsibilities, but it was very frustrating.)

I’m not sure what you think was wrong with your message; it sounds pretty normal to me. If anything here was wrong, it was the multiple phone calls an hour apart — that’s a little too much, and in the days of Caller ID can rub people the wrong way. But phone tag is sometimes a normal part of this, just like it’s a normal thing when you’re trying to get in touch with anyone, in a business context or a personal one. You call, you leave a message saying you’re eager to talk to them, you tell them when they’re most likely to be able to reach you (offering as a wide a block as you can), and you hope you manage to connect. Sometimes it ends up not happening, but that’s not really within your control.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 264 comments… read them below }

  1. Belinda Gomez-Maldonado*

    “phoning people is a very strong trigger for my anxiety”
    I would seek professional help for this. Even though email and texts are increasingly more common than phone calls, many businesses will still require phone conversations.

    1. Kathlynn*

      I have gotten treatment for it, but it’s not something that is easy to fix, certainly not in two years. (and considering it was also some of my highest triggers I’m doing very well now.)

      1. EE*

        I’m glad to hear there’s been improvement. A friend of mine also has this problem, though perhaps not with that intensity.

      2. Adam*

        I’m glad you’re getting help. I can have some phone anxiety as well. Usually it only involves certain people these days, but I know what it’s like to have to “psyche yourself up” just to make a phone call.

  2. Mike C*

    OP #1 – Your boss sounds like a crazy person.

    The is nothing inappropriate with someone talking about their role within a group, especially if it is a leadership role. Does he also expect folks in other leadership roles such as in politics and religious organizations not to use their titles as well, or is it just limited to those he employs?

    Can you add any more information as to why your boss said this?

        1. MW77*

          Ditto. I agree that it could be a quirk of the manager, which is why it’s good to ask about. But my instinct is that its a quirk about women saying they lead. How did others (male and female) introduce themselves during the practice?

          1. College Career Counselor*

            Perhaps covered already, but could OP #1 use her actual title to make the distinction? Or if the title is somewhat vague (Senior Teapot Analyst), could she mention the title and say “as such, I supervise/oversee the production of Teapots”? I realize that there are similarities between “lead” and “supervise/oversee,” but one is about people and the other is perhaps a bit more about the process. But the boss is definitely weird about this, from what you report.

            1. OP #1*

              Good questions. More info:

              We all scheduled our pratice sessions individually, so I haven’t heard another manager’s talk introduction yet.

              I hesitate to cry chauvinism on this, since my boss has shown awareness of such issues before (e.g. making sure we weren’t just using “he” to refer to a potential new hire we hadn’t begun interviewing for).

              My title is indeed “Teapot-making Manager”, so I suppose I could say I “manage” the team and no one could take issue with me for effectively stating my title. (Or at least so I would think.)

              1. Camellia*

                We usually say “I’m the manager of the Teapot-making team”.

                Somehow using the noun “manager” instead of the noun/verb combo “I manager” just seems to sit better with people.

                1. OP #1*

                  Hm, ok. Maybe that might help! I’ll take that one for a spin by the boss and see what he thinks.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  How does he describe your position to others? There might be clues in that.

              2. Lisa*

                Does the boss describe himself as the leader of the team? My old boss would do this. Claim he was director of accounts when another guy was, and claim that guy was more of a project manager.

              3. Fabulously Anonymous*

                Will your title be evident somehow? For example, is it on your presentation deck or in the agenda?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I can think of one scenario where I might agree with #1’s boss to not use the word “lead” but in my scenario, I wouldn’t substitute it with “on”.

      In my org, we have functional departments, and you could be the manager of the Ceramic Team while the employees on the Ceramic Team are assigned to projects and their daily work is “led” by the project manager. The department manager is leading administratively, but less-so operationally. But, you still would never say that you are “on” the Ceramic Team when you’re really the department manager.

      1. OP #1*

        Ah! Good thought. But no cookie in this case. :( I am the supervisor as well as project manager. I also share product management duties with multiple people senior to me. So I supervise and coordinate the work as well as help define what we should be working on.

          1. OP #1*

            I hear your angle here but:

            You don’t know me well enough to make a judgement call on whether I’m thinking of gender “all the time”.

            Regardless of how enlightened or unenlightened my views on gender might be, I still need to be pragmatic about the impression I simultaneously give ~200 colleagues, some of whom may indeed view such an introduction through “gender goggles”.

          2. OriginalEmma*

            I’m really happy that you have never experienced gender discrimination, either in your life or in the workplace, to be able to believe and promote this privileged world view. You may not believe gender is an important aspect of every day life, but please realize that your perspective is not the universal experience or universal truth.

            Gender discrimination is real, and it’s not because we “keep bringing it up all the time.” It is subtle and systematic and is built upon inequalities and micro-aggressions such as the ones LW likely might be dealing with.

            As Alison has said before, let’s not question to LW’s perspective when they set the stage and offer the context of their situation. If LW is offering gender discrimination as a factor in her treatment, then believe her.

            1. OP #1*

              To clarify–I’m not saying gender is necessarily playing a role in my boss’ mind. I’m motivating why I feel I have a particular responsibility to present myself as confident and comfortable.

              I want to be clear that I’m not (at the present time) claiming I’m experiencing discrimination. Sorry if that wasn’t clear from the letter!

          3. EngineerGirl*

            Wow. You’ve never worked in a male dominated industry have you? It’s shoved down your throat all the time. And it is way better than it used to be!

            1. KrisL*

              I’m a female in a male dominated industry, and I’ve almost never had any problems like that. But that doesn’t mean that other people don’t have problems.

          4. Tinker*

            Sometimes you are a human on a human dominated team. Sometimes you are not, and it is not always because you are the one who is thinking about gender all the time.

            When I get addressed in a way that calls significant attention to the perception that I’m female, it’s jarring to me because in most of the environments I spend time in that doesn’t happen and because it’s not consistent with the way I view myself — yet it still happens on the odd occasion.

            Do I just suddenly come down with a case of the gender for no apparent reason sometimes, or do I meet other people with different perspectives whose behavior proves to reflect this? It seems like one of these explanations is much more sensible than the other.

      2. sunny-dee*

        AA, that’s what I thought as well, because projects at my job are also structure like that (supervisor, then “leads” for different functional areas) — but the supervisor / lead distinctions are usually pretty well understood in that scenario.

        I agree with EngineeringGirl — I would feel very undermined in this situation. Sorry, OP. :(

    2. Jen*

      Yeah, especially when “I lead the ceramics team” is not braggy or weird. It’s just stating facts. My current boss introduces himself like this “Hello, I’m Jimmy and I am IN CHARGE of the ceramics team which means I get to boss around this one over here and that one over there. It also means I am in charge of firing the ceramics, I’m in charge of selecting the colors and I’m in charge of making sure everything gets done on time. *exaggerated sigh* – Yes, it’s quite a bit of work so . . . YOU’RE WELCOME!”

      That’s extreme and he literally does it every time he introduces himself in a meeting and I would love for the VP to tell him it’s inappropriate.

      The simplicity of what you said seems fine and accurate.

    3. LBK*

      I think it’s a misguided attempt to not position the OP as superior or dominant over the employees – like “lead” implies “these are my minions” whereas “on” implies “we all work together and my manager is a great team player”.

      It’s really stupid, because making your team feel like you work together towards a common goal is accomplished by actually working together towards a common goal, not by nitpicking insignificant word choice. If the team actually feels like their manager is aligned and helps them, they won’t care about what word is used. If they don’t feel that way, using “on” instead of “lead” isn’t going to change it.

      1. Us, Too*

        ITA. I do not feel that my contributions to a team are any less than that of the person leading the team. Because, well, TEAM. We all have to do our parts and leadership is an important part.

    4. Artemesia*

      this just jumped out as an attempt to denigrate a woman with modest authority. I would hope the OP would let her boss know that that is the way it will look to those who are aware of her role.

      1. KrisL*

        I hope the OP doesn’t mention this to her boss unless other options are eliminated, and this seems to be the only reason why the boss suggested this. If the boss isn’t trying to denigrate her because she’s a woman, suggesting this is going to make the OP sound high maintenance.

        Think about it like “I’m a person, and why shouldn’t I say what my role is?”

  3. T*

    #3 Another reason not to use email for this is that you don’t want a record of you or your coworker seeming to complain about work.

    #4 Some companies have policies regarding working through your last day in order to receive payouts for vacation time. I would suggest looking into this before making any decisions.

  4. EngineerGirl*

    #2 – Blog posts can be scheduled to update at any time via the chron function. While your coworker ay indeed be blogging at work the timing of the posts is not any kind of evidence at all.

    1. Anon*

      They might also be posted throughout the day without her scheduling them. If she’s blogging on Tumblr, a certain number of her queued posts go out during the day. My own Tumblr posts things while I’m at work. And while I’m sleeping.

      Point is, it depends on the site/platform she’s using.

    2. annie*

      Just a PSA that this is also true of social media posts, they can be scheduled ahead of time. I volunteer for a small community service club as one of their social media people, and we pre-schedule everything to post while we are at our regular jobs. I would hope that anyone who knows I am involved with them (many coworkers do, some have participated in our saturday service days in the past) does not assume I am posting at work!

    3. KrisL*

      I do wonder why the co-worker would have posts set to occur during work hours. I wouldn’t even update my web page during my 10 minute break.

      1. Jessica*

        because that’s the time of day when most of her readers would be looking for new posts?

          1. Anne*

            Right, me too – but North America has a fair few timezones. If a post is set to go live at, say, nine a.m. Pacific time, it will be up in time for lunch breaks in Mountain, Central and Eastern time zones, even though the coworker could hop on at noon Pacific to post (and miss lunch breaks everywhere else). Or if her readers/friends are mostly in CA or HI, a post at 2pm Eastern time would also work well.

  5. GrumpyBoss*

    #1: does your title include “lead”? If it doesn’t, I bet that’s the source of your boss’s issue. I know you say you lead the team, but is this actually your job? If you don’t have the title to reflect what you believe you are doing, this is what I’d discuss with your boss if I were you.

    But at the end of the day, regardless of if you agree with it or not, it sounds like you have a pretty clear direction from your boss to NOT say you “lead” in this presentation. I think trying to fit it into the presentation anyway could lead to some immediate disastrous consequences for you. Talk to him, but be prepared to follow his wishes, even if they seem crazy.

    1. EE*

      Yes, directly disobeying him would be a terrible move. But I hope the OP can make him see reason.

    2. Mike C.*

      No, I think it’s entirely inappropriate for a boss to expect an em0loyee to lie about their position at work. How far does it go? Does it mean she cannot list her accomplishments on her resume?

      There are some requests that are totally out of line, and this is one of them.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        My comment wasn’t about was it appropriate or not. My comment is pretty clear – sometimes our managers ask us to do things we don’t agree with. You have to choose if this is a hill you want to take or not. In her case, if she intentionally goes in an opposite direction from his expressed wishes, she may win her battle but lose the war.

          1. LBK*

            I don’t think the intention is to make her lie, I think it’s because the manager feels there’s implications of the word “lead” that would make her employees feel negative. Which is dumb, but I’m guessing that’s his intention.

            1. Artemesia*

              And I’m guessing the thought would never had occurred to him with a male team lead.

              1. KrisL*

                It’s sad if that’s true. If the team is uncomfortable having a female team lead, it’s going to be more of a regular thing, not related to one statement.

      2. Various Assumed Names*

        I wonder if this is a culture that happens to be especially team-oriented, where it’s practice to give credit to the team as a whole. I worked at a place that was kind of like that, and it wouldn’t have been odd for a manager or a partner to say she was “on” a certain team. Wouldn’t it be presumed that since you’re the one giving the presentation, you’re not just a cog on the team?

        But I also understand OP’s frustration because she’s doing the work and she shouldn’t have to downplay it. Even at my old job, nobody would have directly told someone not to say she “leads” a team if that’s how she was comfortable introducing herself (presuming it was true). It probably would have been more common to say “I’m a manager on” or “I head up” or “I help run” the ceramics team, but that’s just that particular company’s culture.

        1. Cajun2Core*

          That is exactly what I was thinking also. It may be a culture thing where in the culture, hierarchy is downplayed.

          1. OP #1*

            Right, we are that kind of place. That’s why I figured “lead” was a better pick than “manage”. Still, “on” feels overboard even for our office.

            My boss is on vacation this week, so I guess I’ll try to get a better feel for if this reasoning was probably cultural from other managers (who have been there much longer than me).

            1. MJ*

              In a culture where heirarchy is downplayed, you could express yourself this way: “Hi, I’m Wakeen, and I support the Ceramic Team here at Teapots Inc.” Support includes leading but it is also about giving team members latitude to lead themselves, which is what happens when your team is made of highly functioning folks. To say you support emphasizes the capabilities of your team members, while saying you lead emphasizes your role over the role of the team.

              1. Rayner*

                I don’t think that works – support to me would imply a smaller, secondary department or person who assisted the big department in their processes. Or, alternatively, staff like interns, receptionists, PAs, and the like who ‘support’ the rest of the team with the functionality of the office space, and leave the rest to create and work magic.

                1. LBK*

                  Yeah, I agree – “support” says lower in the hierarchy to me, not higher. Or at least equal, but definitely not management.

                2. hildi*

                  Agreed that ‘support’ can imply someone in a lower position, but I think maybe the context of the talk and the content of it might make a difference. If in the nature of the speech and the panel OP is on it’s clear that she is not in a stereotypical support role, then it could work on this case. In reality, most people listening are not going to analyze the word choice like we are here. Hopefully the content is more dazzling than the title (though I totally understand why it’s a concern for OP)

                3. MJ*

                  I think that in this context, though, where she is addressing a larger group about the work of the team, it will be clear what level of support she has. I have a director role and always refer to my work as one of support. It’s my job to make sure everyone has what they need to do their best work. Everyone here creates and works magic.

                4. hildi*

                  Also, we here don’t think support is the best word, but obviously OP’s boss is a little cracked on this topic anyway, so he just might like the way it sounds.

              2. P*

                Yeah, I’m going to jump in with Rayner here – I think that the common usage of “support [staff]” almost always refers to assistants of some kind.

              3. Artemesia*

                Let’s see. A woman in a male dominated profession who ‘supports the team.’ That to me is clearly the secretary or AA or even an intern; it certainly doesn’t say manager or leader.

                1. MJ*

                  That depends on your organization’s culture. Where I work, managers support their teams. It’s the language we use to indicate to staff the importance of their individual roles. Our organizational chart shows managers below their teams. We want managers to think of their leadership in terms of support.

                  OP#1 has been asked by her boss not to use the word “lead.” If that is being asked only of her and not of her male counterparts, that is a serious problem. But perhaps instead, she is being asked to do this because the organization is trying to shift culture to one that doesn’t see leadership so much as a level up in hierarchy as just another role in the organization (which has particular responsibilities and generally pays more). They may want to de-emphasize the idea of one person being “over” others and emphasize that managers are part of the team.

    3. The Real Ash*

      Good point. I think something could also be said for her bringing up the “female manager in a male-dominated field” angle to her manager, depending on how he would take that. It could be spun in a PR way, like look how awesome we are with a woman as a team lead in this division or something to that affect. If she demonstrates that it would make the company look better, it might help get her point across to the manager more easily.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Treating female leadership as a big deal isn’t typically a great PR move though. It’s 2014.

        1. Cube Ninja*

          Touting female leadership as A Thing may be out of style, but there’s also still quite a lot of rampant gender discrimination in the workplace. I could also see this as a male manager downplaying a female subordinate’s role.

          We also don’t know what OP’s formal title is, which makes it difficult to even speculate as to what her manager could be thinking with that request/direction.

        2. The Real Ash*

          Yes, and there’s no such thing as racism or sexism anymore. *rolls eyes*

          The OP said “male-dominated field” for a reason. Do you honestly think that female leadership in a male-dominated field isn’t a big deal?

          1. OP #1*

            I mentioned it (here as well as in my email reply to my boss asking for clarification–his original comment to me was via email and he’s on vacation this week), because I’m sensitive to coming across as speaking about myself too self-effacingly, which is a common problem for women in such fields, and is how I’m worried such an introduction would be interpreted.

          2. Bend & Snap*

            An eye roll, how charming and respectful!

            He specifically said “PR.” I’m in PR and let me assure you that trotting out a token female manager as “evidence” that the company supports female leadership can do more harm than good in this age of increasing female leadership. It glosses over the underlying problem and doesn’t fix anything…not to mention that making a big deal that the company employs womenfolk IS NOT PROGRESSIVE.

            I’m a woman tech so I’m familiar with male-dominated industries. No need for the heavy sarcasm you served up here.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit*

              I’m super sensitive to gender stuff, but just wanted to say that I heard what you meant and agree with it. The issue is not whether gender discrimination is real (obviously), but whether it would be a good move for the OP or her company to make a point of highlighting her gender.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hey, can we cut out the eye rolls please? That’s unnecessary to making your point and makes this all feel way more snarky than it needs to.

          1. OriginalEmma*

            Acknowledging discrimination based on a characteristic, whether it’s gender, race, or religious affiliation, does not degrade the target of that discrimination. It empowers them by highlighting maltreatment for a very specific reason and can be an impetus for change.

          2. De (Germany)*

            Believe me, as a female software developer in the automotive industry, I am aware of my gender all the time. Because I stand out all the time.

        3. KrisL*

          Acting like having a female manager is a big deal seems kind of wrong somehow. Shouldn’t it seem like a normal thing? The idea of a company saying something like “Look, we have a female manager, see how non-sexist we are!” makes me cringe.

          If companies employ people and give raises and promotions based on ability, this shouldn’t be a real problem.

    4. OP #1*

      My title is “Teapot-making Manager”. I am the supervisor as well as project manager. I also share product management duties with multiple people senior to me. So I supervise and coordinate the work as well as help define what we should be working on.

      Yeah, my end game here is hopefully changing my boss’s mind, or coming up with a third solution (I “manage” the team?).

      1. neverjaunty*

        Do other people with your identical job in other teams introduce themselves at these things with “Hi, I’m Bob and I lead the Tea Strainer Team”, such that it’s just you who doesn’t get to use the L-word?

        It’s really not possible to answer this question without knowing your boss’ stated rationale for why he doesn’t like ‘lead’. My eduguess is that it’s either the culture (nobody says “lead” because blah blah flat hierarchy teambuilding), or despite being somewhat modern, he still has a weird thing in his head where you say “lead” and he hears “bossy and uppity”.

      2. Cafe Au Lait*

        Can you start your introduction with ” My name is OP #1. I work at Chocolate Teapot Designing Company where I am the Manager of Teapot Swirls and Spout Functionality.

        1. Jen RO*

          I think this is the safest way – the boss can’t get angry that you used your actual job title… (I hope!)

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This is what I was thinking, too. And then concentrate on giving one heck of a good speech. Because in the end they will not even remember your title. They will remember the interesting and unique points you brought out in your discussion of your subject.

          1. Emily*

            I think this is the way to go, too. Your boss can’t (theoretically) argue with the fact of your title. You deserve to have the audience know your position, and you deserve the opportunity to hear yourself say it! But then, most importantly, the content of your speech and your ideas and skills will speak to your position and expertise as well as any title or introduction could.

            If your boss takes issue with you stating your title, maybe that will tell you everything you need to know about the motivations there.

  6. Julie*

    Regarding #4: I once had a team member give me two weeks’ notice and then tell me she was going to take vacation for 8 of the 10 days, so I actually got only 2 days’ notice. I don’t know if I could have told her she couldn’t take the vacation time, but at the time I thought I couldn’t, and it really made me angry.

    1. Jennifer M.*

      As a manager, I hate it when people on my team “tell” me they are going to take vacation. They are free to request vacation and 99% of the time I will approve it, but our company has a clear policy in the Ops Manual that employees must request leave in advance to ensure proper coverage and I expect those on my team to follow the rules. Having myself received written (email) approval of days off in the past that were then rescinded due to extraordinary business circumstances, I was able to use that emailed approval as documentation to get non-refundable expenses reimbursed by my company. It just protects everyone.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        I’m with you. When I’m “told” they are taking a vacation, it makes me really want to say “no”. I almost never reject vacation requests, unless it’s a too many people out already situation. So just informing me that this is happening pisses me off.

        1. Mike C.*

          It’s not some benevolence granted by you from on high, it’s part of their compensation.

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            Wrong. Every company I’ve ever worked at says very clearly that PTO is approved “at the manager’s discretion”. And unless your manager is an a-hole, they will grant it. But per company policy, most places do give the manager the authority to grant it, regardless if you like it or not.

            This is not about a boss playing god and saying you can or cannot have time off. This is about employees following a process so a manager can properly manager his or her team.

            1. Mike C.*

              As a manager, you don’t put PTO into someone’s bank, the company does. You being upset that employees don’t give you the proper deference (asking versus telling) is a bit much. Your employees aren’t children.

              1. Jen RO*

                You don’t put their PTO in their bank, but you do manage day to day activities. What if you have 3 team members and all three want time off in the busiest week of the year? Are they simply entitled to it because they earned it? I don’t think so – scheduling is a major concern, and *that* is where the manager has to step in.

              2. Jennifer M.*

                It’s not about due deference, it is about following clearly stated processes. If a policy manual specifically states that employees must request leave approval from their managers, as it does at my company, I believe it is not treating employees like children to require them to follow the company’s rules, it is in fact treating them like adults who have the ability to work in a group and understand that their actions impact others.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I assume GrumpyBoss isn’t saying that she decides whether they can ever take vacation, but rather whether those particular days can be approved, which is indeed a pretty normal piece of the vacation process at many companies.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit*

              I think the objection is to the general tone of GrumpyBoss’s comment (which is in turn a reaction to the tone of the vacation requests she gets – “demanding” rather than “asking”). The reality is the same in any case: an employee wishes to take certain days off, informs her boss, and either is or is not allowed to take those days off.

              It’s just that employees are thinking about their whole life, with work as a part of what needs to be managed to put together a vacation. Their bosses are thinking about their whole team’s workload, with an individual employee’s vacation request as a part of what needs to be managed to put together a week’s workflow.

              1. Ms Enthusiasm*

                I usually ASK if it is ok with my manager to schedule time off. I know I’m entitled to use my PTO time, and I wouldn’t schedule time off during business critical times. I ASK (instead of TELL) just because I feel like it is a sign of respect to my manager.

              2. LBK*

                Exactly – the wording of it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like if an employee tells vs. asks that the boss has no choice but to allow it. You can still say no.

              3. Tinker*

                Yeah, I think there’s an inadvertent implication that people need to be deferential and explicitly acknowledge the manager’s power to approve or deny when they’re asking for leave, when the real issue is a person being uncollegial in the way that they’re doing the scheduling. To someone in an dynamic with their manager where it’s mutually assumed that they’re thinking with the best interests of the group in mind, it sounds like they’re being told that they should bow and scrape in addition, and that doesn’t go over well. But it’s really a matter of a clash in the interpersonal assumptions underlying the discussion.

                Personally, I put forward things like days off in much the same way as I raise anything else that I do at work that has the potential to affect other people — some things are more “I’m scheduling a doctor’s appointment for early next week” (which is not really up for negotiation, all factors considered) or “I’m rebooting the blah-server”, and perhaps some are more “I’ve got a week-long event in August, how does that work with the release schedule?” (where I pretty much expect to take the time off, but there’s some question of how to implement the schedule) or “I need like ten virtual servers for the foo-project, do we have room for that?”

                1. Victoria Nonprofit*

                  I like the way you put that. Planning to be out of the office is not different than planning any other aspect of your work.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Some jobs demand bowing and scraping. It pays to know your environment. Especially, if not bowing and scraping costs you weeks or months of “the treatment”.

                  That said, I think that PTO is a coordinated effort.
                  I needed a bunch of time for dental work. I could not have pulled that off if a number of people did not cover my stuff at work. I thanked people. It just felt like the right thing to do.

          3. NoPantsFridays*

            The way I understand it, which may be wrong: the vacation/PTO itself is part of your compensation, but *when* you actually take it is up to the manager’s discretion.

        2. Various Assumed Names*

          This is totally dependent on the company though. There are plenty of companies where it’s normal for people to tell their managers when they’re planning to take vacation time, and plenty where it has to be formally requested and approved. If someone isn’t following the guidelines of your company, that’s the problem.

          1. Michele*

            I would say 95% of the companies I have worked for have operated on submitting a formal request to your manager for approval. The reality is 99% of the time I would always approve the request but there were times where I had to ask an employee to adjust their time off a day or 2. I also always responded to a request within 24 hours.

      2. Stephanie*

        As an employee, I hate “asking” to use PTO. I’m an adult, I have good judgement, and I’m a high performer. I shouldn’t need permission to use my work benefits. I usually say something like “here are the days I’m taking, let me know if it’s a problem”. If I were planning to take a week or more off, I would discuss it with my manager – not to get permission, but to make sure it was a good time to leave for that long.

        1. the gold digger*

          Exactly. For the first time since I waited tables in college, I have to punch a time card. (Well, figuratively. We do it online.) The idea that I have to ask permission to take the vacation I am due is maddening. I do not schedule vacation when there are important meetings. I know how to manage my time. Do not treat me like a 15 year old working at Dairy Queen.

          1. Emily*

            It almost makes it worse when a manager “demands” employees ask permission and justifies the expectation with “I’ll almost always approve it!” You know, because they’re so magnanimous. That’s like saying, “It’s practically a given that I’m going to grant your request; I just take pleasure in hearing you ask first, and making you wait and wonder, however briefly, while I make my decision.”

            I think there’s a fair middle ground between employees outright demanding PTO and feeling like they have to grovel for it. Tone and advance notice are important factors.

        2. GrumpyBoss*

          If you are looking at it that way, I can see why you find the thought offensive. But a manager isn’t managing YOUR time. He/she is managing the time and deliverables of several individuals and has a better view of what is required for the team and department than you probably do. The way you put it doesn’t sound offensive to me at all as a boss. You come, suggest a time off, ask if there are concerns. The problem many of us have are “I’m going to be out M-F next week” as a statement, rather than a dialogue.

          And while YOU may act like an adult, no matter how old some of us get, we still act like children when it comes to time off. It’s 9:30am, and I’ve already had to have this conversation with a direct: “No, you cannot have July 3rd off. As I told everyone in the team meeting last week, and followed up with an email on Friday, we have too many people off on that date, and the remainder of the staff are needed to maintain business operations. Since the 4th falls on a Friday, we knew it would be a popular request off. That is why I warned everyone 3 months ago that it is approved on a first come, first serve basis.” And then to his response, “That’s not faaaaaaaair!!!!”. This conversation will play out again this week. Then again on Friday after Thanksgiving. Then yet again on Christmas Eve. Situations like this is why I require my staff to put their requests for time off in writing and receive a written approval from me. As I stated above, I rarely say no, unless its a situation where the absence will leave us short handed.

          1. Mike C.*

            And many of us are told what needs to be taken care of, and then told to manage those deliverable and it’s not a problem.

          2. LBK*

            I was somewhat on board with you but this comment seems to really confirm Mike’s statement. You are kind of treating your employees like children – “He/she is managing the time and deliverables of several individuals and has a better view of what is required for the team and department than you probably do.” Aside from knowing what other time off requests have already been submitted, what would a manager know that an employee wouldn’t? Business cycles and project deadlines shouldn’t be secrets. If an employee is somehow completely unaware that a certain time is bad, that either strikes me as a) bad communication as a team, or b) a bad employee.

            Your whole second paragraph comes off as “I don’t like dealing with a bad employee individually, so I choose to manage everyone to their level” which is an approach I really dislike. If you know this person is going to be a pain in the ass every time vacation issues come up, why hasn’t this been addressed?

          3. Not So NewReader*

            I have seen this a lot.

            Some jobs have a bare bones head count of employees that must be met.
            There just isn’t any wiggle room for one more person to be out.
            A person who is doing this predictably is not getting the concept that x number of people have to be at work on that particular day. Okay, maybe it’s not faaaairrr. But this is the system you using. He has been informed of how the system works and given plenty of time to respond.

            I gave up a long time ago looking for fairness in systems. Most are flawed even if it’s in a small way. The best thing that can happen is that I find out how the system works in a timely and useful manner. The rest is up to me.

          4. Connie-Lynne*

            Sounds like you’ve got a problem report there.

            I’ve twice managed 24-7 service desks and both times, after I set forth the shift guidelines, including vacation policies, the teams self-organized everything, including PTO and vacation coverage.

            Once in a while folks would need an emergency timeoff that couldn’t be covered by our backup plan, but even then they often simply found someone to cover and then emailed both of us.

            I would monitor things, and make sure that things like “Hey, Joe, you always work Christmas, do I need to make sure that doesn’t happen this year so you get family time?” and “Anna, I see you worked 16 hours on Monday, thank you so much for covering in an emergency but next time give me a jingle so I can give you some rest time; why don’t you take a PTO day this week?”

            While our company technically requires formal approval, my policy was a documented “consider your time off approved if you are the first person to request it and your shifts are covered. ” I was really impressed both times how each team responded to autonomy with accountability and equitability.

        3. ExceptionToTheRule*

          It isn’t always about whether you’re an “adult” or not. There are some businesses in which your approach is perfectly fine. There are others in which it’s not. Can we lay off the insinuation that people who work in businesses that require shift coverage by equally skilled employees are less “adult” than those that don’t?

          1. AB Normal*

            My job doesn’t require shift coverage, and the only requirement for taking days off is to add the days to the group calendar. Even so, I have been in situations where all of a sudden my boss needed to present something to the C-suite, and I was the only one in a position to create a set of slides.

            Things like these happen, and that’s why I think it makes sense to ask for permission for a specific set of days off, even though we are all adults. I don’t have visibility into the whole company, and if a big contract with a customer is coming up and need my help to go through, it may very well be that I’ll have to reschedule my vacation days (with the company paying for non-refundable expenses). The fact that I have PTO doesn’t mean the company will allow me to take the days off as I please — which I’m happy about because that’s how we keep in business and growing.

          2. Mike C.*

            The comments about “being an adult” have to do with how employees are treated rather than the work being done.

            For example, if you needed to take a certain set of days off, but you ensured that there would be shift coverage during your leave and your manager responded with “ok, sounds like a plan” then you’re being treated like an adult.

            If instead you get a rant about deliverables and coverage and “why didn’t you ask me nicely” then you’re not.

        4. Anonypants*

          A better way to phrase it is “I was thinking of taking these days off, is that okay?” Asking if it’s okay is more a formality than anything else, it shows respect for your boss and consideration for the rest of the team.

          It’s like saying “sorry” – sometimes it’s more of an acknowledgement that your actions impacted another person, or a brief expression of empathy, than an actual apology.

          1. Jennifer M.*

            As a manager I am perfectly fine with that type of wording. Most of my staff usually phrase their requests exactly like that. And I always reply within 8 business hours (ie, if you send a request at 6pm on your way out the door, I probably won’t even look at it until the next morning).

          2. Victoria Nonprofit*

            I suspect this is traveling into the realm of derailing, so please feel free to ignore (if you’re a commenter) or delete (if you’re Alison).

            As an employee who doesn’t manage anyone these days, I actively prefer Stephanie’s approach to yours. Of course my manager can reject my proposed vacation, but I’d rather start from the assumption that I’m being reasonable and ask her to let me know if I’m not. It’s all semantics, but I don’t like the timidity in your language (“I’m thinking…” “Is that ok?” etc.)

            I honestly can’t remember how anyone made requests of me when I was managing. I’m pretty sure I would only have been annoyed by a request was if it was a) obviously unreasonable, like they wanted to take the day of our big annual event off, or b) a person who had me at the end of my rope for other reasons.

          3. Ali*

            That’s the way I do it in my (very flexible) workplace since we’re never really denied time off or a shift switch, but our culture calls for us to always phrase our requests in an asking manner and put them in the scheduling document ourselves. (We use Google documents for that kind of thing.) When I want time off, or even just want to start an hour or two earlier, I just write something like Hey Boss, instead of starting at X time on Saturday, is it OK if I start an hour earlier at Y time? And that seems to be pretty effective…I’ve never been denied anything that way.

        5. Elizabeth West*

          That’s what I do. My manager is really good about approving stuff and she treats us like adults. It took some getting used to–I’m more familiar with asking and having someone get pissy about it. But it’s nice to work at a company that actually wants you to use your PTO, and gives you enough of it to make it worthwhile!

        6. Jennifer M.*

          I think that what Grumpy Boss and I are saying is that we don’t want to be asked because we have any great desire to be the leave police but because we need to maintain a certain level of accountability not just from you, but from ourselves as managers, and from the team as a whole of which you are only a single player. (Grumpy Boss, I hope I am not misrepresenting your position).

          I want to approve leave because as I mentioned in an earlier post, if that approved leave has to be rescinded at a later date due to a business emergency, you now have some cover to try to get reimbursed by the company for some non refundable costs.

          I want to approve leave because as a team leader in a compliance department that is tasked with making sure that all the work we as a company do is in full compliance with the rules and regulations of our government contracts, I believe that we must model compliance for the rest of the company by following all of the rules of our official corporate policies, not just the ones we feel like.

          I want to approve leave because there is no way I can have anyone on my team out the last week of September even though that is prime wedding season because that is also the end of the government’s fiscal year so they are often awarding contracts like crazy to get their budget spent and not just my team, but the entire department, need all hands on deck to review documents so that our company doesn’t get stuck with a bad contract.

          I want to approve leave because Employee A has performance issues related to a condition covered by the ADA and the reasonable accommodations we made for her included a commitment from her to strictly follow all of the rules related to potential absences from work so I need to be on top of her leave balances.

          I want to approve leave so that when I need to submit my own request to my own manager, I can say that I’ve already talked to my team about coverage for the last week of April and even though Employee B is taking a half day on the Wednesday I’ll be out, we have enough coverage.

          1. LBK*

            I don’t see how an employee saying “I’m taking these 3 days off” prevents you from doing any of that. It’s not like an employee making a statement is a legally binding contract and you can’t say “Actually, no, I need you here for these days.”

            I’m really confused why managers would find it troublesome to tell an employee they can’t take time off just because the employee stated it rather than asked it. Just tell them no.

            1. short'n'stout*

              “I’m really confused why managers would find it troublesome to tell an employee they can’t take time off just because the employee stated it rather than asked it.”

              Because we all want to work in an environment where interactions are collegial, not adversarial. Not all managers are comfortable with “just” saying no, even if they do have that authority.

            2. doreen*

              One of the reasons I find it troublesome is because there has been a huge culture clash since my agency merged with a much larger one. In many ways, the former culture was dysfunctional. One example is that people wouldn’t request days off, they would simply state they were taking them off. Telling rather than asking might not have been a problem if people paid attention to such things as who already had approved time off, but they didn’t. Or if people planned ahead, but they didn’t do that either. Or even if they acknowledged that it was possible the leave wouldn’t be approved and waited to make firm travel plans. Management wasn’t blameless- so many managers didn’t say “no” (even if it would result in deadlines not being met) that people just assumed that they couldn’t or wouldn’t.

              Which caused me all kinds of problems when I had to say no. Invariably, the person who had the flights and the hotels booked in advance of approval would be the one who didn’t request the time off , but instead informed me that they were taking a particular week off. Same for the ones who hit their leave cap and will lose leave time if they can’t take off the last three weeks of March – it’s always the people who inform me that they are taking leave rather than requesting it. And when I have to say “no”, it becomes my fault that they lose their deposit or their accrued leave. Where I work, telling rather than asking is a pretty good indicator that an employee thinks I can’t say “no”.

      3. Rebecca*

        Hopefully you approve it right away, and not wait weeks or months like my manager does. She also dislikes it when we tell her “these are the days”, but what she fails to realize is – sometimes there is a short window to book airfare for a reasonable cost, vacation rentals require deposits or payment up front that’s not refundable, and sometimes people want to take a cruise, also requiring a long up front booking plus airfare. Waiting until 2 weeks prior to the requested time off doesn’t work in these cases.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I actually got a week’s vacation from the year before paid out when I left my last job because my manager dragged his feet on approvals from September-December, finally approved my days off, chastised me for asking to use them and then rescinded them.

          That was a pretty sweet check but I would have rather had the vacation time I had earned.

        2. Helka*

          Ugh, one of my first managers did this — I requested time off around Christmas very early, because of airfare requirements and the fact that my family had a big trip planned that was going to be very expensive, so I had to know with a great deal of lead time whether I would be going, what my airfare needs were going to be, etc etc…. He stalled and stalled and hemmed and hawed from April until November.

          Since this was just a retail job, we’d already solidified our plans, booked tickets & transportation, and if he had said no in November I would have just quit. He’d shown himself perfectly willing to play pointless mind games in a lot of situations, and this one (with a couple grand riding on it) was the limit for me.

      4. Jubilance*

        As an adult, I hate the idea of “asking” my boss if I can use my vacation time, which is a benefit offered by my employer. For reference, I’m exempt and not in any type of role where there’s shift work or a need for someone to be on-call. Provided that I let them know in advance, I don’t think I need to ask another adult if I can use my benefit. I wouldn’t ask my manager to use my medical benefits or the 401k, so why do I need his permission for vacation time? And especially in a situation where I’ve already given my notice, the worse thing the manager can do is what, fire me? I’m already leaving!

      5. scmill*

        I haven’t asked anyone for permission to take my vacation (now PTO) in over 30 years. I’m a professional and am expected to manage my own schedule so that my project doesn’t suffer.

      6. CoffeeLover*

        Really? I think it depends on the type of work. The kind of office jobs I’ve done it’s always been expected you manage your own time. So it’s weird to ask if you can take vacation. It’s more of a letting people know kind of thing. In fact, I had to train myself not to say “Can I have Friday off” and just “Hey, I’m taking Friday off.” Of course, if you want to take vacation during a particular busy time, then it would be more of an asking.

      7. KrisL*

        Interesting. I’ve always requested vacation days in the knowledge that if there’s a scheduling conflict, my manager will probably say “no”. That makes sense to me, too. If we don’t have enough people in the office to do the job, it’s a problem.

    2. EE*

      You’ll like this Tales From Local Government!

      If you’ve been working somewhere for a very long time in Australia you can get quite a long period of Long Service Leave. An employee on my team announced on Monday that he planned for Friday to be his last day for some months. He was denied the request because you need to give 3 weeks’ notice and it was a very bad time for him to pop off with little warning.

      Wednesday morning he sends over a doctor’s note covering him for two and a half weeks… what a beautiful coincidence.

      1. StarHopper*

        I would think that kind of stunt would ensure that there was no job waiting for them when they got back. Or at least that they would be looking for reasons to get rid of him.

        1. EE*

          He was on his fourth consecutive PIP and after he pulled the stunt we were all asked to officially document the times we’d found his work substandard or his attitude obstructive. I’d be shocked if he’s allowed back.

          1. the gold digger*

            Tell me about this “fourth consecutive PIP.” In the US, a PIP is the last step before firing someone. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone going through four PIPs and still being employed.

            But I have a friend who works for an Australian company and they just seem to use PIPs as management tools. It seems that everyone in her company (on the US side) has been on a PIP at some point or another.

            1. GrumpyBoss*

              I’ve seen some companies in the US use the PIP so frequently that it basically becomes useless. I had an employment lawyer tell me once that if a company ends up firing everyone they put on a PIP, that makes his job much easier if someone comes to him with a wrongful termination suit.

              Not a lawyer, don’t play one one TV. But if what he tells me is accurate, it makes sense why some litigation shy companies may use the PIP more as a development and growth tool than a “cut the crap” tool.

              1. Rayner*

                Well, a PIP is a performance improvement plan which is a growth and development plan, really.

                It’s the big one, because it puts you in a position where you /have/ to grow or you…don’t. And then you get fired.

                Some people do improve – I’m one of them. Went from mistake after mistake to one of the top performers every week while I worked retail for two and a half years.

                So for people to use it to do that, then it’s basically what it’s there for. Grow or die.

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  I worked for a contractor for the world’s largest software maker in an inside sales position. Every single person working for the contractor was put on PIP multiple times. Some people were on one constantly for their entire tenure. I had come from an outside sales environment where a PIP meant they were giving you 30 days’ notice to find another job.

                  It ticked me off that in this Inside Sales environment, they chose to use a tool that said “improve or you’re fired” instead of coaching, mentoring, training, and managing. If one of your stats dropped below a pre-set threshold, you were put on PIP, regardless of whether or not you were actually meeting a sales quota.

                  I realize this has nothing to do with the original comment, but it’s a situation in the US where PIPs were the management tool of choice. And, so, yes, it was routine for employees to be on multiple, consecutive PIPs.

      2. Armadillo*

        Sounds like there’s more to it. Doctors swear a Hippocratic Oath after all so it’s not like said employer would have gotten a doctor’s notice unless he was sick in some way which could have something to do with the fact that he wanted to leave in the first place.

        It’s not the best way to handle things and proper notice should be given but generally I don’t think people do things like this unless there’s something wrong at the core like depression/burnout.

        Actually with the PIP it sounds like his relationship with the employer had already deteriorated so it makes sense he showed no respect there.

        1. danr*

          There are crooked doctors, and they don’t see lying for the patient as doing harm as long as they are well paid (off). The recent scandals involving disability certifications in the NYC area show this.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Oh my, yes. I have had doctors offer me a note, when I did not need it. They just didn’t like my company that I worked for or maybe the CEO wore his hair funny/oddly, whatever. But you’re right about this one.

        2. Rayner*

          While I commend you for your faith in the good of humanity, it’s also very possible that the coworker lied and hammed it up for the doctor in order to get time off.

          Doctors are tired, are stressed, have a lot to do, and a lot of their work relies on patients being honest and forthcoming about symptoms.

          Throw out ‘runny nose’, ‘fever’, ‘feeling tired all the time’, and boom, that’s a nice case of the mild flu right there, and the doc signs off on it because he’s got fifteen other patients waiting outside with the exact same issue.

          Given that he was sick /exactly/ when he wanted time off, after he was told no, when his attitude apparently was not the best, I’d put my money on lying like a lying dog.

        3. Zahra*

          Please, read this and then tell me that the Hippocratic Oath is a good safeguard.

          For the record, women are often pressured and bullied into a similar position, where they very reluctantly (or under threats of “your baby will die!”) give their consent to have a major surgery.

          I don’t want this to devolve into a side discussion, just wanted to throw in a concrete example of doctors doing what’s convenient for them and not what’s best.

          1. Mints*

            I don’t want to get too off topic either, but you might be interested in a documentary called “The Business of Being Born.” It’s essentially pro-midwife and anti medicalization of birth; it was fascinating (if a little too prosthelytizing)

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Am chuckling. I was not going to mention it- but I am so gladyou did. Yeah there are lots of things people should sit down and read. The Hippocratic Oath, the UN charter… just lot of stuff. It doesn’t say what you think it is going to say.

    3. OP #3 and #4*

      Well not sure if it makes a difference at this point, but I did ASK my boss if it was OK for me to use some remaining vacation so my last day will be a Thursday instead of the Friday.

      My reasoning was not only am I changing jobs, but we are moving cities. The movers are delivering on Friday and my last day was going to be on Friday. Even though my husband would be able to be there to let the movers into the new place, I would just much rather be there to help than stuck at a job I am sick of (hence, new job).

      My original worry, and the reason I wrote in, was because I was nervous that because my current boss and I already agreed on a last day, it might hurt a future reference if I changed on him.

    4. OP #3 and #4*

      Luckily my vacation request isn’t that extreme. I was only going to ask for one day. I am moving cities and want to be in New City to receive my belongings from the movers instead of just having family members help out and do it.

  7. Matt*

    #5: the whole concept of “phone tag” is one of the reasons I hate the phone so much. Even in this case, it would be so much easier to set up an interview date via email (or even if this was not desired, to set up an appointment for the phone call via email) … I can’t understand why people insist on calling. And if they don’t reach you, they call again … and again … and would rather chop off their right hand than to compose an email.

    1. Ollie*

      I’m job hunting right now, and got a phone call from a recruiter (that I’ve never been in contact with before) the other day asking if I was employed and saying they wanted to talk about a job with me. Like the OP, I have phone anxiety, so I wasn’t motivated to call them about a job without even knowing any details about the job. I just e-mailed them to say I was interested in pursuing other opportunities, and could they send me a description of the job. They never replied.

      If you get a phone call, do you pretty much have to contact them via phone, not e-mail, if you want a response?

      1. Jen RO*

        I guess it depends how much of a desirable candidates you are. My boyfriend has very in-demand skills, so he refuses to speak to recruiters unless they contact him by e-mail. Most people can’t afford to do this, unfortunately…

        I also have phone anxiety (I didn’t know this was a thing), but I am lucky that recruiters in this country/field never ever phone. (And no one uses voicemail.)

      2. Adam*

        My general conception is if the person who leaves you a message says you can reach them by another means if that works better, how they contacted you is how they expect the response to come. S0 phone –> phone, email –> email, carrier pigeon –> carrier pigeon, etc.

        If you have other means of contacting them and use that I imagine a lot of people personally wouldn’t consider it a big deal so long as you can be sure your message got to them, but some can be sticklers for this kind of thing.

    2. eemmzz*

      I cannot understand some people being so insistent on calling instead of email either.

      Email is less obtrusive and it can be easier to ensure details are correct. I have a partial hearing problem in one ear, which can make it awkward for me to get the correct details sometimes without going “sorry?” two or three times.

      I sometimes wonder if it is a generation thing or whether it is more a cultural thing (so depending on what country/region you’re from). I think it’d be fascinating to find out people’s preferences.

      1. the gold digger*

        Years ago, when my boss and I were hiring a summer intern, he told me to call the three candidates he had identified (all students at the business school in our state) to ask them to come in for in-person interviews.

        I emailed. Because calling on the phone? So last century, plus I hate talking on the phone, plus it’s easier to communicate detailed information in writing.

        My boss, who is 15 years older than I, got really mad that I had not called. He thought I was being rude to the candidates.

        1. Pleasefilloutthisfield*

          If I told my assistant to call someone and they e-mailed, I would be annoyed too. If I specify how to contact someone, I have a reason for that direction. Certainly both ways can work in the end, but I can get different information from the type of communication.

      2. Language Lover*

        I usually prefer e-mail in general but it can be problematic as well, especially when it comes to setting up interviews.

        Unless there are very specific interview times, talking with someone on the phone can prevent a flurry of back and forth e-mails trying to find a time that works. Then, due to the fact that it’s not immediate, time periods that worked in one e-mail may be gone by the time someone responds in their e-mail.

      3. Felicia*

        I prefer email too, mostly because it eliminates the possibility of phone tag and is less of an interruption. But I think if someone insists on a phone call to set up an interview a confirmation email is really important, to make sure all the details are in writing. Since phone calls are an interruption and you have to think on your feet, sometimes it’s possible to miss a few details, or write them down wrong while you’re talking on the phone. Once I had a phone call to set up an interview and I was 100% sure that it was scheduled for 3 pm. So I got there at 2:45, and apparently the interviewer was 100% sure that it was scheduled for 2 pm. Well I was mortified, and although I still think I was right, there was no way to prove it because there was no written confirmation

        I never answer numbers I don’t know right away, just because of the annoying habit of interviewers to ask for an impromptu phone interview. Sometimes I could say no, I can’t talk now, but a lot of the time they’re like “is now a good time to talk”, and I think they just want to set up an interview so I say yes, and t hen they start to ask me a bunch of interview questions about a job I barely remember off the top of my head. So for those I’ll call back after they leave a message, but I hate that that’s become common.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I am one of those people that calls rather than emails. Probably this does not apply to most people that phone, but here is my reason:

        I have an antique email system that only allows so many emails. This morning I opened it up and I am at 93% capacity. So I started deleting like crazy, rather than let new emails bounce. I deleted stuff I never read. Hope I guessed well. Part of the problem is that tptb send out these emails that go on for 30 pages. They do this numerous times per week. Up to this month I had very few hours at this job. There is absolutely no time to read 100s of pages of emails. Even with my increase in hours, I still cannot even start to digest the material that is there.

        My boss who spends large chunks of her day on this job and is salaried, reads about 25% of the emails that come in. She hopes she guesses well, too.

        So I got my email box down to 47%. Phew. I am set for about a week, maybe longer. I tell people all the time, do not email me. Just don’t.

    3. Armadillo*

      Most busy bureau’s and business contacts I’ve dealt with want to use email rather than the phone so they can take their time to answer and prioritize their own time.

      I guess if you want to reach someone immediately or feel more comfortable explaining things verbally you try the phone. Could be a cultural thing too? I’m from Scandinavia and everything is done via online forms and email.

      I used to have serious phone anxiety too. I have no idea what started it and why it’s fizzled out now. Must’ve had some bad experiences or something in the past but now days I try to sound as friendly and understanding as possible and it seems to make a difference in how I’m received as well.

  8. Kathlynn*

    So, I sent question #5. The reason I phoned a more then once was because I didn’t leave a message the first time or more, and didn’t want to phone again immediately. (the phone might have been busy. the first time, I think). Mostly I wasn’t sure about the etiquette about returning phone calls. And I think probably over two days, I might have called a max of 6 times. one maybe two of those leaving messages.
    Thank you for the awesome answer, it’s very helpful.
    The reason I thought I did something wrong, well I was stressed, so I didn’t word it as politely, not swearing or anything, but I undoubtedly sounded at least a little rude/terse and pushy. Not the best trait in a hotel cleaner.

    1. T*

      Would it help you to write down what you want to say should you get voice mail (like a script)? If you needed to, you could practice reading it so that it sounds better when you leave the actual message. You might also write down a different version in case the person actually picks up the phone when you call (in this case, more an introduction and some talking points rather than a script).

    2. fposte*

      I’d also encourage you to try to break the habit of hanging up when you get voice mail. Hang- up calls do count on most systems, and they’re not the presentation a job-hunter is going for. If it was the phone call issue here, those extra four calls may have factored in.

      1. Colette*

        And sometimes the person you’re calling is on another line and is repeatedly interrupted by the calls.

        I’ve been that person, and it was both distracting and annoying.

      2. Anon*

        Yep. Repeated phone calls can also keep other calls from getting in. Six calls in two days probably didn’t cause this problem, but it’s something to think of when calling the same number more than once.

    3. cv*

      My impression of standard business etiquette is to assume that the person you’re calling will check and return messages in a timely fashion unless and until they demonstrate otherwise, barring exceptional circumstances.

      So to me that means call once, leave a message, and then consider the ball to be in their court – you’ve “tagged” them, and now they’re “it” and have to contact you. Only follow up if you don’t hear back within a reasonable time period. For a job interview, that’s at least 24 hours and probably longer – I’d probably wait at least 2 or 3 days if the job is in a typical office environment since I know how those timelines tend to work. It sounds like you may be talking about a service sector job, and other commenters may be able to offer a better sense of whether the norms are different there.

  9. A Dispatcher*

    #2 — Okay, tough love time. This is weird, and will make you look weird. Unless the blog is revealing trade secrets or something (or is highly inappropriate to the point where it may cause a public scandal), you are not going to endear yourself to anyone by bringing this up to the superintendent. If he/she doesn’t see a problem with the assistant superintendent, your “sleuthing” is just going to come off as petty and stalker-ish (sorry to use that word lightly, I do not mean to offend those who have dealt with the very serious issue of stalking). In fact, it kind of comes off that way regardless to be honest… Can you even imagine what you would think if you found out a coworker was tracking your online activity like that?

    Sometimes when we dislike people, the normal boundary lines can get blurry and I think that is what’s happening for you here. I have been guilty of it too with a crazy coworker I hated working with, and looking back on it, he may have been bad, but I probably came off looking just as bad, just in a different way with all the petty complaining I did about him.

  10. Letter #2*

    I wrote question 2. Thanks for answering it on here- it’s an honor! To clarify, I know you can set blogs to update whenever you want, but this person’s updates come at random times- 9:47 am, 11:13 am- so to me it seems like she’s posting the updates at work. Seems unlikely to set it to post at a certain minute to me.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        More importantly, why do you care so much?

        We’ve all had to work for people we do not like. And it can be awful. But really, you are ticking seconds off your life spending your spare time looking for dirt on this person. Free time is so precious – why waste it on someone we don’t like?

    1. Colette*

      When I schedule a blog post, it defaults to the current time. I often just change am/pm or the date.

      This isn’t proof of anything.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, I schedule posts to go up at odd times–usually I’m writing them the night before and just change the date and the am/pm setting. Doesn’t mean anything.

    2. Jen RO*

      What I don’t get is… who cares? Is she non-exempt? If she is getting her job done *while* writing on the blog, so be it; if she is not getting her job done, that’s what needs to be addressed. And how can a bit of blogging lead to “disastrous consequences”?

    3. Megan*

      When I used to blog I put random times just as you described. For no real reason, just because I wanted to!
      I agree with everyone else here: LET IT GO! It doesn’t impact on your work, and in life everything has a way of catching up with you so if she truly is doing it, and she isn’t allowed, she’ll be caught.
      I know it’s frustrating but it’s not your battle, plus you’ll end up looking creepy/like the bad guy if you dob her in.

    4. Amtelope*

      Yes, but … to be honest, it’s none of your business. If she’s blogging in her down time at work, that’s no different from surfing the Internet or chatting with co-workers or taking long coffee breaks or anything else she might do in her down time at work. As long as she’s getting her work done, this seems like a non-issue.

    5. Mike C.*

      So what? It’s still creepy as hell that you’re keeping track of these blog posts down to the minute. Do you have a histogram of time stamps as well?

      1. Lillie Lane*

        I think she was using those as examples. OP, if all the posts were obviously posted during work times, it would bother me a little bit too. Especially if this woman is constantly claiming she is SO BUSY. I would stop visiting the blog (can’t be as good as this one!), roll your eyes in private when she annoys you, and move on.

      2. Enid*

        Presumably the blog posts themselves are timestamped. I doubt the OP is refreshing the blog every two minutes all day so she can “keep track” of when new posts appear.

    6. Lillie Lane*

      #2: I get why the blogging is a Big Deal to you. If this superintendent is unpleasant, then all of the negatives about her get compounded. Each annoying personality quirk and obnoxious action, on its own, would not be a problem if she were likeable. But together, they comprise a huge annoyance that gets worse with time.

      My last boss was like this. He would do things that, in my opinion, we’re unethical and edging into fraud territory. I reported him to a trusted contact in HR, but was told that the employer did not care. I had to let it go (though I still grouse about it from time to time!). It helps a little to force yourself to get into a positive mindset.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s not quite that it’s irrelevant or none of your business, but the key here is: is she getting her work done? If her work is suffering, the reason really doesn’t matter, although in many organizations that may be a reason for closer scrutiny of how your working hours are spent. But if she is getting her work done on time and doing good quality work, a good manager would not care what else she does in the office, as long as it’s not something that can damage the company’s reputation by association (posting personal opinions while mentioning your employer), or cause liability (making harassing or threatening posts during company time).

      So the blogging is irrelevant, technically. What matters is the quality of the time she puts in, and the reasons why are her problem, not yours. You and your organization should really only be concerned with the results.

      1. Various Assumed Names*

        It sounds like this woman is not especially good at her job, but her boss does not notice or care. And now she’s in a position to potentially get a job where she would have little to no oversight and nearly absolute power. The clock is ticking! I totally get #2’s frustration.

        But I agree with everyone that ratting on her would make you look bad and not change anything. Even if you mailed a printout anonymously, I don’t think it would help your situation.

        Instead, I would see if there are any management quirks of hers that you can bring up in a nice way, framed in the sense that it would help you do your job better if she could communicate X way, or is there anything you can do to help her so that she can respond more quickly to requests, or something.

        And if she has any actual policy violations, report those to HR.

        Finally, consider that if she gets promoted, while I hate to see incompetent people succeed, it might actually make your life easier. Someone else will take over as the assistant and will be a buffer between you.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          If that’s true, she needs to understand this:

          Your opinion of “good at her job” and her boss’s opinion at “good at her job” most likely have very different criteria.

          So many people fall into this trap and think that they can make their boss’s boss see what they are seeing. You can’t and you won’t.

          Your advice of finding a violation to take to HR is probably the best way. But me, personally, if she’s about to be promoted, I’d take the time to figure out what I can do that is within my control to make my working relationship with her better.

          1. Various Assumed Names*

            Good point. And I may be projecting my own issues here but part of any manager’s job is to support her employees. Not enough companies take into account subordinates’ opinions when evaluating people in management positions. Constant turnover due to bad management costs the company money. Now it could be that the amount of money lost by losing people at lower levels is worth it for whatever this woman brings to the table, but it should still be part of the equation.

            That said, you’re right, it would be hard to make your boss’s boss see the problem, especially if you’re too bitter to make an objective argument. In my current company, they definitely don’t seem to care. (Although at my old company, they did push a bad manager out but by then they had lost most of their good people.)

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I think you can tell a lot about a person from the way they treat their superiors versus the way they treat those under them. So it’s concerning that this manager is well-liked by the superintendent but disliked by her staff. With a possible promotion coming up, it’s not all that weird that the LW is looking for some sort of evidence to discredit the manager’s performance.

        That said, complaining about the manager’s blog posting habits isn’t a great idea and may do the LW more harm than good. Are there other job related issues that may have escaped the superintendent’s notice? Ethics violations or something similarly severe? If so, that’s the type of thing that should be reported.

    8. L McD*

      I am having hard time figuring out, without context, what the “disastrous consequences” could be if she’s allowed to continue blogging during work hours. (Let’s assume for the sake of argument that’s what’s happening here – as you say, there’s no way to be sure since her breaks are not at set times.) Unless there is some context missing, like the content of the blog being potentially damaging to her or the organization, I just don’t see how this is relevant to you or anyone else in the company. Most people realistically do not spend 100% of their work hours focused on nothing but work. We’re all human. It honestly sounds like you have an axe to grind, and maybe it’s legitimate, but this isn’t the issue to focus on. If you have problems with her otherwise, those should be dealt with independently of whether or not she is blogging, and when.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Is it impacting your work? If not, I really don’t see why it’s a problem.

      You mentioned that her promotion could have disastrous consequences for the company. Is she incompetent, or just disliked? You don’t have to like people at work, just work with them. If you have more serious concerns about her ability to handle the promotion, then those are what need to be addressed, not her blogging habits.

    10. Laura2*

      Some blog sites (and other social media tools) offer odd times like that because it looks more like a real person is posting it right then, rather than looking like it’s scheduled for a specific time like 1 PM.

      1. the gold digger*

        And some of them have their default times in different time zones and some of us don’t care at all what the timestamp is so don’t worry about changing the settings to our time zone. So it looks like I have posted at 4 a.m. sometimes when that could not be further from the truth. I treasure my sleep way too much.

  11. Rebecca*

    I reread the OP#1’s post, and she clearly states this is a management position, she’s been doing it for 6 months, it’s a male dominated field, and her boss doesn’t want her to point this out in front of others.

    It sounds like her boss is uncomfortable that she’s a manager, and wants to downplay this fact in front of the other attendees.

    I’m curious how the male managers introduce themselves at the presentation – as part of the team, or as the manager of the team? That would say volumes about this situation.

  12. Taz*

    Huh. Okay. The responses to the on-the-job blogger are strange to me. We had one where I work, who was spending several hours updating his blog. Of course this was a problem, even though it was an entertainment blog that had nothing to do with our trade or our trade secrets (WTF? seriously?). If this were any other activity on the job as opposed to blogging (not for the company), I know someone by now would have said this is inappropriate.

    In any case, OP, I don’t know how to advise you if you are not the person’s superior. It took the person’s superior catching the blogging. I will tell you the employee already was just plain awful, coming in late, leaving early, putting in almost no effort to the job, which is why the superviser already was concerned about job output/quality. I’m not sure it’s worth it to your reputation to say something (because if the responses here are an indication, people will react poorly). But you’re not crazy. People do do this. In fact, I wonder if some commenters are defensive not because they’re blogging but already spending company time surfing and responding on blogs.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      The thing is, we have no idea if this person is blogging on the job. The post times indicate it’s likely, but that’s all we’ve got. If there is a performance issue, that absolutely needs to be dealt with. I am not saying it’s okay to sit there and blog all day and not do work, I am just saying it looks super weird and creepy to be tracking your boss’s blog post times like that when it’s really none of your business in the first place. It’s like the people who track their coworker’s bathroom breaks…

      By the way, while I do check and post here during work, I have the type of job where I have to physically be there for my whole shift, but end up with a lot of down time, especially around 3-5 am. If no one is calling us, there really isn’t anything for me to be doing, and my job is okay with this, so no defensiveness here.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I don’t think it is right that she’s blogging during work, but I don’t think the OP should report it either. The point is that unless she’s doing something glaringly illegal/unethical, or it is directly affecting the OP’s work, it’s not really the OP’s business to report it. It is the blogger’s supervisor’s job to decide whether she’s getting her work done or spending her time blogging instead.

      I think the OP would be better off documenting the other ways that this person is a bad employee (she says she’s bad, but document specific things, like bitchy emails, times when she wasn’t available when she needed to be, etc.), and then having that handy in case the blogger’s boss asks about the blogger’s performance.

      1. Letter #2*

        Thanks everyone! I posted the question because I think it’s unprofessional to update one’s personal blog with extensive posts while everyone else is working (if that is what she is really doing). I know it’s not my business and I have no proof. I will add it to my list of unprofessional things that she does and leave it at that.

        Also, some posters seem to have the impression I spent hours searching for dirt on this person. Really, all I did was spend 10 minutes on google one day because I had been wondering what on earth she did all day. I haven’t even looked it since.

        1. Colette*

          You know it’s odd to have a list of unprofessional things she does, even a mental list, right?

          You seem far too invested in her. I think it’s time to find a new job.

          1. The Real Ash*

            I agree. Unless you are someone’s manager or supervisor, or they report to you in some fashion, why would you waste any more thought on this person if it doesn’t directly impact you? Is she causing more work for you because she isn’t working? Is she somehow harming you in some fashion by not working? Or are you harming yourself by putting way too much effort into something that doesn’t concern you in any conceivable way?

          2. Monodon monoceros*

            I don’t think it’s weird at all. I’ve worked with some crazy-ass people and definitely had mental lists of the crap they pulled. Maybe you are just lucky you’ve never worked with people like this!

            I think it’s a bit quick to jump to the “time to find a new job” also.

            1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              mental lists, I understands, physical lists – there’s no need to be doing that. No good will come of documenting the behavior of someone above you on the food chain unless you are directly impacted by it.

              1. Monodon monoceros*

                I see no harm in documenting things. This doesn’t mean you have to actually use it unless necessary, but I think it’s better to have the documentation when you need than wish you had it when you do down the road. I kept my list of shady things that people above me on the food chain did at my last job. I still have it in case there were bigger shady things going on than I knew of, and I was asked to give input. Unfortunately no one has caught on to the problems there, or they do know about and just leave like I did.

                Just to clarify, I do not think the blogging is something to report. I do think the OP should consider documenting more concrete examples of how this person’s behavior affects their job and/or they are terrible at their job.

                1. Kai*

                  Agreed. I’ve worked with some people I just plain didn’t like, and there’s not a lot you can do about it in most situations. Sometimes it just feels better to document the things that make you crazy, mentally or otherwise.

              1. Monodon monoceros*

                It could come in handy. I worked with some collaborators whose boss was horrible. Incompetant, terrible manager, made sexist comments all the time (boss is female but comments were derogatory towards females). I always wondered why the big boss didnt do anything. My friend who worked in that group kept a folder of the most egregious emails. One day big boss called up my friend and asked her to honestly and confidentially tell him about working with this terrible woman. After a few conversations with big boss she shared some of the emails, and now terrible boss is on her way out.

          3. KrisL*

            If someone drives you up the wall, I think it’s pretty understandable to have a list of unprofessional things that the person does.

    3. Jen RO*

      I would have the same opinion if it was any other (legal) activity. I’ve always felt that you should be free to structure your job as you please as long as you get the desired results. In my case, I’d rather stay 1 hour late every day, if needed, and spend an hour surfing during the work day.

    4. Amtelope*

      I think there’s a difference between someone with a performance problem spending several hours a day blogging, and someone who doesn’t seem to have a performance problem (given that she’s in line for a promotion) taking some breaks between tasks to make blog posts. Many jobs don’t have the expectation that you’re going to spend eight hours every day constantly working — they expect you to be in the office for eight hours and to get your work done, and if you can do that efficiently and have time left over to surf the Internet or write blogs, that’s fine.

      1. Anonypants*

        Agreed. Most bosses won’t even notice if high performers “goof around on the web,” because they have no reason to investigate their web browsing. Or they happen to notice but turn their heads because it doesn’t make sense to micromanage how a high performer spends every second of the day.

        I think at this point we’ve accepted that most people do something non-work related on the internet while at work -Facebook, Twitter, AAM, Buzzfeed, what have you – but it’s only considered a problem when someone isn’t getting their work done, or whose work is sub-par.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, several HOURS seems more problematic and I would question whether the person has enough to do. Or if there are already other documented performance issues. But this is a job for that person’s manager.

        If the blogging or other things are impacting the OP’s ability to get her own work done, then she has a reason to speak up. But I would not mention the blogging at all, and I certainly wouldn’t mention how I found out about it. I would just say “I have trouble finishing X because I can’t seem to get Y from Hortense before the deadline. What would you like me to do?”

    5. LBK*

      So let me ask – if that person were a great employee who was consistently delivering good work, showing up at the appropriate times, etc. would you care if they were blogging? Why would it even matter to you? Exempt employees are paid for results delivered, not time worked. The fact that your comment is so focused on the blogging and not the attendance or performance issues that actually impact how someone does their job is odd.

  13. Riki*

    4 – JMO, since your employer pays out vacation, I think you should just hang in there. Depending on how much PTO you’ve got stored up, the pay out could be a nice chunk of money. Besides, unless you start a new job immediately after you leave this one, you have some time off coming up anyway.

    1. OP #3 and #4*

      My last day is Friday and I start the following Monday. Plus we are moving to a new city, so it’s partially that I’m just so sick of my current job (hence new job), and it’s going to be crazy hectic time.

      I talked to my boss this morning, and I’m going to just take off the Friday and have my last day be on Thursday. I was just afraid that because I already told him when my last day would be, it might hurt the relationship (i.e. future reference) if I changed on him.

      1. KrisL*

        That makes sense. I think talking it over with your boss and being willing to accept his response was a great idea.

  14. Another Day*

    #1. I ran into something similar from a former boss. The reason there was that the workplace culture was very strongly teamwork-oriented and they wanted what we said to align with that expectation. I used my title as Program Manager to introduce myself, and that worked. It seems a little silly in retrospect….

    1. OP #1*

      Yeah. In talking it over with my SO, he said I should try introducing myself as “Teapot-making Manager on the Ceramics Team”. His reasoning: correctly states my role but still uses “on”. :)

      That would be a lot of words to express something j would hope to express more succinctly, though.

      1. Mints*

        I vote for this phrasing. “On the team,” without giving up your manager role (or “a manager on the ceramics team” would be slightly shorter)

      2. KrisL*

        The boss’s suggestion seems reasonable and yay, it doesn’t sound sexist after all!

  15. JC*

    For #1, I wonder if you’re in a situation where you’re the direct manager of a group that is similar to a second group, and your boss is the second-level manager of both. For instance, where I work, I am in a group called “ceramics research” and we have a sister group called “pottery research.” Ceramic research has a manager, pottery research has a manager, and another person is the director of the “research office” that both groups are under. We both do the same work but there are arbitrarily two groups. Where I am I could see the director of the research office get territorial if the manager of the ceramics research group said in a talk that she lead the research team, or even possibly that she lead the ceramics research team, because he views himself as the ultimate leader of the research.

    If that is the situation I don’t think it’s right, and I think it reflects poorly on power issues your manager has, but at least it would make sense to me.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      That’s definitely possible. One of my previous managers didn’t have a lot of experience managing managers and was strangely territorial about things like this. And I agree with you: it reflects poorly on the manager’s power issues.

  16. Anonypants*

    5. Phone tag when you’re job hunting is wicked stressful, I’ve been there. They call and say they want to tall to you, but then it can take days before you finally get them on the phone, and you feel like you can’t be away from your phone for even a second for fear they’ll call, you’ll miss it, and you’ll have to wait another 2-3 days before they’re available to talk to you again. Sometimes they say “we’ll touch base on Friday” and then not call Friday, or answer your calls on Friday, and you don’t hear from them until Wednesday the following week. From the candidate perspective it can seem disrespectful, but I know how busy recruiters and hiring managers can be, so it’s just a really unfortunate reality.

    It does, however, remind me of a time a hiring manager responded to an e-mail application saying she wanted to meet with me. So I responded with my availability. But then I made the stupid mistake of sending a correction regarding my cover letter, which only drew attention to the initial mistake. Never heard from her again, even after following up. Not that I’m suggesting the OP made my mistake or anything like it, but some people are weird and will drop communication at the slightest error or imperfection.

  17. Anonypants*

    The conversation around #2 reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask: do people generally care what their co-workers do online while at work? My desk is in an area where people are constantly walking by and could see my screen – if they bothered to look. Do people often check out people’s screens and think “hmmm, that doesn’t look like work” or “that person’s on ___, what a slacker!” Or do most people more or less mind their own business?

    I understand managers concerning themselves with that stuff within their own team, and I understand people being concerned with how others in their department spend their time, especially if slacking off could put the team behind schedule or something.

    1. De Minimis*

      I’ve never been entirely certain what is okay at my workplace. My officemate seems to surf the web a lot, so I’ve gotten the idea that it’s okay to do that as long as stuff gets done on time. We have a official policy but it’s somewhat vague.

      I monitor my e-mail as messages come in, and when I get a notification about something in the pipeline, I drop everything and do it. Otherwise, I feel free to have the web up and running while I’m doing my ongoing tasks.

    2. LV*

      I would only care if I was already at “bitch eating crackers” level with somebody – or if I supervised the employee in question and suspected that their web-browsing was negatively impacting their work. Otherwise, none of my business and I just don’t have the mental energy to be concerned with that sort of thing.

    3. Jen RO*

      I only cared when the low-performing employees did it, and then the rest of the team had to jump in and fix their shit. I don’t care what my other coworkers do – actually, we regularly share stupid Daily Mail articles and cute dresses we found online.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t really give a rat’s rear end, as long as people aren’t downloading stuff that could be harmful to the network and they are getting their work done. If they can’t manage their time appropriately, then a conversation might become necessary. But I would like to see management deal with the particular people, not apply blanket policies to everyone. You don’t punish the whole class because one kid threw a spitwad.

      1. Anonypants*

        Agreed – if there’s a concern about performance, a conversation needs to happen. I’m still mad at one manager who suddenly started looking over my shoulder, making passive aggressive comments, even sent me an e-mail asking if I was working or playing, and at one point gave me a schedule to help with my time management – I probably would’ve been okay with all of these things if he’d had the cajones to tell me there was a problem with my performance.

    5. ChiTown Lurker*

      Yes, some people do care. The same people who monitor other people’s time and attendance seem to be overly interested in web usage as well.

      It was a major issue at my former company. Our director actually commissioned a secret pilot project, using our team as guinea pigs, to review web usage. He chose our team because of all the whining about perceived web usage. He reported his findings at a quarterly company meeting. Basically, much ado about nothing.

    6. In progress*

      I’ve wondered this too! Apparently my supervisor got a complaint that I was on my computer when I should be working (I have a non-desk job), but I’ve only used it before my shift started. Now I’m a little paranoid about taking breaks, wondering who’s watching me and judging me. And my work does not affect anyone else so I’m not sure why it would be their business even if I was slacking off. So now I go somewhere completely off site to kill time before work starts just so no one gets the wrong impression. Anyway, it all seems rather petty.

    7. Angora*

      If it’s viewable by others be careful what’s on it. Some people will comment if they see something non work related more than twice. Some will not care, than you can have a busy body that causes problems. Always protect yourself from appearing lazy, etc. If you have confidential material, you may be able to justify having one of those privacy monitor screens. They have to look straight at it, in order to view it. It’s blurred from the side.

    8. KrisL*

      I think it depends on the co-worker. If a co-worker seems to be doing a good job and carrying his/her share of the load, I don’t care. If the co-worker seems to embody “lazy”, where everyone else has to pick up the slack, I care very very much. I used to have a co-worker like that. It was so irritating!

  18. Sam*

    OP #1 – At my company there was a trend where all of the managers would drop their titles during introductions and just say “Beth Smith from the White Chocolate Project” or “Casey Alberts from Spigots” It was assumed that if you were in that type of meeting, you were in some type of leadership role, and I think it was meant to kind of equalize everyone, but it sometimes felt like a “who can be more humble” contest, and heaven help the new person who didn’t know any better and introduced himself as “Jack Jones, Manager of Handles” who inadvertently came across as title-conscious, self-serving and snobby.
    None of this was ever said out loud, by the way, it was all just observed from top-down behavior and quickly absorbed into the culture. I think it started with good intentions but got weird and confusing.

    1. OP #1*

      Thanks for the note–it’s helpful to hear that this isn’t just a weird, one-off thing.

      But yes, the “who can be more humble” game kinda bums me out. :( (See both “new to management” and “female in male-dominated industry”. I’m already trying to walk a fine line.)

    1. OriginalEmma*

      Just read the news about that. I’m upset.

      I foresee a future AAM post: I’m interviewing for Company A. How do I tactfully ask about their religious affiliation? It would not be a good “cultural fit” for me to work for an employer that carves out basic, legal, medically-acceptable healthcare options from their benefits package.

      1. Helka*

        I think you start with doing research on the company (which should turn up things like religious affiliation) and then go into the interview prepared to ask how their connection with [Institution] plays out in their company culture.

      2. JoAnna*

        I’m thrilled, frankly. It shouldn’t be a requirement to forfeit one’s moral and/or religious beliefs in order to own and run a family business.

        That being said, companies such as Hobby Lobby usually have a “statement of belief” or similar on their website, so if one would prefer not to work for such companies, it’s best not to apply in the first place.

        1. Rayner*

          No, but it should be a requirement that a person (or a company, wtaf) cannot limit access to important healthcare needs because of their own beliefs.

          And when you employ as many staff who come from so many different backgrounds, who require vastly different medical care from their insurance, it seems unfair to me to block their access to something that specifically targets one gender (and trans* people) and one condition, just because you don’t like it.

          Healthcare and religion and employment. Three sectors who should not be interacting, especially when people’s lives and reproductive health are at issue.

          1. Anonypants*

            A part of me really hopes that someday they’ll have a hard time filling important roles in their tech or finance departments, and maybe then they’ll realize that their policy is making them lose out on talented individuals.

            Or they’ll just use contractors who don’t get any healthcare, or get healthcare through a third party payroll agency. I dunno.

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          “It shouldn’t be a requirement to forfeit one’s moral and/or religious beliefs in order to own and run a family business.”

          Actually, the ruling doesn’t go that far at all. It doesn’t give religious employers the right to object to other medical services like blood transfusions or vaccines. The ruling is on narrowly limited to women’s contraception.

            1. Heather*

              Did the court actually focus only on the 4? I was under the impression that although the original case was about the 4, the ruling wasn’t limited to that. I’ve been having a hard time finding that out without taking the time to read the whole ruling. I guess I might have to.

        3. Parfait*

          I’m appalled that we’re taking a stance that everyone has to abide by government policies except for the ones they don’t like. What’s next? If you’re a member of one of those religions that doesn’t accept any medical intervention at all, you don’t have to provide any health care for employees?

          Government isn’t a la carte, you have to accept the bits you like along with the bits you don’t.

        4. Anon*

          Should employees be required to follow family business owners’ moral or religious beliefs in their personal/medical lives, not just in the office?

        5. KrisL*

          A company shouldn’t be forced to pay for something that violates their moral beliefs.

      3. the gold digger*

        It has been my experience that either during the interview or in the offer, the employer gives a description of the benefits. So you would know if certain things are covered or not and could make your decision then.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit*

      This is a SUPER interesting topic, but not on topic for these OPs. Let’s talk about it during the open thread!

  19. anon in tejas*


    I think that Alison’s response is right. you don’t want to put that information or concerns in writing and hit send. On that note, if you have the conversation with your friend, I think that you should also let him know that he can use that info to his benefit, but not to credit you.

    Based on reading Alison’s response, I can foresee that he would argue for better FTE or something based on the concerns, and he would say “Well X told me that it would be like this, which is why I am asking for Y” which would NOT BE COOL for you.

    I only share a completely honest assessment of my workplace in person, and with the understanding that it all may get back to my boss unless I ask the person not to let that happen.

    1. OP #3 and #4*

      Good point. I’ll definitely make sure to clarify that he shouldn’t mention me at all if his offer comes to fruition.

  20. SallyForth*

    #2- Someone in my org outed me to our manager for “excessive time spent on social media.” She had taken the time to document the posts I did on work hours. I manage three Twitter and one FB account as a volunteer for a non-profit org and use Hootsuite to schedule. Everything was scheduled from home after hours.

    The irony is that the person who complained does our social media and I don’t think she understands what Hootsuite or other social media management apps do!

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