managing a jerk, my director gives out wrong info, and more

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

1. My employee strategically left out coworkers from his holiday party and generally behaves like a jerk

I am the owner, founder, and managing partner of a small law firm. We employ 15 people. Of those 15, we have four leaders. Three of those leaders are “senior associates” or “junior partner”-level lawyers and one is a non-lawyer accounting/billing manager.

Recently, one of the four leaders, a lawyer, held a Christmas party at his house, and invited everyone in the firm except the three other leaders and me. This lawyer is known to be very cliquish, and he and his team are prone to complaining and whining that they aren’t treated as well as others, when in fact they are given the best cases and lavished with the best perks and benefits. They also are known to be less than kind or respectful to the women in our firm, but not to the degree that anyone has complained to me about it with a desire that I do something. The decision to exclude the other three leaders, all of whom are women, has hurt their feelings and caused acrimony amongst the other teams because the invited kept their leaders in the dark about the party or even lied about it. The decision to exclude me is problematic as it signifies to me an open hostility or a potential threat to my business. Also, I fear that this is somewhat of a snub/sign of disrespect that I cannot ignore since everyone knows about it.

I admit that I am personally hurt since I have taken great pains to include this lawyer in my personal, family life, and to give this person significant professional attention in an effort to promote and help him, but this is less concerning than the drama this has caused in my business and professional life. I was planning on giving all four leaders significant raises, official promotion to the title of partner (for the lawyers), and large bonuses. So, I feel that I can (A) do nothing, nothing at all; (B) do nothing but remain vigilant that this person may be planning to leave and perhaps hurt the company, while pulling back on including him in personal and professional events, matters, and opportunities; (C) inquire of this person whether he intended to send a message of hostility and indicate that I have taken it as such and require an explanation and resolution plan; or (D) go ahead and fire this person since we all know that this level of unhappiness and acting out means we either have an office cancer on our hands (which I have never seen cured in over 20 years of practice) or an active threat where a lawyer is scheming/plotting to poach business and go to a competitor.

Well, first, as the owner and managing partner of the firm, you need to address the fact that you have a manager on your team who is disrespectful to women — and you need to address that even though no one has made a formal complaint to you about it. You’re obligated to do that, and it could cause you real problems if you don’t — in morale, productivity, and even potentially legal action at some point if he’s discriminatory or creating a hostile workplace.

Second, stop including employees in your personal or family life. They don’t belong there, and it will muddy the boundaries and make it harder for you to act on stuff like this when you need to.

Third, you have a manager on your staff who’s known to be cliquish, whose “complains and whines” and encourages a similar attitude in his team, who treats women worse than men, and who appears to be acting in a hostile, adversarial way to you (his boss!) and others. None of that is acceptable, not remotely. This isn’t about who was or wasn’t invited to a Christmas party. It’s about needing to address serious performance and behavioral issues with him ASAP and either see immediate improvement or move him out. (Or, if things are at the point where you don’t think fixing it is possible, then you need to have that conversation instead.)

Drop the focus on the party, and start focusing on managing this guy.

2. My boss plays guessing games with me about my bonus

Every year, in October, my boss tells me to “start thinking about what kind of bonus you think you deserve this year.” For the next three months, he reminds me, constantly, of the year-end bonus coming up. Like he’s dangling a carrot in front of an donkey, or like I’m supposed to treat him like a God for the next three months in “anticipation” of a bonus! It causes additional stress that I really don’t need at the end of the year when I’m already gearing up for year end taxes, W-2’s, 1099’s, etc.

If I give him a figure that he thinks is too high, he scoffs and makes me feel like I think to highly of myself. I don’t want to lowball myself either. Is there a “rule of thumb”, i.e. one month’s salary, 5% of gross wages, etc., something like that to give me an idea to throw out at him this year? Tired of playing this song and dance for three months of every year.

Bonuses vary widely by firm and by industry — from zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on what you do and where you work. There might be a rule of thumb for your industry, and you could do some research to find that out. But you probably have a pretty good sense of the parameters based on what you’ve received in past years, and that should give you a general range of what’s reasonable to expect. You could also couch it in those terms, while simultaneously acknowledging that you’re in the dark — e.g., “I had a stronger year that last year, so I’m hoping for something at least as high as last year’s, but I also don’t know what parameters you use.”

But also: Your boss is behaving like an ass. He shouldn’t be playing guessing games with you.

3. How can I keep my director from giving out wrong information?

Our director often has to speak to groups, whether it’s making announcements at a department meeting or saying thanks at a department event. As his assistant, I will often write up for him short bullets of things that need to be announced, people who need to be thanked, etc. I will sometimes remind him in person before an event or meeting as well. Yet he is constantly forgetting to say things, announcing wrong information, saying the wrong people’s names, etc.

Often it can slide in a “you know what he meant” kind of way, but in some instances where he’s just told our whole department the completely wrong information, I find myself having to go up and murmur the correct information to him so he can announce it, which doesn’t make either of us look good. Do you have any other suggestions for prepping him so he doesn’t embarrass himself?

Well, this might just be the way he is. Some people are highly skilled in some areas and then absolute crap at stuff like this (think of absent-minded professor types, for instance). That said, one other thing you could try is handing him note cards with bullet points just before he’s about to speak. You could also ask him directly if there’s a better way for you to support him in this area — you might hear something you wouldn’t think of on your own.

But you sound like you’re being conscientious about your part of this, and the rest might be out of your hands.

4. Dealing with two recruiters at the same company and not hearing back from either

My mentor put in an employee referral for me with a global corporation. I had a phone screen with their in-house recruiter for a job I applied for and she said the hiring manager would make a decision about in-person interviews the next week. I emailed at the end of the week and asked if a decision had been made and if there was an update. A week later, I haven’t heard back.

Meanwhile, another recruiter for the same company contacted me, saying my resume was referred to her for a position (which I didn’t apply for) and we also had a phone screen. She mentioned that the position may not be offered at the office nearest to me but said that she’d find out at the end of the week. She said I could contact her if I was interested in another position within the company and I mentioned one I’d seen online, so she wrote that down and let me know she’d also find out about that when she contacted me at the end of the week. A day later, I emailed her and mentioned that I noticed the position in the office was being listed for other departments and asked if those were also on hold. It’s been a week since I emailed both recruiters and I haven’t heard back.

If they both told me they’d get to me or that a decision would be made by a certain time, should I take the silence as an indication I’m out of the running? And if both emails to the recruiters ended with questions that haven’t been unanswered, should I email them again or should I be patient and wait for them to respond? I’m worried it’s bad etiquette and I’m pestering them. I’m not sure if the recruiters know each other – it’s a huge corporation and they are in different states.

Yeah, recruiters are notorious for making promises about follow-up that they don’t follow through on — and for not responding to candidates’ emails until/unless they’re ready to move that person forward in a hiring process. It’s rude, but it’s very, very normal. I think you could email each of them one more time, a couple of weeks after your last outreach — but after that I’d move on.

5. Should I mention an earlier interview I had with an employer?

I applied and interviewed at an organization about a month ago. The interview went great and I felt confident, but it was competitive and I did not receive the position.

Recently a new position at the same organization was posted that I’d like to apply for. This position is through a different department from the one I interviewed with. I’m wondering how I can best use my previous interview as I apply for this one. Is it beneficial to mention my interview in my CV? Can I email the woman I interviewed with before to ask who to address this CV to, or is that not kosher?

I’d apply according to their application instructions, but after you apply, send an email to the person you interviewed with previously and let her know that you’ve applied. There’s no real benefit to doing anything beyond that. If she thinks you were a strong candidate, she’ll mention it to the person hiring for this new position.

{ 231 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan

    #1

    I’m seeing some real drama city going on at this law firm. When the OP talks about trying very hard to include subordinates in her personal life, um… second, she knows she’s got a problem on her hands, and yet is/was still considering promoting that person to partner? But then considering rescinding it, and even firing the person over an Xmas party snub?

    As AAM says, it’s not about the party. There’s lots of stuff going on over there. That guy either needs to be a team player or dismissed. Not promoted to partner.

    1. Green

      OP needs to fire #1 and cement relationships with key clients #1 has been managing. Dude is about to take his “portables” and port them.

  2. Stars and violets

    Re #1 Right on, Alison! My first thought when I read this was, whoa! This guy is horrible to women but the boss isn’t going to do something about it until someone complains? That is not good.
    The rest? What Alison said.

    1. Artemesia

      Exactly. This is the BOSS. The founding partner and owner and s/he wants to ignore sexism in a small firm and considers promoting a lawyer to partner who is undermining the office leadership and creating divisiveness. S/he didn’t note this guy as a major rainmaker — if not, he should be gone tomorrow — if so, then the boss needs to decide who is the boss.

      1. fposte

        The boss wants to ignore sexism while giving the best cases to the male attorney. That’s probably not how the OP meant to operate, but that’s what her post describes, and that may be one reason why nobody complains to her about the sexism–it may feel like it’s top down.

        1. JMegan

          That’s a very succinct way of putting it. Hopefully not intentional on the OP’s part, but I’m sure the employees are noticing.

        2. Kristen

          I wondered about this too- is he “given” the best cases because he’s the most skilled/experienced or because he complains otherwise? Are the perks earned or used to appease his horrible attitude? And are there no women on his team? Is he icky to all women or just the other leaders? (Not that either is remotely ok, just wondering about the whole story.)

          What a mess. Even if his work does deserves those rewards, his jerkiness has to be addressed and how.

        3. Joey

          Depends on what “best cases” means. In my book they’d be the most complex with the highest potential payoff which would make sense. Although I know to others it may mean easy money.

      1. HM in Atlanta

        One of the biggest sexual harassment lawsuits I ever heard of was with a law firm. The jury was so irritated by the law firm’s antics, that the initial damages awarded was 10% of the firm’s gross revenue (of course, this number was absurdly high and was decreased on appeal, but the point stands that law firms can be their own worst enemies because they often seem to ignore the non-lawyer employment aspects).

      2. YourCdnFriend

        This doesn’t actually surprise me. I have friends in law and it is a huge old boys club with rampant sexism.

        1. Ashley

          Agree. My last boss (I’m in HR) was a former attorney and would shock me with stories from firms. He said a lot of employment/labor law firms were the worst!

          1. Joey

            Makes sense doesn’t it. They know how to twist the story which is all that really matters in the legal world.

      3. Cat

        Yeah, law firms are train wrecks. At least this one has women in leadership and the managing partner is worried about sexism. That might put it in the top ten percent.

      4. kozinskey

        I’m surprised you’re surprised. Law is a boys club. This is confirmed to me every time I hear interview advice for firms that says “definitely wear a skirt suit,” and every time opposing counsel pats me on the shoulder and says “good job” after a hearing. I wish I were making this up.

        1. Case of the Mondays

          I generally agree with you but I also work in a very collegial state. Even the seasoned male attorneys say “good job” to each other or something other sportsman like thing at the end of a hearing. I have totally been the recipient of the condescending, sexist, ageist old lawyer that does the equivalent of tapping me on the head that I think you are referring to. So I get it. But not all “good jobs” are sexist. I was taking them that way until I saw more of the older male attorneys interacting with each other.

          1. TNTT

            You remember that one day you might need a job/referral/advice from that guy, so you just brush it off like every other idiotic thing that people think is okay to do to young women in the profession.

            1. Ann without an e

              I had no idea that law was more of a boys club than engineering…..
              At least in engineering you make a statement of physics back it up with math and that is the end of it.

        2. Artemesia

          Years ago I was the high school teacher hosting the lawyers on ‘career day’ and they did their presentation to interested students in my classrooom. The first thing out of the first speaker’s mouth was ‘I see some young ladies here; well law is not a profession for young ladies. You need to consider a different career.’ Now this was 1968 — but there is still a lot of sexism in law. A bit later when my husband’s peers took the bar in a midwestern state, the exam was filled with sexist language like naming a plaintiff ‘Cly Torrus’. It is definitely better today as so many more women are in the profession, but those old very old boy network roots and dismissive sexism go deep.

          1. Ellie A.

            the exam was filled with sexist language like naming a plaintiff ‘Cly Torrus’.

            My jaw literally dropped. Who would ever think this was okay to put in a professional exam?

            1. Not So NewReader

              It’s stories like these that make it harder and harder for me to respect the professionals around me.
              I am very grateful that Alison provides a forum that supports these conversations because this stuff needs to be dragged out into the light of day.

      5. Green

        If you sue your former law firm you are throwing your career away, and they will usually decide to squash you like a bug. The behavior at some of the most prestigious law firms in the country is beyond “icky” and often veers into “very illegal” territory.

    2. M-C

      No matter whether OP fires the guy this week or hangs on to him for whatever reason (and I’d be hard put to come up with a reason, even if he single-handedly brought in half the business), there’s one thing she shouldn’t neglect – promote the 3 women now, before anything else. That’d give a loud and clear message to the whole office that good behavior will be rewarded, and bad will not. Schmuckface would know that he truly does have to shape up if he’s to stay. The women would not be so enclined to look elsewhere as the boss slowly and painfully makes up her mind about him. And also, if these women become partners, they may have strong feelings about whether to put up with the schmuck or not, that’s what a partnership means. So it’d be good if they were installed, and you could deal with the schmuck as a partnership and not as a sole person who, excuse me OP, doesn’t seem all that well-equipped for it.

      1. Transformer

        THIS. I was just coming here to say the same thing. This rabble rouser’s performance should not affect the outcome and recognition that the others have earned. And when they receive the recognition that their voice’s matter, you may hear a whole heck of a lot about other stuff this person has been doing.

      2. Anonsie

        Big yes. Don’t delay rewarding the better performers while you’re deliberating what to do with this schmuck (excellent word choice there).

  3. Stephanie

    #1 – Yeah, address this guy’s misogyny now before that blows up. He must be a rainmaker (or just really good at his job) for you to put up with all that.

    #4 – Unfortunately, that’s been my experience with recruiters: lots of overpromising and undelivering. I just have to remind myself they’re there to fill jobs for a company (versus being some personal job finding service) and that it’s nothing personal if they disappear.

    1. Felicia

      That’d been my experience with recruiters too…i tried a lot of them. I’d go to the initial appointment and then never hear from them again.

      1. Audiophile

        I’ve signed up with a handful of firms, only for them to tell me they had nothing after I schlep over there for an “interview”.
        I’ve had some friends who’ve had really good luck with recruiters, but most admitted, they had to chase them down and basically haunt them until they were placed somewhere.

        1. voluptuousfire

          ^ My experience, exactly. When 3rd party recruiters contact me, I now ask if they have any particular roles they’re handling in mind for me. If they don’t and just want to set up a meet and greet, I politely thank them and tell them I’m not interested. It was rarely ever fruitful and a waste of money. I often spent more time filling out paperwork than I did meeting with the recruiter, not even including commute time.

    2. plain_jane

      #4 – I’m nice to recruiters these days, but they only get one follow-up. Their leads aren’t generally worth getting excited about until after an interview that went really well.

  4. Stephanie

    #2: Yeah, your boss is an ass.

    #5: You could also mention things you learned from your previous interview like “I talked to Jane in Accounts Payable last month and she mentioned the training opportunities available company wide…”

  5. neverjaunty

    OP #1 – why are you giving whiners and complainers who treat their female colleagues badly “the best cases and perks”? Why are you sitting on your hands waiting for somebody to complain about a problem you are perfectly aware is happening?

    You don’t seem to understand that you are the boss of this law firm and you have an obligation to manage people under you, not lavish them with goodies in the hopes that they’ll decide to like you. The legal job market is pretty tight; you should fire the jerks and replace them with decent people.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Yep. The party is not the problem, it’s a symptom of the real problem. OP, these folks are not your friends, they are your employees. They need you to be a good boss/leader to them.

      1. sunny-dee

        Yeah. I think it was here on AAM that I saw this, but so true — “don’t hire someone just because you want to be their friend.” This is work. Work comes first, not being buddies.

    2. HarperC

      Yeah, it could be that no one has complained because they know that OP must see what’s going on and has done nothing, so they figure there really is no point in saying anything. I’m speaking here from a lot of personal experience.

      1. Dan

        Yes, and I would agree. In fact, the OP indicates she’s willing to do the opposite of nothing — promote the guy. What *would* be the point of saying anything?

        1. Not So NewReader

          She’s already given him perks- nice contracts, etc. All that sends a message to everyone else. You don’t turn in/complain about the boss’ favorite person. There aren’t any complaints, OP, because there never will be.

    3. BRR

      I was thinking your first point exactly. Is the op giving them the best cases to try and win them over? You really shouldn’t reward bad behavior. It sounds like they need to be put on a PIP. I just wonder (because the extent of my law firm experience is from TV), could it hurt your business if they know their job is ending?

      1. Snowball II

        Yup. An attorney placed on a PIP is going to start looking for a new firm to call home, and is going to simultaneously start wooing existing clients so they’ll follow when PIP attorney jumps ship. If problematic dude has all of the best cases/clients, giving him warning he’s likely to be fired is basically setting yourself up to have your best clients poached.

      2. TNTT

        I have no idea how a PIP would even work for an attorney. No firm I’ve ever worked for has had a system like that. It’s just “shape up or ship out” and then … ships sail.

        1. De Minimis

          I think that’s part of the difficulty, the dynamic is just different for a professional services firm, especially a law firm, it just doesn’t seem to be the typical employer/employee relationship, especially with senior people.

          I worked for an accounting firm that would do PIPs, but I think it was more for junior staff. I don’t know if anyone above a certain level would ever be put on one.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yeah, there are a lot of cases where PIPs don’t really make sense for senior staff. In most cases it still makes sense to have a conversation (“here’s what I’m concerned about and it’s making me think about whether this is the right fit”) but often a formal PIP isn’t the right move with senior folks.

          2. Cat

            Well, and if this guy is a partner, normally that means he’s part owner of the firm. Doesn’t mean he can’t be fired, but it would have to be in accordance with the term’s of the partnership agreement, which might involve a payout of his share of the firm.

    4. junipergreen

      Agreed! It’s a pattern of rewarding poor behavior… the employee in question is able to manipulate the OP into additional perks.

      Also, bringing employees/colleagues into the fold of your family & personal affairs is NOT the way to reward them or strengthen a working relationship. I’m not sure if that’s getting conflated with “significant professional attention,” which in my mind would be more along the lines of strengthening internal relationships, networking, providing back-up on cases etc.

      And why would anyone ever reward someone with a promotion without addressing their problematic relationships with their female colleagues?

    5. LQ

      Completely agree. The reason no one has complained is because to an outsider it clearly sounds like you favor this guy because he gets the best cases and stuff when he’s not the best for the company (if he was it certainly would have been mentioned) so the OP must support this guys complete douchetacity.

      Give him the worst cases immediately. Reward your people who are strong performers and team players and good for growing the company with the best cases.

      And deal with the sexism, don’t just sit on your hands and let strong people leave because they are being treated poorly. Because strong people have opportunities and they will leave, and if you’ve already shown you dont’ care or endorse it, then why should they bother to complain.

      ACT!

    6. catsAreCool

      “why are you giving whiners and complainers who treat their female colleagues badly “the best cases and perks”?” I wanted to know that too.

      I’m guessing he and his team are good at what they do, but I doubt that they’re worth it. He sounds like a jerk who is going to get worse with time.

  6. Elizabeth the Ginger

    If I had #2’s boss, I’d be tempted to just refuse to engage with this guessing game by treating it like a joke. “How big should my bonus be? Oh, I’d say about a gazillion dollars. But if that would make everyone else feel jealous, half a gazillion would be okay too.”

    1. acmx

      I wouldn’t play the guessing game. It’s a bonus…never count on it. I’d say something along the lines, that I appreciate whatever he felt was sufficient. But then, I don’t like to give in to clear attempt at manipulation of my emotions.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. It’s emotional manipulation that is all it is. Don’t feed into it.

        “Boss, I am sure that the company will do the best it can in regard to my bonus. A bonus is just that a gift or an extra. What matters the most is how employees treated through out the year for their efforts.”

        Then let it go, OP. Do not think about it any further.

        You did not say, but I am concerned is the boss also emotionally manipulative in other aspects of your work place? I have never had a boss do this and I thought I had just about seen everything- this guy has all new tricks up his sleeve.

        1. HarperC

          That’s a very good point. This one example has him sounding like such a major jerk that I also doubt this is the only way in which he behaves like an ass now that you mention it. Ugh. I do like Elizabeth’s idea to make it into a joke.

        2. Elysian

          “A bonus is just that a gift or an extra.”

          I disagree on just this point. A bonus isn’t any more a “gift” than salary is a gift. It’s a form of compensation, and in some industries its a large part of the compensation package. I would be super pissed if my boss were playing manipulative games with my bonus – it would be the same as if he were playing games about my raise, or about my regular paycheck.

          1. Natalie

            It may not be a gift, but it’s not salary unless you have a contract that says otherwise. You’re not entitled (legally or morally) to a bonus as you are to a salary. They’re often one of the first things that gets cut or cancelled when things are tight.

            1. Judy

              Although anything including salary can be changed by your company, I’ve worked in places where the bonus was part of compensation, to the point that the annual raise or promotions was given on a form titled “Total Compensation”, that included the target bonus amount. Varying levels of the organization (associate engineer, engineer, senior engineer, lead engineer) in all of the disciplines got different percentages of raises based on their salary bands. The target amount was a percent of your salary, it was then multiplied by company performance (same for everyone), unit performance (same within a unit) and personal performance (based on review). For the highest level of individual contributor, you got 20% of your salary as a target bonus.

              Obviously the company could have a bad year, and their multiplier might be .2 or so, but there were many years when we met our company’s goals and the multiplier was 1.5.

              1. Natalie

                Certainly, but you can’t make salary changes retroactively. Absent a contract, I think you could make bonus changes whenever you wanted, provided the money hadn’t actually been paid out.

            2. Lamb

              This depends on how bonuses are structured; in some industries employees get bonuses for hitting performance goals, and that is generally promised ahead of time. In that case, I would say that the employee was entitled to the bonus, certainly morally and possibly legally (since a company can’t retroactively cut employees’ compensation). It depends on how the company is using the term.

            3. Elysian

              In my industry, if my bonus was cut entirely I would be jumping ship. Some places are just like that – my bonus this year was about 10% of my total compensation – when I took this job I knew it would be that way. Sure, it may fluctuate up and down depending on whether or not its a good year, but in my industry everyone expects that it is a part of total compensation (albeit of a variable amount). If you salary was cut by 10%, you’d take that very seriously, I assume. I know its not guaranteed, and especially that no amount is guaranteed, but its definitely expected. In my industry.

              Now granted, not every industry is like that, but I still don’t think we should think of bonuses as a “gift.” They’re not there because the employer is charitable – they’re there to reward employees for hard work, to retain good employees, and perhaps to attract other good employees to apply. You may not be entitled to it, but its still compensation for your work, not a charitable donation.

              1. AnonAnalyst

                Same here. My bonus is a larger part of my compensation (usually around 20-30%), and it’s structured at XX% of my salary if I meet my performance goals, so I generally expect to receive XX% unless it’s been a really bad year for the company. My compensation is competitive with the rest of the market/industry for the work I do with the bonus included, but it is not just with my salary so if my bonus were cut, I’d be underpaid and would probably be looking elsewhere (barring some one-off event, like one bad year for the company due to factors that are unlikely to be repeated since I generally like my company and the work that I do).

          2. Colette

            In many places, bonuses aren’t guaranteed and aren’t really part of compensation (at least not the kind you can count on).

            Having said that, I wouldn’t tell the manager that you consider the bonus a gift or extra, or he might decide you don’t want/need one at all.

            1. Lamb

              +1! This guy seems like the sort of jerk who would love to pretend he thought you didn’t want a bonus.

          3. Dan

            Funny you mention this. My former employer was a for-profit corporation providing professional services to the federal government. Bonuses were a non-contractual part of our compensation package. The company’s finances in general had been pretty terrible, and the year after I started, a new ownership team came in and slashed what had been five-figure bonuses that people had gotten very used to receiving. They were livid.

            The year I got a bonus, it was like 3% of my paycheck. Our reviews were done in January, and they kept pushing off paying out the bonus. It was finally paid on October. I was getting pretty pissed at that point, not about the delay, but the BS. I mean, if I had to wait to get a $20k bonus, fine. But $3k? If you don’t want to pay it, don’t pay it. Sure I’m not going to turn down $3k out of hand, but at that price, if you don’t want to pay it, don’t lead me on.

          4. Artemesia

            Step one should be to start giving the ‘best cases’ to other attorneys in the firm. But it sounds like weak leadership being held hostage by someone who can decimate the client list if he leaves. Either he goes or the OP doesn’t have a law firm though.

            1. Artemesia

              Don’t know why this ended up here — but obviously it goes with the law firm case.

              On bonuses — to consider them a ‘gift’ is to perpetuate this idea that people don’t earn what they get. In many firms a bonus is an expected earned part of compensation; playing games with it is creepy. It isn’t a ‘gift’ as a personal favor — it is compensation. Yes, companies like to use them to be flexible so they pay less during a poor year — but it isn’t a gift it is compensation for one’s labor.

              1. Not So NewReader

                I guess that is a mindset that I use because I have seen bonuses shrink or disappear entirely. Too often it’s some kind of elusive carrot. This forces me to think is the actual pay worth the work involved.
                Like our OP’s situation, bosses can use this stuff to yank people around. My friend with a very healthy paycheck got laid off. Sure, just before the holiday bonus checks went out, too.

        3. LawBee

          “Boss, I don’t need a bonus, it’s just a gift or extra, and I’d rather you treat me well throughout the year.”

          Ack, no no no. A bonus is not a gift, and OP definitely should not open the door to not getting one at all.

      2. Meg Murry

        If OP has been there for more than 1 or 2 years, just make it all about the numbers. Figure out what percentage past bonuses have been of your past salary (annually or monthly, whichever makes sense). Then look at whether its a better or worse year than those years. If its a bad year, just say “last year’s bonus was x% of my salary, how about its just the same”. If a good year, say “last year was x%, but sales are up 20%, so how about y%”

        Then leave it alone. Don’t let the boss mess with your head. He’s going to give you whatever bonus he wants. If you really have done a kick-a$$ job this year (with measurable stats behind it), use that info to go argue for a raise – but don’t stress out about the bonus.

    2. M-C

      I agree with not playing his game. But starting in September at the latest you should ask around, check out what seems usual in your industry/company. Then think of what would make you happy. Double that, or at least add 50%. Then when the jerk comes to you, just tell him coldly how much you expect. I bet that’d get you a much better figure than what you’d get otherwise by evasion.

      Also, it sounds like you need to become a studious documentor. Keep a journal of your every work accomplishment AS IT HAPPENS. Every time you think of something that went well, see if you can gather objective documentation for it (emails of thanks from clients, graphs of improvements etc). Keep that all stashed securely (ie not at work, at least get some cloud account specifically for it), and review it all before you start to come up with a bonus figure for yourself. And I don’t mean that you should sit around waiting till you feel particularly accomplished about something – devote an hour every Monday morning, or Friday afternoon, or whenever you plan your week, to asking yourself what went particularly well this past week. This way you’ll be much better equipped for annual reviews, and to justify the bonuses you’ll be asking for.

  7. Marzipan

    #1 – The thing you’re bothered about here is not being invited to his Christmas party?! That’s literally the only aspect of what you’ve described that’s absolutely nothing to do with you, since as I read it, it was a private party at his home. Everything else you’ve talked about, yes, that’s a problem and you need to address it. But if there’s even the slightest hint, when you do so, of bad feelings around not being invited to his party, then the fallout won’t just concern this one employee. Do that and you become the boss who everyone needs to placate by inviting them to private events and tiptoeing around their feelings in case you get fired over something as arbitrary as not getting nice enough burgers at your barbecue, or whatever. Because that’s what your letter reads like – ‘yes, he’s a rude misogynist who complains all the time and creates problems with the team dynamic, but OK… wait, he didn’t invite me to his party? Dammit, that is IT!’ I would be very uncomfortable working in that environment, and to be honest I think it would create an even weirder atmosphere of secret socialising.

    I know I’m being a bit harsh, as you’re also thinking of the feelings of the other team members he didn’t invite – but it was still a private party and therefore absolutely up to him. If he in some way presented it as a work event, then yes, ask him not to do that again, as it blurs the line between his private and work lives – or ask him to organise an official event (at a venue that isn’t his home) as he seems to have skills in that area. But if any of my team came to me to tell me they were upset by not being invited to a colleague’s house party, they’d be met with a gently raised eyebrow and a polite query as to whether they thought I could or should mandate who that colleague invited to their home.

    Equally, lay off including employees in your family life. Again, looked at from an employee’s perspective, it may not be the friendly gesture you think of it as, but an unwelcome obligation. Yes, many jobs include a social element – with clients, for example – but I’m sure you don’t want your employees to feel obligated to hang out with your family in order to progress their careers; and including them in this way only makes things messier when you need to address workplace issues… like now.

    1. Colette

      It sounds like the employee invited most of the office and deliberately excluded a few people – that’s basically a work event, and one deliberately designed to be hostile to select people. It’s not like the employee was having a party with tons of friends and invited a couple of people from the office.

      1. Ezri

        I agree that the party is significant – but it’s a symptom of a larger problem with this employee, not the problem itself. OP is getting hung up on the party when there seems to be plenty of in-office jerk / clique / sexist behavior going on that she can address.

        1. Colette

          If there were no other issues, it would be reasonable to address the party because it’s promoting an “us vs. them” environment at work.

          However, I agree that in this case there are bigger issues to address.

          1. Sadsack

            Sorry, I can’t see how a manager could tell an employee that he better invite all coworkers to his home or none of them. That conversation would have me looking immediately for another job. It is completely unreasonable to mention anything about his party.

            1. Colette

              I’m not suggesting “all or none” – I’m saying that if you invite most, you have to invite all unless there is a work-related reason (e.g. if you invite everyone on your team but not the three other people in the office, that’s not personal – if you invite everyone on your team except three people, that is). If you invite one or two, you’re fine (unless you’re a manager, where there are issues with that).

                1. Zillah

                  That isn’t all or none at all.

                  It’s okay to invite your two lunch buddies, but no one else. It’s okay to invite one of the five people on your team. It’s okay to invite only your team. It’s okay to invite only your peers. It’s okay to invite everyone. It’s okay to invite no one.

                  What isn’t okay is to invite four of the five people on your team, or all but one of your peers, or all but two of the people working in the company.

              1. Ezri

                But you’re saying that your employer can dictate who you invite to private events at your home. I don’t think that’s the case, no matter how many coworkers are involved.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Do you mean legally? They absolutely can. Or do you mean ethically/reasonably? Even in that case, it can still make sense when the person’s action are causing/will cause tension or other problems in the office. But it’s not a matter of saying “you must invite X to your house”; it’s more like what I wrote below.

                2. Ezri

                  @Alison

                  I read some comments further downthread that changed my stance a bit – it makes more sense to me because he’s in a leadership position and actively causing tension / drama with his actions.

                  In terms of ‘*can’t* I meant ethically – I’ve read this site long enough to know that most things are legal. I’ll admit that the idea of an employer telling employees what to do on their personal time really irks me on a personal level. I see the need for the rule, but it still doesn’t sit right with me. I guess I need to consider it further. :)

                3. Colette

                  @Ezri – I think the difference for me is that this kind of behavior will cause problems in the office. It’s not a matter of saying “You must invite Sara, Angela, and Bob to your house”, it’s a matter of saying “You can’t organize events for most of the company with the intent of deliberately excluding people you don’t like” or even “we don’t want jerks working here”. This wouldn’t be better (or more acceptable) if it were at a restaurant or a theater or a stadium.

                  Employers can and do fire people for other things they do off the clock – both illegal things (assault, murder) and legal things (mocking a fast-food employee).

                4. Ezri

                  @Collette

                  The logical part of my head agrees that makes sense. Maybe the problem is that it reminds me of when I was in school and teachers / administrators would make blanket rules to shut down a particular problem, and punish everyone in the process. As in: normally you can do x, but because a few people are taking advantage of x to get away with y, no one can do x.

                  Once again, I get why employers set rules like this, it just upsets me to be treated like a child because some people are unprofessional.

              2. plain_jane

                I think it’s about the level here. If it was junior staff, who invited all the other junior staff across the teams plus their boss who they’re great friends with – I’d be ok with that.

                But when you’re managing people, part of what that means is that you are managing the team’s perspective of the company leadership. So then you shouldn’t be pulling stuff like this (i.e. inviting all the members of someone else’s team and encouraging them to lie about it).

            2. Zillah

              I agree with you in theory, but not in regards to this case. The employee is in a leadership role. He may not be the owner, but he’s definitely in a significant position of authority and power, and he exclusively invited employees who are junior to him. That’s a problem, and it’s absolutely the OP’s business.

                1. Zillah

                  I didn’t say he did – I said that he exclusively (i.e., only) invited employees who are junior to him.

              1. Sadsack

                Sorry – I misunderstood what you wrote – thanks for clarifying! I agree that doing what the lawyer did is not ok; I wouldn’t feel ok about it no matter what position I was in at that firm, but it was difficult for me to imagine having a conversation about it where the owner doesn’t come off as petty or needy. However, I have read some more comments down-thread and I see that there are ways of saying it that get the point across without making it seem like the owner is trying to dictate her employees personal lives.

                1. Zillah

                  No worries! I definitely agree that the OP needs to approach the subject carefully, because yeah, they could easily come off as sounding petty.

            3. Ask a Manager Post author

              You don’t need to say, “You must invite all or none.” Assuming you have a competent, intelligent person in the role, you explain how these things are different when you’re in a leadership role and how favoritism will impact their role and the team, and then you expect the person to make the responsible choice from there on their own. If they don’t, you now have some serious questions to answer about their ability to be in that type of role.

      2. Marzipan

        So how would you handle that? Insist that if he’s inviting anyone from the office to a party, he invite everyone, whether he likes them or not? Ban him from inviting anyone from work to his home at all? How is any of that enforceable? I’m not saying he’s not being an arse, but there are plenty of addressable ways in which he’s being an arse in work time. This, however, was very much on his own time.

        1. Judy

          Well, it was obviously communicated who was invited and who was not, since the invitees lied about being invited to the non-invited employees. That makes it much more serious in my book. “You are invited to a party at my house, Wakeen, and make sure that Jane and Sue don’t find out about it.”

        2. Colette

          Explain to him the issue (i.e. “Since you’ve invited most of the office but not everyone, it’s causing tension at work”) and that this isn’t acceptable. If it’s a work event, invite everyone; if not, invite only the people you’re close to.

          It doesn’t really matter if it’s on his own time – he’s creating the kind of environment a reasonable company won’t want to have. I’m also pretty confident he used work time or resources to send out those invitations – the odds that he had personal contact information for a huge portion of the company are very low.

            1. Koko

              OP wrote there are 15 employees – 4 leaders and 11 subordinates. One of the management team invited all 11 subordinates to a holiday party without the other 3 (female) leaders or the owner. I doubt that his closest friends are all 11 of the people who work in junior roles and none of his peers. This was a pretty clear power play.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s reasonable to say, “Hey, as a leader of this firm, you can’t appear to be playing favorites with something like this because it causes tension and makes it harder for people to work together. If you’re organizing workplace social events, you need to either invite everyone or limit it to your team.”

          That said, the party is so very much not the issue that the OP needs to address here, given the other issues.

          1. Ezri

            Great explanation. I’d gotten mixed up about the lawyer’s level in relation to other partygoers – given that he’s a superior, there were subordinates lying to managers and the exclusion of said managers, I can see why the party is in and of itself an issue. Talk about drama.

        4. JayDee

          I don’t think it requires some sort of a rule or ultimatum. If the exclusionary party were truly the only issue, then a conversation that says “Hey Rutherford, I’ve heard that the folks who were invited to your holiday party had a great time. It was very thoughtful of you to have a holiday party and invite your colleagues. However, it sounds like not everyone was invited. When you invite all but just a few people or a particular group of people, it does feel a bit exclusionary. I’m sure this wasn’t your intention. But since this is a small firm and we’re a pretty close group, I just wanted to bring this up so you can be mindful of those perceptions in the future.”

          That would be enough to address the issue IF that were the only issue.

          In this case, who was invited to the holiday party is the LEAST of this managing partner’s concerns.

        5. Koko

          If a non-manager had thrown the party and excluded some people, well, that’s unsavory and would make me hesitate to promote them in a leadership position, as leaders need to be impartial. But I wouldn’t tell them not to throw the party.

          But you can’t have a manager inviting every subordinate in the firm and excluding the rest of the leadership. There’s a greater responsibility with being in a management position. Managers aren’t friends with their subordinates, they remain in a position of authority over them, and when a manager throws a party for the employees that’s not just friends socializing after work. It makes it feel even more like an unofficial company event if he invited every single employee other than the leadership.

      3. LBK

        I don’t think we have enough info to determine this. In my reading it doesn’t actually sound like a work event to me, just his personal Christmas party, so of course he’s only going to invite his friends. If it’s an official work party I’m confused why this junior partner is organizing and hosting it.

        But as others have said, this is easily the least egregious behavior described in the letter. There are way bigger problems at hand than having feelings hurt (and I have to say, I rolled my eyes at the idea of “you hurt my feelings” being a phrase an actual owner of a business would use). Not that feeling jilted isn’t valid, but really? It’s an office, not elementary school where Timmy called Suzie a dummy. That’s the impression I get when someone says their feelings were hurt.

      4. illini02

        I don’t really get that sense. It just said he had a party and invited some people and not others. I’ve had parties and invited certain co-workers. Maybe these are just the people he likes more than others. We don’t know how big this firm is. I mean, I suppose you can say you can only invite your direct team and not others, but that seems like something an elementary school teacher does, not something that is done in a workplace because people get their feelings hurt

          1. illini02

            I get that. Its just that even with management, something doesn’t sit right with me about saying that you MUST invite either everyone or no one to your personal events. I do understand, having been on the others side, that management should avoid the appearance of favoritism, but at the same time, people have a life outside of work that shouldn’t be governed by office politics. Serious question. Would this apply to something like a wedding as well? If you were a manager at a smaller company, but didn’t really care for a few individuals, do you think you HAVE to invite those individuals you don’t like to your big day, or that you shouldn’t invite anyone?

              1. illini02

                True, but I feel like you can have friends or people you like outside of your team, so to have any type of limitations like that just doesn’t sit right. Maybe someone used to be on your team and they got transferred. Or you just eat lunch with someone else. I just don’t like saying who someone can and can’t invite to their personal events. Now I get if its something like a bachelor party, because that does blur some lines. But a birthday party or wedding? Seems a bit much.

                1. Zillah

                  But you’re getting into a lot of “what ifs” that aren’t relevant here. We’re not coming up with an iron clad policy to cover all contingencies – we’re addressing this specific issue.

                  The employee, who is in a position of leadership, invited all 11 subordinates from the company and excluded all management. I very much doubt that he’s good friends with all of them. That’s a clear, calculated decision, and it’s a problem. It’s not the biggest problem by a long shot, but it’s still a problem.

                  Situations where some-but-not-all would be okay:

                  Of 14 other employees…

                  – Jeff invites the three members on his team and Patricia, who was on his team until October.

                  – Patricia invites the 10 other subordinates but excludes all leadership.

                  – Jane invites Steve and Nancy, who she often gets lunch with.

                  These are all selective invitations, but they’re not problematic in the way the situation being described is.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              If you’re a manager, you can’t invite just some people from your team; it’s all or none. There are no loopholes on that one. It goes with the job to appear impartial and not play favorites.

          1. illini02

            So that means he invited 10 people from work. I’m guessing that its a bigger party, and those were the ones he chose to invite. Thats not really a ton in my opinion.

            1. Zillah

              11 – I’m assuming the OP isn’t including herself in the employee category. Which means that of 14 other employees, he invited 11. That’s exclusionary, especially since he only invited subordinates and excluded all of his peers.

        1. Alter_ego

          I know that my roommate never invites anyone from her job to our parties because she’s a manager, and they discourage the managers from spending time with non-managers out of work because it can lead to so many issues with favoritism and messy workplace politics.

          Plus, I think there’s a big difference between “inviting some people and not others” and inviting everyone but your three peers who you openly disrespect in the workplace, then asking everyone else to lie about it.

          1. M-C

            Indeed, a very big difference. And I’d like to emphasize that if he’s asking people to lie about it it’s because he knows he’s doing wrong..

    2. Ann without an e

      Were the people that were specifically excluded only the women? I wonder that. If that is the dividing line then its just another symptom of the more systemic problem.

      Also if was a ‘just the men’ party the women might not have wanted to be there anyway, he sounds like the kind of guy that would hire strippers for a party……….OP’s description left me with a “he’s one of those guys” impression.

      1. Liane

        “Were the people that were specifically excluded only the women? I wonder that.”
        At least 3 of the 4 people were women. The OP’s gender isn’t given, but OP does write “…exclude the other three leaders, all of whom are women…” I am pretty sure the OP is a man, however.

  8. Pushy Penguin

    I feel like OP1 has what I will term “owner goggles”. It is easy when you own your business and it is small in size to think that it should be a family. After all- you hired your team and they are great and you have tried to make them feel like family. But blurring the lines between the work world and family makes it really hard to prioritize problems objectively. In here the biggest problems are the employee’s behavior at work. But because you are dead set on treating your team as family, you start to rationalize those issues into small quirks and put them aside. Then what should be a minor issue of not including you in the privately held Xmas party suddenly becomes the biggest slight you can imagine, but only because you are viewing this relationship through the eyes of familial obligation. It pays off to remember that nobody has to like their boss or want to socialize with their boss – even if their boss is a super nice dude who always does the right thing. But everybody deserves a boss that will actively manage hostility out of their workplace. I feel for you because I have grown up on family businesses and know how hard t is to keep the distinction between work and family in place.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      I got this too. I also didn’t necessarily get a sinister motive in not inviting the other senior managers to this party. Note that the employee excluded everyone at his level and above. Isn’t it possible this was more of a “thank you for your awesome work, junior people” party? Granted, if that were the case, most likely there would be no need for partygoers to lie about the party to those who weren’t invited. But suppose there weren’t other misogynistic behavior going on (and I’m taking the OP’s word on it that there is). Is it wrong for an owner and an employee to have different ideas on how much to treat others in the firm “like family”? I don’t think it’s that unusual.

      I say address behavior that’s going on the office, and forget punishing this person for the party.

      1. Snowball II

        In firms I’ve worked in, it’s been standard practice when the goal of a party or other perk is to reward the juniors, the senior folks fund the party/happy hour/whatever and send the juniors to it, but don’t attend themselves (or, less commonly, all attend) – it would be incredibly strange to have a “yay juniors” party thrown and hosted by a particular senior attorney to which the other seniors were not invited and of which they were not made aware.

        I still think you’re right that the party is the least of everyone’s problem though.

    2. Jamie

      It is easy when you own your business and it is small in size to think that it should be a family.

      ITA and this needs to stop. I don’t care how great a company is or how good a rapport you have with the owners – it’s not family.

      My family doesn’t pay me. And I wouldn’t give notice to leave my family to join another if it looked like a better deal.

      Work =/= family – why can’t this be put forever to bed?

  9. Not So NewReader

    OP 1. People are allowed to have private parties. Bosses are not allowed to randomly decide the employee’s party should be a company party. If you want a company party, that would be your responsibility to create it.
    Compounding things, why would you even want to be invited to this jerk’s house? And likewise with these 3 employees, he treats them like crap all year and then they want to go to his party? Why?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      If it happened on Suits or The Good Wife, an exclusionary party like that would mean something. Louis Canning is not dying and Michael J Fox is yet again making a run to hold all the marbles.

      In the real world, it still may mean something…but as the other posters have pointed out, that’s not the OP’s biggest problem.

      I think when you own a small business, you need to make sure that the top players operate somewhere within your own value system. They don’t have to be carbon copies (that would be bad!), but if they are going to be part of the business with your name, they need to be within the boundaries of your value system.

      A top producer being a jerk is kinda okay, as long as he’s an equal opportunity jerk or not an evil jerk . Making a jerk a name partner, notsomuch. I encourage the OP to think about his name and whom he wants representing him (whom he wants to get in bed with).

      1. Snowball II

        Lawyer here.

        In most cases I’ve seen, stuff like this means problem dude’s looking to curry favor with the staff and juniors because he’s planning to leave to start his own firm (or join another firm), and he wants to take as much institutional knowledge as possible with him when he goes.

        1. Elsajeni

          Yeah, it stood out to me that the only people he didn’t invite were those at his level or higher. I actually think that makes it look less like an issue of cliquishness — since it seems like he excluded people based on a rule (“junior staff only”), rather than on an individual basis (“all junior staff and most of the senior staff, but not Steve, I hate that guy”) — but it’s weird in its own way, as if he’s trying to become the person the junior staff think of as their boss. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as you said, he’s looking to jump ship and maybe take some of the staff with him.

          1. Kerry (Like The County in Ireland)

            I would love to see an Alison analysis of The Good Wife’s management issues!

        2. neverjaunty

          Also a lawyer,and I agree with this astute observation.

          Jerk will launch his new firm with those “best cases”, OP, leaving you with not only a personnel but a funding gap that may be fatal to your firm.

          1. plain_jane

            OP’s saving throw might be that other employees already see this guy as an ‘hole and don’t want to have to deal with him as an owner.

            1. catsAreCool

              I was also thinking that if the employees have any sense, they won’t want to have the jerk as a boss.

  10. Crow

    The other thought OP#1 should consider: how does it look to the other 3 ladies who are Jerk’s peers when you coddle him? It must surely rankle to see Jerk whine and moan his way to getting the best stuff, all while his casual sexism is seemingly ignored. Seeing all that would make me strongly reconsider whether I still want to work for you.

    1. Ezri

      +1000. Reputation for sexism, whiny department getting the best work, rampant clique mentality… if this stuff is as obvious to other employees as it is to OP, I’d be very concerned about office morale.

    2. AnonAnalyst

      Totally agree. When I was reading this letter, all I could think was that if I were one of the other leaders in this firm I would be super annoyed that this guy seems to be getting preferential treatment despite his bad behavior. I would already be looking elsewhere.

      1. Anonicorn

        I would already be looking elsewhere.

        Bingo! I’d be looking to get out of there as fast as I could.

  11. Henrietta Gondorf

    The first letter reminds me of letters people write to advice columnists about their spouses. “Oh, Apollo is a wonderful husband and father to our triplet infants unless he’s drinking (but not an alcoholic), yelling (but not emotionally abusive), spending the grocery money on gambling (but not bankrupting us), but this year for our anniversary he gave me half dead grocery store flowers and I have to address this terrible slight!

    I realize that it’s hard to pull back from a relationship that’s not productive after you’ve invested a lot in it, but there isn’t an alternative here. And certainly dong promote someone to partner who’s an active liability for your firm.

    1. Crow

      You’ve heard he’s got a temper, he’ll beat you every night, but only when he’s sober, so you’re alright!

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    2. Fucshia

      I was thinking it was like the start to a famous tale: “The thousand injuries of this leader I bore the best I could. But when he ventured on insult, I vowed revenge.”

    3. Anonsie

      It’s funny how these complaints lay bare what people do and do not believe they are entitled to. More often than not, it seems they don’t think they’re entitled to support and respect but they are entitled to pleasantries and gifts or dates/parties/vacations/whathaveyou.

      I think that’s why the half dead grocery store flowers or the exclusionary party suddenly sting when the day to day bad behavior doesn’t: it’s what finally brings all the disrespect up to the light where you can finally see it.

  12. Cheesecake

    I agree, OP #1 needs to start managing the guy and his work attitude. But i’d refrain from any immediate decisions, like firing, right after the event. If you fire him now, you will send a clear message that personal parties where boss in not invited will result in termination. As long as you don’t want to participate in a bunch of family xmas celebrations of your employees…but i have a weird idea you actually do. That is why absolutely normal situation of not being invited to a private party created a drama in the office; you sort of started it by including employees in your personal life.

  13. Lamb

    #1 I’m going to respond to the issues you mentioned that you are not particularly concerned about (and I really wonder why you aren’t)
    His team whines and complains even though they get “the best cases” and “the best perks and benefits”. You are rewarding their squeaky wheel behavior- why? This is how you end up with an office full of complainers; they all see that that is how to get what you want. How demoralizing to the employees who hope to earn plum assignments and rewards based on merit! And furthermore, why are perks and *especially* benefits varying based on team rather than level or seniority? (Although OP may have meant that everyone gets the same awesom perks and benefits and problem team just doesn’t appreciate them?)
    They are “less than kind and respectful” to women, in other words they are unkind and disrespectful to them. You say it’s “not to the degree that anyone has complained to [you] about it with a desire that [you] do something” so people have complained but didn’t want you to do anything? Are you waiting for someone to *tell you* to act on their complaint? Look, you’re the big boss, if someone mentions something to you that you don’t like, you can take action even if no one asked you too. In fact, it’s your job to take care of problems as soon as you notice them, for the good of your business.
    Don’t promote this guy. He needs a sit down to tell him that his workplace behavior is unacceptable. His *workplace behavior*, because, like Marzipan said above, that is the major problem and that is what everyone needs to know this is about. I’m not sure the best way to let everyone know this when PIPs etc. are supposed to be handled confidentially, but seriously dude (to get colloquial with you) the real issues reached a boiling point a while ago and you’re only *considering* taking action with this guy now because everyone knows he snubbed you and you need to save face. In your place, I wouldn’t be worried jerkface had just decided he might want to leave, I’d be worried that everyone not on his team had been job searching for months.

  14. Olive Kitteridge

    I’d definitely like an update for this one! (and thanks for all the updates you have been posting, Alison – they have been very interesting to read!)

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Yeah me too (assuming you mean #1). My guess is that at least some of the 3 woman in management are looking elsewhere and the jerk lawyer is planning on starting his own firm with current clients and poached employees. Which will leave the OP with not much of a business. It will take some serious work to salvage this.

  15. HeyNonnyNonny

    OP #3– I’ve written briefing memos and talking points, and I agree it can be super frustrating when they go off track!

    Alison is spot on– sit down with your boss and asking about his preferred format for information– maybe he wants key numbers in bold, or maybe he needs a summary of his key points, or fully written out talking points, or maybe a speech outline– even for a 5-minute talk– will help. Good luck!

    1. Meg Murry

      If the director isn’t good at speaking in groups, suggest he change the format. If he’s speaking in a conference room with a projector or display screen, put the bullet points in a quick PowerPoint for him. Or change it up to send out emails with the announcements before the meetings, and use his time during the meeting to answer questions about the announcements.
      Nothing is going to make me feel less thanked and appreciated than having my boss call me the wrong name, or worse, someone else’s name.

    2. misspiggy

      And if he’s over40, just quietly print whatever format you give him in large font. Speaking while glancing at Times New Roman 12 notes used to be no problem for me; now, I just can’t do it. And of course I’m unlikely to admit it!

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Yes! Everything should be at least 14 point– if not larger…I have one director who insists on sans-serif fonts, though, and hates TNR– you just never know with people :)

      2. Elysian

        I think this is actually really good advice for all age groups – most people when they’re speaking put their notes on a podium or table while they stand – much further from the eyes than you do if you’re reading a book or a paper at your desk. It’s just easier to avoid staring and squinting if you put it in an appropriately large and easy to read font.

      3. Happy Lurker

        Yes, large font, use colors, and colored index cards for the really important information. Although, you never know which piece of info the boss is going to mess up!! Good luck OP!

      4. M-C

        This is totally what I was going to suggest. You wouldn’t believe the number of vain aging guys who won’t wear glasses when they’d need them :-). Index cards with 18pt font go a long way. And, without assuming too much about vision, I like them myself because, even though I do wear my glasses, when I get nervous speaking it’s very helpful to have one pithy phrase to scan quickly, so I can keep on track.
        But actually I really like the suggestion of making these things part of the meeting agenda. and sending them out in advance by email. He can always emphasize something in person if he’s so inspired.

    3. YourCdnFriend

      Excellent plan. But, the other side of this is to start letting it go. You can only control so much (the notes, the prep, etc) but you can’t control what comes out of their mouths.

      I used to build a lot of presentations for other people and it used to kill me to watch them mess it all up. It still hurts but I’ve practiced being a bit more zen about it.

    4. AVP

      Also, even if nothing helps and he still gives out the wrong information, thanks the wrong people, mangles pronunciation, etc. – don’t worry that people will think you’re the problem. As long as you’re reasonably tight in the rest of your job, and your co-workers see you as responsible and on top of things, they’ll know that the issues are not originating from you!

  16. WorksWithMuddledSmarties

    #3 – I’ve worked for and with people like this in a variety of situations. Some of those were widely thought of fondly, some weren’t, but either way, everyone knew “that’s just how [smart but flaky person] is.”

    One thing I can promise you is that no one is looking at these mistakes and thinking “Wow, that person isn’t getting the administrative support they need. Their assistant must not be doing their job.” They’re thinking “There goes Fred/Sylvia/Wakim again.”

  17. illini02

    #1 sounds mainly like a lot of hurt feelings about the party, which you need to get over, but the treating women bad is a problem. What wasn’t clear is whether the only other women are the leaders. If they are the only women AND the only other ones not invited to the party, maybe its not a problem of him treating all women badly, maybe he doesn’t like them personally, which there is nothing wrong with, in my opinion. I’m the only black person in my office of around 15 people. I know there are a couple of people who don’t like me, but my assumption isn’t that its because I’m black, its that our personalities don’t mesh. Now on the other hand, if he has women on his team and other teams that he blatantly treats bad, thats something that needs to be addressed. I’ll be honest the clique issue doesn’t bother me (but I know thats an issue that everyone doesn’t agree with), and whining is a subjective term in my book (similar to how yelling is subjective), but the possibility of sexism needs to stop.

  18. A Teacher

    Regina George comes to mind when reading #1…OP 1–I feel like we’re starting to pile on, but honestly after reading the post and then the comments, the pattern that comes out is that ultimately YOU are the problem. The common denominator in everything happening in the office comes down to how you, the owner and managing partner handle the situations that come up. Past practice indicates that your employee doesn’t respect you; doesn’t respect the values of the company; and doesn’t respect the female colleagues that he works with. He’s detrimental to your business and let you allow him to remain. What message does that send to the other employees at the firm? Why would anyone “complain” or tell you what’s really going on because you’ve all but indicated that you won’t do anything about his actions. Nothing is more demoralizing than watching someone that is a complete asshat and the leader of the clique get the best of everything and never be told he’s wrong. Seriously, watch Mean Girls, he’s the Regina George of your firm.

  19. LaurenR

    For OP #4, what about circling back to your mentor who originally referred you to the position? She might have more information for you or may be able to get more information for you about the status of the positions or might even be able to answer your questions based on company norms. Also if she’s high enough in the corporation or has some clout within HR, you could also give her a heads up about the long/non-response times from the recruiters. I’d think this might be a good option since you already know someone within the company who you know and have worked with in the past.

  20. justine

    #1, when it’s obvious to your team that an employee is an issue and you don’t/can’t/won’t do anything about it makes me suspicious of my boss’s motives and abilities. Just like you want the best employees, i want the best most capable and effective boss. Good luck, sometimes talking to the person in a non-confrontatial way really helps, or, like i heard on “black-ish” last night, saying the story outloud from the other person’s perspective.

    Also, i had an interview this morning! It went well and i used a lot of the information from this blog, for example, they asked how i handle conflict with coworkers and i gave an example of a time where i handled the situation at the lowest level and how if the coworkers couldn’t work it out or agree to disagree then to seek help from the next level.

    1. Elizabeth West

      I was thinking when reading your last paragraph, even though it was off-topic (yay interview!) that it was really on-topic. I would imagine that the OP’s staff that they can’t get any help from an upper level and that’s why they don’t say anything.

      1. justine

        I was on an interview high when i wrote that, like just wanted to go on more interviews. ! I also read an article about how pretty much every argument, disagreement, etc is a power struggle. Everyone wants the upper hand and when they don’t have it it feel they’ve been slighted, stuff like we read on this blog happens. That whole don’t care about what others think of you is really tough.
        P.s. Elizabeth, i saw you said in one of your posts last weekend that you skate, me too!

  21. Mike C.

    Look, I know that many believe that managers don’t always know or understand the law and that’s just the way things are, but when it comes to a legal firm, can we agree that maybe they should have a passing knowledge in what constitutes discrimination against members of a protected class?

    1. Sabrina

      Should, yes, but I know quite a few people who work in law offices as either lawyers or support staff, and they are usually the ones with the biggest complaints about illegal behavior on the part of their bosses/employers, out of everyone else I know.

    2. neverjaunty

      Indeed they should, but it’s nonetheless amazing how many lawyers seem to have trouble mentally connecting “this is the law” and “it applies to me”.

      Broadly, a lot of law firms end up with bad managers because many lawyers tend to assume they are smart people who learn quickly, as is necessary for the job, and therefore mistakenly assume they can be good at management. Instead of realizing that it is a whole different skill set.

      1. arintare

        I think it’s similar to how people in the medical profession work themselves and their employees to exhaustion, have terrible nutrition, etc. Try asking a doctor or nurse about their work/life balance sometime. (For bonus points, do it directly after they’ve scolded you about yours.) There’s a curious tendency to believe that they are the exception to the rule that they insist everyone else has to follow. Same with a lot of teachers who never learn anything new. The cognitive dissonance is fascinating.

        I seem to remember a saying about the doctor’s wife dying young, and the shoemaker’s children going barefoot…

  22. SystemsLady

    #1: RE: the sexist jerk’s team getting the best cases and still feeling like they’re being treated unfairly + all the other teams being led by women – you can safely bet that those two things are related.

    1. SystemsLady

      I should clarify the target of my comment/criticism is the sexist jerk, because that doesn’t read as well as I initially thought it did.

  23. Zillah

    OP1 – One thing in your letter that really struck me that I don’t think has much been mentioned yet is the fact that your problem employee seems to be using the lower level staff in a power play. To me, that’s hugely problematic – it puts them in a really bad situation and since you say it’s causing problems, he seems to have been successful. Stop blaming them for being invited – this isn’t their fault, and I don’t think that lying about it necessarily indicates any malice.

  24. Sabrina

    OP#1 Well, yeah no one asks you to do anything or complains enough to you about it, they know full well you aren’t going to do a darn thing, so why bother wasting their time. You’re the owner. Show some ownership.

  25. Swarley

    I don’t mean to pile on OP#1, but I feel like this needs to be echoed again to stress the importance here. A coworker who only invites a select few of his coworkers to a private party is not your concern. It would be your concern if you were a teacher and this were a 5th grade class where the student passed around invitations during class, just not to everyone. You should be concerned about the less than respectful treatment of your female employees. This needs to be addressed right away. And I would have serious reservations about putting this person in an even higher position of leadership when they can’t seem to behave like an adult in the workplace. What the fudge…

    1. Colette

      In this case, it wasn’t a select few who were invited – it was a select few that were not invited. That’s a different scenario and absolutely something that could be addressed, although I agree that in this case there are other issues that the OP should focus on.

      1. Swarley

        Ah, I misread that. You’re right, that does change my outlook on the situation. I just think that the work environment all around is way too personal for my liking.

      2. JayDee

        Right. In the 5th grade class example, if little Wakeen only invited 6 friends to his party and a few kids were sad, the teacher might say “well, Wakeen’s parents probably said he couldn’t invite the whole class because that would be too many people.” On the other hand, if Wakeen regularly teases and picks on Cletus and Torbjorn in class, and then he has a birthday party and invites everyone except Cletus and Torbjorn and makes it really clear while he passes out invitations that they are not invited, I think most teachers would want to address that because the party is just one part of a larger problem.

        1. Snowball II

          In elementary school, my mom’s rule was “invite less than half the class or everyone,” and that always seemed to work decently well at minimizing hurt feelings.

  26. De Minimis

    It sounds like it was a work party where everyone was invited other than the owner and the three other “leaders.” That’s different from a private party where some work people happened to be invited.

    But I agree, it’s not about the party though the party seems to be symbolic of the problem with this guy. Whatever you do, don’t make him a partner, you’ll never get rid of him then. My guess is his team is getting these good assignments because he’s good at what he does, and I imagine the OP is considering making him partner to keep him from bolting and taking his team with him, but making him part-owner just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

  27. MsM

    Yeah, sorry to pile on you, LW1 – well…okay, fine, not really, if it prompts you to do something about the situation – but you know how you cure office cancers? You don’t let them metastasize in the first place. If this guy didn’t already think the rules should be different for him than the other leaders and their teams, the party wouldn’t have happened, or at least there wouldn’t have been all this secrecy and suspicion surrounding it.

    Before you go elevating anyone to partner, I think you need to be able to articulate a clear vision of what leadership in this firm should look like, and have a mini-retreat or individual discussions with your leaders to make sure they understand and are on board. Also a diversity and non-discrimination policy that’s more than just an obligatory paragraph in the employee handbook. Maybe even look at the team structure to see whether it’s serving your needs as is, or if something that creates less of a natural environment for people to think of their team in isolation from the firm as a whole might work better. (You very well might need the divisions if each team’s working on completely different cases, or if you’re planning ahead for future growth, but it seems like a lot for a relatively small firm to me.) If Squeaky Wheel makes grumpy noises about this, or gives lip service to the concepts that aren’t reflected in his actions, then you break out the “moving in different directions” script and shepherd him toward the exit. But really look at the big picture instead of just trying to address the individual offense, and it should help mitigate any perception that you’re doing this because you’re hurt you weren’t invited.

  28. Joey

    #1 I have a different take. I think it’s perfectly fine to intermingle work and personal life in really small businesses if that’s your preference. I know it’s hard not to when you’re the owner and so invested in each and every employee.

    But, I think the party thing is just another example of how this guy is creating unnecessary problems. The sexist behavior and whining should have really been addressed with him earlier, but I understand that always doesn’t happen. I say you let the holidays pass and start looking to move the guy out. I think the guy deserves a come to Jesus type of warning and if he doesn’t turn it around (I don’t think he will) he’s out. I know it may seem pointless, but I think everyone deserves the opportunity to fix these sorts of issues. If for nothing else so at least it’s on him to decide whether he wants to live your rules or not.

    1. illini02

      I agree. I think everyone deserves the opportunity to change, especially if you have never addressed this behavior before.

      1. cv

        This is a tough one. On the one hand, I agree that people generally deserve to be told when there are issues and given a chance to address them. On the other hand, in a business like this where the relationship with the client is a major part of what keeps the client with the firm, giving someone a lot of warning gives them time to smooth the transition to take clients with them to a new firm. When I worked at a financial services firm the brokers who quit to go work for a competitor were generally not allowed back at their desks once it was known they were leaving (those who were retiring were not considered a threat to the business and treated differently). There may be some of that here, where this guy is a jerk but some of the client relationships are his, and possibly some of the lower level staff, too. So how he leaves may determine what happens with clients, whether some of the junior staff quit to follow him, etc.

        So it may make sense to try to get the guy to shape up, but the standard PIP-type management techniques may not be appropriate, and just firing him suddenly may be better for the business than dragging it out.

        1. Joey

          I try not to assume people will try to intentionally sabotage the company unless I have reason to. Sure, if this guy sees the writing on the wall that’s possible, but it’s also a good idea for the owner to insert himself and build a relationship that can withstand it. I just hate treating people like they cannot be trusted unless they intentionally violate that trust.

          1. MsM

            This guy’s already provided evidence he doesn’t mind going behind the owner’s back, and everyone else in the firm seems pretty convinced he’s aware of the impression he’s leaving with his actions. As I said above, I think a more gradual transition that doesn’t leave the rest of the firm worried about further reprisals would be best, but I also see the wisdom in getting him out the second he realizes that’s where things are headed.

            1. illini02

              I don’t know that I consider not inviting someone to a part is “going behind the owners back”. Its semantics I guess. But not inviting people to a party and scheming to hurt the company are, in my opinion, 2 very different things. Its a pretty far leap to say, well I don’t want these people in my home for reasons x,y,and z to saying, I plan on destroying this company.

              1. MsM

                There’s a difference between not inviting someone to a party and doing it in a way that makes people feel like they have to lie about it. The former could just be social cluelessness, but that kind of social cluelessness could have easily been cleared up if someone had let the news slip and one of the non-invitees asked about it (e.g. “Oh, I’m sorry if you felt left out of the loop! I thought this could just be something nice to do for the lower level staff”). The latter implies a more deliberate attempt to keep people on the outside, and that kind of division obviously is harming the company.

          2. LawBee

            I think generally, yes. But in this case, there is ample evidence in the OP’s letter that give me – and many other commenters – the belief that this guy will be happy to cut and run, and take clients with him. It’s not uncommon in the legal field, and honestly, his personality isn’t going to change. OP’s number one concern in this instance should be for the longevity of her firm and the productiveness of everyone else in the firm, not this one guy. This is a small firm, and there isn’t room for a discontented sexist agitator, no matter his performance. And he definitely should not be made partner.

        2. illini02

          Yeah, but I think doing that also can have a bad affect on the rest of the staff. Basically, it looks like OP fired him for not inviting them to the party. If he does start his own firm, I think that gives the lower level employees MORE reason to want to leave, if he can be fired for something like that. He can truthfully tell them that he had never been talked to about bad behavior before, and was fired for something trumped up, so OP would do that to a junior partner, do you really think they care about the associates? And the thing is, there is no evidence that he is planning to leave, just speculation. Maybe he’s just a clueless jerk with no malicious intentions toward poaching people to his own firm. I think firing him straight out just is a bad move.

        3. Zillah

          When I worked at a financial services firm the brokers who quit to go work for a competitor were generally not allowed back at their desks once it was known they were leaving (those who were retiring were not considered a threat to the business and treated differently).

          I don’t understand this. How would letting them return to their desks be a potential threat to the business? I might understand it if they were being laid off – still crappy, but it would make some logical sense – but in this situation, they already know that they’re leaving before they say anything to you. If they wanted to sabotage the business in some way, presumably they’d do so before resigning.

    2. neverjaunty

      It’s not so much pointless as it is foolish. Giving this guy “one more chance” means showing him that he can continue to get away with bad behavior a little longer and allows him to sabotage OP’s firm (see upthread), as well as sending a terrible message to the other employees.

      Remember this is not a situation where a junior employee needs guidance. This is a senior attorney with gobs of responsibility who himself is a manager. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

      1. Joey

        not from my point of view. Giving him a chance to correct the behavior is what most people consider fair and considering how much the owner invested it makes sense from a business perspective to at least attempt to fix the issue before you call it quits.

        1. LawBee

          Attempt to fix, but with a realistic eye. The OP hasn’t shown any indications that she’s been willing to take steps to fix his behavior now, so what honestly are the odds that Jerk Attorney is going to bother making any kind of substantive change? He’s being amply rewarded for his sh!tty behavior, where’s the incentive? Nonexistent.

          I’d see this as a one-and-done deal. Meet with him, tell him he’s not making partner AND WHY, promote the others, and revisit. If he quits, he quits. If he takes his sexist team with him, so be it. The OP can start anew, and the other teams will have the opportunity to step up.

          Meanwhile, OP needs to massage the relationships with Jerk Atty’s clients asap.

  29. Graciosa

    To the OP in #1, you get the behavior you reward. Bad leader – let’s call him Evil Prince – thinks he’s entitled to whatever he wants (best cases, best perks, etc.) no matter how badly he behaves, and you have been messaging to him that he is right.

    A few commenters have mentioned that he must be a rainmaker, but frankly, it doesn’t matter. The devastating effect of one Evil Prince on the rest of any business is so bad that there is no amount of money that will offset it. There are entire books written about this.

    This is not a family, but if it were, you would be failing as its head. You cannot show the Evil Prince enough love, kindness, and support to change him into Prince Charming. It just isn’t in him. He has no interest in changing what is working perfectly (for him).

    Alison is right that you need to start managing him – and you do – but do so under the assumption that it is too late to fix this one and start thinking damage control. Assume that if you do anything he doesn’t like (because he has been running this firm in all but name if you’ve been giving him whatever he wants) he will have the mother of all temper tantrums and set out to destroy you. You created a situation where in the mildest of discipline will be met with a “Who the hell does she think she is?” and you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.

    Assume he will steal every file he can get his hands on, recruit every employee possible away from you, and contact every client he can find the minute he is the slightest bit unhappy. Assume he will lie, or at least put the worst possible spin on any story he tells. Yes, I know this is a significant ethical breach, but the Evil Prince does not care. He is not a good guy. It’s very likely that he has been laying the foundations for this just in case, so assume he is already ahead of you.

    Figure out a plan to deal with this. Treat this like very hostile litigation against an unethical party who has infiltrated your office. Get the right experts on your side (IT, possibly security, someone versed in both communication and the rules of professional responsibility for attorneys, etc.), and come up with a strategy, including every contingency you can think of. Do it quietly so you don’t alert the Evil Prince until you’re ready to act – but start getting ready now, and assume you don’t have much time.

    Assuming your firm survives this, resolve to actually manage it in the future. That means setting clear expectations (not just for results, but also for conduct), rewarding performance you want to encourage, and dealing immediately with any issues that arise. If you think back to your history with the Evil Prince, you will probably find moments very early on when you could have nipped bad behavior in the bud but made excuses to overlook it instead. Learn from this experience and never repeat those mistakes.

    This won’t be easy, but if you’ve built a firm of 15 on your own, you’re strong enough to get through it. Good luck.

    1. 2 Cents

      It doesn’t matter if Party Thrower is a rainmaker because, quite frankly, everyone is replaceable. Jerks who have problems with women (or any broad class of people) should not be tolerated, given the best cases, or otherwise coddled.

      And I +1 to everything you said above. This guy isn’t going to leave quietly and be like “oh, I messed up. I’ll turn my attitude and life around!”

      1. Elysian

        Ehhhh if he’s a rainmaker I can see how he might hang around for a long time. Law has no non-competes – when you leave you take your clients with you. It wouldn’t just be a lack of new business; it could mean losing all your best/biggest clients because they’re the Jerk Guy’s clients.

    2. LawBee

      Yes, this! I wouldn’t trust this jerk as far as I could spit. There are power play dynamics going on that the OP is just not seeing, and she really needs to take a close look at whom she wants managing her firm. I would not want this guy as a partner at all. And if he doesn’t make partner, you can bet he’s doing to do exactly what Graciosa says and sabotage as much as he can before he moves on.

      Also, stop rewarding him with the best of everything. I’m not a fan of “the best cases go to the best performers” because once a team is labelled that way, other teams are at an automatic disadvantage. How can they possibly move up in the rankings if all their cases are crap?

    3. M-C

      Very wise advice. I’d strongly second the necessity to get IT advice quick. Unfortunately lawyers are rarely very well-versed in that area, but that is one very efficient way to totally destroy a business. Make sure you’re well covered, and that the Evil Prince’s every access is blocked while you have him in your office for the Conversation.

      1. Ann without an e

        You need to get a hold of his computer so you can begin looking at his email and electronic behavior at work, figure out who is on his side who isn’t, and how bad this really is.

        Is the reason lawyers don’t do non-competes because they don’t hold up in court?

        1. Snowball II

          “Is the reason lawyers don’t do non-competes because they don’t hold up in court?”

          Mostly, yes.

          Also, lawyers are admitted to the bar in specific jurisdictions, and have specific areas of experience/expertise – where, say, a widget-maker with a non-compete in State A could just move to State B and make widgets over there if she was under a non-compete in State A, or could choose to make whatzits instead of widgets and remain in State A, lawyers don’t have that kind of geographic/subject matter flexibility, for the most part, so it’d be uniquely burdensome on a lawyer (and probably some other licensed professions) to have to deal with a non-compete.

    4. neverjaunty

      +1000.

      Evil Prince can’t be a rainmaker or OP wouldn’t be giving him “the best cases” to placate him. Bet he’s poaching cases that his female colleagues brought in/did all the heavy lifting on.

    5. AnonyManager

      Agreed! LW#1 has created a monster and he/she now needs to figure out how to do damage control, cut his/her losses and come up with a plan for re-building his/her practice. There is no way that the “bad seed” is going to change or go away quietly.

  30. Jerry Vandesic

    “start thinking about what kind of bonus you think you deserve this year …”

    The proper response is “X, which is about what I have been hearing from the recruiters that have been calling me lately.”

  31. Jake

    My response to managers like #2 who try and hold compensation over my head is to respond with a jovial, “ten hundred million thousand dollars.” They typically understand that to mean, “I want as much as you can give, but I’m not going through your dog and pony show.”

    That is only for managers that are jerks about it though, I typically like to be very blunt and frank about compensation when the conversation is actually productive.

  32. Snowball II

    Quick thought for OP#1 that I don’t think anyone has touched on yet – if nothing else, you really don’t want to make this guy a partner because partners are a million times more difficult to dislodge from your business than a mere employee. I know of a firm that’s had 100% turnover in associates on an almost yearly basis for years because of a terrorist partner who is too expensive to dislodge (his buyout price is above what they’re willing/able to pay out to make him go away, so they just keep hiring new juniors as the prior juniors quit/are fired by the terrorist).

  33. Anonsie

    #3, this probably doesn’t make you look as poorly as it feels, so don’t sweat it too much.

    Aside from that, the other suggestions (notes immediately before in largely readable font especially) are good. If he still flubs, that’s probably just how it’s going to be, and you shouldn’t get too stressed out about it.

  34. Cassie

    #3 – my boss is similar. He’s great at the technical stuff he does, he’s good at speaking in an engaging manner, but he’s not so great with specifics (i.e. correct specifics). The problem is when people ask him questions – and he’ll either give wrong info, or answer some related but tangential question (that was not asked). I cringe all the time, but he doesn’t seem to notice.

  35. Craigrs1

    I wonder what it would be like to work at a place where I could be openly hostile to my boss. I assume that this guy gets the work done, or (I hope) he and his team wouldn’t be “lavished with the best perks and benefits.” But I can’t imagine any circumstance where hostility toward the boss is tolerated, unless the boss is a droopy dog type who just takes it all and can’t figure out how to cut it off.

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