my former employer won’t let me pick up my belongings, I did too much interview research, and more

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

1. Can I offer to fix my company’s lame social media presence?

I’ve been an avid reader of your site for a while now, and your advice has helped me score my first career-type-job out of college! I love this job and the people I work with.

We’re a small, local paper in the south. There has been talk around the office of updating our social media presence, which I think is desperately behind the times. We’ve got a Facebook page that is haphazardly updated, no Twitter presence, and a website that is more like an online e-book version of the newspaper. The site doesn’t allow for news updates, galleries or even comments on stories. I’m the youngest person in the office by at least 15 years, and I think the age gap might give me a better perspective on how social media is supposed to work. I took a few classes on social media strategies at university and I’d love to put those skills to use in
addition to my role as a reporter.

However, I haven’t even been here a year. My boss is great, but she hasn’t given me much direct feedback. I’ve never been told I’m doing poorly, and I think my work is good, but I don’t know for sure. So, how do I go about bringing up my desire to make some changes? I’ve started to work on a proposal of sorts to give to my boss and her boss, but it’s basically a list of things we’re doing wrong and how to fix them. I don’t think that’s the right tone to strike here, but I’m having trouble coming up with a better one. I’d love to have the chance to tackle this and fix our social media presence, but I’m worried my relative inexperience and my lack of evidence I’m doing a good job won’t convince her. I’d hate to see us bring in an outside company to run this when a willing person is sitting across the hall. (If it makes a difference, our interaction with readers on Facebook has gone up noticeably in the ten months I’ve been on-and-off-again working on it.)

Since there’s been conversation in the office about updating the paper’s social media presence, it’s reasonable to speak up and say that you’d love to take it on. However, instead of presenting a list of what’s currently being done wrong and how to fix it, frame it as “here are my ideas for what we could be doing differently, here’s why I think it will get us better results, and here’s a mock-up of what it could look like.” (The mock-up is optional, but often being able to show something concrete helps people better envision what the changes you’re proposing would look like. If a mock-up isn’t practical, then other types of examples of can work too.)

She may not ultimately agree — she might want you to stay focused on your other work or might want to bring in someone who’s done professional work in this area — but you won’t be out of line for proposing it, as long as your tone is “here’s what I think would work well” and not “what we’ve done so far sucks” (even if it does).

2. My former employer won’t let me back to pick up my belongings

I was recently told to leave my office and to not come back. I still have personal items and food there, but the boss won’t let me in to retrieve them. What should I do?

Call or email your former manager (or HR, if you have them) and say this: “I have personal items remaining in the office that I need to pick up. What’s the best time in the next few days for me to do that?” If they tell you not to come by at all, then say, “What arrangements would you prefer to make to return my belongings? Would you prefer to ship them to me?” Be pleasant and calm; that will make it much harder to respond to you with anything ridiculous, like a refusal. (That said, if the items are pretty minor, it might be worth it to your own peace of mind to just let them go.)

3. I may have done too much research before an interview

I have an interview for a great job coming up in a few days. Because it would be such a great fit, I’ve been doing a ton of research on the position, including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and a few other unorthodox search methods.

As a result, I’ve come up with a ton of information. I know why the existing person is leaving, why they were hired (they actually created the project I’d be in charge of), how long they had been there, a ton about the project, a ton about the company, and quite a bit about how everything works. I’ve found Youtube videos about the project, reviews from other people about the project, and a lot of background about everything else.

So my question is this – knowledge is power, so how much should I reveal that I know about the position in the interview? I don’t want the committee to feel uncomfortable when they’re telling me things that I already know. On the other hand, I don’t want them to think that I haven’t done my homework. How much would you recommend I reveal?

If it would be relevant to bring it up, it’s fine to say, “I saw online that X is happening and…” But I wouldn’t bring it up just for the sake of bringing it up; mention if only if it directly relates to something you’re talking about and will strengthen the conversation. And it’s fine to let them tell you things that you may have already read about on your own, without jumping in and saying, “Oh yes, I read all about that.” There’s usually a lot to be gained from hearing how people describe that sort of thing anyway, even if you already know the basics.

4. My new coworker is undermining me in front of students

I have a colleague who has recently joined the school in which I teach. He teaches a higher level of a subject which I teach. I have been at the school since 2010 and know the ropes. I have given him leeway, in that I try consciously to help him feel at home.

Recently, he has taken over as his a room in which I have worked for nearly five years, but in which i still occasionally teach. He comes in to my classes to get things from his desk then asks me in front of pupils to “make sure I lock the door afterwards.”

I have been feeling cross, as I find it quite thoughtless, especially as this is something I did for years without anyone needing to ask me. I feel he is being high-handed and don’t want to exacerbate things, but need to ask him to stop, especially in front outdents as it is undermining me. How would you handle this without worsening things? I have to do something as I feel increasingly resentful.

I think you might be taking it too personally, and your best bet is to simply stop caring. It doesn’t strike me as especially egregious. But if you feel you have to say something, I’d say something in the moment, not later (later will make it into a much bigger deal than would make sense). You could make a joke about the classroom’s theft-worthy contents, or your inability to handle such matters without reminders, or … well, I don’t know. These all risk sounding bitter if you’re feeling bitter, so you might be better off reverting to deciding not to care.

Update: My advice here sucked. There’s much better advice in the comments, which is to talk to the teacher privately and ask him to stop interrupting you while you’re teaching a class.

5. Are we required to have employees use timesheets?

All the employees in our small company (9 to be exact) are salaried, exempt employees. Am I required to get some sort of official timesheet from them each month? Or is it enough that I have them send me the sick and vacation hours they have taken at the end of each month, as that is really all I need to keep track of? And I save these emails in a separate folder that I can review at any time.

With exempt employees, you’re not required to track their time at all. You certainly can if you want to; some employers choose to do time-tracking for exempt employees to track vacation time usage, time allocation to various projects, client billing, etc., but you don’t have to.

(With non-exempt employees, you don’t have to have timesheets either, but you do need to ensure that you’re paying them for all hours worked, which usually points employers toward timesheets or some other form of time-tracking.

{ 241 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    #5: This brings up an interesting question, for anyone who might know the answer. I’m an exempt employee, and as an IT nerd I log all my hours in a timekeeping system to track time spent on various tasks. It gives my boss and the PM whose project I’m working on visibility to how I spend my time. I’ve been doing it for years, it’s part of my job, and it’s a logical thing to do, because managers need to know what people are doing.

    Last year, something similar was rolled in a non-project type of department (more admin/overhead), so that managers could start getting visibility to what their people were spending their time on, see where help was needed, what additional resources might help manage workloads, and so on. But then I heard that HR put the kibosh on that, because the people entering their time were exempt. The reasoning was that if there was too much information available about what people were spending their time on, then the company was opening itself up to potentially having to reclassify some positions as non-exempt, and then start paying overtime. Or something like that. It seemed quite hokey to me, since no one in a project-based organization ever bats an eyelash about tracking their hours in a timekeeping system. Could it be because the people in that department regularly work 50-60 hours a week? Just curious.

    1. Mike*

      Well if there is a record of an exempt employee spending a significant time doing non-exempt work then it could be a real issue. Of course, not having a record of it doesn’t make the issue go away.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Having a record of hours that people have worked would make it a lot easier for a claim for back wages to be quantified. I can see why the company wouldn’t want to be collecting that evidence, but if people are misclasified then they’re misclasified and that should be corrected.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yep, if that’s the concern then I’d have grave concern about my employer’s business practices. Not only may they be misclassifying but it sounds like they may also be actively trying to hide it.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        Well, that was my guess too…they don’t want a record of people routinely working lots of overtime. My company is a subsidiary of a huge corporation, and there are people at the parent company who are exempt, but get paid overtime. I wish I was one of them! So since there’s a precedent, my guess is that they don’t want anything documented about the extra hours people are working on a regular basis.

    3. Felicia*

      It sounds like it’s because they know some positions are mis classified and should really be non-exempt and they don’t want anyone to realize it.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        The thing is though, I used to work in that department, and was a manager there for a couple years. The jobs they were talking about are standard staff level exempt positions not only at my company, but at every other place I’ve worked too. And the duties of the people in those roles are not significantly different than similar roles at other places. So that’s why I thought the business about too much information leading to the positions being reclassified as non-exempt was hokey.

    4. INTP*

      It sounds like the tasks written on the time sheets may have indicated that some of the positions were misclassified as exempt, or HR (or whoever is telling HR what to do, more likely) already knows some people are misclassified and they don’t want any records proving it. For example, if they’re classified as exempt under the Administrative exemption, but records show they are helping out on the production side as well, or if people are classified as exempt due to inflated titles but records show their actual job involves more time spent on lower-level work than management duties. Of course, people can still contest their classification and ask for as much back pay as they want, but HR may be hoping to maintain their own plausible deniability and that people don’t realize they can request the back pay and usually get it without written proof of hours worked.

      1. Dolly*

        It comes down to how you are paid (salary vs an hour wage, although not all salary is exempt), how much you are paid (you must earn at least $23,600 a year) and the type of work you do. There is a really great explanation here

        The real key is even if you are “exempt” you can be classified as “non-exempt” but “non-exempt” can not legally be classified as “exempt.”

      2. LBK*

        There’s a pretty extensive test, but the gist of it is that the person must be in a management role (ie supervise other people and control big decisions like hiring and budgeting), a highly technical/skilled role that requires special training (like a doctor or engineer) or be in an administrative role whose purpose is critical to the operation of the company (this one is hardest to nail down since “critical” is so vague).

        1. fposte*

          And they have to make a certain amount of money and be paid on salary–though there are exceptions to that that can still leave you exempt.

          Perhaps more important is the underlying meaning of the term: the Fair Labor Standards Act is one of the few big federal worker protection laws in the U.S., and it’s what requires overtime pay (states are free to require it too). “Exempt” means that that law’s rules about overtime pay don’t apply to you.

          1. LBK*

            Oh right – I always forget those two. Although I certainly would hope anyone in a role that skilled/important would be making more than the salary requirement since it’s pretty low.

            1. Elsajeni*

              I have the impression that the salary requirement comes up most often for people like retail managers, who risk being (often mis)classified as exempt and losing out on a lot of potential overtime pay because, hey, it says “manager” right in their job title and everyone knows managers are exempt.

    5. Josh S*

      As an aside, I don’t think “managers need to know what people are doing.” At least not the good ones.

      Managers need to know what RESULTS people are getting.
      I don’t care too much as a manager if you spend 20% of your time talking to your coworkers or getting snacks from the break room, so long as you’re getting all your stuff done.

      If it’s a matter of billable hours or tracking time for wages/ taking proper breaks, etc, that’s different. But I don’t think that — generally speaking — a manager should need to know how you’re allocating every hour of your time.

      1. Josh S*

        I guess my point is that measuring the OUTPUTS is typically a better way to manage than measuring the INPUTS. So tracking hours for your employees….well, I guess it could ensure that the inputs are roughly matching the outputs. But if that’s all that’s being tracked, then it’s a sign of a manager who isn’t looking at the most important bits.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        That’s true, to a degree, but the intent was to gather information to use to support adding headcount, or spending money on new tools to help streamline processes and so on.

        It’s a much more compelling case if a manager can say, “My team is spending 200 hours a month on account reconciliations, and here is my research showing that I think we could cut that time in half by investing in this piece of software,” instead of just, “My team is overworked and we need help.”

  2. reader*

    #5 – time sheets for exempt workers are usually used to track time spent of specific items. This helps track billing for clients and with budgets (present and future).

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      This is what I was going to say. At my last full time job, where we were not paid overtime (but it was often performed), we were required to keep track of our hours for the projects that we were on. I would literally be told that X project had Y hours budgeted to it so I knew the parameters I had to follow to get the job done.

      However, eventually they changed the timesheet system and it became a company policy that you *had* to put in 40 hours a week of billable time — which was often impossible because like all industries there were downtimes when we had no projects. There were no dockets created for things like “Research”, “Training” or “time in lieu” (which is what we were supposed to get instead of overtime pay ). By the time I left, no one had been reprimanded or fired over not meeting their quota, and the company went out of business a couple of years later, so I have no idea if anyone was ever taken for task for non-compliance.

      So, IMO, if you want to know why you have to do timesheets, ask. If the answer is about billing clients appropriately for their budgeted jobs, OK. If the answer looks like they’re trying to micro manage every minute of your day, that would be a red flag to me. The answer might not come, though, until after someone has reviewed your timesheets and started asking questions like “I see here on this Tuesday morning that you didn’t enter anything on your timesheet, what were you doing then?”

  3. Student*

    #4 – Could you just ask the colleague to stop disrupting your classes when they are in progress? It seems like that would solve the underlying issue.

    ‘m surprised that your school doesn’t provide locking desks if you have to keep anything of value whatsoever in the room, but maybe I got my education with a much more larcenous student body.

    1. BRR*

      I thought the same thing. That seems like it would be more annoying. I’d worry about making a joke back because it might cause more tension.

    2. Lizzie*

      Yeah, I found this to be the weirdest part. I share a classroom with another teacher and I do my best to avoid popping in when she has a class in session because it’s so disruptive.

    3. AnotherTeacher*

      Agreed. The reminder is annoying, but the interruption is unprofessional and inconsiderate of both you and your students. If you have to react in the moment, a smile that communicates “of course” might do the trick.

      Also, OP#4, unless there’s something else going on that undermines your authority, it’s likely your students see these interruptions as you do: rude and unnecessary. In other words, it probably reflects more poorly on the other instructor than you.

      1. LBK*


        They probably aren’t thinking “Wow, Mr. Jones is such a pushover and so incompetent that he can’t remember to lock the door,” they’re probably thinking “Wow, Mr. Smith is kind of a jerk for randomly interrupting our class every day.”

      2. Not usually anonymous*

        Students are usually either completely oblivious/self-centered (you don’t have to worry about those–they wouldn’t any undermining occurring) or unusually perceptive. The perceptive kids will think, “Huh. The new teacher is really uptight. Only a freak would interrupt our class all time and tell our teacher what to do on the way out.”

    4. kozinskey*

      This would be a good way to handle it. I also disagree with Alison’s advice to approach it in the moment, because to me, responding in front of the students could look petty. I would approach the other teacher privately, in a friendly manner, and ask him to stop interrupting your class.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        +1 – and I t that in the education setting, a joke will come across as too sarcastic or snarky, especially if you’re already feeling bitter. As someone mentioned above, I think a smile indicating “uh huh. I know.” And talking to the other teacher about it later would be best. And I think if you keep that conversation short, you don’t have to worry about making it too big a deal.

    5. HumbleOnion*

      Yeah, this is an important point. It seems like a turf thing – like the new guy is making a point of marking his territory by interrupting class. The reminder to lock the door is a symptom of that.

    6. TheLazyB*

      I was presuming it’s a physics or chemistry room, and that it’s a double safety thing – lock the cupboards AND the classroom, so the students can’t steal hydrochloric acid.

      If that’s the case, and *if* the OP is female, I would also wonder whether there is some sexism creeping in here.

    7. blackcat*

      I did my student teaching in a room that a “floater” used as his home base (he had a desk in the back and taught 1/3 of his classes there). His comings and goings were never disruptive and the students ignored it. But he would have NEVER issued any type of reminder that would have interrupted my teaching. (If I was walking around supervising group work, a quick thing was generally fine. Sometimes he would also talk to their work. That was helpful!) That’s just not done, and it IS distracting to the students. So my advise is to phrase it as “The students get distracted when you interrupt my teaching by talking to me. Coming and getting supplies quietly is fine, but please wait to talk to me until I am not addressing students.”

      This conversation should happen outside of class–addressing it in front of students is inappropriate.

      (That said, while I was teaching, I got used to ALL the interruptions in the world. As in one time, a stray ball shattered my window. I directed students to keep their distance from the area, but otherwise carried on like nothing had happened. Because sh*t happens when you teach. C’est la vie.)

      1. Green*

        You added it to the wrong question, FYI, so now you offer random advice on the picking-up-the-belongings one!

    8. Alder*

      I’m in the same situation as #4- another teacher will give me unsolicited and really insultingly basic pieces of advice. I just respond with “Yeah, I always do that”. Eh.

    9. azvlr*

      I can’t help but wonder if there is more to this “undermining” than the OP describes. I’ve seen where teachers, trying to become well-liked by students, will deliberately undermine other teachers’ authority. For example, if the rule is “chewing gum results in detention”, and one teacher is strict about it and the other looks the other way, it really makes it hard for stricter teacher to enforce the rules. I was fortunate that the staff I worked with had a lot of solidarity for whatever rule we chose to enforce. I didn’t always agree with the rules, but enforced them because I understood the payoff. Students at that school were generally well-disciplined and had little tolerance for students who acted like jerks. Teachers who were too lax with the rules didn’t last long.

  4. So Very Anonymous*

    #3 re interview prep — you might also be able to use your knowledge to ask a question at the end (or during the interview) along the lines of “I saw XYZ on your website and was curious — can you tell me more about this project? What do you think the next steps will be?”, that kind of thing. Signals you did your homework, but lets them tell you about the project themselves.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Seconded – I’ve done this before when I’d done a lot of research in advance but wanted to hear my interviewers describe some of the work I’d read about in their own words. Usually goes over well and helps you build on the information you already have.

    2. Graciosa*

      My sense is that the OP is really overthinking this. Once you’ve done your research, it should make you comfortable enough to relax and have a real conversation in the interview.

      A hiring manager can tell when a candidate is anxious to “check all the boxes” off in an interview, including slipping in proof of research or specific prepared answers to possible questions. It’s human, and understandable, but those are not the best interviews. OP, don’t worry so much about proving everything on a list – you’re not making a case in court!

      The best interviews are when a candidate is prepared and confident, with a genuine desire to find out if the position would be a good fit on both sides. Yes, the hiring manager is the one with the job available, but the candidate is not focused solely on proving themselves worthy, but also on deciding if this is a job the candidate wants to take – because it might not be.

      Using the dating analogy from a previous thread, there are a lot of great people in the world that you may decide you don’t want to marry, even if you think they’d be a great match for one of your good friends.

      OP, remember that your focus on the interview is not just on selling yourself, but also on finding out whether or not this is a job you really want. Be confident enough to know you can handle any questions that come up, so let go of any anxiety about fitting an answer in and just have a conversation.

      Good luck.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      As long as the information you collected is generally public, they will have expected you to have done research and prepared. Generally when a candidate knows a great deal about the company and their work it is a good sign or initiative and interest. However, I noticed you said, “and a few other unorthodox search methods”. If you found out information in an inappropriate way I would not share that you have that knowledge. If you are implying information you gathered from others that is fine. But if you hacked into systems or accessed confidential information, that is not appropriate, you shouldn’t have done that and you certainly don’t want to share that you did it.

    4. just laura*

      Re “knowledge is power” point in the post: I think that the knowledge you have should be used to help you determine if this is a company you want to work for more than impressing your interviewers. Use your research to determine what experience might be best to highlight and I agree it should inform your line of questioning at the end.

    5. Awkially Socward*

      I did that with an interview at a NHS hospital that was the first in the country to be run by a private company.

      For some reason, the tone of the interviewers went very south very quickly. Lately, it turns out that the private company is removing itself from the contract as it doesn’t make it enough money

      Protip: never ask about any negative you may have heard.

  5. Mike*

    > (With non-exempt employees, you don’t have to have timesheets either, but you do need to ensure that you’re paying them for all hours worked, which usually points employers toward timesheets or some other form of time-tracking.

    Just an example: I’m salaried non-exempt at my current job. What we do is submit timecards for OT or other hours worked (like working on a holiday). We also have a form for PTO.

  6. Marzipan*

    #4, I actually wouldn’t respond in the moment, because that would mean doing it in front of students – which is part of what’s annoying you about him doing it, so probably best avoided. But if it really bothers you, maybe a quiet staffroom conversation along the lines of ‘Gilbert, I’ve noticed that several times you’ve reminded me to lock the door when using classroom X – have I done something to make you think I’m likely to leave it unlocked?’ would help – if there’s an actual reason he can tell you what it is, and if not it gently flags it up to him.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, I like that. I feel like that’s more in line with what I normally suggest in these situations; I’m not sure why I didn’t include that!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You needed tea? ;)
        Speaking of which, I’m drinking some from my new AAM mug! :)

        She does need to address if it is disruptive. I like this answer too; it may open a dialogue. Maybe there is something he hasn’t told her about–maybe something came up missing and he’s concerned about it happening again.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I think a non-confrontational way to handle it is to “kiddingly” say it before he gets the chance to next time he comes in. As he’s getting the stuff he needs, just say “don’t worry, I won’t forget to lock the door!” in a cheerful way and he will get the hint. My dad did this to me all the time- he just couldn’t stop himself from being “helpful” in this way and that’s how I dealt with it. It was lighthearted so he never felt bad and I got him to realize he was being a bit patronizing.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Good idea! I had made a comment once at work about a frequent but annoying noise in the office getting on my last nerve on a particularly hectic day. Someone else in the office decided the noise was the bane of my existence forever and ever and that I was too emotionally frail to handle hearing it ever, and started apologizing copiously anytime she had to make the noise. Well, it was a frequent enough noise that the apologies and fussing started being much more annoying than the sound was, plus I didn’t want to get a reputation for being fragile. I finally said, smiling, “I’m never gonna live that down, am I?” She never fussed about it again.

    3. lawsuited*

      If #4 is worried about students thinking the reminder is embarrassing or undermining, I think the best way to counteract that is to respond to the reminder cheerfully, like a thumbs up and a “You got it!” to give the impression that #4 isn’t fazed by the comment.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Although that makes it look like the disruption is OK. Probably just ignoring him completely and going back to the lesson, which also gives the kids the correct message about this guy’s behavior.

        1. Sadsack*

          I like the strategy of ignoring him in the moment, but casually saying something after the fact like someone suggested above, along the lines of asking if he has a particular reason for concern that she won’t lock the door. If the new teacher feels the need to come into the class because he can’t wait to get his stuff, he should do it in the least disruptive way possible. The fact that he tells the teacher in the room to lock the door makes me think he is doing it purposely to flex his superiority, or maybe it is as harmless as he is nervously saying something just to say it. Does he come into the class every time the OP happens to be in there teaching? If so, that’s ridiculous. If not, does he worry whether OP is locking the door on the occasions that he doesn’t come in to remind her? Something’s up with this guy.

  7. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    Okay but, please keep in mind that revamping social media presence, especially for a newspaper, is a big job and then maintaining it is a constant big job on top of that. Your boss may be thrilled to have you speak up and fix all of this, but she also has to be willing to let you spend a significant amount of your work time on it.

    I have literally been the boss in this situation. Our social media presence has been lame for years. I’m neither blind nor non internet savvy, I just only had so many resources and was not willing devote the resources necessary when I had other crying needs unfilled. When I I finally let someone take it over, we agreed on a limited number of hours per week to maintain after the brands were fixed up. Social media is easily a full time job but I don’t have the resources to allocate a full time person to it.

    A newspaper should have a full time social media person. If your boss is in my spot and she knows she needs it but doesn’t have the resources and you can pitch it as X hours a week, you might all win big. Don’t sell yourself short on the hours in the pitch though. Everything takes longer than you think.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      A former colleague of mine used to tell me to estimate how long something would take, then multiply that by pi and that’s how long it will actually take. So you think a project will take 2 weeks, but it will likely take about 6+ weeks. It’s pretty accurate!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I am so bad at estimating time, I’d probably have to double that again.

        I am lucky to have people around me who are much better. I get them to give me time estimates, and then if those estimates are too long, we work back and forth to modify projects or tasks to fit the amount of time they need to fit.

      2. MaryMary*

        I used to do a lot of cost estimates for projects, and I was always having to defend how I came up with my numbers. I would have loved to see someone’s face when I said, “Well, I estimated the programming would take four hours, then multiplied by pi to account for scope creep and unexpected issues, so the total estimated hours is 12.6…..”

        I seriously would have loved some sort of factor to use. The clients always thoughht my estimates were high, the programmers thought my estimates were low, and Imwas stuck in the middle.

        1. Judy*

          That’s why many engineering places track hours for everyone. If you’ve also kept track of project size, feature level, etc, you would in a few years have a model for how long it takes your organization to do something.

          By the way, why wouldn’t the programmers be the ones doing the estimating?

          1. MaryMary*

            Because the programmers were busy programming. ;-) At the time, I was the team lead, so I’d estimate the hours, work on the cost proposal, and then manage the project. The programmers either were either less senior associates, or people who preferred to code and didn’t want to deal with the management BS.

        2. Sharon*

          A silly coworker of mine recently passed around a document listing project tasks for several departments that included high level work estimates. All the details except for the task list itself were overstepping her bounds, especially the work estimates because she has no clue it how long it would take another dept to complete any of the tasks. But the hysterical part I really loved was that she used fibonacci numbers to represent the level of effort on the tasks. In other words, instead of a 1-4 scale where 1 was easiest and 4 was hard, she used 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 13.

          1. CAA*

            While not appropriate in this instance, Fibonacci is a commonly used scheme for estimating the relative sizes of tasks in software development. We don’t use it to measure hours, but we do say if that task is a 5, then this one is about an 8, meaning it’s not quite twice as big, nor as big as a 13. The intervals in the Fibonacci sequence turn out to be just about right for thinking about the size of a piece of work when compared to other work.

      3. Maxwell Edison*

        I keep a set of D&D dice at my desk, and I’m often tempted to roll one of those for an estimate of how many hours something will take. I can’t see it as being any less accurate than other methods.

    2. Elysian*

      This is all definitely true if you want to have social media done right. But, if the OP’s company isn’t game to do it “right” I’m not sure she should let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. If she could improve the general “look” of the company by spending a day or two reorganizing the website and then post a new story to twitter/facebook occasionally, if that’s better than that’s being done now, it might be worth volunteering for. It would be important to set boundaries about what can/cannot be done in conjunction with her job, and pointing out that the company could gain a lot from a full-time social media person, but if that isn’t the decision that the newspaper makes maybe she can improve the situation at least a little.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        The OP is already doing occasional FB posts for the newspaper.

        Establishing a Twitter account only takes a few minutes, but if you don’t have any twitter followers, it’s pretty pointless to Tweet. You need to plan not only content but how to acquire followers, which is going to include figuring out how to integrate your Twitter into your existing marketing.

        Reorganizing a branded website literally can’t be done in a day or two. Alison is running a blog here, on wordpress software, and if you asked her how long it would take her to reorganize just a blog, it would be a lot longer than a day or two.

        I don’t see any part of what the OP is asking about that isn’t a Job.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          For frame of reference, I gave my social media person two months full time to set everything up and all the wheels in motion, and then 10 hours a week ongoing. This was stingy but it was all that I had to give. If I gave anything less, it would have been pointless.

        2. SocialMediaWannabe*

          #1 OP here.
          I’ve been doing pretty regular Facebook posts for the paper for the last few months, creating photo galleries on the page and posting some updates.
          We have a fairly decent following on Facebook (our circulation is around 11,000 and our Facebook followers are about 6,500) and I think linking the Twitter page to Facebook/letting people know about it would be the first step.
          I don’t think I’d want to completely revamp anything here, but at the moment, our online presence is so garbage that I think anything would be a step in the right direction.
          The way my days usually go at the paper, I could easily work in Facebook and Twitter updates in between my regular work. I’ve usually got about two hours of downtime a day while I wait for phone calls, emails etc that I think I could use to at least get something off the ground.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            That’s a nice number of FB followers. Of course, the biggest problem with FB is that they limit your exposure so you’d have to look at your FB account to see how many people are even seeing the posts.

            Two hours a day is probably doable to do something, as long as you leave off the website entirely. A big help would be your own Twitter friends. Not much sucks more than starting a Twitter account with three followers, you and your own two sock puppet accounts (don’t ask me how I know).

            What about making a Two Hour A Day Plan and floating that to PTB? That’s how I bought into it as the PTB, although in the reverse. I’d say, “Okay, what does XYZ amount of time buy me?” and “Okay, if we made it ABC amount of time, what could I get for that?”

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yep, in contexts like this I’m a big fan of proposals that are organized into basic/middle/top tier options — for this amount of time/money we could do X, for a little more we could do Y, and for this other amount of time/money would could do Z. You want to lay out what various options are and what each would take; it will usually get everyone on the same page a lot faster than just presenting one option that you think is the best. (It may well be the best, but you’ll save a lot of time in fielding questions if you lay out a range of options from the start. You can include your recommendation of which of these three to do, but give your manager the different scenarios.)

              1. Marzipan*

                I worked on one project where the three option levels were referred to as ‘donkey’, ‘horse’ and ‘unicorn’…

          2. AB*

            I would suggest writing up a proposal, similar to a creative brief. Make it a multi-step approach. Start the proposal with simple, easy to do things and then work your way up, with an elongated timeline to things that are more time/ budget/ resource consuming. I would suggest starting with a social media posting schedule, you have a regular schedule of linking stories online to Facebook and Twitter (and of course making sure that stories are also posted regularly on the website). Approach your proposal in a way that would make your boss feel comfortable, so… you can start step 1, and give it a few weeks and then when they see a “return on investment” (higher social media hits, more followers, more comments on Facebook, more hits to the website from links on social media) they will feel more comfortable spending the additional resources.

            If you really wanted to be adventurous, you might find out what sort to of advertising presence they have on their website so you can link your proposal to actual dollars. Internet advertising can be a huge money maker for newspapers, so long as they have a strong online presence. So, if your initial step is creating a posting schedule and that posting schedule leads to X number more unique hits to the website, that means you’ve earned the company that much more $. (Most online advertising is charged per unique hits, so an advertiser will pay to have their ad seen 1000 time). Plus more hits online means the company can probably charge a premium for advertising. This sort of business proposal makes bosses feel more comfortable then putting more resources (time and money) into something like paying to have their website revamped, etc.

            1. SocialMediaWannabe*

              I really like this idea!
              The only problem is our website’s stories can’t be linked to. The pages are posted as PDFs on the site the morning the paper prints. (I know, I cry too about this)
              But the general idea of your suggestion sounds really good, and totally doable.

              1. AB*

                Well, that’s special…. But you can at least link to your website. Not perfect, but it’s a start. Money always talks, and the biggest thing is getting it in their heads that this will bring in revenue. Analytics are your friend. If you put the numbers behind it, your case is very strong.

                A bonus, even if you don’t get to do everything you want to do, just bringing a well thought-out proposal like this to your boss is a huge boon for you. It shows that you’re interested and invested in the business. Plus, it’s a great project to really build your chops on and will make a great resume booster.

              2. no-fire*

                This is basically what I did at my last job (made a proposal to take over social media because no one else was taking care of it) and 2 hours a day/10 a week will definitely get you started.

                However, please be really thoughtful about how you pitch it and how you approach it. There’s a lot of “invisible” time in a role like this and people consistently underestimate how much work goes into it. I honestly think 10 hours a week is just enough to get your SM presence up to decent-nice, not amazing. For me, that was really hard to accept, but if you’re realistic about your goals it can be great for your organization and your own resume.

                My other thought is – do you *really* have an extra 2 hours a day? I understand you’re waiting around for calls, etc. a good portion of your day, but if you take on a 2 hour/day project, does that still give you some time for mental breaks, a little breathing room? That was another issue I had – before I took on SM at my org I easily had 2 hours a day. Once I took it on, my workload was completely jam packed and even my lunch break didn’t feel like a break because I had so much I wanted to accomplish.

                1. SocialMediaWannabe*

                  To be honest, I really like it when my days are jam packed like that. There’s nothing I hate more than going into work knowing I don’t have very much to do that day.
                  I find I feel more accomplished if I spend all day zipping through things. I dunno, maybe I’m a freak, but I love working under tight deadlines and high pressure.
                  My boss has been out all this week, and one of our layout people has been out too and I’ve loved it. Every day is like non-stop go go go. It’s invigorating.
                  Okay, so maybe I’m a freak.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think you can do a lot in less than 10 hours a week. It won’t be perfect, but you can tweet a few stories, engage with other people, retweet some stuff, etc. in honestly 20 minutes a day, if not less. I totally get this this isn’t a full-blown social media strategy, but it might be a huge step forward from what they’re doing now and better than the status quo.

                  I put nearly zero time into Ask a Manager’s social media presence, and it’s robust enough to satisfy me.

                3. C Average*

                  Along these same lines, keep in mind that social media never sleeps! If you take this on, know that to a certain extent you or a proxy will have to be available all the time. If a flame war breaks out, a post goes viral in a negative way, or a potential legal issue emerges in a social media channel, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the evening, weekend, or holiday.

                  It can become overwhelming and unsustainable for one person. Make sure that if you’re regularly working the social media channels, there’s at least one other person who knows the passwords and understands the basic workflows in case, God forbid, something crazy happens when you’re off the grid and needs to be dealt with immediately.

                  I spent one New Year’s Eve working the forums for my company because a married couple (both regulars) decided to have a spectacularly public brawl there. Good times, good times. I actually got subpoenaed to Georgia for their divorce trial three years later.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  C Average, but you’re doing social media for a massive brand, where it sounds like the OP’s newspaper is quite small. Also it sounds like she’s proposing only social media, not their website.

                5. C Average*

                  Very true! But when I started doing social media for my massive brand, our social media footprint was pretty miniscule, not much bigger than the OP’s (seriously–we were a small community of early adopters). Even with small numbers, social media is an unwieldy beast. One site issue, one determined troll, one unexpected glitch, one change to the way Facebook handles business pages–any of these things can take up a lot of time for someone working in social media. It’s good to be overprepared.

                6. Cath in Canada*

                  My experience with trying to get my employer and a research consortium of which I’m a member to adopt social media is that people who don’t use it themselves almost always overestimate how much time it takes. I’m not talking a full-on social media campaign to attract more paying customers, in our situation – more like a few news and events notifications each week. But the idea’s been repeatedly kiboshed because “it would take far too much time”.

                7. C Average*

                  Cath in Canada, as I’m reading your comment, it occurs to me that social media is a vastly different thing for an organization that has customers than one that has interested bystanders, and that might be a key thing for anyone just getting into social media to think about.

                  If you have a product on the market that people are buying and you get on social media, there’s an expectation that you’re going to be actively present there and available for consumer support functions, and it looks really bad if you just put marketing content out there and then don’t engage with the response you get, especially any negative or critical comments.

                  But I know there are lots of organizations and individuals who use social media to sort of just share news and ideas in a way that doesn’t create the impression that there’s going to be much in the way of follow-up engagement (barring anything really unusual).

                  I’m not honestly sure what paid subscribers and/or the general public would expect from a small newspaper. The media is sort of its own category; the stories they put out ARE the product, and people are going to have and share opinions about it. My mom and I joke that the whole internet is what the “letters to the editor” section used to be . . .

                8. SocialMediaWannabe*

                  C Average, I think that might be the disconnect. I wouldn’t necessarily be marketing a product, because the people who are going to buy the paper are going to buy it anyway. I’m mostly looking at engaging people more, more than getting them to buy more papers. If we can get a more engaged Facebook and Twitter presence, we can parlay that into a better website. If THAT happens, that opens whole new doors for coverage–late night updates, longer style features ‘members only’ sections etc.

                9. Cath in Canada*

                  Yes, it’s very different from private sector marketing – I’ve done 2+ years of that, too, but before social media was as big as it is now, and before that company had any social media presence at all.

          3. just laura*

            Would you like to parlay this into a social media job down the road? If so, it might be worth it to spend some extra efforts if you get approved. (Like learning social media tools like HootSuite, interacting with commenters/followers, etc.)

            1. SocialMediaWannabe*

              I don’t think I’d ever want to make social media my whole career, no.
              But being a journo in 2015 and on pretty much comes with the requirement you be at least passably savvy on social media.

        3. Jennifer*

          In the small town I live in, the few media outlets we have left actually stopped using Twitter entirely– apparently nobody cared about following them on social media! Yes, I know literally everything including the Porta-Potty down the street at the construction site has to have a Facebook page and Twitter feed now, but do you have the audience who’d actually be interested at a small town paper? Maybe on Facebook, but not all of it necessarily.

          Not that I don’t feel your pain a wee bit–I was the one trying to suggest blogging at the town newspaper in 1999 and getting zero interest, they were still trying to figure out modern day computer programs in that office. (They at least have a mostly decent website now….mostly.)

          But small towns are different than “the rest of the world,” it might just not be a priority, especially when most of the users are elderly and all that.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Don’t underestimate the power & presence of old people on Facebook. Half of my family lives in a very small, rural town and they are all about Facebook.

            Twitter & Instagram, not so much.

    3. hayling*

      Yes…it’s easy to do a quick cleanup, but hard to be in charge of maintenance, manage comments, etc.

      1. Collarbone High*

        I was just coming here to talk about comments. I’ve done web production at medium to large newspapers, and while reader engagement is great, you need a plan for handling comments, because they can quickly get out of control on controversial stories. This is a spot where working two hours a day on social media isn’t going to be useful, because for the most part, people aren’t getting into vicious, profanity-laden fights with other commenters during the work day, while you’re around to monitor things. It’s going to happen at night.

  8. AnonyMouse*

    #1: My situation was a bit different but I did something like this with our online presence in my current role. I took an approach along the lines Alison suggests, but one other thing I found helpful was looking at the stats on views/engagements with/etc. on our posts for a while. Then when I came in with a proposal to make some changes, I could highlight things we’d shared that were popular with our audience…as well as others that weren’t. It really wasn’t anything fancy or difficult, but I found the ability to identify what was working well while gently pointing out that some stuff was objectively less popular helped me make the case.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Oh, and not that you would OP, but I’d steer clear of mentioning age as a reason when you propose helping out with social media. There are lots of older people who are hugely capable in this area, and a lot of younger people who wouldn’t necessarily know what kind of online presence they should be building for a specific company or organisation – and it probably wouldn’t help you make your case!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ha ha, yeah. There were times when people were trying to “explain” to me about social media that I wanted to say “What’s this Tweeter thing you speak of?” :p

      2. LawBee*

        Yes yes yes. In fact, OP, this would be a good time to start practicing not viewing everything through the filter of how old you are. It’s a dangerous habit to get into. Plus, you want to be known for your work and professionalism, not your age.

      3. SocialMediaWannabe*

        Oh no! I wouldn’t say anything like that to my boss when I’m proposing this.
        But I really do work with some…technologically challenged people.
        For example, the newspaper did an ice bucket challenge back when that was a thing. We took the video on someone’s phone and it took my boss over an hour to figure out how to post the video to Facebook….
        I was headdesking pretty hard that day.

        1. louise*

          I feel you! My sister cannot figure out such things and I find myself wanting to scream at her. (For what it’s worth, she’s of an age that it should not be a problem.)

      4. Chinook*

        “Oh, and not that you would OP, but I’d steer clear of mentioning age as a reason when you propose helping out with social media.”

        I am glad I am not the only one who noticed that. Since the OP has taken some classes on how to integrate social media, this would probably be the best way to show why she is the best person for the job in the office.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes! I was going to say something similar; since the OP is the new kid, they may need to prove why their improvements make sense, even if it seems blindingly obvious to anyone who uses social media proficiently. Specifically, they should find online articles about best practices that support their improvements in case the person making the decision on whether to implement some or all of the OP’s plan has absolutely no clue about social media. Having citations shows that your improvements aren’t just based on your opinion, and if your Google-fu is any good it shouldn’t take long at all.

  9. AnonieGirl*

    #1 – To give you some perspective, social media is a huge job. My current job is social media full time and it literally takes up about 35 hours of my week with planning campaigns, analyzing trends and data for ROI and effectiveness and queuing posts. To be realistic, it isn’t just throwing a few posts out there and a new graphic. There is actually a significant amount of planning. I agree somewhat about age (I’m young myself) but I’ve also had years of experience developing social and digital media campaigns. You may want to develop a short term campaign (maybe 30 days) on what you want to accomplish, what you want to post and a possible projected ROI (or number increase of followers, subscribers etc). Just some things to keep in mind if you decide to approach your boss.

    1. Wanna-Alp*

      Agreed. And if you have comments sections, remember those are going to need significant moderating.

      Also, think of what it takes to set it all up: a Twitter account isn’t too onerous, but galleries and comment sections don’t just magic themselves into existence. There is a lot of programming behind them, which might have to be custom-written to fit, depending on what software your newspaper is running its existing site on. How many resources does your newspaper have for programmers or buying in the required software? What can your newspaper expect to get out of putting those resources in? You’ll need to make a case that shows you’ve considered several social media possibilities and what technical/content-creating resources they will need, and their relative benefits.

      In summary: it’s not just the quantity time spent on the content, as others have detailed, but also the technical resources to set up & maintain the desired facilities in the first place. This isn’t even close to being covered by one “willing person sitting across the hall”; such a person could do a small amount of content-related work though.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Yeah. Resetting what happens on Facebook, Twitter and the like is an entirely different undertaking than resetting what happens on the newspaper’s website.

      2. SocialMediaWannabe*

        That’s mostly what I’m talking about.
        A website revamp is waaaay out of my wheelhouse, but if we could get it set up I’d be happy to collect event photos and post galleries etc.
        I’m semi-hopeful our website gets updated, but I don’t know if it will. The host we use now is really cheap and I don’t think we’ve got tons of extra money to spend.
        What I’m really hopeful about is that I can have a chance to work on our Facebook and Twitter presence. Collect police blotters and weather updates and school updates and stuff to post on our page, and breaking news that is too time sensitive to get printed but should go on the page.
        I guess I should have been clearer in my letter. I don’t have the foggiest idea how to set up an actual website-I’ve got zero programming skills-but I think I’d be able to handle setting and following guidelines for Facebook and Twitter posts, and being able to post photo galleries, news updates on there too.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          It is possible to do a very basic website – certainly an improvement over what you’ve got (PDFs?!!!?!?!) – on a budget. Heck, WordPress is FREE (and fairly easy for a non-programmer to maintain), you’d just need someone to get it set up and get your domain to point to it. This is the kind of project that an aspiring/student designer would probably love to take on for a reasonable fee and permission to use it in their portfolio.

          1. no-fire*

            I agree. Wherever you are posting your PDFs you should almost as easily be able to post text…It wasn’t clear to me if the PDFs are posted with the same formatting as the actual newspaper (with columns) or by individual article. If the latter, that is a little trickier but still, a free WordPress blog and some thoughtfulness about how to organize the site would be a vast improvement.

            1. SocialMediaWannabe*

              Yeah, we use a program that sends the PDF files to the website and the printer at the same time. They’re uploaded to the website as if we were uploading an e-book version of the paper, so they’re the whole page. You can access individual articles if you want though.

        2. just laura*

          And OMG, the people that post on my local paper’s comments and FB are wackos. You’ll definitely have to moderate the crazies.

      3. Kelly L.*

        And then somebody needs to moderate, because newspaper comment sections are cesspits of horror.

        1. SocialMediaWannabe*

          Oh god yes they do.
          I’ve been trying to do it on my own, because no one else is doing it.
          It’s sometimes a harrowing experience.

        2. Liane*

          And moderating alone can take lots of time. I am Lead Moderator, volunteer, for the forums on a very active website devoted to some well-know geek podcasts. I do have several volunteer mods under me, but I still need to check the site 2-3 times a day & read every post. There are some forums where only I (& the site owners) have mod permissions, so if there’s an issue there–whether spam or troll–it can get out of hand very quickly. I cannot imagine how much time it would take to police the comments sections somewhere other than AAM or “my” forums. Which might explain why so many are cesspits.

          Thankfully, our posters are at least as polite as here, because the site owners & I are even less merciful than Alison to transgressors…

        3. puddin*

          For real, I have banned myself from internet comments on any news pieces. For some reason, I get very twisted up emotionally about what people write. Cesspits of horror indeed!

        4. StarHopper*

          My city’s newspaper stopped allowing comments at all because they had such trouble monitoring them. I can’t help but think that was a good idea, much as I love to go straight to the comments on everything.

        5. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It sounds like in their case it would make sense to just turn off commenting, because it doesn’t sound like they have the resources or desire to spend a lot of time on it.

          1. SocialMediaWannabe*

            We don’t have a huge problem with the comments. Sometimes if we post mugshots it gets a little hairy, but it’s never enough that it takes me more than a few minutes to delete the problem comments.

          2. Brett*

            Facebook no longer allows you to disable comments on posts and photos. It can get brutal, because angry trolls know this and have no qualms about posting on every status update and photo going back months if you have page comments disabled.
            You can block them, but then they inevitably make a new account and have at you again while complaining about their first amendment rights. (Even more fun in our state, where the attorney general has interpreted the sunshine law as barring us from deleting comments on our page; we have to manually hide each one instead.)

    2. Graciosa*

      I think this is a more important point than most people realize. There are consumers with various levels of sophistication in using a product – say, a cell phone, or a car – but assuming that a proficient user is just a small step away from creating the product is naive.

      My understanding is that really designing and managing a company’s social media presence requires a LOT more skill than most people realize. It is not a matter of being proficient in personal use of Facebook or Twitter and then just doing it for the employer instead of for yourself.

      I suppose that employers who don’t have anyone even using Facebook or Twitter will find they have better results than before in choosing a proficient employee to start using them on behalf of the company (usually better than nothing in the absence of major gaffes) but they are fooling themselves to imagine this is a strategy to make the best use of social media.

      1. AB*

        There is managing social media and then there is managing social media. It can be a full time, involved job, but it doesn’t actually have to be.

        Yes, the best practice use of social media and internet resources can be a huge undertaking and can be transformative. But you have to start somewhere, and I think it’s wrong to discourage the OP. My husband started exactly where the OP was. He was a reporter at a small town newspaper, fresh out of college. He saw a missed opportunity, developed a plan and took it to his bosses. He started out small, baby steps, and then saw a modest return on his modest investment. He could have decided to be happy with that and just stuck with it, but he decided to take it further and grow it. Both he and the company benefited from his simple resolution to try something new. He did not have any formal training beyond being a proficient user, but since it was brand new for the newspaper too, he had plenty of room to learn. He has since decided to make it his career. He left the newspaper for an agency, and then for a large corporation where he is now managing large, complicated campaigns.

        1. no-fire*

          I agree you have to start somewhere, and this is a good place to start. But, you’ll eventually need buy-in from higher ups to devote more time, so I think it’s smart for the OP to be realistic about how far she can take it at this organization.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The thing is, it doesn’t have to be a full-blown strategy like that. It certainly can be, but it sounds like (a) that probably wouldn’t make sense in the OP’s context, as far as return on investment, and (b) some smaller, much less time-consuming steps would be a big step forward from where they are now.

      There are lots of different ways to do social media, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying “we want to have a reasonable and non-embarrassing presence with regular updates but it’s not our biggest priority and isn’t going to be a major focus of resources.”

      1. AnonieGirlie*

        I 100% agree. Before I joined my company, they updated “occasionally” (whenever someone would feel like it) and than put an interim person in the position and realized pretty quickly that it took more than a couple hours a week and that’s when they hired me. I just wanted to give the LW a little perspective on how involved social media can get and if they are truly prepared to undertake the responsibility of that.

      2. fposte*

        Yeah, our social media policy is basically “needs must.” (So is our website design.) I’ve been delighted when somebody wants to take it on.

  10. Elysian*

    #5 – I know this isn’t the question you asked, but are you sure that every employee in your organization is exempt? I mean, it’s not impossible, but it seems unlikely. It would mean that everyone is a manager/administrator/etc with no one to manage and no work to administer. Doesn’t your company have any rank-and-file?

    1. Zillah*

      This occurred to me, too. I guess it’s possible that everyone is exempt, but it seems pretty unlikely.

      1. Judy*

        Don’t forget that professional is one of the exemptions also, including engineers. (Of course, usually engineers are non-exempt for the first 5 or so years out of school.)

        1. Elysian*

          That’s true, and also commissioned sales-people, etc… but it would still seem unusual to have 1 manager and 8 engineers, with no one left to answer the phone, or manage payroll, or deal with hiring paperwork, etc. It could be done, it just seems unusual.

          1. Zillah*

            Yeah, this – I just find it hard to believe that they don’t have any support staff at all, just professionals. It’s not impossible, but I think it’s likely that someone is being misclassified.

            1. Judy*

              My current company is just under 100 people. There is one bookkeeper, and the production people who are in the warehouse are non-exempt, but I’d be surprised if there is anyone else. Payroll is outsourced, the bookkeeper handles the POs, Invoices and Expense Report processing. My hiring paperwork was handled by the company president, as far as I could tell, and he’s certainly was the one who contacted the independent insurance agent who handles the insurance. Everyone’s phone goes to voicemail.

              We design the teapots and then have contract manufacturers build them. We then gather the manufactured parts together, taking a teapot, lid, creamer, sugar bowl and sometimes even off the shelf teacups and saucers and make a system to our (industrial) customer’s needs. We then sell them to our (industrial) customers.

          2. Eliza Jane*

            This is really common in small tech companies, in my experience. My first job didn’t have many phone calls that weren’t to a specific individual, so undirected phone calls rang at everyone’s desk. We used outside services to do most of our financial stuff, and one of the senior staff handled all of those outside processes. We had a core of 4 co-founders and had brought on a total of 9 junior engineers before we decided we needed a full-time person to handle payroll/paperwork as well as other logistical issues, and he became the COO, which was exempt. I think we were up to 25-30 before we brought in a receptionist, who was the only non-exempt person we ever had.

            1. Chinook*

              I am another person who worked at an office where, when I started, everyone there was technically exempt because they were desigining scanner hardware and software. I was a administrative assistant temp through an agency, their payroll was done through a payroll agency and hiring was done by the boss/owner (I learned that the answer to “do we have a form for that” was usually “we will once you make one”). They had few expenses (which the boss paid on a company credit card or wrote the cheque for), so no accounting department was really needed. When I was hired on as the office manager, I became their only non-exempt person.

            2. ReanaZ*

              Yeah, when I worked for a small tech company, the person who did all of the admin, bookkeeping, phone call answering, package delivery, etc. tasks that would normally be in an non-exempt role… was one of the owners of the company (who also had a strategic, professional role).

    2. Interviewer*

      This is exactly what I was coming here to say. Maybe everyone in your department, but certainly not everyone in the entire company could be exempt. Sounds like someone is making it easy for payroll, and not understand what exempt/non-exempt actually means. Look it up on the US DOL website, classify everyone properly, and start doing timesheets. Even actual exempt people can be tasked with filling out timesheets for purposes of tracking PTO or billing time, not abusing attendance policies, etc.

      1. Judy*

        It’s certainly possible to outsource your payroll and have an engineering company of that size with no non-exempt employees. It’s probably also possible in other areas. It’s not like you’d have a receptionist, a bookkeeper and a HR assistant in a company that has 9 employees.

        Even in large companies, the days where a team of engineers would have an assistant has passed.

  11. Graciosa*

    #2 – When an employer has banned you from the property, it’s normally because the employer believes your presence is a serious risk. They are not likely to take that risk to accommodate your request to pick up personal items.

    If you believe your former employer perceives you as a security threat, you may need to start by asking to have your personal items shipped to you – this should be standard practice in these types of situations – with a fallback of “How do you propose to return my property?” if you need one.

    1. Arjay*

      I agree with asking to have the items shipped, but that is my employer’s standard course of action for any termed employee. It’s not because they’re believed to be a serious risk.

      1. Allison*

        It may not be a personal assessment, some companies may view every terminated employee as a serious risk, or at least a potentially serious risk. Better safe than sorry. Of course, it’s also possible OP’s company is afraid it’ll hurt morale to have a terminated employee in the office.

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      It can also be because they no longer trust the person to have access to confidential information or because their presence would be a distraction.

    3. neverjaunty*

      OP #2 shouldn’t have to ask to have their personal items returned. It’s not uncommon in many businesses to prohibit employees from returning to their work areas when they’re fired, not because of any security risk, but because of confidentiality issues relating to the work environment. But it’s also SOP in those businesses to either let the employee collect their belongings (under supervision) before leaving, or to have somebody box up their belongings and mail them back/arrange for the employee to pick them up at the front desk.

      If OP’s boss is not letting OP get their stuff AND is not proactively returning OP’s stuff, Boss is a jerk (assuming that the personal belongings are not in any way work related, e.g. a work laptop). AAM’s advice on retrieving it is excellent.

      1. Sunflower*

        This is how I feel too. I get not wanting an employee to take confidential info which is why you should be allowed to collect things under supervision. Flat out denying access to your stuff is beyond rude esp when the belongings are more than just food or knick knacks.

        For example, I know many women who leave multiple pairs of (expensive) shoes in their desk. And yeah I would be LIVID if they told me I couldn’t get them.

  12. Cheesecake*

    OP #3 I salute you for doing the research because i am amazed how many people actually don’t even open a web site. Key here is to not share anything out of the blue. We had a candidate who jumped into naming our operating board even when question was “why did you leave your most recent employer”.

    Also, best is to incorporate the knowledge as: “i worked with chocolate teapots very similar to your seasonal easter teapots you produce in the LatAm region” These little things speak more than an hour-long answer of “tell us something about our company”

    1. AnonieGirl*

      Oh man, when I first started seriously interviewing for full time, salaried positions I was guilty of that. I’d throw out every fact/figure I knew just to somehow slide it into the conversation (relevant or not). It just takes practice knowing when it’s appropriate. It’s good to know the research, but it’s more important to be yourself than showcase all your knowledge on the company.

  13. Amanda2*

    #2- I agree with Alison, if the items are small and trivial, just forget them. If they are of value, then politely try to work out a way to pick them up or have them shipped that doesn’t require you going back onto your employer’s property. It sounds as if you are not welcome and why put yourself in such an uncomfortable position as having to go back there. As for wanting to go in and pick up food??? Like- half a bottle of salad dressing and a Lean Cuisine you left in the company fridge?? Chalk that up to a loss.

  14. INTP*

    I’m curious if anyone else doesn’t see how #4 is undermining the teacher? To me it sounds like either this person has worked with people who haven’t always left doors locked or is just the type to need a reminder himself and it’s a habit to say something. It’s been a few years since I was in a middle or high school classroom but it doesn’t sound like anything that would have made me question my teacher or see their authority or abilities as called into question. I didn’t expect my teachers to have infallible memories so that no one ever had to remind them of anything. It’s his classroom so it doesn’t sound like him indicating authority over her, just indicating ownership over the classroom.

    I get that kids and teens are brutal and you can become extremely sensitive to anything that might make you look less than infallible in front of your students because you can lose your authority quickly (have taught elementary school and college). I’m just not sure this is a battle worth picking with a fellow teacher, of whom you might have to make another request some day (and risk looking super nitpicky if you have already made issues, even small issues, of things like this).

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      I can understand what the OP is worried about- it would be like my boss telling you to do something which is a total no-brainer, like “Hey Monodon, don’t forget to turn on your computer this morning!” in front of all of my interns. So the interns think I’m a dunce who can find my way out of a paper bag.

    2. Amanda2*

      I understand what #4 is saying. First of all, it is disruptive and discourteous for him to be coming into the room each day while she is teaching. When you room-share, which is very common at schools, you have to be respectful of whomever is currently using the room. Technically the room does not belong to him, it belongs to the school and the school is requiring them to share.

      Second, why does he need to remind her every time he comes about locking the door? It comes across to me as unwelcoming and territorial- a little reminder to the OP each time he comes in that he views it as “his” room and she is just temporarily occupying. More annoying and unwelcoming than anything else, I think. I don’t see that it has to be a battle the OP is picking. Whomever suggested above that the OP simply ask the teacher if there is a reason why he would think the OP would leave it unlocked is right on. It should be a nice subtle cue to him that the OP understands he would like the room locked and will lock it each time.

      1. fposte*

        I’m less bothered by the door thing than I am about coming in to the room when I’m teaching. If you left something on the stage, that’s on you, and you have to wait until the performance is over.

        1. illini02*

          I get that, in theory, but in reality as a teacher it doesn’t always work like that. Your prep period tends to turn into meetings with your bosses, who then need to see x,y,and z from you. So yeah, sometimes you have to go back in the room to get stuff. Its not as easy as “just take everything you need with you” because even if you are just grading papers, making copies, whatever, sometimes you forget stuff. I don’t think the other teacher should be expected to not be able to do that stuff. Now I do think you can do all of that without disrupting the class though.

          1. fposte*

            Well, maybe that can be part of the discussion, then–it doesn’t seem like it would be advisable for him to have to repeatedly disrupt the same class (and sure, he could be doing it others without the OP’s knowing it, but that seems like it would be a lot of disruption).

            Granted, I’m spoiled by having an actual office, so I didn’t even think about keeping stuff in the classroom.

        2. Vin packer*

          I think they’re a one-two punch. Not only is he disrupting her teaching, but rather than being discreet about it he’s actually interrupting her further to huff and puff about locking the door. To use your stage metaphor, it’s like he retrieved something on the stage and then did a little pirouette on his way off.

    3. illini02*

      I agree. Undermining isn’t exactly the word I would use here. I would consider it undermining if I was teaching fractions one way, and he jumped in and gave another way to do it. Is it rude and annoying? Yes. But I don’t think its undermining the OP

    4. LawBee*

      I think this is more that the OP has a gut feeling that the behavior is disruptive and annoying, but hasn’t fully articulated why, even in the OP’s own mind.

    5. LisaS*

      Anyone who tried the interrupt & insult routine on me would get one of two responses. The first time calls for excessively polite helpfulness backed up by the raised eyebrow of stunned disbelief (really, interrupting a class in session? Whatever it is better be pretty important.) The second time it happens gets more eyebrow, less helpfulness, and very likely a Buffy quote or a promise to call Sam & Dean Winchester to reset the wards…

      The third time, Rue Colleague gets followed out into the hall & politely requested to stop breaking my students’ concentration. Class interruptions need to be student-focused, and even then, at my institution, student-facing staff does everything they can to *avoid* walking in on a class that’s in session. This guy’s just being territorial, and he needs to be told to back off.

    6. Hlyssande*

      It’s especially frustrating because the OP has been working at this school since 2010 and the Interrupting Teacher just started. Why on Earth would a new teacher to a location feel the need to constantly interrupt the OP’s class and tell them to lock the door?

      If there has been an issue with the door not being locked, that needs to be brought up outside the classroom. If there isn’t actually an issue, then why the condescension?

  15. Graciosa*

    Regarding #1, I’m rather curious about a different aspect of your letter. You mention not having any idea how your boss perceives your performance. This is a problem, and you ought to be concerned about addressing it. If you’re not receiving regular feedback, ask. I can’t help wondering if your interest in taking on a different job is related to a lack of interest (or engagement) in your current role, or a feeling that you need to do something differently in order to impress your manager.

    That said, I am not convinced that making a pitch for taking on these new responsibilities is the way to do it.

    In terms of “fixing” the paper’s social media presence by yourself, my instinct is that your reach is significantly exceeding your grasp. Neither your age nor a couple classes are enough to put you in charge of handling social media presence for a newspaper with more than a handful of employees.

    If I were hiring for this position, I would be looking for someone with serious credentials and a track record of success. Lacking those, I think your pitch would demonstrate enthusiasm (good) coupled with naivete and a lack of understanding of the gap between your credentials and those of real professionals in this area (not so good).

    Succeeding in your pitch could be even worse, demonstrating either a lack of commitment by your employer’s management to really do this right, or some naivete on the part of your employer about what is really required. Neither of these would be a good sign, and neither would set you up for success in this role.

    I think you should devote some of the time and energy you’re putting into thinking about social media into thinking about your current job as a reporter. Is this job a good fit for you? How are you performing now, and how could you do better? What does your boss think? What are the next steps to advance your career, and do you want to take them? Do you see a viable long-term career path for yourself in this industry?

    Focus a little more attention on your current job, and get some feedback from your manager on how you’re performing. If you really do want to change careers to move into social media and give up reporting, you need to look seriously at how to acquire the kind of credentials that would impress an informed, sophisticated employer to hire you in a social media role.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I shall respectfully disagree. :)

      I wasn’t qualified to do *anything* I do before I did it. I got excited about possibilities, pitched them (or just did them without pitching them), took a few successes and spring boarded off of them. If I sat back and waited to be qualified, or worse, was intimidated by people who were “qualified”, I’d still be a sales assistant making $16,000 a year. (adjust for inflation)

      1. LisaS*

        Oh yeah. I have always taken this approach to my career as well – volunteering for things, requesting assignments that were extensions to what I was already doing, making myself available for things no one else wanted to do… most of the places I’ve worked it’s been the best way to grow, both i terms of what I could do & in terms of interesting projects/greater responsibilities.

    2. SocialMediaWannabe*

      No, I definitely don’t want to move from reporting to social media. I love my job as a reporter.
      (And we really do have a handful of employees. I’m one of four reporters.)
      But the way my days are (usually) structured, I put out between one and five stories a day. Unless something huge comes up and I have to run on all cylinders all day, I’ve usually got between one and three hours of downtime a day, combined. I have to wait for reports to come in, I can’t move forward with a story until someone returns my call or comes back to the office etc.
      I wouldn’t want to be the person in charge of recreating the website, but I think it’s well within my skill set to be able to improve and streamline our Facebook posts (and create and run a Twitter page)
      I also think this type of thing is now pretty standard for jobs in the news industry. (At least, jobs at bigger papers than this one.)
      To be a really desirable reporter, you’ve got to be able to write good stories, take good pictures and be internet savvy. To get good jobs (and this is based on a lot of the job descriptions I’ve read for other reporter positions at other papers while I was hunting for this job) almost everyone wants you to have some level of social media skills.

      1. LawBee*

        I think if you approach it the right way with your boss, it’s totally reasonable. And if it takes off and your paper’s social media begins to thrive, then you can have the conversation about hiring someone to work on it full-time and revamp the webpage.

        1. SocialMediaWannabe*

          I think that would be the ideal outcome. I don’t want this to be my full time job, but it pains me the ways we’re missing out on opportunities to increase engagement.
          Plus, when I move on from this job, I would love to be able to say I’ve got experience working and improving a social media presence. That would be a big get for me experience-wise.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        You’ve definitely got the right idea. All the reporters I know, both in broadcast & print, are required to be able to post their own content to a web page (text, photos & video). They also need a strong social media presence on Facebook & Twitter.

        You might focus on strengthening your personal, professional social media presence as a way of developing a following that you could transfer to the paper’s. Our reporters use their professional accounts to drive traffic to our station Facebook page and then to our website where those clicks are monetized through advertising. That might be a way to get your boss on board with revamping the website and the idea that you’ll have to spend some money to make more money.

      3. JTD*

        On this, can I ask have you checked that the subeditors (copy editors in the US, IIRC) are happy with your work? Do you always remember the style guide, have you checked you’re submitting copy in a way they’re happy with, and so on.

        Because, speaking as someone who does that job, they can be your best cheerleader, they can offer so many useful tips, particularly if they also lay out the paper.

        Apart from anything else, we’re journalists too. Traditionally, we were very experienced reporters who shifted into that side as a reward (traditionally, we were also much better paid) and we still are – more experienced, I mean – on the whole.

        And we give very useful advice, if you haven’t pissed us off. There might be senior management issues as to why your digital presence is so poor – have a few chats.

        And remember to check the style guide on your copy.

        1. SocialMediaWannabe*

          The paper I work at, we’ve got two non-reporters who do most of the copy-editing and layout of non-news pages, so obit pages, editorial, sports etc. However, if one of us is out (there’s four reporters, my editor and the two layout/editing people) we all have to pick up the slack.
          This week especially, since my boss and one of the two layout ladies have been gone, I’ve spent the second half of my day proofing pages and stuff.
          I think a lot of people who are saying it’s going to be a huge time commitment are thinking this is a larger paper, but we really are teensy weensy.

    3. LawBee*

      Re: your first paragraph, yes.

      Re: the rest, I think you’re overestimating the budget of a small local newspaper.

      1. SocialMediaWannabe*

        Oh crap, I can’t edit my comment. I meant to add that LawBee is on the money (see what I did there??)
        We’re an itty bitty local paper. I don’t think there’s any room in the budget for hiring someone like Graciosa is talking about. The owner’s wife does most of the Facebook posting right now, and I don’t think she’s getting paid for it…

        1. Graciosa*

          Okay, if I am overestimating the size of the paper and sophistication of the social media strategy required, then I retract my advice against trying to take this on – however I do stand by the recommendation to address the lack of feedback. You should have a clear sense of how your management perceives your performance and what you should do to advance.

          Good luck.

  16. AnonieGirl*

    #2 – if the belongings are valuable to you (whether they have monetary or sentimental value) you could always offer to email them a UPS or Fedex label and arrange a pickup. You could even see if you could somehow supply a box, that way it’s not costing the company anything. Additionally, I wonder if you could suggest and arrange a time before or after normal business hours to be escorted by security to get your things, that way you’re not being a disruption.

    1. Judy*

      When a co-worker was let go suddenly, they took him to his desk and he packed up a few things. The person who was cleaning the desk out a few days later noted there were still personal belongings, and they were boxed up, the manager checked them to make sure they were not company property, and the former co-worker was called. They offered to ship it, drop it off somewhere or leave it at the receptionist for him to pick up. I believe another co-worker who lived near him dropped it off.

    2. some1*

      I disagree with this offer. They chose not to let the LW collect his belongings at the time he was let go or let him come back. That’s their right, but to me that means they should absorb the cost of returning his property to him. Ntm, many businesses get a discount rate at FedEx and UPS which would make shipping a local package peanuts to them.

      1. AnonieGirlie*

        True, but if the company refuses to do it on their dime, and if the LW is desperate for their things, than why not try and suggest that it wouldn’t cost them anything to simply box it up. When I left my old job, my manager specifically told me if I didn’t take all my personal belongings at the end of my two week notice, I would have to pay for them to ship them to me as they would not spend another penny on me. Also, I’m wondering the circumstances surrounding the LW being told to leave. At my old company an employee was terminated immediately for stealing, but they gave him ten minutes to pack up his things while security watched and went through it before he left to make sure he wasn’t taking company property.

    3. Windchime*

      At our workplace, belongings are boxed up and taken to the HR building (which is off-site) and former employees can pick them up there.

        1. De Minimis*

          I saw my termination coming so I had already taken the stuff I really cared about long ago, but there were still a few things here and there…the facilities people boxed those things up and FedEx’d them back to me a few weeks later…they included one of my business cards, which I chose to find funny.

          Also, the day it happened I was given a decent amount of time to pack things up. I actually thought HR was great in how they handled it.

          But this was a big company that had the money to do that, and also routinely fired a lot of people.

    4. BadPlanning*

      I was thinking the OP could make a list of items and suggest a coworker who might be familiar with their desk/area that could do the work. Try to remove all barriers from making it “too hard” for a manager that has “no time” to do such things.

      Former Boss,
      The following are some personal items that remain at my desk. I believe that Thor is familiar with my desk area and could help box them up. Please mail them to my home address or I would be happy to pick them up from the front desk.

    5. Chriama*

      I don’t think you’re obligated to bend over backwards to accomodate the employer like this. These are your belongings. If they think you’re a physical threat to anyone in the office they can either ship your stuff to them or have you come in after hours while under supervision by the security guard. You definitely should not have to eat the cost of retrieving your own belongings, and I’m pretty sure an employer who refused to send them to you would be commiting theft (although, due to the $ value of the items left behind, probably not prosecutable).

  17. Helen*

    My sense is that #3 gained all that knowledge not through press releases, etc. but, as she said, “unorthodox means”–the previous person’s facebook or twitter, etc. I definitely wouldn’t say, “Oh yes, I read about that that thing already” when the only way you’d have read about it is through someone’s facebook–this DOES make people uncomfortable, even if their settings are public. Just pretend not to know stuff if it’ll make you look like a sleuth/creepy.

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, that was the sense I got too – if she knows that much about the previous person in the role, it sounds like she read through that person’s public Facebook/Twitter account. That’s pretty over the top.

      1. Kai*

        I thought this too. I do sometimes look for people on Twitter in job search scenarios, but I certainly wouldn’t bring it up to them. Much like you might Google someone before a first date, it’s not a bad idea, but if you talk about it you’re going to seem a little creepy.

        1. LBK*

          Yes – it’s info you put in your back pocket to factor in to the other information you pick up during the date, but you don’t start the date by saying “So I saw on your Facebook you really like ducks. Talk to me about that!”

    2. ali*

      yes, this. I was on a committee where we were interviewing someone who knew personal details about each of us on the committee – things that had nothing to do with the job or the company. He knew I’d recently moved to the state and where I’d moved from. Even when brought up in casual conversation following the interview, it was creepy that he knew those things. I’m glad he did his research, and we did end up hiring him, but it just felt awkward, since we didn’t know similar things about him.

    3. LawBee*

      Honestly, I was a little creeped out by that. The list of things the OP knew was verging into the personal, and it felt icky.

      People, if you’re going to live your life on Facebook, LOCK IT DOWN.

    4. Sunflower*

      Well this would depend a bit on the industry. For example, newspapers/magazines- all of these people have twitter and the majority if them integrate a bit of personal with professional.

  18. Lisa*

    #5 – do you receive federal government grant or contract funding? If so you may be required to do timesheets. We were doing monthly timesheets and got dinged on our audit – we now make our employees do daily time entry because they are most of them splitting time among different federal grants and contracts at variable amounts.

    1. Phyllis*

      Right. While my position is exempt, I’m paid from multiple sources and finance has to be able to reconcile that time back to the appropriate funding stream.

  19. Rachel*

    #1- I say go for it. I’m a young professional as well, and I’ve found that companies usually are open to the idea of younger workers taking on the social media aspect since we typically* have more experience in it. I think bringing it up shows that you’re taking initiative. The worst that can say is “no” :)

  20. C Average*

    I have a little experience with both #3, so I’ll throw some anecdata on the burn pile.

    I was hired to my current company nearly eight years ago and had a role that bled into what was emerging as social media at the time. (My team was tasked with monitoring a user message board on our website. That morphed into my role, the brand began interacting more with consumers in that venue, we gradually took on Facebook and Twitter, etc. We now have a massive, massive social media presence, with accounts staffed by over 50 people. I no longer work in social media but still work closely with the social media team.)

    I successfully pitched taking over our social media presence when I’d been at the company for just a few months. Here are some things I did that went over well:

    1. I spent a long time just listening in our social media channels before I ever proposed speaking in them, and I documented instances where a branded voice would have been helpful. I gathered consumer questions that were going unanswered, threads that could have used some skillful moderation, trolls that needed to be dealt with, actionable consumer feedback that could be funneled to the right channel, etc. For each, I detailed what I thought we should be doing as a brand.

    2. I had a really good sense of the social media landscape because I read everything I could find on the subject and spent a lot of my free time perusing other brands’ social media channels to see what they were doing well. Using that information, I was able to speak to best practices, what our competitors were already doing that we should be doing, etc. I used specific examples.

    3. I’d been an avid consumer of early social media myself and understood the rhythms of online conversation, the kinds of characters you’re likely to find in online communities, etc. Honestly, this was the most valuable asset I had! I didn’t specifically bring it up at the time, but I’ve seen firsthand that people who do not USE social media and have an affinity for it just don’t thrive in frontline social media jobs. People with backgrounds in marketing and no personal interest in social media from a user perspective really suffer in these jobs. They think about the jobs only in terms of creating clever outbound content, but someone’s gotta engage with the followers. Can you do that? Do you want to do that?

    4. I had an escalation plan. I’d thought through what I’d do if I was concerned that someone had crossed a legal line, if through social media channels I became aware of a problem the company would want to address, if a user had a question I couldn’t answer but wanted to research and address, if a consumer needed the kind of help a different department was better equipped to provide, etc. A huge amount of social media engagement is triage. Have a plan for that.

    5. My team at the time had the bandwidth and the flexibility to cover the tasks I wouldn’t be able to do while I was working the social media channels, and I was able to propose my idea knowing no balls would be dropped. Is there anyone cross-trained in your work who will be able to make sure the essential tasks associated with your role get done if social media winds up taking more of your time than expected?

    6. I had an exit strategy. No one really knew if this whole social media thing was going to take off or not. Some social media accounts and handles fail to attract followers and fail to thrive. Have a timeline in mind–“I’d like to try this for six months and, if we’re not seeing a measurable increase in engagement, I’ll step back”–and make that part of your proposal. And be willing to do it.

    7. Know that measuring ROI in social is really, really hard. Try to avoid setting follower count-based goals. Followers ≠ money. Followers = eyeballs = potentially bigger marketing reach = potentially more money if your marketing efforts are smart and effective. If you’re going to engage in social media, do it because you want to know and serve your consumer more effectively and because, more and more, it’s simply what businesses are expected to do–not because you expect some specific payoff or benefit.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      This is seriously awesome advice – both for companies considering their social media presence and for anyone considering social media as a career path.

    2. AnonieGirlie*

      True and most likely the case here. However, in other social media jobs you are given ROI and goals to meet, so even if this job doesn’t require that, it’s still good to get your numbers and do the metrics so you know if your campaigns are having impact on new readers. My current job asked me flat out in the interview stage what I projected my ROI could be in a 30 day time period and what I could do to ensure that there was a benefit to the company (IE no benefit for the company = why bother) even if that benefit was simply serving the customers better. But good points and I really like the exit plan strategy. We all have a plan going in, but not one in case it doesn’t work.

    3. SocialMediaWannabe*

      This is such great advice and I didn’t even realize it was for me until now :/
      I think a lot of what you’re saying is right. I’ve spent a lot of time on our Facebook page, watching which posts do well, which do okay, etc.
      I don’t know how much branding comes into this because we’re a newspaper and not another type of company. There’s this sticky, weird line between product and content because your content IS your product. But I think I know what you mean.
      I think what my goals are might be different than the goals for a standard social media campaign. I don’t really want to create a ton more content, because we have quite a lot to begin with, and I don’t know if I’d really want to focus heavily on selling more papers. I think they people who are going to buy the paper are already doing that. But I do want to see more of our readers engage with us on Facebook, comment on the posts and share their pictures and news. We’re a very very local paper, and the best way to get local news is from the readers. That’s my main objective I think.
      And I think I’d have to approach my time from a different angle. Not “what can I do if this takes more time than I’ve allotted” but “this is how much time I have, what can I get done.”
      We’ve only got four reporters, so if one of us is out or drops the ball, it’s hard to cover that.
      Your advice is awesome though, thanks!

  21. Swarley*


    You may want to consider keeping track of their hours worked anyway. As others have mentioned, you might be required to keep track of their time if you are receiving funding. Also, should a FLSA claim ever be filed and it turns out that you misclassified an employee, the DOL will look to you for hours worked. If you can’t produce anything then they will look to the employee and use their record as official time worked. That sort of thing can get expensive quickly. The odds of this happening are low, but it’s really not that much trouble to do in the first place.

    Disclaimer: I’m not recommending at all that you clock-watch your exempt employees, just be sure you have a record for record’s sake to reference if need be.

  22. C Average*

    Re #3

    I think a lot depends on the kind of online presence has and the kind of fan or follower base it has.

    My company is kind of notorious for inspiring cult-like devotion. We have a huge web presence, many fan sites, and whole books written about our history. No one here would bat an eye if we interviewed someone who was steeped in knowledge of our company. There’s tons of information about us freely available, and we have a pretty interesting history.

    On the other hand, if the company is small and relatively obscure and you’ve learned all about them by taking out industry journals through interlibrary loan or reading their annual reports going back to 1970, you’re going to come across as a bit stalkerish if you reveal that.

    1. C Average*

      I’m seeing now that it’s personal Facebook stuff–I skimmed that part.

      That’s creepy. Don’t bring it up.

  23. Hlyssande*


    I am actually really uncomfortable with this situation, but I think we could use more information. Interrupting Teacher is male, but is the OP female? That may be a large part of the root cause of the rudeness. I’m not sure I can put what I mean into writing as well as I’d like, but I’ll try.

    OP has been teaching at this school since 2010. Interrupting Teacher has recently started. If Interrupting Teacher has a concern about the door not getting locked, he needs to bring it up to OP outside the classroom and not in front of the students.

    Interrupting Teacher teaches a higher level of the same subject, which may mean he has a sense of superiority because of that alone. If OP is female, that can often mean that there’s even more of a sense of superiority there. It’s not necessarily intended sexism, but it may be internalized by Interrupting Teacher and he might not realize he’s doing it. Historically, it’s extremely common for men (even in the same position) to treat women as lesser in professional situations and that may be in play in this one.

    I’m clearly not caffeinated enough this morning, but I hope the gist gets across.

    OP, I like what Marzipan said above regarding taking the rude guy aside and speaking to him calmly about it and asking if he really has a concern. If you address it from that angle, you’ll hopefully be able to get the issue resolved. If he continues to be condescending and rude in general even after talking to him, you may need to address it on a higher level. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

    Good luck!

    1. LBK*

      Eh…I don’t know if we have nearly enough information to assume sexism is at play here. Some people are just jerks/oblivious to the appearances of their actions to everyone.

      1. LBK*

        (And FWIW, I read the OP as being male, because I got the sense of him being territorial about his classroom and that’s a behavior more typically socialized in men. Gender politics everywhere!)

      2. Chinook*

        “I don’t know if we have nearly enough information to assume sexism is at play here. Some people are just jerks/oblivious to the appearances of their actions to everyone.”

        I have to agree with you. Plus, in all the fields I worked in, education was the one that seemed to have the least sexism (as in everone was seen as gender neutral teacher). As a former teacher, if the new teacher had pulled the interrupting stunt with me, I would most definitely see it as marking his territory as the new dog in town (and both male and female dogs do this).

        1. Amanda2*

          That’s interesting that you have experienced education to have the least sexism of all the fields you have worked in. I have worked in education for many years in a few different states and have always found sexism to be an issue. Sometimes it feels less so because typically most of the teachers in the schools I have worked in have been female. We don’t deal with gender politics and sexism as much. However, I am very aware of sexism in education when male teachers work at a school, and especially considering the percentage of school-level and district-level administrators that are male vs. female.

    2. illini02*

      This is where I think a problem comes with questions on this board. I feel like things jump to racism/sexism/homophobia/whatever bigoted behavior WAY to quickly. Why can’t it just be that this guy is clueless at best, a rude jerk at worst. Why does it immediately have to go to he is sexist (even if not intentional sexism). If a guy does x rude behavior to another guy, he’s a jerk. If he does the same rude behavior toward a woman, that doesn’t make him sexist (intentional or not), he is still just a jerk. Can’t we just take things at face value.

      As a black man, this annoys me to no end. I have some black friends and family members who, anytime someone is rude or angry, they ASSUME its racism. Not that the other person is having a bad day, or just an a-hole. But they make the leap to “they must be racist”. I’m clearly not saying racism and sexism don’t exist, but when people who have some kind of minority status automatically assume someone is a bigot because they aren’t nice, it takes away from when real bigotry happens. Some people just aren’t nice people. Period.

      1. LBK*

        I don’t think that the community here necessarily jumps to that conclusion too quickly, but it is definitely offered it as a possible explanation more frequently than in other communities. Yes, in some cases it’s not warranted – as per my comment above, I agree with you that this case doesn’t have enough evidence to suggest sexism. However, more often than not I think it’s done here in cases where it’s an explanation that *is* worth considering where other communities wouldn’t see it. Even if the answer turns out to be “Nope, not sexist, this person is just an asshole,” it’s important to field the question.

        One of the biggest challenges of turning the tides of institutionalized prejudice is getting people to recognize when it’s influencing them without even realizing it. I’d rather we (as a society) err on the side of considering that possibility too often than not often enough, because we won’t get to the point where the answer will usually be “no” if we aren’t always asking the question.

        1. illini02*

          Thats a very fair point. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t consider that these things are possible. I do think though, as you pointed out, that these are offered as a possibility more often than not. And really, it does seem to go to “was this offender a man and the victim a woman” more than anything else. I rarely see something like “was the offender white and the victim a minority” or “was the offender able bodied and the victim in a wheel chair”. I think its just easier to look at Person A doing something bad to Person B, and taking these things at face value than to try to put institutionalized oppression into every single question. Because really, unless its 2 heterosexual able bodied christian white men having a conflict, we can look at unintentional bigotry in just about every possible situation, when to me, that doesn’t help things.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            And really, it does seem to go to “was this offender a man and the victim a woman” more than anything else. I rarely see something like “was the offender white and the victim a minority” or “was the offender able bodied and the victim in a wheel chair”.

            This is an excellent point that we need to think more about.

            I don’t agree that we should never consider how race/sex/other dynamics of “difference” might be playing out. Those dynamics matter. But you’re sure as hell right that we lean toward only doing it with gender here, and that’s a problem.

            1. LBK*

              Do you think that’s just a case of gender being more obvious without being provided by the LW? When you’re describing a situation, pronouns make it apparent if someone is male or female. Unless the question is specifically about racism or ableism, LWs don’t tend to specify “My black coworker who’s in a wheelchair keeps moving my stapler”.

              I’d venture that were this information more readily available, other forms of prejudice would be considered just as frequently, or at least more frequently than they are now. Case in point: there were plenty of comments about institutionalized racism/xenophobia on the letter about the Thai coworker’s name the other day.

              1. illini02*

                Where my point comes from though is when no pronouns are used. Its just co-worker x did this to co-worker y. And people still like to come to the “was co-worker x a man, and co-worker y a woman, because then it may be sexist”. Alison often uses “she” in general, but its not necessarily true that OP is a woman (Which has been mentioned many times)

                1. JTD*

                  One could also argue that, while inadvertant sexism, assuming that OP is female, is part of the dynamic (and I have plenty of experience in that dynamic – and found the courage to point out that it seemed there were assumptions I’d do X cos I’m female, there’s also the fact that the interrupter teaches a higher level and there is also the potential dynamic that the interrupter doesn’t think her classes are as important.

                  But presumably his students have gone through her class before, so it’s in his best interest not to disrupt that class.

                  If they’re teaching classes at the same level – for example, in Ireland, Leaving Certificate Maths is at both Higher and Ordinary level, but the curricula are different on a compulsory course – interrupting her class because he thinks he’s more important and he’s more important than her students receiving an education in the field, even though they won’t progress to his class is so wrong towards the students as well as the teacher. (I’m specifically removing damage to OP from this to point out the other two damaging outcomes, on the grounds that this might help her in how she deals with it.)

                  TLDR: he’s either making his job more difficult or he’s potentially damaging the students’ results.

            2. Elysian*

              I think that is in part because (rightly or wrongly) people assume they can guess the gender of a letter-writer based on the grammar or style of the letter, or based on something that happened in the letter. I think (most) people don’t presume race based on the kinds of things we get from letters (though they might just always assume the person is a majority race, or their own race).

              Like in this one, I assumed the writing teacher was female because teaching (and I also assumed this was a lower school because of the room-sharing, and not a university) is a predominantly female profession. Someone else might picked up on the potentially gender-ed statement that the OP tried to make the new teacher feel at home, which is something women are socialized to do more than men. I think its stuff like that that leads this board to be more gender-focused (again, rightly or wrongly). Without seeing the letter-writers, we just don’t usually get the kind of information in letters that usually leads to conclusion-jumping about race or disability.

              1. Hlyssande*

                That was how I read it as well, which is why I wondered if that was indeed the dynamic at play.

                At best, Interrupting Teacher is an asshole. At worst, he’s a sexist asshole.

            3. fposte*

              I also think that it’s more relevant if it makes a difference to what the OP should do in a given situation. I understand that here it might make a difference about dynamics and fill in the picture for those of us in the audience, but I don’t think it really changes anything about the steps the OP should take.

            4. AGirlCalledFriday*

              I’m thinking this has more to do with the identity of the commenters here. Most seem to be women, and most women have experienced sexism in some form; therefore we are more apt to see something similar to our experience in a letter. Were most commenters cats, I’m sure we’d be hearing a lot about annoying dogs and birds that are always out of reach.

              1. illini02*

                Thats kind of my point though. Its an unfair thing to look at every bad thing that happens to a woman as sexism. As a man, I don’t have a problem with you saying I’m a jerk because of my behaviors. However, I don’t think its fair to label me sexist because my jerk behavior is directed toward a woman at a certain time. Again, I don’t like it when my black friends and family make everything a racist issue either. I just think sometimes its better to just take things at face value instead of trying to make it all about prejudice all the time.

      2. Hlyssande*

        Whoa hey, I wasn’t trying to jump right into immediately calling it sexism, which is why I wondered whether or not the OP was female. I clearly didn’t articulate my thoughts well enough (being undercaffeinated, which has been mostly rectified by now), so I’m sorry for that.

        Either way, the interrupting teacher is a jerk who needs to stop what he’s doing, but gender dynamics may be coming into play if the OP is indeed female.
        You’re totally right that we definitely don’t have enough information to say yes, this is sexism, because we don’t know for sure if the OP is male or female, and it could just be that the interrupting teacher is just a total rectal haberdasher on all accounts with all people.

        I brought it up because it relates to my personal experience in both personal and professional arenas. I’ve experienced similar things that were definitely gender-related (especially in geekdom, yeesh), so that certainly colors my response and my reading of the OP as possibly female.

  24. AdAgencyChick*

    #1, I’m surprised no one has mentioned this already, but I see a second question hiding behind the obvious one of “how can I propose improvements to how my employer handles social media?” Others have addressed that well, but I think the other question is, “How can I manage up to get feedback from my boss?”

    Because it bothers me that the OP doesn’t know how her boss perceives her performance. I know OP said she’s been on the job less than a year, but I strongly suspect she didn’t start, say, six weeks ago. If it’s been more than a couple of months, OP’s boss should have at least given some indication of “you’re doing great!” or “here’s what I need you to focus on more.” OP is correct not to assume that the boss thinks she’s doing well just because she hasn’t said anything; in my first post-college job, I made the mistake of assuming “no news is good news” and was really disheartened by my first review. In retrospect, my manager stunk at giving feedback, but I now know I also could have asked for feedback earlier instead of getting a surprise at the formal review time.

    So — OP, I think it would be a good idea to manage up and ask your boss how things are going. If you don’t feel comfortable asking “how am I doing?” flat out, you can ask what’s going well and what she would like you to be working on more in the future. This can also be a good time to bring up your social media proposals, especially if she says “you’re doing fine and it’s a pleasure having you here.” Then you can bring up, “How would you feel about [insert proposal that you can accomplish in your downtime here]?”

    1. SocialMediaWannabe*

      I’ve been here about 10 months now.
      I’ve never been given like…direct feedback, which is something I’ll have to ask for (and am going to ask for.)
      I do usually read my stories the next day to get a feel for how much editing has been done to them, and it’s usually fairly light, which I’m taking as an indicator I’m doing an okay job.
      But you’re right, that is a good way into the discussion.

  25. Onymouse*

    #4: Is it possible that someone else, like the custodial staff, is leaving the room unlocked each night?

  26. Eliza Jane*

    #4, I’m obviously not there, so can’t speak to your experience, but I always feel incredibly awkward going into a room where someone else is doing something and then slipping out without saying anything. Is it possible his “make sure you lock up,” is a very poorly conceived attempt at social lubrication? It’s obviously a very bad choice of one, and also unnecessary, but it may be an alternate motivator for his behavior.

  27. long time reader first time poster*

    #1: Re your comment “I’m the youngest person in the office by at least 15 years, and I think the age gap might give me a better perspective on how social media is supposed to work.”

    I think you’ve carefully phrased this, but it’s still ageism. My advice to you is to be very careful in how you go about broaching this topic with your managers. Imagine somebody saying “I’m the only man in the office, and I think the gender difference might give me a better perspective on how budget planning is supposed to work.” See how that wouldn’t fly?

    Millennials are not the only people that understand social media. I guarantee that implying that you know more about the topic than the “olds” around the office strictly due to your age do will not serve you well, and I urge you to consider any personal bias you might have about your older colleagues and their perceived abilities to manage technology.

    Your workplace may not use current technology, but that does not necessarily mean that your colleagues are incapable of grasping the concepts. Making that implication to your manager will almost surely backfire.

    1. LBK*

      Eh…while I agree that Millennials aren’t the only people who understand social media (my mom is in her 60s and loves Twitter), from a statistical standpoint people our age are more likely to use and be interested in using social media. That’s not a generalization, it’s a data point. It’s not so much that older generations aren’t smart enough or savvy enough to use it, but rather I think they’re just less interested in it.

      I agree that it shouldn’t be part of the OP’s argument for why she should be chosen to lead this project, but it’s not invalid as a possible explanation in the back of her mind for why the rest of the office doesn’t seem to care or be concerned about their social media presence.

      1. long time reader first time poster*

        “Youngest by 15 years” isn’t exactly implying senior citizen status. If OP is in his/her early 20’s, we are talking about people in their mid 30’s.

        If you think people in their 30’s and 40’s aren’t highly skilled at or interested in using social media, please take another look around.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have to agree with this. The writers I know who are older than me or close to my age are quite savvy with social media. It’s a necessity for them because of their work, but many of them and many 40+ nerds I know (not all of whom work in IT) have been futzing around with computers and the internet for decades.

    2. Short and Stout*

      There’s something weird going on with pop cultural assumptions lately that anyone older than a millennial is clueless about tech. I saw a headline the other day and thought, Whoever wrote that is clueless, or wasn’t around even just a few years ago — I mean, who do they think actively created all this high tech stuff millennials are using? It was not that long ago that a bunch of X-ers became overnight tech millionaires. And of course before that generation were the Bill Gates- and Steve Jobs generation of dork-computer types.

    3. SocialMediaWannabe*

      No, I wasn’t planning on using that to convince her of my arguments. It’s just something I’ve noticed overall. My editor spent an hour a few months ago trying to upload a video, we post these terrible quality pictures because the people who do posting (other than me) I don’t think realize that edited for print and edited for web are two different things.
      And I think there’s one person in the office that’s in their 30’s, but not in the newsroom. Everyone here is 55+, which I know doesn’t disqualify them from knowing how to use Facebook et. all, but I think they view it as less important than I do.

      1. long time reader first time poster*

        To be fair, you’re still being ageist. Imagine saying that being a woman doesn’t disqualify one from knowing how to create a budget, but the women in your office are *really* blonde and ditzy, so they don’t see it as important.

        People in the media field should understand the importance of social media, and if they don’t it’s because they are not keeping up with their field. Not because of the date on their birth certificate. I know it feels like I’m splitting hairs here, but it’s an important distinction.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s very different from that, though, and I speak as a fiftysomething. SMW is saying stuff that research indicates is accurate about predominant trends in using social media–research that is relevant to the work she’s planning to do, in fact–and that has nothing to do about the capabilities of people in the age group.

          It may be ageist to say that fiftysomethings are closer to retirement than twentysomethings, but it’s also factually likely to be true. That doesn’t mean you assume no twentysomething is interested in your retirement seminar, but it’s a reasonable thing to opine about why your attendees were all over fifty.

          1. LBK*

            Damn you fposte, always saying what I was trying to say in a more articulate and concise way. *shakes fist*

        2. LBK*

          I think there is more of a justifiable correlation between age and proficiency in newer popular technology, though, because that’s just how developments in technology work as a factor of the progression of time. I wouldn’t expect most teenagers today to know how to work a record player, but that’s not a judgment on them as people or a statement that they’re not smart enough to use one if they wanted to – a record player just isn’t relevant technology for their generation, so they would inherently be less likely or inclined to learn how to use it. Likewise, most people in their 40s and 50s (and maybe late 30s) weren’t the target demographic for Facebook when it really blew up. They may have become interested in it and learned to use it now anyway, but it just isn’t a ubiquitous part of their generation the way it is for mine. You don’t ask someone in their 20s if they have a Facebook – it’s just taken for granted.

          That’s not the same as your gender example, because being proficient at budgeting hasn’t ever been more or less relevant whether you’re a man or a woman. It would be more like asking a woman to help operate a breast pump. Even though there are men who know how and women who don’t, odds are it will have been more relevant to a woman at some point just as part of her life so she’d be more likely to be familiar with it.

          Part of the thing to consider here too is that basic social media knowledge is part of everyday life for most people in their early 30s and younger – so this also isn’t comparable to doing corporate budgeting because that’s not something any generation or gender has ever learned organically and used in their everyday life.

          1. SocialMediaWannabe*

            Yes! Thank you for articulating that point for me. I was having a hard time explaining why I feel like the age gap is relevant.
            (Although I think long time reader has a point. I wouldn’t be using this in my arguments at all, but I think it might explain why our presence is so bad. The people who have been running the paper just don’t see having an active Twitter page (or a Twitter account at all) as something that’s integral to their jobs the way I do)

            1. LBK*

              Well, wait – if they just straight up don’t think it’s important, I agree with ltr that that’s bad business and willful ignorance of shifting trends in the industry. There are plenty of people in that age range who understand the importance of social media presence. My point is that while they may understand it, it’s less common that someone who’s 35+ has been using Facebook every day for a decade like most people in their 20s, so the level of natural comfort isn’t there. As such, they’re less likely to jump at an opportunity to work with it professionally, even if they get that it’s something important for the company to do.

  28. Employment Lawyer*


    It isn’t required. But it’s usually a good idea. The reason I advise employers to do this are simple:
    1) If you are ever on the wrong side of a misclassification lawsuit, your timecards will save you a ton of money. Or anything similar. And this comes up more than you might think.

    2) It lets you see, generally speaking, how much people work. that’s a helpful datapoint, if you don’t have it anywhere else. It’s the only real way to judge what someone makes per hour, which is very relevant to employee satisfaction.

  29. Rex-a-ford*

    I think a possible pitfall for #3 would be possibly coming across as a know-it-all. I’m unsure how exactly to word this… If I interview someone, and they knew stuff about internal processes that they shouldn’t know, and I don’t have a “link”, or inside person that is referring them, I would be kinda suspicious. But that’s hard without knowing details, but I think knowing stuff that you shouldn’t know from normal methods could come across strangely to an interviewer.

Comments are closed.