telling the board about the problems with our new boss, asking for a different email address, and more

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

1. Should I tell our small nonprofit’s board about the problems with our new executive director?

I’ve been with a small nonprofit for over a decade. A new executive director took over a year ago, which was expected and welcomed by me and many others. This new ED had been with the organization for over 5 years and was very conscientious about moving the organization forward in a positive way.

I think the stress of managing the organization (especially the finances) has gotten to him, and it’s made the whole organization a toxic place to work. Emotional intelligence plays a big role. He is logical and rational to a fault, and has never been able to interpret or understand situations where people’s emotions could be changing their behavior or clouding their judgment. When he first started, he was aware of this deficiency in himself and looked to others to help him, but he seems to have forgotten now. He’s also surrounded himself with “yes men” who are bad managers, and dissent has become dangerous where once an active discussion was welcomed. He’s become rude, arrogant, condescending, and now makes decisions with little or no input from the people it would impact. No one wants to be around him anymore.

I’m the seventh person to resign since April, and I know others are actively looking, so I doubt I’ll be the last. I love this organization and its mission, and it breaks my heart to see this happening.

After so many years with the organization, I know the board very well. Is it appropriate for me, after I leave, to contact any of them to explain why I left? If any of them contact me to ask questions, what do I have the right or obligation to disclose? If information I can provide would help get the organization back on track, I’d like to. I also don’t want to burn any bridges. Is it time for me to just let go?

Some people will tell you to just move on and it’s not your problem anymore, but if you care about the organization and want to see it succeed and you have reason to think the board will be open to hearing your feedback, then yes, there’s no reason you shouldn’t reach out and share your experience. You don’t have any obligation to do that, but it’s certainly an option you’re entitled to exercise.

That said, many, many boards aren’t receptive to hearing this kind of feedback from staff — or simply don’t care as long as the ED appears to be getting the results they want from the organization — so it will depend heavily on what type of board members they are and what standing you have with them. In general, the more you come across as unemotional and not pushing an agenda, the better it’s likely to go over. (In fact, it might be better to just have the initial contact be an offer to talk, rather than your input itself. For example, “Hey, if you’re interested in hearing a perspective on the recent turnover that you might not be hearing from Fergus, please reach out to me and I’d be glad to talk.”)

2. Is it weird that I didn’t tell my manager that my vacation plans changed?

I took a three week leave. I gave a proper notice about my vacation plans to my lead and my immediate manager well before the vacation start. To be precise, I had given the notice two months before the day of vacation start. Since the project for which I was working was about to get completed before my departure for vacation, my manager was all smiles while approving my vacation. The little problem is that at the time of applying for vacation, my manager curiously asked me about the destination of vacation. At that time I was planning to visit Europe with some of my friends. So without any hesitation even though knowing this is my personal matter, I mentioned Europe plans to him. But later we dropped that plan and made other plans to visit various cities in our home country itself. But I never informed about this change in my destination to my manager. I am still on vacation but at a different place. But my manager thinks that I am in Europe. Will this cause problem for me?? I hope that how I decide to use my vacation is entirely my personal matter. But still would really appreciate your suggestion on this matter.

I don’t see why it would matter. Plans change, and it’s not like it would look like you misrepresented your plans in order to get vacation approved that otherwise wouldn’t have been. And you’re under no obligation — zero — to report on how you spend your time off. And you’re allowed to change your mind.

If your manager asks how your trip was when you return, just explain you ended up changing your plans, traveling domestically instead, and it was great.

3. Our bookkeeper missed payroll

Our employees weren’t paid on time this pay period and when I asked our bookkeeper about it, she told me she didn’t get to it because she wasn’t feeling well. There will always be the unexpected—sickness, family emergencies, etc. — but our employees should always expect to be paid on time. How do we ensure this? Should I be looking for a new bookkeeper?

First, tell her directly and clearly what you need. For example: “While there are some tasks that are okay to put off when you’re sick or have higher priorities, payroll isn’t one of them. We’ve committed to our employees that we’ll pay them by a certain date, and we’re also required by law to pay at regular intervals. This is a task that just doesn’t have deadline flexibility. I don’t want a situation where you have to work while you’re sick or can never take time off, so let’s talk about what kind of system we need in place.”

Also, make it clear that if she’s ever in danger of missing payroll, she needs to raise it with you immediately (not the day of or after the fact) so that you can ensure a solution is put in place so that doesn’t happen.

If she’s still not meeting deadlines after you have this conversation, then yes, I’d consider replacing her — you can’t have a bookkeeper who’s cavalier about this kind of thing. But first make sure you’ve made your expectations clear.

4. Sending thank-you’s for rejections where I wasn’t even interviewed

I’ve run in to a bit of bad luck on the job hunt. There have been some positions where I’ve felt I was well qualified and would have been a really good fit. Unfortunately, I received rejection letters for those positions and never had the opportunity for a face-to-face interview.

Do you think it is a good idea to send thank-you letters even though an interview was never conducted? At least perhaps you may stand out for future positions, right?

This is the kind of generic sample template I came up with:

“I received notice that I did not made your list of finalists for the _________ position within your company. While this news is unfortunate, I wanted to take the chance to reach out and thank you for the opportunity and the prompt notice.

While I believe my skills and qualifications would have been a perfect match for this position, I hope that you may consider me for future positions within your business! I truly feel that the charisma, dedication and creativity that I bring to the table would be an asset to your company. By learning and contributing in a successful company such as yours, I believe I’ll be able to continue my own personal and professional growth.

Thank you again for the opportunity! I’m hopeful that we may find a position within your company more suited to my skills! Best of luck in your future recruiting efforts!”

Eh, you can, but I don’t think it’s really going to get you anywhere. The note comes across as pretty generic (as evidenced by the fact that it’s a form letter you could use for multiple positions) and there’s not really anything in here that will strengthen you beyond what was already presumably in your original application. I’d let this go and instead focus your energy on writing great cover letters and having a strong resume.

And for what it’s worth, if your cover letter contains language like that, that’s where I’d really focus — you want your letter to be truly descriptive of why you’re great at what you do, which means specific details, not just assertions that you have traits like dedication and creativity. (And I’d leave charisma out of it altogether, since that’s one of those things that others can say about you but you can’t credibly claim yourself.)

Start here.

5. Can I ask my new job for a different email address?

I will be starting a new job soon and received an welcome packet with my new employee ID number, benefits brochures, and other information. This included my newly created work email address, which follows the common “first initial + last name @” formula. However, the last letter of my last name was cut off (think “jsmit” for John Smith), and I can see this causing a great deal of confusion once I start my new job. Would it be appropriate to bring this up and request a change? I don’t want to seem petty or whiny, but I would like to eliminate any confusion sooner rather than later.

It’s possible that this is their standard format for email addresses; that they all have a specific number of characters, and if your last name is longer than that, it just gets cut off. If that’s the case, it’ll look weird if you push for an exception. (One way to tell: Look at the email addresses of others you’ve corresponded with there. Do they seem to bear out that theory?) Or it’s possible that it was a mistake on their end, and that it would be fine to bring it to their attention.

If you can’t tell if the first theory is right, it would be fine to email back and say, “I just want to check — was it intentional to set this up as jsmit rather than jsmith? I’d admittedly prefer jsmith, but I realize there might have been a reason to set it up this way.”

{ 297 comments… read them below }

  1. Nelly*

    4: Would be good for a RuPaul audition, talking about his Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent!

  2. Amber*

    #5 My first assumption would be that it was a typo, I’ve never seen a company have a character restriction. I would definitely check up on that.

    1. nerfmobile*

      No, character restrictions are quite common. At my current company, the standard format for login ids is the first 6 characters of your last name plus your first initial. So Abraham Lincoln would be lincola. That is also your email address, though they also alias

      1. Judy*

        Yes, that’s how my last two companies handled it. The official ID was last name (shortened to 5 letters) first initial middle initial and you could receive emails to that, but we usually used for email. But for many systems our login was the short version, including the email system.

        Previous companies didn’t have the option for, but still used the shortened last name plus initials email and login. Sometimes the initials were first, sometimes at the end.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I’m wondering if this would be for organizations that might have a lot of outsiders/solicitors trying to guess emails to make contact with people there?

        1. Restricted characters*

          My suspicious would be on legacy and hard-to-change systems that tie in with HR and payroll

        2. Mephyle*

          It could be, but my theory is that it’s a vestige from the long-ago era when every character had a cost and names (filenames and variables suffered from this, too) had to be as short as possible.

    2. Stephanie*

      My college email had a character restriction, so I just opted for my initials.

      My drivers license from a former state had a restriction to 24 characters apparently, as my middle name was cut off.

      Someone with a 25-character full name

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        26 right here. 18 in the first and last. I’m forever running into this problem, especially on forms.

          1. businessfish*

            25 characters here. 17 first/last. shortened on the SAT, corporate email, the works. and yet, though i know the struggle, i intend to hyphenate my children’s last name – so they will have 18 plus a hyphen. sorry, future kids!

            1. cv*

              9 first, 9 middle, 11 last – 29 total letters, which is about as long as it gets for a non-hyphenated WASPy name (I know a number of people from other countries/cultures who use multiple non-hyphenated last names, which can get long. It’s pretty common in some parts of Latin America, I think).

              My spouse has a different 11-letter last name. We did not hyphenate.

      2. Elysian*

        30 with spaces. I just mostly don’t use my middle names for this very reason. Also: I have two middle name. Whenever a form has one box and asks for a “middle initial” I have to pick a favorite (or use neither) which I feel like defeats the purpose.

        1. Zillah*

          I use one middle initial for vaguely official-but-not-professional stuff (e.g., doctors, bills) and one middle initial for professional stuff.

    3. And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds*

      I’d say ask if you can get something different. You won’t be the first to ask, and they’ll likely have a policy on it. Although that policy might make you unhappy.

      Often the restrictions are not the fault of the email system, but are the result of other software that uses the email address as your ID. It might be an older system that only accepts 8 characters (for instance).

        1. Arjay*

          Absolutely, don’t put it off. And depending on what else may be truncated, try to focus on the public facing things like email. When I got married, all I wanted to do was change my name in my employment record (for taxes, insurance, etc.) and change my email address. My ridiculous company decided to change my user id too. First they gave me a new user id that was too long for some systems, so I lost access to some stuff. Then they changed it again to something that fit the parameters, but I lost access to the stuff they had changed originally.
          The best part was what they did to my health insurance. I had been Jane Marie Smith, and I changed my name to Jane Smith Jones. They reported to the insurance company that my new name was Jane S. Smith Jones, which caused me to look ineligible in the system when I went to the doctor. It was such a pain to fix it all the right way.

    4. BananaPants*

      I’ve seen companies have character restrictions, especially if they don’t use aliases on their email server or someone has been around forever and was assigned their email address back in the early 90s or something.

      At my first grad school (10 years ago) all email addresses used the first 7 characters of one’s last name and the first initial. I have an 8-letter last name but my first initial happens to be the last letter of my last name – so my email address ended up just being my last name. Other students with long last names were mildly jealous.

      1. OP#5*

        It’s funny you mention grad school, because I forgot to mention that my new job is at a university. I was able to find a staff directory for another department, and it appears that other employees’ names have been cut off, too. I’m surprised that they have still have strict character limits in this day and age, but at least I know that it’s the norm and shouldn’t be confusing to my co-workers after all.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Some types of software have 8-character user id’s – more and more that limitation is going away, but it does still exist some places – and if the email and the login to the systems is the same, they’d stick to using it. My work has email aliases so my email isn’t the same, but my login to the computers is first initial and all but one letter of my last name, too. Fun times, or something.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I’ll bet that there WAS such a character restriction decades ago, when the university first got email, and now since they have policies in place for conflicts (there’s already a lincola, so you get lincoab), they see no reason to redo everything to allow for longer usernames/emails.

        2. Ad Astra*

          Hopefully, your email system has a feature where you can just type in “John Smith” and it will pull up the appropriate person, without having to check that they got your email address exactly right. People also will have the option to copy and paste when they see your email address in any kind of digital context.

          If your email address appears anywhere on paper (I’m thinking of a syllabus, though you didn’t say whether this is a teaching position), you might want to mention that your name is cut off. It’s an easy thing to miss.

        3. fposte*

          Yeah, I’m at a big university and nobody gets their real or full name in their email unless they’re lifers or are named something short but unique. If your last name is Xyzz, you’re golden. I’ve been here twenty years and I’ve had two different emails, each of which truncated my name a different confusing way.

        4. hayling*

          Oh yeah universities do that all the time. I have an 8 letter last name so my email address had the last letter cut off. Annoying.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            I once worked at a college where the email convention was, which meant that this was TOO LONG to be used as the login ID for our new job and internship consortium. Since there was a hard character limit on that login id, we had to explain to our students why the login instructions for them were different than the boilerplate text (which apparently also couldn’t be changed) that applied to every other college in that group. You can imagine how many calls/emails we received saying “I’m following the directions, but this doesn’t work…!”

            1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

              The school I’m attending now is firstname.middlename.lastname.@school- all fully typed out! I’m lucky my real life name isn’t as long as my user name but it’s still a mouthful (or keyboard full)

              1. peanut butter kisses*

                JMO – that might be too much information to have to hand over to perfect strangers. There isn’t much more that you would need after that to steal your identity.

        5. TCO*

          I work at a university and we have an 8-character restriction–my ID cuts off the last letter of my last name. My former university did that, too. People with shorter names actually have the “empty” spaces filled in with Xs. Both universities, though, offered an alias option–faculty/staff can create and use their own e-mail address of choice in addition to their official one. You could look into that.

        6. Ama*

          Nthing that this is common at universities. You might ask if your IT department has the ability to set up aliases, so you can receive email sent to either “jsmith” or “jsmit” — that’s what a number of my former colleagues did because our default emails were so restrictive and confusing (initials plus a random number — which could be anywhere from 1 to 4 digits).

        1. Nanc*

          I worked with a lovely woman who was Dean of Computer Sciences. The naming format gave her an email of One of her first acts was to make the naming format more flexible and allow folks to choose which format they wanted.

      2. Nancie*

        Wow, are you me? Except that’s the situation with my current company’s email format, and my name.

    5. Apollo Warbucks*

      A typo is my first bet too.

      I’d just send a note back saying can my email address be changed from X to Y

      1. Sadsack*

        Ours are also like that and it really isn’t a problem. OP just might explain when giving out her email in person that it is whatever with a letter dropped off. In writing. It won’t matter.

    6. Sadsack*

      My company has name restrictions. It shouldn’t be a big deal, especially if OP gives out her address and says, my email is The last letter of my name is dropped.”

    7. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      While my employer does not have a character restriction, I’ve seen this format used when multiple employees have the same initials- first employee will get to be jsmith, 2nd jsmit, and so on down the line (eventually they may use a full first name or something). It does make things more confusing, fortunately we have a system where we can type in a persons full name and get their email but I don’t know how frequently jsmith has to forward messages to jsmit

    8. JMegan*

      My current company has a character restriction – first initial plus the first six letters of your last name. I don’t know why they do it that way, but there it is.

      I would definitely ask, regardless. Either it’s a mistake that is easily cleared up, or it’s a policy that you’re stuck with. If it is a policy, you’re certainly not going to be the first to ask about it – they probably get that question every time they hire someone with a long last name! So I can’t imagine anyone will see you as either petty or whiny just by asking the question.

    9. Menacia*

      In my company, the user’s userid for logging into the various systems is only 8 characters, so the user’s last name is truncated if it goes over that limit. For email addresses, we always use the user’s first initial and entire last name, regardless of how long it is. The only time we change this is if we have two people with the same first initial/last name combination, in that case we add the user’s middle initial, but always use the entire last name. IMHO it’s very confusing, and looks unprofessional, not use the entire last name in an email address. I don’t know of any mail servers that restrict the length of a user’s email address, even if they did, an alias with the full email address can usually be used.

    10. SaraV*

      At big regional health care company, we were restricted to 8 characters on our email, so it was your first initial and as much of your last that fit after that. For me, that took off the last letter of my last name. Our email system did have the feature where as you typed in the recipient’s name, their email address automatically populated the “To:” field.

      But beware…make sure you have the correct person when emailing someone with the last name of Smith, Jones, Brown, etc. ;)

    11. Jen RO*

      My company limits usernames to 8 characters, in the form of [firstname][lastname], truncating either or both of them if they don’t fit. Jane Smith would be jansmith, John Williams would be jwilliam. They also have a very strict policy of using your legal name – if your ID says Jennifer Barnes, you can’t be Jen Barnes in Outlook.

      1. Jen RO*

        And yet, when I came back to the company (after having quit and worked someplace else for a while), they somehow managed to create my account and email address using my middle name, which I never use, and which would have been very confusing for the dozens of people I already knew from my first stint in the company. It took me a month to get it sorted, and it was only because I was friends with people in IT…

  3. Stephanie*

    #3: Oooh, this is bad. My mom’s company screwed up payroll once. In addition to the checks, the company had to reimburse them for any bounced check fees, overdrafts, etc.

    1. Jessa*

      This, particularly if you have direct deposit and then automatic payments. If you know when you get paid, you can set up all kinds of bill paying things. I know when we went from weekly pay to biweekly, I called up a couple of companies and adjusted payment dates (car ins for one) so that it would always be on time with the automatic withdrawal no matter which weeks of the month I got paid. When my sister went to a job that paid 15th and 30th, she set up her automatic payments on her cheque of the 15th. So around the 18th all her stuff goes out. This would completely mess people up, and some companies are rotten about you bouncing things, it’s really, really hard to get them to then not require “pay your insurance in full, you can no longer pay monthly,” even when it’s not your fault. Payroll is pretty much sacred in having to go out on time.

      1. RedSonja*

        At one veterinary job I worked, payroll didn’t go out on time for some reason. All the hourly staff flipped out because we were going to be bouncing payments left and right. The hospital manager went around telling everyone “yeah, we screwed up, but you guys should know better than to spend money before it’s in your account.”

        I… didn’t work there much longer after that.

    2. Sadsack*

      How can a bookkeeper miss payroll and not see it as a problem and not tell someone? She had to be asked about it. How does she not understand the importance of this?

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Yeah, this is the main problem to me. It is unacceptable to just “not do payroll” without letting anyone know first.

      2. NickelandDime*

        And in messing up everyone’s payroll, she also messed up her own. Doesn’t she care about getting paid?

        I wonder about her job performance in general – she didn’t seem mortified by this huge error.

      3. the gold digger*

        If she’s still not meeting deadlines after you have this conversation, then yes, I’d consider replacing her — you can’t have a bookkeeper who’s cavalier about this kind of thing. But first make sure you’ve made your expectations clear.

        You should not have to tell a bookkeeper that meeting payroll is a priority, just as I should not have had to tell the guy who was de-rusting and painting the lintels that he should not get paint on the bricks. (Which he did. So I had to go outside and tell this grown man, who should have known YOU DO NOT GET PAINT ON THE BRICKS that 1. he should not get paint on the bricks, 2. No! Do not try to clean this yourself, and 3. Your services are no longer required here is your money thank you go away.)

        I vote for firing her now.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I agree that this should be a fireable offense. If she were mortified and apologetic, that’s one conversation–but this, “Meh, I didn’t get to it” attitude is alarming.

        2. LookyLou*

          While her attitude sucks and she should know better (as a bookkeeper myself I would hide under a rock if I missed a payroll deadline – which can actually be corrected up to the day of payday!) I think the cause of this distraction is important.

          If she just had the sniffles and was too busy drinking herbal tea then I’d show her the door, but if perhaps she was just diagnosed with a serious medical condition or had a family emergency that put her mind elsewhere – a stern warning would come before throwing her to the curb.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Yeah, I think I’d take a harder line than Alison. This is a major problem with significant consequences across the organization, and she did it deliberately and cavalierly.

      5. Colette*

        I think to people who deal with this stuff every day, it’s just a work task. They lose the connection to “this affects people’s lives”. In January, my employer announced they were moving from paying people twice a month to paying them every two weeks, and the company was in an uproar. They recanted the next day – they legitimately hadn’t considered that people would be making less per month (except the three paycheck months) or that people had set up their financial obligations (included those mandated by the court) based on being paid twice a month.

        1. Former Museum Professional*

          I switched jobs recently and went from twice a month to every other week. I abhor this every other week stuff. I used to pay bills very specifically on the 1st and 15th of the month and now everything is goofy and I have to readjust. IMO the magical three paycheck month is not anything special and I’d rather go back to twice monthly.

          1. MashaKasha*

            I’ve had both. When cash is tight, 2/month is definitely better. When things are better financially, I put the extra paycheck straight into savings and kind of like it that it helps me stay better organized (looking really hard for the silver lining here.) When my oldest was in college and I was on the every other week schedule, the two extra paychecks went toward his college bills. But generally yeah, it’s silly. And, to your point, the pay dates are all over the place which makes it difficult to keep them aligned with the dates when my bills are due (which are most definitely NOT all over the place).

          2. Ad Astra*

            Every job I’ve ever had has paid every other week and it’s really not my favorite. My bills are due at the same time each month; it would be helpful if my paycheck was due at the same time each month too.

            But my husband is paid monthly, so at least now we have a big lump sum at one part of the month and two smaller sums at other points in the month. The trick is making sure the money is in the correct account before the automatic bills are withdrawn.

        2. Windchime*

          How would people be making less per month if they changed the paycheck schedule? If a person makes 24k a year, that’s still 24k regardless of whether it’s split across 24 versus 26 checks.

          1. Judy*

            Because someone making 24k paid twice a month would gross 2k each month. Someone paid every other week making 24k would gross 1846 each month, except for the 2 months they would gross 2769.

          2. Mpls*

            Or in other words, 24K divided by 24 paychecks (2/month) vs 24K divided by 26 paychecks (every 2 weeks). With every other week, you are still usually getting 2 paychecks a month (except for the 2 months when you get 3), so the amount in the typical month (10 of the 12 during the year) is less.

      6. Green*

        This is a circumstance where I disagree with AAM. There is no way a bookkeeper should miss payroll without telling someone unless she’s unconscious in the ER.

      7. Stranger than fiction*

        Right?! This caused me great pause. Is she also this cavalier about depositing checks and paying the bills? I’d be keeping a very close watch on her.

      8. Artemesia*

        I think that missing payroll and not alerting the boss of the problem is a first time firing offense. You have an accountant who is sloppy about their most important function. If she had alerted you before or as it happened it would have been the signal to have a back up plan; but after it happened? The least would be an immediate PIP with any future slip like that meaning immediate dismissal. If she is a long time very valued employee who is generally reliable perhaps this. But if you have any doubts about her or she is a short termer then I would fire immediately. This is the unforgivable sin for a person charged with payroll.

      9. TootsNYC*

        In fact, this is such a Bookkeeping 101 that I’d be seriously looking at all the accounts. Missing payroll is a major alarm bell for bigger problems.

        Bookkeepers, more than anyone else, ought to understand how huge this is.

        1. The Strand*

          Toots, I agree with you. That was my first thought – haven’t we heard of cases, here on AAM, where a payroll problem was followed by someone being caught stealing?

    3. Jennifer M.*

      My current and last company didn’t do payroll directly; they both use ADP. And there have been one or two occasions where ADP has messed up. We were immediately informed that this was happening and that if we would be able to submit for reimbursement of overdrafts and other fees resulting from the problem.

      1. Payroll Lady*

        From the payroll person.. no matter how much I dislike ADP’s service, MOST of the “ADP messed up” is actually an error on the payroll office’s part. Believe me, I’ve used it when needed :)

        However, I have NEVER, NEVER missed a payroll at any company I have worked for (and I have worked for a few larger companies). I currently work for a family owned business with approximately 100 employees, and even when my mother passed away, I made sure my boss was aware of what was going on and the person who could cover my job was up to speed. When you do payroll anywhere, you always need a back-up plan.. things happen, but unless I need to be brought to the ER, I will get payroll done when I am sick.

        1. Desdemona*

          Right? At the job I hated most in the world, I had bronchitis so bad I missed two weeks of work, at the same time the person who could have covered payroll for me was out on vacation. I drove 45 minutes to get there, took five hours to do a task that normally took 90 minutes, drove 45 minutes home, but everyone got paid on schedule. This was an office where you’d normally get screamed at for coming in with a little cold, but no one said a word, because everyone appreciates the importance of getting paid! I have no doubt they coated my office (and their own) with lysol the minute I left. I can’t imagine keeping a bookkeeper with so little awareness that she’d blow off payroll because she “isn’t feeling well.”

    4. 2 Cents*

      You know that meme “You had ONE job!” For a bookkeeper, submitting payroll on time would be it!

      1. Anon Just For This*


        My husband and I work at the same place (him FT, me PT) I was getting a physical check at the time while his was direct deposited. I went to the bank to deposit mine, and the balance was missing a number. My husband went to his boss, who called the people who do payroll, and they said (rather snottily, I heard) that payroll was processed correctly, we should contact our bank. What’s the bank going to say? “Yep, no deposit.”

        Here’s the kicker…two other employees (different banks) had noticed the issue BEFORE I had, and hadn’t said anything! They didn’t pipe up until they overheard my husband. We weren’t financially hurt, but I know the one co-worker had her insurance withdrawn on her payday, and it caused an overdraw.

        Needless to say, the payroll company was called again, owed up to the mistake, money was there the next day, and they paid the one co-worker’s fees for overdraft, etc. (Plus if there were anyone else’s)

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      That’s another great thing I’d bring up in the conversation with the bookkeeper in addition to what Alison suggested.

    6. Winston*

      In Canada, board members can be held personally liable for unpaid wages, so making payroll is the highest priority. Not that this would actually come into play in this situation (where lack of funds was not the problem), but hearing that payroll was missed without explanation is giving the board a reason to panic even without the serious concerns they’d otherwise have, and that’s not going to be fun for anybody involved.

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      My first month of doing payroll, I missed a payroll….I misread/misinterpreted the email, something like that, and forgot to issue a check. In my defense though, most of my clients at the time were self employed and did not have multiple employees to pay, if they really needed the money they could withdraw it from their account. I did go to my boss first and then she told me to tell my was just this one mistake that made me super vigilant about payroll, and haven’t had any issue with it since.

      I can’t imagine thinking it’s OK to put off payroll in this situation though. smh

    8. Angela*

      Where I work (I do payroll) much less than this would be fireable. Without going into detail, my position was open due to a rather large miss on the previous person and it was nowhere close to missing an entire payroll. The attitude concerns me greatly. If she’s lost sight of the importance of payroll then she shouldn’t be doing it. Period.

  4. Eleanor*

    I’ve had address typos many times while contracting in the country I reside in. I have a last name which has Common Spelling A in my home country with a minority having Uncommon Spelling B. In the country I reside in now, A and B are reversed.

    I once had a manager get pretty snotty when I said “I need to get IT to fix my e-mail address”. She said “Well, you can have Spelling A in your signature.” I replied that that wasn’t an option and I knew it would be an easy fix. It was fixed within a couple of hours.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      I went through a lot of IT hoops to get my username changed when I converted from temp to permanent hire. As a temp, I (along with a handful of other temps brought on at the same time) was given an email address that was Everyone else who worked there was, and it was a very informal place; I worked there for several years and didn’t even know some people’s last names until I looked them up. So lastname@ caused difficulties. As you say, the fix is simple — they created an alias of firstname@ and then routed any emails sent there to lastname@, which worked to a point. There were other reasons to get my actual login information changed, which was a much higher-stakes deal, but I played squeaky wheel on my own behalf as well as my cohort who were experiencing the same difficulties, and EVENTUALLY got our lastname accounts migrated to new firstname ones.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I moved from one branch of a company to another, IT couldn’t seem to figure out how to do it, so they gave me a new username– with my name misspelled! I finally got the one guy I trusted to understand that I wasn’t going to remember to misspell my own last name every time I logged on. He fixed it immediately.

      1. sophiabrooks*

        When I moved from one part of my university to another, they also had trouble. So they gave me a middle initial, which was not mine! I have a really common middle name (Marie), but the person doing it gave me “L”, which I don’t think is that common.

        1. Kylynara*

          I do believe Lyn(n) is a pretty common middle name although perhaps that’s just my part of the US. That said it was a very silly thing for them to do regardless.

        2. One of the Sarahs*

          Here in the UK, I think it was the law that every 3rd girl had Louise as her surname in the 70s – in the same way parents could only choose between Sarah and Katherine (& spellings) if their daughters were born on even-numbered days of the month. If the birthdate had a 5 in it, it had to be Nicola.

      2. INFJ*

        Ugh. I have to misspell my last name every time I log in because the username is first initial + X amount of letters in last name, and ONE letter was taken out of the MIDDLE of my last name. So confusing!

  5. Matt*

    Regarding the email address, in German there even is a well known joke about it, maybe something similar exists in English … it’s about email addresses which always consist of two letters of the first name and three letters of the surname, and there’s an “Arnold Schmidt” complaining to IT that his email address is “” (“Arsch” means “ass” in German) and the IT guy tells him that “he’s terribly sorry that it can’t be changed and he really means it” because his name is “Volkan Tzenkekovsky” or something like that and the email address resulting from Volkan’s name is something really obscene in German :-)

    1. LadyHope*

      I don’t remember the specific name combinations, but yes, there’s a similar joke with English names.

        1. K*

          I read that one!

          On a more lighthearted note, I once corresponded with someone named B. A. King whose e-mail was thus baking[at]. As someone who bakes, I’m jealous.

          1. alter_ego*

            My stepdad’s first two initials are D. R. , and in his company’s email format, it means his address is drlastname@companyname. He gets called Doctor all. the. time.

              1. Evan Þ*

                Frankly, I wonder what would happen if Mr. John Christopher applied to get his email addres changed as a religious accommodation.

          2. Margaret*

            There was an employee in the registrar’s office at my college, who’s first initial was S and last name was Tuck. The email convention (at that point – I think they’ve modified it since as the college has grown) was first initial last name – I got emails from her frequently for my student job in the financial aid office, and it always amused me.

    2. Myrin*

      OMG, I only knew the “Arsch”-Part of this – the Volkan one takes it to a whole ‘nother level!

    3. kristinyc*

      One of my coworkers at a previous job who did first initial, last name, then a number if there were multiples, ended up with He was in sales and had to email external people all the time. I would have felt bad for him, but he was kind of a jerk.

    4. Vex*

      I actually did work with someone whose last name was Lavery and whose first name started with S. So yeah… her e-mail was “slavery” at company dot com. I could never keep a straight face when I had to e-mail her.

        1. Anony-turtle in the half shell!*

          This happened at a school I worked at! I always hoped that kid didn’t use his school email for much outside of school, especially college apps. :( The kicker? No one else figured it out and almost all of them were confused for a sadly long time when I mentioned how I felt sorry for the kid. Luckily, they changed the naming convention shortly after that kid graduated, so no one else has to deal with that happening.

      1. Windchime*

        I think they will actually slightly change the email format at my workplace if the normal format results in an unfortunate word. With Exchange, at least, it seems like it’s really easy to set up alias’ in the email system. I had several at my old job, including my first name of and

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          If I were her I’d embrace it. “Yeah, I slaughter. What are you gonna do about it?”

        2. Meg Murry*

          I read that as “is laughter” which is silly but not as bad. I guess if you know her last name though, going to “I Slaughter” is a more likely reading.

    5. Cleopatra Jones*

      Where I work, our email addresses are first name, last name, and the last 2 digits of your employee ID. When my new boss started, his email was
      It was actually quite amusing to watch someone have to explain to IT, why it needed to be changed.

      1. Ama*

        It might be true — I email a lot of different universities in the course of my work, and I’ve definitely seen that format for default addresses.

    6. Ann O'Nemity*

      One of my previous co-worker’s last name was Ryan, first initial A. With the company’s email naming convention, that works out to aryan@companyname. No one thought this was a good idea, and it was easy to fix it by squeezing in the middle initial.

    7. Eric*

      My company actually changed everyone’s logins when a new hire’s login was going to be “poop”. Now we get a letter and a sequential number for our logins (which were never tied to e-mail addresses)

    8. Annie*

      At my college, you got to pick your alias, and it was required to be 8 characters or fewer. I met someone whose alias was ahole @ It was his first initial, beginning of last name, but he had to know what he was doing when he picked it.

  6. "Computer Science"*

    #4, the letter comes off as a hard sell after the screening has taken place. I’m having trouble with some perspective choices you’ve outlined in the letter- their decision is disappointing for you, but if they’ve gathered a pool of qualified individuals, it’s not unfortunate for them.

    Your heart is in the right place, though. Take this energy and make sure your cover letter and resume are full of quantifiable things showing the results of your abilities. Lots of people can be charismatic, but not many of those people have follow-through, y’know?

    1. UKAnon*

      The letter as is would definitely be a turn-off, but in fairness the first paragraph I think is fine and a pretty usual thing to send. Indeed, if you’re applying to positions where it’s going to be fewer than say 75 applications, that may even help somebody to remember you next time. It should always just be “thank you”, though, never “thank you and here’s why I’m fantastic and wonderful all over again because you wanted me really didn’t you”.

      1. Kat A.*

        I agree. The brief first paragraph is fine. Leave out the rest. And, if you do send the whole thing, leave out charisma. Unless you’re applying for an acting job, charisma is probably not going to be a key characteristic an employer is looking for.

    2. BananaPants*

      Agreed. Receiving such a flowery description of a candidate who I’ve already rejected without interviewing comes across as being a bit tone-deaf or trying way too hard/getting too personally invested in working for me. OP 4, you may think you’re awesome and perfect for the job, but from their perspective you aren’t or they would have given your application further consideration. This reply that you’re proposing is an obvious hard sell that’s highly unlikely to actually pay off for you and could actually turn off a hiring manager.

      A simple, “Thanks for the opportunity” sort of email – if anything – would be more appropriate.

      1. Daisy*

        But it’s weird to thank them ‘for the opportunity’ when they haven’t even interviewed you. What opportunity?

        1. BRR*

          This is why I would skip it entirely. What does one hope to get from this? On second thought they’ll interview you because you stuck out by sending a nice note? I would find it strange as a hiring manager to receive a thank you note from somebody who only applied and I would find it a turn off to have someone turn it into a hard sell.

          Now if you want to thank them for actually sending a rejection (j/k).

        2. BananaPants*

          True, I hadn’t thought of that. I wouldn’t email at all for a rejection email if I hadn’t been interviewed – I don’t see a point to it. I’m surprised that OP got notified at all; so many companies don’t even reject interviewed candidates in writing these days that I’m surprised they bother contacting un-interviewed ones. Maybe it’s an auto-email from Taleo or something, in which case it may not be set up to accept replies.

        3. Dang*

          That’s what I got hung up on, too. The opportunity to sit through a tedious Taleo application?

        4. steve g*

          I concur. This is just shifting the power dynamic more into the employers hands. What if you were really really suited for the job? In some cases I felt like saying “thanks for rejecting me based on my reasonable salary expectations or the fact that I was terminated by a company that terminated employees on a weekly basis for no reason, or whatever the superficial reason was! thanks for the opportunity to spend a full hour doing your application that doesn’t autopopulate and asks way too many questions for this round!”

          And a few times after I saw who got the job on linkedin I wanted to write “thanks for saying 5+ yrs experience with ten things and making me think the job was a good fit, then hiring someone two Years out of college!”

          Not everything is an “opportunity.”

    3. LBK*

      Agreed – it comes off way too much like a desperate last attempt to get an interview. It even feels a little condescending to me; “Well I thought I was a good match, but I guess you people just aren’t smart enough to see how amazing I am.”

      1. Career Counselorette*

        I agree- plus, reading the e-mail I was imagining it said out loud, and I’m reminded of how there is a very fine line between unflinching positivity and palpable aggression. I worked with someone sort of like this once- she was constantly grinning from ear to ear and saying how great she hoped you were today, but I always felt like whenever I tried to say anything serious to her, it was undercut by this radiating I just need to tell you how absolutely great this whole situation is vibe. One time I actually asked her why she was smiling maniacally while I was telling her how to fill out some form, and she was like, “I’m a very positive person who’s energized by great constructive criticism, and I just think your feedback is great.” What?

        It’s even more inappropriate when you don’t even have rapport with the person you’re writing to.

        1. Just another techie*

          That reminds me of Kevin the Dessert Bluffs radio host from Welcome to Night Vale. Creepy.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          Um that’s creepy and would make me want to shake her ’til the smile came off her face. (sorry)

        3. Stephanie*

          That sounds like something Jake Gylenhaal’s character (Lou Bloom) in Nightcrawler would say. Ugh.

        4. Anony-turtle in the half shell!*

          I once had a teacher like this. It was creepy to watch her smile/grin insanely why she screamed at a student in the locker room. She ended by slamming down her clipboard on a bench, breaking it in two, all while grinning away. It freaked me out. (She was also one of those “super duper positive people!” too.)

      2. Sunflower*

        Totally agree. I 100% know that’s not the way most candidates are trying to come off when they write this but that’s how it sounds. Cover letters, interviews- the employers are asking you to toot your own horn and sing your praises about why you’d be great for the position. In letters where people say ‘even though I think I’d be great’ you’re basically telling someone they don’t know how to do their job. It’s like saying to them ‘Even though you work at this company, and you’re the hiring manager and maybe the supervisor of the position, I still know better than you’. It would just put a really bad taste in my mouth as a hiring manager

        However I think it’s okay to admit you’re disappointed you didn’t get the job. Stick with something like ‘I’m disappointed as I was very interested in the position but I understand and please keep my information on file should a position I would be a good fit for open up’

    4. fposte*

      I agree that it’s a bit of a hard sell, and I wouldn’t send it. That being said, from a hiring manager side I don’t think sending it is going to make much negative difference, either; either the OP is flowery in her cover letter as well and this would confirm it, or she’s not and I would forget the email immediately.

      1. JMegan*

        I agree. I don’t think it’s going to hurt anything, since you’ve already been rejected, and it’s unlikely to rise to the level of blacklisting you from future candidacies. But at the same time, it’s also not likely to do you any good – they’re not going to suddenly turn around and decide to interview you after all based on this letter.

        At most, I would do a quick “Thanks for letting me know” email. Not “thanks for the opportunity,” because they didn’t extend any particular opportunity to you, besides posting the job ad.

      2. MsM*

        I don’t know that I would. If the cover letter was similar, then yes, I’d just take it as further confirmation this wasn’t a good fit. But if the person had made no impression at all, this might move them to the “I have concerns” file even if they later applied for another position with a better letter and resume.

    5. Artemesia*

      I agree. The thanks is innocuous but unnecessary without there having been an interview. But the vague smarmy paragraph about one’s wonderfulness comes across as contentious and inappropriate. That would not be appropriate or make a good impression if there HAD been an interview. And never ever ever discuss your charisma. If I have interviewed and rejected someone, a thanks that includes continued interest is fine, even impressive. I have had great follow up letters from rejected finalists that were appreciative of the care taken in the interview process that left a very positive impression. But this salesy approach is exactly the sort of thing that makes the hiring manager feel like they made the right choice and for someone not even interviewed would seem just odd.

  7. anon17*

    I’m fairly naive about this: what is the alternative option for payroll? I’ve only worked at places that had a whole payroll department (and I assume mostly computerized processes) — being whole departments, any manual in-person tasks would easily be picked up by someone else, I assume, if the usual person was off sick. If it’s just one person, what *are* they supposed to do?

    More broadly, as a manager/supervisor, what kind of preparation do you go through before you have this kind of conversation? Do you determine some solutions yourself first, then tell the bookkeeper “We need to do X” or “We can do X or Y, which is preferable to you?” Or do you go in, hear what the bookkeeper has to say, then consider the options after the fact and get back to her with a final decision?

    I struggle with this with some of my supervisees. Even when I think I’ve prepared, sometimes I get responses I don’t expect and don’t quite know how to respond to (still new at this). Clearly I can do a better job preparing, but I don’t know exactly what that would look like, and if others are willing to indulge, this could be a helpful case study (and I do plan on asking my boss for input on this, too).

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Basically you need to have someone else that knows how to cut the checks or generate the file and send it to the bank for payment.

      As for solutions from supervisors / managers a lot of it will depend on how close they are to the work they manage and how much knowledge of the day to day work they have, my direct boss would have loads of solutions and ideas to bring to a conversation about most parts of my job, but when it comes to my technical speciality he just wants to see an end result and would leave me to it.

      Mostly the manager should have an idea of how to achieve what they want but will be open to hearing from the employees they manage in case there is something they are missing, it definitely should be a two way conversation with the boss having the final say,

      It’s an interesting question that might make for a good conversation in the open thread later today, so we don’t get to far off track from the OPs question.

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      You need to have a back-up person, even if it’s a freelance bookkeeper you only call in once every two years. My husband’s aunt does the payroll for his dad’s company. If she ever took ill and couldn’t do it, I’d have to step in and do the bookkeeping and payroll activities (I’m the only other person in the family who knows how to use QuickBooks, and I’ve done payroll before in a professional capacity).

      1. NJ anon*

        This. In my situation, I was the manager who backed up the bookkeeper who did payroll. Any bookkeeper worth their salt should know you can’t miss payroll!

        1. Sammie*

          I’ve gotta say that I find the fact that someone “just doesn’t get payroll done” astonishing.

          1. LBK*

            Seriously. I would be having a really, really severe talk with her about how unacceptable it is to not pay people on time – both because it could have huge legal/financial implications for the company if someone files with the DOL and because it’s just a crappy thing to do to your employees who rely on that money to pay for things like rent, utilities, food, etc.

            I didn’t get my paycheck on time once due to a system error and I was in a panic figuring out how I was going to arrange to pay my bills if I couldn’t get it in a timely manner (fortunately our payroll department is awesome and they cut me a new check in about 5 minutes).

            1. Kyrielle*

              Once, ONCE payroll didn’t happen on time at my old company. I’m not clear how it came about, but they were clearly on top of it – they contacted us the day *before* it was supposed to go through, they said they were scrambling and they would get it out ASAP but it wasn’t going to make the usual auto-deposit, and they told us how to expense any related charges if we couldn’t shift our auto-pays. They were *really* apologetic, too.

              Everyone was pretty annoyed, but slightly mollified by the fact that they clearly understood it was a Big Deal, and were going to take care of the fallout. But to find out when it just didn’t show up?? Gah.

              1. Ama*

                I once interviewed for a communications/admin position with a grant funded local government program involving teachers (not TFA or anything you’ve heard of), and one of the test writing samples they wanted was an email explaining that there had been a problem issuing the stipend checks and how it could be handled. I totally understand that they were testing my ability to clearly and politely explain a really big problem, but I couldn’t shake the sense that they chose that particular issue for a reason.

            2. Sadsack*

              I think what’s even worse in this case is that it sounds like the bookkeeper may not necessarily have been out sick, but was in the office not feeling well and just didn’t do it.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Oh, interesting. Either way I think it’s a performance problem that need to be addressed — but if it’s that she was there but just didn’t bother to do it, you’re in a much more serious “is this person even the right fit for the role?” situation. At that point, I’d look at what I know about the rest of her work — it’s hard for me to imagine a top performer doing that, so I’m guessing there are other problems, possibly unaddressed in a serious way up until this point, and this is a flag to address the whole situation in a conclusive way.

          2. AnonAnalyst*

            Yes! Honestly, if I were OP #3 I think I would have been speechless when she said she didn’t get to it because she didn’t feel well(!)

            1. Artemesia*

              This exactly. If she were in fact hospitalized or home throwing up then plan B should have come into play and the boss should have been alerted. Not feeling well so didn’t get around to it? Why wasn’t she fired on the spot?

          3. Chinook*

            I am still floored at the multinational company who delayed payroll for their retail workers by 1 day because they had a major snowstorm and no backup system to get payroll out in time (something that should be standard, especially since they wouldn’t let the same retail employees go home early when highways were closed due to emergency conditions). We all came into work that morning wondering if we had been fired (including store managers) until we talked, realized it was a system wide issued and then refused to open until we had pay cheques in hand.

            Around here, short of there being no power to the town where the company bank is located (and even then the bank will work with you via their head office. I am almost positive payroll was still met for companies based in Slave Lake when that town burned to the ground), there is no excuse for payroll not being met (especially since you can set it up to direct deposit funds in advance).

          4. Nervous Accountant*

            Yes!!! I once worked as a pt/temp for an office company as an admin assistant…I didn’t make a lot, $10/hour, less than 20 hours a month…I provided my hours on time every pay period, but one of my paychecks was 2 cycles late (so…6 weeks?) My boss kept giving some lame excuse that the payroll company refused to do it until next cycle etc etc.

            I do payroll now (as a third party processor) and if my client contacts me saying “I need a check in the amount of $$ for __” I process it right away, they don’t have to wait weeks for it. I find it hard to believe that a huge payroll company like ADP can’t process a check..

        2. Anon for this*

          Definitely. One time I processed payroll and that same afternoon our bank account was hacked. Oh, and it was the last payroll of the fiscal year. The first thing I did was make sure the bank account was restricted so no fraudulent activity would go through. The second thing I did was figure out how to make sure everyone’s payroll was still going to hit their accounts. I was brainstorming all sorts of back up plans like going to the bank and withdrawing the money from the savings account, seeing if we could liquidate some of our investments, etc. but I was going to make sure the staff was paid on time.

      2. JenGray*

        This is true and as I read your comment I realized that the LW didn’t say whether or not there was a back up or not- just that the bookkeeper didn’t do payroll. Based on what was in the letter it makes me think that 1) there is no backup and 2) no one is keeping a close eye on the bookkeeper. I am saying this as someone who has a Master’s degree in Accounting but you need to have checks & balances even in small companies. (Not that I know everything- its just that when you do as much eduction & training as I have it gets ingrained in your brain that certain things are done no matter what). Yes, the bookkeeper can prepare the payroll but there should be a manager or owner who should check it for accuracy and approve it. Payroll fraud is not as common as it used to be but could still happen. Also, the risk for fraud is significant if you just allow the bookkeeper to do his/her job unchecked. I know that this is a little bit off topic but it is possible that the payroll issue could just be a sign of a bigger issue.

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s a good point on the payroll fraud. The OP might want to consider what practices she has in place that would detect that, and if there aren’t any, or they don’t happen until the end of the year, time to add in a layer.

          Payroll is the big thing that somebody needs to be cross-trained on.

          1. Windchime*

            Actually, payroll fraud is the first thing I though of. Maybe the bookkeeper didn’t realize the impact of not getting payroll done because she is getting money in other ways.

            At any rate, the company needs to have a backup in the accounting/payroll department. I’d be surprised if there was only one person involved in doing payroll where I work (granted, we have a LOT of employees).

        2. Artemesia*

          Great point. I have two acquaintances whose small businesses were nearly destroyed by embezzlement by trusted friend/bookkeepers. In each case there was not the cross check built into any competent accounting system.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I can’t speak to what is the best solution for OP’s problem, but for your general question, I’d say it is indeed challenging to find that balance between going into the meeting prepared (which means anticipating some of the things your direct report might say) and making sure that you listen carefully to what is actually being said (not allowing your preparation to cause you to build the whole convo in your mind before it’s even happened).

      It also helps to figure out whether the situation is urgent enough that you need to make a decision during that meeting, or whether you can think it over for a day or two, or even an hour or two, afterward. Maybe in your discussion, one solution — yours or theirs — will jump out as being the best, in which case you can make the decision right there. But maybe one won’t, and in that case it’s perfectly fair to say “I think A and B are both good options, and let’s take a little more time to decide which is best,” or “I think we need to give this some more thought because we still haven’t figured this out.”

    4. A nony cat*

      A large number of companies/organizations that aren’t big enough to have an entire payroll department use a payroll service that does the hard work for you. Usually the company has to confirm the payroll information before each pay period (and give the hours of hourly staff, if applicable). I handled this for my very small non-profit in the past; it was quite simple at took about 5-10 minutes. Normally the payroll service would call me 3 days before payroll was due, however, I could call them ahead of time (e.g. if I knew I would be out of the office). And while we were technically supposed to give them 48 hours notice minimum, it was possible for them to do it with much less notice. So in my case, there would be no excuse for not getting payroll done. There was a second/back-up authorized user as well, but I can’t remember if it was the CEO or a board member.

      1. Lurker*

        Same here. I’m the only “payroll” person at our organization. If I know I’m going to be out of the office, I’ll call in the payroll early. Luckily for us, most of our employees are salaried/exempt so it’s fairly straightforward. I also gave my supervisor a sealed envelope with a page that has password for my computer, bank account information, and where to find all the most important ‘how-to’ documents in my files in case something unplanned happens to me (e.g. accident, death, etc.).

    5. Jennifer M.*

      My company has a payroll department of 2 people but their job is mainly on the initial set up of employees and input of information for location based differentials for our staff who get overseas incentives (we have about 300 in the US and another 1000 scattered across the globe). They then transmit everything to a payroll company who does the actual paying.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I try to get the employee to be the one to propose solutions. Especially if it’s someone w/ an expertise (like bookkeeping)–for one thing, they have knowledge I don’t. And also, it makes them feel more invested.

  8. A Dispatcher*

    #4 – If you want, I don’t think sending a much shorter version of that note would be a bad idea. Basically thanks for letting me know and I would love to have to chance to work with you in the future should any other opportunities come up that would be a good fit.

    Your note as is is not only way to generic/a hard sell posy rejection as others pointed out, but quite honestly was boring to read (probably due to the boilerplate feel it has). Sorry if this is harsh but it all has a very blah blah blah feeling to it, and aa a hiring manager it would actually probably turn me off more than no response at all.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      Post-rejection* and apologies for the multiple other typos as well

      Oh the perils of trying to reply on your phone…

    2. John*

      I would see it as aggressive…like they aren’t taking no, because they are clearly pushing us to rethink their candidacy.

      1. I'm an accountant, not a hiring manager, Jim*

        Agreed. Coming from the side of not being a hiring manager but running a small company, time is precious. This is demanding time that isn’t there to spare. The candidate goes from “maybe, but not now” to “nope”.

  9. Mrs. Badcrumble*

    OP5, I have that exact situation with my email address, and it’s no big deal where I work. It might because my company is massive, and everyone just looks addresses up in Outlook. I could see it potentially being an issue for outside contacts, but with mine it’s been just like any other email address. You’ll email them, and they’ll just reply to that original email and never even look at your address in the first place.

  10. NJ anon*

    On man, #1 happened to us. We went to the board and they did NOTHING. So people, including me, started leaving. Apparently, they still don’t care. This particular ed left his previous agency in bad shape financially so they had to merge with another agency. He didn’t get that gig. Should have been red flags for the board search committee. There was even an article in an online news site about it. The only thing we can guess is that either they don’t care or don’t want to admit they effed up.

    1. LBK*

      I think this case might be slightly different since so many people have already left (depending on the size of the organization, averaging 2 people quitting per month could be a huge amount of turnover). If the board is already starting to see the tangible effects of the ED’s actions on the organization they might take more notice than in your case where it sounds like nothing so visible had been happening yet.

    2. JenGray*

      I left a nonprofit job due to a bad ED and I had actually told some of the people about how bad he was before I left. I was very careful though because I didn’t want to burn any bridges and his boss was new so she had no idea how things has been before. Also, since I have left two other employees who worked there for 10 years each have left. The ED is still there and no one really seems to care that the things he was supposedly hired for over other candidates he doesn’t do nor was I convinced that he even knew how to to them. I was told by someone very wise that nonprofit organizations can be dysfunctional and so it is good to leave the environment from time to time. I don’t think it was the whole organization I think it was just this one person.

      1. Anony-moose*

        I left my last nonprofit due to the ED. I was the third person that quarter to leave. Since I left about 7 additional people (including senior staff!) have left. It’s just nuts.

        I’m sure the Board has done nothing. I don’t know what it would take to oust the guy.

        1. NJ Anon*

          I too left after 11 years. Another director recently left after 24 years plus other folks have left as well.

        2. Windchime*

          I’ve seen this happen at other workplaces, too (for-profits). I don’t get it; what is going on when people who are terrible at their jobs–so terrible that people leave in droves!–keep their own jobs?

          My previous workplace is like this. I’ve been gone for years now, but still have friends there. A new org chart comes out 2 or 3 times a year. Departments are disbanded and reformed, only to disband and reform again a couple of months later. Your supervisor today could be your peer tomorrow, and some random person from an unrelated department becomes your new supervisor. The head of Teapot Inventory is insisting on bringing a group he knows nothing about (White Chocolate Tempering) under his domain just because White Chocolate Tempering is the newest big thing.

          It’s bizarre. And the people at the top keep smiling and sending out surveys, trying to figure out why people are leaving by the dozens every month.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Well, if a bad manager is allowed to chase people away and nothing happens, then that means the manager’s manager is also a bad manager. And so on, all the way up.

            You’ve heard of seagull management? When something like this occurs, I say that ‘it’s seagulls all the way up.’

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Wow. I can’t speak for non-profits, but I hear so often of Corporations where things like this are happening. The President, CEO, or other Executives are just piss-poor at managing the company and all the employees are just scratching their heads saying Why? Why aren’t we going anywhere, why aren’t we making the necessary improvements to the product, why aren’t we this and that. It usually turns out, they’re only interested in selling the company, that is why.

        1. Dan*

          Yeah… I work for 7000 employee non profit, and you’d never realize it was a non profit. Heck, most people who are familiar with my company don’t realize we’re a non profit.

        2. MsM*

          I think donor reaction can make things different and trickier, though. If they really love the ED, or even if they don’t but there’s a possibility of drama making it look like the whole org’s in trouble, it can be harder to get the board to do anything until the org really is in trouble.

    3. OP #1*

      #1 here. Coincidentally, I just received the ED’s annual evaluation questionnaire in my inbox today. I’m definitely going to answer the questions, and also contact the board member who sent it, and offer to speak with her more candidly. That was great advice, to offer instead of heave it on her without asking whether it would be welcome.

      The thing is, I don’t want this ED to leave. I think he has the potential to be amazing, he’s just lost his way, and needs this board member in particular, whom he highly respects, to help him navigate his weaknesses.

  11. Grasshopper*

    #1. Your boss is an ass/your manager sucks and it isn’t going to change. Although people feel like a non-profit board should be involved and should care about a CEO/ED/President’s performance and behave like his/her boss, in my experience they don’t. I was in almost the exact same situation. I thought you might be writing about my org when I read your letter! I found NewJob and then went back and gave my exit interview notes about the lack-of-leadership to some board members of OldJob who I kept relationships with. The response was that they had already received complaints from other staff about the ED behavior and performance, but that he would continue in his job. That felt demoralizing, but I realize that they selected this person to run the organization and either actually believe he is good at the job or are unwilling to admit their mistakes. However, I’m still glad that I spoke up because in spite of bad management I believe that the organization does good work so I felt obligated to try to make it better. Good luck.

    1. BRR*

      I had a similar situation. The ED was terrible and had been there for 13 years. The org had run a deficit possibly the entire time he was there and he was still paid over $400K a year plus benefits. For the first 7 years he was there, he didn’t know he was supposed to fundraise. He thought the development department was supposed to handle that. There was astronomical turnover. Board didn’t care.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      That sucks, but I don’t think OP should just give up because someone else’s board didn’t care. At the job I had before this one, our ED got fired by the board after enough people complained to them about him. Granted, he was doing some really shady stuff…

      1. fposte*

        Yup. I’ve known situations where boards didn’t care, situations where directors got fired, and situations where directors ended up under serious scrutiny. It’s true that a board isn’t like a supervisor whose job is to manage the director, but you will definitely find boards that care when there’s quantifiable damage happening to the organization.

    3. Lia*

      In my experience, it depends on the relationship with the board. It might help, it might not, but at least saying something helps get it off your chest.

      I left one org in large part due to mismanagement by the ED’s lackey (the ED herself was kind of the Invisible Woman, so the lackey ran the day to day stuff — or rather, DIDN’T run it, and the place was going downhill fast due to this). Made my complaints up the ladder, but it took a couple more key departures and missing some major goals to get them to remove the ED and lackey. Unfortunately, lackey landed at another org and is in the process of destroying it and complaints there are so far fruitless from what I heard.

    4. John*

      I chair a nonprofit board and I do care. (What an overgeneralization.) Which is why I like AAM’s suggested approach. If you don’t come off as though you have an ax to grind, just that you are willing to be a resource, you are much more credible than those who resign and send the entire board a screed attacking management. Just, hey, I’m out here, and I can share my perspectives when and if you want them.

      But you have to take care to choose a board member you trust to minimize the likelihood that they are just going to tell the ED that you trashing him.

      The conversation with the board member needs to be fact-based. You need to come across as dispassionate, instead of bitter.

      Now, I’m not saying you should expect the board to immediately sit the ED down and fire him. But you could plant some seeds and, as things progress, the board’s eyes may be more open.

      1. Sunday*

        I collected documentation, then resigned with two weeks notice to see them through the end of the fiscal year. Then I called the board chair, and asked to meet with him privately. We met, then he asked the previous chair to meet with the two of us. They were horrified. The board chair sat down with the ED and the documentation – and informed the ED that there would be no retaliation against me. They gave the ED a second chance. I also called the auditors and told them what to look for (and that they’d missed it the previous year), and gave them my personal contact info. Sadly, ED blew that second chance wide open, and arrived one day only to be summarily fired.

        The reason I’m posting this here is that after the ED was fired, the board chair announced he could no longer be a reference for me. That was very disappointing, and I’ve since learned is not uncommon. If you are ever in such a position, please consider the whistle blower who has tried to do you and the organization a significant service.

    5. NJ Anon*

      Did you work with me? I sent my exit interview to the board. It made me feel better but they did and continue to do nothing as far as I know.

    6. OP #1*

      UPDATE!! A happy one, I’m so glad to report. I called the board member I trust, a rock star of her own organization, and made the offer to give further context about why I’m leaving and observations I have about what’s going on. She said, “I’ve got some time, how about right now?” We had an awesome conversation, where she said repeatedly that it was clear this was coming from a place of deep concern and helpfulness. We talked about how she might be able to help our ED get back on track, what problems I felt were most pressing to prioritize, asked good questions about what I and other staff are feeling. I even started to cry (couldn’t help it, I’m so heartbroken even as my new job is really exciting), and she was totally understanding and compassionate.

      Because really, I want this ED to succeed, to be a rock star, to propel the organization to new heights. I think he can do it. But he’s stopped listening to everyone except his “yes men” on staff. But he listens to this board member, and I have a lot of confidence in her ability to help him. I hope the information I offered will help her help him.

      1. The Strand*

        Congratulations. This is what sounds like the best possible outcome. Good for you also for finding a way to present this ED as having “diamond in the rough” issues rather than something unsolvable.

      2. Sunday*

        So glad you have that kind of board member to talk with and could share your concerns in the context of seeing ED’s potential to be a star.
        It sounds as if you’ve also been able to leave the door open to returning some day, if that seems like a good move for you.

  12. BRR*

    #3 I agree it’s very serious for payroll to not be done on time an to discuss it but is anybody else trained to do it? If she was pretty sick I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect her to do it.

    1. Meg Murry*

      My question is whether there is any kind of buffer built in. For instance, are timecards due on Friday and she needs to turn in payroll by Wednesday to have the checks out the next Friday? So she could do payroll normally on Monday or Tuesday, instead of waiting until the last minute on Wednesdays if there was an emergency that came up on a Wednesday (or some payroll might even allow you to turn in on Thursday for a Friday payroll run for an extra late fee).

      Or is it a situation like we’ve seen written about here where people are supposed to turn in their timecards in the morning and paychecks get cut that afternoon – if the payroll person was out sick that day, payroll couldn’t happen on time. In that case, the employer wouldn’t be breaking the law, since pretty much all states allow at least a few day buffer – but it would result in some ticked off employees.

      I’d also like to know why there isn’t a backup system in place – or if you hire a 3rd party bookkeeper, why s/he hasn’t put in a backup system? I worked at a very large company once that only had 2 positions doing payroll using a very convoluted, manual and user-unfriendly system to pay at least 1,000 people – and because it was such a mess and a pain, they had a hard time keeping the position filled with 2 employees. So it often wound up being only one person doing the job for months and months at a time, because they also had a terribly slow hiring process. The woman doing the job on her own kept telling her boss over and over that she needed a backup person, and that someone else had to be trained, and was ignored. She planned a vacation months in advance, and warned her bosses that someone else had to do payroll, and left detail instructions for them. Finally, she gave up and took her 2 weeks of vacation (that she was entitled to, she actually officially earned 4 or more weeks but never was able to take them all and had canceled in the past when someone quit and she was on her own) and no one got paid while she was out – and when she came back to the chaos, she gave her notice right then and there – she had another job. Was it the right thing for her to do, to let no one get paid? Maybe not, but that was what it took to get everyone to realize that they couldn’t leave payroll as a 1 person job indefinitely without consequences, and I don’t blame her one bit after the way she was treated.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Was it the right thing for her to do, to let no one get paid?

        I don’t think this person is not to blame. It is not Jane’s fault that people didn’t get paid while she took her completely authorized vacation. It’s Jane’s boss’s fault and the rest of leadership that people didn’t get paid. Sounds like Jane gave them lots of warning and left instructions on how to do the job.

      2. ConstructionHR*

        I am wondering if this isn’t a result of deeper issues. Yeah, late time cards, other time sensitive requests, not able to take a day/week off b/c there isn’t a back-up, waiting for A/R so there’s money to actually pay the folks.

        If the employee has always been a steady performer, why the change?

      3. Graciosa*

        I actually don’t have a problem with her letting no one get paid in this scenario. This was not carelessness or failure to plan on her part (after not only begging for backup but leaving detailed instructions).

        This was a management decision to choose not to make sure the employees were paid, and I think all the blame falls on them.

        1. NJ Anon*

          I agree. At my new job I do payroll. I arranged to input it early before I went on vacation to MAKE SURE everyone, including me, got paid on time.

    2. jhhj*

      It is one thing to say “I am sick, I can’t do payroll, you need to get it done this period”. It’s another to not do it without telling anyone.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, pretty much the only excuse would be something so severe that you were in the hospital and sedated / loopy on pain meds and thus unable to call.

        1. jhhj*

          Well, yes, if you are out of the office sick, that’s also reasonable. But it sounds like the bookkeeper just didn’t do it?

    3. JB (not in Houston)*

      I do, if she didn’t tell anyone ahead of time. Payroll is too important to put off and not tell anyone. If they have backup/some other way to get payroll out, and she told someone ahead of time, then, sure, it’s not reasonable to expect her to do it. But not bothering to tell anyone? If that’s what the alternative is, then yeah, I think it’s reasonable to make her come in and do it then even if she’s pretty sick. To not tell anyone, you basically have to be comatose for me to excuse it.

      1. Meg Murry*

        I agree. Whenever someone calls in sick, unless they are comatose, completely delirious or about to be wheeled off to emergency surgery, it is their responsibility to tell the person they are calling in to the most pressing things that need to be dealt with in their absence – and I think payroll is number one on that list.

        But I also circle back to the question of why wasn’t it done in advance? or was the bookkeeper out sick for several days or a week?

    4. Ad Astra*

      We don’t have enough information to say for sure, but I got a distinct feeling that this business doesn’t have a backup system in place and isn’t supervising the bookkeeper closely. If the choice was work while you’re sick or miss payroll, well, I don’t love the decision… but it would make more sense than if the choice was work while you’re sick or let Lucinda know she needs to take over.

      1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

        In my experience, companies don’t have a backup payroll person because payroll is SUPER TOP SECRET and they don’t want anybody to know what anybody else is making.

    5. TootsNYC*

      yeah, but she should have been saying something. And she really should have been part of the contingency plan before hand. OK, maybe she’s not that far-thinking and too passive. But I’d be wanting to see her get less passive pronto!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I wish I could say the person’s name but obviously I can’t – but there is someone here who has a completely different email format then the rest of us (we all have first initial, last name@…). Hers spells out something so hilariously vulgar that it gets caught in spam filters so we switched her format to her full name. She was born before email existed but it makes me wonder if expectant parents think about these things when choosing a name – I guess they do.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Had she ever been married, though? Because sometimes your birth name is totally fine, but if you change it when you get married….

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        One of the baby naming books I read had a whole section on awkward name and initial mashups.

      3. Meg Murry*

        I definitely looked at if my kids Initials, or First inital+Last name or First name + Middle Initial + Last Name or First Initial + Middle Initial + Last Name caused any words to be spelled out, especially since we were going for middle names that start with vowels.

        I have a friend who got the email address of first inital+middle initial+first 6 characters of her last name, and since she always spelled it out that way (imagine saying: “Thats J, A, Jackson but with no “n” at the end, only with a different name), no one really paid attention to it. It wasn’t until a few years later when she wrote out her email address and handed it to someone that the person looked at it and said “your email address is [word]?!?” it wasn’t anything too far out there, like the Phil Enis example, but it was something that could be pronounced as a word and it wasn’t a nice one. She was so embarrassed that no one had ever noticed it before. So now I check all combos of my kids names before I name them, and encourage my friends to do the same before they name a kid or change their names for marriage (so they don’t end up as Amy Sue Smith, with a login of a$$123, for instance).

      4. Kylynara*

        I did when naming my kids to a degree.
        And my impression, from reading on naming measgae boards, is most parents do the same, but there’s too many possible permutations and if you try hard enough to find something wrong with a name you will. I didn’t consider oddly truncated names. (I would have caught Brenda Utthead, Betty Irene Tch, and Anne Susan Smith, but not Shelly Itman). I considered first/last name, first/middle/last name (obviously), last/first name, first name middle initial last name, first initial last name, first/middle initial last name, first/last initial, first/middle last initial. Also how probable nicknames matched up.

      5. Cleopatra Jones*

        Let’s just say that there is a doctor somewhere in the U.S. with the name Dr. Richard Head (not making this up!) who goes by the diminutive of his first name.

            1. MsM*

              I think the better question is, which Richard do we have to blame for the nickname becoming synonymous with male anatomy?

            2. Lily in NYC*

              I found this online (the naughty meaning didn’t start until hundreds of years later): Due to people having to write everything by hand, shortened versions of Richard were common, such as ‘Ric’ or ‘Rich’. This in turn gave rise to nicknames like ‘Richie’, ‘Rick’, and ‘Ricket’, among others. People also used to like to use rhyming names; thus, someone who was nicknamed Rich might further be nicknamed Hitch. Thus, Richard -> Ric -> Rick gave rise to nicknames like Dick and Hick around the early 13th century.

            3. nerfmobile*

              Once upon a time, there were not that many English (Anglo-Saxon) given names in common usage. So you ended up with a lot of James, Richard, Robert, John, Mary, Elizabeth, Ann. Nicknames were very useful. Common practices were to shorten names, add diminutive endings like -y (common now) or -in/kin (less common now), use rhymes, and shift vowels or even consonants. So by various processes, you can end up with transitions like Richard -> Rich -> Richken -> Rick -> Dick; Robert -> Rob -> Robin; Robert -> Rob -> Bob -> Bobby; Mary -> Mally -> Molly -> Polly; Ann -> Nan -> Nancy; and the whole cluster of Elizabeth nicknames (Ella/Ellie/Elsa/Elsie/Liz/Liza/Lisa/Lizzy/Libby/Beth/Betty/Betsy).

        1. Sourire*

          We have an on-call specialist who has the same name and also goes by Dick instead of Richard or Rich.

          There was also a Harry Brush. No lie…

            1. Cleopatra Jones*

              Ha ha, there’s an old call center urban myth about an Asian customer calling in with the name Sun Yung Ho.

      6. TootsNYC*

        I knew someone named Alison Ryan who had to ask for dispensation from a “jsmith@…” type of format.

      7. Cath in Canada*

        My parents thought long and hard about names, name combinations, and initials when they named my sister and me. I got lucky, but my sister… less so. They thought about using the middle name Nicola, but that would have made her initials CND, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was a big deal at the time. So they went with Jennifer, and congratulated themselves on not giving their daughter embarrassing initials. Of course, Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease hits the news in the 90s, while my sister was in high school, and poor old CJD (she was also got called The Mad Cow for several years. Sigh…

  13. Judy M*

    #2: Keep in mind, for some positions (particularly those with security clearances and the like) it is VERY important that you would update your boss and/or security giving them the details of where you’re going, particularly if it is outside of the country.

    However, I’m guessing this does not apply to the original poster, or they are likely to have needed to complete paperwork in advance of their travels.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      True. But in this case I think OP is way overthinking things. It sounds like the boss just asked out of curiosity, which is what many people do out of rote politeness when hearing that someone is going on vacation.

    2. Anonicorn*

      Yeah, I was about to comment on this too. I don’t recall that you have to report domestic travel, but your employer certainly has to be informed if you’re going abroad.

      1. Sadsack*

        In those cases, I think the employee would have to give more info on the trip. I don’t think one could just verbally tell the manager “Europe” and leave it at that.

    3. Case of the Mondays*

      I had a similar situation where my employer was (in my opinion) very unreasonably mad at me for not telling her about a change in my vacation plans. We had some upcoming deadlines that she was handling (that I would normally handle) and I was going to Asia. My flights got changed so I ended up leaving 2 days later. When she found out I did a “staycation” those 2 days she was pissed because I could have come in and helped her meet those deadlines. She wasn’t going to make me cancel my trip to Asia to meet the deadlines but she wouldn’t have just let me take a random day off. Oh well.

  14. Allison*

    #3, Bookkeepers, like everyone else, are humans who occasionally can’t due to jobs due to illnesses, family emergencies, etc. and the office needs to have a backup person who can process payroll if the bookkeeper is out sick. BUT, if it’s your job to process payroll (or do any other critical, time sensitive task) and you’re sick, you need to contact your boss and say “I’m sick, is there someone else who can do payroll?” and see what they think. If there’s no established backup in place, you’d better be seriously ill to not do it, and put your manager in a position of finding a last-minute temp to process it.

    1. LBK*

      What I find particularly odd is that the OP didn’t seem to know she was out of the office. Maybe she was actually in the office but just didn’t feel well enough to put in the effort to do payroll that day? Which is almost more concerning than unexpectedly being out and not making sure your work got covered. Although I’m not clear if the OP actually manages her and would be privy to her schedule.

      1. Sadsack*

        I wrote something similar earlier. It sounds like the bookkeeper was in and just not feeling well.

  15. Allison*

    #4, I’d interpret a thank-you note from a rejected candidate as super passive aggressive, like people who say “thank you” when you don’t do some polite thing they expect, or do something for you and say “you’re welcome” when *you* don’t say “thank you.” It sounds like you’re saying “look at me, taking the moral high ground even though you didn’t give me the chance I deserve.”

    It would, however, be okay to say “thanks for letting me know, and I hope you keep me in mind for any similar positions that open up.” But even that won’t really strengthen your candidacy for future positions. Either you’ll be qualified for a position there or you won’t be, sending a thank-you note won’t make you seem more qualified.

    But really, I don’t expect (or really want) any response to a rejection e-mail when we didn’t interview the candidate.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I get thank you notes and don’t think of them as passive-aggressive, but then I’m in the super-polite Midwest :-). They’re usually really short, though, and I don’t know that I’d read the whole thing if I got the OP’s.

      1. MLT*

        Agreed. I have had very short, nice notes from people that made me pull up their application one more time to see why we passed on them. In this case, I have to say that the length of it would make me feel like I dodged a bullet in not hiring this person, and the charisma part would have made me laugh just a little. We aren’t looking for charisma. Ever.

        1. fposte*

          Agreed on the charisma! I guess this is the Task-Oriented vs. Relationship-Oriented thing–to me you have charisma if you get your stuff done. That’s what makes me want to pay attention to you.

        2. Windchime*

          We recently hired a candidate who is extremely charismatic. That’s one very small part of why we hired her; she is also super smart and just seems to have a good feel for this work and has jumped right in and made herself valuable.

          However, she didn’t write that she is charismatic on her cover letter or her thank-you note. She let us notice it all on our own.

        3. Ad Astra*

          I have never met a charismatic person who described themselves as charismatic, and I’ve never met someone who described themselves as charismatic who had an ounce of charisma.

  16. Katie the Fed*

    #3 –

    When I was in graduate school, I had no money to spare. I got paid once a month for my assistanceship. One month the admin just forgot to process it. It meant I didn’t get paid until an entire month later. She was so flippant about it and refused to take responsibility “oh, I guess it just didn’t get done in time.”

    I had to call my parents and beg them for money to get me through the month, something I never, ever wanted to have to do. Luckily I had that option.

    Your bookkeeper’s flippancy is really concerning – I would be close to firing her over this, to be honest. You don’t mess with people’s pay!

    1. LBK*

      Wow – they couldn’t do an ad hoc payroll to get it out sooner than that? That is awful, especially if you’re doing a monthly pay cycle instead of biweekly.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I don’t know – it was a huge university so I’m not sure. It was her attitude that bothered me the most – if you screw something up that bad, you’d better be really, really sorry.

        1. fposte*

          At my university, there is a thing you can do in that situation, but it takes extra work and paperwork, and a bad admin wouldn’t admit it existed.

          1. LBK*

            Good point – if she was so blase about doing it in the first place she probably isn’t the type that would go out of her way to get an emergency payroll done.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I got a much more sympathetic response from my payroll people when one of my people messed up her own payroll by not submitting her time card in time!

          They resisted and resisted cutting a separate check, and they said, “if she’s going to end up missing rent, we’ll do it, but if she just has to eat ramen or watch her spending for a week, then we won’t.” But they were also insistent that I check with her to make sure she wasn’t going to end up bouncing checks or being unable to pay her landlord.

          And they were a little apologetic about resisting the extra work and paperwork.

        3. Chinook*

          Katie the Fed, I hear you. Mistakes happen but atleast apologize and look guilty for it instead of trying to blame someone else. I think the most irritating part about the time a clerk zeroed DH’s pay without notifying him because the clerk couldn’t read English fluently was that he acted like it was no big deal until his boss overheard the conversation. Not only did she issue a cheque that same day (a miracle in the government world) but there is nothing as enjoyable as watching the same sergeant politely but firmly reprimand a corporal for his attitude about a mistake that would have caused us to have zero money.

    2. Allison*

      Are bookkeepers paid so well that they can afford to get paid late? Or are they just exceptionally good with money that they always have a cushy safety net in case something happens? She really seems to either not realize or care about how being paid two weeks late can impact some people.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I think a lot of people who are super savers or otherwise privileged really don’t get what a problem a delay can be. My employer only recently got direct deposit and my boss seemed confused when we were away from the office for work and I was concerned about how I would get and deposit my check. He responded, in all seriousness, “it will still be there on Monday.” It was pretty embarrassing to explain, “yeah, but I need it deposited today.” For me, it’s more choice with a lot of auto payments and transfers to student loans and savings. I do have an emergency fund but it takes time to access that money. Many people have no such emergency fund. It must be nice to truly not understand how a delayed check can impact someone.

        The worst was when our law school screwed up our loans and disbursement was delayed over a month. They were “kind enough” to let us attend class before our tuition was paid and waive the late fee but most of us relied on that money for living expenses too. I was married and had my husband’s income. Oh, and this was over Christmas. Other people couldn’t pay rent or buy their kids Christmas presents. People were selling their belongings.

        1. AnonToday*

          A couple of years ago my former employer was having cash problems, and upper management delayed our pay by a weekend: the 15th fell on a Sunday, so normally we would have received our pay on the Friday before, but they held it until Monday. And they didn’t tell anyone that was going to happen. We were all freaking out Friday, wondering if the company was going kaput and if we’d get paid at all; it wasn’t until well into the day that they sent out a company-wide email saying there’d been a “payroll problem” and we’d get our pay on Monday.

          I had one coworker who didn’t have enough money to buy gas to get to work that day, and we took up a collection for one of the clerks so she’d have enough money for groceries for the weekend. When you’ve never lived paycheck to paycheck, as our illustrious senior management obviously had not, you don’t think about how three days can make such an enormous difference.

    3. Monodon monoceros*

      I had a similar situation in grad school when I was transferring from being a teaching assistant to being paid as a research assistant. I specifically asked if I needed to fill out any paperwork or if the direct deposit would work because I was already in the system. “Yes, totally Ok, don’t worry about it.” NOPE, payment did not go through.

      When I notified the finance department they told me they’d just pay me twice next month. When I asked how I was supposed to pay my bill this month, she asked me “What bills do you have?” Me: ALL OF THEM! Rent, car, food, electricity…I told my advisor and she immediately called finance and told them to cut me a check. Amazingly, they did. My advisor was an “interesting” person to work for, but she did cut through red tape like no one else.

    4. Artemesia*

      This could have been fixed. You could have gotten paid late but quickly. She was just too lazy to do it. Too bad you didn’t take this one up the line.

  17. Katie the Fed*

    #4 – that note reads to me like “Hi, I’m pushy, presumptuous, and I don’t know how to take no for an answer!”

    That’s probably not how you want to come across.

    1. Allison*

      To be fair, young job seekers are often advised to be pushy and act presumptuously in order to “show some real moxie” and stand out from the other applicants. What a lot of people fail to realize is that recruiters and hiring managers don’t give a hoot about “moxie,” they care about someone’s ability to do the job.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I get that, but she needs to know that’s how it’ll come across to a lot of people. I find it REALLY offputting, like the “I’ll call you next week to schedule an interview” tactic.

      2. RVA Cat*

        It’s kind of like the creeptastic dating behavior that “works” only in the gonzo universe of romantic comedies. In real life, it would get you arrested and/or pepper sprayed.

  18. Sunflower*

    #4- If you’re getting the computer automated rejection letters, I’m not even sure you can reply back to most of them. I think some even say ‘Do not reply back, your email will not reach X recruiting team’

  19. Beachbrain*

    #1 I was in this situation a long time ago and I did talk to two members of the board with whom I had a good relationship. It sucked, they didn’t care, and I looked crazy and bitter. They gave 0 fudgesicles as everything seemed fine ‘on paper.’ I was dismayed and embarrassed but it was also a learning experience I suppose. OP I hope you have better luck if you decide to talk to your board!

    1. OP #1*

      I did, see update in the thread above! I’m sorry your experience wasn’t good. It’s a risk we all take, and I’m so grateful for the really good board member I was able to turn to.

  20. RMRIC0*

    In re #5:

    It might also be teh case that there’s already a “jsmith” at the organization and they lopped off the letter rather than adding a number of some such.

  21. Emily Litella*

    RE: Item 1


    As a working woman and sometimes media personality myself, I am downright offended that anyone would refer to any kind of coworker, supervisor, manager or administrator as a “broad.”

    I don’t care how responsible this person is for problems in the company!


    They are all derogatory and inflammatory even in the most casual business environment and even if they’re referring to the powers that….

    Never mind.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Oops. Please warn when linking to videos that auto-play with sound? *slinks off, closing window*

    1. Kylynara*

      I really hope you are trolling, but just in case.
      Broad = derogatory term for a woman.
      Board = an abbreviated form of “Board of Directors” and COMPLETELY different word which is normal and reasonable in a professional context.

  22. TootsNYC*

    #3, with the bookkeeper: This is a huge deficiency on her part, to not know that meeting payroll on time is a big deal. Huge. So yes, state your expectations (and create your logistical support, because what if she *is* sick?).
    But know all the time that this is a huge screwup; you shouldn’t -have- to tell a bookkeeper that paying people on time is non-negotiable. And let that realization stiffen your spine. She doesn’t deserve to have you pussyfoot around her feelings. Don’t be nasty, of course; and being scold-y will backfire. But be firm.

    #4, with the thank-you note:
    I do -not- like this wording:
    I truly feel that the charisma, dedication and creativity that I bring to the table would be an asset to your company. By learning and contributing in a successful company such as yours, I believe I’ll be able to continue my own personal and professional growth.

    For one thing, I’m looking for skills, not charisma; skills are proven by experience. Focus on why your experience would fill needs they have. Think like them–what do they want from an employee, and prove how you have it.

    I’m also not looking for someone who needs to do all that much learning.
    Now, I truly believe that it’s my job to prepare my direct reports for their next job; I’m all about providing them opportunities to learn, and teaching them the background behind my decisions, and making sure they grow. I truly believe my employees should get something out of working with me beyond their paycheck.
    But I don’t really want to hire someone whose first focus is on them learning. I want them to focus on contributing; we’ll deal with the learning later.

    1. Allison*

      Exactly. Everyone has to learn a little when they start a new job, and no one ever stops learning how to do new things, either in their job or for their next one. But the ability to learn new things is assumed, to some degree, unless there’s something on your resume that indicates otherwise, like being in the same job for 10 years and/or listing a ton of outdated and obsolete skills.

  23. Nom d' Pixel*

    LW#2 is an indicator of how messed up America has gotten about vacations. Vacation time should be yours to take. There shouldn’t have to be any justification for it. Where you decide to go is not up for supervisory review. Even if you take 3 weeks to just sit around your house eating cold pizza, watching soap operas, and drinking bad beer, that is your time. Also, you shouldn’t have to take a laptop or check in. It is destructive to expect people to constantly answer to work.

  24. Verde*

    #3 – from your letter, it sounds like it didn’t even occur to her to notify anyone that a) she couldn’t do it [ahead of time] and b) she didn’t do it [after the fact]. To me, this smacks of complete incompetency. If this person has any practical experience in any form of work environment, she should know that you do NOT mess with payroll.

    For nearly ten years, I was the only one running payroll for our non-profit. When we were still on desktop software, that meant scheduling vacations around when payroll ran. If I was sick, and it didn’t matter how sick (i.e. anything short of hospitalization), I remoted in and ran payroll. When we moved to a web-based system, I ran payroll from at least ten different states while on vacation. If for any reason I was physically unable to run it, my boss could have at least accessed the system and been walked through it, so there was at least an emergency back-up, but otherwise I just did it. I have support now, so now I’m the back-up and we can both take vacations without having to run payroll from random places, but still. It’s payroll. You do it. Period.

    And if the process to get payroll accomplished is not good, you do something about that, too.

  25. LookyLou*

    #2: I’ve been in a job where stuff like this can actually bite you in the butt. I had a coworker who was going out of the country for a week and was given priority over other employees who didn’t have such important plans. Well her trip was cancelled and she stayed home that week. You could imagine the rage when other employees who wanted that time of to travel domestically discovered this. People questioned if she ever planned on taking the trip and had lied to just get a guaranteed week off that was highly desirable

    So I’d think even though it isn’t anyones business that it is better to be upfront with the change in plans than have someone find out later and question it. People know that it isn’t common to have long term international plans cancelled on a whim… so to them it either means you lied about going in the first place or you knew well in advance but chose not to tell anyone. It could result in more scrutiny in the future when you provide reasons for needing time off – a reason of going out of town could be interpreted as you just want downtime and don’t ‘need’ the time.

    1. jmkenrick*

      I kind of disagree with you, actually. Obviously, the situation you describe is unfortunate, but OP doesn’t mention any sort of prioritization to her vacation over other peoples.

      Additionally, while it’s frustrating that people were denied their vacation requests, it’s true that plans change, and the speculation/rumors reflect more on those coworkers than your coworker who took time off.

  26. Bunny*

    The payroll letter is seriously concerning.

    I can understand “I’m calling in sick this week – payroll needs to be done, so boss please make sure Jamal knows”

    I can understand “I’m really behind schedule on my workload this week because I am working sick. Nadine, please take over payroll./Boss, please advise how you want us to make sure payroll gets through on time.”

    I can understand pretty much any scenario that would involve the person responsible for payroll being unable to do it, telling someone it wasn’t going to get done on time by them, and the job then being passed on to the backup person for that payroll.

    What I cannot in any way understand is someone just straight-up *not doing it*, not telling anyone either before, during or after the event, to the point the boss had to go and *ask* them why their staff wasn’t paid. Hell, I can’t understand that for any key, regular aspect of any job.

    At my current job, if any one of the multiple spreadsheets or reports I’m required to compile and send to schedule looks like it might be late, I let my manager know and she makes sure either that this is okay and causes no problems down the line, or gets a colleague to help out. I just cannot for the life of me imagine myself just turning to my boss and saying “Yeah, I didn’t get the Teapot Insurance Co spreadsheet sent out this week.” like it’s nothing, like it doesn’t matter.

    The late payment of staff is a big problem that needs fixing. But the attitude of the person responsible is seriously alarming. Especially for someone working in payroll or accounts. That is a role where the work that is done Needs To Be Done. There can be serious legal ramifications if it isn’t.

      1. Bunny*

        That sounds about right to me! The severe ramifications – both legal and personal for employees, as well as loss of trust of staff… The blasé approach – not telling anyone either before or after it happened until they were chased up… If the manager hadn’t approached the employee to get answers, would payroll for that month have just… never happened? Would people have ever gotten that month’s pay?

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