how to explain a work backlog, company won’t reimburse expenses after I resigned, and more

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

1. Asking whether an internal candidate will be angry that I got the job

I’m currently interviewing for a job in my field, and it’s going exceptionally well. I’ve been invited to travel to their city (at their expense) for an in-person interview, and everyone I’ve spoken with seems very interested in me and enthusiastic about my candidacy.

I have one relatively minor worry, and that is whether or not they are also interviewing any internal candidates for the position. A few years ago, I found myself in a horrible situation when I was promoted to management and had as one of my direct reports someone who had also applied for the management position but didn’t get it. This person was completely incapable of being mature and professional about it, and I think they delighted in trying to make my life hell. Attempts at progressive discipline/performance improvement plans were met with false claims of discrimination and/or retaliation. It was a nightmare for me and my own supervisors, and I was never so relieved as when our department reorganized and I was able to transition out of the management role altogether.

So needless to say, while I’m excited about the possibility of the job I’m currently interviewing for, I’m curious to know whether or not there are any internal candidates in the pool of finalists. Is there a way I can ask about this without sounding paranoid and/or nosy? Or should I wait to ask until I’m offered the position? I wouldn’t necessarily turn down a job if I learned I’d been selected over an internal candidate, but I would want to have a heart-to-heart with my new boss and agree in advance about how any hurt feelings/retaliation would be handled.

It’s very normal when interviewing for a management job to ask whether anyone on the team has expressed interest in the role. And if you get an offer, you can have a more detailed conversation about how any internal candidates on the team you’ll be managing are likely to handle being passed over. I’d start from the assumption that it will be fine; you don’t want to sound like you’re assuming that it will be an issue, since your situation at your old job definitely isn’t the norm and you don’t want to be overly influenced by that, although it is indeed wise to get the lay of the land in this regard.

I have more advice here about how to handle it if you do end up managing someone resentful that they didn’t get your job here and here.

2. How to explain to customers that we’re backlogged with work

I work in a tiny two-person department building online fundraising forms in a much larger organization. We have needed a third person or at least an intern for several months now, but it has not been approved by the higher-ups to hire anyone. Our customers (all nonprofits) are often asking for our services at the last minute, and this time of year are pushing us for extra quick turnaround time for Giving Tuesday and end-of-year campaigns. Normally, we have a 2-3 week turnaround time on larger jobs and 1-2 weeks on smaller jobs. Right now, we are so backlogged and understaffed that we are looking at 3-4 weeks for small jobs and 4-6 weeks for large jobs. Additionally, our manager recently left, so I am filling in with a lot of managerial tasks in his place and am struggling to get all my usual work completed in a timely fashion.

What is the best way to handle customers who push and push for a quicker turnaround time? I don’t want to tell them that we’re backlogged and understaffed, because honestly that’s our problem not theirs, but what do I tell them when I say we just can’t accommodate their request? What do I say when they want to talk to a manager about it, when I am essentially the manager of our department? (My interim manager is a SVP who really doesn’t have time for customer escalations.)

Just explain that you’re backlogged because of the extra demand around the holidays and be clear up-front about what turnaround time they can expect. If you have customers who you expect to reach out between now and the end of the year, proactively give them a heads-up now about turnaround time, so that they can plan accordingly and get stuff to you earlier, and aren’t surprised by it later. But yeah, I wouldn’t get into the issue of being understaffed, since that’s more info than they need.

I’d also check with your interim manager about how she wants you handle customer requests to speak to a manager; that one is her call, but you should ask her now so that you’re prepared when it happens.

3. Company won’t reimburse business trip airplane ticket after I resigned

I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog, and am happy to say that thanks in large part to the things I’ve learned from you about writing cover letters, tailoring my resume, and interviewing, I’ve just landed a dream job in my dream field (at my alma mater, no less!).

My problem comes in leaving my current job. I’ve been here for 2-1/2 years, and for the past 6 months, have been working remotely from across the country (think 4-hour plane ride). Our agreement was that my company would pay for plane travel, and I would pay for all of my other travel expenses. Well, when it came time to plan for my next in-person visit to the company in mid-December, they said the plane tickets were too expensive – the company credit cards have a $500 limit – and asked if I would front the money and submit an expense report to be reimbursed.

At the time, I hadn’t yet applied for my new job and was still planning on making this work trip, so I purchased the plane ticket and submitted the expense report about a week later. New job happened really fast – I applied, was interviewed, and offered the job all in a two-week whirlwind. I just gave notice (2.5 weeks), and my director at old job denied my expense report that was pending. She hasn’t said a word to me about it, I just received an auto-email that it had been denied. Now, the ticket I purchased had to be approved by my company, and they gave me a budget that did not allow for a refundable ticket. Do I suck it up and accept that I’ve lost the $500+ for the ticket, or should I escalate this to someone in our HR department? I hate to burn bridges by doing that, but this is a substantial chunk of money.

Hell, no, do not suck it up. This was a business expense that they agreed to pay, and they need to pay it. It would be the height of pettiness and frankly nastiness for them to refuse to pay because you’ve put in your notice.

I would first contact your manager about it and say, “I received a denial of this expense reimbursement, which I think must be a mistake since this was an approved business expense. I realize, of course, that my resignation means that I won’t be making the trip, but it was a business expense, not a personal one, and I bought the ticket with the company’s okay. Will there be an issue with approving this?”

If you don’t get it resolved that way, then yes, you should absolutely escalate it. They have a clear ethical obligation to pay this.

4. Central time-tracking calendar feels like invasion of privacy

I work for a small company in New York City (about 20 employees). Instead of a time clock or some other means of tracking time, there is a large calendar posted in the middle of the office. Everyone writes on it when they are taking a day off or leaving early or coming in late. Instead of a single HR person or a couple of managers keeping track of time off, it is open to everyone.

I know we are small and people would probably notice anyway, but I think it is an invasion of privacy to be forced to put your time off for everyone to see, especially when this includes doctor’s appointments and funerals. On top of that, I have found several times when people who are not managers are writing when someone else has been late or called in sick, and they were not asked to do so. One example was a day I put a doctor’s appointment up and expected to come in late. I got to work around noon, and someone had changed my entry to show I was out for the day. What are your thoughts on this?

As long as you’re not required to write personal details (like “OBGYN appointment”) and instead can just write things like “sick leave,” “vacation time,” or “out for afternoon,” I think that’s pretty reasonable. In an office of 20 people, there’s a need for people to know if someone is out for the day, coming back at noon, unreachable because they’re on vacation, or whatever. It’s reasonable to make that information centrally available.

But if you’re actually required to include details about the reason for your absence, then yeah, that’s weird and you should push back. But I’d try just being vague first and seeing if anyone objects.

As for the person who changed your entry, I’d assume it was a mistake or miscommunication. If it becomes a pattern, you should speak up about it, but absent that, I’d let it go.

5. Should I tell a past interviewer how much my intuition says their company is the right fit for me?

I have interviewed for a LOT of jobs over the past few years, having been through a lengthy job hunt before finally landing the job I now have. Sadly, it is proving to not be a good fit for me — or for them, I suspect. Anyway, during my job search, I interviewed at a particular organization that I have been thinking about ever since. I rely a lot on vibe and intuition, and this place just seemed like IT — I sort of fell in love with the people I met, the mission, the energy, all of it. Well, I didn’t get that job, but now that I am going to step back out into another job search, I’d like to contact them again. The head of the department I interviewed with appears to have left the organization but still be consulting, and the other gentleman I met is now the head of the department.

I am assuming it would not be out of line to contact him, remind him of who I am (it was almost two years ago that we met), and tell him I am still interested in working for them, right? But what about this feeling of it being such a good fit, the place I keep thinking about, etc. etc. Is that too weird? Even to say that I rely on intuition and my intuition said it was the place for me? Should i say anything in particular to remind him of who I am? (Actually, all I would say is that we talked about taking our kids to Lalapalooza, and he told me that people there were very huggy — which I loved!) Furthermore, what am I asking of him? To meet for coffee and get reacquainted? To keep me in mind? What I really want is an in there, someone who likes me and will let me know when there’s an opening and get me in for an interview. It’s a very large organization with a pretty awful applicant tracking system, and I am really trying to avoid those this time around.

It would be totally appropriate to reach out, remind him of your conversation two years ago, and tell him that they really captured your interest when you talked and you’d love to reconnect if they have any openings that you might be the right fit for. Leave it him to let you know what, if anything, would make sense from there. (And attach your updated resume.)

But no, I wouldn’t mention your intuition about being a good fit. Too often, candidates are convinced a job or company is a perfect fit for them, when the employer isn’t really in agreement about that — and really, whether or not you’re right, there’s no benefit to telling them that. I’ve talked to countless candidates who told me they could feel what a perfect fit something was, when in fact it really wasn’t. I’m not saying that’s the case here, but I am saying that they’re not likely to be swayed by it. What they care first and foremost is whether it feels like a great fit to them and aren’t likely to put a lot of stock in your intuition about it. If it does, they’ll be glad you’re enthusiastic too — but that’s the first step here.

{ 148 comments… read them below }

  1. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #4: We have something like this. It’s an excel sheet.

    The content is limited to this:
    N (Nicht anwesend) for sick time, flex time evening out, work from home
    U (Urlaub) for days when the person is using their annual leave alotment
    D (Dienstreise) for days when the person is out of the office on business travel.

    The only thing in the sheet are those letters. More isn’t allowed due to German privacy laws.

    1. Little Teapot*

      Yes, each department in my office has a whiteboard with everyone’s names down the left, and to the right information about where they are. Ie, At external meeting at X agency. Sick leave. Holiday Leave. Home visit. For meetings and other similar things, a ‘due back in office’ time is also provided, ie, ‘Little Teapot is at a meeting at Teapots Inc, due back at 3pm’.

      1. Rachel*

        At my last job, we had a similar whiteboard in our department. We’d list everyone’s name and the dates they would be out of the office. We’d put the details down if the reason was something work-related, such as a trade show. Otherwise we’d just put down “Out” or “1/2 day.” We also made sure to keep our Outlook calendars updated so others could see who was out of the office. Totally normal and helpful.

      2. matcha123*

        I work in Japan, but my office has the same thing: a whiteboard with names and a space to write where you are. If I am out of the office for a meeting, I write, “Meeting at XYZ 2 – 5.” If I have the day off, I write, “11/16 off.”

        If I’m sick, most people in the office probably know it because I’ll either tell them that I will probably take a sick day or I call in sick. I’ve never seen it as an invasion of privacy. I’m sure my coworkers use their “off” days for doctors appointments and such, but all we need to know is that they aren’t in the office and this is the easiest way to share information.

    2. The Bimmer Guy*

      I learned some new German today. Nice. I normally get my German exposure by reading the non-English warning labels on my car.

      Meanwhile, is this N.U.D. chart fairly standard practice in Germany, or just something your company does?

      1. De (Germany)*

        My company only has a system where we can see who’s on holiday when. And we put it on our Outlook calendars if we are gone for a whole afternoon or so.

        German privacy law would only require your company to keep reasons confidential, though. If I want to write more detail on my calendar, that would be fine.

        1. De (Germany)*

          (and my former company didn’t have any system like that at all. Required us to put in out of office notices, but no way to see whether someone is on holiday next week or so)

    3. entrylevelsomething*

      At one job there was an online log-in system. If someone was planning to be out they would often put “at off-site meeting Tues!” “on vacation until Tues” etc. in the little status next to their name, but it wasn’t enforced. If you weren’t in, it simple showed you as out unless you noted why.

    4. LQ*

      We send outlook appointments. People used to send details. But I don’t send that, just the time I’m out (I don’t even say N/U/D (whatever they would be here) just out), no one has complained. I think it makes a lot of sense that other people know that you are gone.
      (Also? I love people who keep their outlook calendars up to date, it makes everything so much easier. So much easier.)

    5. EmmaBlake*

      We have a Google calendar and everyone’s planned absences are recording. It’ll say “Jane Smith – Vacation” or “Tom Jones – Personal.” We even have a couple that either say Jury Duty or National Guard Duty, but that’s as specific as they get. Honestly, it’s super helpful to just be able to pull up the calendar to see if someone’s here than to traipse down half the building only to realize they’re gone for a week.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        My company does something similar. There are two variations – PTO (to be deducted from PTO bank) or OOO (Out of Office, indicating that the hours will be made up or that the absence is excused e.g. jury duty.) There is no obligation to include any specific or personal information.

      2. Amtelope*

        Yes, we have a shared Outlook calendar, and people are expected to put down when they’re out of the office, but you can put down whatever you want — “doctor’s appointment” or “vacation” or just “PTO.” But it’s super helpful to me to know whether people are here, both so that I don’t hunt for them all over a four-building campus, and so that I can figure out who’s available to do particular tasks.

        1. Mabel*

          I wonder if the OP is concerned because she has an appointment that she doesn’t want others to know about. I have a therapy appointment every week, and I send an Outlook meeting request to my manager that says “Mabel Out of Office,” and if I feel like I need/want to give her more information, I do. I’m glad my absences from the office are between me and my manager (and I set Outlook to OOO [out of office]), but if I had to put this information on a public calendar, I’m fairly certain that my colleagues would mind their own business and not ask about it. But not all offices are the same…

          1. Hlyssande*

            From what the OP said, it sounds like the frustration may be more with people recording when someone else came in late, or changing what the OP had written (in late for an appt changed to out all day). Which is not cool.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Same here–we use it pretty heavily, since most of our department is remote. As for personal appointments, Outlook lets you set them to Private so no one else can see what you’ve entered. All they see is either a block of time with “Private Appointment” on it or just a blank line on the calendar. People usually put “Doc appt” or “dentist,” though.

    6. Noah*

      My department uses an intranet site. Anytime you’re away from your desk you’re supposed to update it. So “Lunch”, “Out of Office”, and “In Meeting – Conf Room D” are all common. You can login to the site on a mobile phone if you forget to do it before you leave or if plans change.

      Some people put “Doctors Appt – In at 11am”, but it is not required and I’ve seen many people use the generic “out of office”.

  2. The Bimmer Guy*

    Alison, you mention that the company has an “ethical” obligation to cover this. But what do you reasonably expect OP’s result to be, here? Does he/she have any recourse if the company outright refuses to cover that expense? A plane ticket that’s over $500 is certainly nothing to sneeze at; I agree…but should OP be prepared to eat his/her losses on this?

    1. Jeanne*

      I was wondering the same. I don’t know if you can force them to pay. Even if you sue, I don’t know if the law is on your side.

      I agree that ethically they are obligated. But they might not care.

      I am tired of letters from people who had to pay significant expenses up front. Employees should resolve to begin saying I can’t do that; it’s a business expense.

      1. Jeanne*

        I mean I’m tired of hearing how many companies treat people this way. Get some morals, companies. You know you do this in the hope of denying the expense and saving money.

      2. LabTech*

        I seldom travel for work, but I’ve said that very thing. My personal policy is if I’m paying an upfront business cost, it has to have enough of a professional value to me to warrant it, approaching it with the mindset that I’m giving an interest-free loan to the employer and have final say as to what I do with my money. In my case it paid off, and they (reluctantly) covered travel expenses.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Most companies are going to pay if she pushes in the way I describe. Only rare ones will refuse once she clearly points out why it’s owed. So I do think it’s likely that she’ll get the result that she wants. If she doesn’t, she can decide how far she wants to push it beyond that, but the most likely scenario is that she won’t need to.

      If she’s in California, they’re legally obligated to pay.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree. I hope that this was an error/mistake or at worst one vindictive person and as soon as someone in management is alerted the problem is resolved.

        I do wonder if is a system or process error. Maybe the cost of the ticket will be included in final paycheck instead of using the normal reimbursement process. Maybe system can’t process a former employee. Etc.

        It would be outrageous for the company to tell the LW screw you; individuals might but I hope a company would have enough moral people not to or to at least uphold their agreement.

        1. Honeybee*

          But it sounds like she’s still employed there – she just put in notice, but she hasn’t left yet.

      2. UsedToDoSupport*

        Yay again for California! And for the second time in a few weeks, I’m reminded of a Hallmark Channel movie. Except in this case, she’s fired, so she takes the trip anyway and passes out her business cards to try to find a new job. And of course, gets the guy. It *is* Hallmark Channel. (I promise I do not spend all my time watching this channel…)

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I’m hoping that the expense report was denied by some fault in the system (perhaps someone in finance thought the flight was too expensive?), not a deliberate refusal on OP’s boss’s or company’s part to reimburse now that she has resigned.

      Even if it was deliberate, OP has nothing to lose by calling them out on it and asking them to make things right.

      1. NotMe*

        This is what I am hoping as well. It is not uncommon for expense reports to be denied at my company if the scanned receipt isn’t clear, a code is entered incorrectly or a host of other small things. I would approach the boss asking why the expense was rejected.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, or at one company where I worked the policy was that airfare was not reimbursed until the trip was actually taken – so a request to reimburse for plane tickets that were purchased for December would have been rejected unless there was an accompanying note from the manager as to why they needed to be approved outside of the normal process.

          I guess there had been incidents where people had gotten reimbursement, and then the trip didn’t happen for whatever reason, and the person was either refunded the money or given some kind of voucher for a future trip – it just became a paperwork nightmare, and could have screwed things up big time in an audit since some of these projects were funded by NSF, NIH or other federal grants with very strict reimbursement rules.

    4. Ms Anne Thrope*

      I’d bet $50 they never intended to pay. The company credit card can’t handle it? Bollocks.

      1. JR*

        Never intended to pay? You mean, they were planning to deny the expense even before OP submitted their resignation? That would surprise me. That would be very unusual for a company that regularly incurs business expenses, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think that’s the case here.

      2. Kyrielle*

        I wouldn’t. If the company credit cards have limits per-employee, stupid-low limits (when they seldom expect big expenses) keeps employees from overcharging things / using it inappropriately (remember the person who owed their company $20,000 and the company didn’t seem to know, even?). If it’s a company-wide credit card, I’d take that as a red flag about handling their expenses (unless this is normally a more-expensive time of year for them) but still not necessarily malicious.

        Also, honestly, having the employee front it and owe any interest fees is tacky enough without specific intention to not pay it.

        1. Florida*

          Agree. Employees often have low limits. It would crazy for a company to say they will pay it when they clearly have no intention of doing it. Sure that happens, but it’s unusual situations like when the company goes out of business. There is no indication that any of that is happening here. I think it’s just a butthead manager.

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          I think it’s weird that the employee was expected to front the airfare! So what if the credit card had a low limit. Aren’t there other company cards that could cover the expense? What do they do for employees who aren’t issued a card?

          1. Ama*

            I find it weird that they can’t increase the limit, even temporarily. The last two places I’ve worked were able to do that if the person’s manager approved — last year because I needed to book travel for two trips and buy a new laptop in the same billing cycle, and my manager asked for mine to be upped (from $2,500) for a month just in case something else came up.

            Also if employees are expected to book their own travel regularly, $500 is WAY too low these days.

            1. Meg Murry*

              It’s possible that since this was such an unusual situation (maybe OP was the only person in the department who regularly travelled?) OP was given bad advice. I can see someone saying “well, my card limit is only up to $500, so I can’t buy it for you, you’ll have to buy it yourself and get it expensed” as a quick way to get it just dealt with once, rather than taking the correct path of “I can’t buy it for you on my card, lets talk to someone in the finance/accounting/purchasing/whoever handles reimbursements and credit card department and see if they have a different way we can buy this ticket for you” because that would involve finding out who was in charge and going back and forth on who could authorize it, etc etc. I’ve worked plenty of places where unfortunately the way that was best for the employee could have been done but it would have taken more time and work and people didn’t want to bother. Or, as happened to me all the time, when I was one of the holders of the credit card “I need you to buy these tickets for me today, even though I’ve known about this trip for weeks to months because I just noticed that the convenient flights I want are to book are filling up, so hurry up and buy them today, now, so I don’t wind up with 2 connections, and oh, buy the way it’s 4 pm so hurry hurry!”

          2. Windchime*

            I always have to front the airfare for work trips. Actually, I have to front it all. They are amazingly quick to reimburse, though, so that’s good. I don’t know anyone at my company (even director-level) who gets expenses paid up-front. The only time that happens for me is for conference registration, which gets paid for with a purchase order. For everything else (airfare, hotel, etc), I have to pay on my personal credit card and then get reimbursed.

            1. Mabel*

              I wouldn’t be able to do that, and I’ll bet a lot of people wouldn’t. Your company is lucky that all of you can afford to do this. When I travel, I use my corporate Amex for everything (unless I make a purchase that is absolutely personal and not related to traveling for company business).

                1. Ad Astra*

                  I have a credit card, but it’s pretty close to maxed out most of the time because I end up using it to buy groceries in a pinch. My last two jobs didn’t really involve travel, but both companies asked employees to pay expenses up front, so I always worried about that. Doesn’t make sense when the majority of your employees are making less than $40k and a handful of full-time professionals are making less than $30k a year.

            2. Liz in a Library*

              This is the way the last two places I worked handled reimbursement, too. Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon in the US.

            3. ID10T Detector*

              as a frequent traveler, I’ve both used my own card with reimbursement and used a corporate card for travel expenses.

              I much, much, much prefer using my own card and getting reimbursed (in a timely fashion to avoid any interest) than using the corporate Amex. As someone who travels a lot, I get the bonus of airline miles and hotel points in my personal rewards accounts, and I get to double dip on that when I use an airline or hotel branded credit card to do the booking. When I changed jobs this year and was handed a corporate Amex, many people heard the audible wimper because my vacation travel fund had just been slashed in half, essentially.

              But that requires a responsible company who reimburses in a timely fashion. Also, I had one card that I *only* used for business travel expenses, so it was much easier to itemize everything out for reimbursement or the rare occasion when I was charged interest.

            4. Kyrielle*

              This. At $CurrentJob I haven’t had to travel and likely won’t much if at all – but at $PreviousJob it was routine and always expensed after-the-fact. Employees who traveled as a regular part of their job had corporate AmEx cards but the rest of us didn’t. The one time an employee without a credit card had to travel, people talked about it like he was some weird species to not have one, but it got covered by his boss putting it on the boss’s card and expensing it.

  3. VG*

    #4 is interesting to me because there’s not a single standard at my job for how much information to disclose when you’re going to be out/late/leaving early. I usually lean toward minimal (“I’ll be leaving at 3 today for an appointment”) but some of my coworkers go into a lot of detail (“I’m leaving at 3 to take my mom to the podiatrist. She’s turning 80 next week and her corns have really been bothering her!) What do other people do?

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      We have a wall calendar where we write our schedule changes, to keep the staff member who writes the daily desk schedule informed. I distinguish between work stuff (“Sparkly at [other branch] 2-5”, “Sparkly conference call 11-12”) and non-work stuff (“Sparkly VAC” or “Sparkly dr appt until 10:30”) but don’t give more detail on the non-work stuff. At my previous job (where I was salaried and had seniority), I sometimes would put details like “WFH for washing machine maintenance” or “OOO Seattle wedding” into our timekeeping system when requesting time off, but it wouldn’t be taken amiss if my shared calendar or reminder email to teammates simply said I was leaving around 4:00 today.

      1. Sarahnova*

        I scrolled down to your post rapidly and missed your username, which led to me having some great thoughts about what a sparkly conference call would be like.

    2. super anon*

      I stay vague, because a lot of my appointments are things other people would find frivolous (nails and hair mainly) and even though I’m leaving at the normal time and not late, I don’t want anyone trying to contact me afterward I’ve left the office, and they most likely would if they knew the full details.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      We are totally a bunch of Chatty Cathys, for the most part. Your coworkers email would be appropriate in our environment, coupled with, “Hey, how did the corn appointment go with grandma?” when you are met by the coffee machine the next day.

      It’s fine to say, “I’ll be in late today” but more common to email “I’ll be in late today because I have to take my car to the body shop for an estimate. Would you believe some jerk backed into me in the Wawa parking lot last night? He wasn’t looking where he was going an it’s a big mess. ”

      This is a pretty large group of people but that’s how we talk to each other.

      1. V dubs*

        It’s always in the Wawa parking lot too! Those things are tiny! But obviously so worth parking there ;)

      2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        Erm, I gotta amend that. We have a weekly schedule for scheduled offs that is emailed division wide friday late for the next week. Scheduled days and times off don’t come with any details (interesting or not).

        It’s when people email why they are taking time that is advanced scheduled that things get interesting/funny/TMI. So the bulk of anything has no details.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          * that is *not* advanced scheduled.

          do not grade me on my coherence this AM please. Going for more coffee now.

      3. hermit crab*

        That’s how my team tends to do it too (minus Wawa … sigh). But if you don’t want to share, nobody is going to mind that either.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          Nah, we’re hard boiled East Coasters. We mostly like each other though + fast paced and pressure business so out of office stuff can be comic relief. We’d completely glom onto Grandma’s corn appointment.

    4. AnotherFed*

      We all have to use a common outlook calendar for a 100+ people, so mostly we just write our last name and make the appointment the right out of office times. Most people also email whoever might be looking for them (we all hate searching through 20 conflicting items on the calendar to see if Jane is out), and those emails usually have details. Only our chronic oversharers get to the level of grandma’s corns!

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Our standard is to use “private appointment” in Outlook if we’re gone part of the day for non-work reasons. We are chatty also, but everyone is in and out all the time due to lots of off site visits and really flexible schedule/wfh policy. So sometimes you hear the full rundown of Spot’s vet appointment, but nobody will ask what your private appointment is if you don’t volunteer the info.

    5. Sydney Bristow*

      We don’t have a centralized system, but we all are required to change our out of office messages when we are out.

      The best thing is that my boss told me on my first day that if I need to be out for medical reasons that I don’t need to elaborate. He doesn’t want the details. So “I’ll be out for 2 hours for a doctor’s appointment” or “I’ll be out sick today” is all he wants to know.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        I operate similarly with my team. I don’t need to know details of snot color or type of bowel disturbance; if you’re sick, I trust you. Don’t bring it to the team.

        If someone needs to work from home or take a day, I’m fine with that. All that’s required is a notice to the team stating out or stating availability and contact info. I don’t want to deal with doctor notes for a day or two cold.

        The funny part is that even though none of us is pressured to send details, there are always those few who will tell you more than you ever wanted to know. Ever.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          Yup. If you tell me you’re throwing up, I may just join in so please, go do it at home so I don’t have to know about it. I also tend to catch everything in a 10 mile radius, so please don’t spread it around.

    6. Not Today Satan*

      I generally stay vague and just say I need to take a day/morning/afternoon off. I don’t want to start a pattern of sharing details and then feel awkward when I have a gyno or therapy appointment (not that people should feel ashamed of either of those things, but I’d rather not discuss them with my boss).
      I would only share details if I’m requesting the time off on short notice and want to make clear that it’s a sort of urgent situation.

      1. Mabel*

        I would only share details if I’m requesting the time off on short notice and want to make clear that it’s a sort of urgent situation.

        I totally get this, but I hope that your employer would trust you that if you were taking time off on short notice, you’d have a good reason.

        But I really do get this – I once had to be out on very short notice because my partner threw her back out and was in a lot of pain. I didn’t have any PTO left for the year, and I worked at a training company, so when you weren’t there at the last minute, other people’s schedules had to be rearranged to cover the class I was supposed to teach. So I was really expecting to be grilled when I said I had a family emergency, but they just said OK, we’ll let people know.

      2. Chinook*

        “I would only share details if I’m requesting the time off on short notice and want to make clear that it’s a sort of urgent situation.”

        Actually, I would only share details if I thought it was important that I could be contacted or not. If I am off for a funeral, don’t bother trying. But, if I am off for the day for a doctor’s appointment (literally not worth the $$ to drive in to work and pay for parking if I work less than 6 hours in the day and don’t catch the commuter bus), I would be available for most of the day for a phone call and probably monitoring my emails at some point.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I write “APPT” on my (publicly visible) calendar when I have doctor’s appointments, but I’ve been known to tell my co-workers where I’m going. My choice, though– I don’t expect the same from them. However, just last week I put “Pick up car rental” and “[Dog’s name] – Daycare” on my calendar. No one standard for us either, but I’d be pretty appalled if someone pressed for the reason why someone would be out.

      I kind of want to ask my direct report about a standing appointment she has every other week, because I figure it’s therapy and I completely, utterly, unequivocally support her in that, but it’s none of my business so I stay quiet.

    8. Graciosa*

      I just realized I have a three-category system.

      My out of office just specifies the dates of my expected absence and alternative contact for business emergencies. It’s very minimal. We all also update our status on Microsoft Lync, so mine will show which office I’m working from in which part of the day or if I’m out (i.e., HQ in a.m., Factory in p.m.).

      My team may also hear details about anything neutral to good – where I’ll be vacationing, for example, or if I’m leaving early for a spa appointment.

      Only my boss knows the bad stuff. I have had family members who were suddenly hospitalized with life-threatening conditions and as far as my team knows, I just happened to be working from home for a while. It’s not terribly unusual, so it passed without comment. They have no idea I was taking their calls from a hospital.

      I just didn’t want to have to talk about it – even with sympathetic listeners. A year passed before I said anything to a colleague.

      I have no problem providing cover for people who want to deal with their private lives in privacy.

    9. Noah*

      It depends. I normally just say I’ll be out of the office tomorrow, or I’ll be late tomorrow because I have an appointment at 9am, or I’m taking a 2 hour lunch today and will stay late. If my manager asks I’ll tell him I have a doctors appointment, need to meet the cable company, or whatever. I’ve never had anyone really ask for lots of details or push into why I’m going to the doctor.

      I also make sure to put “Out of Office” as an appointment on my Outlook calendar so no one tries to schedule a meeting during the time I plan to be out.

    10. Hotstreak*

      Folks in my office are in and out throughout the day on a regular basis for client meetings, conference calls, etc., so generally we don’t notify each other when we’re going to be gone. It’s just assumed that we will be in at some point that day, unless our name is listed on the PTO calendar (which only lists names, no reasons). The only exceptions I can think of are when someone calls in sick, in which case there may be an email sent to the project team if something important was happening that day.

    11. stillLAH*

      Planned time out all goes in our Google Calendars through the master HR calendar (just medical/vacation/personal/jury duty is shown there) but we’re also supposed to send “Where y’at” emails ahead of time (NOLA, y’all) where some people go into great detail.

    12. Honeybee*

      People here send an email at the beginning of the day (usually between 6 am and 9 am) to let people know if they are going to be out of office, working from home, coming in late or leaving early. But we’re a close-knit group so we tend to (over)share the details of why we’re going to be late/OOF, often in hilarious fashion. People lean towards details, and you’re likely to get a response back from people on the team (“good luck,” “feel better,”, “enjoy your trip and bring us back some candy!”, etc.)

  4. Stephanie*

    The $500 cc limit reason sounds like a cop out. Definitely fight them on that. I wonder if you could file a wage dispute with your state over that?

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Yeah, our credit card has a limit, too, but for legitimate business expenses we can call the travel office and ask to have the limit temporarily raised. They will usually give us a twenty-four to forty-eight hour window in which to accomplish the special purchase.

      1. Judy*

        That’s my experience, too. Contact with the card administration with a “signed” form detailing the raising of the expense limit and the length of time it is raised.

    2. Noah*

      For sure. One company I worked for our cards all had $1000 limits, but that’s because we used a central travel office to book airline tickets and hotel rooms. So all that was really on the cards were meals and small expenses. Also, if you knew you would be entertaining clients or doing a lot of traveling that month, all your manager had to do is request the limit be raised.

  5. Anonymous Educator*

    I hate to burn bridges by doing that, but this is a substantial chunk of money.

    Insisting they reimburse you for a travel expense they should isn’t burning bridges.

    That said, I find it disturbing that employees are always worried about burning bridges with former employers, but we rarely (if ever?) hear about employers worrying about burning bridges with their former employees.

    1. MK*

      I don’t get what you find disturbing about it, unless the power inequality itself disturbs you. An employee is worried they will get a bad reference and/or be branded unhirable by the company in the future; that can happen over one contentious exchange with your soon-to-be ex-employer and it can matter a lot if it’s a small field. The employer might be worried about getting a bad reputation and/or losing the possibility of having that person work for them again; usually it takes more than one complaint to ruin a company’s reputation and it’s unlikely that they would need one particular person so much.

      But really, even if employers were worried about burning bridges just the same as employees, of course you wouldn’t hear about it, since the employer can simply choose to avoid the behavior. In the OP5’s case, if his manager felt that they didn’t have to pay but was worried about ruining their relationship, that probably would just pay and the OP wouldn’t hear about it.

      By the way, OP, is the ticket non-transferable as well as non-refundable? Is there any way to “give” it to the company somehow?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I don’t get what you find disturbing about it, unless the power inequality itself disturbs you.

        Obviously it’s the power inequality that’s disturbing.

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      I would just like to say that not all companies are like this. Some companies work very hard to make sure that transitions out of the organization are handled with professionally. Ex-employees may be customers, future employees, and/or referrers for other candidates.

      1. Mabel*

        Right, and word gets around about things like that. But I agree, it doesn’t impact the company as much as it does an individual. And I assume that companies that behave respectfully towards their employees do it because that’s how they want to do business, not because they are worried about the threat of a bad reputation.

  6. Sarahnova*

    Too few companies do worry about this, but at least a few are starting to treat ex – employees like alumni and not traitors.

    My field is small and relatively specialised; it’s common for people to go round the houses and leave and rejoin companies. My current one is great at maintaining connections, but at my former employer I am Dead To Them, despite making them a whackload of money and a lot of promises about how I’d ‘always be part of the family ‘, because I was able to even contemplate leaving. (Yes, they were internally dysfunctional, and my guess is they still are.)

    1. Chocolate lover*

      My former boss still refers to me as a traitor, even though it’s been almost 2 years. She’s only half joking. I still work at the same company and in a related unit, so I still see her sometimes. Once she asked if I was on her team, or my new boss’ team. I told her I was on team chocolate lover.

    2. Honeybee*

      My company actually has an alumni association. It comes with official perks and discounts on the company’s products and services. Former employees are usually spoken of warmly around here, and people stay in touch and help each other out. It’s one of the things that made me come to this position, because I felt like if I ever wanted to leave people wouldn’t begrudge me. (And people come back!)

  7. frequentflyer*

    I have a problem that’s kind of like #3 now – there’s a small employee benefit payout of $100 announced this year, and all employees who have worked for the company for X years and have not resigned or is serving notice as of Y date are eligible for it. I resigned after Y date, but now HR refuses to give me this benefit because I’m a resignee, even though I met all the criteria (which were stated in an email). I know there is nothing I can do to pursue this legally, and since HR is the one that refuses to pay me the benefit… I guess there’s nothing I can do, right?

    I know $100 isn’t very much at all and I could care less about it, but the injustice is annoying the hell out of me. Everyone in my department has upped and left, the boss is new and I doubt he will be able to do anything for me. :( I’m just so pissed off at HR!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I gave my old boss 6 weeks notice I was leaving and he withheld my bonus from me, I was pissed as hell but there was nothing I could do as the terms of the scheme state it’s entirely discretionary, it still annoys me but there was nothing that could be done.

      1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

        I received a promotion to another department in the same division at my old company.

        My boss at the time made a *huge* deal out of how he was paying me my bonus, and that I shouldn’t be eligible (it was performance based, so I had met all the qualifications), but because he and my boss were so gracious, they would pay it out.

        They definitely do not pay out if someone resigns, and then they wonder why people are waiting to get the check and then handing over their two weeks notice.

      2. Jerry Vandesic*

        Would you have received the bonus if you had not given notice? Would the six weeks of time been enough to receive your payout? If so, your old boss was encouraging people to skimp on notice, even give no notice if that’s what it takes to get your bonus. Not a smart move by your old employer.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I would have got the bonus if I’d only given the four weeks notice I was obligated to, but my boss was making plans for me to do some work and it would have caused a big problem for him and the team if I hadn’t said anything so I decided to do the right thing and tell him. Normally the firm treated employees very well so it took me by surprise.

          1. Frustrated ENTJ*

            Oof. I would be tempted to tell the boss that I gave the extra notice in good faith so that the business could plan better, and was disappointed that I ended up losing out on the bonus.

            I mean, you saved the company problems (and I’m guessing maybe some money) and in turn it cost you money. So frustrating.

    2. Colette*

      Have you pointed out that you qualify? Have you talked to your manager?

      How effective that will be depends on the people involved as well as the details. Personally, I’d be more sympathetic if you resigned a month after Y and two weeks notice than I would be if you resigned the day after Y and gave two days notice.

      1. frequentflyer*

        I resigned 5 days after Y and am currently serving my 3 months’ notice (contractual). Talked to my boss (head of department) who backed me up (because the criteria is in black and white, and I so obviously meet it), but HR is stalling and I doubt they will do anything. >:(

        1. Mabel*

          At least it will help that your boss backs you up. I hope you get the $! Companies don’t seem to understand that nickel and diming employees has an impact well beyond the amount they didn’t want to/refused to pay.

    3. EmmaBlake*

      My brother-in-law actually held off giving his notice until he received his bonus. He had already earned it, and it was apart of his contract, but he was worried they’d deny it anyways. His new company was very understanding and waited over two months because his old company “wanted to wait until the new year” so they could have it on that years taxes I guess.

      It’s crazy what companies make employees go through. My BIL met every criteria, was contractually obligated to receive the bonus, and he still had to play this hide and seek game to guarantee he got the money that was owed to him.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        That seems like an abundance of caution to me, if it’s a contractual obligation then there’s no reasonable way for the company to deny paying it.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          Bonuses are often part of the total compensation package when you sign up, but somehow are not part of that package when you leave. Funny how that works.


          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            But EmmaBlake says the bonus is part of her BIL’s contract, which means the company can not withhold it.

        2. LBK*

          I obviously don’t know the details of the contract in question, but every bonus I’ve ever earned came with the specific stipulation that you had to be employed at the time the bonus was paid out in order to receive it and that’s usually how I’ve heard it from others, too. It doesn’t seem unusual to me.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            The only bonus schemes I’ve been a part of say that they are at your managers / the firms discretion so they can always be denied for any reason, but when it forms a core part of a contract then it surely it has to be legally enforceable.

          2. EmmaBlake*

            I don’t know the specifics of the contract either. I just remember the ridiculously long wait for him to get his bonus. It almost seemed like they knew he was getting ready to leave and kept pushing it back hoping he’d resign before they paid. His “Christmas” bonus didn’t end up being paid until March.

  8. Sarah G*

    For OP #5, I would encourage her to spell “Lollapalooza” correctly if she includes that detail. :)

      1. BuildMeUp*

        Normally no, but it sounds like the OP might menation Lolla in her cover letter, in which case I think it’s ok to point out so that she uses the correct spelling then!

    1. OP #5*

      OP here. Since I’m talks my about taking my kids to Lolla (how’s that?) and not being a fan myself I think I can be excused. But I think I won’t mention it at all.

  9. AnotherFed*

    #5 Reach out once, and stick to concrete things you were enthusiastic about. Alison’s field may be more forgiving of the intuitive match thing and chalk it up to enthusiasm, but in my industry, that will come across as a big negative. It’s not at pass the story around the office level crazy, but anyone apparently placing weight on intuitive fit rather than than providing evidence is going to get your resume a trip to the circular file. We’d wonder whether you would make work decisions based on solid evidence or not.

    1. themmases*

      I agree, this would not go over well in fields I’ve worked in either. I’ve worked in some pretty do-gooder areas where you might expect that people would talk about vibes or belonging, but we really don’t. People tell work stories about what is important to them and what they enjoy.

      People bring up dating or friendship analogies a lot and I think it’s really apt here. I would never ever want to hear from someone that they had a vibe or intuition about me after only meeting them a handful of times. It would strike me as an inappropriate overshare at best, manipulative at worst.

    2. IT Girl*

      OP5 also didn’t get the job the first time round so it doesn’t seem the feeling was mutual anyway.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Not necessarily. Maybe OP5 was beat out by 1 exceptional person or maybe OP5 was one of the top 5 and might easily get a job next time.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    5. “Is that too weird? Even to say that I rely on intuition and my intuition said it was the place for me? ”

    YES. So much yes. I would be really uncomfortable if I got a note like that.

    1. Felicia*

      Especially because all candidates applying seem to have that same intuition sometimes, and I find the people who are the loudest about being a perfect fit without being able to articulate actual reasons are often not the greatest fit.

      1. OP #5*

        You guys are no fun! But I’m sure you’re right. I had a feeling (ha!) that this would be the response but just wanted to double check.

    2. Mike C.*

      Yeah, this is really, really weird. It reminds me of those people that claim to be mediums on tv or something.

    3. F.*

      Yes, it is weird, but I am very rational and analytical and am in an analytical industry (engineering), so I do think it would be out of line in some industries. I can’t speak for others, though. One thing that did come across in OP’s letter was that it seems almost like an infatuation or “crush” on the company. There may also be a case of this other company looking so desirable because of OP’s dissatisfaction at their current company. OP might want to step back and objectively analyze the positives and negatives of both companies. This infatuation with the “one that got away” may be tainting their relationship with their current company. Just throwing this out for thought.

    4. Graciosa*

      I hate to be overly harsh, but I really agree with Katie on this one.

      Please don’t mention your intuition or your feelings as justification for a business decision. It would make me seriously question a candidate’s judgment, reasoning skills, or preparation (you couldn’t come up with ANY rational and objective reasons for wanting to work with us?).

      Find something that would make sense to Spock in a good mood (when he would allow for a little weird human illogic but not too much) and use that.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I think there’s a lot of merit to going with your gut–that’s the best business advice anyone has ever given me. But that applies when there’s a decision to be made by you, the individual, and it should obviously be backed by facts and sound reasoning.

        There’s no decision in the OP’s hands here so yes, I think it would be creepy.

        1. Rat Racer*

          Just seconding here because Bend & Snap hit the nail on the head: your intuition guides your decision as to whether or not you’ll take an offer.

          But if you can articulate what’s driving your intuition (a great rapport with the people you interviewed, the nature, pace, work environment), that is good information to pass on to the hiring manager. “Intuition” on it’s own is too vague.

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      If I got a note about how strong the intuition was and that I must hire, I’d be waiting for more notes, chocolates with framed photos, and the coming onslaught of escalating phone calls. Freaky.

      It’s comparable to saying, “I could be such a great boyfriend, I know it, if you give me a chance. I don’t know you, but I’m a nice guy!”

      1. Rat Racer*

        Yes, I agree. I think people are getting hung up on the word “intuition,” because it sounds way too “Miss Cleo” for the workplace. That said, if the OP can analyze why she feels a connection to company and translate that into how she would be a great asset to them, that may be worth sharing with the hiring manager.

        1. Observer*

          I think that people are also reacting to the “I know I’m right for you, even though you don’t know yet” vibe, as well. But, I also agree that the point seems to have been made clearly enough and the OP seems to get it, so it’s time to move on, unless there is something additional to add.

  11. Not Karen*

    #4 In my office, everyone has access to everyone else’s Outlook calendars, and we’re supposed to put PTO, etc. when we’re going to be out. I don’t see how this (#4’s calendar) is any different, besides a little more in your face.

    1. Hlyssande*

      I think the difference, based on what the OP said, is at least in part that someone changed OP’s note from ‘in late’ to ‘out all day’. If someone writes something on there and it needs to be changed, it should be done with the original writer’s permission (or by a supervisor/manager in some situations).

  12. KH*

    OP #1, you said:

    “I would want to have a heart-to-heart with my new boss and agree in advance about how any hurt feelings/retaliation would be handled.”

    Don’t do that. Really, truly, don’t do that. If the first thing a new hire did with me was come have a “heart to heart” about retaliation from other candidates, I’d wonder if YOU were the one with the issue. As Allison said, it’s one thing to ask (once you get to that point) about potential internal candidates and if there will be any issues with you being hired, but a “heart to heart” is making a huge big deal and prioritizing something that shouldn’t be your first priority in a new job.

    1. TM*

      Author of the internal candidate question here. What I meant by “heart to heart” was simply what you describe above: asking, once hired, about potential internal candidates and whether or not there will be any issues. I recognize that the prior situation I was in was well outside the norm, but I was at a distinct disadvantage because I wasn’t made aware right away that I was managing someone who had also applied for the position.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I just want to reiterate it’s probably outside the norm and give you some hope. At my significant other’s current job, he beat out two internal candidates and learned that shortly after starting. He said they were a little timid with him at first, but have since warmed up and now one of them in particular is one of his fave’s and they’re currently working on a project very well together.

      2. MommaTRex*

        I recently went through this situation on the side of internal candidate not getting the job. It’s been easier for me to handle because I like my new boss very much. But I also like that I’m not sure if she knows whether or not I applied for her job; it’s probable that she does know, but it is easier for me pretending that she doesn’t. Remember that most people will be able to handle it professionally, but we might have a few times of being a little down. For me, it was best that my little down times were pretty much ignored; I got through them, brushed them off, and I’m in a very good place now. My boss and I get along great, and she is open to giving me new opportunities to expand. Please give any internal candidates the benefit of the doubt and a little space and time. Give them a chance to get over it and act professionally. Of course, if you give them a chance and they dump on you (like your previous experience), that’s another story! But don’t assume it will go that way.

        1. MommaTRex*

          To expand on my thought here: if my new boss came to me early on and mentioned that she knew I had applied for the job, I would probably have been mortified. Well, at least VERY uncomfortable. While I understand wanting to head-off problems, I think you can do it without letting the internal candidates know that you know they didn’t get the job.

    2. CMT*

      Yes! I’m kind of surprised Alison didn’t touch on this. OP shouldn’t go into a new position assuming the same bad experience will repeat itself.

      1. TM*

        OP here — I realize it’s highly unlikely that the situation will repeat itself (which Alison did mention), but the previous situation was such a cluster that it is definitely something I want to avoid repeating. And the position I’m being considered for is the type that might be attractive to an internal candidate — it’s a new role, and would represent a step up from some of the existing positions. I feel as though even in the best of circumstances, there can at least be some mild awkwardness when an internal candidate doesn’t get the job. And I think as a (theoretical) new manager, it would be helpful to know whether or not anyone internal was considered for the position, if only to help minimize that awkwardness. (I agree with you, MommaTRex, I would be mortified if I was the internal candidate and my new boss told me that s/he knew I’d been passed over — as the boss, I certainly wouldn’t let on that I knew!)

  13. The IT Manager*

    My problem with #4 is that the LW refers to as in place of a time clock. If this is tracking her hours for her hourly wage then someone changing it without her knowledge is a problem to be addressed.

    Overall, though, I agree its no invasion of privacy to do this as long as you can keep it vague.

  14. TotesMaGoats*

    #4-We all have outlook calendars that are supposed to be up to date. We also have a shared “vacation” calendar on an internal website. It’s limited to our department. You put the day you are out or half day and “vacation” “leave early” whatever it might be. I don’t really see how that’s any sort of invasion of privacy unless you have to list “OBGYN appt”. I wish we could enforce keeping outlook more up to date. It’s not that hard. It makes life easier to know if someone is in or out or will be in at some point.

  15. Bowserkitty*

    #4 – we had this at my old job and it worked pretty well. Nobody was expected to be more detailed than “appointment” unless they personally wanted to be.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Reading further however (oh, the time it takes for my caffeine to set in) we never had anybody write over our things unless given permission – like if somebody called in to say “my appointment ran long, be in PM instead of late AM” or “I’ll actually be OOO rest of day now.”

  16. INTP*

    #2: Would management, the account reps, or whoever is in charge of this sort of thing be open to sending out a heads up “Due to increased holiday demand, printing requests will take 4-6 weeks for jobs of less than 10 pages and 6-8 weeks for jobs of greater than 10 pages” email to all the clients that might make the requests? I can kind of see the clients being rightfully pissed if they have always been accommodated within a week or two and are then told that it will be much longer, without being warned. This would give you something to be able to refer to when they are angry.

    Otherwise, I agree with just blaming it on the level of demand. It’s the truth – the backlog is due to demand outpacing capacity, and they don’t need to know the cause of your lower capacity.

  17. Charityb*

    I think customers don’t necessarily need reasons or excuses for the backlog; what they want to know is the turnaround time and reasonable progress updates. I find that people aren’t frustrated by long waits but by feeling ignored; it’s the reason why a lot of call centers have systems where they let you know how many callers are ahead of you. I think if you’re transparent about what’s going on in the backlog and are open with your customers they’ll be reasonably satisfied. The ones who really can’t wait at all will be upset, sure, but they would be upset regardless and at least now they can make decisions.

    1. catsAreCool*

      “I find that people aren’t frustrated by long waits but by feeling ignored;” Yes! It helps to know why there’s a wait and how long it will be.

  18. Anna*

    Re 5 – I once ended up working for a company I had previously daydreamed about working for. I had met a number of the senior management and juniors before on several occasions and they all seemed so friendly and passionate about their jobs – I was desperate for a position there. I reached out to them along the lines Alison suggested and ended up getting a job with them – what is really interesting is that my assessment of the company and what it would be like to work there was completely wrong. The public, external face masked one of the most dysfunctional organisations I have come across. The previously charming boss was actually a complete head-case: screaming, crying, smashing up his desk and throwing objects at work. I am surprised now when I think of my previous impression of them…. be careful!

  19. Ultraviolet*

    #4: In the cases you know of where someone’s changed another person’s out-of-office entry without permission, has that change been accurate? (Aside from the example of when it happened to you, I mean.) If some other ones have been inaccurate, then I think you can probably speak up without waiting for it to happen to you specifically again. If they’ve been accurate, then I agree it’s best to assume it was a fluke until it happens again–unless your inaccurate entry caused you big problems, in which case there’s an argument for addressing it sooner.

  20. Brett*

    #4 Our workplace uses the outlook calendars, but we address two things uniquely and far more open than many workplaces. (I think I have talked about this before? But the recent passing of one of our co-workers reminded me of this anyway.)

    If someone is out with a serious illness (think late stage cancer), they are given the option to send out an announcement to the entire department of their situation. Not everyone does this, but since it is a common practice, nearly all do. This is to give other employees an opportunity to assist the family, donate sick leave/cash, etc. We had an employee recently pass away, and we raised around $40k in donations for the family as well as covering the employee’s entire leave with donated leave.

    The other unique thing here is bereavement leave. If an employee goes on bereavement leave, they have the option to have it announced to the entire department, including who passed away, the hours and location of the different services, and where to send donations. (Personally, I have not had this announcement made, mostly because the funerals I have attended have all been out of state). If a current or former employee passes away, their death is announced in a similar way and everyone has a mourning band they can wear the day of the funeral whether they attend or not. I have been to funerals where 500+ employees attended.

    While time-tracking can feel like an invasion of privacy, openness about serious reasons for being out of the office can create a very supportive environment too.

  21. MissDisplaced*

    #4 I used to manage a small team of 4 and had a similar calendar for writing on advance-planned time off such as vacations and known appointments or half days off (and I also put MY time on it). It was helpful for them all to see in advance, as we couldn’t ALL be off the same time. I never asked for any great detail though, a simple vacation, appt, travel, or such was sufficient. If someone wanted to write in “sick” after the fact it was up to them, but not required.
    I thought it worked fine. Today though I think I’d go with a shared Outlook calendar.

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