I don’t want to throw my team under the bus about a mistake that wasn’t my fault

A reader writes:

I’m a now not-so-recent college graduate in her first big girl job and I’m not entirely sure how to phrase an issue to my boss. I have an manager who works out of state. The manager works directly and most closely with me on day-to-day operations on our projects and I supervise the team, though we have a very loose management structure due to it being a very small team of me and two other people. One of those people has a more specialist job title than me and was originally going to be MY boss until a switch up before the project started.

This project has already had one stock shortage issue due to my own personal error. I took responsibility and the issue was taken care of, but not without cost to the company. My manager was understanding that this is my first job in a capacity like this and I was promoted quickly from a very junior position by necessity so mistakes can happen.

Now we have a second stock shortage that is not my fault at all. We had the correct stock for an item we make; I did a stock check as recently as the first week of this month, and there is email between my manager and I tracking this. I took a day out for an illness and came back to find that we were short of stock after my two employees worked on putting together that product while I was out. I don’t know the exact culprit between the two employees and it’s not important who it was; there is no way they stole the item (it’s a completely unusable item outside the context we use it in and has no resale value). But I have no idea how to best phrase to my manager that while I was out for a sick day, stock got misplaced and possibly disposed of.

I don’t want to throw my team members under the bus, but I wasn’t here and I and my team and a third party have searched up and down to try to find the misplaced item. My boss threatened to take it out of someone’s paycheck if we had another stock shortage. At this point, I don’t even really care if it comes out of my paycheck (it won’t be THAT expensive but it won’t be cheap either, but I can deal with it). But I also know my boss will be mad if I offer take responsibility for someone else’s mistake because we’ve had trouble with carelessness with these two employees in other areas of the job as well. I’m just completely at a loss for how to tell my manager about the issue without sounding like I’m throwing my team under the bus. I don’t want to sound like I’m taking the blame and covering for two trouble employees, which would make me sound like I don’t know how to properly manage/supervise my team. Suggestions?

First, you must stop calling it a “big girl job” immediately because you are a grown woman, and you are undermining yourself with that language.

Next, it’s not throwing people under the bus to say, “Hey, this mistake happened on the day I was out sick and I’m trying to figure out how. We’ve searched up and down to try to find the item and haven’t been able to. It’s possible it was inadvertently thrown away. I’m looking into how this could have happened, and my plan for ensuring this doesn’t happen in the future is ____.”

That blank is the key part of this. You need to have a plan for addressing this, because it’s apparently a big deal. If you can’t figure out what kind of plan you could put in place, then that’s something to talk to your boss about. As in: “I want to put a plan in place to avoid this in the future, and I hoped I could talk with you about what might look like like.” Ideally you’d have some thinking on this already done so that you can say things like “I considered X but the drawback of that is Y, and I considered Z but I’m concerned about W” — so that it’s clear that you’re working on this and not just dumping it in your boss’s lap.

Also, you said that there’s been a pattern of carelessness with these two employees, and that’s a big deal. Your manager is right to be concerned about that and to want you to address it. So as part of this conversation, I’d be prepared to talk about what you’re doing about that broader pattern. Are you spot-checking their work more often? Giving them additional training? Warning them about the seriousness of the problem and watching them more closely to ensure they’re improving? Whatever you’re doing to address it, that should be part of this situation too.

None of this is throwing anyone under the bus (and really, I’d avoid that frame for most work things, especially straightforward information-sharing). It’s just being transparent with your manager and trying to problem-solve, which is exactly what most managers will want to see from you.

{ 168 comments… read them below }

  1. Analyst*

    It might be their fault but it’s still your responsibility too, as their boss. If I were you I’d tell your manager that they (no need to single out one) made the mistake while you were out sick and the three of you are going to brainstorm ways to not let that happen in the future. Then really do sit down with your employees and brainstorm this. Some sort of check system is probably needed – them checking each other, you being looped in appropriately, etc.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Yes. I certainly think the OP can make it clear that it wasn’t her personal mistake, but I adhere to the words of Hopper in A Bug’s Life (even though he’s the villain): “First rule of leadership — everything is your fault.”

      1. Green*

        Yes. That is the rule of life in a law firm. An electromagnetic pulse renders all electronics useless and the internet is dead and society is mid-apocalypse so the brief doesn’t get filed? It’s still your fault. You should have filed it earlier.

        I almost never take the blame for issues (I don’t think apportioning “blame” is particularly helpful in most work contexts), but I often take responsibility, apologize that something happened and come up with a way to fix it.

        1. Anonsie*

          I have joked before that in my field, if someone I support stuck a fork in an electrical socket I’d be responsible for letting them near the cutlery. It’s honestly not really a joke though…

    2. TootsNYC*

      I have this philosophy very much. I use the words “we,” and I get really proactive about having worked with my team to identify the cause, the fix, and the prevention before I go to my boss.

      I would feel OK saying, “I was out, so I didn’t get to see what happened, but I’ve investigated and…,” but I won’t ever name names if I can avoid it.

      Partly because I think it *is* my responsibility to have a tracking system for inventory, to monitor that everyone uses that system, and that they understand how it works, and why it’s so important.

    3. Rat Racer*

      Exactly this. When you’re a manager you are your team. Your manager is going to credit you for any successes in your team, and hold you accountable for their mistakes. When your team is successful, you make sure to recognize your employees; when they make mistakes, you stand in front of the bus. It’s a lot of responsibility, and an unbalanced see-saw, but that’s one reason why you (presumably) earn more than your employees.

      I think the first thing to do is work out the plan of how to make sure this won’t happen again within your team, and then communicate the outcome of that conversation to your boss. Let your team know that when mistakes like this happen, it reflects poorly on all of you, and that your team needs to collaborate with each other to keep mistakes from happening in the future.

  2. neverjaunty*

    LW, the definition of ‘throwing someone under the bus’ is unfairly shifting blame to them that’s rightfully yours, or expecting them to take consequences that should fall on you. Telling your boss that direct reports are responsible for something they are actually responsible for is not throwing them under the bus. As a manager, you need to get away from the idea that it is your job to protect your employees from consequences.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Yes, I was coming to say something along these lines.

      Throwing under the bus was what happened about a decade ago when a project I was working on in no way matched the client’s expectations and they were really unhappy about it. The art director I was working under told the big boss that she thought that I had “misunderstood” her direction.

      Unfortunately for her I had a previous decade’s worth of relationship with him, and when I saw that e-mail, I replied back that I had followed her directions quite exactly and would bring them to show him. I pulled out her directions, walked into his office and said “Not me.”

      She didn’t like that and told me she didn’t appreciate it and thought it was very inappropriate and unprofessional and I told her that I thought it was unprofessional and inappropriate to throw me under the bus.

      LW’s employees actually DID the thing that is an issue, and it’s not an isolated incident of otherwise great employees (which I would also categorize as throwing under the bus unless you’re at the same defending that this was unusual for them, etc.).

    2. CA Admin*

      Exactly. Throwing someone under the bus is when a Partner sits on expense reports without signing them for months, despite repeated reminders, then blames the EA by saying he didn’t have them. That isn’t ok, especially given the power dynamics.

      This isn’t that. This is junior people screwing up, then getting called on their screw ups. AKA managing them and keeping your own manager in the loop.

    3. orchidsandtea*

      “As a manager, you need to get away from the idea that it is your job to protect your employees from consequences.”

      YES. And OP, you aren’t doing them any favors. Seriously, protecting them from the reasonable consequences of their actions won’t help them become better employees, and it will not make them a better team member in the long term. That isn’t good for your company, and it isn’t good for their longterm careers either.

    4. LBK*

      I think throwing someone under the bus can also mean making a point of placing blame when the audience is someone who doesn’t really care about whose fault it was or doesn’t have enough information about your company’s operations to fully understand the context. This mostly applies externally (clients don’t usually care whose fault a mistake is, they usually just want to know it’s fixed and it won’t happen again) but I think it can also apply internally if you’re resolving an issue for someone up the chain.

      Not sure that applies in this situation, but I wouldn’t definitively say that you can never throw someone under the bus for someone that wasn’t your fault. I think that’s also what leads to some of the uneasiness of feeling like you’re throwing someone under the bus when handling an issue like this.

    5. myswtghst*

      I work with a few managers who don’t seem to understand this, and will go to great lengths to “protect” their employees in ways that really just hinder their development by preventing them from learning from their mistakes and improving, and will only lead to a really unpleasant conversation down the road when the mistakes eventually have to be addressed.

  3. Bekx*

    Alison, isn’t it also illegal for the employer to dock your paycheck for this? If the boss is threatening this he may not be aware.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ah, I should have addressed that too. It depends on state law, but it’s pretty common for state law to prohibit an employer from docking pay for a mistake unless it was the result of willful, deliberate misconduct.

      1. fposte*

        It also can’t take them below minimum wage for the period, which sounds like it could be a risk in this case, given the severity of the reaction.

    2. HRGruntInCali*

      Under California law, it’s definitely illegal, unless it can be proven that it was due to gross negligence on the employee’s part (and being sick on the day the order had to go out would *not* come even remotely close to “gross negligence”). I can’t speak for any other states, however.

    3. Kate*

      I also thought this was illegal (though having never worked in that type of industry, I wasn’t sure). Part of me wondered if Boss knew it was an idle threat but has the managerial style of the parent/child relationship (where Boss threatens employees with punishments to discourage mistakes). I had an employer like this when I was in my early-20’s, so I associated it with being (and looking) youthful as the OP may be. That’s why I really like AAM’s advice to have a straight forward conversation with Boss. It shows you handle things like an adult because you are one, and they should likewise treat you that way. I realize I read a whole lot into that comment though based on my personal experience.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        When I was in my early-mid 20s, I’d offer to pay for my mistakes because I thought it was the right thing to do (and because, for some reasons of personal experience, my instinct with displeased authority figures is often to grovel).

  4. Christy*

    I have a hard time with that feeling of “throwing people under the bus” too. But really, we can’t save others from the consequences of their own actions. If your team members messed it up and your boss wants to know who messed it up, you need to tell your boss.

    Maybe me saying it here will make me start actually believing it for myself. My boss wants me to follow up with him when Coworker doesn’t do his job–so I need to tell Boss when Coworker doesn’t do his job. It’s no good to try to shield Coworker from Boss.

    1. TheLazyB*

      I’ve recently had a couple of not wanting to throw people under the bus moments. It’s frustrating when someone implies you’ve done something wrong when you did what someone else told you to do :-/ I wouldn’t mind if the person was there to defend themselves!

    2. animaniactoo*

      Depends. Your situation sounds different in that you sound like you’re talking about somebody on your level, not someone under you, which changes the context. Does boss want to know because he’s asking you to be his nark, or because it impacts your job and he wants to know that it impacted your job?

      If the former, you can feel free to tell him that you’re uncomfortable serving in that role, but if it’s the latter – yeah, don’t shield co-worker.

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      I’ve always wondered about this–I had a coworker go to my boss about a client’s complaints about me that were untrue despite my documentation. Later he admitted to me that he knew she was lying but she had been demanding that she relay her complaints to our boss. Ever since then I’ve considered it being thrown under the bus, but I don’t know now.

      1. LQ*

        I think this comes up in the way it is presented. Is it “Nervous screwed up.” or is it “Client is complaining about Nervous.” (with a bonus of “and here’s what I know” would be ideal on the second)

        I’d say your coworker did have to go to the boss with that so the relaying wasn’t being thrown under the bus by itself. Even if it wasn’t true, and even if the conversation was “Listen, Client is clearly unhappy with Nervous, here’s the situation, they demanded that I put in a complaint, etc etc.” that conversation needed to happen.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Exactly. “Boss, I have a problem. Client is complaining about Nervous and it’s not justified. Yet Client insists that I tell you about it. Here’s the scoop [tell the whole story]. And now here is the part why the accusation is not justified [show the facts of the matter].”

          I had to write a report on an accident. I was pretty upset that the readers might not understand that it was NOT my coworker’s fault. I was pretty worried so I went over my report and even read it out loud to myself trying to make sure that there would be NO mistake, my coworker was not at fault here. The accident happened so fast that I actually needed time to think about how to describe everything I saw, convey that it happened rapidly and my coworker moved as fast as he could to lessen the situation. I did manage to get my points across. And my coworker thanked me.

        2. Anonsie*

          I think it also depends on how you know the person you report it to will use it, too. If you are very fair with a “Client is complaining about Nervous” report and even qualify that you feel like it’s not true but the client is insisting it be passed on but you also know for a fact that your boss will ignore your qualifications and jump to cracking down as if it were all true, that’s also something to take into consideration in how you handle something like this.

  5. KT*

    Thanks for Alison for calling calling out the “big girl job”. When I hear women say that, it makes me cringe and grit my teeth. You’re a grown woman managing employees…you’re an adult, not a toddler learning to use pull-ups!

    That said (deep breath). ..

    As a manager, part of your responsibility is holding employees accountable, not acting as a shield and taking the blame and paying the penalty. You should be looking for the cause and working to fix it; if that means putting a careless employee on a PIP or paving the way to letting him or her go, so be it.

        1. AA*

          I didn’t quit reading, but it did color how I read the entire letter. I immediately expected the OP to prove her inexperience and inability to manage, and the situation did read that way for me. I can’t be sure that’s a fair assessment because I had already mentally labeled her.

    1. junipergreen*

      Agreed with KT, here.

      The issue with framing this as “throwing them under the bus” is that it indicates an “us” versus “them” mentality. There is no contest here since you’re all on the same team: working to sustain/grow the company. Accountability is the issue at hand.

    2. Doriana Gray*

      As a manager, part of your responsibility is holding employees accountable, not acting as a shield and taking the blame and paying the penalty.

      I’ve had managers who have done both. If a higher-up or a client/customer or someone on another team called out one of their team members for a mistake, the manager would take the hit and defend the person, but then turn around and address the issue with the responsible party. Hell, even my last hellbeast of a boss did this from time to time. Her thought process was that no one on the outside needed to know we screwed up – we could keep that in house. I imagine the others felt that way as well.

      1. AthenaC*

        I actually had just this situation not too long ago. While preparing for a project, I told my lead (i.e. my subordinate) what he needed to do ahead of time to prepare. Well, day one of the project comes and he didn’t do a single one of the prep tasks he needed to do.

        No problem! All he did was make his own job harder. I chuckle to myself, thinking I’ll just get to enjoy the show … erm … learning experience. Until he emails me that he’s sick and can’t make it in that day. Oh boy – his problem just became my problem.

        We got through the project and then I told him I wanted to “debrief” once we were back in our home office. Instead of me telling him what he did wrong, I asked him, “Looking back, what would you do differently?” and let him tell me what he did wrong. I think overall it was a very productive conversation.

        Unfortunately, I wasn’t at that job much longer, so I don’t know how that experience impacted his performance going forward, but I would like to think that he learned from that project.

  6. DMC*

    Allison, I’m so glad you addressed the “big girl job” language. I find it demeaning, myself, along with the close cousin, “putting on my big girl panties.” Ugh (which also evokes an unnecessary image, thank you very much). I know it’s common language these days but hopefully that will change soon.

    1. lawyerkate*

      +1 for both of these phrases. The other thing that makes me cringe is when grown women refer to themselves as princesses. Women everywhere, I implore you: STAHHHHPPPPP

      1. KT*

        Whut? Women still do that? Like, over the age of 17?

        I shouldn’t be surprised. I had a coworker refer to the CEO’s wife as “his little chickadee” and she was bewildered at my shocked expression.

        1. Michelenyc*

          When I worked for a luxury goods brand years ago there was a woman that was in her 30’s that came into customer service to have a bag repaired who used the name Princess on her paperwork. I had to call her because of course she had an issue and wanted to talk to the manager. I felt so dumb asking for Princess it didn’t help matters that she said when I asked to speak to her. She was so unpleasant.

          1. KT*

            I have known two women who were legitimately named Princess–birth certificate and all–but I can’t imagine a grown woman referring to herself as princess otherwise

            1. HRGruntInCali*

              If I had been named “Princess” at birth, I’d like to think I would have wanted to change my name to “Queen” or even better, “Empress”, on my 18th birthday. Seriously, why name your daughter “princess?”

              1. Karowen*

                I mean, you can be a Prince/Princess after 18. Look at Charles! And you can also be a King much younger.

              2. One of the Sarahs*

                I feel this way about celebrities who called their sons “Sonny”, “Buddy” etc – completely fine to use as a nickname, but I really feel for those kids, and imagine them doing a Zowie Bowie/Duncan Jones shift as soon as they’re able!

                1. Artemesia*

                  Even Frank Zappa didn’t really name his kids Moon Unit and Dweezle and Bowie didn’t name the kid Zowie — he named him Duncan and called him Zowie as a baby.

                2. Honeybee*

                  @Artemesia – Dweezil wasn’y really named Dweezil (his name is Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa), but Moon Unit’s name really is Moon Unit. They also named their youngest daughter Diva Muffin.

                1. Former Retail Manager*

                  HA! A lady in our office is named that. I asked her if it was her legal given name….IT IS! She does carry herself well and is a lovely lady.

                2. Red*

                  I knew a lovely young woman at work whose given name was Queen Nefertiti. If I could elect a liege, she’d be the one!

              3. Honeybee*

                I legitimately had a classmate in high school named Empress (along with several Princesses, and at least one Prince).

            2. Chalupa Batman*

              Reminds me of the episode of Friends where Phoebe refuses to call Mike’s new girlfriend by her real name…because she’s named “Precious.”

              I think most uncomfortable situations have a Friends equivalent.

              1. SMG7*

                “Look, Susie–can I call you Susie?”
                “My name is Precious!”
                “…yeah, I can’t call you that. …I’m gonna be straight with you, Susie.”

              2. Honeybee*

                I knew a girl in high school named Precious, too.

                Honestly, I have to say that kind of thing (the Friends reference) makes me slightly uncomfortable. I know it’s supposed to be a joke, but I’m African American and these names are more common in my community, at least in my experience. I’ve seen lots of my friends with Arabic-origin or West African names get their names mangled by people who eventually gave up and just gave them nicknames instead of trying to get it right.

          2. So Very Anonymous*

            When I was in the hospital recovering from surgery, I had a nurse named Princess and another one named Shiny. I swear those were their real names (on their nametags!) and not the morphine they had me on.

            1. Lemons*

              I once had to email someone named Honey. I started out the email as I normally do with Hi (name), but typing “Hi Honey” just made me feel icky. I decided to just start with a straightforward “Hi.”

              1. So Very Anonymous*

                “Honey” was my grandmother’s nickname in myimmediate family (like Nana or Grandma — my cousins had a different name for her for some reason) so I grew up basically having to overcome that ickiness — which I totally understand! And since “Honey” wasn’t… a really good description of my grandmother, it was even more just something you had to kind of ignore. I would probably have an especially weird reaction to having to deal with someone whose name was actually Honey!

          3. Anonsie*

            Was her name not actually Princess? I’ve known a handful of women whose actual legal name is Princess.

        2. Bookworm*

          At first I read that as the CEO referring to his own wife, and I thought…well, maybe he slipped up with a pet name in public. It happens.

          But then I reread and saw that a coworker said that about the CEO’s wife. That’s just…bizarre.

        3. Aella*

          I once heard a(n elderly, semi-rural) neighbour of my parents refer to my mother as my father’s ‘good lady’.

          It could have been much worse, but was still pretty bizarre.

      2. BeautifulVoid*

        Growing up, despite being rather spoiled (late-in-life miracle baby for my parents), I was never called a princess. My father always told people my mother was the queen and I was the “queen-in-training”.

        Sure enough, I’m now the queen of my own kingdom…er, household. Meaning I’m in charge of the finances, coordinating calendars, keeping track of the kids’ stuff, etc. Eh, you know what they say about power and responsibility. ;)

        (And, of course, none of the above has not and will not EVER make it on to my resume!)

    2. Michelenyc*

      One of the owners of a company I worked for a few years ago would say “Hey Girl’s when addressing me and the other woman in the office. It drove me crazy not only am I not a little girl, I am also about 15 years older than him. I cringed everytime I heard it out his mouth!

      1. Anonymosity*

        Someone here calls our admin group girls (she’s one herself). I like her and I know it’s a verbal idiosyncrasy with her and she doesn’t mean it in a derogatory or diminishing way, so I let it go. Though I’m tempted to say, “I’m not a girl; I’m a WOMAN!” She would laugh but I doubt it would stop.

    3. StellsBells*

      I’ve altered it to be “big girl/boy pants” because usually the situation is calling for someone to grow up, but (a) being immature is not isolated to any specific gender and (b) I don’t want to think about their underwear.

      1. Green*

        I use the phrase from time to time with close personal friends (i.e., over drinks), but I would never use it with a professional colleague or coworker. It’s infantilizing to both the speaker and the object in a way that’s not particularly nice in social contexts but wholly inappropriate in professional contexts.

    4. Bookworm*

      Plus, it carries an (I assume) inadvertent implication that other jobs aren’t really “grown-up” jobs. When I was going through school, I did some part-time retail work. It wasn’t part of my career, per se, but I had many co-workers during that time who were mature, responsible adults, often working multiple retail jobs….and they’re just as grown-up as people in white collar positions. We shouldn’t suggest otherwise.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      Don’t join Mary Kay, then. That is a favorite phrase for national sales directors who need people to buy more inventory so they can get bigger commissions!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “Putting on my big girl panties” just feels like TMI to me. Just because we all wear panties does not mean that fact needs to go into ordinary conversation. But my bias is I have never thought of “panties” as being an adult word either. Not sure why.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        I’m late on this one, but you’re not alone on the word “panties,” Not so NewReader! For some reason I’ve been running into it a lot more the past few years while shopping for underwear, and I really dislike the word. I have no good reason for it, other than it does sound diminutive or something. No one I knew growing up and no one in my social group as an adult says that word for underwear, so it also sounds weird when I do hear it. (That’s probably why it strikes me as odd, now that I think about it.)

    7. Anonsie*

      I use “big girl panties” only derisively at other people who are acting like children *shifty eyes*

  7. some1*

    “I don’t know the exact culprit between the two employees and it’s not important who it was”

    I feel like it IS important to try to find out what happened, though, not to apportion blame necessarily; but how are you going to find a solution without figuring out exactly what happened here?

    1. fposte*

      I agree–I think the OP is focusing so much on not getting her team in trouble that she’s skipping that key step. What do the employees say happened?

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        I was wondering why the OP is so worried about protecting them, when it’s clear they’re not coming clean to her about what actually happened here.

      2. Ama*

        Yes, I would think figuring out what happened and why is important — or how are you going to prevent it happening again? And what if it turns out it wasn’t either of the employees?

        I worked at a place that hosted an evening lecture series and we had an ongoing issue with our mac adapter for the projector going missing and turning up in the IT office (which was locked after hours – the adapter was supposed to stay in the lecture room closet). We were blaming the IT staff for coming down to borrow it and not bringing it back, until it turned out the janitorial staff had been returning it to the IT office when they cleaned the lecture hall, because they thought that was who was in charge of it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s part of the job, figure out what happened and how to prevent from happening again. This is what bosses do, OP. I am not clear why you think this is a bad thing. If someone is doing the job wrong they need to be told and probably you are the person who gets to tell them.

      As others have said, you start by asking them what they think went wrong.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Agree with so many of these comments. It *is* important for the direct manager to know who it was. Because then you can figure out why, and do whatever training you need.

      It’s not important to the boss–certainly not at first.

      But also–what will you do when the Boss says to you, “OK, I’ve heard all of your explanations, but I want to know: which one of them was it?”
      He’s not going to be impressed if you haven’t made a serious effort to figure it out.

  8. Relosa*

    RE: “big girl job” I agree that it’s poor self-deprecating language to use. But maybe consider how increasingly rare it is for 20-something and “not-so-recent-grads” to actually get a professional career position (and of course offer what language IS suitable and not undermining to their self-description rather than just admonish them for something that they have less access to). And so when someone does get a position like that, it may actually feel like a “big girl” position because there’s a bigger transition between “recent graduate” to “working professional” than there used to be and job stability is nilch.

    Sincerely, a 29-year-old not-so-recent-graduate who is pretty well-experienced and is currently making minimum wage.

    1. KT*

      Then why not just say it’s your first “Working professional job?” Why belittle yourself?

      (genuinely asking because I’m curious, not to be confrontational. It’s such a cringe-worthy phrase to me I can’t imagine a scenario where it would occur to me to use it)

      1. some1*

        Also, it implies that non-professional jobs are for kids, too. Some adults didn’t and aren’t going to go to college and are working as servers, cashiers, retail, fast food or whatever. It doesn’t make them any less of a “big girl”.

        1. KT*

          This! This is a good point, I think that’s the other side–I don’t like the idea that other jobs aren’t “real” because that belittles people who work those jobs, regardless of the situation.

          1. Relosa*

            This is my point that was probably unclear – those who are not in “professional” salaried positions are often seen as “less than” regardless of what they actually do or their expertise (whether via experience or education, or whatever qualifying combination). So when that change comes, it’s felt as a major upgrade and there’s a bit of impostor syndrome going on, so the new employee/young professional.

            The change needs to go both ways, and I think sometimes that is forgotten.

            1. Relosa*

              oh sweet jebus sorry. I have a weird browser issue that keeps eating half my words.

              so the new employee/young professional...has a larger challenge accepting him or herself as a competent adult when in their entire job search (and likely college career) they were told they weren’t.

        2. Katniss*

          Yup. My best friend works in retail at 38 (though he will soon finish going to school to be a CPA) and he is a grown up.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          In some ways those service jobs are way harder than any desk job, just my opinion though. Not only are you mentally drained at the end of the day but you are also physically drained- your legs and feet can hurt like you have never felt before.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            YES. I worked in food service for three months in college and had to turn in my resignation before Christmas. People in the service/retail industries have all my respect. I could not put up with the nonsense they deal with on a regular basis. The level of disrespect from the public that’s aimed at these workers is unreal.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Seriously. And good service/retail workers are rarely, if ever, paid the fair value of their work.

            2. Snazzy Hat*

              The combined six years of retail I’ve worked have made me very patient and apologetic with other retail workers. At a fast food place a few days ago, I was overcharged for one of my items; a coupon was not processed properly, but I didn’t notice until I was looking at the receipt whilst waiting for my food. The post-transaction fix required a manager’s override, and I insisted to the manager that the cashier was a fabulous employee.

            3. KR*

              I’ve been in customer service (Barista turned cashier turned shift supervisor at grocery store) for 5 years now. It just gets more annoying the longer you do it lol

      2. TootsNYC*

        I think it could so easily simply be casual or jokey.

        Sure, it’s got a belittling effect, but I don’t think most people mean it that way. And saying it to friends is a relatively safe place to do that.

    2. Clouds in My Coffee*

      Did you call yourself a “big girl college student” too? Twentysomethings are grown women, whether they’re college graduates or working professionals. There’s no need to use that type of language except as self-deprecation, which is harmful, as Alison said.

      1. Relosa*

        I don’t disagree. I in fact said I don’t. What I said is that it’s counterproductive to admonish others for using language about themselves that others have been using to their face on a constant basis…so the point is to encourage everyone to change what they can about their own language use, not just the applicant/new employee/recent grad/whatever we want to call them.

      2. Green*

        I think it comes from the same sense as “adulting” — which inherently acknowledges that I don’t do the things that I expected “adults” to do when I was a kid and am bad at handling (certain) basic life functions, like not eating Sour Patch Kids for breakfast. That said, I’d keep that language to Facebook when I’m making myself Quaker Instant oatmeal (in the packets) for the third time that week for dinner and completely strike it from my vocabulary in professional settings.

        1. Anonsie*

          I’ll be straight with you, “adulting” makes my skin crawl like none of these others do. I really really want us to stop contributing to the ideas that 1) that young adults today are just very tall children who can’t handle basic life competencies and are unworthy of the same respect as other adults and 2) anyone who isn’t Martha Stewart is just an overgrown wo/manchild slopping Bachelor Chow and unworthy of the same respect as other adults.

          Even if you only use it in your personal life people don’t leave their opinions on everyone at the door. I can’t even tell you how many times this attitude has bled over into situations that compromise my ability to do my job because people won’t cooperate with the kid who isn’t a real employee anyway, even now that I’m pushing 30.

          1. Green*

            I say all kinds of things in my personal life that I don’t say in my professional life, and I personally think that’s OK. It’s less a critique of me than a critique of the ideal of “adulting”, and I have a senior level professional job that I handle quite well while being unable to take my car in for an oil change promptly. If people choose to bleed that over into how they treat other people, that’s on them, and not on some minor self-deprecation with my social groups.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I agree.

              And I really don’t have a problem w/ “adulting,” because I do see a definite transition into things like taking care of calling your own health-care insurer, etc. And because it’s generally accompanied by a sense of accomplishment and goal-setting, not scolding or belittling.

              What other word is useful for that category of “taking care of the new responsibilities that adults have”?

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Same here, and I also like that being an adult means I can choose to eat Lucky Charms for dinner instead of actually cooking something, or spend my entire Sunday in PJs coloring if I damn well want to. :)

                1. KR*

                  Being an adult means making good nutiritonal choices.. Like when my roommate and I made and ate a whole batch of banana pancakes by ourselves and spread buttercream frosting on them instead of syrup and butter. Because adult.

                2. Honeybee*

                  @KR – and my justification for doing things like that is “I’m an adult! I can eat what I want!” LOL.

          2. Snazzy Hat*

            +160 for the Futurama reference!

            “Adulting” bothers me as well. It comes across as an act or not having any seriousness behind it, and has an extra knife twist when the person is referring to something I don’t or can’t do because of a lack of employment or finances.

            1. TootsNYC*

              well, to take something as a specific example, if you’ve decided you can’t afford to save for retirement, you’re still “adulting,” because you are dealing with the subject.
              “Adulting” isn’t “saving money for retirement”; it’s “remembering that retirement exists and that I should do what I can to take care of it.”

          3. Honeybee*

            Well, I think it’s a different context. Young adults don’t emerge fully-formed into the world, ready to manage their 401(K)s, go to the dentist regularly and cook three healthy meals a day. They (we?) have to learn those things over time. I think ‘adulting’ as a term arose as a tongue-in-cheek way to recognize that evolution over time. I know that I and a bunch of my peers thought that one day we’d just instantly become Adults and not be stricken with the desire to eat ice cream at 11 am or or laziness too strong to make dinner at 7 pm, but…that’s obviously not how it works.

            But I only chat about it with other friends in my peer group – not at work.

        2. Honeybee*

          Sooooo I’m not the only one who occasionally eats Sour Patch Kids first thing in the morning then…

      3. Anna*

        I think we’re focusing on word choice, which I was hoping Alison wouldn’t do because she asks us not to do it.

        And yes I would. If I were joking around with my best friend. Much like I might drop the f bomb and every other curse word I like to use, but wouldn’t do at work where I’m trying to set an example for professionalism to young adults.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          When words send out a message to others that we think of ourselves as “less than” other people that is a problem, especially in the working world. And in this case here there is a tie-in. OP might not be seeing herself as a boss in this situation. Encouraging her to change her word choices is one step toward changing how she views this situation.

          OP indicates that there have been other problems with these two employees. It’s not clear if those problems happened before or after OP took charge. However, I suspect that OP’s boss wants OP to take more of a leadership role as time goes on here. OP needs to watch out for ways that she may be subtly putting herself down.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I was really struggling with assertiveness and confidence issues in my current job not too long ago. Where I’m at now is definitely what people might call a “first real job” – as in, it’s my first non-retail/non-service industry, non-temp, professional office job with career potential – and I had an awful case of imposter syndrome. I actually had a handful of sessions with my old therapist about it, simply because he knows me quite well and is very practical with his guidance so I figured this might be something he could help me work through.

            He asked me to describe my working situation and how I think I’m doing at work, and I was talking about how I’ve started to get kind of a reputation as the office “whiz kid”/tech guru/problem-solver, and there had been a few times lately where I’d had to reach out to someone high-level who I’d never spoken directly with before, and their response to my introducing myself was something like “Oh, so YOU’RE the famous Jadelyn!” I mentioned that my usual response was to jokingly shrug it off, like “No matter what you’ve heard, I didn’t do the thing!” or something similar.

            He told me in no uncertain terms to stop doing that. He softened it with saying that he understood it’s just how my sense of humor works, I tend toward the dry and self-deprecating in general, but that doing so in a professional context had the potential to undermine people’s opinions of me, and if I was developing a positive reputation to build on that, not joke about it.

            I’ve done my best to put it into practice, and my rise in responsibility and involvement with critical business processes has been frankly meteoric given that I’m 30, with no degree and a bad work history, at my first real “career”-type job for just over 2 years now.

            Moral of the story: don’t be your own saboteur.

    3. Betsy*

      I’d be OK with that explanation if you also heard men saying “big boy jobs”. Yet they don’t.

      1. Relosa*

        That’s because they are much more likely to get those jobs immediately after graduating and have no transition whatsoever.

    4. Snake Nightmares*

      As a 29 year old with many friends who struggled for years to get professional jobs – many of them working foodservice or just mooching off their parents* – I see where it comes from. I got my first professional job right after graduation and have been working ever since so I’ve never felt like it’s a ‘big girl job’ versus a job for ‘kids.’
      However, many of my peers feel stunted professional, like they are taking jobs for ‘kids’ in food service, or even worse, not working at all and mooching off their parents*.
      ***OHHH THE Privilege

    5. LQ*

      I’ve switched to “post college job” or “full time job” in this case it could be new to management or new to white collar work as well. I used to use “real job” but I think that has a LOT of other problems. All the jobs before that were “real” and there is nothing wrong with any of them or the people who have them and saying it like that really implies it. I can do better and I’m always glad to be called out on it so I can do better. (No one called me out on this but seeing the conversation a while ago about “big girl job” really made me think more about how I referred to my jobs throughout my life.) I also think that I can be more descriptive and use terms that give better information than “real” or “big girl” I can do better.

      1. Relosa*

        Yeah, I realized during my graduating semester that “full-time job” was the actual preferred term, at least in my field, and it’s what I try to use in my daily language. In my field hourly positions are still really common regardless of rank/experience, but it does vary from industry to industry. Like I’ve said before, I don’t at all disagree with the fact that it minimizes the applicant; but more so that we need to understand why other than just telling them “you’re a grown-up,” because let’s be real, I’m constantly hearing saying that I’m NOT a full-fledged adult until I have the typical American Dream status achieved that we know isn’t practical. So it’s more about how to change that language as a whole (and nevermind that college doesn’t actually prepare anyone for the real world, but then we’re surprised when adults leave college not knowing or understanding that they’re adults?)

        1. LQ*

          I think part of it is the best way to push back on people saying you need the “American Dream” to be an adult is by saying. “No, I’m an adult. I don’t have a car or a home or a spouse or kids (or even a job sometimes). But I’m still an adult. I still expect to be treated as an adult.” The way to change is to change and push back. And this small little thing is a great step. I can do better. The flip side is when someone says “Oh I’m not really an adult I don’t have a car or a home or whatever.” you can say, yes, you are an adult. If you are saying part of the problem is hearing no, then this is specifically saying yes.

          1. Honeybee*

            Ugh, yes. I had this conversation on a forum I moderated – a worried younger graduate student came in asking what it meant to be an adult, and a bunch of the parents on the forum listed things like owning a house, being married, working a full-time job and having children. Um, no, none of those things make you an adult in and of themselves, and there are lots of adults who don’t have any of those things.

    6. Camellia*

      I don’t disagree with the other comments, but it does remind me that when I graduated and got my first white collar job I also got my first pair of “high heels” to wear to work. It seemed to take a long time before I stopped feeling like I was playing dress-up and wearing my mom’s shoes.

    7. jesicka309*

      I’m more depressed that this person’s first ‘working professional job’ involves supervising other employees – that to me seems like a mid level job given to someone with proven leadership experience & a couple of years under their belt.

      I’ve been working as a professional for 6 years and am still not considered old enough to manage. (At my last performance review, I was given excellent scores and a 10% raise, but was also told that maybe I’d be old enough to manage once I hit my 30s. Argh. Because age determines how effective your management is.)

      1. KR*

        Your age has no bearing on your effectiveness to manage a team. I’m 21 and I train and manage a team of 6 PT employees. Granted, they’re all under the age of 20, but I still do a great job if I do say so myself. You can do it – believe me. I wonder if there is any volunteer type work you’ve done or can do to demonstrate you can manage a team.

  9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I agree with Alison’s advice.

    But I think there’s a more significant issue here: that your boss wants to dock someone’s pay for this mistake. Other commenters have addressed the (potential) illegality of doing so, but I think the fact that the boss even thinks this way is deeply problematic. Mistakes happen. It’s a part of doing business, and should be anticipated (i.e. built into budgets, project timelines, etc.).

    It sounds like there is a problem with these two employees, which the OP needs to address. But there’s also a problem up the hierarchy. I’d be shocked to hear that a boss the defaults to “dock the paycheck” isn’t pretty terrible in other ways.

    1. fposte*

      I dislike the notion of making the employee pay too, but this isn’t a default–this is the second time on the OP’s watch, in maybe not too long an interval, that there’s been a shortage of this important stock. I wouldn’t take a “mistakes happen” approach to a second iteration of the same expensive mistake either.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        No, but I assume you’d manage the problem, not threaten to make an employee pay for it.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, yeah, no disagreement there. Just pointing out that this isn’t a one-off or a default but a significant problem.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            I hear you. But I’d argue that it’s still deeply problematic for a boss to suggest docking pay as a real solution.

    2. some1*

      I was really put off by that suggestion, too. If the mistake is bad enough, you should discipline or fire the employee but docking a paycheck feels all kinds of just unfair.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I agree. I am not really impressed with the boss. To me it looks like this is OP’s first time supervising people and it does not seem like the boss is doing that much to help her learn what supervisors do.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes. That and the “loose management structure” don’t really mesh well.

    4. JD*

      Well, that can end up depending on the manager too. I had a situation kind of like that happen at a previous job. We had a few hundred thousand dollars in equipment go missing, destined for an international shipment. Manager blamed me for the loss of the equipment because that was what his documentation showed, despite the equipment being poorly tracked(could have had $1 million go missing and it wouldn’t have been discovered until the next annual audit of the serialized equipment). However, I hadn’t trusted that manager for a long time, so I always CMA. Being an international shipment, his boss was supposed to be kept in the loop(couldn’t afford any delays in getting the equipment to the destination, so missing equipment would have had to be replaced extremely quickly already, but this message was so last minute it could have cost the company tens of millions for losing the work). He sent a fairly hostile e-mail to just me trying to get me to accept blame. I responded by leaving his message to me in my reply and CC’d his boss with an e-mail record of me shipping the equipment to him months prior via a direct employee to employee hand off(the manager had gotten the e-mail the day I shipped the equipment). Needless to say, the “lost” equipment that was so thoroughly searched for by at least a dozen guys for a full day, managed to turn up with a 5 minute search by 1 guy after his boss was looking at him for the missing equipment.

      And another time, the manager asked us to prep a workbench for shipment to another district because “they don’t have enough work space already and I’m hiring another guy there”. Found a spare and got it prepped, but decided to take measurements and send them ahead of time to the destination(some places were quite tight and there was a possibility that they would have to get an electrician in to move some plugs for the bench to fit). When I talked to the heads over at the destination shop, they hadn’t been informed of the bench or a new hire, so informed local management of the situation. Was a good thing that I did as that stuff disappeared once the bench was loaded on the manager’s truck(manager was at the destination shop 2 days later, bench was never dropped off at any shop and manager feigned ignorance of any hiring info)

  10. Anon Accountant*

    I think some more training or looking more closely at their work is in order. It looks like a pattern of carelessness is emerging that needs ceased now.

  11. Artemesia*

    Framing is everything. In this case, the team needs to sit down and you need to note how serious this issue is and work with them to figure out how to avoid it in the future. Then talk to the boss. It isn’t about tattling or whatnot — it is about you being a good manager and that means bringing this to the people who screwed it up and holding them accountable. They need to know it is serious; they need to help you devise a plan to prevent a recurrence.

  12. Pointy Haired Boss*

    I’m pretty sure people aren’t referring to their jobs as their “big girl jobs” accidentally; sort of reminds me of that old Drew Carey skit about eating burgers where someone tells him “Don’t you know those are bad for you?” and he spits the burger out mid-chew.

    It’s a mental shortcut people intentionally use because it changes the standards of success. Doing pretty good “for a big girl” often means being a wretched failure of a “grown woman”, even when talking about the same track record.

    So people choose the one standard instead of the other; it’s basically a new version of the “feminine mystique”, except now instead of Perfect-Waxjob-Perfect-Wife-As-Featured-In- Leave-It-To-Beaver as the ideal, it’s Takin-Names-Gettin-Paid-Rockin-Pantsuit-Independent-Career-Woman-As-Featured-In-Ms. :-)

    So just telling people to just cut it out doesn’t usually help.

    1. fposte*

      I think you’re overweighting the phrase a little. It’s common in a lot of circles, so people don’t always realize how it’s heard outside of them until somebody alerts them. The OP is now alerted.

    2. Artemesia*

      About 40 years ago I looked at the cream of wheat box sitting on the counter and noticed it said it was for Men and Boys (with pictures showing what good things it did for them) and for Big Girls and Little Girls. The Big Girl was wearing an apron and holding a broom as I recall. I wrote the company to complain and got the usual anodyne boilerplate about how they just were stressing how good for everyone cream of wheat is.

      Demeaning women demeans women even when used about oneself.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going to disagree! When I originally posted that “don’t call it a ‘big girl’ job” post, I heard from a bunch of women afterwards who said they were changing their language. So yes, calling it out does seem to change behavior.

      Plus, they’re undermining and demeaning themselves, and that’s worth pointing out.

      1. Traveller*

        Agree on this….I have long taken exception to clearly gendered language (as in the “manageress” posting yesterday) but it was only in relation to postings of this nature (other blogs & also commenters) that sparked me to change my own vocabulary to call other women my own age (mid-30s) “women” instead of “girls”.

        I’ve completely eradicated that from my own vocabulary now that I have completely internalized that “girl” really refers to someone who hasn’t hit puberty yet.

        1. Three Thousand*

          I’m working on that usage of “girl” too, at least in my own head. It still feels weird to think “gal” or whatever since most people don’t say that, but it does stand out to me now when people say “guys and girls” to refer to adults.

        2. KR*

          After reading this blog, I no longer call people at work girls. I did once notably that I can remember and I’m so embarrassed.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve always called something a “toy” thing. For example, when I refer to my house, I say, “I wish I had a real house instead of a toy house.” Meaning something made of crap that only simulates how a real thing would function.

        I’ve had toy jobs too. Now I have a real job. I think….

    4. LBK*

      I’m here to vouch as a real live example of my behavior being changed by AAM calling out gendered language and phrasing. I’ve done a lot of work to eliminate use of the word “girl” for adult women from my vocabulary. I’ve also stopped using “guys” as a general term for a group of people that includes women (that one was tough).

      I certainly wasn’t using those as intentional mental shortcuts. I’d just never thought about the implications of simple phrases like that or had my attention called to how they’re applied in an unbalanced manner between men and women. So sure, there’s probably some jackasses out there who will roll their eyes and keep saying whatever they want to say, but I think there’s plenty of people who’ve just genuinely never thought about it because that kind of language is so heavily entrenched in the way we socialize people to think about gender expectations.

      1. LBK*

        (Also, when I say “a lot of work” I’m not trying to imply that it was a serious struggle – moreso that I caught myself thinking/saying those terms a lot more often than I’d expected. But the actual act of saying one word instead of another is incredibly simple and I don’t know why so many people fight it or insist it’s not worth trying.)

  13. LQ*

    If your boss is threatening to take it out of their paychecks then the boss might be unreasonable, so I get that. I do think that it is important to try to make sure that you are working to get the best out of your people. This does mean figuring out what happened and coming up with a good solution to prevent it. This is the best way to protect your staff from unreasonableness, but if someone isn’t doing their job you can’t protect them from that.

  14. Forrest Rhodes*

    I agree completely with the lameness of “big girl/boy [whatevers],” but am just curious: Is it equally bad to tell someone to “cowboy up” or “cowgirl up” when letting them know they need to step up to the plate and perform the way they’re supposed to?

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Ah, right … sorry! I should’ve known that. Chalk the question up to my being an an-home writer/editor with no employees who uses the expression with her resident preteen niece and teenage nephew when they’re griping about having to do a perfectly reasonable chore. In that context, it’s often pretty effective.

    1. Shell*

      I strongly dislike “big boy/girl (job, pants, etc.)” terminology because it sounds weirdly cutesy. Cowboy/girl up is the same. I’m not going to touch the merits (or lack thereof) of this kind of vernacular in the greater lexicon, but I don’t like it. It’s the same reason I abhor “baby” as an endearment.

      “Step up” serves the same purpose and doesn’t sound weirdly cutesy and childish.

      1. Lefty*

        Agreed on the cowboy/girl up… or even worse to me, “Man up!” Ugh.

        I’m reminded of a post I saw about someone switching from “man up” to “fortify”- funny response to an awkward verbiage situation!

  15. Erin*

    You have my sympathies on the big girl verbiage. I often use phrases like that too and am trying to train myself out of it.

    In fact, this whole letter reads like me. I would have the same throwing-under-the-bus concerns you do, and I’d also probably briefly consider eating this out of my paycheck to make any potentially uncomfortable confrontations go away.

    It probably at least in part comes down to, you don’t want to hurt their feelings, right? They probably didn’t mean to lose it. They’re probably nice people.

    But you have to put your Team Supervisor hat on. It’s not about hurting feelings or tattling on someone. It’s about doing what you do to get your job done and ensure the business is running as it should be. That doesn’t make you a jerk or a bad coworker.

    And it’s worth mentioning – when you make suggestions for how to ensure this does’t happen going forward, don’t be discouraged if your boss doesn’t like them or wants to go in another direction. It will still work in your favor that you’re being proactive and making suggestions, instead of just reporting bad news to him, or worse, wining.

  16. AnotherHRPro*

    OP – put yourself in your bosses place. If you had that job would you like to know what happened and what is being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Or would you rather just have someone cover it up and offer to pay for the mistake? As a manager I absolutely want to understand the underlying issue and how the situation can be resolved so that this does not happen again.

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      And never use language to undercut yourself. You are an adult with responsibilities. Talk about yourself that way. I know several commentators have already mentioned how much they don’t like the phrase you used to describe yourself. You may in fact be thinking, so what? What does it matter? It doesn’t bother me. The issue is you are telling others it is ok to think of you (and other young women) in that way. And if they think of you that way, they will treat you that way. Would you rather be treated as a someone who has a “big-girl job” or would you rather be treated as a competent adult? I know which one I would choose.

    2. TootsNYC*

      “OP – put yourself in your bosses place.”

      Massively, massively useful tool. Do a mental game of “let’s pretend,” where you’re the boss. What do “you” want?

  17. Not So NewReader*

    OP, I hope you see this.

    I had a situation where I kept coming up short on a component. My group was supposed to pair up A with B and send it on for further processing. Each box was clearly labeled: 300 units of A and the other box was labeled 300 units of B. Well then why the heck did we have so much B left over when A ran out???

    We took a fresh box of B and counted the pieces inside. It turned out that there were 600 pieces in the box! How long had THAT been going on and we never noticed? (This is where B was thinner than A so you could pack a lot more into the same size box. ) We just assumed the counts stated on the outside of the box were correct. And they were NOT!

    Watch your supplier(s). Take an unopened box of the unit in question, open it and hand count it yourself. If the item comes in large quantities, such as 600 per box, we found we had higher accuracy counting by twos (i.e. 2,4,6, 8…) I think the higher accuracy was attributable to forcing ourselves to pay attention by counting in twos. If we counted in ones up to 600 we would tend to nod-off in the process. Counting in twos forced us to think and concentrate on what we were doing.

    We also counted boxes that were extremely short, too. It’s easy to do with small components or thin components. Yes, we did a lot of counting to find out why we were short or over, because we ran out of components all. the. time.

    If you are short a large amount you may want to even count the number of boxes to make sure you got in the correct quantity. If you do not check in these materials yourself, I would insist on taking over that task, if it were me. Hey, if the boss is going to take it out of my check I want to know that the correct quantities were received into the building. Someone else might say, “Yeah it looks like there are 23 boxes there. Sure I will sign for them. No, I don’t need to count to be sure there is 23. It’s okay.” Then you pay for that shortage. NOT FAIR at all.

    1. Rebecca*

      “No, really, I do have to count all of the bricks on that opened pallet. Yes, I know you know that there’s only one less than a full pallet, and no, I don’t particularly want to count them, but I wouldn’t be security if I weren’t securing the company’s assets, now would I…”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. There have been millions of stories of scams where a person was taking one unit or one penny out of each batch. Over time, they gathered a lot of units or pennies.

        Additionally, sometimes people will take one to see if anyone notices. If that missing one goes unnoticed they will help themselves to a few more the next time.

        Counting bricks cannot possibly be fun at all, especially if you have to break the pallet down to make sure it’s not empty in the center. (Yet another way of skimming product.) I am sorry.

    2. Lee*

      Couldn’t you count them once, and weigh the boxes with the correct number of units? Then, without needing to count by 2 (up to 300 or 600?) couldn’t you weigh the boxes and immediately tell if the correct number of units were inside?
      And why watch your supplier? Weren’t you technically getting 300 extra B units at the price of only 300 units?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In answer to why watch your supplier- we had too many Bs so the supplier thought we had lost a bunch of As. The supplier threw it back on us. “Well what did you do with all those As I sent you? I sent equal numbers of As and Bs.” We proved that he did not send us an equal number of each. (The numbers worked out that we should not have 12,000 left over Bs. And when he worked the numbers on his end, it made sense. X number of shipping boxes with 300 pieces too many would equal 12,000 extra units.)

        With the accusation came a second problem. We had to prove that we were not being careless plus the original problem that we wanted him to send the correct amount because storing all those #$%^ Bs was getting to be a problem. If he just sent As then we could use up the extras and gain more physical work space.

        It only took about ten minutes to do a hand count, so it was not as daunting as it sounds. However, as far as doing a weight count, we could not because each unit was as light as a feather. The one scale we had was not sensitive enough to accurately count the product. Plus, the scale was too small to hold an entire box of product. (Consider weight counting a 600 count box of 2″ styrofoam balls, and you’ll get an idea of how light each unit was.)

        I got so I preferred doing hand counts (by twos) it seemed to be more accurate most of the time, than our scale.

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