employee wants to be left out of our company blog, coworkers keep complaining about new manager, and more

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

1. Coworker wants to be left out of our company blog

I am a new office manager for a great little company with a nationwide footprint. One of my focuses is going to be helping to get our online presence more felt, and part of that includes updating the company blog. We have a few blog posts helping us get to know a few members of the team, but not everyone by a long shot. I sent out a fun questionnaire for everyone to answer so that I can write a little blurb about each of us. I was excited to get the info and put the spots together.

Then one coworker, who I’ve already been warned could be a little negative and often separates herself from the group, replied with short answers and asked to be left out of the blog.

I feel this attitude stems from not feeling like part of the team and wanting to be separate from a lot that goes on, I’ve seen other examples of it elsewhere. I think this is an important step to show her that she is a valued member of a TEAM and that failure to get her to participate will only perpetuate a known problem. I want to nip this in the bud, but still respect her boundaries for personal privacy. Should I insist on her letting us do the blog and find a way to keep it private, for example maybe not including pics or some other compromise? Am I wrong to insist she be part of the blog posts?

Nooooooo! You absolutely should not insist on it. If someone doesn’t want to take part in something like this — something that’s meant to be fun and has no real bearing on their actual job — you should respect that. There’s just no cause for pushing her on this. It makes her uncomfortable, there are zero problems caused by letting her opt out, and you should drop it. Her desire for privacy and boundaries is not something anyone needs to nip in the bud (!).

If there are actual work-related ramifications to her not being super team-oriented, that’s something that her manager can address with her privately. It’s absolutely not your place as a coworker.

2. My coworkers keep complaining about our new manager

I work as part of an administration team of 10 people. A few months ago, our old supervisor left for another position in the company, and there’s been a period of about five months where we reported to the general manager, who is out of the office a lot. A new supervisor was eventually hired two weeks ago. She seens pleasant and is still finding her feet. I haven’t dealt with her enough to have a solid opinion on her yet.

My issue is that two of my coworkers are criticizing everything she does. If she tries to have informal one-to-ones to get to know staff, she’s trying too hard. If she implements a small change or sends an email with instructions, she’s on a power trip. And if she doesn’t come into our office for a day, she’s aloof and doesn’t care about her staff.

Prior to this I had good relations with both coworkers, though one is a little prickly and negative at times. can I have some advice on combatting this constant stream of negativity?

Ooooh, this kind of thing is so toxic. And if your new manager is good at managing, it could ultimately result in your coworkers getting pushed out (and it really should, if they keep it up).

Sometimes in your situation, people just stay quiet, which then get interpreted by the complainers as agreement — so make sure you avoid that (both because it’s unfair to your new boss and because you don’t want anyone who overhears this to lump you in with your toxic coworkers). That means that at a minimum, you should push back in the moment: “It doesn’t seem problematic to me.” “This seems pretty normal for a manager to want to do, y’all.” “That’s not my impression.”

But you could also just ask them to stop: “Could you rein in the complaints about Jane around me? I don’t have the same concerns that you do, and it’s distracting to keep hearing negativity about her.” If you want to, you could add, “For what it’s worth, I think you might be making things worse by complaining about her so much — that has a way of making stuff seem even worse over time.”

3. What’s a reasonable start date when moving for a job?

I am currently unemployed and searching for jobs. I just had an interview in a different city from where I live, and I was asked what my earliest start date was. Based on the time frame of when they would get back to me (end of August), I said October 1. Talking with my spouse afterwards, he was surprised I didn’t say earlier, as he felt we would make whatever efforts necessary to start within two weeks of notification and saying so late a start date might reflect poorly on my application. What are your thoughts on indicating a start date when you are unemployed and moving across the country for a job?

In this context, it’s usually better to answer this question with number of weeks rather than specific dates — because presumably October 1 wouldn’t work if they didn’t make you an offer until late September, and presumably an earlier date could work if the offer came in sooner than expected. So saying “X weeks after accepting an offer” is usually better than committing to a particular date on the calendar.

As for the timeframe itself, if you absolutely, 100% would need that much time to move, then that’s your answer. But if the real answer is “I’d prefer October 1 since I’ll have to move, but I could do it faster if that were a deal-breaker,” then it’s better to come out and say that. You can add, “How quickly are you looking for someone to start?” so that you have a sense of their thinking too.

Many jobs will be totally fine with you taking a month, especially when a move is involved. Some won’t be. (And the more senior you get, the longer people will usually wait for you.) It’s fine to just talk about it; don’t feel you have to just throw out a rigid date without any discussion.

4. Political speeches at staff meetings

I work for a small-mid-sized nonprofit. We have a monthly staff meeting, and over the last year or so, there have been times at the staff meetings that there have been what amounts to a political presentation supporting local bond issues. Without getting too specific, none of these have been pertinent at all to our professional mission (and we aren’t at all political in nature). Once I’ve agreed with the presenter, twice I’ve disagreed, and once I didn’t really have much of an opinion…but in no case was I happy about having our time spent hearing a political stump speech. I also don’t appreciate being subjected to a “please vote for XYZ speech” involuntarily, particularly in a setting where I’m deeply uncomfortable questioning or objecting to them. After all, presumably our CEO and/or board agrees with these presenters or they wouldn’t be asked to speak at staff meetings.

It also makes me worried about voicing my opinions in other public fora–there was one in particular case where I was very opposed to the issue they were supporting and had been active in writing letters to the editor and campaigning against it. Is there a safe-ish, smart way to try to broach the topic about political presentations being at best awkward and probably just straight up inappropriate in staff meetings?

Yep. In a small/mid-sized nonprofit, you can probably go straight to your main operations person — ideally a second-in-command type (a deputy director or chief of staff), or HR if you have it, or your own manager if there’s no other obvious person. Say this: “Would you be open to reconsidering having political speeches at staff meetings? We’ve a captive audience who won’t necessarily agree with these speeches, and it feels off-mission to spend staff meeting time on electoral issues that aren’t part of our work.” If you’re a 501(c)(3), you can also point out your tax status limits the extent to which you can take sides on electoral politics.

And better still if you can get others to complain with you, as it’s harder to brush off a group of people all saying the same thing.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Should my resume explain that part of my attendance at community college was during high school?

During high school, I took a couple of classes at the local community college. After graduating high school, I went to that college for an additional two years (full time) and then transferred to a four-year institution where I got my bachelors. How should I indicate on my resume that a portion of my time that the community college was part-time in high school? I have had someone remark on my “lengthy” time at this community college before.

You can actually take the community college off altogether and just list the college where you got your bachelors, making this a non-issue.

In fact, you should generally do that anyway, even aside from this issue. Typically you’d just list the degree-granting institution.

{ 618 comments… read them below }

  1. Christy*

    Is there any reason to list a community college on a resume? What if you got an AA before getting a BA?

    I assume that if you are applying to work at a community college, you would include the community college you attended. Are there other similar employers?

    1. always anon*

      Well, I’d say someone should list a community college on their resume if they got their BA there – or any type of bachelor’s or master’s degree.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Most community colleges only grant associates degrees, but yes, if you went to one that conferred a bachelor’s degree, then you’d list that.

        In reply to Christy: If you got a bachelors after your AA, I wouldn’t list the AA at all (unless there’s some specific reason to, like your example of applying for a job with the community college where you received it).

        1. always anon*

          Ah. Maybe it’s a regional thing? A lot of the ones in my state and neighboring states grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Both my siblings have bachelor’s from community colleges and a couple friends – and my parents – have master’s degrees from community college.

          1. doreen*

            Are you perhaps mixing up “community college”( sometimes referred to as a “junior college”) with “commuter college” ( one with few if any dorms that draws mostly local students) ? There are some community colleges with a few bachelor’s programs but offering master’s degrees pretty much makes it not a community college by definition.

            1. always anon*

              No. Community college is in the name of the school. I don’t know, maybe they are commuter colleges. I know I sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction to community colleges because so many people treat and people who go to them poorly in a variety of ways.

            2. AMT*

              Or city colleges, like CUNY? My wife referred to the CUNY colleges as community colleges until she figured out the difference.

              1. Not a Real Giraffe*

                Well, some of the CUNY colleges *are* community colleges, so your wife wasn’t totally wrong!

          2. Liane*

            It is not unusual for both community and junior colleges, to partner with four year institutions so that students can get a BA or BS while taking classes at the same location. The student must apply to four year school and receives the Bachelor’s from it. The arrangement is most common, I think, in areas where there isn’t a four year school nearby, so otherwise students would have to move to a new city or commute hours 3-5 days/week. Also, only a few Bachelors degrees are available. My Florida community college only offered education, for example.

          3. Artemesia*

            Community colleges by definition are two year colleges and their highest degree is an AA so there must be some issues of nomenclature here. (or else I am entirely wrong, but I don’t think so)

              1. Lemon Zinger*

                I work in higher ed. There are some VERY rare exceptions, but as mentioned above, the vast majority of students with bachelor’s degrees from a community college got them from a PARTNERSHIP with a four-year school. Generally their degrees will say “XXX University (in partnership with XXX Community College.”

              2. Turanga Leela*

                Not that this is authoritative, but Wikipedia says that 19 states authorize community colleges to offer four-year degrees. Where I live, there are small regional colleges (not necessarily called “community colleges,” but serving that function) that offer mostly associate’s degrees and a handful of bachelor’s degrees. So, for example, there might be a range of AA and AS programs, with the option to get a BA in early childhood education or a BS in accounting, but for all other bachelor’s programs you would have to transfer to a traditional four-year college.

            1. Renee*

              The state I am in just authorized community colleges to offer four-year degrees and there are a handful starting programs, including one in my community.

          4. Kate H*

            Huh, I wonder if it *is* a regional thing. In the past couple of years, a rather popular community college in my area started granting bachelor’s degrees and is now a college. Think King’s Landing Community College to King’s Landing College. I know of a lot of local colleges offering bachelors’ or masters’ degrees but none of them are community colleges.

          5. BananaPants*

            There are some community colleges that are able to confer bachelor’s degrees. Typically they’ll drop the “community” from the name but they’re still predominantly junior colleges/associate’s degree-granting institutions. An example is Miami-Dade College, which is one of the largest colleges in the U.S. in terms of enrollment, and started granting bachelor’s degrees over a decade ago. There are others.

            Some private junior colleges have transitioned to also offer bachelor’s degrees – there’s a private college in my area that used to offer only associate degrees programs, but started off with an RN-to-BSN program and now offers bachelor’s degrees in around half of the majors where they offer associate’s degrees. They’re at the point now where around 1/3 of their graduates are in those bachelor’s degree programs.

        2. Anna the Accounting Grad*

          Well, I suppose if they’re still young and were working close to full time, it might make some sense. Or if their BA were unusually recent or something.

          1. Artemesia*

            If the AA degree were something very pertinent to the job and the BA that followed in another field, it would make sense. e.g. if you got the AA in accounting or business and then completed the BA in a liberal arts discipline, then the first degree would be useful on a resume.

            1. starsaphire*

              In my case, I have both on my resume, because I have my AA in Teapot Handle Dynamics, while my BA is in General Teapot Studies. I work in a Teapot Handle Design industry, and it helps (IMHO) to have that specialized degree on my resume.

              (I also list the professional certificate I have in Handle Attachment, but only when I’m applying for Handle industry jobs; otherwise I leave it off.)

        3. nicolefromqueens*

          Even if you’re applying to your (CC) alma mater, shouldn’t that be in the cover letter instead? If I had my BA I would leave CC off for the sake of space, but if I had less work experience I might include it anyway.

        4. Srs Bsns*

          Please pardon me, but what exactly is an “associates degree”? Is it an undergraduate degree? Why would one pursue an associate’s degree instead of a bachelor’s degree? You see, I had never heard the term before I moved to the US, and I guess I assumed it was something like a technical or vocational diploma. But that doesn’t seem quite right based on what I’m reading here :/

          1. anon again*

            An associate’s degree is generally a two-year degree, when attending courses full-time. It’s about half the course work of a bachelor’s degree. In most areas, community colleges offer only associate’s degrees. They can be a way to obtain additional education toward a specific career or a gateway to then transfer to a four-year college for a bachelor’s degree.

            1. Srs Bsns*

              Thank you for your answer. I don’t think we have anything like an “associate’s degree” where I’m from; the education system there seems to clearly define professions requiring a university education (bachelor’s/master’s/doctorate), and trades or vocations which are learned at technical schools. It’s incredible how different things are from country to country. One example I can think of would be nursing. Back home, nurses are required to have *at least* a four year bachelor’s degree, and many have master’s degrees as they are required for many specialisations, to assist in surgery, or if one wishes to take on an administrative role. I understand that this is not at all the case in the US; I guess this is where the associate’s degree comes in? Anyway, sorry for straying off topic!

              1. Honeybee*

                No, not the case. Nurses are one of the many allied health professions you can enter with an associate’s degree (although practically speaking, these days many hospitals and clinics prefer nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree. Nurses who want to take on administrative or management roles typically have a bachelor’s plus a lot of experience or a master’s). There are lots of health professions in the U.S. you can do with an A.S. – occupational or physical therapy assistant, dental hygienist, ultrasound/radiologic technician, etc.

                1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  Community colleges =
                  2 year schools with academic programs =
                  issue Associate’s Degrees =
                  many (as in Massachusetts) guarantee admission to the state University system under certain conditions.

                  I have an associate’s and a bachelor’s and some post-graduate work. I always listed all of these.

                  There are many – including some family members – who hold Master’s and Ph.Ds from major universities – that did their first two years at the community college level.

                  Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

              2. Pudding*

                In Canada I’ve had people refer to my 3 year college diplomas as an associate degree. Most of the Universities have a Bachelors at the lowest in their totem pole but I have come across a couple that offer 2 year associate degrees for specific things.

              3. The Strand*

                Within nursing, there are specific organizations (and other parties) pushing for the BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)-RN (Registered Nurse) degree. E.g., for 80% of American registered nurses to have a BSN in 4 years. This would be pretty bad for community colleges offering the ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing).

                Srs Bsns, what country are you in, if you don’t mind — I would assume your country, would have some kind of auxiliary nursing role that is not at the same level as a registered nurse (e.g. able to hand out medication), and which doesn’t require a four year degree? E.g. the equivalent of a CNA (certified nursing assistant).

          2. sstabeler*

            it’s basically a Foundation Degree- or, for that matter, a Higher National Diploma for those that live in the UK- it’s an intermediate degree between a High School diploma and an actual bachelor’s degree. There’s 4 reasons to pursue an Associate’s degree instead of- or before- a Bachelor’s Degree,
            1) since Community Colleges generally have lower tuition costs per year than 4-year colleges, then it can save you money overall on tuition fees for the bachelors if you can transfer the credits.
            2) It consists of roughly half the coursework, so if you are unsure if you can pass a Bachelor’s degree, it means you have an actual qualification to indicate you have studied more than someone with only a high school diploma.
            3) it takes half the time, so there is less disparity of experience compared to someone who has worked instead of going to college. (I know that people often get a job while they go to college, but not usually in the same field as they are hoping to work, so there is still an issue.)
            4) since they are lower-level than a Bachelor’s degree, the entry requirements are usually lower. As such, if you don’t actually have the qualifications to get into a 4-year college, doing an Associate’s Degree can hep correct that. ( say, you were a slacker in school and so got bad grades, and have since grown up, and are trying to repair some of the damage done to your ambitions.)

            1. Srs Bsns*

              Thank you for the detailed explanation. As I said in my reply to anon again, I don’t think we have anything like an “associate’s degree” where I’m from (not the UK, btw), meaning there’s not really anything between technical or vocational diplomas and bachelor’s degrees, and bachelor’s (or master’s) degrees are pretty much de rigeur for professionals. I’m still relatively new to the US, so I’m not familiar with all of the terminology yet. Colleges, associate’s degrees = I have no idea. I have definitely embarrassed myself by asking where someone went to university, only to have them say they went to college, and then the embarrassment train really goes off the rails when I ask if they have a B.A. or a B.Sc. (or whatever), only to have them say none of the above. Oh dear :/

                1. Srs Bsns*

                  I always place quotation marks around words and phrases that I’m directly quoting, and I also place them around words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to the reader as a way of setting them up to be defined in the subsequent text. Both are applicable in this case as I’m directly quoting a phrase used by someone else, and then I’m referring back to it specifically when discussing its meaning. I believe that’s quite correct. What an odd thing to nitpick…?

                2. the gold digger*

                  Why are you putting associate degree on quotes?

                  Asked, I suspect, because sometimes in the US, putting something in quotation marks is a way of de-legitimizing it.

                  Also, re asking someone if she went to college or university – that’s not something I would ask a person (I am American). It can be a bit of a class signifier here and I would feel uncomfortable asking someone that question. If I know for sure someone went and if it came up in conversation, I might ask what the person’s major was. But the only people I would be comfortable asking if they went to college are the people I already know well enough to know if they did or did not.

                3. Oryx*

                  Srs Bsns, with regard to the university/college thing, did you ask “Where did you go to university” and they answered “I didn’t go to university, I went to college” or did they answer “I went to Westeros College” and you read that as them saying they didn’t go to university?

                  Here in the US, there are stand alone, world renowned colleges that are just more specialized than a university (like, only offering, say, creative art degrees) but still function as the same thing.

                4. Kelly L.*

                  Yep, and to add to what Oryx said, “going to college” is the US vernacular phrase for going to either college or university. No matter what the exact classification of the school, they are probably going to say they “went to college.” “Going to university”–the phrase, not the act of going there–is more of a UK thing.

                5. Christopher Tracy*

                  Exactly, Kelly L. I say I went to college all the time, but really, I went to a university.

                6. AMT*

                  My Russian professor used to tell people in Russia that he taught at “Williams University” rather than Williams College because the word “college” carries class/prestige implications there that it doesn’t here.

                7. Srs Bsns*

                  @ the gold digger, Oryx, Kelly L: I see what you’re getting at, but I promise you, it was the sort of situation where it would be completely appropriate to ask, “And where did you go to university?” Sort of an impromptu, informal interview, get-to-know-you-chit-chat with a business associate introduced by another business associate, but not the sort of situation where you might have the person’s CV, or anything like that. If that makes any sense. And I do understand that American colleges are essentially exactly the same thing as what I might call a university. Honestly, it’s aubergines vs. eggplants. I’m just used to saying university, not college, so that’s what I say, and though I feel as though the other person knows exactly what I mean (it’s happened more than once), their reply is to inform me as to the correct American English, not to say, “Oh, I went to Teapot College.” I don’t know why. Aubergines vs. eggplants, people, litres vs. quarts :) As for the associate’s degree, it’s not a phrase that is at all familiar to me, I didn’t even know such a thing existed until just very recently, and I haven’t quite figured out what it is, or what its use is, which is why I asked. When someone says, “I finished my degree in 2014”, my follow-up question is usually something like, “Oh, that was your B.A. then?” And then they say, “No, my associate’s degree”, and all I can think is, What the heck is an associate’s degree? But it seems awkward to ask them that. Confused foreign person is confused. That’s all.

                8. Just Another Techie*

                  And some very prestigious schools don’t count as either a college OR a university, like MIT, which doesn’t offer a BA at all in any field of study, but you can get a BS in, say, creative writing (and be required to take at least a year of physics and a year of calculus to get that writing degree!). I believe the distinction is colleges offers BAs, universities offer both BAs and BSs, and “institutes” only offer a BS, but I’m not 100% sure.

                9. Turanga Leela*

                  @Just Another Techie—this isn’t something I’ve spent a lot of time looking into, but that is not right. I went to a college (not a university) that offered both BA and BS degrees. The usual shorthand that I’ve heard in the US is that colleges offer undergrad degrees primarily or exclusively, and universities offer graduate degrees.

                  I don’t know about institutes. MIT usually calls itself “institute” rather than “university,” but outsiders seem to refer to it generically as a university.

                10. CA Admin*


                  Universities offer PhD programs, colleges offer undergraduate and sometimes Masters programs, but not PhDs. Most universities offer undergraduate and masters programs too, but it’s not required for the definition.

                  For example: University of California, San Francisco is a university because it offers doctorate programs, even though it doesn’t offer any undergraduate programs. It’s pretty exclusively masters and doctorate level professional degrees (MDs, ODs, DDSs, etc.) with some PhDs thrown in. Mills College is a college because it only offers undergraduate and masters programs.

                11. Dangitmegan*

                  Techie- I went to Pratt Institute and got a BFA. They also offer MFAs so not just a BS thing. I always thought it was just a more specialized type place…fine arts in our case or science for MIT.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Now there are plenty of regionalisms in the United States, but to my Northeast-US ears, “attended university” always sounds British. I would always say “went to/attended college” (without naming it) or “went to Teapot University”.

                I’ve also learned (from long and painful experience) not to ask too specific a question, or it can show too many assumptions or limit the answer you get. I try to ask open-ended questions, they usually get people to open up more. Maybe once you get to talking about school, just ask “Oh, what did you study?”

                1. Srs Bsns*

                  Thank you for the advice. This sort of thing happens from time to time, and I think it’s just a case of being lost in translation, you know? (I think I explained myself as best I could in my reply above.)

              2. AMT*

                Just for future reference, colleges and universities here in the U.S. are basically the same thing. I know that in some countries, “college” means a career or technical institution, but in the U.S., it doesn’t have those implications and simply signifies (usually) a smaller campus with fewer students that typically grants few or no graduate degrees. Sometimes, you’ll also hear it used to refer to individual residential colleges within a larger institution, like Yale College, the undergraduate school of Yale University. Some large institutions use the word “college” solely out of tradition, like Dartmouth.

                1. AMT*

                  Also, we say “attended college” even when it’s a university, so you might hear someone saying “I went to college at Oregon State University.”

                2. Srs Bsns*

                  Yes, thank you for the information (re: colleges). I’ll get the hang of saying “college” instead of defaulting to “university” one day, probably around the same time I get used to fahrenheit and miles. One day, I promise. (I left a longer reply further up in this thread that sort of explains things, I think.)

                3. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Someone told me once that a university is a collection of colleges (i.e., College of Business, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering), so if a school calls itself a college, it simply means it has a more limited focus (like an arts college). I have no idea if this is true or not, but I do remember when a nearby college changed its name to a university.

                4. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                  My understanding is that college is used for schools that are undergraduate only, and once a school adds a graduate program, they are considered a university (as they have multiple colleges).

                5. Oryx*

                  Not the Droid, that’s not always the case. Dartmouth College, for instance. We also have at least two X Colleges near where I live that also offer graduate studies. Of course, depending on when those graduate levels were added they may be keeping the name out of tradition.

                6. Artemesia*

                  In the US the distinction between college and university is that colleges generally (but not always) don’t offer graduate degrees which is the defining hallmark of a university. There are exceptions of some traditional old line schools that use college although they are technically universities. The great universities generally have law and med schools as well as phd programs in the liberal arts and business schools.

                  And great universities often have an undergraduate college as well which is often referred to as ‘the college’ in house. e.g. Harvard and Vanderbilt both do this.

                  And because ‘university’ is considered prestigious it is common for small colleges to add an education or music or business masters or other minimal graduate degree and then style themselves ‘university’ and make a great kerfuffle about ‘attaining university status.’ I know one school that in a 5 year period went from community college to university by first expanding to a 4 year degree and then adding a couple of masters degrees. It is the same not very prestigious place with low admission standards but now proudly a ‘University.’

                7. Chris*

                  The thing is, there can be a thousand dictionary definitions, but the fact is that it just means whatever. Boston College is a University. If I am asked “did you go to college?” I say, “yes, I went to Ohio State University”.

                  I also got a master’s degree in the UK, so I did get used to saying “uni”. I think it’s just that the definitions in America are far more vague, and it’s really not worth picking over.

              3. Kelly L.*

                Ah, ok, they’re not saying “I didn’t go to university,” they’re telling you what the US vernacular is. Makes sense.

                1. Srs Bsns*

                  Yes, exactly. The conversation always turns into American English 101, and the point gets lost entirely.

                2. the gold digger*

                  For what it’s worth, I think it is kind of petty for someone to correct you on the university vs college distinction. I think most people in the US know what you mean if you say “university,” just like we know what you mean if you say “lift,” “lorry,” or “liter.”

                  However, if you say “fanny,” we will think you are talking about someone’s buttocks. :)

                3. Srs Bsns*

                  Thanks, the gold digger. I try not to make these errors, but it happens, usually to humorous effect. Like the time I asked for 500g of pastrami at the deli counter. As soon as the words left my mouth I knew I had blown my cover. The deli guy looked at me like, WTF?, and then we had a good laugh as he tried to explain ounces to me. (And just as an aside, I’m foreign, but I’m not British… but apparently my English is – lol.)

                4. The Strand*

                  The way you write does sound very English to me. Are you from Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia?

                  And agreed that it’s very petty for someone to correct you on usage. When I was working in Canada, and would accidentally say “zee” instead of “zed,” there would usually just be a pregnant pause…

            2. Queen Anon*

              It can be a vocational degree as well. My AA is in paralegal studies, so it’s absolutely something I include when I’m applying for paralegal or legal assistant jobs. (I also generally include my bachelors no matter what I’m applying for but include my MLIS only when it’s truly relevant. )

            3. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

              Another reason is if you didn’t have very good grades or ACT/SAT scores in HS to get into a university. Community Colleges will take just about anyone, even if it means taking a placement test and lower level non-credit classes to get you up to speed.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Sometimes people get their basic required courses (English comp, math, etc.) out of the way at a community college because it often costs less. Then you can go on to the university and do the actual degree work. The credits usually transfer easily (though that would definitely be something to check before you do that).

                1. AK*

                  I knew someone who really wanted to go to an expensive private school but couldn’t afford it and had grades good enough to get in but not to get a significant amount of scholarship aid. He went to the school and worked out a transfer plan, then went to the local community college and showed them the transfer plan and they helped him get enrolled in the classes he needed. He transferred to the expensive private school after two years at local community college and saved a massive amount of money. I thought it was a great idea, myself. (I wished I’d thought of it!)

                2. Rana*

                  When this works, it’s great. But I second the need to check on how well things transfer. Sometimes you can get the credits covered, but meeting the level of needed skills isn’t always guaranteed. (I say this as a former professor who worked at a wide range of institutions, and the 101-level courses at the various places were not equivalent in terms of what was asked of students. If you go to a place where the norm is two 5-10 page review essays and weekly quizzes, and transfer to one where the expectation is a 15-30 page research paper and midterm and final, you’re going to have to work extra hard to get up to speed in upper-level courses. It can be done, but you need to know what you’re getting into.)

          3. Liz*

            I’ve been told by someone in a 4-year university that 4 A-Levels are approximately the same as an Associate’s degree. I haven’t checked this with an articulation company though.

            (For British readers, “university” and “college” are used fairly much interchangeably in the U.S. and do not imply any ranking. “Community college” is closer to a polytechnic.)

            1. BananaPants*

              In the US, some very well-regarded university-type institutions are technically a “Polytechnic Institute” or “Institute of Technology” – think MIT, Caltech, RPI, WPI, etc.

              I have two master’s degrees from such institutions and was amused when colleagues from Europe initially thought that having gone to “_____ Polytechnic Institute” meant I had a vo-tech certificate in welding or plumbing or something along those lines.

              1. Christopher Tracy*

                My school was an Institute from 1891 to 1936, and then became an Institute of Technology from ’36 to ’70 when they finally became a University. Even with the name change, though, people who aren’t from the east coast still think it’s an online school or vocational program until they look it up, lol.

            2. Huddled over tea*

              This is probably a strange concept to me (a Brit) because A-levels are what you take in your last two years of high school… They’re basically your NEWTs. They’re completely unrelated to university completely, aside from needing A-levels to get into university.

          4. kckckc*

            Often, it can be quite a bit less expensive to go to a community college than a typical 4-year university. Many people (myself included) knock out as many credits as they can at a community college and then move on to a university to save money.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Yeah, that’s what my daughter did, and she saved a bundle!

              Interestingly enough, in the context of this discussion, she went on to complete her B.A. at “Teapot College,” an institution that grants bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but not associate’s degrees, lol.

          5. Lindsay J*

            Adding on, a lot of associates degrees are more technical/vocational, so you’re not entirely wrong.

            Some associates degrees are made to transfer to 4 year schools where the student will continue on to earn their bachelor’s degrees. These are usually A. S. or A. A. (Associate of Science or Associate of Arts) degrees.

            However, some are meant to be a terminal degree to allow someone to enter a vocation directly after completing. These are usually A. A. S. (Associate of Applied Science) degrees. I suppose there might be an AAA as well, but I haven’t seen it offered. Some my local community college offers are veterinary technology, machining technology, petroleum data technology, administrative services, dental hygiene, and geographic information systems. So some are more technical, some are vocational, and some are more academic.

            Associates degrees are usually 60 credit hours vs the 120 for a bachelor’s.

            Many community colleges offer certificates as well, which are shorter and more focused than the A. A. S. The A. A. S. still includes some “gen ed” type classes like phys ed, general math courses, and art electives along with the core courses directly related to the program of study. The certificates are just the core courses.

        5. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          You wouldn’t list your AA, really?

          We’re so proud of son #2’s associate in engineering! O.o He received his degree with a 3.86 GPA and Phi Theta Cappa (which is Phi Beta for associates/community college). He worked his butt off for that.

          He’ll have a BA (or is that BS, I forget) in engineering from a 4 year college (and possibly a masters, tbd shortly) before he is full time job searching.

          I’m like crushed at the idea that all of that work he did for those years doesn’t belong on the resume. :-( He kicked ass.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Plus (turning into *that* poster who argues in favor of her son) , he didn’t have to get a degree. He could have just transferred credits to the 4 year. He took extra time and classes to be actually graduated. With highest honors!

            And, engineering is hard! :p (Yes, I’m laughing at myself.)

          2. Honeybee*

            Well, of course it goes on the resume, but it goes on the resume indirectly. The work that he did still counts towards the BA or BS.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              Cannot follow.

              It wasn’t just the first two years of college. It’s a degree in engineering conferred with highest honors and an accomplishment. He’s deciding right now whether to add the extra year for the master program onto what he’s doing (something about light engineering or some such, most of what he says now is way over my head), but I swear even after all of that his AS will be thing he should be most proud of and best reflects on who he is as a potential job candidate. That was grit.

              1. Government Worker*

                Couldn’t the fact that it was with highest honors still be included in the education section, or in an honors and awards section?

              2. Ony*

                I think the disconnect is that from another perspective, its taking two years off the Bachelor’s. A master’s degree is different because the Bachelor’s is a prerequisite, not something optional that reduces the amount of study.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I agree with Honeybee here — once he has the BS in engineering, I wouldn’t list the AS in engineering unless there’s some specific/unusual context with it; it’s sort of subsumed into the bachelors.

              1. Just Another Techie*

                Now I’m really curious, because it’s common to still list the BS/BA degree and granting institution even if one has an MS/MA or PhD. Why is the AS/AA different? Genuinely curious–I come from a background where community college and an associate’s degree wasn’t ever on the table as an option for post-secondary education, so I think I’m missing a lot of context and cultural knowledge about it.

                1. Dan*

                  It’s convention — mostly because AA/AS degrees aren’t that common, and second, because if you’ve gotten a BS/BA, the AS/AA is really just the first half of such degree.

                  Put it this way — everybody with an MS/MA or doctoral level degree (such as JD, MD, or PhD) has a BS/BA. They are often in unrelated (or loosely related) fields, and well, you’ll probably get asked about it at an interview, so it goes on the resume.

                  But few people with a BS/BA have an AA/AS, and when they do, rarely does the AA/AS convey additional information.

                  There are exceptions to this rule, and I am one of them. I actually have an AS degree in a field totally unrelated to my BS — and I earned my AS *after* my BS.

          3. F.*

            I work for a civil engineering/construction inspection firm, and our preferred entry-level candidate has an Associates in Civil Engineering Technology. I don’t know about other fields, but an AS in Engineering is something to be proud of and to have on the resume. Even if the candidate goes on to get a BS, we would still like to see the AS listed.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              You just made my eyes water, thank you.

              He worked so fricking hard for that degree.

              Extremely Proud Mom

          4. Esperanza*

            I would list the Associate’s in Engineering and be proud. It is a college degree. Graduating from a community college is not the same as simply transferring out of one — you need to take and pass all of the CC degree requirements, which is not easy at many schools (especially for something like an AE, which requires more than a simple AGS). Completing a college degree before transferring shows responsibility and intentionality. It is not the same as “taking some of your bachelor’s credits at a CC.”

            After he gets work experience, and space on the resume eventually becomes an issue, this is something that he can cut if he wants (work experience is more important at that stage anyway) — but for a young person who has plenty of room, I think the AE is a positive sign about his character.

          5. Artemesia*

            But his AA degree is folded into his BS in engineering so it would look redundant to list is separately. If he had an AA in engineering and a BA in English then yes, it would be important to list both because for many jobs e.g. technical writing, he would be uniquely qualified. But an AA and a BS in engineering looks like flogging the same thing — the first two years is included in the final degree. A BS is after all a 4 year degree which incorporates the first two years regardless of where it is taken.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              Thanks, because I think this is where we are getting stuck. I couldn’t figure out what some people were talking about.

              It’s not folded in. It’s a distinct degree. He could have done two years at CC and transferred credits to a 4 year, but that’s not what he did. It took him more than 2 years. An AS in engineering is A Thing and now I’m thinking that people who aren’t familiar with engineering don’t get that, so we’re all good.

              1. F.*

                Yes, I am thinking that perhaps engineering is an exception in this case. I know that back in the 1950s, my father got an Associates in Mechanical Engineering from a community college. After his military service, he went Wichita State (known for its engineering school) and earned his BS and MS in the 1960s.

          6. BananaPants*

            I’m an engineer and have been involved in a lot of hiring decisions in the last year. I’m going to disagree with the general consensus here – in this field your son should keep his AS on his resume, listing it below his BS. Having gotten an engineering technology (or similar) degree is a potential selling point for him because it means he likely has some practical, hands-on experience that his counterparts who did a straight 4 year BS program might not have.

            I wouldn’t bat an eye at a job candidate who continued to list an associate’s degree even past the entry-level stage. It is increasingly common for us to see candidates who did 2+2 or 2+3 programs that included receiving an associate’s degree prior to a bachelor’s degree. An AS in engineering technology/engineering science is usually more vocationally-focused than the first two years of a BS in engineering, even in an associate’s program intended to articulate directly into a 4-year engineering program. Having an associate’s degree is at least equivalent to a solid engineering internship, or 6-12 months of work experience in the field.

            I have college classmates who earned their associate’s degrees while in the military and even though they have master’s degrees now, they still include those A.S. in Engineering Technology degrees on their resumes. It doesn’t take up much real estate on the page.

    2. IT Kat*

      A lot of the jobs I’ve applied for have had application systems that require all schools you went too… So I would think that suggested language or a good way to present that would help out the OP? Especially if the OP got an Associate’s degree there before their Bachelor’s, so technically they both might he degree-granting institutions.

      …Unfortunately I’m not sure how best to explain it either :-(

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, the OP is asking specifically about her resume. But yeah, application systems that require specific information are different — if it’s required, you’d just list it and I wouldn’t worry about any special explanation. If asked, she’d just say, “I started taking classes there while I was in high school so that accounts for a portion of that time.” Shouldn’t be a big deal.

      2. Joseph*

        In most systems I’ve seen asking for all education, they usually also ask for high school graduation date. In this case, the overlapping dates would either indicate the college-in-high-school thing and/or cause the interviewer to ask directly.

      3. Dan*

        Honestly, I don’t give the “full truth” on those systems. I list schools from which I’ve been conferred a degree, but I’ve attended a couple part time (and taken some W’s) so I just don’t bother.

    3. Grace*

      I have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field. I also have an associates from a community college that’s required for my job (the highest degree offered in my field). I list both on my resume.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I put my BS in English and my AS in Criminology on because I earned both at university at the same time. The AS could have been a BS but I ran out of funds. Plus, I would have had to take a statistics course, which I probably would not have passed.

        All they’re good for is writing police procedurals! :P

        1. starsaphire*

          Yes, but now I want to read YOUR police procedurals! I’ve read way too many that seem to have been based on “I watched an episode of CSI once.”

        2. Dan*

          Intro to stats (or “stats for non majors”) can actually be pretty easy. The advanced levels, TBH, are ass kickers.

    4. Teacher Nerd*

      I work in education. Any degree I’ve completed is on the resume. This includes an associate of arts (earned at a community college), a bachelor of arts (earned at really big, very well known regional research university and needed for teaching at secondary level), and a master of arts degree (needed for teaching at college level). I’m not sure why one would omit the associate’s degree. (“You have the bachelor’s degree – why include the associate’s?” To which my response is, “I have the master’s degree – does that mean I should omit the bachelor’s?” “Well, no.” “Then why omit the associate’s? I have the space on the vita.”) That said, I have additional graduate-level credits I don’t put on my resume; I’ve only included completed degrees.

    5. Connie-Lynne*

      Why wouldn’t you list your community college degrees? I’m a proud CC graduate and if someone values me less because of that, I’d rather not work for them.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        An associate degree is often going to seem redundant if you went on to get your bachelors, and generally won’t strengthen your candidacy at that point. (An exception in some cases might be if it’s in a completely different field of study, and that field is highly relevant to the job you’re applying for.)

        In some fields — although certainly not all — an associate degree isn’t seen as a strong credential so if you have a bachelors on top of it, it often makes sense to just list the bachelors.

        1. Teacher Nerd*

          There are always exceptions to these things, as you often note. Since I do so much work within community colleges and teach concurrent enrollment classes offered through the local CC, I find it helpful to include my associate’s as a means of indicating that I understand community college culture (being a CC grad myself). What’s seen as redundant in one field is not seen the same way in another; in education, for example (and which has beeb noted here as well), “list all degrees completed” means one lists all degrees. I’m not sure I necessarily agree that the associate’s is seen as redundant simply because I have a higher degree, simply because by that logic, my bachelor’s would be seen as redundant too because of having a higher degree.

          Other fields may vary, as you say, though, of course. (I wonder if the redundancy factor in other fields would hold true: In other fields, should I omit the bachelor’s degree because of holding a graduate degree? At what point is the redundancy, well, redundant?)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep, there are of course always exceptions (and yes, applications are different than resumes).

            But you should always list your bachelors even if you have a masters, even if only because it’s the convention.

            1. anon anon anon*

              i would add that there are some schools that do equivalency admissions for graduate school, so it is possible for someone to get a masters or (rarely) a phd without having taken an undergraduate degree. because of this i’d suggest always listing your bachelors (and also convention, etc).

            2. Anonhippopotamus*

              Listing your bachelor’s even if you have a master’s is more than just a convention, it’s logical.

              Typically a master’s degree is very focused and requires a research project on a specific topic. You can also move away from what you studied in undergrad. Listing a master’s of arts, where you specialized in say, Aboriginal issues, doesn’t indicate anything about your foundation/background which could have been history, political sciences, cultural studies, philosophy or many other things.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          And, because is some degree-snobby fields like legal, big 4 consulting, and finance, an associate’s degree is looked down upon. (So are my collection of state school degrees, regardless of level. I was chastised a couple years ago for sending a qualified applicant whose degree was from a non-elite school to a particular group of attorneys. They took the elite school grad over the one with relevant work experience. I found it maddening, particularly since the elite school grad ended up struggling in the role in a way the one with experience would not have.)

          I did a post-bac associate’s degree in information technology when I moved into a technology field and only had liberal arts-y undergraduate degrees. I only include it on my resume sometimes because it does seem kind of irrelevant with two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s. I also do not list my non-degree graduate classes unless they are relevant to that particular job.

          If I had a more specialized A.A./A.A.S. that was directly relevant to my job application, I would include it. We are fortunate to have a good community college system with a lot of practical majors that can lead to direct employment, not just to transfer to a 4-year school (though there is also a really good system of guaranteed acceptance to both pubic and private schools in the state from the community college system, if you do well).

          1. The Strand*

            Hey, I think I saw a “Good Wife” episode like that.

            But seriously, at the end of a college internship the mentor told me how lucky I was that she picked ME out of the pile when there were people from Harvard who had applied, as if it was a given they would be superior to me in every way. She wanted me to feel obligated to her, I think, but it actually made me lose respect for her. She didn’t know that I turned down the chance to apply as a legacy student at two Ivy League schools, and a full ride at another prestigious school.

      2. Mela*

        I always assumed the convention was due to the fact that many, if not most, associate’s degrees aren’t in anything other than General Studies. Isn’t that coursework basically the first two years of any undergraduate degree?

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          There’s a zillion different AA, AAS, AS, areas, a lot of them in technical fields, like computer science, nursing, etc. Community college is way more than people taking general english and history classes.

        2. Oryx*

          There are many, many, Associate’s Degrees available that are far more specialized than “General studies.”

          1. Mela*

            Right, of course there are other Associate’s degrees…All I was saying is that the general rule came out of the fact that many, many people at CCs study General Studies. Maybe I’m just in California mode because loads of people (including me!) go to CC for General Studies to save money, so that is colouring my perspective.

            Let’s say you earn a specialized/non-General Studies Associates. You A) stopped there, and would list it, B) went on to get a Bachelor’s in the same field, and wouldn’t necessarily list it, or C) went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in a similar/different field, and listing the details of an Associate’s would strengthen your candidacy, so you would list it. Am I missing a scenario here?

            1. Natalie*

              Definitely state dependent. The program in my state where one does 2 years at a CC and then transfers doesn’t confer any degree at all, so your major is whatever you’re planning on majoring in your 4 year college.

              1. Connie-Lynne*

                Mela is incorrect in her assumptions about how Californians do it, too. While you can get a Gen Studies AA, most people don’t bother.

            2. FiveWheels*

              That’s another UK USA difference – I don’t think we have any general studies at degree level. There may be a similar A Level – qualifications granted in your last two years of high school – but a lot of university programmes and jobs exclude those from requirements.

              It’s a long time since I did my BA, but again there were no general studies options in the first year. Generally you can take modules from other subjects, but I think BA students were arts only and BSc students science only. No teaching maths to historians or English to physicists. Then from year two, it was specialised subjects only.

              1. Thomas E*

                There are some universities that have general studies at degree level. The bsc(open) is an famous example. It’s not common but it is possible.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  My husband has a bachelor’s degree that required him to complete the requirements for three minors plus the school’s general education program. I think his official major is Liberal Arts & Sciences or something equally generic. It was intended as a second-degree for teachers to make them more marketable as you can qualify to teach subjects at a middle school level here with a college minor, but I am not sure it was intended as a primary degree. He made his much more rigorous with independent study and self-designed research, but a number of people in his program did the bare minimum and still got a degree. That program was discontinued not long after he graduated in favor or a more rigorous program of interdisciplinary study.

              2. Marzipan*

                There are degree programmes where you can pick from modules across everything the institution offers (like the OU Open Degree, but there are similar programmes in some brick universities, too). My sense has always been that US colleges require a broad spread of study initially, though; whereas the UK programmes allowing a broad approach still generally allow students to specialise.

            3. Oryx*

              No, you’re not missing a scenario. I was directly commenting on your statement that “…many, if not most, associate’s degrees aren’t in anything other than General Studies.”

            4. Dan*

              I have a specialized AS degree from a California community college — a degree I obtained after my BS at a yuppy east coast private school.

              But I understand your point — especially at the time, California community colleges were dirt ass cheap for instate residents. $25/credit hour IIRC. Even as an out of state student, I picked that program because out of programs across the country, it would get me out fastest and cheapest.

            5. Stranger than fiction*

              I always thought the general studies thing was generally to get what you needed to transfer to a four year school when you didn’t quite know what to major in yet. Never thought of that as something to get an AA in and then just stop at that.

            6. Connie-Lynne*

              Hardly. This sounds like the typical prejudice against community colleges with little basis in fact.

              I’m also in California. IME people going for Gen Ed mostly don’t bother with a degree, they just transfer their units.

              If you’re going for a degree you take your specialized classes just like you would at a four year college. My community college specialty area classes kicked the pants out of my similar classes at UCSC, due to the small class sizes and instructors with real world experience.

        3. Chalupa Batman*

          There are as many different student populations as there are institutions, but I worked in a very large, well established community college system, and the Associate of General Studies wasn’t even close to our largest degree program. Most students were A) majoring in the same field they planned to pursue their bachelor’s in; or B) pursuing a field where an associate’s degree or certificate met their need on its own. General Studies functioned as a financial aid loophole for a lot of students there. AGS students usually transferred before actually completing the degree (you had to declare a major to get financial aid, so they’d declare AGS and take classes until they ran out of courses that counted toward the desired 4 year degree, then transfer) or changed their major to an AGS to buy some time. I won’t go into detail unless you really want me to, because it’s not very exciting, but students who messed up early could sometimes finish AGS to get a semi-fresh start with financial aid without having to start all over academically.

      3. Anna*

        In Oregon, the university system has an arrangement with community colleges throughout the state so students can go to community college for general ed requirements and then transfer all those credits in to the university they attend. It’s called an AA Block Transfer. So I have an AA degree, but it’s not in anything specific. It’s general ed requirements, so it would have been weird to list it even before I went on to further education.

    6. Natalie*

      I did when I first graduated, because I had worked full time while going to community college in one state, and then transferred to a college in another state. I wanted to list the work without making it look super odd or false. Now that my college-era work has dropped off my resume, the CC has too.

    7. Mononymous*

      I list mine on my resume, because I went back to school at a local community college to study another field, several years *after* my B.A., as the first step of a career change.

    8. Spondee*

      One of my employees got his AA right out of school, then went into the military and worked a while before getting his BA. He has both his AA and BA listed on his resume in an “education and military service” section. Not usual for my field, but it works for him.

    9. AK*

      Community Colleges also offer other types of programs – for instance I went to a 4 year college and got a Bachelor’s Degree 1st and then went to a community college for my paralegal certificate – the school also offered a standard associates degree for paralegals, but the certificate program (which is a 1 year program) was geared for people who already had an associates or a bachelors, and only included career-specific classes. My community college’s program is ABA certified and has a better reputation in my area than some of the other local programs, so I make sure they’re both on the resume.

    10. Anxa*

      I am currently listing my A.S. on my resume since I received it 7 years after my B.S. in a similar field. I went back to school to stave off depression, expand my network, get a job (the month I started school I suddenly was able to get a job as I was no longer ‘long-term unemployed), but also because I hadn’t had direct experience or education in my field in a long time.

      It’s strange and I’m sometimes I’m worried that it would look a little weird, but 80% of the skills I’ve developed in school are from my A.S, not my B.S. Also, it’s a local and well-known training program. And finally, some of the technology I used in community college didn’t exist when I got my B.S.

    11. BananaPants*

      My husband has a B.S. but did a non-credit workforce development program at a community college and he does list that on his resume because it’s relevant to the work he does now.

  2. Former Computer Professional*

    #1 might consider that the coworker is trying to limit their online presence due to something like a stalker or a toxic family member. There might be good and/or scary reasons why they’d prefer not to have their location advertised publicly.

    1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

      Exactly. There are LOTS of very good reasons that someone might not want to be featured in something that can provide breadcrumbs to all the wrong people. How on earth does a team-spirit exercise be so important in comparison? Can’t you be a little more creative in how you expand that corporate blog? Surely you can talk about teapots without having to profile every single handle mechanic and glaze technician.

      1. Queen Gertrude*

        Seriously, the ONLY people who read these things outside of the company in my experience are either sales people who are mining for data so that they can get an “in” and then pester employees OR people who are researching a specific person… be that for stalking, doxxing, or at best possibly for employment verification. In fact, am I missing how this is good for the employee at all. This strikes me as being for the sole benefit of the company. (unless publicity is your thing)

        I find the OPs attitude disturbingly obtuse and naive.

        1. Vicki*

          When I read “I sent out a fun questionnaire for everyone to answer so that I can write a little blurb about each of us.” I shuddered. Then I read “I feel this attitude stems from not feeling like part of the team and wanting to be separate from a lot that goes on,…”

          OP #1: Never assume that what you think is “fun” is going to be fun for everyone else. Stop the armchair psychoanalyzing. Ignore all advice claiming that this co-worker “could be a little negative and often separates herself from the group,”.

          The blog is your business. This co-worker is not.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Yes, this. Or, that they have a sizable online presence already and for similar reasons don’t want their real identity associated with their online identity. My old job used to list our names on the web pages for projects we worked on and I hate, hate, hated that if you googled my name, it was so easy to find out where I worked. I’m involved in a few topics online that leave me open for harassment and while my own reach is small enough that I don’t experience it very often, it’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. I don’t need to be doxxed .

      1. Jennifer*

        Oh yeah. My job puts my contact info out so that anyone can find me, which is a delight. I hope to god I don’t get myself noticed online someday and then get harassed at work too.

    3. Elizabeth*

      This, 100%. Alternately, they may have an active online presence but may not want that associated with their real life identity. My old job used to include on pages about specific projects the people who worked on those projects; this was meant to be an acknowledgement of our work, but it just made it easier to figure out where I worked if you googled me. I hated this so, so much because I’m fairly active online and in a couple of topics that can mean harassment for women; I don’t have a big enough reach that it’s been a big problem, but it’s something I keep in the back of my mind.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Apologies for the double comment; the first one didn’t appear so I thought it got eaten by my phone!

    4. Mike C.*

      Not only that, but I don’t really give a crap about the personal details of the people working there, I care about the product.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started shopping at some small online business, started reading the blog and found it was a mixture and business and personal news. Come on now, that makes you look really unprofessional.

      1. Barbara in Swampeast*

        Exactly!! Customers want to know about the product(s), the industry and how your company contributes and even improves it with better product, the company vision and where you are going. A blog that is filled with fun facts about the employees tells me the company has no idea what it is doing. The only time employees should be mentioned is when they win industry awards or occasionally participate in group volunteer efforts.

        1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

          Indeed. To paraphrase part of my comment last night, I want to know that the teapot I buy will hold up, but I don’t need the details of every last glaze mechanic’s baseball card collection.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Or they’re doing a presentation/giving a speech about the industry, being featured at an industry conference.

          1. Observer*

            Actually, that’s the one kind of thing that might be relevant. It says “Our staff is so awesome at Teapot design that they are even giving a speech at blah blah conference.” But, if it’s a speech on Victorian Zoos, then who cares?

        3. Spooky*


          My old company did this, and I think the blog had fewer than 10 visitors per month (and those were mostly just from employees proofreading what had been written about them). It’s kind of like a company Instagram that posts pictures of half-empty conference rooms with the caption “so excited for our guest speaker!” or store-bought sheet cakes with “Yay June birthdays” on it. It makes you look worse than not having one at all.

      2. Sadsack*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t be interested in reading about employees at some company where I am looking to buy something either, sorry OP.

        1. SevenSixOne*

          I wouldn’t be interested in WORKING for a company that has employees’ full names and pictures on a public blog either. It really seems like a company blog is pointless at best and dangerous at worst.

          1. F.*

            A local auto dealership had the working days/hours of each salesperson on their website. Very convenient for a burglar to know when they would not be at home. That was finally eliminated with the latest revamp of the website.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Glad to hear they removed that info from the site. In addition to the issue you cited, it would have been a very convenient way for some crazed stalker to find out exactly when to show up to catch their stalkee on the premises. Among other things, I’ve read/seen too many news stories about abusive ex husbands or boyfriends showing up at their ex’s place of work to harass them or even shoot the place up to see that as anything but a recipe for trouble

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        This. Unless you can make your blog so interesting that I actually read it for entertainment (along the lines of emails from Woot), which is a lot harder than you think it is, I couldn’t care less what your employees are interested in, or what their answers to “fun” questions are.

      4. Purest Green*

        This, so much. I once worked for a niche marketing group who put all 30-something employee’s pictures and about me statements on the website where the navigation and content was “our work” and “our product” and way too much other we-and-us for a customer-driven business.

      5. pomme de terre*

        Counterpoint: I once worked for an industry’s governing body and we had some minor personal stuff about staffers on the website. I think it helped a lot to humanize us to the members. The perception was that we were a faceless organization with a huge staff taking members’ money and imposing arbitrary rules; putting our actual faces and job descriptions and one or two “fun” facts made who we were and what we did more apparent.

        It was totally voluntary, though.

      6. Katie the Fed*

        I just remembered this, but I once chose not to use a particular law firm because they had pictures of all their lawyers and every last one of them (like 20 people) was a white male. Since I myself work in a field that continues to lack diversity at the senior levels, I decided my hard-earned money was best spent at a law firm that respected diversity.

      7. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, save the personal stuff for the internal company newsletter.

        Issues with stalkers or limiting online presence aside, some people are super uncomfortable having their picture taken. The idea of the picture being visible to the entire internet fills them with horror.

      8. WM*

        I just wrote a longer comment to this effect but this is what happens when small firms assume no knowledge or expertise is needed and the office manager can do the blog without any comms training.

    5. Jeanne*

      I think that, even without concerns of safety, it’s good to respect that not everyone wants to do an online profile about what I’m assuming is probably non-work-related questions. Not everyone is interested in “fun” team building exercises. Some don’t want to mix their work and non-work lives. It doesn’t make them a negative person.

      1. Jane*

        All I need to read was, “I sent out a fun questionnaire” and my sympathies were instantly with the non-participating coworker.

        1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

          Yes. I wonder how much of the ‘being negative and separating herself from the group’ is due to being dragooned into things like this. And if she really is not feeling ‘part of the team’ forcing her is more likely to alienate her further.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Me too. Maybe she hates team building activities in general and therefore has gained a rep as a party pooper just because she’s voiced her opinion on it.

        2. Jen RO*

          I don’t think this is really fair to the OP. Not everyone hates “fun questionnaires” and not all “fun questionnaires” are awful. I mean, OK, maybe it’s a waste of time to fill in your favorite color and your favorite animal, but how can it actually hurt you?

          1. Jen RO*

            (And, before anyone misunderstands – I am strictly talking about filling in the thing, not about posting it online.)

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              Because people who mandate ‘fun’ questionnaires are invariably judgmental busybodies who will gossip about the answers. No thanks; I’ll pass.

              1. fposte*

                Oh, come on–that’s not fair, and your comment sounds pretty snap judgmental as well. The thing it would help the OP to learn is that different people work in different ways while still being valuable. And that’s true of people who dislike fun questionnaires as well as those who like them.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  I think you misunderstood me. Asking is fair game. Insisting or mandating isn’t. And accusing someone of not being a team player because they decline to participate is judgmental and unfair.

                2. LBK*

                  I don’t see how that has anything to do with your comment about the people who organize these activities “invariably” being judgmental gossips.

                3. Trout 'Waver*

                  LBK, Please reread my comments. You’re misunderstanding me. If you organize the activity, that’s fine. If you insist or mandate that everyone participate, that’s not fine. It’s like you read my comment and substituted the word “organize” where I wrote “mandate”.

                4. LBK*

                  Because people who mandate ‘fun’ questionnaires are invariably judgmental busybodies who will gossip about the answers. No thanks; I’ll pass.

                  This is literally your comment. I was quoting your words. What am I misinterpreting here?

                5. Trout 'Waver*

                  You said my comment was about people who organize these activities. My comment was actually about people who mandate these activities.

                  As I’ve pointed out now three times, these are two very different words with two very different meanings.

                6. LBK*

                  Okay, I see the distinction now, but I still think your conclusion that people who mandate it are always doing it for the purpose of gossip is completely unfounded.

              2. LBK*

                Seriously? How the hell do you even gossip about this kind of goofy, informal interview? “Wow, can’t believe Jane’s favorite color is red! What a harlot!”

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  For most of these questions, there are socially acceptable answers and socially unacceptable answers. What if your favorite TV show was, “How to Get Away with Murder”?

                  Also, a lot of the childhood and personal questions can convey class information. If you grew up poor or were the first in your family to go to college, your answers to pretty much everything would be different than if you were the 4th generation in a row to go to an Ivy League school.

                2. LBK*

                  What if your favorite TV show was, “How to Get Away with Murder”?

                  I…don’t know what this is supposed to imply. Most of my coworkers watch that show, so…?

                  I think you’re overestimating the invasiveness of the questions usually asked in these kinds of questionnaires. It’s not supposed to be a therapy session.

                3. Trout 'Waver*

                  You asked how people can gossip about the answers to these questions. I gave you two examples of how people can gossip about the answers to these questions.

                4. LBK*

                  Those are bafflingly weird examples. Unless you work in the meanest office in the world I just don’t see how this is a realistic fear (and I still don’t understand how you would gossip about someone watching HTGAWM, it’s one of the most popular shows on TV).

                5. MashaKasha*

                  Oh, but, in OP’s letter, wasn’t it held against the non-participating coworker that she “replied with short answers”? What kind of detail did everyone else reply with? what kind of detailed answers were expected? Why are short answers bad? I’d have given short, non-descriptive answers too.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Hey, that’s unwarranted. I agree that this stuff shouldn’t be mandated, but the rest doesn’t inherently follow and is an unkind way to treat the OP. Let’d drop this here, please.

              4. AnonMgr*

                That’s an unnecessary, inaccurate, and harsh judgement from someone who doesn’t know me. I am not a gossip, period.

                I feel that my question was lost from people thinking I wanted to force her to air her life on our blog. I am hoping (as a new face) to help bring her back into the fold of the team and I guess I don’t see the harm in encouraging her to participate, never to mandate it. I was hoping to find some ways to encourage and come together, IE not using pics, personal info, etc, so that she could feel supported and protected, while also emphasizing how important she is to our group. I’d love to at least include a “So-And-So is a key member of out team, here is some of her amazing digital work, and we are delighted to have her…”

                I am bummed that the consensus seems to be to drop it and move on.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  If read my latest comment in this thread, you’d see that I didn’t intend it to cover you or your actions. I’d be interested in seeing what questions were on the questionnaire, though. Care to share?

                2. Here, kitty, kitty...*

                  I’m sorry you’re bummed, I really am. I get where you’re coming from. But she has every right to keep her private life private, and she very well may have compelling reasons – e.g., a stalker or toxic family, as mentioned above – to keep her private life private. And those compelling reasons also should stay private. If she doesn’t want to participate, that’s that.

                  I hesitate to say this, but you seem to be putting a lot of stock into this one employee participating. Have you given thought as to why it is so important to you to have her participate in this, given that she seems to feel it is equally important that she doesn’t?

                3. fposte*

                  I think you’re describing a value for this process that works for you but doesn’t for everybody–it’s like saying “I’m giving you this gift certificate to the best steakhouse in town” and expecting the vegan to be happy about this.

                  I also think you’re overfocused on team unity as the sign of a good staff, and it’s often not a good metric at all. The challenge here is finding a way to honor your team members that like the chatty togetherness thing and those that don’t without insisting either have to change their ways, not pushing staff who don’t like it to do it nonetheless.

                  Now it’s possible there are problems with this employee beyond her not interacting in the way you think is ideal, but you haven’t raised those here. If there are, they’re separate from her lack of interest in the Team with a capital T stuff and should be addressed without that coming up. If there aren’t, considering her lack of participation a problem is a bad call. It is tempting, when hiring and when managing, to prefer people who are clones of ourselves, but it’s weak managing that ultimately hurts the employer. Lead the team in demonstrating that you can embrace all kinds of working styles, not in suggesting that staff have to be happy your way or be considered substandard.

                4. Trout 'Waver*

                  The way you make people feel supported and protected is by respecting their boundaries. Insisting on violating their reasonable boundaries for their own good is, at best, lacking in empathy.

                  Since you’re new to management, you might consider taking some courses on management. One of the things these courses emphasize is understanding that different people have different needs and communicate in different ways. As a manager, it’s part of your job to understand what people’s needs are and how they communicate so you can help them be successful.

                5. Merida Ann*

                  “so that she could feel supported and protected, while also emphasizing how important she is to our group.”

                  The very best way that you can show her that she is important and supported is by respecting her wishes and not pressuring her into something that she’s uncomfortable with. For some people, whether they be very private or shy or introverted or anything else, interacting with a large group of people is intimidating and/or exhausting. It doesn’t mean that she’s not part of the team, it just means that she has a different style of interacting with them.

                  If you’d like to find ways to make her feel more integrated, ask for her opinion – first of all, does she feel like she’s separate, or is that just your impression because she’s not as extroverted as you? If you get a chance, maybe you could just check in with her with something like “how are you liking the team here” and then listed to what she says. She might say she’s loving everything exactly the way it is. Or maybe she’ll say that she wishes she could get to know a few people a little better – and from there the two of you could discuss options to make that happen, whether that be a lunch outing with a handful of people or something else that she would like. Or maybe she just wants some more time to get a feel for things or she isn’t quite sure what she wants socially at work yet and won’t really have an answer at this time. There are all sorts of possibilities for her response – the important thing is that it’s her decision.

                  The key is that she will feel safe and included if you respect her personal boundaries and the way that she chooses to bond with the team. Trying to pressure or cajole her into something she has expressed discomfort for will only make her feel *more* marginalized and out of place, not less.

                  Your heart is in the right place, OP! I’m glad you’re concerned about making sure your coworker doesn’t feel excluded – it’s just that different people have different comfort zones socially, and that’s okay!

                6. Observer*

                  The thing is that you seem to be missing the point. If you had stuck to asking her about THE WORK SHE DOES, that might have been different. But, the minute it’s something else, then you’ve moved to a different issue. And, let’s face it “fun surveys” are NOT about the work she does, no matter what you say.

                  You used some very negative and rather authoritative language about her (especially the bit about “nipping this in the bud”). That does NOT convey value, respect or “bringing her back into the fold.” It absolutely DOES smack of mandating things. And, then you go ahead and ask about pushing in – what is that if NOT “mandating it”.

                  The bottom line is that if you REALLY just want to get her back into the team, you need to back off and totally re-assess your approach. And that includes understanding that you need to act in ways that are in accord with what you say you want to do.

                7. Rusty Shackelford*

                  I guess I don’t see the harm in encouraging her to participate, never to mandate it.

                  Insinuating that she’s going to “exclude herself out of a job” is definitely mandating participation. I don’t see how you don’t understand that.

                8. Queen Gertrude*

                  fposte, Merida Ann, and Trout ‘Waver have already beautifully articulated why you are going about this the wrong way. The taking a vegan to a steakhouse analogy is particularly on point. If inclusiveness is really your end goal, then you need to incorporate multiple approaches that will ideally work to reach people at their comfort levels. You need to meet her where she is at, not force her into some mold because you think it is good for her. Also, if there is gossip about her not being part of the team, talk to her about it, don’t just listen to what some potentially biased people might be saying*.

                  *I say this from experience being a particularly introverted person at work. I know what it is like to feel pressure from the more extroverted women in the office who didn’t understand why I wasn’t interested in hanging around and gossiping with them in the bathroom and then being excluded/singled out for attitude problems when it came to peer review time. Apparently my stellar work ethic and creative output just wasn’t enough… I needed to “look” like a team player too.

                9. Serafina*

                  Rather than be “bummed,” couldn’t you consider the wild possibility that the “consensus” of hundreds of commentors is a rather strong indication that you are…wait for it…wrong? That your attitude is wrong, your actions are wrong, and your treatment of this employee are…wrong? Please? Just indulge us? Rather than sneer that she is going to “exclude herself out of a job,” consider that you are micromanaging, invading privacy, and bullying her out of it? What will get through to you? You have the word of Alison, a fellow manager and respected blogger, and many other people here from many different walks of life including management positions! Are you really so desperate to be right that you’ll ignore hundreds of people? Such rigidness does not a good manager make, and as a new person, your treatment of your employee is “unnecessarily harsh.” I beg you, stop. Again: You. Are. Wrong.

                10. Braincandy*

                  God, what is up with you, OP? “bring her back into the fold”? You sound a little off, to say the least. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO POLICE HER OR TO CHANGE HER. The fact that you are new and she is not new makes your take on this all the more puzzling. She wants you to bug off; 99% of the posts here AND Alison’s advice was to bug off and you still don’t get it. Your inability to understand why you are wrong here is troubling. Leave this woman alone, stop worrying about changing her and mind your own damn business.

            2. LQ*

              Someone who doesn’t respect the desire to not complete it isn’t someone I trust to not post it online because they happen to be short of posts this week.

              How does it actually hurt the asker to have someone politely bow out? Why are their feelings more important than the feelings of the asked? The asker doesn’t have a right to that information so why do we have to go under the assumption that since they asked we have to give them the information if it isn’t actually hurting?

              1. Liz*

                I think OP’s worried about the fact that it’s supposed to be for team-building and the impression that someone was left out (deliberately or accidentally) may negate some of the impact.

              2. Lindrine*

                Agreed. OP I think you mean well, but it would be better to have a “meet the team” page and focus the rest of the upcoming blog content on useful tips for users and thought leadership.

          2. Mookie*

            Not everyone hates “fun questionnaires” and not all “fun questionnaires” are awful.

            Jane didn’t mention anyone hating them– she mentioned herself–and nobody used the word awful to describe them.

            People have explained why questionnaires can be annoying and on-line blurbs dangerous; the latter can “hurt you.”

          3. Jeanne*

            Maybe it won’t “hurt” me to write down my favorite color, song, and movie, my first pet, and my worst subject in school. But I am an adult and I really don’t want to go back to junior high sleep over games. It is ok to want to work while you’re at work. Too much of this forced cliquey friendship and you will start losing good performers.

              1. Marcela*

                Which is actually very stupid, for many of those things can be known from facebook. And btw, in my culture, moms don’t change name when married, and hmy mom’s last name is inside my name, therefore it’s not something only I would know, therefore it’s not a good (secondary) “password”. I hate this questions with passion.

                1. MoinMoin*

                  Off topic, but a lot of people use their own specific word to answer any question, which makes it easier to remember the “answer” and more secure as it’s going to be illogical to anyone else. First pet? Schadenfreude. Mother’s maiden name? Schadenfreude. Street you grew up on? Schadenfreude.

              1. Natalie*

                I don’t think anyone is saying it’s not. But I’ve never seen a real work friendship grow out of this kind of forced teambuilding. Relationships of all stripes are usually healthiest if you let them develop naturally.

                1. Isabel C.*


                  I feel like the company that forces its employees to fill out “fun surveys” today is the company that institutes “mandatory fun days” tomorrow. If I want to make friends with co-workers–and I might, depending on circumstances–I’ll go to truly optional events. Otherwise? We’re all adults: why not trust us to do our jobs and work together professionally without being BFFsies?

                2. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Seriously. Our HR used to do personal interest questionnaires and posted the results on the intranet, and I know approximately zero people who used those to make a meaningful connection with people. Most of us just make those connections the old-fashioned way by chatting in the break room and working together. It’s work, not computer-match dating.

                3. Natalie*

                  @ NotAnotherManager – even computer match dating doesn’t work well if you force it. Once you meet in person, IME 9 times out of 10 you don’t click face to face. :)

                4. NotAnotherManager!*

                  @Natalie — That’s exactly why I thought it was silly when HR started posting these things. :) For giggles, I searched for people that had some similar interests to me to see how they matched up with the people I got on best with, and it was maybe a 50/50 overlap. (Turns out one of my favorite coworkers also loves NASCAR, in which I cannot even feign interest. I suspect he’s not into dystopian YA literature either.)

              2. FiveWheels*

                Of course it’s okay to have work friendships, what’s not okay is trying to force people into activities that make them uncomfortable and have nothing to do with work.

                1. Michelle*

                  ^^EXACTLY^^. Some people do not appreciate forced “fun” and just want to do their work.

                  We had a person who liked to do icebreakers at staff meetings. We all knew each other and worked together everyday- there was no ice to be broken. Let’s just have the meeting, eat our obligatory slice of pizza and go home, people.

              3. Jen RO*

                I’m gonna stop commenting on this topic because I am admittedly replying to some comments that were not posted on this thread. I am just a bit tired of the extreme (imo) work/personal life separation advocated by a large number of AAM commenters, and this particular letter struck a chord. (I am also working on a national holiday, so I actually have time to read the blog today!)

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  For what it’s worth, most people who argue for that are arguing work/personal life separation are arguing for that as an option. They’re not arguing against taking away the options of closer work friendships, etc. for people who want them. They just don’t want that mandated across the board in forced ways. The problem is when offices try to force that kind of thing, and I think that’s what most people here who object are objecting to.

                2. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Just as a lot of us are tired of being prodded to share our personal lives at work in the name of “team building”. I like the people with whom I work. They are overall nice, smart people who work really hard to do the best for our clients. I don’t want to have dinner or drinks with them outside a professional context, and I don’t want to share my personal life with them beyond polite chit-chat about how their weekend was or to congratulate them on a graduation or other accomplishment. I want to leave my office and be able to focus on my family and friends and not be reminded of the deadlines, team projects, and other things that come along with mixing my personal and professional life.

                  There are also people who like to be taken seriously at work, and being asked to fill out our favorite color, animal, and decide what type of tree we would be flies in the face of that. My favorite color is purple, which gets a lot of comments about how surprised people are because I “don’t seem that girly”, and I love cats, which seems to really piss off a few of the ardent dog lovers in higher places in my organization. There is no benefit to my sharing this information, and a decent number of negative outcomes. And my team likes me because I step in front of the bus for them when there is a problem, not because of my answers on a Cosmo quiz.

                3. Kyrielle*

                  I hang out with my coworkers. I chat with them. At $PreviousJob I was sad that my long commute made it logistically impossible for me to participate in board game night. I would answer the heck out of most “fun” questionnaires and never think twice about it.

                  And I firmly believe that people who don’t feel like me should be allowed to opt out of all of that and just stay professional-professional. There are people who are more contented and able to focus more by keeping things on that level; I’ve worked with some of them, and they make good coworkers, in my experience – as do those of us who are less about the boundary. It’s just that my conversations with them tended to be on work or shallow-topic chit chat. (Standard polite greetings/farewells, “How was your weekend?” ending at “Okay” or “Good”, and then on to “Did you see the latest Flower Spout design document? What are your thoughts?”)

                  I don’t think an extreme separation must exist, but I do think the option for it should. It doesn’t affect my work whether Joe in the Lids department has a SO, whether he prefers red to blue (except when we’re discussing the glaze maybe!), whether he goes skiing on the weekends, etc.

                  Sure, I may find more in common with someone who shares those items, if we happen to find common overlap, but it’s not going to hurt me if we don’t. What will I know about Joe? I will know that since he started in lids, the failure rate of our lids has been reduced by 25%, that his team seems more happy and cheerful, and that he won’t let me play fast and loose with the pot-opening-specs and get them to him late. (Hmmm, maybe that’s why the lid failure rate went down….)

                4. FiveWheels*

                  Not to beat a dead horse, but the point isn’t enforcing separation of work and home, but making sure it’s an option.

                  I’m a very close friend of a couple of colleagues – that’s fine, and it’s fine that i can’t stand some of them.

                5. Lindsay J*


                  I think a lot of us are also tired of being treated as though our personalities (or we as a person) are defective in some way because we are introverted and don’t enjoy these types of things.

                  I had a manager that made it her personal mission to “make me grow” by making me “come out of my shell”. Being an introvert is not something I will or need to “grow” out of. It’s who I am as a person, and it is just as valid as being extroverted is.

                  And yes to the being taken seriously part! We talk about women in charge not bringing in cookies or cleaning up after everyone after office meetings because it can undermine the impression of you being a serious worker. What if I’m in that position and my favorite animal is a butterfly or a unicorn or something like that and I’m in a male dominated office? Am I supposed to lie about my favorite animal in order to fit in with the rest of the guys and not seem “too feminine”? Do I decide that I am a woman and my favorite animal is a unicorn and anyone who gives me shit about it is going down? Either way it’s more effort and worry I want to have over something that has no connection to anything relevant to my work as a whole.

                  (I’m agreeing with you by the way. I realized my phrasing at the beginning might make it seem as though I am disagreeing.)

                6. NotAnotherManager!*

                  @Lindsay J

                  You hit the nail on the head exactly. To me, it’s just another non-performance-related thing that I have to stress over. Your last paragraph about considering your audience for your answers is just what I was going for.

                7. So Very Anonymous*

                  Jen RO, I get where you’re coming from, because I find that extreme work/life separation thing tiring, too. I like having friends at work. I spent a big chunk of my adult life in a field where you do tend to make your friends at work, and so it just seems normal to me.

                  To me this isn’t about to friend or not to friend at work. It’s more about the publicness of the blog. What OP is doing is the equivalent of having my workplace’s marketing person start posting “fun” tidbits of information on our public blog about those of us in public-facing positions (why, yes, we did just have a meeting about this). In my case, one of my client departments has a history of exploiting certain borderline personal/professional things about me. So while I may be comfortable chatting with my coffee-run buddy Cleophilus about some things, I may not want those things posted on our public blog (“fun” or not). For that matter, something I’m OK sharing with Cleophilus, I might not want to share with Hepzibah four cubicles over. I get to make that decision. The decision is taken out of my hands if it’s posted on the public blog. Or if Hepzibah decides that my job is in danger if I don’t answer the “fun” questions on her survey. Doesn’t mean Cleophilus and I can’t be friends.

                  , This may be stuff that my coffee-run buddy knows about me, but I don’t necessarily want it broadcast publicly to people who will see it

              4. MashaKasha*

                Nobody said it wasn’t. But we’ve got to respect people who don’t want that. It just really rubbed me the wrong way that someone had already warned OP about the non-participating coworker in that “she often separates herself from the team”. IMO the only way one can separate oneself from the team is in a work-related way; by not pulling one’s weight and shifting one’s workload onto others. When I was on call, we had a few people who were known to “accidentally forget” to answer their phone at night on weekends during their on-call weeks; in which case the call went to their teammates who were supposed to enjoy their off-call week at that time. THAT in my book is “separating oneself from the team”. Not wanting to participate in mandatory-fun team activities is not. I couldn’t care less if Jane refused to disclose what her first pet was, as long as I know that I can count on Jane work-wise. Hey, I can even become friends with Jane over time as a result of solving work issues together!

            1. Sutemi*

              So many people also have these as security questions to retrieve passwords! Seems like a great phishing opportunity to publishe what my first car model was or where I went to elementary school.

              1. MashaKasha*

                I guess we should take those as an invitation to use our imagination a bit! My first pet’s name was Skippy, and he was a bush kangaroo. My first car was a Delorean. What? It’s all true, I swear.

              2. Photoshop Til I Drop*

                While this is true, I marvel that everyone is so naively honest as to think that they have to give completely true answers to stock security questions. Nobody will show up to handcuff you if you say your favorite U.S. president was Ludwig von Fluffernutter.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Yes. I have some entirely inaccurate, smart-assed answers that I don’t even think my husband could come up with.

                2. Lore*

                  It’s not that I think I have to give true answers. I just doubt my ability to remember the fake one that I thought was amusing the day I signed up for internet bill paying.

                3. Hershele Ostropoler*

                  Except von Fluffernutter was a terrible president. He didn’t even manage to distribute miniature American flags!

          4. Rafe*

            Yes, in this case we know for a fact that the coworker has not found this exercise to be fun and wishes not to be part of the blog. Nothing ever dies on the Internet (or whatever the saying is). I don’t know what to compare it to — wouldn’t it be fun if you gave me your email address so I could use it in perpetuity for unsolicited sales by my inlaws? I mean even that has more boundaries.

            1. Jen RO*

              Uhm… no, that is nowhere near the same thing. I don’t see how Joe Random knowing that I have two cats could affect my life in any meaningful way.

              (I think “fun questionnaires” are stupid, by the way, but it’s definitely not a hill I want to die on, and it baffles me that it’s such srs bsns for others.)

              1. neverjaunty*

                If it’s not a hill to die on, then it should be no big deal if you don’t want to participate.

                “Jane” isn’t the one making a big deal out of the questionnaire. The OP is.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  Yeah, the questionnaire itself might not be a hill to die on – but if your job doesn’t respect your personal boundaries, that’s definitely a hill to die on.

              2. A Non E. Mouse*

                I don’t see how Joe Random knowing that I have two cats could affect my life in any meaningful way.

                I am extremely late to this party, but: It wouldn’t be about my company posting I had two cats on their blog. Who would care I had two cats?

                But that blog, in addition to my two cats, would 1) give my name and my position in the company, 2) the company name I worked at, and most likely 3) my location 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

                I could also go to most company’s websites right now, glean two or three emails and from examining their naming convention for emails, guess the email addresses of anyone else that worked there.

                So from one “fun” blog, mentioning I have two cats, I would give someone my name, email address, work location, area (if not city) of residence and a phone number to reach me at.

                The internet is forever.

              3. Lindsay J*

                Joe Random knowing you have two cats isn’t going to affect your life in any meaningful way.

                But Jane’s life could very well be affected in a meaningful way if Joe Random is her creepy stalker ex, and he finds out through the company blog that she now works at Wakeen’s Teapots and knows what parking lot to wait in on Friday evening to find her.

                1. So Very Anonymous*

                  And… if I have enough experiences with Joe Clients who want to bond with me over our shared love of cats as a way of getting more work out of me than is appropriate, then yeah, I’m uncomfortable with that information being publicly out there.

                  Which is sad, because I’m essentially an extrovert (though not a cat lover), but experience at my current job has taught me this.

              4. Queen Gertrude*

                Actually, sales reps Data Mine the sh*t out of that stuff. Names, email addresses, position, city/state, ANY and ALL personal details that they can glean in order to personalize their sales strategies. You honestly think they aren’t using this data? They call up/email and pretend to already know you using that kind of data. I’m just relieved that I no longer have to use a phone for work anymore. Some of the elaborate ruses sales people have tried on me with info they got off the company bio page was just insulting. And usually it was because they wanted access to my boss and thought they could use me as a back door. I’ve even had job applicants try and bypass HR by contacting me instead because they wanted to “talk to me about my job”?! I wasn’t exactly working for some big trophy company at the time either.
                This stuff should only ever be optional… NEVER mandatory.

          5. chocolate lover*

            Maybe it doesn’t “hurt.” But, it’s not anyone’s business either. I chit chat and socialize with co-workers, but it’s by choosing, not because someone tries to coerce me into it. Forced sharing does nothing to make me feel like part of a team, and just just because I share with colleagues by choice doesn’t mean I want it shared publicly on the web.

            Years ago, a colleague tried something similar. I just left answers blank. She tried to nudge me a little, but I wouldn’t answer them. She respected that and left me alone.

          6. Lindsay J*

            Because it has nothing to do with what the company is paying me to do, and I could better spend my time literally doing anything else. And if someone is busy either they need to work harder to make up for the time spent filling out the questionnaire, skip doing something, or work through a break or stay later to finish.

            And nobody at my company needs to know my favorite color or animal. Those don’t have anything to do with who I am as a worker or as a person in general. It’s superficial crap that allows the company feel like they are doing “team-building” or improving employee morale when it does no such thing. What does it matter that Wakeen and I both like owls? That’s not a basis for a good coworker relationship or even a single conversation.

          7. Robm*

            I would suggest though that if I’m sending you a questionnaire, I don’t tell you that it is fun, you tell me whether or not you had fun after doing it…

            It smacks of “corporate mandatory fun” – speak, which is rarely all three of those things.

          8. Rana*

            I have to admit that questionnaires (or group activities) like this make me anxious. I’m the sort of person who wants to give correct answers, and it stresses me out when I can’t do that without writing a mini dissertation to explain myself. I’m just not a “favorite x” sort of person – like if you’re asking for my favorite book, I freeze up, because I have about ten favorite beach reads, several favorite academic theorists, a bunch of favorite sci-fi/fantasy authors, etc. etc. Ditto colors – today green’s my favorite, but I also like a bunch of others… Or ask me where I’m from, and I feel compelled to tell you about the last five states I’ve lived in. And so on.

            And, yes, I know this is overthinking to a ridiculous degree, but I can’t turn this part of my brain off. It keeps bubbling away even if I manage to stuff a single-word answer into the blank; I’ll spend far more time than I’d like second-guessing it. I loathe these questions with a passion, I do.

      2. Alton*

        Also, though the questionnaire might be fun for a lot of people, it might not make the coworker feel more included in the team. It really depends. Some teams are already diverse, but some are pretty homogeneous, and if the coworker’s lifestyle and answers are very different from the other people’s, that could make her feel even more removed from the team.

        1. MashaKasha*

          +100 to this. If that’s the case, I can easily see Jane’s honest answers resulting in the team’s “Haha, did you see Jane’s answers and her weird favorite ethnic food, lmao who eats THAT?”

        2. Anxa*

          I am typically a more private, serious person that generally detests forced fun at this stage in my life, but I don’t categorically hate these types of activities.

          That said, they don’t really help me feel like part of a team as I have to either present a modified version of myself and keep my guard further up, or ostracize myself by liking different tv shows, etc.

          1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

            The best is when your coworkers don’t believe your honest answers and accuse you of lying. I was enthusiastic about a similar questionnaire at my workplace, and now my boss tells me I lack integrity because I “lied” on it (I didn’t).

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          This is true. My BF actually just got a very similar questionnaire from his employer and he left the personal questions blank. Why? Because it’s not going to do anything to fix the dysfunction in this place. The Op could very easily be talking about him because I’m sure some people view him as going against their culture. But his beef is really that a lot of his coworkers are complacent, unmotivated, and doing the bare minimal, and his project keeps getting stalled for no good reason. This company is aware everyone is paid below market yet they keep trying to make things “fun” and give other sorts of rewards, and he doesn’t agree with rewards for just doing your job, like beer every Thursday when there’s been no new sales. Just pay people what they’re worth and give bonuses for high achievements and stop trying to do all this other crap in the guise of “it’s so fun to work here” (is what he’d say). Sorry rant over.

      3. Jerry Blank*

        Ug, THIS. I feel so sorry for the subject of the first question, who I’m sure just wants to get her work done and be left in peace.

    6. Christopher Tracy*

      I’m actually being stalked by a parent who tried to kidnap me twice as a child, so yeah – I definitely would not be okay with having a public bio with my place of employment on full display. Said parent would be able to locate where I work, which would then lead to where I live, and lord knows what this lunatic would do if he found me (or what I would do to him if he randomly showed up at my home).

      1. sam*

        I was going to mention something similar. Not myself, but a friend keeps her online presence extremely minimal due to a stalker situation earlier in her life. It’s been decades, but she’s still unwilling to take the chance. Her office does insist on putting her bio on their website (which is standard at law firms), so security has to be separately made aware of the situation everywhere that she has worked.

        Separately, I had a former co-worker at my first law firm who started getting creepy messages due to her firm bio on the website. The firm finally had to take her picture down (standard law firm bio pages have basically a professional photo and a short work bio – since lawyering is in part selling yourself and your skills, it’s all marketing).

        1. pomme de terre*

          I work at an architecture firm, and we have similar bios on our site — the principals (similar to partners in a law firm) each have a professional photo and some basic educational and professional facts.

          Before I worked here, there was a principal who vehemently insisted she would not put a picture up on the website. TBTB decided to not make a big thing about it, as she had a small child and they suspected there was a dangerous ex in her past.

          She worked there for a few months and then quit without giving any notice. It came out that SHE was the dangerous ex, who had taken the child in violation of the custody agreement. I don’t think she was ever caught.

          1. Desdemona*

            No chance she could have violated the custody agreement and disappeared to protect the child from the dangerous ex?

      2. Bend & Snap*

        My first thought when I read this was the 30 Rock episode where Liz outs a new employee’s past and the employee’s ex finds her and threatens her.

        OP, it’s great to be enthusiastic about your projects, but not great to drink the kool aid to the point that you’re analyzing people and pushing them to participate. Let it go.

      3. Sins & Needles*

        I have a stalker. I don’t have any personal online presence. I don’t want any identifying personal details up at my place of employment. Nor is it something I like to discuss with people, but I did bring it up with my manager when we were putting up my info in the staff directory.

    7. ginger ale for all*

      Also, why not let introverts and loners be that way? Let everyone be comfortable with their differentness instead of trying to shame them about it.

      1. Jen RO*

        I don’t have a reply, more like a question – what responsibility does a manager have if a person’s aloofness* is hurting their chances for promotion etc? Just leave them alone and assume it’s their choice? Talk to them and then leave them alone? Something else?

        *I am deliberately not referring to introversion here – I am a social introvert who would have no problem with this idea, but who does need time to recharge at the end of the day, so I don’t think this label is helpful in this particular situation.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Talk to them and explain the potential impact, but after that leave it up to them to decide if they care to do anything about it (and be careful not to penalize people where it really doesn’t matter).

        2. neverjaunty*

          One thing the manager really ought to do is focus on specific behavior, rather than slapping negative labels like “aloof” on Jane.

            1. neverjaunty*

              I’m not sure why you’re perceiving snark (necessary or otherwise)? This is something AAM points out all the time – that rather than focus on emotions or labels, focus on specific behavior, like pointing out that an employee has made several preventable errors rather than telling him he’s careless. That’s especially true when a label is very subjective, like “aloof”.

          1. MashaKasha*

            Agree. Specific behavior, and how it affects the bottom line/productivity of the team, with numbers if possible. If nobody’s work (including Jane’s) ever suffers from Jane’s being aloof, then let Jane be aloof.

        3. INTP*

          IMO, warn them about the ramifications due to company culture – “I know it’s kind of pointless and unfair, but being seen as a team player through this personality trait and that activity seems to be important to succeeding here.” But be careful that you aren’t limiting their opportunities yourself based on biases – make sure that you’re giving them just as much responsibility and talking them up just as much as similar performers with different personalities.

          1. Jen RO*

            Thank you. At the moment it’s just a hypothetical, but it will be good phrasing in case this becomes an issue.

      2. Isabel C.*

        Agreed. Not everyone needs to be ON A TEAM WHEEE! to do their best work: some of us manage just fine when we come in, do a job, and go home.

        1. Michelle*

          Preach! (I can do team when the need arises but I can work all by myself and be 100% fine with it!)

          1. Isabel C.*

            At my last job, we were pretty evenly split between two offices, saw people in the other office maybe once a year if that, and didn’t even really talk to each other unless we ended up getting coffee at the same time. (And even there, it was a thirty-second “How was your weekend?” “Good, yours?” interchange for the most part.) We all did fine, knew we could depend on each other to get things done, and had no hesitation about asking each other to cover in emergencies or give input.

        2. INTP*

          Yeah, I am naturally task- and results- oriented — which means I’m naturally team-oriented in my work in a functional environment where we’re all working towards the same thing, the best result for the company or our team’s product.

          I try not to judge because I intellectually understand that people have different personalities and motivators, but it just seems super unprofessional to me that some people need to feel emotionally bonded to their teammates to do their best teamwork. You are at work. Shouldn’t you be doing your best work for the task at hand by default?

          1. Isabel C.*

            Oh, me too. Basically, they pay me to do the thing. Therefore, I’m going to do the thing to the best of my ability, within the parameters for which I was hired. Believing in the general company mission might make me more enthusiastic; “bonding” will not, really. (The occasional and optional lunch where we chat and joke about difficult clients, or kareoke night, or whatever is great–as long as it’s for serious optional.)

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Thank you.

          I’m one of those people. I work to live, not live to work. When I leave for the day, I don’t give my job any headspace. I get paid by the hour and I’m not being compensated to think about it on my own time. I can work collaboratively, but I’m also fine if you give me something and leave me alone.

          1. Isabel C.*

            I’m salaried, but otherwise this all applies, and my line of work involves minimal collaboration anyhow: group work has always been “we each work on separate bits and check in every so often.”

            Also, a lot of what I do for fun is, for one reason or another, not work-appropriate for most companies. I recognize this, so I look elsewhere for entertainment and/or friends. Believe me, Random Managers, you do not want people like me mixing work and personal lives. :P

          2. designbot*

            Hey, most people would classify me as a live-to-work type, and I still feel this way. I’m terrible with small talk and just want to get to the meat of the problem–all of these marketing type efforts smack of small talk to me. If you want me to write a blog post talking about a particular aspect of a project, I’ll be 110% there. If you want to make it about me as a person? No thank you.

            1. Isabel C.*

              And you know, my parents were both faculty at prep schools, and Dad was eventually a headmaster, so I absolutely get that there *are* positions or industries where putting on a more “fun” image, being social with co-workers, giving information about yourself, etc are important. Those are skills, and I appreciate them.

              The people in those positions sign up for it, though: it’s either in the job description or it’s made very clear through the job application process that social time is a major part of the work. That’s very different from thinking you’re coming in to, in my case, edit web content and getting hit with the Party Cannon. If being social/outgoing/small talk-inclined is an integral part of the job, employers need to make that clear. If it’s not, managers need to stop trying to make “fetch” happen.

    8. Purple Dragon*

      I was stalked for many years and anyone wanting to put something about me online would send me into a meltdown (hello PTSD).

      Please respect this persons wishes, you don’t know their background and it may not be something they want to share.

    9. Marvel*

      Thank you so much for pointing this out. I have dealt with stalking in the past and it was so, so hard to get people to take my desire to limit my online presence seriously. More often than not, I was forced to share some fairly intense personal details that I might not want to talk about even with some of my friends, much less my coworkers. Especially when there were people who looked at me like I was a loon because it “couldn’t possibly be that bad.”

      (It was that bad. When you are finding notes on your car written by someone who lives 500 miles away, IT IS THAT BAD.)

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        Yes, it is that bad. Just wanted to say I’m sorry you still have to deal with it still, and there are people like me who would immediately get it!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        *hugs both*

        I’m so grateful I’ve never had to deal with that. And I’m sorry you do. It’s stuff like this that makes me wish legal arse-kicking services were a thing.

        1. FiveWheels*

          I had an ex somehow follow me onto a plane, follow me to university, and get my room number.

          Alternatively he just managed to somehow talk the airline and university into handing over my details – which I think would be more disturbing.

          Alas, while a number of friends did offer a professional ass kicking, I decided it would send the message that “FiveWheels must care about me a lot, to go to the trouble of ordering a hit!”

          1. Lindsay J*

            One of the local news stations did an expose after the Erin Andrews case of how easy it was to get hotel front desk people to give up your information by going “Hey, my friend Catherine is staying here. She checked in earlier. Can you give me a room right by hers.” Almost all of them complied. And most specifically told them what room the “friend” was staying in. With no proof whatsoever that they were friends or connected at all.

            I was appalled considering when I worked in a really crappy hotel we were instructed to never ever give out someone’s room number or confirm they were staying there. Nor were we to say the room number aloud when issuing the key, just point to in on the little cardboard slip, that way nobody else in the lobby could hear.

            Also, just FYI, for a lot of airlines, if you’re on the upgrade list your first initial and part of your last name will be listed in the app for that flight. I’m thinking of United specifically here but I’m pretty sure other airlines do the same. Just something to be aware of. I use this to “stalk” my boyfriend sometimes when I know he is coming home but not his specific flight.

      3. Katie F*

        I hate that gaslighting shit. And even the nicest, most well-meaning people will pull it. “Oh, he couldn’t have been stalking you THAT badly.” HOW BAD does stalking have to get before it’s considered serious, exactly?! “Well, is it possible you said something to make him think you showed interest?” DO YOU NOT THINK I HAVE CONSIDERED THAT.

        I will never question or blame a person who has to take steps to protect themselves, especially in the internet age. If someone says, “I try to limit my online presence and I’m not comfortable with personal details being out there for all to see,” that’s where it ends. No questions.

        1. FiveWheels*

          And the old favourite, “he just loves you do much.” Well good for him but the feeling isn’t mutual so…

    10. Marzipan*

      I would expand on this and say that #1 should just generally consider these issues, irrespective of whether they apply to this individual coworker. As in, there are two issues here – a) posting *any* amount of information about people online could have implications regarding their safety if they have ever been stalked (or if they ever are in future) and b) coworker is allowed to not feel comfortable with the idea even if this doesn’t directly apply to her. She is allowed to not want to be Joiny McJoinerson, even if she hasn’t ever had reason to be concerned for her safety – so, this isn’t a case of finding out what the reason is for her not wanting to be involved and working round it; it’s about believing her when she tells you how she feels. It was probably quite hard for her to do that, and graciously acknowledging and accepting it will go a lot further towards integrating her into the team than insisting she participate anyway.

    11. Violet Fox*

      It does not matter what reason a person has for wanting their privacy protected, that is their business (and much of the point of privacy in the first place). If it is not something directly related to her job role, do respect her wishes and do not push about posting anything to the company blog. As other people here have stated there are a lot of very good reasons why she might not want her information public, and honestly this is one of those things that should just be acknowledged and respected.

      In the long run, it also might make her more comfortable being more of a joiner (or similar) if she feels like her wishes are being respected without argument.

      We live in a world where privacy violations can go somewhere between annoying to harassing to downright dangerous for people. It does not matter where on that spectrum she falls, her desire not to be not to be on that blog and for privacy should be respected.

      1. eplawyer*

        Exactly. It may be as simple as something as not wanting the world to know whether she prefers cats over dogs.

        The information on the website, if it must have individual profiles (as noted in all these comments that might not even be necessary) should be strictly professional. Fergus is our Master Teapot Spout designer. He designs teapot spouts that are functional as well as beautiful. He trained under Master Spout Designer Jon Snow.

        The END.
        If someone doesn’t want even that much up there, respect that. It’s not something to “nip in the bud” as Alison noted.

      2. LA Gaucho*

        I didn’t expect Q#1 to generate so much…lively discussion.

        I read this last night and thought the same: it doesn’t matter why she doesn’t want to participate in this activity. As much as stalking, privacy, etc. could be the reason, maybe Jane just doesn’t want to participate…the end.

        I felt like OP might have tied too much of Jane’s “negativity” and “not-a-team-player-ness” to her not wanting to participate in the blog. Almost like the cherry on top – Jane is negative, doesn’t want to participate in XYZ, and now she doesn’t want to be in the blog either.

        1. Lindsay J*

          What bothered me was the OP’s weird little psychoanalysis of Jane and why she might not want to do this because she’s been excluded before and basically this needs to happen to make her feel wanted and heal.

          It might not have to do anything with her feeling included or excluded or purposely wanting to exclude herself. She may just want to focus on her actual work and think the thing is dumb.

    12. I'm Not Phyllis*

      This was my first thought as well. There are all sorts of reasons as to why certain people limit their online profile – anything from stalkers to abusive relationships to family they no longer want to be in contact with to – yes, even just plain surliness. This is a case where it’s fine to simply respect the person’s request.

    13. Menacia*

      Where I work it’s even worse, our corporate communications SVP was coming out with a camera crew to get employees to define what “Taking care of business.” meant to them, the video was then shown at our all employee meeting. I said to him, very clearly, that I was not interested and he thankfully moved on, I will not be bullied into doing anything I don’t want to do, especially something as inane as that.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        I would be so tempted to start belting out “I get up every morning from my alarm clock’s warning, take the 8:15 into the city…”

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        We did a similar video for our marketing team. They specifically asked the people that tend to volunteer for everything to participate and didn’t force anyone into it. That’s the appropriate way to handle these things, imho.

    14. Been There, Done That*

      Hear, hear. The post doesn’t detail what the “fun questionnaire” asks, but it’s possible it is intrusive and includes information that staff might not want splashed all over the web for God knows who to read. Being part of a *TEAM!* doesn’t include dissemination of your personal data; even “innocent” questions can be data-mining fodder.

      Actually, I’m surprised the office manager is being allowed to take on building the company’s profile in social media. This is usually up to the communications staff. Social media for business is not like running a hobby blog.

  3. Feo Takahari*

    There’s a comic by Quino where a traveler comes to a country where everyone is constantly singing. He’s delighted at first, but then he’s surrounded by policemen who demand to know why he’s not singing. I went to a school that was a lot like that–everyone must be enjoying themselves, and if they’re not having fun, they must be forced to have fun–and it’s made me wary of situations like #1 where the person who isn’t playing along is treated as a problem.

    1. Mike C.*

      Ok true story – when I was in preschool I hated to sing. I thought the songs were dumb and it was boring. So instead I just sat there quietly. They final convinced me to sing when I found out we were going to perform for our parents.

      I found out years later that the teachers were seriously concerned that I had developmental issues before they got to know me better. Sometimes folks don’t want to do something everyone else thinks is fun and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them!

      1. Spondee*

        A friend’s daughter was the same way. Her parents are professional musicians, and she refused to sing or bang on instruments with the other kids at preschool because they sounded terrible!

        Luckily, we’re also friends with the preschool teachers, who just shook their heads and laughed.

      2. Anna*

        I was thinking along those lines with the coworker who doesn’t want to participate and how it applied to even some of the comments here.

        The coworker does not need to have a stalker or an abusive ex in order for it to be okay for her not to participate. It is just okay for her to not participate.

    2. INTP*

      That happened to me at a previous employer, basically. My coworkers were mostly major extroverts who sang all day. I do not sing in the presence of other people at all ever. They would call me out on it and get weirdly bothered that I wouldn’t sing.

      Ultimately I found that being excellent at my job overcame the social stigma of not singing. Make people’s lives easier by being great at your job, friendly, not causing drama, and they’ll generally learn to like you. But this was a small company where results were easily noticable, I could see that not working in a large company where you must make ostentatious displays of teamwork to be noticed by higher ups with the ability to promote you.

  4. Graciosa*

    Regarding #1, this is a good example of someone who means well and wants to do exactly the wrong thing.

    Despite contrary hopes, forcing people to share more personal information at work than they would willingly choose themselves does not make them feel like part of a team. It is more likely to make them feel distant, alienated, and victimized.

    This is actually a reasonable response to this kind of invasion of privacy, even under the banner of “Let’s be a TEAM!”

    If the person the OP is trying to convert is already “negative” this type of coercion is likely to make it worse.

    I realize that some people do get a bit evangelical about “TEAM spirit” and it doesn’t bother me until they stop respecting the rights of others to say “No, thank you,” and be left alone. OP, please don’t cross that line.

    The best teams develop organically, and demonstrate acceptance of and respect for differences among the members.

    1. designbot*

      And I think it’s important for OP to remember that being a team doesn’t mean being the same. I know managers say things like “I wish all my employees were like her!” but stop and think what that would mean. If every single employee was super team spirit person all of the time, your team would be uniform in their attitudes, prone to groupthink, and blind to the desires of a great number of the population. Diversity doesn’t just mean people of different backgrounds, it means people of different mental models and approaches to life, and your team ultimately is more well-rounded and inclusive if you are able to support people to do their best work who approach things from a number of different perspectives.

    2. stevenz*

      I’m just getting to the end of having a manager who told me time and again how much I didn’t think like her. What she meant was that hers was the correct way of thinking and I should adopt it. I’ll note that she was/is clueless as to what it means to develop and get the best out of a team. I know that might be a difficult skill for a lot of people, but she really has no idea. In fact, much of what she did undermined the team’s effectiveness, morale and productivity. La team c’est moi.

  5. always anon*

    #1 – I know a lot of people are probably going to bring up the coworker in #1 as maybe having a stalker or a bad situation, but this could also just be someone who really likes their privacy and doesn’t want a digital footprint. Both are legitimate reasons to not want to participate. I get very uncomfortable having someone else put my picture and name put out on the internet, even if it’s for something as seemingly innocuous as a fun work survey on the company website.

    Also, if having an online presence wasn’t part of the job they were hired for, I don’t think you should push it. I know I’d be pretty annoyed and looking for a new job if I was suddenly told I needed to post blog posts or social media posts attached to my real name for work. I’d also feel like I wasn’t a very valued member of the team if I was forced into participating into something that violated my privacy.

    1. CrisA*

      Yeah, I purposefully maintain a tiny digital footprint because, so far as I can tell, I’m the only MyFirstName MyLastName around. Currently, if you google my name in quotes, you get fewer than 100 results, and every last one of them is actually me. Because of that, I try to curate when, where, and how my real name is used online extremely cautiously and carefully.

      1. always anon*

        Same. If you google my name, you get one other person across the country and all her locked social media accounts, so you have to google my name + my city to get any results, and even then it’s mostly just very old newspaper articles listing my on the high school honor roll or college dean’s list. A few work related projects, but nothing with a picture and nothing where I’m quoted about anything.

        I’d be upset if suddenly you googled my name and it had a work blog with me answering “fun” questions about my favorite childhood memory or whatnot. They may seem like harmless questions, but it’s still not something I want the entire internet to know.

      2. Katiedid*

        This is me, too! Our social media manager is a very nice woman who is really in to having pictures of events up online (both internally and externally) and all about having a complete online presence. I hate it soooo much and now she’s implying that if we don’t want to participate (I think she would be completely fine if there was a specific safety reason involved – but not just that you don’t want a social media presence in general), we are “showing our age” because we can’t attract anyone younger if we aren’t completely in to being all online (she’s probably about 27 or so). As someone who is on the far north side of 40, I really don’t like any implication that I’m an old fuddy duddy (and my use of that term may have answered my question) who can’t keep up with the times. Logically, I know that not everyone under 35 is all about the social media, but it’s hard to internalize that when you’re worried about age discrimination!

        1. Myrin*

          What a weird stance of your social media manager – I’m 25 and don’t have an online presence at all! I don’t have any social media accounts (other than tumblr, which isn’t under my real name) and the only thing you can find of me if you google both my name and specifically my university, you can find out that I was working for a certain professor in 2013. That’s it. Come to think of it, all of my former classmates’ etc. online presence basically comes down to Facebook; I rarely see anything more than that, let alone a “complete” one (whatever that may mean). Also, the “can’t attract anyone younger” comment is seriously strange – is she implying that a young potential employee goes to check out companies to work at and then will promptly not apply to yours because they won’t have the possibility to appear in a picture every other week? Weird.

          1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

            I’m 25 too and I only have LinkedIn. IDK what’s going on with that social media manager. Seems out of touch with reality.

        2. neverjaunty*

          You may want to flat out tell her that her comments about older workers are not going to put a smile on anyone’s face in Legal.

        3. paul*

          Yep, that stuff is annoying as heck. I have a facebook profile–and actually use it–but I don’t mention work on it. I got made once out in public by a very angry, sometimes violent client, and wound up having a weapon pulled on me. Since then I try to not have my face show up in work related media, and I don’t mention work on my FB account at all.

        4. Anxa*

          I’m 30 and I don’t understand how not wanting to be part of this is showing your age. She may be nice, but it really irks me that a social media manager of all people would be saying something like this. It’s also frustrating that it seems like people associate having more followers and a larger presence as being ‘good at’ social media. A carefully curated or underground presence can take far more skill these days.

        5. designbot*

          I might tell her that it’s showing HER age a bit that she’s not more empathetic towards people with different motivations and comfort levels with sharing, and once she’s been around a little longer she’ll likely notice that mandates like this make people uncomfortable for a variety of reasons.

        6. AliceBD*

          That makes zero sense to me! I’m a 26 year old social media specialist so I do 100% of the posting for our international brand. I almost never mention work on my personal profile. I very occasionally put pictures of coworkers online, but only if they allow it, and the only ones I ask are the ones who will most likely be OK with it. I do not put pictures of myself on the business accounts, and actually have more anonymity than many of my coworkers because they write blog posts under their names and I write most of mine under the brand login.

          I have personal accounts on most social media sites, but that is mostly so I know how to use them before we get business accounts on them, and/or to decide if we should get business accounts on them. The personal accounts have my name on them and are locked down to varying degrees, with the knowledge that everything I post on there is forever and any future employers can see it. And I get annoyed at the “complete” thing — I was trying to do a MOOC course for some social strategies, and the description when I signed up made me think I could use things from the course in my business account. But then the course wanted you to sign up for Klout and be tweeting stuff about the course all the time, and that is not something I want to associate with my name all over the internet so I stopped attending.

      3. nicolefromqueens*

        I’m one of four Nicole EthnicLastNames in the country, but still easily searchable. Like, about half of Google’s results are my abandoned social media accounts (Instagram and Pinterest, I don’t even have the passwords to those anymore.) I periodically make sure that Nicole EthnicLastName doesn’t have my address and phone number or any current employer names, and that it was never linked to NicoleFromQueens.

        I’ve already had my ex’s current fiancé (who doesn’t quite understand ‘once a cheater always a cheater’, so of course those mysterious phone calls and texts are All Nicole’s Fault) threaten to kill me twice so I don’t need this witch at my job.

        1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

          If you wanted to you could probably find ways to access those abandoned social media accounts – password recovery or contacting site support – and delete them.

      4. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I am definitely the only [Firstname] [Lastname] in the US, as I have a first name pretty unusual for my generation, and I think there are less than 100 of us with my last name. And our local government has property records online, so finding my home address would be trivial for anyone who knows where to look. Court records, too, if you want to see the two cases I was involved in (as plaintiff and witness). At this point I’m just grateful that I am not interesting enough to have been stalked, but if I was, I’d probably move to another state, regardless of whether they found me here or not. I suppose you could create a holding company for your property or something, but that’s not something everyone can afford to do, and security and privacy shouldn’t be available only to those who have the means.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          +1. We had our online presence on lockdown when my husband was in a dangerous job. Then we bought a house. Those records are public and searchable on the registry of deeds online. The only way around it is through a trust but someone still needs to create the trust and thus, our names would be on it either way. I have mixed feelings about public records. I understand why some need to be public but at the same time I feel like there is a big difference between stuff being searchable online and having to trek down to the Registry of Deeds and manually paw through giant books.

          1. Graciosa*

            Our state has special laws that exempt certain public service workers (law enforcement primarily, but there may be others) from having to have their property ownership made public for just that reason.

            I’m generally opposed to a lot of legislation on principle – I think we have way too much of it – but this one makes sense to me.

        2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

          I’m the only Whiskey Foxtrot (that is, First Last) in the US too. If I google in quotes, every hit is me. Thankfully, I’ve always been cautious about posting anywhere under my real name. So you get my LinkedIn profile and some random aggregator type websites that mirror the content of my LinkedIn profile. There are no pictures or videos of me anywhere. I don’t even have cat pictures posted online. I’m on a few forums (health-related, personal finance, etc) and all of those are under different pseudonyms. Never will worlds collide.

          While I wouldn’t have a problem with a jokey questionnaire or whatever, no way will my full name or my picture be posted on a company website.

      5. Jayn*

        Similar here. While I generally don’t worry about it, both my maiden and married names are unique (side effect of a mixed ethnicity heritage) so I do tend to be a bit cautious about putting my full name online and what it’s tied to.

    2. Ellie H.*

      Same! This is exactly me. No stalker, no difficult family, nothing like that, I’m just really, really into online privacy. My Facebook is unsearchable and I avoid being photographed where it will go on the Web. I too have a unique name – there’s only one other of me and she actually goes by her middle name (which is my real first name) so it’s not even a perfect match, plus is Canadian so it’s obviously not me, although interestingly we both work in academic administration. I would be really upset to feel obligated to put personal content about myself on a company blog.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        FYI, there is an avatar that shows up on your posts here. I know it can happen inadvertently if you are logged into your google account or something. It is so small that I can’t tell if the pic is really you or a different pic.

    3. fishy*

      Yes, I am a very private person and really don’t like having anything posted online under my real name. I don’t have a Facebook for that very reason.

      I don’t have a hugely serious reason for this – no stalker or anything. But I am transgender, and having my current name (which is different from my birth name) out there linked to my real-life identity could out me to people I’d rather not be outed to. In fact, that already happened to me once when my department at my college listed me on their webpage under my chosen name, and a family member found that page and realized I was trans. I’m lucky enough that for me being outed is merely uncomfortable rather than dangerous, but still, I’d rather avoid that.

    4. NicoleK*

      I’m a very private person. I don’t have a profile picture on my LinkedIn. And my Facebook account in unsearchable and under a nickname.

    5. Anna*

      I just posted about that. It is okay for the coworker to not want to participate just because she doesn’t want to. If it becomes about having a stalker or an abusive ex, and then somehow OP 1 finds out that’s not the case, that just gives the OP an excuse to double-down because “now there’s now excuse.” The fact that she doesn’t want to is excuse enough.

      Also, a company’s online presence should be about the company’s product, not about the employees. (Unless you work in a field similar to mine where I do need to include some information about who works for us because we work with young adults and our program is our people and vice versa.)

    6. Murphy*

      When I started working they were doing an initiative where they wanted have everyone’s picture on the company directory (internal – but 5000+ people) along with contact info (it’s more personal when you have to phone!!!11!). I didn’t want my picture included. I stalled until the initiative eventually (inevitably?) died.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – “We’re going to make you feel valued by forcing you to participate in something against your will and share information you want to stay private”. Umm, no. Just no.
    I want to point out a few other issues. You are assuming that she doesn’t feel valued. You haven’t talked to her about the reason she separates herself so you don’t know the reason. Then you are implementing a solution based on your assumptions. That never ends well.
    Also, some people want to keep their on line presence low. That’s not a negative attitude. There’s plenty of reasons to lie low, from stalker exes to basic caution. A good company would protect an employees on line presence not violate it.
    Also, perhaps she separates herself because of the boundary smashing? You won’t know until you ask.
    This whole thing smacks of dysfunction.

    1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      YES. I separated myself from company team crap like this because it was actually being used as a bludgeon to force us to conform in having no boundaries and allowing our managers to make professional decisions (raises, promotions) based on personal information. It was really quite gross and then my non-participation was called out as being anti-teamwork. All in all an ugly situation.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Eeek. That sounds risky for the company as well, since getting cliquish about who you give promotions and raises to could easily slip into discrimination against protected classes.

      2. Queen Gertrude*

        I had a similar experience, I was singled out by a group of women at one company I worked for who liked to sit around and gossip. I wasn’t really interested, kept to myself and did my job. When it came to review time, we had one of those review systems where you reviewed your coworkers, boss, and self (and subordinates if you had any). Well, they all wrote that I wasn’t a team player, was anti-social, didn’t want to hang out with them even though they made every effort to include me. It didn’t matter that I had “exceeds expectations” in every other category. Or that they were they only people that said these things about me. My own boss said she found me to be more than personable. HR still held it against me and started to make my life miserable in an attempt to fix me up until the day I left for another job (which was about 3 months later). They would give me these bogus homework assignments on top of my regular work to help me improve… it was such BS.

    2. Nobody*

      I actually wonder about the accuracy of the OP’s perception of the “negative” employee. Maybe the employee doesn’t want to participate in the weight loss challenge, or sing a song on a marketing video, or share the best and worst parts of her week — or any number of things that reasonable people might find uncomfortable — and the OP views that as separating herself from the team.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Maybe the employee just wants to get work done instead of wasting time on all the “team spirit” stuff.

      2. Been There, Done That*

        Also possible the OP just doesn’t care for this person and is finding reasons to back that up.

    3. Is it Performance Art*

      I agree about assuming why someone does something. If someone is not going along with something you’re really excited about, it can be really tempting tell yourself they’re doing it for reason X. Unless you know the person well, you don’t have a lot of information and human nature being what it is, you’ll likely to choose a reason that fits with your world view, your gut feeling about the person and anything you’ve gleaned from working with them. In other words, you’re very likely to choose a reason you want rather than one that’s likely. That usually leads to all sorts of misunderstandings and weird interactions. You probably had at least one teacher in school who misread you and had a very mistaken idea of why why you did the things you did. It probably wasn’t fun and you don’t want to put your coworker in that position, nor do you want to be like that teacher.
      It also sounds like you’re attaching value to what you think are her reasons. Unless they’re truly malevolent, it’s a good idea to avoid attaching value like that because it can make it hard to compromise or back down when you need to.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Off topic, but you just explained all of politics and most of religion. My hat is off to you, Sir or Madam.

    4. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

      This. As a rule i don’t ‘friend’ coworkers on social media. My private life is private, i often don’t even share where i go on vacation other than really vague generalities. It can make the conversation a bit awkward but usually its enough if i just say ‘I’m sorry, but it was personal’. This kind of ‘fun’ event would have me rather angry, and the feeling that my private interests were not important enough to remain private.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      #1 – “We’re going to make you feel valued by forcing you to participate in something against your will and share information you want to stay private”. Umm, no. Just no.

      This, so much. The idea that this person’s reluctance to share personal stories online is something that needs to be nipped in the bud (but in a way that makes her feel like a loved and appreciated member of the TEAM!!!) is just painful.

    6. LQ*

      The thing about assuming she doesn’t feel valued…it isn’t fixed by not valuing her opinion. Her opinion is not to share this. You’re actually showing her she’s not valued by not valuing her opinion. You are actively not valuing her.

      (You is not Engineer Girl, obviously!)

    7. LBK*

      Yes, this was exactly my thought when I was reading it. I don’t quite understand the OP’s logic in thinking that this will somehow show her she’s part of the team. If she expressed that she was feeling left out because she hadn’t been included on the blog yet, sure, but she’s actually expressing the exact opposite.

      Something about the OP’s letter made me feel like this is less of a team and more of a clique. I feel the biggest sense of comradery and team spirit at work when my coworkers and I collaborate on projects, solve problems, share ideas and generally achieve success together. That’s why this gives me pause:

      I feel this attitude stems from not feeling like part of the team and wanting to be separate from a lot that goes on, I’ve seen other examples of it elsewhere.

      I don’t know if you mean that in the sense of not participating in actual group work or if she doesn’t participate in a social manner. If she’s not involving herself in projects or providing input as needed on important matters for your department, that’s an issue. If she’s not joining you for lunch or happy hour or the Monday morning Game of Thrones discussion, let it go. It’s great if you’ve built a social circle at work, but not everyone is obligated to be a part of it, and it doesn’t mean she’s not a team player. She’s just playing a different game.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, it does sound very clubby. And aside from my dislike of a “my way is the only good way” approach to team dynamics, my concern is that even if the staffer has performance problems this really isn’t relevant, or an acceptable way to work with them.

    8. stevenz*

      Not to mention that concern about internet privacy is growing throughout the user population, and not subsiding. So to insist is really obtuse in today’s social sphere.

  7. Bruce H.*

    #2 I really like the suggestion I’ve seen here recently for responding to racist or sexist comments: I hope you’re not saying that because you think I agree with it.

  8. Bee Eye LL*

    #1 – I understand them not wanting to put info out there mainly because of cold sales calls. There are times where I regret having a LinkedIn account because I get sales people calling our office and asking for me, or other employees, by name because they know what we do. It’s so annoying when you see they’ve viewed your profile and such.

    I’d like to see the “fun” questions that are being asked. Sometimes people don’t realize the doors they are opening while just trying to have a little fun.

    1. Sami*

      Exactly. There are plenty of “fun” questions that would make many people uncomfortable.

      OP#1- PLEASE listen to Alison and let this go.

      1. Sami*

        Some other thoughts as this LW bothered me a bit.
        – Perhaps the coworker is job searching.
        – What’s fun for you isn’t necessarily fun for others. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
        – You say you’re new- it’s possible you don’t fully have a grasp on the culture. Or have fairly judged this coworker.

    2. teclatrans*

      Yes, I got hung up on the OP’s enthusiasm. OP, it’s great that you find this a fun project, and hopefully your coworkers agree, but it might serve you well in life if you can recognize that your tastes won’t be universally shared by all fellow employees. It will definitely serve you well not to read anyone who resists engaging in team-building “fun” as being disaffected and disconnected. As just one data point, I worked as a residence hall assistant in collee, with lots of “fun” amd team building rah-rah. I am a joiner. And I might — might — be able to scrape up enough team spirit to share buts of myself with the team in response to “fun” questions, but no way am I going to find it comfortable to answer “fun” (I presume these are whimsical?) questions to represent myself online. *Shudder*

      1. neverjaunty*

        This so much.

        OP #1, when Jane says she would prefer not to participate, she is telling you something important. Listen to her. If you just write her off as unfun and “not a team player”, you won’t be listening; you’ll be using your own preferences and personality as a yardstick for everyone else.

        1. JanetInSC*

          Agree. OP #1, if you want to make someone feel valued, tell her thank you for the great work she does. That’s all it takes.

  9. So Very Anonymous*

    #1: I really don’t want clients trying to connect with me based on “fun” personal information. I am constantly having to do expectation management with one of my client departments, and giving them access to “fun” information about me is going to make already-challenging boundary -setting harder.

  10. Jeanne*

    Political speeches at staff meetings. Kill me now. I’d be tempted to say excuse me I have work to do and leave. I can’t understand why these speeches are happening at your work. Alison is right though. You have to be very careful combining 501c3 and politics. You could “remind” them of the conflict of interest. Otherwise, I think I’d either leave to do work or bring work to do during the speech.

    1. Random Lurker*

      Political discussions at work is my number 1 nope. I had a boss that would hijack meetings for political pontifications. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with in the office. I am very private about my political leanings, and have little interest in hearing coworkers opinions on these matters (even if I agree with them, as I did in the case of annoying boss). What worked best for me was bored body language and making it clear that the whole topic was not interesting. I wish I could tell you that my boss realized that he wasn’t a great political mind and that this was inappropriate for the workplace, but I can’t. I had to settle for him realizing I was not going to give him the validation he was looking for on this topic, so he directed it elsewhere.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I hate it too. Occasionally, though very rarely, political information is relevant to my field. For example, “if candidate A is elected, he is going to push Bill Z, that will have a very negative effect on our client’s business and lead to less business for us overall. Just be aware.” Or, Candidate B will cut funding to program X which will require us to lay off x number of people (different job). That kind of stuff is good information but still makes me uncomfortable.

        It would be tone deaf for a plaintiff’s lawyer to be advocating for tort reform but if said lawyer wants to quietly and secretly vote for it, even though it will effect his/her business and clients, it’s their right to do so.

        There are certain changes that I think would be smart for our country even if they hurt our bottom line. One of the many problems in politics today is everyone just looks at how a particular proposal will benefit or hurt them personally rather than the rest of society.

        1. Letter Writer*

          We’ve had one or two cases of that happening and while it’s awkward I understand it.

          The cases I was thinking of in the letter I wrote to AAM were 4 speeches on city bond elections that in no way impacted us. I really cannot give specifics without giving away my location (and we’re not a huge city, so that would probably be a giveaway to my identity when paired with the other information in my letter) but they were simply not relevant to our field at all.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Yup. I am very, very, politically opinionated.

        I don’t want to talk about politics at work, and I don’t want to hear my coworker’s opinions on politics. I like a lot of my coworkers. I have a feeling I might not like their political opinions. It’s better not to open Pandora’s Box.

        My friends and I were talking on Facebook the other day how disappointing it was to see the memes our former high school teachers (we’re 10-15 years out of high school) were posting online about the election. I’ve lost some respect for some people I previously liked or was neutral about because of this. But I can elect not to interact with those people again if I choose not to. I can’t do the same with my coworkers.

  11. Edith*

    Alison: #5 re only listing the degree-granting institution ties in with a question I’ve been meaning to ask. I went to a very prestigious college but had to drop out halfway through my senior year due to health problems. I finished my degree several years later at a respected but not well-known school.

    I feel like it’s a bit of a bummer for me if I can’t acknowledge my original school in my resume, both because it’s Ivy League-level and because I did the vast majority of my coursework there. That’s also the school where I had the college experience– living in the dorms, studying at the library until 3am– what people have in mind when asking where you went to school. I was only ever at the second school a couple of hours a week and did not participate at all in student life.

    I work in academia and worry that the name recognition of my first school is a missed opportunity if I leave it off my resume. Are there exceptions to the only-list-the-degree-granting-institution rule, or do I too need to only list the second school?

    1. Ellie H.*

      I was going to say that it depends on your field and list some examples of where it might make sense, such as academia (also my field) but then I scrolled back up and saw that you actually do work in academia so yeah, I’d list it – I’m not an expert but it is what I would do if it were me in your position. People in academia will be interested for the reasons you describe. I’m not crazy about the name recognition thing in and of itself but within the field of academia it’s worth it imo.

      1. Edith*

        I’m a librarian in a specialty that most libraries can’t afford, so jobs in that specialty are almost always either academic libraries or large metropolitan libraries. This also means that when I do get a new job I will almost certainly be moving to another state. The school where I got my degree is known regionally. The school where I started out was the University of Chicago. Although I do get that employers are going to be more interested in where I got my MLIS than where I got my unrelated bachelors.

        1. fposte*

          Hey, Maroons represent!

          I think the people saying that that opens a can of worms are correct and that it’s a double-edged sword. (Could you open a can with a sword?) It also sounds like you might not be looking in the Midwest, and I think the value of the UofC name, even in academic libraries, is at its greatest in the Midwest.

            1. fposte*

              I wasn’t undergrad, so I may be cheating to put myself under the Maroon umbrella. But I was in Hyde Park longer than most undergrads :-).

                1. maggiegirl98*

                  Hyde Park and librarians! I also went to Uof C (sorry, Chicago) for grad school and I have an MSLIS and now I’m an academic. I think you should list your work at Chicago as the social/cultural capital of schools does (unfortunately) make a difference in libraryland. Maybe list it they way ABDs do on their resumes/CVs.

                  Other School, B.A. in Basketweaving, Date
                  University of Chicago, coursework in Basketweaving, Date – Date

        2. Ellie H.*

          So knowing you have a MLIS and your field is library changes my answer somewhat, I was thinking more general administration (what I’m in). With the MLIS I wouldn’t list the U of C coursework if I were you because it’s not relevant to work experience at all and at this point in your career that’s less important. Of course you could mention it in an interview as it may be interesting to someone who has a connection to your school. But it’s funny because when I read your comment I somehow wondered if it were U of C. I went there too :) I do have mixed feelings because I feel it became more prestigious after I went there (because of me, obviously) and it wasn’t as hard or at least was different to get in. I’m super proud of it though because it was such a good experience for me. I’m in the Northeast so people are very up on universities (and people in academia would be anyway) but it does have major name recognition here too.

          1. Edith*

            Yeah, I’m never sure if being an academic librarian counts as being “in” academia, especially because the thing that makes you an academic librarian is working in an academic library. I’m a cataloger, so my next job could easily be in a public library, although these days academic libraries are generally the ones maintaining cataloging departments.

            If it matters to anyone, the place where I got my (undergraduate) degree is the University of Tulsa.

    2. Mela*

      To answer your question: I’m not sure, because if someone went from Ivy to non-Ivy, wouldn’t they wonder if it’s because you couldn’t hack it academically? That would be my only hesitation, otherwise it seems fine if it was for at least 2/4 of your university years.

      To piggyback, I attended 2 years of college abroad, at two different universities, each for a year-long stint. I wasn’t “studying abroad” I transferred the first time because of cost and the second time because of a change of major/stalker. There’s no way of indicating I was in these countries in another way (the student jobs I held would take up more space and very unrelated to my now somewhat established career) I usually don’t mention these on the resume, but now I’m applying to jobs where adaptability to different cultures and countries is highly valued. I’m thinking of putting it back on like this, right below my (US) BA degree:

      University, City, Country, 2008-2009
      University, City, Country, 2008-2009

      Question is will that look silly? I know the normal question is does the two lines used strengthen your candidacy? In my case, I think? Does it change the answer if most places I’m applying to are asking for a CV, not a resume. (not academia)

      1. Mela*

        Oh! I just answered my own question. Edith, can you list your GPA from Ivy University in parentheses as a quick way to allay fears?

        1. Liz*

          You don’t want to list your GPA at all, except maybe if you’re a very recent graduate *and* your GPA was excellent.

    3. FiveWheels*

      I’m in the same situation, but i don’t mention it in my CV or applications because I think “dropped out of top university” does more harm than “got into top university” does good.

      1. Edith*

        Hahahaha!!! Oh man that’s an excellent point. I guess it’s an emotional hurdle for me– I graduated from one school but feel like I “went” to the other.

        Since I ended up not finishing undergrad until my late 20s I imagine it might come up in interviews, and that’s when it would be the time to mention the first school, not on my resume. You guys are right.

        1. FiveWheels*

          I like to drop it into conversation though, just for fun. My experience was it wasn’t difficult to get in – everyone in this industry has pretty simular (and good) high school results, so they would have met the academic standards. So all it really means is “when I was 17/18, I was AWESOME at bluffing my way into things.”

          It’s funny to me how many people hear where I matriculated and immediately decide I’m competent, intelligent and trustworthy. That I could bluff twenty years ago is not necessarily something to boast about!

          Likewise it can be fun to say that the academics were easy enough but I didn’t really enjoy it, so moved somewhere that offered a course i preferred. I find if you say that to someone who wanted to go to Prestigious Uni but couldn’t get in, they find themselves confused, jealous and unable to compute.

          I work in law. On average we have the emotional intelligence of a moody fifteen year old :-P

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      I attended two colleges, each for about two years, and list them both on my resume:

      UniversityB, 1983-85, degree;
      UniversityA, 1980-82

      And the entire reason my resume got looked for CurrentJob at was because of UniversityA. UniversityB is just (an affordable) state school, but UniversityA has a good reputation, especially in the area where the managers for CurrentJob live.

  12. Collarbone High*

    #3 made me chuckle recalling the time I was offered a job in DC, while living in Colorado. They asked if I could start the day after my two weeks’ notice was up at my current job. I didn’t own much at the time, but I still needed time to pack it up and drive to DC.

    I asked for three days; they were stunned. They thought that drive “shouldn’t take more than five or six hours.”

    1. Jeanne*

      Were you allowed to sleep first or just drive 6 hours and get to work? Some people don’t think.

      1. Honeybee*

        The real joke is that it takes much longer than 6 hours to drive from Colorado to D.C. That’s a cross-country drive that would take over 24 hours if you drove straight through with no breaks for sleeping, eating, or caring for bodily functions.

        1. Allison*

          Maybe they meant a flight would take 6 hours . . . but I have to imagine even that would take the better part of a day.

        2. Purest Green*

          Never mind the time it takes to find and move into an apartment, get your utilities turned on, get new car plates, etc.

    2. dragonzflame*

      Their geography is woeful. I don’t even live in the USA and consider a city 6 hours from me a long drive, but even I know it would take longer than that to drive between Colorado and DC.

      …The internet tells me it’s 26 hours!

    3. Christy*

      States are really little by DC! I grew up near here, my wife grew up in CA, and when she moved out here she kept being shocked by how close all of the other states are. I would probably be shocked the first time I tried to drive across Nebraska too.

      1. LBK*

        As a life-long East Coaster, I still sometimes have trouble comprehending how you can drive in a straight line in California for 6 hours and still be in it. Or when people say they’re flying from SF to LA – they’re in the same state! How far apart could they be?

        1. Kyrielle*

          This is so interesting. I’ve lived on the West Coast almost my whole life (four years in the Midwest for college), and it never occurred to me people *wouldn’t* get it. Perhaps this is why Facebook keeps recommending “nearby” events my friends are going to…that are in Seattle and a four-hour drive away (assuming I don’t cross through any of the three metro areas during rush hour – otherwise it’s rather more).

          1. Lindsay J*

            I moved from New Jersey to Texas a few years ago.

            I’ve finally gotten my head around it, but I’ve had to remind my mom that New York City is twice as close to her as Dallas is to me and DC is closer to her, that no, it is snowing in El Paso but it’s 85* in Houston, because El Paso is further from me than Vermont is from them, etc.

            It is still mind boggling that I can drive for 12 hours and still be in Texas though.

        2. Edith*

          I traveled to Maine earlier this year. On several occasions when locals found out I was from Oklahoma they would claim to have visited a place “right by there,” name a place two states away from Oklahoma, ask if I’d been too, be surprised when I answered in the negative, and then balk when I said Lincoln Nebraska or Memphis Tennessee was two states away. Then I realized that for them two states away is 50 miles. In Oklahoma 50 miles might get you two counties over. If you started near a county line.

          1. LBK*

            Ha – that’s a particularly relatable example for me since I live in Massachusetts, so Maine is 2 states away and I go there pretty often. Takes about 75 minutes on a good day :)

            I wonder if using states as a unit of measurement for travel is in and of itself more of an East Coast/New England thing, since it’s so common to go through a few on any given trip here. Between going to Maine (via New Hampshire) or New York (via Connecticut) I pretty much don’t travel without cutting through other states.

            1. Collie*

              I grew up in NH and moved to VA a while ago. I’ve found that I, more frequently that friends who grew up here, use time as a unit of measurement more so than miles (“Oh, it’s like twenty minutes from here.” vs. “That’s about ten miles from here.”) Time makes so much more sense!

              And when I do drive back to NH, can I just say I really hate PA because it takes the longest to drive through? Six hours? Are you kidding? I really need to move back to New England.

              1. Edith*

                Time really only makes more sense as a unit of measurement if you can reasonably assume everyone will be taking the same form of transportation. Unless you couch it with the mode taken, à la 30-minute drive, 15-minute walk, hour-long bus ride, etc.

                1. LBK*

                  Mode of transportation is generally specified if you’re debating options (eg “it’s 5 mins on the T or a 15 minute walk”) but otherwise you just kind of pick it up from context cues and knowing the accessibility/ease of reaching your destination by public transit. If I’m saying something is 2 hours away, it’s usually implied that I’m talking about driving. And this is all only for cities – if you live in the suburbs, drive time is usually implied because it’s the only way to get anywhere.

              2. LBK*

                …people don’t measure distance in time outside of New England? I did not know that. I just kind of assumed it was universal.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  I don’t measure distance in time alone because it’s a crap-shoot. The drive from where I am now to my previous job is 35-40 minutes…at 3 am, in no traffic. And it’s an hour and a half or more in rush hour traffic. And any value in between for any variance of traffic in between. (And the trip from there to here has the same variance, but can go up to 3+ hours if a storm takes out one particular set of traffic lights…which don’t affect the reverse commute at all.)

                  So…which time would I give for that?

                  I do sometimes say a drive from here to Seattle is 4 hours, but I always qualify it with, ‘assuming no stops, and that you avoid rush hour in the metro areas’. It can go a good ways up from there, alas.

                2. Edith*

                  I only measure distance in time if it’s directly relevant to the point I’m making. So if somebody asked me how far my house is from work I’d say five miles, but if someone asked what I liked about my new house I’d say I really like that I only have a ten minute commute.

                3. ThursdaysGeek*

                  Sure we do. I’ll soon be visiting my parents in the next state over, and when asked, I’ll say it’s a 8 hour drive. Of course, that’s in good weather with no real stops. Seattle or Portland is 4 hours from here, if there isn’t road construction or an accident on the freeway.

                  We don’t, however, measure distances in states. That’s too large of a unit of distance, since a day is usually a smaller unit.

                4. Kyrielle*

                  A state is distinctly too large and also too variable a unit of measurement. Oregon north-south and California north-south are entirely, and wildly, different beasts.

          2. Natalie*

            Folks at my old job’s corporate office used to always ask us about events or weather that happened in Texas. Texas itself is big enough that you can be hours away, but our office was in Minnesota.

          1. Edith*

            Only if you take a long lunch. Or start somewhere so rural you have to drive for two hours to get to a highway. Even Brownsville to the Oklahoma panhandle will only take 13 hours.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Yep. I rode a bus across Texas once and it’s endless.

            I see this a lot with people visiting from Europe–“Oh, let’s go to Chicago!” Um, that’s a ten-hour drive from where I live.

            1. the gold digger*

              A German co-worker was going to Dallas for a week for work. He was a fan of Friday Night Lights and wanted to go to Midland for the weekend. I told him that was not exactly an overnight jaunt.

          3. Anonyby*

            You can do that in California too. It’s just a matter of where you start and which way you’re going–CA is one tall & skinny rectangle that’s a bit bent in the middle. (Of course “skinny” is relative and can still take 6-8 hours to cross going east/west.)

      2. paul*

        Its an adjustment. I’m in Texas and at a recent work conference, we were discussing providing services to geographically diverse areas. People were amazed that our coverage area was nearly 4 hours drive time corner to corner–and it isn’t even a big chunk of our state. You had people asking why we couldn’t attend meetings in every municipality in the area regularly, and it’s like…we have six staff, and it’s a 2-3 hour drive each way to a lot of our service area. You want to pay to triple our staff to handle that?

      3. Collarbone High*

        One of my co-workers at that DC job — who’d lived his whole life in Maryland — once mentioned he was considering a weekend road trip to Vegas. I had a really hard time convincing him that wouldn’t work. He just could not believe it would take all day to drive across a single state.

    4. Kyrielle*

      *STARES* Um, the only way that trip would only take 5-6 hours is if you flew. And then you’d need time to pack up and ship stuff…including the car you weren’t driving.

  13. nicolefromqueens*

    I include CC on my resume only because I never finished my BA. Five years ago, I left 10 credits short due to medical reasons. My academic transcripts are a mess.

    I worked two PT jobs during college, that’s why it took me so long not to finish (I now know that I did it all wrong, but I didn’t have any guidance). When I finally finish my BA (highly unlikely any time soon), should I just list the degree, omitting the dates?

    I mean, it’s like this:
    Aug 2007-May 2011 Public University
    Earned additional 40 credits toward BA in BS
    Jan 2003-Aug 2007 Community College
    Earned AA in BS

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’d just include the graduation year, not the full years of attendance. (And no need to include the month at all.)

      It’s also pretty typical to leave the year off altogether after a certain point (but that’s more like 10-15 years after graduation, so not right now).

      1. Mela*

        Post idea! You can list/explain what to cross off your resume and when. High school jobs/awards, graduation years, college clubs, old, unrelated retail/service work, internships, etc.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Can I ask for more clarification on that idea? When I get a resume from someone with 15 years of work experience listed and no date on their degree, I assume they are much older than 15 years post-undergrad and trying to hide that fact. It makes literally no difference in my evaluation of their candidacy, but that is what I tend to assume. But is that just me?

          1. M-C*

            Oooh! Great! Another happy camper here. I’m already way past most companies sell-by date, but I compound the problem by having entered grad school at 18 :-(. This would help keep the guessers from thinking I’m even older..

              1. Lily Rowan*

                OK, phew. I’ll go mentally insert that in your “things not to worry about” list.

    2. Connie-Lynne*

      I went to six different schools in the course of getting my degrees. It was a relief when the degrees were granted because I could stop worrying about how to include coursework succinctly and just list granting dates.

  14. Christopher Tracy*

    OP #1: I too am on Team Let This Go. Trying to force people to do something they don’t want to do never ends well for anyone. It’s not fun, it’s not going to make that person suddenly have a change of heart and want to bond with you all, it’s just weird and invasive. Let go of the idea that all colleagues have to be BFF in order to contribute to the team. Is your coworker coming to work, doing her job competently and professionally, and not being a jerk to those around her? If yes, then leave her alone – she’s doing her part.

    That said, I have a coworker who’s like the coworker in question here. He’s been with the company for years, was a supervisor at one point, took a step back (while being allowed to keep his title), and then he tried to apply for a supervisory role again recently and didn’t get it. I think a large part of that had to do with the fact that he’s very quiet, he doesn’t participate in a lot of the team lunches or activities, he rarely attends happy hours because he has young kids, etc. The person who got the job over him has less experience, but more political capital thanks to partaking in all of those events. It sucks (to me) that it seems he probably won’t ever move up there again based largely on something like likability, but I guess that’s the trade off to going your own way in some offices. I’m still trying to move up the ranks myself, so it annoys me that I have to play the game every once in awhile when I’d rather put my earbuds in, crank up my music, and ignore most of what’s going on around me, but I do because of people who care more about the optics of appearing like a team than actually being one by respecting the fact that everyone’s different, everyone brings something unique to the table, and rewarding people based on work-related results as opposed to who they most want to hang out with.

    1. Jen RO*

      I am torn on this. I realize I don’t have all the details, but I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to prefer the more outgoing person. In my company, a team leader who has good relationships with the rest of the company can simply get certain things done faster and better – IT tickets getting solved faster, favors from key people, faster access to information. I think that last one is key in my role – as a “less important” department who is in a different building from the other ones, we are often left out of some emails/meetings, despite my constant reminders. My good relationship with the other department heads means that they will notice that I am missing from CC and they will forward the email, or that they will chat me up on Lync to tell me that X thing is being discussed and may affect me.

      Do I think that this makes me better suited for this job compared to a person with the same skills, but less political capital? Actually, yes. I made an effort to get here, despite being a shy introvert deep inside, and I think this is something that should be appreciated. Someone who just sat at her desk sending emails would be less effective.

      (And I hate having to add all these disclaimers, but: obviously this doesn’t meant that political capital can replace all other skills, and your coworkers’ situation may be completely different, etc.)

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        See, with my coworker, even though he’s quiet, people like him and would have no problem working with him. He’s very laid back and gets stuff done. Plus, he just has a wealth of knowledge about what we do that the person who was promoted over him doesn’t have. This person still needs a lot of hand holding from our manager about how to do things – he doesn’t. Furthermore, our job isn’t really one where political capital in the sense that you’re talking about would be needed. For example, if there’s a technical problem, we have an in-house technical staff that fixes it up ASAP. If the problem is computer or phone related, then we as individuals put in an IT ticket, and the company’s help desk handles it within 24 hours (it usually doesn’t take that long for emergencies). And we don’t really work with other divisions on projects – our company is very siloed. Basically, our management team assigns work, approves letters, and does administrative tasks. Quiet coworker totally could have done this with no problem.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        I completly agree, sometimes being able to build and maintain relationships is so important to actually getting things done.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, I’d say it’s perfectly valid to consider things like relationship-building ability/track record, but that that’s the thing to look at, not quietness.

      3. neverjaunty*

        It’s one thing to talk about how “soft skills” can also be important factors in success, but I am a little baffled by the argument that those skills should be recognized *because* you put in effort to acquire them.

    2. Honeybee*

      Hmm, I don’t know; I think there’s a difference between being an introvert and withdrawing from a team. Management involves more than just being good at whatever the preceding job is, and part of that is working the chain in favor of your reports. My manager also doesn’t do a lot of happy hours or off-hours gatherings because she has young kids, and sometimes she can’t make team lunches or activities because of her actual work. But those kinds of things can be an important way for her to learn more about us, connect with us and convey information to us in a more relaxed setting. And as someone who is not management, sometimes paying attention to what’s going on around me allows me to pick up on valuable information or spark an idea that I can leverage upwards.

      It’s probably because I’m relatively extraverted, but I don’t see it as playing some kind of game. It’s developing relationships with people to build that capital, so when you need it later you can spend it. It’s not about “who I most want to hang out with.” I wouldn’t describe my manager that way, but she’s also a person who I can duck into her office at any time and ask her a question or trust her with my work-related issues and expect her to help me with what’s going on. If she ignored most of what was going on around her, she wouldn’t pick up on nuances that might indicate the health of the team. IMO people who want to manage other people need to be accessible and give off the vibe that they’re open to that kind of thing.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Our upper management flat out told one of my friends that they promote the people they like, so that’s why I said it’s a game (at least where I work). I understand wanting to have people in management positions with good interpersonal skills – no one wants to work for an asshole – but some places tend to go too far with this requirement by hiring and/or promoting their buddies at the expense of people who don’t necessarily do the schmoozing thing.

        1. Temperance*

          My law firm hires people who are a good cultural fit. There are many people who could easily work here and who are qualified. It’s a way to weed people out.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But cultural fit shouldn’t be shorthand for “we like you” (since that leads to a problematically homogenous team and often discrimination along the lines of race/age/etc.). It should be “demonstrates values and traits that are key to the way we operate.”

            1. OriginalYup*

              In my experience, there are a ton of people who think they are assessing the latter but are actively enforcing the former. They genuinely don’t see their own biases at play in conflating things like “disciplined and focused attitude” and “runs marathons,” or “works hard” and “is an early bird.”

              I agree with you that cultural fit is a real thing that managers need to look at in hiring and promoting. Unfortunately I’ve mostly experience with it being window dressing for massive unconscious bias.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yep — you have to do the real work to tease out what those values and traits are and whether they’re truly key to how you operate or whether they’re more about who you like — and you have to deliberately question that and understand why you need to avoid the latter.

                1. Christopher Tracy*

                  All of this. And I think this is the distinction management in my division is missing.

        2. Been There, Done That*

          Birds of a feather flock together. At my job, the more outspoken you are, the more you’re considered a “good communicator,” even if you’re not saying much. I realize that sounds snarky, but after several years, I’ve seen it over and over.

      2. eplawyer*

        It’s highly possible that the person in #1 has absolutely no interest in promotion. So she doesn’t care about building those relationships in order to move up the ladder. Not everyone wants to become senior teapot spout designer team leader. Some people just want to come to work, design teapot spouts well, and leave at the end of the day. They do their work, they earn their paycheck, but they are happy with their role and don’t want to change.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Yup, this. Not everyone wants to do these things, and OP doesn’t know what the coworker’s future plans are, so she may be just fine with not being promoted because she’s not “one of the team.”

        2. Isabel C.*

          Exactly. This is, in fact, *why* I never want to be in a management position: I’m open to organically making friends at work*, if it happens, and to going to optional activities if they sound fun and I have the time, but if a position requires me to be Networky Social Go Team Go Girl, it is so not for me.

          * In high school, when the 10th grade PE class got to the inane trust-fall unit and I was taking chemistry, I said that I was like a noble gas: I didn’t bond. #smartassnerd

          1. Maxwell Edison*

            This is me, exactly. Only it was 10th grade psych class and we took a quiz about whether you’re social or antisocial. I was asocial (the only one in the class); I can take it or leave it.

          2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

            Yeah, the managers at my office work 14 hour days, sending out emails at 11:30 PM, and they wonder why I don’t want to be promoted. Uh, I want to have time to do non-work things and also to sleep once in a while, thanks.

        3. M-C*

          The real problem in #1 is not so much the functioning of the harassment victim, in my view it’s that the OFFICE MANAGER is taking it upon herself to label and evaluate employees who don’t conform to her ideas of ‘team’ participation. And a new office manager at that.

          OP, let’s get something straight: the ‘manager’ in your title is a courtesy label, no more meaningful than a sanitation engineer being an actual engineer. You’d do well to leave any actual management to the real managers, and not think that you’d ever be invited to judge your coworkers in any sort of supervisory role. You could start by humbly apologizing to the person in question, and hope that she hasn’t already complained about you overstepping the bounds of your job so grossly.

      3. FiveWheels*

        I’m 100% introverted by any measure, but few people except close friends realise it. When I’m at work I’m “on” so they see the very energetic interactive FiveWheels.

        Building relationships with colleagues is a job skill like any other. In my “real life” I wouldn’t want to draft leases either, but I’m happy to do it at my desk same as I’m happy to interact with the people at their desks.

        1. Jen RO*

          I actually enjoy seeing my coworkers and it doesn’t feel like a chore to me… but coming home is sooo good when I can just put on my headphones and play a computer game without talking to anyone! I am lucky that my boyfriend is the same and we can both take a few hours after work to decompress by ignoring each other.

      4. Marillenbaum*

        I think this is one of those areas where thinking solely about introversion and extroversion is really limiting our understanding of people (curse you, Susan Cain). Personally, I am an introvert, but on the big five, I also score highly on agreeableness and openness to new experiences, so while I need to schedule solo time to recharge, I tend to be quite good at the social tasks that people typically associate with extroversion. Introversion and extroversion are key traits, but they aren’t the only–or even most important–aspects of personality.

        1. FiveWheels*

          Yeah, and they don’t really say much if anything about behaviour. “Personality” implies what someone is like, whereas introversion (in the MBTI or Jung sense) is more about WHY they are like something.

          I explain it like this: being introverted means that interacting with people tires me out and I need recovery time. When I’m tired, even saying hello to me can be hard to manage because it might as well be screaming “I DEMAND YOUR ATTENTION!”

          But working out is tiring too, and I love going to the gym! I just don’t like moving heavy boxes after arm day.

          1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

            I always found it bizarre that people are actually drained by talking or interacting with people. I believe you and others of course. I’m never drained by talking or interacting, tbh a good conversation can wake me up better than a cup of coffee! But my social skills…leave something to be desired. So the two don’t go hand in hand, yeah.

    3. NicoleK*

      This. I frequently see posts from people who want nothing to do with their coworkers or their company beyond showing up to work and doing their job. And that’s their prerogative. But then don’t complain when they’re passed over for advancement opportunities.

    4. LBK*

      I’m still trying to move up the ranks myself, so it annoys me that I have to play the game every once in awhile when I’d rather put my earbuds in, crank up my music, and ignore most of what’s going on around me,

      See, this is interesting to me, because all your examples of things your coworker didn’t participate in are non-work activities and events that take place outside of the office/work hours. I do think that you can pass on team lunches, happy hours, etc. and still succeed, but then you have to balance it by engaging while you’re in the office. Or vice versa – I am definitely a “headphones in, time to work” person while I’m in the office, but I make sure to engage with my coworkers other times so I’m not totally shut off from them.

      As Jen RO says, this isn’t just about sociability having inherent merit, it’s about building relationships in order to have leverage with people, and it does make a legitimate difference in your ability to get things done. It’s a lot harder to that if you don’t put some effort into being personable.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        My division tends to blur the line between non-work and work activities. That’s why not participating in such things seems to have harmed him in this particular unit. My coworker is very personable, just quiet. He doesn’t have a problem with people liking him among his coworkers – we all like him just fine. He just isn’t as likable to upper management as the person he was passed over for, I guess.

        1. LBK*

          I don’t really see how you can blur the line between sitting at your desk doing work and going out to happy hour? My point was that you have to do one or the other – you can’t opt out of team activities and also sit with your headphones in all day not talking to anyone.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Happy hour wasn’t the only thing I mentioned though, and a lot of our so-called team building activities happen during work hours, that’s why I said these things get blurred in my workplace.

  15. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: If you put my full name and picture online, you’d get phone calls from a few of my derelict cousins dropping my name and asking for jobs, using me as a reference. You’d have to deal with a few estranged relatives showing up at the office and looking for me. None of this is zomg dire ~stalker stuff but you don’t have to have a lot of trauma in your past to want to stay hidden. I had a friend get fired when her boyfriend called her office drunk too many times, having googled the company’s name and seeing that her photo was on the site, proving she was there. You say you want to get fun-personal with your coworkers, but are you really prepared to deal with the not-fun stuff that goes along with this? Everyone is related to a handful of garbage people. Are you signing up to run interference?

    On a less intense note, does your business do or sell something that anyone might read as controversial? Does your blog include tidbits about the election? Have you publicized your charitable donations? Is your blog already full of embarrassing rah-rah FUN stuff? Lots of people work for companies whose ethics they don’t support or want to be associated with.

  16. AcademiaNut*

    I’ve actually been on web profiles, news shows, and press releases related to my job, and I would be actively avoiding the sort of thing OP #1 is describing.

    If I’m going to be on media professionally, I want to do it as a professional. I will talk about things related to my work, and explain complicated science and tech topics for a lay audience. I will, in some cases, talk about my experiences in the field, and the path I took to get where I am, and give advice to people interested in the subject. I do this sort of thing, even though it’s not mandatory, in part to provide an example of a female STEM role model, and partly out of a sense of obligation, due to the fact that my job is funded by tax money. But I want to be able to control what information I provide, and to keep it on a professional level.

    A web profile, written by someone else, based on my responses to “fun questions”?


    1. Grey*

      That’s what I’m thinking too. If colleagues, clients or potential employers search for me online, I want them find information related to my skills and accomplishments. I don’t want anyone finding a business-related blog that talks about my pets or favorite TV shows and wondering why I thought that was relevant information to share.

    2. Anonophone*

      I’m the same. In fact, I wonder if OP could suggest that her colleague contribute something technical to the blog instead.

    3. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

      Good point, the kind of thing OP1 describes waters down actual professional content one posts online.

  17. OP 2*

    Thanks for the advice Alyson, I’m definitely going to speak up more.The good news is new supervisor is becoming more well liked in the office now because she’s super helpful and approachable, so I’ve noticed the complaints are being drowned out by “Supervisor is so nice, she brought in donuts for everyone” etc

    1. Jeanne*

      That’s great that you got a good supervisor. Some people don’t handle change well. Your complaining coworkers don’t want to like the new supervisor for whatever reason. Things will get sorted out. Esp with donuts.

      1. OP 2*

        Honestly, we’ve been through two office moves, restructuring and policy and procedure changes over the last year, so I can understand why they’re adverse to change. I think because we’ve basically been managing ourselves for 5 months, they’re a little prickly about an outside hire coming in

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          That is a lot of change for a short time — you have good insight about your situation, and I wonder if you could drop that into the negativity-shut-downs? “Hey, but isn’t it nice that we don’t have to do [painful self-governing-in-absence-of-manager task] ourselves anymore?”

  18. Myrin*

    Two things with regards to #1:

    We have a few blog posts helping us get to know a few members of the team, but not everyone by a long shot. I sent out a fun questionnaire for everyone to answer so that I can write a little blurb about each of us.

    I am wondering what kind of questions this “fun questionnaire” entailed. I am mostly doing this because I’m in academia and love reading professors’ bios – I think it’s cool to read that someone is from the same area as me, for example, or specialises in the same thing as I do. Now, while the latter is part of the professional persona and of interest to me if I want to contact them about something, the former is already quite personal; I personally enjoy reading stuff like this but it’s actually unnecessary because in the end, why does it matter where a professor is from?

    I read the most glorious case of divulging personal information in a professional bio three years ago, where a professor listed his own birthdate, that of his wife (that he mentioned her at all didn’t strike me as weird as she is in the same field and in what amounts to his counterpart position at the uni they’re at), various placed they had lived, and the names and birthdates of his children! I have to say, even nosy little old me felt quite a bit of Fremdschämen here, mostly because his poor children’s names were absolutely ridiculous lengthy descriptions of such irrelevant things made me question is professional judgment. I had read very interesting and engaging articles written by this person before but since then, he will forever remain in my memory as the guy who gave his children weird names and listed all kinds of tidbits in his professional bio.

    Back to the main point though. The difference here is that at least where I’m from, professors write these bios themselves, so they have free reign to decide which information – if any – to share. Their texts certainly don’t stem from answering a fun questionnaire. Now, I can see some iterations of this being relevant: does the questionnaire provide answers that make it possible to write something like “Horatia Flufferton attended Teapot City University and graduated with a master’s in Sweet Teapots. She will gladly help you out if you have any questions regarding Chocolate or Vanilla Teapots”? Or does it more delve into Horatia happiest childhood memory and have often she’s broken a bone until now? Big difference there.

    I think this is an important step to show her that she is a valued member of a TEAM and that failure to get her to participate will only perpetuate a known problem.

    You have this backwards. You showed her that she is a valued member of the team (the all-caps seems kind of telling to me in this letter, tbh) by asking her to participate; she wasn’t left out, but treated like the rest of the team. It is decidedly not showing her how valued she is to force her to do something she doesn’t want to and that isn’t relevant to her job. Also, keep in mind that you are a new member of this group and also her peer – I don’t really think it’s your place to enforce anything like this at all.

    1. fposte*

      Those are really good points (and an entertaining story to boot). OP, teams need all kinds of people to work, from accountants to goalies to other sporty field thingies whose names vary by sport. You don’t *want* a whole team of cheerleaders. Appreciate her for what she does do for the team, not for how much she fits into the mold you’ve conceived.

      And if she’s unhappy with the workplace or vice versa, that’s not your problem to solve, and forced intimacy is only going to make the situation worse.

      1. Myrin*

        Aw, thanks, that means a lot coming from you – you’re one of my favourite commenters here!

  19. Willis*

    #1 – Not specifically related to the blog posts, but I think in general people feel more valued as team members when you respect and accept their preferences about stuff like this (as long as it’s not impacting their work or that of their co-workers). It’s possible to enjoy your job and your coworkers while still keeping to yourself, and badgering someone to take part in the softball game, or picnic, or pool party, or whatever, is likely to make them feel less valued as a team member because your ignoring what they’re telling you they want.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Well said! Recently my director scheduled professional headshots for everyone in the office. They didn’t have a media release form and I knew they were going to use the images for promotional purposes, so I was super uncomfortable with the whole thing– I am very private and my image has been used without my consent in the past.

      I was really nervous about asking to opt out, but everyone was really cool about it. THAT made me feel valued and respected.

    2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

      Yeah, it’s really bizarre to try to show someone they are valued by actively devaluing their wish not to participate in team events.

  20. Knitting Cat Lady*


    Oh dear FSM! Mandatory ‘fun’!

    This is a PSA for everyone who ever considered forcing someone into a ‘fun’ activity:

    1. What is ‘fun’ to you isn’t ‘fun’ for everybody.
    2. Even if someone might think something is ‘fun’, they might not want to do it right now, with you, at work, etc.
    3. If you pressure someone into any kind of activity, it’ll stop being ‘fun’ entirely and make them resent you.
    4. ‘Fun’ can only ever be ‘fun’ if it is voluntary.

    1. Violet Fox*

      On top of that you have people who push back at being pressured into the mandatory fun being labeled as not a team player.

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        You’re giving me flash backs to 80ies kid’s shows!

        The prevailing Aesop at the time was: Always agree with your friends, never complain, and go along with everything. Unless it’s drugs, of course. Doing otherwise makes you an outsider, and outsiders are bad, okay?

        Look at ‘The Complainer Is Always Wrong’ on tvtropes at your own peril.

        1. Allison*

          Or just being a kid in the 90’s. At birthday parties, we all had to play the games the grownups wanted us to play whether we wanted to or not. If the parents wanted to gather all their kids in a room and make them watch some crappy movie to keep them out of the way, you had to join them. I often heard “hey honey, all your friends are doing this thing now, don’t you want to join them?” when really they were saying “you need to join the other kids now.”

          I was not a joiner as a kid, and I hated the pressure to be one.

    2. (different) Rebecca*

      Seriously, this +1000. You’re (general you, not specific) paying me to come in and do my job. If I have to be perky and fun and hyper-participatory-team-oriented-all-the-time! we’re going to have a capital P problem.

  21. Internet Introvert*

    Regarding #1

    I’ve been that employee before. In fact, more often than not. I know I don’t “fit in” with the team, but that’s not my goal. I’m an introvert. I like to be left alone and do my job. I’m good at my job, and I appreciate it when managers let me do it and judge me on that instead of insisting on forced socialization which just makes me uncomfortable.

    1. Ella*

      Same here. All other concerns aside, whenever I’ve been in a group with concerned people who go out of their way to pull me in and make sure I feel included (entirely well-meaning, compassionate people), it almost always makes me feel more awkward and separate. It is not helpful.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Me too. My boss doesn’t need to know where I go when I use PTO or what I do. It’s important to me that we only discuss work-related matters.

  22. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. In my experience, if somebody has to tell you something will be “lots of fun”, it will be terrible.

    1. Joseph*

      You know what you don’t need to sell as “a lot of fun”? Stuff that’s *actually* fun.

      1. Isabel C.*

        Plus a million. And, as people have mentioned above, stuff that’s actually fun to you might not be to everyone, so don’t take it personally. (I have a friend whose company at least used to take the whole department to a Red Sox game every year–a perk many people in this city would die for, but which I would have joined the Peace Corps to avoid.)

        1. vpc*

          I did join Peace Corps; it was worth it, and the language I learned has opened more professional doors for me than anything else on my resume!

          1. Isabel C.*

            Nice! I always thought that was a really cool thing to do, though not for me personally, as the world contains a lot of centipedes.

    2. FiveWheels*

      And if someone says a work social will be a disaster, I find it turns out pretty entertaining (whether deliberately or not)!

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Isn’t it funny how that works? I recently heard that a candidate for a job said some really offensive/inappropriate things in his interview presentation. That made me wish I’d attended!

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    #5-I’m actually going to differ a little bit. If you didn’t earn an AA/AS at the community college then no, don’t list it. However, if you earned a degree from the community college, I would list it until/unless you get a master’s or significant time goes by. An associate’s degree is a legitimate credential. I would especially list it if it’s in a very specialized area. For example, one of the community colleges in my area offers an AA in mental health counseling specific to substance abuse and prepares you to take the exam that certifies you in that area. Your BS degree would probably be in human services or counseling. I would list both because it shows related but different educational experiences. YMMV on that but I don’t think it would hurt.

    1. KR*

      This is kind of my attitude on it. I have an AS in Business Administration, but I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do for a BS. It might be completely unrelated, but if it was I hope the business administration AS would show I have some schooling in a potentially beneficial area. I say this knowing that my stance could change once I have more experience to vouch for my abilities.

  24. hbc*

    OP1: Please review what you’re hoping to accomplish with this blog. It sounds like “helping to get our online presence more felt” covers it nicely. If that’s true:

    -How does one or more people opting out affect that goal? How does this specific person opting out affect that goal? (If this is a customer-facing role, the impact might be big, but I promise no one cares if the internal IT department has 100% participation.)

    -Are there workarounds you can present as *options* if there’s a significant impact on your goal? Fake name? Avatar versus picture? Obviously fake but funny answers to questions? Group pictures okay but without names tagged? Make crystal clear that you’re okay with No Presence being an option.

    -The goal has zero to do with making an employee feel like more of part of a “TEAM,” so that argument is moot. I mean, you shouldn’t undermine the team through this online presence expansion (for example, by posting intra-office squabbles for increased hits), but otherwise team cohesion should not even be on your radar.

  25. LQ*

    #4 Even if I agreed 100% with the political opinion, heck moreso if I did, I’d be really concerned about the 501c3 status. All it takes is one person ever unhappy with anything to report it and have it start becoming a mess. I’d push back hard on that.

    (There is the point about not having that at work, which is bad enough, but it is a much bigger deal when you can lose your nonprofit status and end up having to close up shop because of it.)

  26. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#1. I’d also like to point out since it hasn’t been mentioned yet that the person in question may have a career path in mind. I wouldn’t want a blog post from a past, lower-responsibility job to be the first result when you search for me on google. I’d want the first result to be a social media site that I control and keep up-to-date.

    It’s hard enough to manage your own image online these days. Why make it harder?

  27. Fellow c3er*

    Re: #4 – There is so much wrong with what’s happening at your office, and it sucks that you’re being forced to sit through those inappropriate speeches. Although I’m not a lawyer, I have spent the last several years working in nonprofit settings where the rules about 501c3-appropriate electoral activity were drilled into our head, so I wanted to point out that if the staff meeting presentations are about nonpartisan ballot initiatives (as opposed to partisan candidates), it *might* be OK from that perspective. Again, not a lawyer, and I can’t speak to whether the staff meeting presentations amount to a type of coercion that isn’t legal regardless of the nonpartisan status of the ballot measure. But I just wanted to point out that distinction for 501c3 electoral activity.

  28. SbucksAddict*

    I run a small company with a website where we list all the employees with a short bio. Two employees did not want to participate though they had no problem with their name and a photo being on the website. I asked if they minded if I wrote something up that I would run past them before posting and they were fine with that but they didn’t want a lot of private details about themselves on the web. I wrote up short bios about how much they loved working with me like:

    “Cersei handles the teapots payrolls at our company. She has dreamed all of her life about working with SbucksAddict and now she is living that dream!”

    “Sansa is our teapot manager and has been working at X Company since she was a teenager. She shot straight to the top motivated by her desire to spend more time working with SbucksAddict. Whenever she was unsure about a work situation she would just think to herself, “What would SbuckAddict do?” and the answer would become clear.”

    The clients loved the tongue in cheek style and the employees didn’t feel pressured to write up a bio or put personal details online. Some people aren’t comfortable with that. As a company, we felt it was important to have bios of our team so people could put a face to their assigned team member but we wanted to do it in a way that was respectful of the employees also.

  29. AdAgencyChick*

    #1 — what is it, exactly, that you’ve been asked to do? Have you been asked to raise the company’s online profile (general request)? Have you been asked to write a blog but not told what goes in it? Or have you specifically been asked to write a blog that includes details about each employee?

    The only reason I might act differently than Alison suggests in your situation is IF you have specifically been tasked with gathering individual information about each employee for the blog. And even then, I wouldn’t try to make the employee give it to you. I’d just keep your supervisor in the loop, saying that you have info for most employees but that some do not want to participate, so you’ll be proceeding with the info that you have. That way your supervisor won’t be wondering, “Hey, why isn’t Valentina on here?” when the blog goes live.

  30. Canadian Ontarian AAM Reader*

    Today I learned something new. I had never heard of an associates degree before. I’m not American and where I live colleges and universities are separate things. Colleges generally grant two or three year diplomas. Universities grant four year degrees. It’s very clear in the name which kind of institution it is (ie Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology, Trent University, University of Toronto). Some college programs do bridge into university ones. I have a two year diploma in Chemical Engineering Technology and I work for an engineering firm that has government contracts.

    1. KT*

      Here–you get a associate’s degree from community college (a two-year degree), and a bachelor’s from a college or university.

      A university is only called a university if they also offer a certain about of Master’s/post-graduate programs.

      1. Canadian Ontarian AAM Reader*

        I think there may be the odd college program that does grant a Bachelor’s degree. But generally colleges give diplomas and universities give degrees (Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD’s). I graduated from college but I cannot say that I have a degree, because I have a college diploma.

        1. Misteroid*

          Huh. I would say that in the US, we use degree and diploma nearly interchangeably. If there is a difference, I would say that a diploma is the actual piece of paper you receive at graduation and a degree is a AS/BS/MS/etc.

          I’m learning all kinds of new things today!

          1. Natalie*

            I have only heard people use “diploma” when referring to high school, and similarly never heard anyone say “high school degree”. With anything post high school, from an associates’ on up, then it’s been as you describe where “degree” refers to the credential you got and “diploma” is just the physical object.

  31. Faith*

    I feel this attitude stems from not feeling like part of the team and wanting to be separate from a lot that goes on, I’ve seen other examples of it elsewhere. I think this is an important step to show her that she is a valued member of a TEAM and that failure to get her to participate will only perpetuate a known problem.

    This statement is bothering me in so many ways. First, just because you “want to be separate from a lot that goes on” in your office, it doesn’t mean that you don’t “feel like part of a team”. I feel like I am part of a team because my coworkers offer to take some of the items off my to-do list so that I can leave a bit early when my child is sick. I feel like I am part of a team because nobody in my office thinks that it’ ok for me to work 12-14 hour days to meet my deadlines while everyone else is waltzing out the door at 5 pm every night. I feel like I am part of a team because I’ve never been thrown under the bus for making a mistake and my boss’ mentality is always – how do WE fix it. Those are the things that make me feel like a valued member of a team. At the same time, I definitely “separate myself from a lot that goes on” in my office. I ignore a lot of the teambuilding initiatives, “fun family events”, etc. And I really appreciate the fact that I do not have to justify my decision to ignore those things to anyone at my office.

    Also, I am not sure what is meant by “nip it in the bud” and “failure to get her to participate will perpetuate a known problem”? If you are trying to say that you want to eliminate a situation where someone does not feel included and welcome, then you do it by extending the invitation to them and giving them a chance to accept it or decline it as they see fit. You also make sure that your overall office environment is healthy and collaborative. But if you are implying that something that she is doing is somehow “perpetuating an issue” then you need to seriously reconsider your stance on this.

    1. Alton*

      Well, and sometimes more interaction doesn’t help a whole lot if you don’t feel compatible with the team. It’s good to put yourself out there and take an interest in people who are different than you, but if the separation stems from not having a lot in common with your coworkers, there may be a limit to how much you really want to open up to them.

      I’ve had enough coworkers and work acquaintances who have done stuff like make vaguely judgmental comments when I talk about my hobbies or offer well-intentioned but unwanted advice that I’m cautious about opening up to people unless I’ve hit it off with them and we have stuff in common.

    2. Anomnomnomymous*

      In my head, OP1 is every “assimilation” race from old sci-fi shows – Daleks, Cybermen, Borg. “You will be assimilated, resistance is futile.”

  32. KT*

    So for #1–I had posted before about my stalker ex who once called my boss to surprise me with a vacation (he was still my ex at the time)–she thought it was soooooo sweet and agreed; she didn’t know I had a restraining order.

    Anyway, that same ex found me (and my boss) from the company blog. The company has posted a “new hire” section with my full name, some personal information, a picture and what location I worked at. He used that to locate me, email my boss and show up at work. It was scary and crazy and I was so darned mad they has posted it at all, let alone without talking with me first.

    If someone were to press the issue after me saying no, I would flip out.

    1. animaniactoo*

      And there it is… (I just posted below about this kind of possibility). It’s not always the reason people don’t want such things, but it happens enough of the time that people and companies should be aware of it. Without pushing people into revealing info that they just don’t want to until they want to or it becomes necessary. Neither of which may happen. They should get to avoid doing that just as much as somebody should be able to not reveal that they’ve got oh… a low iron count, or some other factoid about themselves that isn’t relevant to their ability to do their jobs.

      1. KT*

        ^This a billion times. I shouldn’t HAVE to say “I have a stalker ex I have a restraining order against, so I prefer to keep my information private. ” That’s a part of my personal life I don’t like to think about, let alone talk about with my boss. Saying “Please do not include me in the blog” should be enough without going into the legal action I’m dealing with.

  33. animaniactoo*

    #1 – Oh man. What I went through with my kids with this.

    This is the thing you really have to understand: If it bothers them and they don’t like it, then it’s not just some fun thing they don’t want to do. It’s that it’s only fun for you. And respecting them means allowing them to have a different definition of fun and not insisting that they participate in yours.

    And fwiw, if you haven’t stumbled across this yet, among the reasons that you should *always always always* respect someone’s desire for privacy in public postings etc, is that you don’t know if you’ve got one of the few times that you have somebody who isn’t just a private sort of person, but is actively trying to avoid a stalker or a dangerous ex, etc. And they shouldn’t have to reveal that info to you to get you to respect their right to privacy. Yes, that’s the worst case scenario – but it happens, and I’m putting it out here just as food for thought about other reasons why people might hold themselves a little distant, and be so protective of their privacy. Because you seem to think there’s only one (a desire not to be a “team”member, and that’s just not so.

    1. Spooky*

      I’m trying to understand what outcome OP could possibly be hoping for, and I’m just not seeing it. The employee saying, “Gee, I hate sharing personal information, but now that you’ve forced my hand, it sure is swell!” ?

      This is going to make relations between them worse, not better.

  34. MissEducation*

    To OP of #1 — you don’t know what personal reasons the employee might not want to be included on the company blog. I have a few friends who have had issues with stalkers, and they keep their online identities on complete lock down. A public blog post about them at their place of work would not only endanger them, but their fellow coworkers. If someone doesn’t want to be included, assume good faith and that they have a good reason.

  35. AnonMgr*

    In response to answer 1.
    Thank you for such a hasty response! I am actually her manager, not just a coworker and so either way it is my responsibility to help her feel like she is part of the team.
    I am sad to see that the best option is the one that has her continuing to exclude herself from the company, but I understand that her privacy should be respected. I just hope I can find other ways to help her to feel included before she excludes herself right out of a job.

    1. KT*

      …what? How is not being part of a blog “excluding herself”? And how does that “exclude herself right out of a job”? I don’t think you need to “help her feel included”, I think you need to take a step back and reevaluate how you manage.

      I mean this gently, but to me, it seems like you have a “this workplace is a FAMILY” mentality, which can problematic. People are allowed to be private, and still be fantastic at their jobs.

      A great TEAM isn’t one who does fun questionnaires and other silly activities; a great team trusts each other to get good work done, covers for one another, and pitches in when something goes wrong or a deadline is looming.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What’s making you feel that you have to help her feel included, and that she could exclude herself out of a job? If there are clear ways this is impacting her work, those are legitimate to address. But simply not wanting to socialize with coworkers/share personal information doesn’t fall in that category (and it would be horrible to push someone out of a job for that reason). Is there some way this is impacting her work?

    3. animaniactoo*

      What makes you think she doesn’t feel like part of the team? How is she headed for excluding herself out of the job? Why would her lack of participation in things like this blog be counted against her in that category?

      How is her work, and how are her interactions with her co-workers about work matters?

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      If my manager judged me based on how I responded to “fun” questionnaires, rather than on the quality of my work output, I’d start looking for another job ASAP.

    5. Mustache Cat*

      I am actually her manager

      …before she excludes herself right out of a job

      Are you….are you going to fire her for being a private person?

        1. FiveWheels*

          After reading that update/reply, i hope the employee can find a roadside to a place named Sanity and I hope she has running shoes.

      1. Anomnomnomymous*

        What’s even more horrifying is that she apparently feels she’d be completely justified in doing so.

        1. Mustache Cat*

          I’m pretty astonished at the wording of “excludes HERSELF out of a job” as if this would be something that the employee did to herself, not an active decision by the OP.

    6. RKZ*

      How exactly is she excluding herself from the company if she does the work she’s paid to do and is a good employee? Speaking as an introvert, the best way you can make her feel included is to allow her to do her job, be polite and friendly and make sure she’s aware you’re available if she has any issues.

    7. AnonEMoose*

      I agree with KT and Alison. I think it would be really good for you to do some thinking about this employee and how you manage her.

      What is driving your perception that she is “excluding herself”? Is she rude or unresponsive to coworkers? Are others complaining to you that she is unapproachable or unwilling to help? Does she pitch in and help when others need it, even if it’s not, strictly speaking, part of her duties?

      Or is it more that she’s not terribly social with the rest of the group, and prefers to stick with work-related conversations, etc.? If it’s this, then maybe she is just a more private person, or has her own reasons for trying to keep the personal out of the workplace.

      Or maybe she doesn’t feel safe being more personal with the rest of the team. There can be a lot of reasons for that if it does happen to be the case. These can include, but are not limited to: workplace bullying (maybe at a previous job, maybe some perceived “cliquishness” at your company – or maybe both). Maybe she just really likes her privacy. Maybe she’s concerned about some aspects of her personal life becoming fodder for gossip (I, for example, volunteer with a local science fiction convention – I’m pretty open about that at my current workplace, but I’ve worked places where I never mentioned it).

      As long as she is polite and responsive to coworkers, and is doing her job well, it shouldn’t matter if she is buddies with anyone. Including you.

      1. animaniactoo*

        About a decade ago, somebody posted on a column that I followed that she was polyamorous and in a triad, and didn’t really have the option of talking about what she did that weekend at work. Because she worked in an at-will state that was notoriously not LGBT friendly, so going in to work to say “My partners and I got married in a group ceremony this weekend” (not legally, but commitment ceremony) was potentially dangerous for her job security. But beyond that, almost any conversation about what she did that weekend would have been “my partners and I went to see X movie” or “I did Y with my partners”. So she spoke limitedly, because on the one hand she didn’t want to lie about her home life, on the other hand, she didn’t want to give away too many details. So changing her partners into “partner” or “friends” felt even more uncomfortable than just generically keeping to herself.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          This is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of – some people really do have reason to be discreet about aspects of their personal lives. And even if they don’t have reasons, it’s still their choice to make, and they shouldn’t be penalized for preferring privacy.

          1. Allison*

            I used to be an open book about my private life, and would gladly regale my coworker about the guy I was currently dating or crushing on. Now? Not so much. I work with some young people, two are engaged and another is about to get engaged, another is moving in with his girlfriend, and the older coworkers love asking about it and giving advice. One of the older colleagues at one point seemed hell-bent on seeing me date a guy in the company because I didn’t have a boyfriend and he had a crush on me. No thanks! I don’t want anyone trying to set me up, or give me unsolicited relationship advice, or commenting on my love life in any way, so I’ve stopped telling people about it unless I really, really trust them to respect my boundaries.

            1. MashaKasha*

              I stopped with all of the regaling after a former coworker called my boss, asked him to meet after work “to discuss open issues”, and warned him to be careful around me. Come to find out, according to her, I had a habit of hooking up with my managers in order to advance my career. I had stupidly confided in her about a work crush that I was not ever going to act upon, and this is what it led to. I consider myself very lucky that this happened early enough in my career and served as a great motivator to keep to myself from there on out.

    8. I'm Not Phyllis*

      This seems like a bit of an overreaction to me. By your own admission, you are new and basing your impression of her being difficult and excluding herself from the group on what you have been told. Don’t judge her by her request to be left out of a single blog post, and don’t judge her by what other people say about her. She works for you – so she needs to do her job and get along reasonably well with her coworkers (as far as her work requires it). But that’s pretty much it. I’m unclear as to why you think that not wanting to participate in a blog means that she’s excluding herself from the company?

      As an introvert, I have to be honest with you. I’m good at my job and I try my best to be social when I have to – but it’s never going to be a fun thing for me. If my manager was questioning my validity as an employee because I’m not a social butterfly or because I didn’t want to answer personal questions, I’d have to look for a new job on the asap.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t really understand where you’re coming from. I’m afraid your ideas about what constitutes a team player are getting in the way of you actually seeing your employee for who she is and what value she brings to your team.

      I really hope you can reconsider. And if you insist on forcing this issue, you may not only lose this employee but in the future, other good employees who have options may follow her right out the door.

    10. Chriama*

      Hey, thanks for coming back and commenting! I have a question though. Why do you feel like you need to make Jane feel like part of the team? Is Jane difficult to work with? Do people find it hard to approach her, or route work to other members on her team because they don’t want to talk to her? Your comments so far have noted concern that Jane isn’t ‘part of the team’ but no real significant impact around that.

      Also, I think you need to separate “how you want Jane to feel” from “how you want Jane to act”. Because ‘feeling’ like part of a team shouldn’t be a job requirement, whereas acting like part of the team (being easy to work with, approachable, etc) is a totally valid job requirement. I think it will make it easier for you to address issues like this with Jane if you can focus on specific and measurable outcomes rather than expecting a certain emotional response from her.

    11. Lora*


      I can think of approximately a zillion reasons why someone might not want to join in this sort of a thing, and I’m still on my first cup of coffee.

      Let’s assume that yes, she does need to be On The Team in order to be an effective worker. Have you ASKED why she doesn’t do the social things like bowling nights or what have you? Maybe it’s something simple like, you keep scheduling bowling night for Thursday and that’s her taekwondo lesson, so if you schedule one for Wednesday she will be able to go. Maybe she gets the train home and it leaves at 4:45 on the dot and otherwise she has no ride home, so after-work events are a no-go.

      Maybe her colleagues are being clique-y because she attended Yale and they attended Harvard. Maybe she doesn’t wear pink on Wednesday. You have no idea. Because you haven’t asked. You are new, you said so yourself, and you don’t know all the back-story. Maybe she is (fill in the blank demographic) and the other people don’t like (group) and made their thoughts known. What if they made a bigoted comment to her and that’s why she isn’t part of the group? You’d be putting the company at legal risk by enforcing their shenanigans. You need to think this one through carefully.

      Also, what Mike C said further up – that sort of thing really is not an excellent choice of content for a company blog. It looks unprofessional, frankly. You can say something like, “our company has X employees with an average of 200 years of experience in the field, running a broad range of projects, from Aardvarks to ZipFiles, and we have supported systems from anthills to Mt Everest, here is a range of case studies of projects we have worked on etc” to much greater effect. Even if you’re running a day care or something touchy-feely and want the info with the idea that the parents will take an interest in this sort of thing, you can say, “our staff is highly trained and all have certificates in early childhood education from Oxbridge University with additional training in pediatric heart transplants; 99% of LittleGenius Inc are accepted to fancy charter schools. Here are the stories of some of our graduates: George W. from Yale, Wynton from Juilliard, and John D from University of Cambridge.” Maybe, MAYBE put your staff as sort of one-line things:
      Jane Doe, BA in Underwater Basketweaving – Harvard University, MA in Submarine Textile Design – Rhode Island School of Design, 264 years of experience in Blood Donor Management.

    12. Violet Fox*

      Wow. If my manager had that little respect for my privacy, or my own autonomy when it comes to my personal information, I sure as hell would not feel a part of a team working for them.

      Show her respect, and respect her wishes. That will go so so much further.

    13. SarahTheEntwife*

      If contributing to the blog is going to be an ongoing requirement of your team, it might be more comfortable for her to contribute something about her actual work (if anonymity is an issue, it could be as a reasonable alias like her job title instead of name). I’m not hugely worried about privacy, but I never know what to say for those “cute” “fun” surveys at work since I’m a bit awkward socially and don’t want to overshare, so I tend to default to all-business.

      But by all means, ask me to write up a little blurb about the neat new project I’m spearheading, or do a day-in-the-life description of what our team does, or otherwise show that you appreciate the part of myself that I’m actually bringing to work.

    14. Faith*

      What exactly does “exclude herself right out of a job” mean? Does she have the “this is not my job” mentality? Does she do only the bare minimum of what is expected of her and let her coworkers pick up the slack? Is she cold and aloof to the point where people find it difficult to approach her with professional questions and it’s starting affect their own work? Does her “continuing to exclude herself from the company” have anything to do with the job responsibilities that she was hired to perform? Or are you simply making veiled threats to fire her because her behavior does not fit into the pretty picture of what a “TEAM” looks like that you have painted in your head and are trying to impose on your employees?

    15. Anon attorney*

      Quite horrified. The thought that someone might lose their livelihood because they don’t fit your definition of a team player upsets me. If your employee is competent at the job and interacts professionally with coworkers and management, that is sufficient. She doesn’t have to conform to your idea of what inclusiveness means to be an asset to your organisation. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if she was looking for another job so your “problem” might solve itself! There’s nothing in your post to suggest you have given any serious thought to why it matters to the company that this employee should conduct herself in a particular way. It’s shocking to me that you are apparently considering terminating someone without having answered that question.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Manager is making several managing mistakes that makes her a very bad manager. Here they are (with hopes that they can be fixed):
          * Failure to communicate. OP keeps making assumptions about employee instead of actually talking to her.
          * Lack of critical thinking skills. Equating not participating in a blog with excluding herself from the job is a position so extreme it boggles the mind. It takes black and white thinking to a whole new level.
          * Snap judgements. OP hasn’t been at the job very long but is already talking about employee “excluding herself out of a job”. Without talking to the employee no less. This will become a self fulfilling prophecy because OP isn’t willing to find out what the real issue is. If it really is an issue at all.
          * Inbred thinking. Thinking that their solution (blog post) is the only way to get things to work.
          * Failure to identify the problem. Is exclusion really the problem? Is the employee causing problems for others or is OP just utterly unreasonable for what they expect from others? Why is it important that employee engage to this level?

        2. Engineer Girl*

          I’d like to raise another potential thing that warrants an investigation by OP – bully by proxy.
          OP is new. Somehow OP has the impression that employee is “not engaged”. OP had to get that from others, as she hasn’t been there long enough to draw her own conclusions.
          It’s possible that employee is the target of a bully campaign and she is now disengaged from work. OP would punish the employee for not being engaged. By punishing the employee the OP is acting as a proxy for the bully.
          Something dysfunctional is going on in the office. Wrong expectations on employee engagement? Bad boundaries? Bullying? The root cause needs investigation.

          1. Serafina*

            Agreed almost completely, but I think there is direct bullying going on as well. AnonMgr’s attitude is beyond the pale, demanding that the employee participate in “fun” activities completely unrelated to work requirements and risk losing her job if she declines – whatever her reason – and when confronted by literally HUNDREDS of people pointing out that employee is reasonable in her preferences, may have any number of valid reasons for them, and that this demand is inappropriate, STILL doubles down and harrumphs that the employee will “exclude herself out of a job” – multiple times on this board! Bullying with giggles and sunshine and rainbows in order to harangue and ultimately fire somebody for refusing to participate in “fun” non-work activities is still bullying. It’s repugnant to good management. Maybe it’s not actionable, but it’s still shameful.

    16. kapers*

      The implied threat of your last sentence here seems to be in conflict with your stated goal of wanting her to feel she is a valued member of a team.

      Teams are made of individuals with individual strengths, working toward one goal. Not a homogenized group of identical cogs. I think you make her feel valued as a team member by valuing the contributions she does make, not criticizing her for not conforming, particularly on non-essential tasks like a personality quiz.

      In fact, here she HAS made a unique, valuable contribution to your project, if you want to see it: you ought to know that many people would find “fun” personal info on a corporate blog to be corny, unprofessional, and pointless. So her “nagativity” here can actually be seen as a positive, as it reflects a valuable differing viewpoint from your own.

    17. Marzipan*

      That reads to me as quite an aggressive, threatening statement (though I will absolutely acknowledge you probably didn’t intend it to), and I would really encourage you to reflect on exactly what her job is and whether the issue is one of her not performing adequately, or one of her style and approach being different to yours (and, perhaps, to other people’s within the company). Why did it actually matter if she ‘feels included’? What would feeling included look like? How do you know she doesn’t already feel included, or that she actually wants to feel included anyway?

      I think you’re probably using ‘feels included’ as a shorthand for some aspect of her behaviour, attitude or demeanour that differs from other people on the team. Possibly, that aspect is something that makes her genuinely not an effective part of the team – she’s rude to colleagues, say; or she doesn’t do her fair share of work. But possibly it isn’t, and the example you’ve given us here – unwillingness to fill in a ‘fun’ quiz for public use – really, really isn’t. If there are specific concerns then I’m sure everyone would be happy to comment and chip in with ideas, but since all we know about at this point is the quiz, we’re struggling. Are there any other concerns you feel you can tell us about?

      1. Serafina*

        I disagree that AnonMgr didn’t intend it – he/she has used that phrase “exclude herself out of a job” at least twice on this board now, despite literally hundreds of commentors insisting that his/her attitude is wrong and that the employee has any number of valid reasons for wanting privacy, not wanting to partake of “fun” non-work activities that smear her personal life all over the Internet. AnonMgr seems to be so utterly absorbed with my-way-is-the-only-way that despite all these people responding, he/she feels utterly comfortable with planning to fire or otherwise force a good employee out of their job all for failing to dance to AnonMgr’s happy, oversharing tune. It’s outrageous.

    18. LQ*

      I think everyone has addressed the primary point here so I thought I’d help you find some other ways to help her feel included.

      Make sure to have regular 1 on 1s to check in with the progress of her work. If she’s struggling with a project, coach her with steps she can take to improve it.
      Not everyone might like this idea but for a team that doesn’t frequently meet, I really (and I’m a huge introvert/not sharers) like occasional team meetings. Think 1/month or so. If people want to share something about their weekends at the start, a few minutes, only if someone wants to share, but let people have the chance. Then talk about projects or things others on the team might not know about that are valuable, that people might have opportunities to help with. Let her share the projects she’s working on, let her hear the projects others are working on. Talk about the bigger goals of the team. (Sometimes my team will do a webinar (that was pre-vetted!) and discuss it.)
      When she’s having trouble with a project and someone else would be a good resource connect her with them. When someone else is having trouble with a project and she would be a good resource, connect them with her.

    19. MashaKasha*

      Wow. What kind of job is this that one can “exclude oneself right out of” by opting out of non-work-related, team-building activities? Thank god, FSM, DSL, the powers that be etc. that neither I nor anyone in my immediate family has ever worked in a job like that. Frankly, if I found myself in an environment like this – mind you, I can smile and play nice and fake an acceptable level of participation, so I wouldn’t “exclude myself out of a job” by not participating – but if I saw a teammate lose their job over something like that, I’d start looking fast. Oh, and I would also offer the canned teammate all my references/job leads/connections that I can get my hands on.

    20. Feo Takahari*

      This reminds me of some of the more cultish fan communities and RP communities I’ve seen. The community organizer sets up an event, and all members simply MUST participate in the event. Anyone who does not participate is disrespecting the organizer/community (the two being conflated as one and the same.) More and more individuals are driven away from the community, and in the end the only folks left are the ones who sing the organizer’s praises and continually make her feel like a leader.

    21. Observer*


      For starters, there is NOTHING to indicate that any replies here – especially not Alison’s – were hasty. You specifically called her a “co-worker”. That is NOT the same thing as a manager. It would be interesting to know why you didn’t bother to mention that.

      I’m not going to rehash what everyone else has said, but think about it carefully.

      Also, why in heavens name are her only two choices to have some privacy and lose her job or keep her job but lose her privacy? Or even “exclude herself” and maintain some privacy vs “include herself” and lay herself bare. Or, to be blunt, why have you so little respect for privacy that you are threatening her job over it? Because that is what it boils down to.

      Also, please stop talking as though this is something that is happening, and is caused by her, with you just as a bystander who is trying to change the course of history. What you are describing is NOT someone “excluding themselves out of a job” or out of anything work related. This is YOU demanding that she expose herself in ways that she is not comfortable while claiming that you are not mandating it. If it threatens her job, that IS mandating it.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          I think that’s a very charitable interpretation. Unfortunately it read to me the same way I think it did to Observer. Obviously you and your readers have not taken the time to consider this carefully, or clearly you’d agree with OP.

          1. animaniactoo*

            I disagree with this categorization. I think the OP is drawing the wrong conclusions about what it will mean for the employee and why, but they’ve clearly stated here that they see respecting her privacy is the best response to this.

            I think their perspective about what being inclusive means is skewed (you should go out of your way to find a way to include people in a way that makes them feel comfortable *as well as you*, not just a way that you see as inclusive), but I don’t think that they are saying that everyone hasn’t thought about their own responses carefully.

    22. Been There, Done That*

      This sounds so harsh. Is this woman in danger of losing her job because she’s quiet and reserved? If she’s coming in every day and doing her job, she IS part of the team. It sounds more as if you and not she is deciding what she feels.

  36. Chriama*

    OP#1 – I would also caution you to be careful not to let other people decide your opinion of Jane. You haven’t been in the office for very long, so it’s not really helpful to view her every action through the lens of “she doesn’t want to be part of the group.” Try being an impartial observer for a while until you get to know the office better. It could be Jane just prefers to stay professional at work, but is a great worker and super dependable. It would suck for you to throw her in the ‘unfriendly’ box and miss out on a great coworker.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      This so much. I’m a bit concerned that OP is taking such a hard stand against someone he/she doesn’t even know.

  37. Lauren*

    OP #1:
    I work at a community (two-year) college and I could be that employee but I’m not. I am a very private person and I rigidly keep a tall and thick wall between my personal and my work lives. Neither shall ever meet in any way at any time so I find myself appalled that you feel that this sort of thing is something you need to force open. I would hate you as a manager.

    Leave her alone as you were advised. Does she do her work? Is she dependable? If so, you have everything you need. If she doesn’t want to participate in public activities or even team activities, or participates reluctantly because it’s something she has to do, respect her need or desire for privacy and/or aloneness.

    I am one of those who is not the slightest bit interested in any group activities. I avoid anything I can, yet I consider myself a team player. I will help out when and where I can. I am committed to doing an excellent job. But that is as far as it goes. I do not want to attend retirement parties, go to lunch, be part of the campus-wide “rah rah” day or anything else. My supervisor is just the opposite and often (thankfully, a little less often than in the past) wants me to go like to, for example, a retirement party for a colleague at the dean’s home this evening. I have politely declined the invitation; no way would I go despite caring quite a bit about this colleague. I have said my private goodbyes to her and we shared laughter and tears. That is sufficient for her and me, and it is going to have to be sufficient for everyone else.

  38. Buu*

    On #1, the employee could have good reasons for wanting to be left off , abusive ex/family member etc. I have some problems with people I don’t want to find me, and whilst my name is out there with no pics or personal details said horrible people could not be sure it’s me or just someone with the same name. I don’t really want to bring this up at work so I’d dodge anything like this too.

  39. Violet Fox*

    Wow. If my manager had that little respect for my privacy, or my own autonomy when it comes to my personal information, I sure as hell would not feel a part of a team working for them.

    Show her respect, and respect her wishes. That will go so so much further.

    1. AnonMgr*

      I am more than happy to keep it on a first name basis and was going to suggest that we use pics of some of her design work instead of personal pics. I’m more than happy to respect her privacy and keep it vague, I just think its sad and sets a bad precedent in include literally every member of the team but her.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But why? That’s the piece of this that I think you’re missing — especially in your earlier comment here, you sound like you’re judging her on the wrong things. Judge her work, not whether she’s sufficiently part of the team for you or not. It really sounds like you’re assessing the wrong things, and that’s why people’s hackles are going up.

      2. Nerdling*

        What sets a really bad precedent is forcing an employee to participate in something. Especially when you’re using loaded language here like how “sad” it is that she doesn’t want to participate. People have put forward a whole lot of really good reasons why she might not want to do it that are far from “sad,” but, quite frankly, you shouldn’t need them – she shouldn’t have to justify why she doesn’t want her information online just to keep her job. And you’re definitely not going to make her feel like she’s part of the team if you continue to ignore her wishes here.

      3. Lora*

        I am hoping that when you say “sad,” what you really mean is, “it’s sad that there are terrible stalker people in the world and creepy doxxing jerks on the internet, and I am sad that this happened to someone I know personally, and I feel her pain.”

        And truly, if you only had one employee on the blog who demonstrated a work portfolio, I would assume that everyone else is merely support staff for this one person. I like the idea of demonstrating the range of design portfolios, that is truly useful information for customers to have.

        1. Anna*

          To be fair, we don’t actually know at all if that’s why Jane doesn’t want to be on the website and frankly it doesn’t have to be that dire for Jane’s wishes to be respected.

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            Yep, I’ve been thinking this, too. The bigger issue is OP implying that by not being comfortable sharing “fun” information, Jane is “excluding herself out of a job.” I’m not sure Jane has to be able to point to a stalker or something dire like that to justify not participating. Jane shouldn’t have to invoke a stalker to not be pushed like this.

            If I were Jane, getting the sense that my not wanting to participate in a “fun” blog was something that needed to be “nipped in the bud” would raise some red flags.

      4. animaniactoo*

        Pardon, but do you know what sets a bad precedent? Forcing employees to socialize or be cheerleaders in ways that don’t come naturally to them and really aren’t necessary for them to be able to do the basic functions of their jobs.

        In fact, it sets a HORRIBLE precedent of not respecting and valuing your employees for the people that they are, exactly as they are. As perfectly valid ways to be and feel.

        Honestly, right now you sound like a horrifyingly scary kind of manager. It sounds like there’s one type of employee who is a “good” employee in your eyes, and that you are unwilling to pull back and look and see if the error is not in the employee but rather in how you are presenting this entire kind of thing. In how you are trying to make it happen. Why shouldn’t ALL employees have pieces that focus on their design work rather than their personal hobbies and likes/dislikes and interesting factoids?

        Have you bothered to ask this employee why they don’t want to participate? Have you bothered to ask them what they would like to be able to do to appear more a part of the team? Have you even bothered to ask if they feel like they *are* a part of the team or not?

        Not for nothing, if you want to build team feeling, you would do FAR BETTER to tell your other reports that this woman is perfectly fine and within her rights not to want to participate and shut down any sniping comments that come from it. Talk about her work and how it is valued as a contribution to the team, etc.

        Build your team by defending her right to have some autonomy in how much of her personal life she brings to work, and stop trying to shove her in a “TeamMember” slot that you’ve designed in your head, or validating others shoving her in that slot because she doesn’t go to lunch or chitchat or whatever else that is again not a necessary function of her job.

        You have yet to say ANYTHING negative about the work she actually does, or address anyone’s questions about it, which leads me to think that there really isn’t anything wrong with it.

        Please do not be the Mean Girl in Chief to an outlier. Be the defender of the outlier. Find different ways to focus on what she *does* bring to the team, not what she doesn’t. There are probably a few others who would either prefer not to participate but didn’t feel it was a choice, or would just be happy to see that not participating was a choice that was defended for those who aren’t comfortable even if they are themselves.

        1. animaniactoo*

          And for what it’s worth – asking her *why* she doesn’t want to is not meant as a matter of her needing to justify herself to you, but more as you informing yourself about things that are outside of your experience of the way the world works. Because right now you seem to have a pretty narrow and limited view, and that’s not good for you as a manager or a person.

      5. hbc*

        I don’t mean to pile on, but I think you really need to unpack a lot of your assumptions/beliefs and break them down. It may not be sad for her at all to not be on the web page–it’s what she wants. What is a worse precedent–being short on team member on a webpage or forcing employees to do things that make them uncomfortable? You’re not excluding her, you’re letting people opt-in, and whelp, looks like one person doesn’t want to. That’s a good outcome.

        Really, if you want her to feel like part of the team, maybe you and whoever warned you about her could start accepting this kind of stuff when it doesn’t really impact the work. Otherwise, it’s starting to veer into Counting Pieces of Flair territory.

      6. animaniactoo*

        Having taken a deep breath:

        “… I just think its sad and sets a bad precedent in include literally every member of the team but her”

        You are the one who has created this particular “extra” – and it is an extra and not a necessary function of the initiative that you were given in increasing the online footprint of your company. You designed how it was supposed to work.

        What you’ve discovered but don’t seem to be hearing is that you created one that makes at least one person uncomfortable with being part of it. To the extent that they have asked to opt-out. If there is something here that is creating exclusion it is your insistence on going forward with something where she will be the only team member not to participate.

        From everything you’ve said here the problem is in your design, not in the employee. You need to back up and find better ways to achieve your goals on these fronts.

      7. Rusty Shackelford*

        Sets a bad precedent for whom? Your customers don’t know or care that she’s the only person not included in the blog. You’re the only one who seems to be bothered by it. And unless “appear in the company blog” is one of her job duties, why does it matter so much? Do you realize how judgmental you’re being about something that doesn’t (from what you’ve told us) seem to have any relationship to her actual job?

      8. Isabel C.*

        Oh, God. You’re one of those people who interrupts folks when they’re reading because “they *must* want to talk to someone, really,” aren’t you?

        Preferences and lifestyles that aren’t yours are not “sad”. I mean, there are people who might consider it sad when others have so little life outside of work that they have to get all buddy-buddy with everyone in the office and feel it’s their business when someone else doesn’t want to join the cheerleading squad. For example.

        Also, what everyone else has said.

          1. Serafina*

            Considering the amount of speculating AnonMgr is insisting on doing towards her employee, to the point where she’s considering that the employee is “excluding herself out of a job,” maybe being subjected to similar speculations about motives and attitudes and “bad qualities” is just what AnonMgr needs to experience in order to consider the wild possibility that this…is…wrong. He/she is doubling down despite literally hundreds of commentors as well as Alison saying emphatically that treating an employee this way is inappropriate.

      9. Rana*

        I’ve noticed that you’ve said several times that you’re worried about your employee feeling excluded if she’s not part of the blog. I get the impression that you’re viewing this as if it were a sort of “you can’t sit with us” situation – everyone gets to be on the blog but her! how awful! won’t it look terrible, like we’re shutting her out! – but you need to flip this around.

        It’s not about her being shut out of a “fun” team activity, as if she was an unwanted outcast. It’s about you having offered her an opportunity, and she has chosen – chosen – to decline. It’s okay for people to not want to come to the party, to not eat the ice cream, to not play the game, etc. You’ve asked… now let. it. go.

        It will only be a deal if you make it a deal.

        (I also agree that I don’t quite understand (a) what you think the purpose of this blog is, beyond a “fun” “team-building” activity; or (b) what you think a team looks like, or a good team member. You’ve mostly been focusing on things that suggest that you’re viewing this purely in social terms, and ones that are a bit high-schoolish in how you’re thinking of relationships.)

  40. Anna*

    Re: #4 I was under the impression that unless your org is specifically political in nature, it was illegal to directly support any specific political position. Example, my little volunteer run 501(c)3 cannot go out and, as an org, stump for a candidate in a political race. But we can go out and sign up voters as long as we don’t discriminate.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not exactly — there are certain tax statuses where the amount and type of political activity you can do is restricted (particularly around candidates versus ballot measures).

  41. Student*

    #1 – Some of us avoid or opt out of social media due to concerns about a stalker. Don’t know if you’ve ever been through that before, nor if that’s why this employee is opting out of the blog, but it’s something you should consider. Sometimes people don’t want to be “found” and “connect” online for good reasons. I had to ask a company I work for to take down my photo and contact info off their public web-site (it never made sense for it to be there, based on my job responsibilities) because a stalker was trying very hard to contact me. I’ve had other friends who try to keep a low social media profile out of fear of abusive exs. Only thing worse than having a crazy, violent ex-boyfirend is having same show up to harass you at work, undermining you in front of all your co-workers.

  42. C Average*

    Warning: This is going to be long and rambly, because I have A Lot Of Thoughts about Letter #1.

    I spent five years working in social media for a very big brand, with my adventure beginning before social media even had a name. (Facebook had just opened to the public, and Twitter was brand-new and very niche. We still had a very active Web 1.0-style bulletin board, which I moderated.) There weren’t any rules. It was all trial and error.

    There has been a ton of lip service paid to transparency and authenticity in the digital space, for both brands and the people who represent them. But as with so many corporate approaches to, well, anything, there’s been an accompanying tone-deafness and desire to implement universal approaches that don’t make room for individual approaches to transparency and authenticity. Instead, you have every business wanting to jump on board the transparency and authenticity train: “We must have a Facebook page! We must post testimonials! We must have an external blog where customers can get to know us personally! We must do these things because it’s what successful brands do.”

    Well, yes, a lot of successful brands do these things. But many successful brands DON’T do these things. And many brands, successful and otherwise, don’t do them well.

    Before adopting any of these initiatives, businesses really need to think about how much effort it’s going to take to do them well, and whether the ROI is sufficient to put in that effort.

    You want to start a blog? Why? If it’s because you like to write, that’s not a good enough reason. If it’s because people are clamoring for information about your brand and your employees, that’s a good enough reason to CONSIDER starting one. If it’s because your competitor has one, that’s NOT a good enough reason, unless you know for a fact that it’s helped your competitor in a way that it would also be likely to help you. Before you embark on any non-business-essential social media strategy (and a blog is a social media strategy), you should give some serious thought to why you’re doing it, what you hope to get out of it, how to evaluate its ongoing success, and how to maintain momentum when the person who spearheaded the original idea gets bored or runs out of ideas.

    I think if more people at more businesses did this kind of in-depth analysis, they’d conclude (as I have) that not all businesses benefit from cultivating an authentic-and-transparent image, and that it might not suit your company’s culture to build a blog or a social media presence.

    And if your employees are pushing back on your efforts to build such things, it’s a REALLY good sign that your efforts to appear transparent and authentic . . . well, they’re not authentic to at least some of the people who work for you. Which is a good reason to reconsider the blog and, at the very least, to make it opt-in only.

    1. kapers*

      Thanks for saying this. I don’t have your expertise but I feel the employee’s negativity here actually IS a valuable contribution to OP’s project, because she’s reflecting how many in the intended audience would receive this project– that a forced-fun corporate blog is nonessential at best; pointless, unprofessional, and corny at worst.

    2. Rana*

      This is an excellent comment. I’ve been trying to figure out what purpose this blog serves, or what it will do after all the employees have been profiled. Then what?

  43. Avarice*

    #1 – Please don’t force this issue. There are many reasons why an employee may not want to participate that have nothing to do with work and everything to do with keeping his or her personal life private. Ex: I have a co-worker with a special needs child. He simply does not have time to volunteer for community service with the office or attend an after-hours event. He needs to get home to give his wife and other care-takers a break, and to spend time one on one with his child. With the high medical bills, he packs in a lunch every day and truly doesn’t have the $10 to throw in once or twice a month for an office gift for someone’s new baby, marriage, or birthday. He isn’t sad or depressed. His family has plenty of support so no one is burnt out. He just prefers to be with his family. Talking about his private life or hobbies or activities on a company blog is hard when your free time consists of OT, breathing treatments, etc.

  44. Lora*

    #4: A general question, what possesses companies to think that political speeches at a non-politics-related workplace would be at ALL welcome? Most places I’ve worked, someone even talking about politics was viewed with extreme discomfort, in that, “hey, co-worker has a right to his beliefs, and I have the right to sit at a different lunch table” way. Management telling us who to vote for was considered a gross intrusion.

    Worked at a large company, >100,000 employees at various sites in the US and overseas, and they learned right quick to not do this, because 1) there were so many employees on various political “sides” who were happy to debate and bicker and tell the presenter why they were wrong and stupid and 2) a large number of employees and ex-pat employees at non-US sites just passed around the popcorn and laughed at the fireworks, and the presenter realized they were being made fun of/had badly misjudged the audience.

  45. designbot*

    OP1, if you want this person to feel like a valued member of the TEAM, then show her that you value what she brings to the table (whatever that may be, whether it be a personal quality or a professional expertise) and recognize its importance to that team. Don’t keep pushing her on something you know is not in her wheelhouse (traditional teambuilding activities and oversharing). To show her you value her, show her you value HER. As she is.

  46. Fluffer Nutter*

    #1- it’s possible this person is/was a victim of domestic violence or stalking and is trying to minimize their online footprint.

  47. Observer*

    #1 I haven’t read any of the comments yet, so I hope this is not a pile on.

    You write “I want to nip this in the bud, but still respect her boundaries for personal privacy.”

    It’s not your place to “nip in (anything) in the bud”. You do not supervise or manage this person, and it’s not your place to treat her that way.

    In addition, this sentence makes no sense. The two sentences are mutually exclusive. Insisting on answers to questions that are essentially personal is a boundary breach. Plain and simple.

    Also, I can’t figure out why you think that insisting on invading her privacy will make her feel like a “valued member of” anything. I can’t imagine this making anyone feel valued, in any way, shape or form. To be honest you haven’t made a case why it would, nor why this is so important.

    Alison is right. Drop it.

    1. fposte*

      Turns out in the comments that she does manage the person, but I’m with you on the rest of it.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, I saw that a couple of minutes ago. And, yes, I still think that everything else I said still applies. Perhaps even more so.

  48. James*

    There are a few business models where #1’s views would be appropriate. For example, Jas Townsend and Sons (could be “James Townsend”; it’s written one way and pronounced differently) is a company that sells equipment to folks re-enacting the 18th century–cooking equipment, clothing, camping gear, etc. Part of their business model includes YouTube videos, blogs, and other social media presentations. They aren’t advertisements, but “Here’s a cool thing about the past. By the way, you can buy everything you see here at…” These are a major source of business for the company, and not contributing to them would put an employee in a bad position in such a company.

    That said, such companies tend to be small enough that the structure is pretty flat–there aren’t “managers”, just “workers”. I can’t imagine any company of sufficient size to warrant having a manager category that relies on a business model focused on social media.

    Something to consider that I’m not sure anyone brought up yet: The only way to make social media work for your business is to have high-quality content; half-assed blogs are a dime a dozen. Do you REALLY think that having someone who’s uninterested contributing to the blog is going to result in high-quality content? I don’t. They’ll do the bare minimum required, resulting in lackluster posts at best and outright harming your online presence at worst (note that I’m not talking malicious sabotage here–I’m saying that what you’re asking can harm your business by its nature).

    A better idea for encouraging blog participation would be to have a meeting where you say you’d like to start a blog, and are looking for contributors. Say that you’d like a handful of folks willing to take on the roll of core staff for the blog–they are responsible for seeing to it that the blog is updated daily, and that the content is high-quality and doesn’t violate any laws/company policies. Give them a week to build up some backlog (this will give them sufficient time for editing later on). Then, encourage participation from everyone. Say something along the lines of “While these three folks are the core staff, I really want this to be a community effort. We all do fantastic work here, and I want everyone to have a chance to participate. If you have something you’d like to share that would help our brand–a funny story, a lesson you learned, or similar–please feel free to submit it to any of the core staff to get put on the blog.” Offer the best blog post of the week/month/whatever a $10 gift card. It can be as little as $120/year, offer everyone a chance to join in the blog, and not feel like anyone is being forced to participate. Anyone can opt out (though the core staff should be held to higher standards, obviously); the driving force is the reward and community, not punishment.

  49. Here, kitty, kitty...*

    OP 1, could you be conflating 100% participation with good managerial skills? As in, if this employee doesn’t participate, she makes you look bad as a manager? You wouldn’t look bad, by the way, as the many comments above have explained. Because it’s about her privacy, not about your skills as a manager.

    Is Jane’s work sub-par? Or is this really about the image of a cohesive team led by you? I don’t actually think the quality of Jane’s work matters here, because you’re forcing a privacy issue on her, and that’s terrible for all employees, both good and bad. If her work really is sub-par, then forced participation in a non-necessary thing will make it worse. If her work is fine, then forced participation in a non-necessary thing will make it worse. I’m sorry to pile on, because you do sound like you’re, um, enthusiastic about building team cohesiveness, but it also sounds like you might not know all the facts about Jane and the dynamic that is in place between her and her co-workers, since you’re new to the job.

    I have to say, “excluded herself out of a job” in the context of invading Jane’s privacy hints heavily at a dysfunctional view of co-worker dynamics and the workplace in general. It’s messed up that you would look into firing her over her lack of team spirit (which, again, you don’t know the origins of: Has she been bullied by these other co-workers? Is she just introverted?) rather than sub-par work. And that is what your letter, and your replies, sound like: that it’s Jane’s lack of ra-ra spirit, not her work performance, that is bugging you. Be very careful how you address this issue, as well as working with Jane in future. It is your job to judge her WORK, not her burning desire to answer stupid questions that don’t amount to a hill of beans. If you can’t separate the two right now, I suggest you look into some management classes or other ways to stop conflating BS team spirit with actual work performance. You owe it to your employees to be as impartial and fair as possible. You’re messing directly with someone’s livelihood. It’s a heavy responsibility, and one that all too few managers actually appreciate and respect.

    1. Observer*

      You are also messing directly with the effectiveness of your teams. Time and again, when managers place this much emphasis on social nothings vs actual performance, they wind up with teams that look very cohesive – and maybe even are – but who consistently get sub-par results. Because results have been firmly put at the back of the room.

    2. stevenz*

      And not just being impartial and fair but tolerant, flexible and capable of managing different kinds of people in a variety of circumstances which is, after all, the real test of a good manager. Anybody can demand 100% compliance. Anyone can manage to a book of rules (the 21st century definition of management), anybody can leave out someone who they don’t like or is inconvenient. A real manager understands that subtlety and restraint are often essential to the job. That’s why it’s called managing, not controlling.

  50. Laura*

    #1 – I would ask people if they want to be included in the blog. What if your coworker had a stalker in the past? They might not want to have their name be so searchable. Or many other things I could list that are a good reason, but not really your business.
    #5 – Dual enrollment during the senior year at a local community college isn’t unusual at all around here. I would mention it during interviews for an internship as it shows recent drive. After your Bachelors, unless it’s something specific and not covered in the Bachelors, I would wonder why a high school accomplishment (or shortly after) was listed on your resume.

  51. animaniactoo*

    AnonMgr, you’ve gotten some pretty heavy feedback and flashback – some of it from me, I acknowledge.

    If you do happen to come back here and read, I’d like to speak to something you said – you said that “I’m more than happy to respect her privacy and keep it vague, I just think its sad and sets a bad precedent in include literally every member of the team but her.”

    I think from what you’ve said that you’re willing to work to find something she’s willing to have up on this blog. Because you want to include her.

    But I think what you’re missing is that respecting her privacy shouldn’t make you sad about the results. There should be no connection between respecting her privacy and feeling sad about the need to do it. Respecting her privacy should mean that you feel neutral about it, totally accepting and willing to defend against all comers. If you’re not there, you need to look at why you’re not there – because then you’re not really respecting her privacy, you’re giving lip service to the appearance of it while actually judging its validity.

    I really think you need to go back to the drawing board of your blog setup and look at another way to portray your team which will allow her to be part of the team, without having her privacy violated, or her being singled out as voluntarily not participating. But the key is that you have to change not just her portion, but how everyone is being presented.

    Towards that, I would suggest that rather than individual personal bios, you try to do something like individual work bios and portfolios, and then do an overall “Members of our team enjoy a wide variety of hobbies/colors/whatever, including (but not limited to) riding roller coasters, baking, aquamarine, movies starring Hugh Jackman (who wouldn’t)…” “We’re very proud to have such a diverse team bringing their individual life experiences and artistic talents to the projects we create here at Teapots of Chocolate, some of which you can see in each member’s portfolio”. Instead of profile pictures, let people put up avatars if they’d like. Or a profile picture where they’re not really identifiable (bent over at work on something, mostly back of the head shot). Or scrap the profile pictures altogether for a group shot that shows about half of your team at work at the top of the page.

    See? Find ways to include her and make everybody on the same level, reducing the details until she can be part of it without being too exposed. Respect her privacy by seeing it as a challenge that you need to work *with*, rather than being locked into your initial idea of what you’re trying to create.

    1. James*

      The work bio is a really good idea. In my line of work I have to keep a one-paragraph bio up to date pretty much at all times, because clients can reasonably expect us to provide it and it makes drafting certain reports much easier (a chunk is already written). I keep that bio on my profile on my company’s internal website, because it’s something folks inside the company want to know and can easily find. Something like that doesn’t violate privacy at all (it’s your job, clients have a right to know it), and should be fairly easy to draft if she doesn’t have one already. It may also help the business in the long run, because clients can go to your website before they even contact you and see that you have the capacity to handle the job they want, or (even better) that in addition to being able to handle this job, you have someone who could probably help with this OTHER job that they hadn’t even been considering you for.

      Another thing my company does is a “Picture of the Day” thing, where workers can submit pictures of fun things they’ve seen/done during work or vacations. Things like a beautiful sunset, or someone scuba diving, or a praying mantis on a flower, stuff that doesn’t violate privacy at all but is still fun to see. Something like that would add visual content to this blog without requiring extra work, demonstrate the diversity of your employees, and still allow someone to opt out without feeling excluded.

  52. Chris*

    Nothing fosters feeling like you’re “part of the TEAM” like forced participation at gunpoint.

    The ONLY time this is even vaguely acceptable is if it’s directly related to your operations (If you work at a library, I think “vote for the library bond issue” is pretty reasonable). But what you describe doesn’t sound like it’s anything like that

  53. stevenz*

    #2. I like Alison’s last sentence best. A friendly constructive learning opportunity.

    #4. Are you being spoken to by experts in certain fields, or politicians who are there just for educational purposes? Or are these fellow staff people who by their presence imply company endorsement of a position? You don’t say what kind of projects these referenda are promoting. Say it’s a highway interchange and it’s presented as a good thing for the area just for your information because some of your colleagues may not be aware of such things. (But you should get all sides of the issue.) But if the company endorses it because they own 1000 acres of land near the project, that’s very different. So I guess where I’m coming from is, is it interesting or is it coercion?

  54. WM*

    #1. To be honest with you, this isn’t actually a great strategy for a blog anyway. I’m sorry, I hear that you were excited. This sort of thing IS fun, but there’s a place for it and that place is the intranet. Some companies do work ‘meet the team’ posts into their blogs but, when done well, they aren’t actually about the team members at all but about what they have to offer you, the reader. (Kind of like a cover letter.) You can add a couple of personal details but the bulk of it should be about your actual offering as a brand. So if you’re a teapot making company, you get your chief teapot inspector to talk about how she goes about her teapot inspections. You don’t write a cute profile with random personal information.

    Think about it. What sort of content offers added value for readers? What do people want to click and share? Are you thinking about what you want to say or what will actually interest readers? Do you have any kind of cross-channel communications strategy in place eg linking in with email?

    I don’t mean to sound mean. But it’s all too common for small firms to think updating the blog is a task for someone without a comms background, without giving them any training that would help them devise a more appropriate strategy.

Comments are closed.