my relative is angry that I backed out of an interview, managers taking off right before or after a holiday, and more

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

1. My relative is angry that I backed out of an interview — after he trash-talked the job

A family member of mine offered to pull some strings and get me a job working at their place of employment. Nothing against the job, but I just never felt it was a great fit, but figured I’d apply anyway to appease this person. I applied, a few weeks went by, and I was contacted by a hiring manager and set up an interview.

The second I told this family member about the interview, they were saying things like “avoid this place like the plague,” “you don’t really want to work here,” “the place feels like a sinking ship and the new manager has no idea what they are doing,” “his place is chaotic all of the time,” etc. Since I never really felt that the job was a great fit anyway on top of this person’s negative comments about the company and the people who work there, I decided to cancel the interview for reasons of “pursing other opportunities at this time.”

Ever since I canceled the interview, even though it was done in a polite and professional manner, the person who referred me — the very same person who talked me out of considering even interviewing for the job — has been angry with me. It seems like he would have preferred if I simply no-showed the interview as opposed to canceling with 24 hours notice. He now fears that his boss will take it out on him over my cancellation. I’m not sure why he would try and talk me out of taking the job and then get angry over the fact that he succeeded or even why he would refer me to a company that he doesn’t even like working for in the first place.

Yeah, I don’t know either. And if anyone should be mad at anyone here, it’s you at him for trying to push you into taking a job at a place that he finds so misery-inducing. I’d just say, “You were very convincing that it’s not a happy place to work at, so once I knew I wouldn’t accept a job there, I wanted to be considerate of your manager’s time and not waste it.” What he does with that is up to him, but it’s a reasonable thing to say (and do). Unfortunately you can’t make people respond rationally.

2. Managers taking off days right before or after a holiday

I have two employees who report to me. Both are supervisors, and they manage the rest of the employees.

What is the appropriate way to talk to one of the supervisors about taking off every Monday or Friday before or after a holiday? I just don’t think is a good look as a supervisor in the eyes of the employees.

Is it getting in the way of work being done or causing problems for other people? Does the manager have the vacation time to take? Are other people able to take those days as well? If none of those things are an issue, I’d leave it alone. You want to give people the maximum possible flexibility to manage their schedules and their time off, and you’re likely to frustrate them if you tell them not to take certain days solely because of optics if there’s no actual work reason backing it up.

On the other hand, if it does cause work problems or if it’s preventing other people from ever being able to get those days off, then you’d just explain that straightforwardly. As in: “I’ve noticed you usually take off a Monday or Friday right before or after a holiday. It’s preventing anyone else from being able to extend their vacation in the same way, and I want to make sure we’re giving everyone equal access to those days.” Or, “I’ve noticed you usually take off a Monday or Friday right before or after a holiday, and it’s causing X problem. Can we either find a system to put in place to address that, or can you adjust your schedule so that’s covered more of the time?”

3. Should I talk to my boss about my coworker’s poor management of a joint project?

I’m just wrapping up a short, urgent project at work. My colleague — we’ll call him Leo — was the project lead. While the deliverable turned out fine, the overall project management was a mess, including a lack of clarity about who was leading the project (Leo or me). Nobody knew who was doing what, information was shared randomly to whoever happened to be in the room and didn’t necessarily make it to the person who needed to act on it, and so on. Additionally, some of Leo’s direct work wasn’t very good; I spent more time than I should have cleaning it up.

(An aside: Leo is in entirely different role from me, and is much younger and newer to our organization and the professional work world in general. But I’m not senior to him on any hierarchy and do not manage or supervise him.)

I’d like to talk with my boss (who is also Leo’s boss) and share my concerns about how the project was managed, both to cover my own ass and to encourage her to offer some guidance to Leo. She’s pretty passive, and I don’t think she will offer any accountability or coaching if I don’t say anything (and maybe not even if I do). I genuinely think Leo is or could be a strong employee and were I his manager, I’d be planning on having a conversation about what made this project so bumpy and his ideas for avoiding that in the future. Do you think talking to our boss is worthwhile, and do you have suggestions for how I can do this gracefully?

Depends on your boss. Based on what you know of her, is she likely to act on the information? If so, then yes, this is a reasonable thing to talk to her about. Even if no, it’s reasonable to raise, although you’d want to be prepared for it not to go anywhere.

You could introduce the topic this way: “Could we debrief how the X project went? While I’m happy with the final product, the process of getting there was pretty messy and I thought it could be useful to share my observations.” And then you could say something like, “I think Leo might have struggled with the overall management of the project — we didn’t have clear roles, information didn’t get to the people who needed it, and I ended up doing a lot of clean-up on the work itself. I think he’s great in lots of ways, but might really benefit from more coaching around this stuff.”

Frankly, you could also have a similar “let’s debrief the project” conversation with Leo himself — “here’s what I thought went well, here are the bumps I saw, here’s what I’d propose we change next time.” You can do that as a peer as long as you frame it as debriefing to draw lessons for both of you for the next project. (And of course, make it a genuine, two-way conversation, not just a download of everything he did wrong.)

4. Can I ask my boss to consider another manager’s input in my performance review?

I technically work in Teapot Delivery, reporting to “Mike.” Mike is a nice guy, but not a great manager. He does his (non-managing) job very well, which was almost certainly why he was promoted … but being good at your job does not a good manager make. He’s clearly not very comfortable in social situations, and I struggle to hold conversations with him beyond “how do I do X.”

My team’s role is pretty specialized; we work on one type of thing, and that’s it. Although I am officially on the Teapot Delivery team, probably only about 20% of my time is devoted to it. I get my light workload done, and the rest of the time I spend supporting another team as a co-lead on a very visible project, to the point of where people in my department are always completely surprised to hear I actually work in Teapot Delivery. I really enjoy this “unofficial” work and work anywhere from 50-60 hours a week to get it all in.

So, this brings me back to Mike. Mike knows, sort of, that I heavily support another team. I say sort of because he never asks, and when I bring it up in our check-ins, it quickly dead-ends with an “oh, okay” or “just make sure you get everything Teapot Delivery-related you need to done” (I always do). I eventually gave up telling him about anything non-Teapot Delivery; it just felt awkward talking about it when it just … falls flat? Consequently, Mike neither knows how much time I’m spending on other things (a lot) or even what I’m doing. Our check-ins usually just consist of him asking if there are any issues with my clients, which there never are. Over in five minutes.

Come my performance review, would it be out of line to ask to incorporate input from the person I “unofficially” report to in addition to Mike’s? They know my work far better and work with me much more closely than Mike does. I kind of hate the idea of only Mike’s siloed assessment going down on file when it’s not even what I spend the majority of my time doing. Or is this overstepping my boundaries? (I’m looking to move roles as soon as I can, for what it’s worth!)

Do two things: First, ahead of the time when Mike is likely to be writing your evaluation, provide him with a brief, bulleted list of all your accomplishments for the year, including the ones for the other team. You want him to have this information, and it sounds like that’s the best way to get it to him since the conversations fall flat. Second, rather than asking Mike to solicit input from the other manager, talk to the other manager and ask her to proactively give input to Mike. That way, you’re not reliant on Mike following through on asking, and it would be very normal for a manager who you do a lot of work for to say to Mike, “Hey, I know you’re going to be doing Jane’s performance evaluation soon, so I wanted to let you know how things are going with the work she does for me.”

5. Including a run for political office on my resume

I spent the better part of the past year running for a political office. Although I’m proud of the campaign I ran, and the fact that I did fairly well, my bid was unsuccessful in the end. I did not do any other work during the campaign. Can I include being a candidate for political office as my “job” for the past year? If so, how? If not, what do I do with the gap of a year on my resume?

I tend to apply for jobs that are political in nature, but if I applied for something non-political, I would certainly keep the listing non-partisan (not listing which party I ran with, focusing on tasks/accomplishments, etc.).

Absolutely, include it. Be prepared that it may turn off some people who have politics opposite to your own, but that won’t be a huge issue since you’re applying for jobs in line with your politics already anyway.

{ 194 comments… read them below }

  1. Cheesesandwich*

    @ OP1 it could be that the relative is worried your pulling out of the process moght imply he told you to run for the hills…or worse, that you’ll have said some version of that when telling the hiring manager why you weren’t proceeding with the application.

    I don’t know what I’d do without the anonymity of askamanager to run my mouth about parts of my job!

    1. kodachrome*

      idk, I find the relative’s behavior kind of odd. They were the ones who suggested OP take the job in the first place… if you don’t want to look bad when your referral pulls out because of negative things you told them, then… don’t put yourself in the position by referring them to a shitty job to begin with?

      In any case, I don’t think it would ever cross the employer’s mind that the OP pulled out because the referrer trashed the place… hopefully, a referrer is referring a person to the company because the company isn’t terrible to work for. idk. it’s just very weird behavior all around.

      Maybe the relative reconsidered and thought the OP would make them look bad if they got the job?

      1. Sherm*

        It really does make no sense. You would think that a no-show would look bad all around, more than a polite cancellation would. Either the relative is not thinking straight, or he was hoping to send some message to the company, a message that only a no-show would (somehow) convey.

        1. Mephyle*

          That’s a theory I hadn’t thought of. But… although the no-show doesn’t make sense in a culture of respecting people’s time and effort, it does make sense in a culture of not saying negative things. Yes, there is a whole class of cultures where politeness is measured by what you say and not what you do. I can’t get my head around it but I accept that it exists and deal with it the best I can.

        2. JessaB*

          If I referred someone and something I said later made them decide not to take the job, I would expect them to either appropriately bow out, or to take the interview and then refuse if the job was offered. A no show would make me look lousy to the people who I gave the rec to. I would be very annoyed that my reputation was going to take that hit.

          I cannot imagine why anyone would think suggesting someone just no show was a good idea. Heck even if my rep was not on the line, it would look lousy on the prospective employee and what if next year their dream job opens up and the interviewer is the person they no showed on? Heck no.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        I was wondering too, if maybe the relative had a bad day or meeting with boss then spoke negatively in the moment but then regretted what they said?

        In any sense I have no advice for OP; I would think the OP no-showing would be more detrimental to the relative than pulling out with advance notice. It’s not a huge deal IMO.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Similarly, I thought maybe he was just blowing off steam in a ‘everyone hates their job and this is normal’ kind of way? Still weird thinking but some people go through life like misery is just normal.

      3. Perse's Mom*

        “…hopefully, a referrer is referring a person to the company because the company isn’t terrible to work for.”

        My company offers referral bonuses to staff – if the referred person stays with the company for over 90 days, the referrer gets $100, and that’s for entry-level positions. For more specialized or niche positions, the bonus goes up significantly.

        I think my company is generally alright to work for, but when $ is on the line, people will absolutely refer others with no regard for how they might actually perform in the role much less whether or not they’ll be happy in the role or with the company.

        1. Kyrielle*

          But then wouldn’t they keep their mouths shut about how terrible the company is and just let the person find out, and get their money? Telling them how awful it is so that they can either bail on the interview, or go and then decline the offer, doesn’t get the referral money….

          1. OhNo*

            Unless they have a structure where you get $X for referring a candidate that gets interviewed, and more money if they actually get hired. I’ve heard of (though never worked for) at least one local company that pays bonuses for referring a candidate good enough to get interviewed. I can’t imagine that’s a terribly common arrangement, though.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              I’ve done enough interviews where the person had a resume and half-hour phone screen good enough to get interviewed, but then turned out to be less impressive in the full deep-diving tech interview, that I don’t set much store on “good enough to get interviewed”.

    2. EleanoraUK*

      I wonder if the relative was trying to help because he thought the OP needed a job, any job, but then wanted to give him a realistic picture of what work would be like. He’s then used his contacts to get the OP an interview, after which the OP pulled out.

      I can see how the relative would feel this didn’t reflect terribly well on them. It would be a different story if the OP had gone to the first interview, and had realised it wasn’t for them at that point. But because they pulled out before speaking to the company, it does look like the relative used their own standing to get him a foot in the door, and they’ve pulled said foot out and shut the door without ever taking a look inside.

      I agree that the relative would have done much better if he’d given the OP the full picture in the first place, so the OP could base their decision to apply on complete information. But I can also see why the relative may now be worried this reflects badly on him with his employer.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I know you’re not supposed to go in for interviews you know you don’t want, but I would have gone in for this one as a courtesy. Even though the relative trash talked the company, he did also use some professional capital to get you the interview. As others have said, he should have told you about the realities of the job before the fact. Unfortunately, by the time you found out, he had already put in the effort and capital to get you the interview. It’s like when someone makes you dinner and tells you it didn’t turn out well (and it really didn’t). You still eat it haha.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          “It’s like when someone makes you dinner and tells you it didn’t turn out well (and it really didn’t). You still eat it haha.”

          See, with someone I’m close to, I’d hope we could get something else in instead. Cooperatively.

          1. CoffeeLover*

            Yes, if I know the person is reasonable. But plenty of people take insult to things they really shouldn’t, and some fights aren’t worth fighting.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              If a family member cooked me terrible food, knew it was actually terrible, told me ahead of time, and still expected me to choke it down… that’s not a family member with whom I want a relationship.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                Yeah, that would be a very different food-is-love culture than my family has. With us it would definitely be “so, should I tell you the story of my Epic Soup Failure over Thai or pizza tonight?”.

        2. Whats In A Name*

          Yea, but OP mentioned the relative would have been ok with her no-showing? That’s even worse.

          We relied heavily on referrals at old-old-job and I was much more annoyed with people who used up an hour of my time and either visibly were uninterested or pulled out afterward than with people who were nice enough to call in advance. I was always happy to get an hour of my day back and I never held it against referring employee.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes — it’s far more polite to the employer if you cancel once you know you’re not interested. That’s an hour they can do something else with or give to another candidate.

            1. MsCHX*

              Were you bothered by:
              “Nothing against the job, but I just never felt it was a great fit, but figured I’d apply anyway to appease this person.”??

              Because my first thought was why on earth would you apply for a job you didn’t want to appease a family member?!?

              1. LBK*

                Sometimes the information you glean in an interview makes a job sound better than it did from the initial posting/description (in the same way that sometimes the interview makes what originally sounded like a great job no longer sound so great). That’s part of why an interview is a two-way street, because it’s your opportunity to learn more about the position just as much as they’re learning about you.

                1. JessaB*

                  And sometimes the job is great for you, but lousy by the standards of the person who referred you. Not everyone has the same list of “ick this is lousy I wouldn’t want to work here.”

                  But even if I wasn’t sure if the job was for me, I’d either bow out, or I’d take the interview and take it seriously. I might be surprised, and I wouldn’t want to burn the rep of the person who got it for me in the first place or burn my bridges with the interviewer, next time they may have the right job for me.

                2. SusanIvanova*

                  I had one interview when I was fresh out of college that didn’t sound like a great fit but the headhunter talked me into it, and the person on the phone screen came to the same conclusion – they recommended me for another, much more techy job at that company, which I got with no trouble.

          2. CoffeeLover*

            “It seems like he would have preferred if I simply no-showed the interview as opposed to canceling with 24 hours notice.”

            I assumed the OP was being hyperbolic. As in, he’s mad at her for cancelling the interview, but would he have preferred she just didn’t show up!? Of course not, he would have preferred she went to the interview.

              1. Uyulala*

                We are actually not supposed to nitpick word choice specifically because people don’t always mean the exact words they write.

                1. sstabeler*

                  I see it more as the relative has an order of preference like this (from most preferred to least and it’s the impression OP is getting):
                  1. go to the interview
                  2. don’t cancel the interview, but don’t bother turning up either
                  3. cancel the interview

                  I can see ONE situation where it makes sense, and if it applies, it’s on the relative to mention it first: if the workplace is dysfunctional enough that it looks bad on the relative if there is a cancellation as opposed to a no-show.

        3. Sadsack*

          I disagree with this. You are not doing the employer a courtesy by wasting their time and yours interviewing for a job you know you won’t accept, plus they’ll be wasting more time afterward considering your fit for the position. The relative in this case acted strangely and is being pretty unreasonable about it. The situation the relative feels he is in is not OP’s fault.

          1. CoffeeLover*

            I’m not saying the relative is reasonable. I’m saying I’ve had my fair share of unreasonable relatives, and I’d rather waste my time and the employer’s time than to deal with a family feud.

            Also, frankly I don’t care about wasting an employer’s time. Plenty of employer’s (all of them to some extent) waste candidates times. They interview candidates they know they would never hire, they interview to fill quotas, they finish a full hour interview even though they know it won’t work in the first 5 minutes, they require overly long application processes, they have disorganized and unnecessary interviews, etc. The only reason I would back out of interview is if it’s a full-day/multi-day event or to give another candidate who would actually take the job a chance. That doesn’t sound like it’s the case for OP. It sounds like she was given an interview above and beyond the other candidates that would be interviewed.

            1. neverjaunty*

              But the OP didn’t do something wrong because you would have handled it differently. She got a ton of mixed messages and is still getting them, and did the polite thing, which was to avoid wasting HER OWN time as well as the employer’s.

              1. CoffeeLover*

                Agreed. I wasn’t trying to give advice (or to say “you should have”). OP did it one way, I would have done it another. I’d rather waste time to avoid family feuds (this is coming from someone with a really unreasonable family… I’ve done plenty of inconvenient stuff just to not have to talk about it).

                1. CoffeeLover*

                  Like many things on the internet… I wasn’t really trying to “add value” to the problem or the solution.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  I hear you. But it sounds more like one of those situations where the other person is being so irrational that you end up asking yourself “am *I* the one who’s out to lunch here?”, which is what I understood the OP’s question to be (answer: nope).

            2. Sadsack*

              Maybe I misunderstood, so it seems that you meant that it would be a courtesy to the relative, not the employer. I still don’t think OP is obligated to waste her time interviewing for a job she isn’t interested in, especially when it s based on things the relative told her about the job. It is her career, she gets to decide how to handle it.

              OP may have avoided the backlash from her relative if she had personally let him know that she wouldn’t proceed with the process, but really this just comes down to the relative’s strange behavior.

        4. k*

          What’s so strange is that this isn’t just someone making a meal and saying it didn’t turn out as well. This is them putting the food in front of you and saying “This is really terrible. It will make us all sick. You should get as far away from this food as possible”. Who on Earth would still expect their dinner guest to eat after that?

          Really this one baffles me, no logic on the relative’s part.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Yes, that would make sense, like you wrote, if the relative had given OP the full picture before working to get OP an interview/OP applying. (Like, “My company has X position open now, but just so you know…I feel that the company is not so great at A, B, C,…but if you are still interested I’ll mention you to the manager” or whatever)….Or maybe relative thought it would give OP good info for the interview (“things to watch for signs?”) and didn’t realize he was sounding so negative. Anyway, done now.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I think I would have gone for the interview, but it depends which of my crazypants relatives referred me.

          One person’s chaotic, sinking ship is business-as-usual for someone else. It depends what someone’s previous experience is, IMO.

      3. Mookie*

        I had a similar experience, but with an instructor in a program I was enrolled in. One evening after a class she told me her ex-husband, who works at a local public utility, was co-hiring for a position in a private business that does contract work for the city. She’d apparently spoken to the relevant parties on my behalf (the industry is small and cannibalistic here), gave me both hiring managers’s contact information, and urged me to apply.

        I did, had three interviews (ex-husband at the first, manager and co-workers at the following two) over the course of a week, and a few days later the instructor asked me back to her office where she proceeded to tell me a long, harrowing, and utterly believable tale about of how abusive this ex-husband was. He hadn’t left the most positive impression on me and I had heard rumors about how tiring their divorce had been, so I wasn’t surprised (prior to this conversation, I’d still have been willing to accept the job because I was severely underemployed at the time), but it meant that there was no possible way I could continue with the hiring process, so I withdrew. This prompted a really strange reaction from the instructor when she found out about it, and informed me that I was hurting her reputation by having done so and then asserted that I’d only withdrawn because my CV contained “errors” (she was insinuating there were lies in it, and there were emphatically not*). It was unsettling, to say the least, and I later left the program without finishing my final courses.

        *I really can’t imagine someone lying about a CV that underwhelming, which it was, to be honest

        1. Myrin*

          That’s almost exactly like the OP’s situation – how very weird. I wonder if there is a common reason for such behaviour that I’m just completely not seeing.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Possibly an “I put up with it so I don’t understand why you wouldn’t” type of dysfunction? Sometimes people react badly to someone else making a healthier decision than they did, partly because it highlights that the first person didn’t/hasn’t. Just a theory.

            1. KarenT*

              I think there’s also sometimes a “You’re lucky to get any job! Jobs are hard to get! Pay your dues!” mentality as well.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Sometimes people who have been (or are in) a dysfunctional dynamic get into this weird doublethink cycle, where one minute they’ll decide they were wrong and the person is OK after all, and the next they’re convinced the person is Satan, and whatever cycle they’re in, they’ll flat-out deny having said different. It’s very unsettling because they’re not operating in a normal reality.

          1. Mookie*

            I’ve found that pattern to hold pretty true, partially (I hazard a guess, anyway) because the illusion of a just and fair world where no one is truly victimized is more comforting than acknowledging one can be continuously abused beyond their control, consent, or participation.

            The odd way this manifested in the instructor, in my case, was that she never wavered in her estimation of the ex-husband: he was monstrous and manipulative, she was heroic to extricate herself from their relationship (which, yeah, she was), but somehow she thought these character traits wouldn’t trickle over into his professional life and that I was being unorthodox in thinking otherwise. She wanted me to compartmentalize against my own well-being the facts she disclosed, except when I was performing Good Listening for her (which I didn’t really consent to in the first place).

            Maybe it’s as Alison, KarenT, and Gazebo Slayer say, and she was unconsciously faulting me for not being willing to put up with someone morally bankrupt, or that I was “cheating” the system for using the information she’d willingly offered me, like I was a journalist or someone in mental health who’d been talking to someone else off the record.

      4. OP1*

        I currently work on pure commission. This bothers a lot of my relatives as they would prefer that I have a “guaranteed salary” and for years have been trying to get me to take “steady work.” I do alright and am good at what I do, but they’d feel a lot better if I at least had a base salary or a base salary plus commissions instead of just working on pure commission. As an “independent contractor” and not an “employee” I would actually have the freedom to accept a more “traditional job with a guaranteed income” and not lose my commission based gig. But my background is in sales and marketing and this relative’s is in food service so I’d be kind of a fish out of water. His “pulled strings” would more or less be getting them to overlook my lack of relevant training and experience pertaining to food service.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      That’s exactly what I got out of it. If OP had no-showed, the relative could just blame OP — his reputation would still suffer for having referred someone flaky, but it’s far less of a black mark than what actually happened. Now the relative is (correctly) worried that his boss knows he doesn’t like his job.

      OP, this is on your family member to deal with. If he hates the place so much, he should never have referred you to begin with, or at least should have been honest with you BEFORE you applied so that then the decision would be whether or not to apply, not whether or not to cancel.

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree with your last part, but I don’t think there is any indication that the employer knows anything about the relative’s feelings about the job or his conversation with OP just from OP deciding to pursue other opportunities.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure that if I were the hiring manager or boss in this scenario, I wouldn’t assume the OP’s withdrawing has anything to do with relative badmouthing me or my company; it feels to me like such behaviour would be exactly contrary to referring someone and as such, what actually happened wouldn’t even cross my mind to be quite honest.

  2. eplawyer*

    I think LW1’s relative wanted to spin the no-show in some example at work about how bad the manager is.

    Or is just miserable person who complains about everything.

    1. nofelix*

      I think the latter. They wanted to be helpful and get OP a job, and they wanted to be helpful by warning them of potential problems. But they’re so negative it came across like trashing the job.

      They might well be thinking “Yeah I warned him of the bad side, every job has a bad side, but that doesn’t mean it’s overall a bad company to work for!”.

    2. Nanani*

      A misery-loves-company type of thing where the relative wanted LW to share their specific job misery?

    3. So Very Anonymous*

      I was wondering about that spin angle, too. Along the lines of “Our reputation is SO BAD that we can’t even get people to come in for initial interviews!!!”

  3. Miss Nomer*

    OP 3, I think it would probably be kind of you to talk to the manager or to Leo himself. I’m in my first job out of college and sometimes I think I’m driving my boss crazy with questions, so it’s kind of nice to hear from a colleague. Admittedly it can be hard to hear that something didn’t go well, but I bet Leo already knows that.

  4. katamia*

    OP1, maybe something happened at the workplace between when you applied and when you were contacted for an interview that changed their perspective about the job. I don’t know why your relative would have apparently preferred you to no-show, but maybe when they recommended you apply they genuinely didn’t think it was a horrible place to work. Not that it excuses the way your relative behaved (which is still pretty odd), but maybe the initial recommendation was made in good faith.

    1. Mabel*

      That’s the weird part, OP – why would your relative want you to just not show up for an interview? That could damage your reputation, and I assume it’s just not something you would do. It makes it seem that your relative has strange notions about work (or at least about his/her job or employer).

  5. MeepMeep*

    #3 is confusing me, so Leo, your coworker was project lead? And people where confused who was running it between the two of you? That just may seem to be the source of why it was bumpy? Did a level above you fail to communicate who the lead was?

    1. hbc*

      Me too. If someone is confused about who’s running the project and giving deliverables to the wrong people, the people on the receiving end should be saying, “Uh, why are you giving this to me?” or “Thanks, I’ll pass this on to Leo” or “I don’t know who this goes to, but it’s not me.” I can understand it happening once or twice, but *during* the project, someone should have given Leo a heads up that he should send an email clarifying that information should go through him.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      So much this!!! I am wondering if it is actually your manager’s fault that it was unclear who was running the project.

      I may be reading my own experience into this, but I was PM’ing two jobs when a new, more senior colleague was hired. My bosses asked him to step in and PM one of the jobs, but they didn’t want to take me off the job or have him handle the client communication. So, we had him managing day-to-day work, me communicating with the client and picking up slack because, honestly, sometimes he didn’t manage things well. He was in charge of budget, but I was really in charge of budget because I was approving the invoices. It was a mess, but I really think it was on our managers because we did the best we could with the cluster they gave us. (The project was successful, though.)

    3. nonymous*

      I’ve been on projects at a previous workplace where the team leader was so unclear/disorganized that we just hashed things out between ourselves. I think in this type of situation there is a tendency to look at most senior/competent staff to answer questions/direct activity, and that person has to bring this to the attention of the PM in the moment. So when staff is deferring to OP3 as unofficial leader, she should say (to staff) “let me check with Leo and get back to you” and then to Leo say “a lot of people are asking me about X and I think it’s a good question”.

      If Leo asks OP3 to deal with it, she can say “traditionally this is a PM responsibility, while I’m happy to help, can you tell the team when questions should come to me or you? I don’t want to disrupt the official hierarchy.” As the senior staff member, OP3 should be more of a mentor/advisor throughout the project. It could be perceived as undermining to be too helpful by fixing issues that a new leader is not being made aware of.

      I know it seems silly to refer back to Leo if OP3 can directly answer, but stepping in as OP3 did only hides Leo’s inexperience, and he needs feedback to learn.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, this is my experience, too. I’ve been in this situation, as well as the situation AnotherAlison describes. If I were OP, I would talk with Leo first before having a discussion with the manager to get his perspective. I’m sure there are learning opportunities for him since it sounds like he is new to this role, but I wonder if he lost control of the project partially because he was missing key info after other staff members took their questions to the OP or other more senior people instead of him. Even with best efforts to keep him updated on all of the project details, when things are busy it’s easy to forget to share some of those smaller details or questions.

        I think a discussion with the manager is still warranted, but I think it’s important to recognize that some of Leo’s struggles may have resulted from the management team as well as other members of the project team leaving him out of the loop on some of this stuff. There may be learning opportunities for everyone involved.

  6. Blossom*

    #2 has me pretty baffled – unless there are specific business reasons why taking a day off next to a holiday is problematic, I can’t imagine why anyone would think anything of it. Isn’t this what most people do? Is my perspective skewed by being British?
    Reminds me a bit of the old joke about “40% of sick days are taken on a Monday or Friday; we need to stop our employees taking advantage of us!”

    1. House of Gourds*

      Could have sworn I saw a Dilbert cartoon where the pointy haired boss pointed out that it is no longer acceptable for people to take leave on Monday or Friday.

    2. Jeanne*

      Here’s what happened at my work. My boss told us that only one of us could be on vacation at a time. So some of us got some days around the holidays (like Wed before Thanksgiving or the day after Christmas) while most didn’t. But no matter the work load, our boss still had off all of those desired days. All of them. He got off and since I was backup I had to do my job and his job those days. Why would good employees want to work for someone like that?

      1. doreen*

        Yes, I once had a position where for operational reasons either I could be off or one of my direct reports could – not both of us. It would not have gone over well if I had taken every desirable day/week and left none for her.

      2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        There’s nothing wrong with a boss taking premium vacation days, or all premium vacation days, if it doesn’t come at an unreasonable cost to her staff.

        We’re weird. We’re actually too backwards the other way, with managers sacrificing premium days for themselves so as many employees can have the days they want as possible. Sometimes we have to shake each other to remind ourselves that it’s kinda okay if newer employees don’t get their desired premium days and we do.

        1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          See: guess who takes 3 weeks at Christmas now. :-)

          (but p.s. that’s almost a bold lie because I cover any days that I need to if my direct report staff needs days and coverage is required. Almost a bold lie but my story and I’m sticking to it.)

        2. Anon in NOVA*

          I think seniority should be a factor (as you mentioned- it’s ok for newer employees to not get desired premium days). I’ve worked for this agency longer than my direct reports (and frankly budget my leave better) so yes, I’m going to take my use-or-lose leave around the holidays, including extending weekends when I can. It doesn’t leave them covering anything for me, and honestly you’d think they’d think it was a bit of a treat with no one here to notice if they leave 15 minutes early!

          1. BPT*

            Seniority can be a factor to a point…but when you work at a place where there isn’t a lot of turnover, that means that the people who have been there the longest will always get the days they want, and the newer ones won’t, even if “newer” means being there 5 years to other people’s 10+ years. That’s not a feasible way to do it.

            1. Ama*

              It also doesn’t work great if you use seniority within a department but work in a place that encourages employees to transfer within the company. (Says the person whose former coworker tried to implement a seniority system because she’d been in the department 4 years to my 2, but backed off when I noted I’d been at the company 7 years to her 4.)

            2. nonymous*

              I worked at one place where the holiday rule was “the first X people ordered by number of years (greatest to least) since they worked this holiday before”. A nice artifact of this was that people would rotate holidays over a period of years. So one year you might get Xmas off, and another year you would get Thanksgiving and another year you’d get New Years’. It was nice for the long-timers because we would be able to celebrate all the holidays, just not every year.

              Usually newbies didn’t get any holidays because they hadn’t worked enough holidays to rise to the top of the list.

                1. Not Yet Looking*

                  I think it’s 100% reasonable for employees in their first year to get shafted on holiday time off. I don’t see it as being at all different from the expectation that new employees not take long vacations in their first six months (unless it was cleared during hiring).

            3. TheOperaGhost*

              I worked at a place where the new leave request calendar for the entire year was uploaded at 8am on January 1st. I worked 3rd shift and the rule was if you worked New Years Eve, you had Jan 1-2 off. The same group of people would work Jan 1 and right away request next New Years, Christmas, 4th of July, etc. off. Leaving all the rest of the employees in the lurch. They had been doing this for years, effectively blocking any “new” employee from having those days off. And the revolving door of management knew about if, but did nothing.

        3. neverjaunty*

          Eh, I don’t think taking all the premium vacation days is a goood look on a boss (though certainly te boss shouldn’t be a martyr). It sends a signal that the boss grabs the best chances to be out of the office.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But there was a caveat there from Wakeen — “if it doesn’t come at an unreasonable cost to her staff.” If the boss being out doesn’t prevent other people from being out (and in many jobs it wouldn’t), I don’t think it’s a bad look.

          2. Temperance*

            My jerkass ex-boss used to shamelessly claim all the good days and cite her “seniority”. I still hate that woman.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Right, this. Nothing wrong with the boss taking premium days like anyone else, or picking vacation days that are slow for the boss but not necessarily everyone else. It’s when it turns into “I get that day and you don’t because I say so” that it’s really not a good thing.

          3. LBK*

            I think it’s only a bad look if employee aren’t allowed to do the same, because that would send a “boss gets special privileges” message. I can’t imagine what message people would read into their boss doing something extremely common and normal like taking a few buffer days around a long weekend.

          4. TootsNYC*

            To me, it’s not that it would look like I was grabbing all the good chances, but somehow I think I’d look less dedicated, and more of a “taking advantage wherever I can” kind of boss.

      3. CDM*

        At OldJob, we had a paper/manual timecard and payroll reporting system, where the HR assistant had to retype everything into the payroll system. Cheap, inefficient, and highly prone to errors.

        The one good point was that paycheck shortfalls were always fixed the same or next business day from the employee complaint. (and somehow, there were almost never overpayments) This was an organization with 25 FT employees with benefits, another 25 who were limited to 35 hours so the org didn’t have to pay benefits, and about 250 very PT staff.

        Then we got a new CEO who decided (and I do understand why, for fraud reasons) that he would no longer leave a couple of signed checks with the accounting manager when he was out in case they were needed.

        Then we had multiple employees across multiple departments shorted one July payroll. Paychecks were issued Thursday, the CEO and CFO – the only two with check signing authority – were both out on vacation Friday, and Monday was the Fourth of July holiday. The employees who complained about their paycheck shortfalls on Friday didn’t get the makeup checks until the following Wednesday, and those of us who told HR that this was not acceptable and that management needed to make sure this didn’t happen again were called in to be chastised by HR about how WE were unprofessional. Most of the staff that got shorted worked that holiday weekend while the FT staff that could have cut and signed the checks were on paid vacation/holiday.

        I don’t think that the CEO and CFO were ever told that they shouldn’t both schedule vacation on Fridays after payday because of the negative impact on staff. The “solution” appeared to be making the PT HR assistant do a better job of proofreading her input. Errors did decrease after that – temporarily.

        Even when it impacted a handful of staff, a lot more knew about it, and the optics of suddenly being an org that prioritized C level paid vacation over staff being paid properly on time did not reflect well on management.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I know this isn’t the point of your story, but there’s no reason there should have been so many payroll errors to begin with! (And the fact that the HR assistant was able to do a more accurate job for a while points to the fact that it’s possible — whoever managed her should have been taking that on more aggressively.)

          1. Mike C.*

            Holy cow, this! Payroll is generally a solved problem with many, many different “best practices” out there.

        2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          I’ve done payroll manual entry for several years. There is no excuse for those kinds of errors. An occasional error, sure. But part of payroll is understanding how crucial your roll is to keeping the employees paid correctly and promptly. No one does their job well if they are concerned about how their bills are getting paid. Multiple people shorted across multiple departments would be immediate termination in the payroll departments I’ve worked in. Maybe not if it was an employee with a stellar record, but definitely for someone that routinely(!!!) had to issue manual checks to correct mistakes.

          Sorry for the rant, but I’m pretty passionate on this subject. I’ve learned either you are a person that should be doing payroll or you are a person that should stay far, far away from it. It sounds like that HR assistant should not have anything to do with payroll.

          1. Retail HR Guy*

            Absolutely. The solution to a payroll problem is not to cancel a CEO’s vacation, it’s do have whomever is doing the data entry do a better job.

        3. CDM*

          Payroll was almost unbelievable. There were five departments with PT staff. I collected the paper timesheets for ~60 people in my department every two weeks, checked their timesheets against the schedule to make sure no one was padding time and to verify shift substitutions and typed hours into two spreadsheets (safety and instruction, different budgets) that contained rates of pay. Most staff had multiple pay rates, training, teapot safety, teapot early AM safety, teapot senior safety, teapot group instruction, teapot private instruction, teapot adult instruction…

          Those spreadsheets (with timecard backup) went to the HR assistant who manually typed the hours (and pay rates, maybe) for ~200 PT staff any given pay period into their system. When staff came to me to complain about errors, it broke down into roughly 40% employee error, not putting shifts on a timesheet, (and those got corrected the following pay period) and 60% HR error, errors in hours worked or work paid at the wrong, lower, pay rate. (which got correction checks issued immediately) The errors were almost never mine in the four years I did payroll. I spent about 5 hours over 2 days (Friday and Saturday) every two weeks on payroll. Payroll was all the HR assistant did every other Monday.

          Frankly, I’m surprised the system worked as well as it did. It was pretty typical for the org that pinched pennies relentlessly while failing to look at the big picture. In retrospect, the wages paid to the staff for manual payroll processing could probably have paid for a decent system that better met our needs.

          And our Senior HR person who managed the assistant and was the one who reprimanded us peons over the pay debacle, varied between useless and detrimental. My biggest regret is not telling her outright, when she and my boss called me into a meeting to try to pressure me into performing a job task (reading some book the CEO loved) off the clock , that they were violating labor law. We just all tap-danced around the topic, but I held firm and did not read it since they wouldn’t pay me.

          A big part of my enjoyment of reading AAM is putting fresh perspective on the insane management dysfunction of OldJob. It’s a lot easier to laugh about it now that I’m four years out and have recovered from the PTSD-like symptoms, aside from the occasional nightmare that I got sucked back in to work there.

        4. neverjaunty*

          OldJob may also have been violating state law about when paychecks are due. Glad you’re out of that.

      4. Barney Barnaby*

        Did you work for my former boss?

        The holidays were also the busy time of year, so we ended up not taking our (allowed) vacation, not getting to roll it over, and working crazy OT, not having any time to even shop for Christmas presents, and were in sheer misery… while he put in 25-hour weeks.

      5. Temperance*

        My horrible ex-boss used to claim the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the week of Thanksgiving, and the Friday before any other holiday, and then she would crow on about how we needed “coverage” and we had to work it out amongst ourselves, we were just being “selfish” by trying to assert what we wanted/needed for holidays. When she had them all, and she left promptly at 5 every day, while we had to cover. (Oh, and her pet got to leave at 5 every day, too.)

        I still hate her, nearly 10 years later. She was a total ass in other ways.

        1. MsCHX*

          OMG yes. yes. yes! Especially to the ass-kissing pet getting perks.

          I left awful manager of awfulness 11 years ago and hate her guts. I saw her recently when I was out getting lunch one day and I think I had smoke coming out of my ears, still!

      6. MsCHX*

        I was in a 5 person department consisting of manager, supervisor, myself (FT), 1 PT person and a PT telecommuter. Every holiday, the manager would be off and she would approve the supervisor’s time off. Doesn’t matter who requested first. The part-time person didn’t work on Friday’s so day after Thanksgiving, for example, I was ALWAYS the only person working. It was horrible and demoralizing. Year 4 I told her No. Not my finest moment :) But she covered that Friday.

      7. Relly*

        This reminds me of a story I need to tell about the worst holiday season ever.

        At Ye Olden Job, one year we had a major project start in November, due in January. Only some of us were working on it, but the bosses wanted to be “fair,” and decided things like mandatory overtime applied to all of us until the project was finished (even if we weren’t working on that project, but hey.)

        Boss also thought that everyone taking off between Christmas and New Year’s would slow the project down to a halt. Instead, they decided to institute black out dates — only so many people could take off on any given day, first come first serve.

        Boss announced this to the Managers, who were to then announce it to the peons. Managers put in their own vacation days before passing it along, so by the time this news even reached us, certain days like December 26th and New Year’s Eve were already gone. Even if you had out of state travel plans, which I did, and had to cancel.

        (No one high ranking enough to have keys to the office had to work either day, so they had to give keys to one of the peons to make sure we could get in both days.)

        However. We were allowed to take our vacation any other time in December — it was use-it-or-lose-it, by year’s end, so I think we would have mutinied if they had cancelled all vacation and made us eat the loss. Which meant that random peon #3 took the first week of December, and random peon #14 took the second week, and random peon #7 took every Friday off, while random peon #8 got his form in late and was left with hopscotch dates around what was open.

        Did I mention we worked in teams? And that there wasn’t a schedule posted of who was out when? So if your work flow is waiting on Bob, and he’s out today …. Maybe he’ll be in tomorrow! Maybe he’s not in until next week. Wait, Gwyneth said Bob is back next Tuesday, but I’m out next Tuesday …. It’ll have to wait until that Friday, unless Tina’s out Friday?

        Nothing got done. All month.

      8. burnout*

        Well that’s a perk of being the boss. But yes, I get what you are saying. I’ve been fighting to increase our company’s PTO allowances and the answer is always, “I can’t afford to pay people to not work!” but then he takes off at least 4 weeks a year or more when you add it all up. Sigh.

    3. Grits McGee*

      People can get weird about taking leave on Mondays and Fridays. My otherwise reasonable boss had serious, door-closed conversations with a couple of my coworkers because when they had use-it-or-lose it leave at the end of each two-week pay period, they burned it off on Mondays and Fridays. They were basically accused of committing time card fraud (which is pretty much the only thing short of stealing or assault that you can be immediately be dismissed for at my agency).

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        After all, 40% of all vacation days are taken on a Monday or a Friday. I can see why that’s alarming.


        1. SophieChotek*

          I am afraid I must have done that this year…time card fraud, since I took most of my days M/F…but no one seemed to care.

          1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

            It’s ridiculous.

            As long as you have a system for staffing coverage and days approval and proper cross training, if you manage correctly, how is which day somebody takes an issue?

            Ok, I was pissed off on Halloween, Monday 10/31 because we were way too short. We’d approved the maximum vacation days and then idk if it was blue flu or there really was a mysterious spate of illness, but we were way too short.

            That was either a fluke or really rude and taking advantage.

            Usually though if you plan/manage correctly, which day shouldn’t matter.

          2. Grits McGee*

            I think what the powers-that-be were concerned about was the appearance of covertly creating an alternative work schedule (9 hours a day with every other Friday off), so they were supposed to burn their comp time at random. (We were in a coverage-critical department, but the people just not showing up weren’t being accused of fraud…)

              1. Grits McGee*

                In the grand scheme of things? No idea. I work for the federal gov though, so I’m sure there’s all kinds of regulations and bureaucracy about what categories of employees are working and when.

      2. Ama*

        I used to be terrified of taking sick days on Mondays or Fridays because at my previous employer there was actually something in the handbook that said taking sick days immediately following a weekend or holiday may not be allowed (which really stressed me out when I contracted mono during Christmas one year and had to miss the entire first week of January). I finally figured out that it was just there to give HR the right to investigate if they thought someone was misusing their sick days (if you’d been at the company for a few years you had far more sick days than you had vacation). But given how things often went at that employer, I could see an overzealous HR rep deciding the language meant they could disallow any sick days on Mondays or Fridays.

        I’ve contracted a cold and then a sinus infection this month alone, both of which knocked me out on a Monday and Tuesday and even though my current employer had no concerns but for my health, I still got that little twinge of anxiety on Monday morning when I realized I couldn’t possibly make it to work.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          It’s incredible how a screwed-up employer can still make you anxious, even after you leave. My old boss (a terrible human) told us in a staff meeting that we were not to take sick days unless we were “bleeding or vomiting”. Because, you know, we weren’t adults who could be trusted to manage their own PTO. So when I was run down after spending 26 consecutive days on the road, instead of being able to say “I’m exhausted and jet-lagged and need a day off”, I had to lie and say I had food poisoning, because otherwise they would have told me to just come in. For college admissions. There are no emergencies in college admissions.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            Ah, but the PERCEIVED emergencies (in order: parents, prospectives, guidance counselors) are legion!

            The lack of true emergencies is also why I’m in career counseling, not residence life.

        2. Annie Moose*

          I always have this weird idea that people will think I’m hungover or something if I have to take a Monday off sick… except I don’t drink and my coworkers generally know this. So I’m not sure where this idea even came from.

    4. Liane*

      It may be a problem if no one else can take these days off. Some time ago we had a question about an employee who requested vacation/PTO for *every* one of those Mondays &/or Fridays for *the whole year* the very first day it was possible to make the request. At a company where the policy was first come/first served and in a department with a policy that only 1 person could be scheduled off on a given day.

      Even though the job may be getting properly covered on those days, the same people having to cover them *every year* is going to create resentment, maybe even drama–so yes there is probably a business reason to change it.

      1. Mabel*

        It also sounds like the first come/first served policy should be eliminated so managers can use their judgement to decide what’s fair for everyone.

        1. nonymous*

          I posted upthread about how my previous employer picked people for high-demand days, but adding here that for major holidays they would announce a date that they would be considering those requests. So thanksgiving requests were considered on Oct 15 thereabouts, not before (if no one wanted it, it became first come first serve).

        2. Candi*

          I think it should be religious considerations first, then…

          The next round to pick should be anyone who had to work that day the year before. Across the whole organization.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      No, you’re not skewed. Maximizing holidays and vacation by using them together is normal.

      If the problem was “because no one else can do so if he does” then the OP should have said that. But just “because it looks bad?” What? How?

      The OP makes no sense. Sometimes people are raised a certain way, that is out of step with everyone else, but they don’t know their views are different/wrong, so take it as “this is the way the rules are” Then they react negatively to what other people see as normal.

      1. LBK*

        I think this is deeply ingrained into our Puritan work ethic culture in the US. The very idea of an employee taking time off for something other than an emergency still creates uneasiness at a lot of companies, so a manager doing it? Terrible example to set.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Oh, that’s definitely why I said it. It would be manager or parent or other relative.

          My father would boast about the fact that he’d only taken 2 days of sick leave in his 40+ years of working, when he had the Swine Flu back in the 70’s. He was always complaining and criticizing people who called in sick. I grew up with the idea that taking a day off unless you were minutes from death was shameful.

          So it was a hard thing to overcome when I got out into the working world, no matter how wrong that attitude is, for multiple reasons!

          1. Candi*

            I don’t think the Victorian era (and for a while afterwards) work expectations helped either, on either side of the Atlantic. Conditions were horrendous -hence legislation to tell bad employers to knock it off, good employers they don’t have to keep up with their nasty counterparts, and employees they are worth more then work (in bad conditions yet), eat, sleep.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Well, at my workplace, we are strongly discouraged from taking days off before or after our holidays because we had an employee who took a day (or two, or three) before every single vacation. I think it was a suuuuuper silly change, because that employee a) was bitter and hated her job, and b) no longer works here. None of the rest of us have habitually done that, so it’s frustrating.

      1. BPT*

        I still don’t understand why that in itself would be a problem (unless it meant that the employee wasn’t getting necessary work done). In my experience, most people take off extra days around the holidays for travel, etc. We get Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving, and I almost always take the Tuesday and Wednesday off too (for travel and to make the trip more worth it).

        1. Brooklyn*

          I think the problem is that certain people are continually requesting the time off way in advance and others (in the department or subordinates or those that are back-ups or in a support role) can’t be off too and feel resentful. We have an online calendar for our 50-person office and the same admin, who in January, puts in to be off between the following Christmas and New Years . That means the travel back-up can’t be off as well as the person who would do expense reports in her absence. I suppose they could try to beat her to the punch, but she has family out of state that she wants to visit for the holidays.

          1. Jessie*

            That seems more like a problem with how time off is granted, then. There ought to be a manager reviewing requests and looks at coverage and history of coverage in past holidays to avoid this problem – just a rush to the calendar just isn’t a good system, imo.

          2. Rachael*

            I get you. We had a shared Outlook calendar and it worked well….until…I went through and realized that EVERY Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years was taken for the NEXT TEN YEARS – and sometimes by the same person!

      2. Jessie*

        But why was it a problem for the ex-employee to do that in the first place? Unless, again, it meant no one else could ever take those days. What is the actual problem with someone taking a day before or after a holiday?

        1. Parenthetically*

          It’s a very very small school and we have no budget for subs. So it was extremely burdensome to try to find someone to cover her class.

          1. Jessie*

            AH, schools are a different animal, yes. They do often have rules about not taking extra time around holidays (the idea being, you have time off for summers and school vacations, and your PTO is supposed to be for illness or other things you can’t schedule on the off time – not to make the off time you already get plenty of even longer).

            1. Parenthetically*

              Sure, it was just frustrating because it’d never been an issue before. We’re all responsible folks and would never do it without having an excellent reason and finding our own coverage. This coworker took advantage and WE got the crackdown.

          2. Mike C.*

            Maybe they shouldn’t have offered paid vacation time if they couldn’t afford to pay it out in a reasonable manner.

    7. cobweb collector*

      I’m pretty baffled too. There’s nothing wrong with taking a long weekend. In fact, it’s probably less disruptive than taking an entire week off. I think this may just be case of “well, that’s not how *I* do it – they should all be like me!”

    8. Required Name*

      I wonder if OP has worked under or managed someone who made a point of working desired off days.

      In my department, day to day employees and supervisors do very different things that have very different needs. Day to day work requires coverage at all times, so there’s a very low limit on how many people can be off at one time. Supervisory work does not require coverage at all times, so they can take their leave whenever.

      One of the previous supervisors used to make a point of working holidays and the days around them, because “if you have to be here, I will be too.” Which was nice but entirely unnecessary; it was just a show of solidarity. None of the current supervisors do that; they take off holidays and the days around them. That’s entirely within their rights.

      The vast majority of us don’t bat an eye at it, but there are a couple of people who feel like supervisors who don’t come in on those days don’t care about their employees. Notably, the people who feel that way were employees that supervisor managed; no one hired after that or who worked on a different team at the time expresses that opinion.

      OP, if there’s no valid business reason the supervisor needs to work those days, I’d work on reframing this in your mind. Working days when most of your employees rather wouldn’t but need to is going the extra mile. It can be nice (though honestly, I have mixed feelings on the practice), but it shouldn’t be considered necessary. It can be easy to see something extra consistently done and consider that normal, but keep in mind that it isn’t actually expected.

      1. nonymous*

        I would add that if supervisors come in on holidays for solidarity (and not because their duties are time-sensitive), the best interpretation would be for supervisor to take on some front-line tasks that day to increase the number of peons that can be off. In orgs where coverage is essential, it can be beneficial for supervisors to be qualified as backup, so this approach also keeps their skills current.

    9. NW Mossy*

      A former colleague was fired for it, but for the reason that he would routinely extend his time off by calling in “sick” on the day he was scheduled to be back in the office. He did it 4 or 5 times in a row before he was told “If you do this again, you’re fired.” He did it again, and lo! He was out of a job.

    10. Middle Management Bob*

      I work in a a 24/7 business, and I had an employee that had gotten “””””sick””””” for 7 Sunday’s in a row. Pulled her aside and told her that hangovers aren’t an excuse to call in sick. There were some waterworks because she thought I was being unfair, but she got the message and stopping calling in hungover.

    11. Jonathan T.*

      Original Poster 2,
      In my experience, most employers are closed on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend so thats pretty much a four day weekend. Anything more than that would be seen as “greedy”. But I’d definitely encourage you to air your grievances to the right people if you feel someone is doing this too often and it interferes with other people’s plans. I know a woman who called out every single Monday regardless of whether it proceeded, fell on an “open for business” holiday or followed a weekend holiday or not. After a while the woman was simply fired.

  7. Greg M.*

    OP 1: arranges for you to get interview pulling strings, then spends a while telling you not to take the job and that it’s horrible, you cancel and then they get mad at you for not just no showing?

    Something here doesn’t smell right, This person is pulling some kind of damned if you do damned if you don’t manipulation. This almost sounds like one of those family in law stories where no matter what you do it’s wrong. I would honestly tell them that they need to drop the matter or stop talking to you. I’m highly suspicious that they are playing some sort of game with you.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      It’s almost a Captain Awkward question ! When reading I was wondering what scripts the Cap’n would suggest

      1. Jane D'oh!*

        I think Alison and Captain Awkward should do a special edition joint column every now and again…like when the Simpsons had a crossover episode with South Park.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Ha! I was thinking something similar.

      It all depends on your relationship with the relative, of course, but if it were my relatives, I’d be blunt about it: “You were so down about the job, it sounded like it’d be a terrible fit for me.” Maybe they’d volunteer why they’re really mad, and you could address that, or tell them to drop it. But I recognize not everyone’s families make this an option!

  8. beetrootqueen*

    1 sounds like your relative was having some bad times at his job and took it out on you. Honestly i’d move on. if they don’t calm down just leave it for a bit. If you fancy it see if you can invite them for a coffee and try and talk it over.

  9. Jessesgirl72*

    OP1: You didn’t do anything wrong. I would guess this isn’t the first or only way in which this relative has shown himself to be volatile and contradictory. My advice is to limit the amount of time you spend with him.

  10. TL17*

    #5 – I have zero managing/hiring power or experience, so take this for what it’s worth. But I would love to see on a resume that someone ran for office. It would show me someone who is willing to try things, someone who is organized, maybe someone who knows how to manage or delegate a lot of stuff and events, etc. Unless I know the person ran on a platform of something horribly unreasonable, I probably wouldn’t care what the political bent is.

    1. BPT*

      Yes, and running for office is absolutely a job. I work in politics so I might be a little biased, but I would love to see that. I’m guessing it was for a more local level political office, which is incredibly important in my eyes. Plus it’s a great conversation topic in interviews.

    2. the gold digger*

      I would say this is very location specific. That is, if you live in a place where there have been mass protests and sickouts by one side (the Polka Dots? the Stripes?) against the other side and there have been recalls, you might not want to mention it.


      Wife of a man who has run for state-level office and now wants him to go back to work as an engineer

    3. Temperance*

      On the flip side, though, I would probably look into their positions before determining whether I wanted to interview them. We’re a pretty lefty organization, and we support a separation of church and state, women’s right to access abortion services, etc. If someone ran on a platform of ladies being in the kitchen, well ….

      1. VelociraptorAttack*

        While I completely agree, it’s fairly unlikely to begin with that people of either political leaning are going to apply for an organization that is very much on the other side of the aisle, so to speak.

        Of course every once in awhile back when I was still working in politics I’d see someone apply with a volunteer stint or internship on their resume that raised an eyebrow.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          People’s affiliations and beliefs do change, though. Both Candidates in the US election stood as proof of that.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      I’m guessing everyone would know the OP ran for office. I’m pretty nosy & would google the job candidate. Their name would likely come up with the political stuff at the top of the search I’m guessing.

      I have an old college friend who held state office from 2009-2011 and that is still what pops up when you search him, even though he hasn’t held office or ran in 5 years.

  11. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #2

    Unless it’s causing issues with the workload or other things, just leave it alone. Who cares what it looks like? Managers have typically earned the right to take time off when they want to, and I would think they can be trusted to take into account the workload before they schedule the time off.

    1. Mark in Cali*

      I like the adage that a sign of a good manager is that when they go away, everything runs smoothly. Good managers should be able to take time off without any worry.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m very happy to have that situation here. When I leave, I don’t even think about this place. I know everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing and when, the way they’re supposed to be doing it. I come back and it’s usually like I never left.

      2. Jennifer*

        Hahahahahahahahahahahah when I think of my job….
        Though it’s not a question of things can’t run so much as only the managers are equipped to deal with certain (i.e. financial) problems.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Yeah, I could only really see this being a problem if it were part of a broader pattern of work issues/bad leadership, or if this is a big butts-in-seats company culture (which is it’s own issue…).

    3. Candi*

      Since there’s two supervisors involved, with one always taking the days off, the question should partly be asking: does Sup A taking all these days off mean Sup B can never have them when he wants?

      If that’s part of the problem, then that needs to be addressed as its own issue.

  12. Merida May*

    To me OP 1’s relative sounds like someone who might be a ‘happiest when miserable’ person. I have a few family members who are cut from this cloth, where talking about you stupid, stupid boss and how your job is literally sucking the soul out of you is the conversational equivalent of chatting about the weather. I could totally see them reacting similarly, especially in a scenario like the OP’s where both sides seem to feel like they’re doing the other one a favor.

    1. Perse's Mom*

      My mom just retired and I really don’t know what she’ll have to complain about this year at family dinners without a job and boss to hate.

  13. Bwmn*

    OP #4 – not to dive into anything Meyers Briggs, but if verbally discussing what you’ve done for another team has had no impact, I strongly encourage making sure it’s written down and part of how you’re discussing that work with Mike. While past managers may not have necessarily needed a written agenda for a check-in, it just may be that Mike absorbs the information better that way or at the very least, you’re in a position to say “he knows the work I’m doing because it’s been written down and shared with him on xyz occasions”.

    It may very well be that Mike has absorbed the reality of the work you’re doing for another department and just isn’t very socially responsive, but if it’s a case where he’s just not taking it in verbally – making sure that it’s also being shared with him in writing could be really important.

  14. Frustrated Optimist*

    #4 – You say that you only spend about 20% of your time on your official job, and the rest of the time is spent on “unofficial” assistance to another department. Could you get it in writing from the higher-ups that they are aware that this is how your time is spent?

    It’s good to hear that you are looking to move roles as soon as it’s feasible. Otherwise, I’m a little concerned that if the company knows/realizes your official workload is so light, they might decide they don’t need that position after all. =(

    And then if you had it in writing that you effectively report to two departments, it would be a little more straightforward to get performance reviews from both managers.

  15. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    OP5: I know how you feel! I have a similar problem.

    Mainly, do I list extra work during law school that I did with the LGBT org, pro bono work in a special LGBT legal clinic, and my Lavender Bar and other memberships for LGBT professionals? Basically, with that on my resume, I out myself every time.

    1. nonymous*

      genuinely curious here, would you want to work for an org that can’t take your volunteer activities in stride?

      I have no personal experience with orientation as a discrimination factor (always worked for orgs that had many stripes represented), but it’s always a red flag to me when people express that my appearance doesn’t match my last name. I’ve never had that line of questioning turn into a happy professional relationship.

    2. Sunshine&IcedCoffee*

      Same boat over here! I work in communications and marketing but most of my volunteer work and a lot of my freelance design work are with very clearly Muslim organizations.

      However, I like to think of it this way – as a Muslim woman who wears the headscarf, if the mere mention or sight of something religiously affiliated or clearly Muslim scares away an employer, then that is probably not a place I want to work.

  16. J*

    #2: I’ve worked with colleagues who manage public-facing teams and those who habitually take off right before or after a holiday were usually *in* on the holiday to provide coverage so one more person wasn’t forced to work the day. In addition, on slow days when the rest of the department (mostly back of the house with this one front of the house team) might be released early–say, the Friday before a holiday weekend–the front-facing teams didn’t get to take advantage. The managers worked normal business hours right beside them. (Upper management tried to make it up to the front line in other ways.)

    So, no, I don’t think that cushioning days off is automatically a “bad look”.

  17. Dawnfirelight*

    OP 5: If you end up applying to something non-political and keep your resume non-partisan, people will still probably end up asking you which party you ran with or other details of your campaign like what your platform was. So be prepared for those questions, and the fact that some people might not respond well to you.

    And I’ll refrain from saying who my mind immediately jumped to when I read the first line of your question. :)

    1. VelociraptorAttack*

      They’ll probably google OP and find out.

      Even if I attempt to make my resume non-partisan (fairly difficult considering the organizations and people I’ve worked for) if you google my name there’s no doubt which side I fall on.

      1. Moonsaults*

        Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking when it mentioned just taking the party affiliation out of the resume. In this day and age, you’re most likely going to be googled, they’ll find out easily enough.

        However if someone is turned off by your political affiliation, then you don’t want to work for them anyways in my experience. So I wouldn’t worry about it, that’s a big part of your life and you don’t need to hide it, there’s nothing to be ashamed of if that’s your core belief system, you’re going to share it with others along the way anyways.

  18. nonymous*

    re #2: my supervisor takes off extra days before/after holiday and our org’s system is that an “acting” is designated for those time-sensitive duties. There’s an email that goes out and a flag for certain activities in our software. Everything else will wait for him to get back. The “acting” hat gets passed around whomever didn’t ask for vacation (ie. vacation request are approved before the acting is designated), so it’s not always the same person.

  19. Heather*

    OP3 – I also feel like there is some retrospective on yourself here. As I was reading your letter, I took it as neither of you took ownership over the project and just kind of did what you thought you could do. Not saying there isn’t good feedback to give to Leo as well. But maybe you could also talk to your boss regarding who should be ‘lead’ on these types of projects in the future (or figure this out as you take on new projects).

  20. Sue Wilson*

    1. Honestly, some people want to be in control of the entire referral process and your relative sounds like one of those people. He probably wanted you to tell him about your every move regarding this job, and the cancellation came as a surprise.

    3. Well, I understand wanting to cover your back, but since you and Leo are peers, it would have behooved you to communicate with Leo or your manager during the project (if you didn’t, it’s not mentioned here). If you did talk with him, I would mention to your manager than you tried to talk to Leo about the problems and he was ineffective at dealing with them and I would mention to Leo that he did seem to address any issues you raised and ask him why. If you didn’t, then you might mention to both your manager and Leo that Leo seemed unaware that any problems were going on, and also say to Leo that next time you’re going to proactively give him a heads-up on any obstacles you’re facing with the project. That might give your manager a clearer direction on what to address, since she seems passive to begin with and is a collaborative way to address things with Leo.

    1. Kai*

      1: Yeah, I could see how maybe this relative thought that if OP got the job, they could commiserate together about how bad the company is, and then was startled when OP made a clearly good decision. People often get angry when those around them make good choices that they themselves can’t or won’t, for whatever reason. Misery loves company, etc.

  21. AnonEMoose*

    OP 2, as others have said, I think this can vary a lot, depending on the specifics of your workplace. In my current job, we work pretty standard office hours, and it’s not a huge deal to have multiple people off. So if my supervisor takes off an extra day or two to extend a holiday, it’s no big deal in terms of the work, and doesn’t mean some of us can’t take the time, too, if we want to. So, around here, extending your holiday by a day or two is a totally normal thing to do, regardless of whether you’re a manager or a worker bee.

    Other places I’ve worked, it could mean others having to work those days, and would have had an impact on morale, etc.

    So what I’d suggest is this – do some thinking about why you perceive this as an issue. And then think about whether there actually is a work impact that would warrant a conversation about this. If not, I’d really consider letting this go.

  22. Moonsaults*

    #1 makes me wonder if similar things haven’t happened with people who accept jobs here and then no-show when their start date turns around. I can imagine that someone knows Xander and knows he needs a job. They tell him that he could most likely work here, he applies and gets hired. Then over drinks prior to his first shift, their buddy who already works or worked here is like “BTW, it’s crazy over there…let me tell you stories.” then the time rolls around and nope, nobody shows up.

    From the management position in that situation, we really don’t care and move on very quickly from people who decide to turn down the employment offer. I think that your family member is bizarre and thinks he’s more important than he is.

  23. Girasol*

    OP3: Sounds like it’s too late to solve the problem, but for the future, it might help to ask for role clarification when you and someone else are both in charge. And, I learned the hard way, don’t let it go with just a title. I let a responsibilities conversation end with “You’re a PMP, you know what project managers do!” I did indeed. I did not know that my manager and the technical lead understood the role to be more of an admin support, scheduling meetings, taking minutes, and doing paperwork tasks for the technical lead while the technical lead managed staffing, scheduling, coordination, contingency planning, communication, and other tasks that I believed had been assigned to me. It was just the mess you describe.

  24. Laura*

    OP1: Is it possible that your relative would have benefited financially from the referral and that’s why they are mad? Some places offer referral bonuses if the person is hired or works there X months or whatever.

  25. CaliCali*

    Here’s my read on OP1:

    Relative: Knows OP is looking for a job and that there’s a referral bonus. Tells OP to apply.
    OP: Applies for job, gets interview.
    Relative: Well, OP is going to get mad at me for not giving them a heads-up about the downsides if they do get the job. Complains.
    OP: Withdraws from consideration as a result.
    Relative, realizing that the OP withdrawing from consideration makes it (perhaps) obvious that relative has swayed their thinking on the suitability of the job: Oh shit, well, now my bosses are going to know I trash-talked this place. AND they’re not going to get any bonus.
    Relative: Takes it out on OP.

  26. Rick*

    I like AAM’s suggestion to debrief the project. I recommend googling about “blameless postmortems”.

    I’m concerned that you are going into this with the wrong mindset. Namely, correcting your peer. Instead, as a group, collect all the things that went wrong / could be improved. Also, collect a list of things that went well. It’s important that you avoid discussing solutions at this point. Only after you have the list of things that went poorly collected, discuss solutions to prevent those problems in the future. Stay focused on fixing the process, not the people. Also, make sure you’re not steamrolling the discussion. When your coworker Leo is faced with problems that he had control over, he is more aware of the situation than you are, so your first priority is listening. Let him drive solutions.

  27. Rachael*

    #2: I agree with Alison. Check with the supervisors to see what their vacation policies are and whether they are being jerks about vacation. The only way that it would look bad is if they only allow one person out at a time. Then, that would mean, not only, no one else being able to take those days, but also prevent people from taking a full 5 day vacation if they needed the week before or after the holiday off.

    I had to raise a stink at LastJob because only one person could have vacation at a time. We had a coworker put her name on every friday before and tuesday after a Monday holiday AND then she put her name on every friday in May (a major vacation month). That meant that if someone wanted to take a vacation the week before or after a three day holiday or in June they could not take a full week. So, you guessed it, if you wanted to go out of town you had to leave on the Saturday before and then come back on Wed or Thurs. I rallied the troops in the department and we all complained.

    So, yes, it will cause discontent if the vacation policy is jacked up but if the supervisor is being fair with vacations it really should not matter when they, themselves, go.

  28. Emilia Bedelia*

    Here’s my conspiracy theory for #1:
    The relative actually wants the job that OP was going to interview for. Internal hiring process means that they have to interview external candidates. Relative refers the OP, knowing that the job wasn’t a great fit, and hoping that in comparison, they will look really good. Relative then trashes the job to ensure that the OP won’t take the job, even if offered. Relative then has a lot of bargaining power for the job they want (“Look, no one else wants this job! I’ll do it, if necessary, but only for a price!”)

    That still doesn’t make a lot of sense, but every other scenario is even more illogical.

  29. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Re: OP 1, I think it’s just that Family Member doesn’t know what basic professionalism is. He thinks it’s better to no-show than give at least 24 hours notice? Then he just doesn’t get it. Thinks his workplace is The Gates of Hell? Probably doesn’t understand that professionalism demands you do things like give people notice, get someone to cover your workload when you’re out, be expected to show up to meetings, work out a reliable calendar that you actually stick to, etc. Yells at you because now his manager will get all crabby with him? Yeah, because his manager has probably had him in for multiple talks already re: the above. Since Family Member still doesn’t get it, then you cancelling the interview is just rolled into all of the other things his mean nasty crabby unreasonable manager calls him out on. He just can’t tell the difference.

    Ignore him, is what I’m saying.

  30. Contrarian Annie*

    OP1, something has happened in the meantime to change their mind. Probe (tactfully) for what that might be.

  31. Jennifer*

    Hahahahahah, all of the public service managers are taking Wednesday off next week. ALL OF THEM. And all of the public service staff will be gone on Wednesday after 1 p.m. I certainly hope nothing goes wrong after 1 that day!

  32. AnonNurse*

    #2 – I think that as long as it’s not affecting work flow and not keeping others from being able to have those days off as well at times, it’s just not that big of a deal. On the other hand, if it does prevent anyone else from ever getting those days off, I can see where that could be trying.

    I previously worked for an employer that had a policy that stated if two employees asked for the same date off, the more senior employee would be awarded the day off. For some reason, my manager interpreted that to mean that when I asked for a day off then he should run it by the more senior person first to see if she wanted that day off first. I couldn’t figure out how I was being denied fairly regularly for days when it seemed weird we would have requested them at the same time. I finally asked and he forwarded an email to me with a chain that showed he had asked my co-worker about wanting the day off. When I told him that wasn’t how the policy worked he stated he was correct and it was the way it was going to be done. I worked for a large university and when I informed HR there was a meeting with a LOT of people involved and suddenly I was being given my days off without any issues. So basically, sometimes it’s an issue and sometimes it’s not. Definitely find out if this is and if so, maybe something needs to change.

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