who should communicate a lay-off, asking for a raise after three months at a new job, and more

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

1. Who should communicate a lay-off?

I’m the HR director at an organization that recently had to lay off a group of staff for budgetary reasons. Meetings were set up with directly affected employees, their managers, and our president; managers were asked to open the meeting and lead with the bad news, with our president there to provide additional context. None of the managers themselves were being laid off.

One of the managers involved insisted that our president open the meeting and actually deliver the bad news, although the manager was still present for the meeting. These staffing decisions happened rather quickly and we were all under stress, so she acquiesced to this manager’s request. But I’m still thinking about whether we should have pushed back.

As an employee, I would want to hear the news directly from my manager, and if I didn’t it would be a red flag. As an HR professional, I think that extending a job offer and ending an employment relationship are two sides of the same coin, and the employee’s direct supervisor is the best person to communicate the facts in either scenario. But one could argue that my reasoning is somewhat arbitrary. (I also suppose there are truly shitty situations where the rationale for a layoff is unfair or at least questionable, and maybe it’s appropriate for a manager to refuse to deliver the news in protest; for what it’s worth, in my case, I believe the need for the layoffs was valid and the criteria for selecting employees were fair.)

So my question is, when, if ever, is it appropriate for someone other than a direct supervisor to deliver this sort of news? If never, am I overlooking some fundamental and concise reasoning that I could have conveyed to this manager in the moment? Or is it ultimately a gray area?

I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule on this. Some people would prefer to hear it from the president (because they assume that it’s ultimately her decision); some people would prefer to hear it from their own manager. I think either way is fine, and even could just come down to who’s better at delivering that kind of message.

What I do think is potentially a problem here is that the manager refused to do it when she was asked to. That’s usually the sign of a manager who’s pissed off and not on board with the decision and is looking for a way to signal that to her staff members. There are other possible explanations, of course — like that she’s a new manager and terrified of this kind of conversation. But it would have been reasonable to say to her, “We really want employees to hear this from their direct manager. Can you tell me more about why you don’t want to do it that way?”

It’s too late to do that now, but it could still be worth talking to her to see how she’s doing and to see if you can get a better sense of what’s going on with her.

2. I want to ask for a raise after three months at my new job

I’ve been searching through your blog about asking for a raise (never have I ever, which is weird – I’ve been working in HR for 11 years), and saw a question/answer where you told the person not to ask for a raise at her 90-day review.

I really want to. I’ve taken on some projects left behind by my predecessor and made significant strides with them. I’m about to take on a part of the job that wasn’t included in my duties when I was first hired. My boss compliments me and my work almost daily. I get along with the rest of the company spectacularly – and they have all said so!

I know that I’m not supposed to say that I need the raise badly, and I won’t… but I do need it badly. I took a 16% pay cut (and my employer knows it), and though I don’t want to ask for that much, I would like to ask for something, particularly since I’ve proven myself. So… can I ask? SHOULD I ask? Thanks to your blog, I know how to present the case – but I’m still worried about the timing.

Unless the job changed significantly from what you were hired to do, it’s way too early to ask.

Making strides on projects left by your predecessor is a normal, expected thing when you take over someone’s job, so that isn’t really worth of a raise after 90 days. Your boss praising you for doing a good job — well, they hired you hoping you’d do a stellar job, so it’s good that you’re doing one but it doesn’t generally earn you a raise after three months.

You mentioned that you’re about to take on a part of the job that you weren’t hired for. That might or might not make it reasonable. It depends on how big the project is and how big a part of your job it will be, and how different it is from what you were hired to do. Most people end up taking on projects that weren’t described when they were hired, simply because jobs evolve and new projects come up. If it’s something that makes sense to include with your job, even if it’s new to you, it’s probably not raise-worthy at this point. If it’s an entirely new area, especially one that wouldn’t normally be lumped in with your work, then maybe.

But generally speaking, the bar is really, really high for doing this. Just needing the money isn’t good enough reason. You agreed to a salary when you took the job three months ago, and they hired you expecting that you had agreed to do the job at that rate of pay for at least the next year.

3. We never know when our boss will be back

I work in a bank with about half a dozen other employees. In most ways, I think the manager is great. But I and other members of the team are wondering if what we are feeling is really important or not.

We have customers who come looking for the manager or we need the manager for approvals. Yet the manger (and another senior, non-supervisory employee) will leave and not let anyone know (not usually at the same time though). Customers come in looking for them or other employees need assistance and we have no idea where they are or when they might be back. Are they at lunch? Are they in the rest room and will be right back? (Not saying they need to mention that is where they are going. Just if they mentioned when they were leaving for longer periods, we could assume they were just in the restroom the rest of the time.) Did they leave for the day? Customers ask when they will be back and we have to admit we have no idea where they are or when they left. The other day an employee called out sick and we didn’t know until someone came in saying they had an appointment with said employee and we felt foolish asking around until someone knew about it. I didn’t understand why we weren’t told. When anyone is out, it impacts the whole team.

Are we making too much out of this?? We all sit in the same room and have phones, email, and instant messaging. We were wondering if we should mention it. We want to make sure that we are clear that we respect the manager and it isn’t about “permission” — that it would just improve customer satisfaction and make everyone’s life easier if there was more communication.

You’re not being unreasonable. You could say something like, “When customers come in looking for you or we need you for approvals and you’re not around, we usually don’t know if you’ll be back in just a couple of minutes and so we can have the person wait or whether you’re at lunch or have left for the day. Actually, the same thing happened this week when Jane was out sick too and none of us knew and a client came in who had an appointment with her. Is there a way to better stay in the loop about people’s availability?”

And if she doesn’t have a good answer to that, ask how she’d like you to handle it when a manager is needed and she’s not around.

4. This recruiter doesn’t seem to know what I do

An industry-specific recruiter messages me periodically with job postings, and we have a cordial acquaintance. I maintain the contact somewhat carefully, always replying even if just to say thanks for sharing and that I don’t have a referral for him. Frequently though, I will respond with name ideas or forward his emails (at his request) to potentially interested parties and people who might know other people, etc. I do this in part because I want to see people get great jobs, and also to maintain our connection so someday when I am looking, he’ll remember me.

The pain point here is that he often starts the emails saying I fit these particular jobs well or maybe I know someone, but the jobs are far below my level. They are 1-2 years experience, BA/BS positions, but I have 10 years and a BS, MS, and professional licenses in this field. I know he can see my LinkedIn profile, which may need to be updated more carefully to reflect my career stage and level — I’m going to assume I am either reading his inquiries slightly “off” or my LinkedIn doesn’t make clear what I do. Either way, I know early career people who do fit these types of positions, so I can help sometimes with his search — and maybe that’s what he really wants.

Is there anything to be gained here by somehow alerting him to my actual skill level? I think if he came across a position I might be interested in, he might forward it to me (which I would want), but he seems to group me in a different set of people than I actually fit into so potentially he’s not matching me up with roles I might be interested in.

For context, in my field we have titles that are quite subtle — they sound like we do technical support when we actually do research and development, project management, public speaking and public relations, and consulting. I can see how he might not realize the differences on first look, and previous experience has shown he reads things very quickly, may miss important content, and is slightly forgetful. On the other hand, he has a very busy, fast paced business.

I’m probably overthinking and there is a simple, gracious way to let him know. Perhaps that could even wait until I am actually in the market.

Are you sure that this guy is the recruiter you want to put so much effort into cultivating? Maybe you have good reasons for it and know that he’s great at what he does, but if he’s just a random recruiter you came into contact with, it might be worth considering that your description of him doesn’t sound terribly impressive.

Anyway, it’s definitely fine to explain to him what your actual skill level is! And in fact, seeing whether he retains that info next time will give you some useful data on how much energy you might want to put into maintaining the connection.

5. Asking to go part-time

I’ve been at the same job for the past eight years, and while it’s not the worst job I’ve ever had, I don’t like it very much either. I’d like to focus on my hobbies in the hopes of making them into my full-time job. This includes, but isn’t limited to, my writing and promoting my upcoming memoir. I’m in the fortunate position where my partner makes a decent salary and we have cheap rent. But I’d still like some income.

How do I ask my manager for fewer hours (20-25 per week)? I can’t see the benefits for them. I’d work less hours, which means less work would get done, but I suppose it’s better than that work not getting done at all. (I’m a project manager–a position created for me. If I didn’t do the projects, I’m not sure anyone would do them.) I have a good relationship with my manager and have been a star employee. In fact, there have been active discussions about making me a middle manager, with staff reporting to me. So how do I go about asking for fewer hours in this situation?

It’s likely going to come down to how much they value you. If they’re highly motivated to keep you, and they see that this is the only way they can do that, you might find your manager willing to be very flexible about your hours. On the other hand, if it just doesn’t make sense for the position or for their relationship with you, or if they know that they can hire someone else full-time to do the work … maybe not.

But you can certainly ask and see what happens. I’d say it this way: “I’m interested in cutting my hours down to 20-25 a week so that I’m able to spend time on some personal writing projects. Is that something you’d be open to talking about?”

{ 171 comments… read them below }

  1. NoMoreMrFixit*

    For #4 I suggest you drop this person and find a better recruiter. They don’t sound very thorough and sending job postings far below your level is wasting your time. That makes me question their competence.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Yeah. My immediate reaction was that this guy just searches LinkedIn for keywords and emails everyone who turns up, hoping that someone will bite, rather than actually putting some thought into who would be a good match for a job.

    2. BananaPants*

      Probably every other week or so I get a link request from random recruiters on LinkedIn. Inevitably they then start spamming me with jobs that are well below my level or are across the country with no relocation package available. Once that happens, I un-link.

      Moral of the story: there are a lot of not-so-good recruiters out there. Be choosy about who you’re willing to work with.

      1. Michele*

        Same here. After the first email, I tell them that what they are suggesting is way below my current position, but if they have anything assistant director or higher to let me know. If they start spamming me with entry level positions, I unlink them.

      2. MillersSpring*

        Yeah, I get referrals for positions that are the exact job title I had 10 years ago. They see it in my past and think I’m a match.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I keep getting referrals for admin assistant positions because that’s what I used to do. I’m 3 years into an HR career, have a degree and a certification, but I still get spammed with referrals because I was an admin assistant at a couple different places in the past. Super annoying.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I’ve been looking for a new job and while I love hearing from recruiters in my area (even when four contact me with the same opening) I’ve definitely gotten random emails for jobs in Virginia, North Carolina, Washington State… I am in Chicago. Why would I want to work a six-month contract position in Virginia.

    3. Recruit-o-rama*

      Eh, I think the recruiter keeps emailing her because she sends him referrals regularly when gen does.

      1. Catabodua*

        Agreed – he’s outsourcing part of his work to her and she’s doing it for free.

        1. Recruit-o-Rama*

          Part of a recruiters job is to develop a network and ask for referrals. I am not sure his technique is great necessarily but he’s getting results. The OP can cease to respond, if they feel it’s a waste of her time, but the recruiter isn’t outsourcing their job.

    4. K.*

      Yeah, this recruiter is clearly not good for the OP. He’s wasting her time. I dropped a few recruiters like this – ones who were sending me stuff below my level or stuff that had nothing to do with anything I was doing. They were essentially spamming me, which is a waste of everyone’s time. This one is doing the same thing; I see no benefit to the OP to keeping this relationship going.

    5. LBK*

      Yeah, I’m not sure I understand why the OP’s interested in keeping this relationship alive. Unless he’s some special niche recruiter that you know gets access to job listings that aren’t made public, I honestly find recruiters kind a useless contact to have as a candidate. They’re much more useful on the employer side when you don’t want to take the time to do your own searching for candidates; on the employee side, I don’t find them much more helpful than the search bar on LinkedIn or Indeed.

      1. Recruit-o-rama*

        Some recruiters are more helpful than others, just like any individual who is part of a group. But the idea that recruiters are “useless” unless an employer “doesn’t want to take the time” ( can’t be bothered?) is sort of a hurtful thing for recruiters to hear.

        1. LBK*

          You just took two different parts of my comment and put them together – from the employee side I don’t find it that useful to have a contact who’s a recruiter (I guess unless you work in a very niche field that doesn’t post listings publicly), but they can certainly do a lot for an employer (which makes sense since the employer is the one who’s paying them).

        2. JHunz*

          Recruiters are one of those groups where almost everyone who has interacted with the group has had at least one significantly negative experience. If you’re a good recruiter, then that’s fantastic because I don’t think there are enough of them out there, but you shouldn’t be surprised that the general idea of the profession is negative. It’s like being a level 3 tech at an ISP, and you’re solving problems that affect thousands of customers every hour of every workday – but whenever you tell someone what you do the first thing they will think of is the time they called their ISP for a simple problem, got walked through a 45-minutes troubleshooting checklist, and then after an accidental disconnection they called back to get another tech that insisted on following every step of the same checklist because there was no note on the account about the previous call.

          1. Recruit-o-rama*

            I’ve been posting here long enough to know all about the broad brush used on recruiters. I happen to think there are a lot of really great recruiters out there. I’m allowed to be salty when I get hit with the brush.

            1. LBK*

              Can you expand on what you see as the advantage for a candidate of working with a recruiter, and what some of the good recruiters you know do that helps candidates?

              My experience with them has been similar to with realtors: for the landlord/hiring company they’re great because they act as filters for the massive pool of potential matches. For the renter/candidate, though, even the nicest, most professional ones are still mostly just adding bureaucracy to a process that would be simpler if I could interact directly with the landlord/hiring company. The profession is so bloated with people who are terrible at it that it makes me loathe to interact with any of them.

              Also I should be clear that I mean external recruiters, not internal, if that makes any difference. I’ve found that internal recruiters have a much better grasp on what their hiring managers actually want and they seem to be less prone to just spamming anyone with remotely related qualifications.

              1. Recruit-o-rama*

                I think it’s pretty obvious that your mind is made up so I won’t waste my time. But, at least I can take comfort it two things. First, it’s not it’s just recruiters for which you have zero respect, it’s also Realtors. Second, since I’m (now) an internal recruiter, I’m not “as” useless as external recruiters.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  LBK didn’t say anything about having “zero respect” for recruiters. Nor did they say anything about recruiters actually being *useless* overall. They said that recruiters are aligned with the company rather than the individual, and it’s not usually worth a candidate’s time to cultivate that relationship in the way that it *is* frequently worth an organization’s time to cultivate that relationship. You’re way over-personalizing this. And while I sympathize – I’m in HR and I know I’ve seen you in subthreads about how “HR exists to protect the company!” and all that, where I am defending our collective honor as it were – it’s not really helpful to the discussion at hand.

                2. Recruit-o-rama*

                  I think the point made was clear, obviously you disagree. I’ve seen over and over in the comments here where recruiters and HR are put down as a group. I’m just expressing my thoughts one LBK’s comments, not over personalizing.

                  Further, I think you are mischaracterizing my previous comments, unless you can provide an example?

                  Recruiters match people to open positions; if we do our job correctly, it’s a win for both sides.

                3. LBK*

                  Yeah, Jadelyn’s right – you’re definitely taking my comments way too personally and, like I said earlier, combining unrelated parts of my comments to willfully misinterpret them. I’m not sure where you got the impression that I have “zero respect” for either of those professions (I don’t have any friends who are recruiters but I have a ton who are realtors) but you clearly have a lot of defensiveness built up around this topic so it’s probably not worth pursuing a conversation even though I thought I was trying to ask my question genuinely.

                  With the robust availability of job listings on the internet these days, I just struggle to understand what a recruiter does for me as a candidate that I wouldn’t be able to do myself, unless (as I said multiple times) you’re getting exclusive listings that aren’t being published publicly. A travel agent is kind of a similar job to me – it’s not that there aren’t people who are perfectly nice and professional and good at it, but it feels like a role that’s been heavily replaced by websites, so that I’m never really clear on what value that person is adding to the interaction.

                4. Recruit-o-rama*

                  The hundreds of jobs posted online are a sea of misinformation. A Recruiter can act as a filter on both sides of the equation. From a candidate’s perspective, when you apply to a job online, your application disappears into an ether. When you apply via a recruiter (someone who has the hiring manager’s phone number) you have someone to advocate for you ahead of all the other pieces of paper the hiring manager has in front of them. there are many other things a recruiter can do for a candidate, but we do agree on one thing, this conversation is not worth pursuing.

                  Although, it’s worth noting that I regularly use a travel agent for business travel and she is not merely “nice and professional” but an absolute god send when I need something done quickly. Maybe our perspective of the usefulness of professional services in general is just different. While I certainly could navigate the online travel options myself (and do for personal travel) I certainly cannot do it with the ease and expertise of my travel agent.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, can you clarify what the “part of the job that wasn’t included in my duties when I was first hired” entails?

    I’m mostly curious because it sounds like you’re feeling increasingly stressed about personal finances, and I’m semi-wondering if what’s going on outside of work is coloring how you’re now viewing the scope of your duties. Has something changed in the past three months? (Ostensibly you knew about the pay cut when you took the job, but perhaps there were other issues in play?)

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I wondered about financial stress, too. I don’t know if OP tried to negotiate when hired, but it sounds like your salary is proving untenable, you could be looking around for ways to change things and asking for a raise is something you really hope will be possible.

      While the scope of your letter is about whether to ask for a raise, I think it’s worth just quickly mentioning that, if you are indeed stressed about money, in debt, or struggling to pay bills, there are people who can help you – you could look for a local financial counselling or credit service for example. If you’re in America, usa.gov/debt has some good resources.

    2. MC*

      OP#2 here: I’m not in any financial distress. I don’t feel like I have to be in financial distress before declaring that the situation may become distressful at some future date. The truth is that insurance with this employer is costing WAY more than I thought it would (to the tune of $920 per month/$11k per year!) – one of the drawbacks of accepting the job without getting the full disclosure of how much insurance would cost. That part was half my fault and I should have asked more in depth before accepting, but the situation at my previous employer was untenable and I HAD to get out, so here I am.

      Anyway – I’m in HR, and the position was explained as very personnel oriented (read: admin work). Within these 3 months it has evolved into the true “nitty gritty” of HR. I’ve rewritten the handbook; a performance evaluation project that had been lagging for 2 years is now up and running (3 months vs. 2 years…); I’ve been drafting all the job descriptions (again, left over from my predecessor and nothing had been done), now I’m taking over worker’s compensation and 401K administration, which I know how to do, but it wasn’t part of my initial duties as laid out when I first started.

      The background of the company is this: my predecessor started as a coordinator and was promoted to director 6 months after hire. After taking over the mess she left me, I don’t know that I can’t do the same. But, for now, I just need more remuneration.

      1. HRChick*

        Have you looked at your own job description?

        That is where I would start. Take your old job description and update it with what you are actually doing. Show the differences – if that difference is in the level of work, knowledge required, and complexity and not just volume of work.

        1. MC*

          Yeah… there were no job descriptions – for anyone. I’ve put them all together myself in the past 3 months. From scratch.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I mean, that happens in small orgs (and sometimes in larger ones). If it’s the situation, it’s not odd that you’d be the one charged with putting them together. It’s really not raise-worthy though.

      2. Naruto*

        It seems to me that it’s fair to open this up earlier than you otherwise would because the insurance costs are significantly higher than expected. That would be the fact I would use to try to open the conversation.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I apologize—I wasn’t trying to imply that you have to be in distress in order to ask for a raise. Obviously raises should not be tied to whether you *need* the money. I was curious because it’s rare and difficult to negotiate a raise so soon, and I was trying to understand if there were extenuating circumstances. Getting hit on insurance really sucks (I’ve had this experience), and it’s really frustrating—I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

        So I’m going to say another unpopular thing from my perspective as a former nonprofits person. Although what you’re describing includes material changes in your duties, if you’re the only HR person, and if this is not an employer who’s savvy/sophisticated about what HR entails, I would expect you to do everything you described, and y wouldn’t think it’s an expansion of your duties.

        If none of those predicates are accurate (i.e., you’re not the only HR person, your employer is sophisticated or should be), then I think you can ask for a raise at your six-month mark. I would spend the 90-day review priming your bosses to be amenable to a salary adjustment (and I would frame it as an adjustment, not a raise). So talk about the original scope of your duties vs. what you’re now doing, and be able to show your deliverables at six months. To the extent possible, focus on the business case, from your employers’ perspective, for why an adjustment is the only reasonable and fair outcome.

        Good luck!

        1. MC*

          It wasn’t you – that came out wrong – my sincerest apologies. You actually gave me a lot to think about and I think your suggestion is a very smart course of action. I do think that the extra insurance expense is blinding me in a way that it shouldn’t, so I’ll continue working and building a good case to present at the right time.

    3. LBK*

      Hmm, I didn’t read bitterness or frustration into that comment, rather it was just part of her argument for justifying a raise so soon into the role. In the context and tone of the letter it didn’t come across like she felt she’d been bait-and-switched or something.

        1. LBK*

          Oh, sorry, I thought you were inferring some anger or annoyance on the OP’s part, hence why you were “wondering if what’s going on outside of work is coloring how [she’s] now viewing the scope of [her] duties”. If you weren’t suggesting that she’s frustrated about having the job changed, what did you mean by that?

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Fair enough! I can see how my comment could be read as more… accusatory/judgy?… than I intended.

            I just meant that there may be this outside thing that’s stressful (money being tighter than anticipated), and that (dis)stress related to personal finances could impact how a person sees whether their duties are “outside” or “inside” the scope of what they were hired for. As an example, I had a colleague whose husband lost his job, and the financial stress really changed how she saw her role/duties, not because she was bitter or frustrated, but more because she had a greater sense of urgency about the timeline for obtaining a raise.

            So less about bitterness/frustration, but more generally about how our personal experiences, at any moment, can skew how we perceive or respond to a situation. Based on OP’s follow up, it’s pretty clear that that isn’t what’s happening, but my curiosity was mostly piqued by the shortened timeline.

            1. LBK*

              Gotcha – so you were thinking that financial pressure could be shaping the way she was categorizing whether something was inside or outside the normal scope of the job, but not necessarily producing negative feelings as a result of that. Thank you for clarifying!

  3. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 You aren’t making too much of this. Regarding the appointment nobody knew about, it would have been helpful if your manager had told you Jane was sick, but I’m also wondering why, when Jane called out, your manager didn’t ask or look for details of appointments and either contact the customer or ensure someone else was ready to see them. It wasn’t ideal that the problem didn’t become apparent until the customer showed up, which is totally on your manager, but maybe there also needs to be some sort of appointment schedule you all have access to as well?

    1. Parenthetically*

      I totally agree — especially about when Jane was sick. Why isn’t there someone canceling/rescheduling for people who are gone, to say nothing of letting other staff know about absences? It’s necessary to their job performance and customer satisfaction to know when Bob Branchmanager and Mary Mortgageapproval are going to be at their desks. It really shouldn’t be too hard to have a gcalendar with major schedule stuff on it so OP and the other staff can say, “Jane’s not at her desk right now, but let me just check her calendar quickly and see when she’ll be back.”

      Frankly, this comes off as super unprofessional and I’d be contemplating switching banks if this happened regularly at my bank.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I actually did switch banks after trying to attend an appointment nobody seemed to know about. It wasn’t just that, but it was a key factor.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Yeah, this is a point.

          Say things like “it makes the bank look bad” and “I’m afraid we might lose customers.”

          It’s not just frustrating for you–it’s dangerous for the business and its reputation.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Same—the problem was so severe that the person I was supposed to meet with (at a scheduled appointment, on the second try because they were sick the day of the first appointment and no one told me) was a no-show when I came to close out the account. I have never banked there again, regardless of the branch, because it was so ridiculous.

          1. Op 3*

            I hear about things like that happening at other branches and I really don’t want people to talk about us the way they talk about them. Customers rave about us most of the time. And then something like this happens. I just don’t want to be insubordinate or anything.

      2. Gaia*

        I would definitely change banks. If I have to show my face in a branch something has already gone terribly wrong in my experience. But to make that appearance and not have the person be there AND no one else knows what is going on? Nope. Close the account. I’m done.

        1. Michele*

          I agree completely. I have closed an account over something very similar. Flaky people are not allowed to control my money.

        2. Parenthetically*

          It’s the “no one else knows what’s going on” thing that is so crazy-making for me! Unprofessional x1000.

        3. Op 3*

          Luckily the customer involved was a regular and very understanding. But we did feel pretty stupid that we didn’t know someone called out. But I called out a few months back and luckily informed a coworker also. Because the manager came in late that day ( I didn’t know) and didn’t inform anyone I would be out. They were ready to send out a search party until coworker said she thought I called out.

  4. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 I strongly suspect these are mailmerges, ie they’re going to lots of people, not just you, and he’s added a token line that he hopes will make it sound personal. And it sounds like he’s added you to the wrong list of people.

    I’d suggest writing back once and explaining what you’re looking for. Experience tells me you may just keep getting the same emails, however, although that’s purely anecdotal.

    For example, a recruiter repeatedly emailed me about full-time, in-house contract positions, at short notice. I wrote back a few times explaining that I was not available full-time and was not looking for roles focusing on teapot spouts but I’d love to hear about any involving handles. They kept sending me full-time spouts contracts and I ended up asking to be taken off their list. Even if they did have something suitable, I wouldn’t have trusted them to manage my candidacy.

    1. Clewgarnet*

      At least in my industry, recruiters are essentially salespeople who will exaggerate, spam, and flat-out lie in order to get people into jobs, with no regard for whether it’s a good match for employee or employer.

      I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been ‘personally recommended’ for a role, when it turns out that the recruiter has simply got my name from my employer’s website and the job has absolutely nothing to do with my skillset.

      OP, I’d filter that recruiter direct to spam.

      1. KRM*

        Ohhh, same! I’ve gotten calls for MONTHS from the same recruiting firm (cycling through different employees). They start by telling me that they “got my name from a colleague” and then act all chatty and friendly as they keep calling, like somehow we *just missed* each other on the phone and I really wanted to talk to them. And they have a script! They all say the same things in the same order of phone calls! And the jobs they talk about are often vague “contract to perm” or “contract” jobs–they never even give basic info besides that! So OP, I would just completely ignore this guy. If you someday need the help of a recruiter, you will find many others out there who will be far more attentive to your actual needs and wants.

    2. Thistle*

      In the U.K. recruitment consultants almost all act this way but as they have most of the best jobs (at least in my field) so you just have to roll with it. Don’t take it personally.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m in the UK too and I was freelance and unavailable for full-time in-house work. Did that stop them? Nope.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      You know what’s my favorite? Every few months I will get an email that’s the equivalent of a news reporter who covers nuclear physicists, recruiting for a job *as a nuclear physicist*.

      These postings get nothing but a snicker from me.

    4. CM*

      For OP #4, Ramona’s last paragraph is the right way to handle this: write back and tell them that this role is not a good fit for you because you are looking for a higher-level position, and you’d be interested in hearing about any opportunities for Teapot Managers. If they continue sending you positions that you are not interested in, there’s no need to continue the relationship.

  5. nnn*

    #3: You might also ask your manager “What do you want us to do when a customer needs a manager and we don’t know when you’ll be back?” Maybe they’ll have an answer or a solution. At a minimum, that might get them thinking about the problem from your perspective.

    1. GermanGirl*

      Good idea. But if have some suggestions ready if they ask what you’d want them to do differently, e.g. if your email system has calendars, find out if you can share them (like in Outlook or Gmail) and ask people to put it in their calendar if they leave early and are out for the rest of the day. Or you could use the status of the instant messenger as an indicator i.e. tell people to set themselves on away but not log off of they are going to be back within an hour or so (e.g. out for lunch) but to log off when they leave for the day (presumably this happens anyway when they shut down their computer?). It’s not as precise as the calendar method but less hastle.

      1. CM*

        If you want to suggest the shared calendar approach, note that most systems will allow you to see the other person’s status (free, in a meeting, out of office) without sharing the details of what they’re doing, like the name of the meeting that they are in.

      2. KR*

        Or even more simple, a conspicuous white board with everyone’s name and a space to write/magnets in catagories. Manager can just check off if they are out for lunch, gone for the day, when they will be back, ect. When they get a call out, they could write it next to that employee.

    1. Artemesia*

      I would expect the president to make the announcement since it is a group announcement. If it were one on one, then the manager is the person, but when it is a corporate wide decision then the person who made that decision should do the announcing. Feels like a President who wanted to make the hard choices but then weasel out of taking responsibility for them. The President was going to be in the meeting; the president made the decision; the president should make the announcement.

      1. Snowglobe*

        The way I read it, it was not a group announcement. The president, HR, and manager were meeting with each individual affected by the layoff to deliver the news.

        1. Frozen Ginger*

          I think what Artemesia meant was that it was affecting a group of people for the same reason.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            That’s how I read Artemesia’s comment, too (and I agree with her on the substance). I was also confused about the “red flag” language, as others noted downthread. If the layoffs are across divisions or teams—which it sounds like—then I would expect a higher-up-than-my-manager to be involved, and I wouldn’t see it as a red flag that the message came from someone other than my immediate manager. If it comes from higher up, it just reads that this was a higher up decision (which it sounds like it was).

        2. MillersSpring*

          I had to read it twice to be sure that they were one-on-one layoff meetings. Why is the president even on the room? Just give the manager some talking points, and HR could be there.

          It’s really unkind of the president to insist on being in the room, but insist that the manager do most of the talking. I’d rather have my manager there for moral support and would expect this news to come from the president and HR.

          1. Bea*

            This is where I’m sitting at as well. As a manager who just went through shocking layoffs for all of us, the president would never put me in that position. He spoke to each one and I was only there as the extra who needs to know what’s going on in my department. He made the decision, as difficult as it was and he followed through with it.

            If the president was hands off and just said “you do it, HR person will be there to witness.” I’d be okay but only if the president wasn’t present because he trumps me every day, him being there means he runs his own show.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        I agree. And I don’t understand what was “a red flag” about thinking the President should do it. It’s not a red flag to have a different opinion than HR or the President.

        1. Gaia*

          I think they meant it was a red flag that she flat out refused a duty she was assigned. That isn’t great, even if you disagree with it.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            She specifically said “As an employee, I would want to hear the news directly from my manager, and if I didn’t it would be a red flag. ” – not that the Manager pushed back (I’m not going to give too much weight to her 3rd party description of it as “insisted”) but that hearing it from the president was a red flag.

            The OP seems to have some firm ideas about “the way things should be done” that aren’t typical.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I also think that the highest ranking person should speak. And it should be a corporate message.

        At one place I know of, a VP did the talking. At others it was HR.

        I’ve been laid off several times. The only time it was my direct manager was when she was the one driving the reorg.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I agree too, but discussing the details should then fall to managers, because employees will probably have questions after the meeting is concluded.

  6. Oscar Madisoy*

    In response to 1. Who should communicate a lay-off?, specifically the following:

    “What I do think is potentially a problem here is that the manager refused to do it when she was asked to. That’s usually the sign of a manager who’s pissed off and not on board with the decision and is looking for a way to signal that to her staff members. There are other possible explanations, of course — like that she’s a new manager and terrified of this kind of conversation.”

    Another possible reason is that maybe she is on board with the decision but wanted to make herself look good by not being the one to swing the axe. If the manager has private meetings with her (soon to be) former staff afterwards, she could point out that the president was the one made the announcement, but “if it were up to me,” dot dot dot, implying that if it were up to her things would have turned out differently – and, of course, the ‘doomed’ employee wouldn’t be in a position to make her prove it.

    1. Colette*

      That’s actually the same thing – a manager who would do that is not on board with the layoffs and is willing to let her staff know. That’s a problem.

  7. JamieS*

    Re #1 This may not be a popular opinion and clouded by my personal preference but in the case of layoffs I think the person present at the meeting who had the most say over who got laid off (typically person in the more senior role) should be the one to break the news.

    I understand that’s its not always feasible for the decision maker to be there to break the news. However, personally​, if someone who obviously had more say in me losing my job than my supervisor was present at the meeting and left it up to someone else to tell me I no longer have a job that’d likely anger me more than losing my job.

      1. periwinkle*

        The decision to lay staff off comes from higher in the org. The decision on which individuals are laid off is likely to be made (or at least strongly influenced) by the immediate supervisors. This probably doesn’t apply when a whole team is laid off, but I’d hate to work at an org where the immediate supervisor isn’t the one leading the conversation about which 10% of her staff is getting the notice.

        About 10% of my division’s employees received WARN notices a couple months ago. The full management team for our area met for many hours in the weeks leading up to notice time, and didn’t finalize the decisions until the day before. The director had final approval of the plan and the official go-ahead came from the VP, but the direct managers had been given the responsibility to make that plan since they knew the individual employees’ performance and skills. These direct managers were the ones to communicate it, one-on-one, except for my team; we had just changed managers, so our former manager (who was now our boss’s boss) handled our one-on-ones for this. This avoided the situation Mary described with the “I don’t know”s.

    1. Mary*

      I would agree with this. I think the person responsible for the decision should be the one to break the news. I saw a situation where a new manager was sent to layoff a long term employee at our remote facility. The person who took the decision coached her in what to say, when to say it and what to do. It went very badly and all most questions were answered by “I don’t know”. I think if the manager who took the decision was present it would have gone a lot better and some questions would have been answered.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think another relevant factor is to consider who gets to communicate good news? I the manager would be the one to tell people about things such as pay rises or promotions, I think that the task of delivering bad news falls to them as well. If the more senior person would generally give that news, it’s reasonable for them to give the bad new as well.

      That said, I think that for both, it is reasonable for a person’s direct manager to give the news in most situations, they are the one who works most closely with the person being laid off (or promoted) . In the case of a lay of, I think there are also practical considerations. Is the employee likely to feel better able to ask questions of their own manager, who they are likely to know better than they do the president or other senior figures?

      In this instance, i can see way the president chose to accede to the manager’s request (not least, it seems reasonable to get on and deliver the news to the affected staff, rather than delay it by in-fighting or disputes in the management team) but if I were the president, I would definitely be having a conversation with the manager afterwards.
      (It doesn’t sound as though the manager gave a reason for pushing back. I can see that there might be some situations, for instance if the manager and the person being let go had a poor working relationship, or if the manager had very recently been promoted from an equal position to the person being let go, where it might be more thoughtful for them not to be the one having that conversation, but as a general rule, it seems to methat it is part of their job.

      1. Not Today Satan*

        It’s not like absent layoffs a manager ONLY shares good news with their employees… they still give bad reviews, tell people about bad/nonexistent raises, put employees on PIPs, have difficult conversations, etc. The difference is that layoffs are out of their hands.

      2. JamieS*

        IMO that’s apples and oranges. Typically raises and the like are a result of good performance which a direct supervisor would be more responsible for than someone higher up since they’re responsible for day to day employee development. Layoffs, on the other hand, aren’t typically their responsibility and aren’t indicative of a performance issue. If someone was being fired at the recommendation of the supervisor then they need to be the one to talk to the employee but that’s not what happened here.

        Also to be clear I don’t have an issue with direct supervisors telling reports they’re laid off. I have an issue with them doing it when the person responsible (or at least more responsible) for the decision is also at the meeting. Basically for any news, good or bad, the person present most responsible should be the one to tell the news.

    3. Not Today Satan*

      I agree. I think that the LW’s argument that “I think that extending a job offer and ending an employment relationship are two sides of the same coin” makes sense in the case of being terminated due to poor performance, because in that case the manager is actually making the decision (or at least contributing to it). Doesn’t seem like that’s the case here.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yes, exactly. The LW is comparing apples to oranges with that sentence.

        I don’t have any issue with a manager delivering the news generally. But with the president actually in the room, it’s not odd that the manager would want the president, who is presumably driving the decision to make layoffs, to give the bad news. It’s not necessarily weird or unfair for the manager to do it–it would depend on the context and how the meetings were handled. But it’s not weird for the manager to want the president to do it, given that the president is *right there*.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah, I agree. It’s just super weird for the president to be present but not saying anything. It kind of makes it look like the managers are incompetent or need supervision to deliver the news (although the intent could be to ensure they have support during a difficult conversation).

          I think the news should come from the president, or the manager and president should tag team in a way that doesn’t seem like they’re ganging up on the employee (assuming they’re doing one-on-one’s).

    4. Gen*

      I agree with this, there’s an odd vibe to having someone with authority sit there in silence while someone else communicates their unhappy decision. “Jane has decided to reduce the workforce, sorry you’ve been chosen, now do you have any questions (for Jane)?”. If they’re going to be in the room witnessing the fall out then it feels like they should be delivering the news.

      1. Liane*

        1-I think the president, while it was certainly their call, made themselves look bad by sitting in the background. Whether I was being laid off or survived, I would now think of Pres as someone who won’t own their decisions, or at least that HR didn’t trust Pres to handle it well and must have insisted that Managers do the talking. And if someone later asks me about the company or Pres, I am going to say this.
        2-I think it might be a good idea to check in with the Manager, but that should be done by Pres not OP.

      2. SarahKay*

        Agreed. I don’t think there are hard and fast rules, but my feeling is that the ‘highest’ person in the room should be the one delivering the news. I wouldn’t object to being told by my immediate manager, if that’s who’s there, and no-one superior to them.

        However, if the president is in the room and doesn’t have the courage to tell me directly then that’s weird, and I would think a great deal less of them. I’d be wondering why they were even in the room if they’re not going to tell me – are they there to gloat?!? Which, rationally, of course not, but one’s headspace directly after being laid off is not always rational…

    5. atexit*


      The President made the final decision.
      She should have the guts to stand there and deliver the bad news.

    6. Alucius*

      Gotta say, the whole being the the one to personally take charge of reducing headcount hasn’t been working out too well for the Starks these days…

      1. RVA Cat*

        True, though the sisters’ dog-sitting and pie-baking side gigs have really taken off.

    7. Kinder and Gentler Manager*

      While “layoffs need to happen” may come from the highest level in the company, I have always been responsible for deciding who or making a case for my department not to be involved. I would never try to pass the job of breaking the news on to my boss.

      1. Judy (since 2010)*

        Many companies don’t involve first level managers in layoff decisions. Manager input is only based on performance reviews.

        I’ve had managers come back from vacation to find that 25% of their team is gone. At one company, managers met with their remaining team while those being laid off met with someone else.

        At one company, I asked my manager about layoffs, and he said he didn’t know about any. I had already received a text from my roommate in another division that she had been laid off. (This was a manager that was very good about declaring “I don’t know” vs. “I can’t talk about this”)

      2. Bagpuss*

        Yes, that’s been my experience too, which coloured my response to the question.

        From the perspective of the person being laid off, I’m not sure it matters very much, although I do think it is important that you are given the information clearly and given the opportunity to ask questions either immediately or once the news has sunk in.

        (It’s perhaps also relevant that I’m in the UK where (except for people who have been employees for less than 2 years) there are formal processes which have to be followed, for lay-offs, which generally include consultations and an appeals process, which does feed in to who is involved at each stage, and which are likely to means that someone’s direct manager would normally have some input into the process even if they don’t get a vote on the final decision)

    8. Mike C.*

      Yeah, the person who pronounces the sentence should swing the sword. I get tired of seeing uncapped layoffs being announced from a city two timezones away while those of us in the trenches have to deal with the consequences.

      1. Lora*

        Agree 100%. Whomever made the decision should break the news in person. The only acceptable alternative would be if the immediate supervisor meets with the person to say, “you will be laid off on (date) and if you want to use the time until then to take advantage of HR’s assistance program for people being laid off, or if you want to use your time to job hunt, let me know how I can support you” because other people who are on The List might be laid off in a different wave/different timing sort of thing. But I would expect some sort of announcement from the CEO in person regardless.

        That said, after the bloodbath in my field a few years back, ANY human delivering the news in person, even if it was via singing telegram, would have been an improvement on the way some layoffs were handled. One company gave its staff a number to call for a pre-recorded message on a certain day: If you were instructed in the mass email to press #1, you got a message about how you were keeping your job for now. If your mass email instructed you to press #2, you got a message about how you were being laid off, please return your things.

        The direct managers should be ready to discuss all the pertinent details immediately after the announcement thought: severance and how it was calculated, exact dates and any benefits HR may provide in the way of career transitions and resume writing and interview coaching, how much vacation is still in the individual person’s records to pay out, 401k info and COBRA and whatnot. But the CEO/president should own it.

        1. SignalLost*

          I don’t know your field but I’ve heard horror stories about how Starbucks corporate handles layoffs that makes me think the phone call thing would have been a step up at the time. Like an all-hands where layoffs were announced and everyone was to go back to work until someone tapped you on the shoulder and called you into the meeting where you would be let go. For some reason, people didn’t feel like getting right back to work.

          In general, I think the person with seniority in the room should do the job of breaking the news. A company-wide layoff is not the same as firing someone for not completing a PIP. If the president is there, they were the decision-maker; they should swing the axe.

        2. Bea*

          My hatred for anywhere people are treated like a number just skyrocketed after the story about prerecorded messages…wtf is this, jury duty?! That’s sickening :(

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          That is like some dark, twisted version of the lottery. And it’s pretty cowardly/craven, imo.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        I don’t know how I feel about this, honestly. I keep going back and forth. I was laid off about 8 years ago and my boss was as blindsided as I was – but if anyone else would have delivered the news I would have been livid. He knew just what to say and offered support and listened to me vent a little about being caught off guard. Somehow he seemed even more human to me delivering the message, whereas the owner probably would have just told me to pack up and get out.

        BUT Maybe it depends on your relationship with your boss? I have also heard horror stories where people get an invited for a conference call and a recording comes on that says “If you are hearing this message, you have been laid off. Instructions XYZ.” I would die if that were the case.

        1. Gen*

          That’s the point I’m stuck on- if the manager tells you and you have a good relationship then you get a chance to vent and process without it necessarily reflecting badly on you, but if the company president is sat behind her watching everything then you don’t get to process without being aware of the extra presence and the strangeness of the president being there but not owning it. It just makes things wierd and even more fraught that it has to be.

          I have no issue with a manager delivering the news as such but if the person who made the decision is there, then they should be the one speaking.

    9. TootsNYC*

      yeah, it would feel really disrespectful somehow, for the president to sit and observe.

      I did once sit and observe when a direct report of mine was firing someone, but I didn’t speak because it wasn’t me driving the decision, and my presence was requested by my direct report as this person had already tried to triangulate by going to me. And she wanted me to simply be there to say, “Alex has my complete faith. She discussed this with me, and I am behind her decision. She speaks with my authority–you heard that directly from me.”
      I didn’t think it was necessary to be there for her to do this, but I agreed with her assessment that it would be wise in this instance.

    10. NotAnotherManager!*

      I agree with this. We did a RIF a few years ago, and, while I had input into which of my staff was included, both the decision to lay people off AND the final approval of the affected employees was made at a very, very high level. To their credit, those are the people who took the meeting with the staff and coordinated their severance, placement services contacts, and extension of benefits. It was a shitty, shitty day all around, but the message was conveyed by those who made the decision.

      I handle my staffing decisions. I do performance reviews, counseling sessions, and, with HR, firings. I do NOT extend employment offers, though. I select the candidates in conjunction with the team they will be supporting, but HR does the actual offers and coordination of onboarding.

      Ultimately, there are a lot of factors at play — one or many offices, how big the organization is, who made the decision, etc. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to layoffs, but I don’t think wanting the person who made the layoff decision to announce the bad news is out of bounds.

  8. Planner Lady*

    Number 5 – I managed to get part time hours from my current employer, to allow me to go to university (In an unrelated discipline which gives my employer no benefit.) Alison is right on the money – this is about your relationship with your employer. My employer was initially very reluctant to explore this, so here’s my tips on how to approach it.

    – Understand exactly what your employer’s policies are about workplace flexibility and going part time before speaking to your manager, if possible. In my case, there’s well established rules about the ability to go part time, but not necessarily in my circumstances. I was able to argue that I was close enough to the circumstances allowed in the policy to get my manager to go in to bat for me with her manager.

    – Understand where you fit within your team, what you bring to the team and be able to effectively sell to your manager why you part time is better than someone else fulltime. In my case, I had just come off a year of intense workload, with a major project launch and an award – it sounds like you’re also valued by your boss.

    – Decide if this is a hill you are willing to die on. I made it clear to my employer that I did not want to quit, but if they weren’t able to accommodate my availability, I was going to have to resign. I might not have had the same success if I was uncertain about whether I wanted this or not.

    In the end, I got my part time gig, and its been a big adjustment but is working out pretty well so far.

    Good luck!

    1. a Gen X manager*

      + 1 Excellent advice! This would absolutely set the situation up in the best possible way to support management saying yes and/or negotiating the details.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Seriously. This advice is concrete and actionable (an overall excellent).

    2. Part time and loving it*

      As someone who also successfully negotiated part time hours, this is great advice. I was the first person in my department’s history to go part time.

      Like Planner Lady said, I recommend being very knowledgeable about your company’s policies, how going part time will change your benefits, and even brushing up on any relevant state labor laws. Having my manager on board was key. He ended up going to bat for me big time. I also spent a lot of time explaining to HR that my position would translate well into part time hours, and I expect my manager did as well. I also had to make it very clear that I would resign if I couldn’t go part time.

      After I successfully went part time, I made sure to keep a list of my accomplishments handy. Anytime it came up (reviews, random conversations with HR, etc.), I was able to say, “Part time has been great! I’m able to make valuable contributions to my team, such as X, Y, and Z, while still keeping a schedule that works with my current family situation.”

    3. Chet*

      Also think about how many hours you can really work. I negotiated to 80% FT, which saves my org some money and gives me better balance, but doesn’t significantly reduce my productivity.

  9. Grumps*

    #1 – my experience has always been that the most junior person in the chain of command not being affected by the layoff is the one to communicate the news. Of the 3 times Ive been laid off/put on notice, once I was told by my direct line manager, once I was told by my managers manager as my boss was also affected, and once I was told by the deputy ceo as almost the entire organisation (small non profit) was being laid off.

    However, I think ability to deliver the news sensitively is definitely a consideration, and I don’t think there’s a right or wrong person to do it.

  10. Michael Kohne*

    For #1-the person doing the layoffs should be someone in the chain of command that the employee at least knows. I’ve been laid off by random management types that I’ve never met before and it kinda sucks.

  11. EvilQueenRegina*

    Here’s how NOT to communicate a layoff: publish inaccurate information in an employee newsletter.

    To explain: when I worked at The Real Office there were rumours of layoffs pending for a while, and one day there was a story in the employee newsletter talking about how the two sources of funding that funded all the jobs of our team were going to be cut, which if it was true would mean our layoffs, and that was the first any of us knew about it. As our boss was off on sick leave following surgery at the time, someone contacted Grandboss to ask for advice.

    Grandboss replied saying he understood our concerns but he needed to make sure his information was correct before he spoke to us officially, he clarified the inaccuracies as far as he could (one of which we had already clarified by that time anyway) but that he couldn’t give a definite answer as to the future of those two schemes until after George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review which was coming up, but he’d speak to the team when there was clarity. Grandboss had copied in Boss, who was NOT happy and sent an email giving my coworker an earbashing for having gone to Grandboss in her absence because she should have been the person dealing with it even though she was on sick leave. In the meantime, the fake news had actually got as far as the local paper (the schemes in question were around adaptations for the disabled) so we had to complain to Communications about that!

    When there was official notice of layoffs pending a few months later, it was Boss who talked to us – as she was the one who had the working relationship with us that did seem best at the time, although I realise all situations are different.

    1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      One more how-not-to-communicate-a-layoff: Via mass email… after work hours… the night before Thanksgiving

      1. copy run start*

        My old workplace used to drop any unpopular changes or bad news on Fridays around 5/5:30, when 90% of the office was gone for weekend already. Boss would hit send then high tail it for the door so those of us left couldn’t catch him.

        He was not popular.

      2. Gen*

        See also mass-email scheduled for 00:01am January 1st, though ours got bonus points for accidentally being ‘send-all’ rather than just to the employees concerns and starting “Dear [employee name]” because the mail merge failed. They lost way more people than they intended because everyone took it seriously and started looking during the remaining shutdown week.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      OT but eww, George Osborne.

      That’s awful. You know everybody is going to be freaking out. I’ve told this story here before, but the CEO of the non-profit where I worked laid someone off in the all-company meeting. “We’re going to have to let some people go in X department. Sue will be leaving us. We’ll miss her hard work.”

      Without telling Sue beforehand.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        It did cause a lot of freaking out at the time and although Grandboss clarified the actual mistakes in the article, he wasn’t able to give any definite answers about the funding for the jobs at that time anyway so it didn’t entirely help. I don’t know who authorised the article with the inaccuracies to be circulated in the employee newsletter (since Boss was on sick leave and Grandboss didn’t seem to know about it until it appeared), but Communications had had enough notice that it wasn’t correct in order to pull it from the local paper, just chose to claim they hadn’t had time when challenged over it.

        But even if that article had been accurate it still wouldn’t have been appropriate for affected employees to have found out about their pending layoffs from a newsletter instead of an actual conversation with their manager first. Even HR would have been better than that.

        Was Sue present in the meeting to find out that way she was going?

    3. CAS*

      How not to communicate a lay-off v. 3:
      1. Process final payroll for laid-off staff.
      2. Issue three separate checks on the same day for payroll and severance.
      3. Forget to turn off the automated email notification system for payroll deposits.
      4. Send staff to be laid-off three separate payroll notifications within 10 minutes of each other.

      That’s how I figured out I was out of a job. It was a Thursday night. Three payroll notifications hit my personal email: boom, boom, boom. I thought that was weird because we weren’t due for paychecks yet. And why would there be three? So I started looking at the check amounts. One was for the previous pay period. One was a smaller amount, which I realized was to pay me out for the current week. After doing the math on the third check, I figured out it was three weeks’ severance. I looked at my husband and said, “I’m getting fired tomorrow.”

      It turned out to be a lay-off. About 20 of us were let go. Since I’d been tipped off, I went into work prepared to pack my stuff, which I did as soon as I arrived. Within about 90 minutes, my 20 former coworkers were summoned to a conference room and laid off.

  12. Roker Moose*

    Re #3 I’d definitely ask your manager/supervisor ASAP about what to do when they’re not around. Your manager seems lax about wandering off without telling anyone– it’s possible she doesn’t realise the effect it’s having on the staff, or that your supervisor is doing the same thing. She may think when she leaves, the supervisor is covering (not that it excuses leaving without notifying staff!).

    I work in a very similar environment, and if you can’t either ensure that one/both of your supervisors will be there at all times or at least let you know where they are/when they’ll be back, it’s worth going over their head to someone in the main office. No one wants to be a grass, but if it is impacting your ability to serve the customer– and it sounds like it is– the higher ups will want to know.

  13. Gabriel Conroy*

    Regarding #3, I don’t have a good solution, other than the one Allison offered or the idea stated above about using a shared calendar or whatnot. But I’d like to comment how frustrating “approval culture” can be. I was a bank teller for 14 months in the 1990s, and getting approvals (for example, for cashing checks over our cashing limit) could be frustrating. I remember several times when the manager looked at me, almost incredulously, sometime asking (sometimes only implying) “why are you even bringing this to me” when I was doing so in accordance to rules they had told me to follow. It got even more frustrating when higher-level managers skipped out without telling anyone, as appears to be the case in #3. (To be clear, it wasn’t all on the manager(s). There were marginal cases where we were allowed to go over our cashing limits, and sometimes I erred too much on the side of getting someone else to sign off and of being too timid to make the call myself.)

    1. Princess Carolyn*

      When I briefly worked in banking, I got a lot of lectures about “owning” my projects but the culture was extreme approval culture — two or three people had to sign off before I could do anything, and those people were in meetings 80% of each day. To top it off, I was in a new role where I had transferable skills but no experience in this function, and no experience in the industry. Woof.

  14. Lily Rowan*

    For #5, if your business has any kind of seasonal workflow that slows down in the summer, you might think about asking for the reduced scheduled temporarily over the next few months? Then in the fall you can both re-visit. Framing it as a trial might be easier to handle for your bosses.

  15. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    #1 – Twice when I’ve been laid off (1st time our location was closed, 2nd time my team was outsourced), HR took the lead on these discussions. My manager was there, but no one more senior, but HR did the whole thing. Broke the news, discussed COBRA, severance, etc. I don’t think it would have mattered to me who did the talking. The result is the same.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s what I would want. I would have questions, and presumably HR would have the answers.

    2. Whats In A Name*

      I have only been laid off once. My manager did the actual delivery, allowed me to vent, told me that he would help in any was possible, etc. and HR was just waiting outside the door and came in immediately afterward to discuss the above you mentioned. I was happy with that arrangement, because I definitely had questions but would not have liked anyone else delivering the message.

  16. Allypopx*

    #5 – My employer strongly encouraged me to go back to school, and when I asked about reduced hours (or even just working 4-10s instead of 5-8s) lectured me strongly on “pulling back from the organization” and was super against the concept. He also gave me a significant raise to incentivize me to stay on full, normal hours.

    So YMMV, but I don’t think having the conversation is problematic. I’d be prepared to meet your employer halfway – maybe say you’d prefer to work 20 hours but would be willing to work up to 30 (if that’s true), or be flexible about when you’d be willing to work. But I’d prepare for a “no” so you aren’t disappointed.

  17. The Other Dawn*

    Well, I had a big response written for #3, but my page froze yet again.

    Bottom line, OP is not being unreasonable. Depending what her job is within the bank and what her department handles, having someone on hand to approve something—a high-dollar transaction, outgoing wire, ACH batch files, sign an official check, or whatever—is pretty important. If someone with the authority can’t be found, then loan closings might be delayed, or the customer has to wait around, or maybe files don’t get processed. So I’d say that it’s perfectly reasonable for OP to ask that the area be given a heads-up when someone is leaving and won’t be back for a while. One thing though: this is why more than one person needs to have the authority to do these things, so you don’t run into this situation too often. I have no idea how big OP’s bank is, but it’s something to check into.

  18. HR Manager*

    With all the comments discussing who should do the layoff, immediate manager or CEO, I feel like I was duped in my last job! I was a single person HR dept, and the CEO had me meet with the 10 people getting laid-off together in a conference room and tell all 10 at once. I felt horrible. He should’ve done it not me!

    But I got pressured into it. I felt like if I don’t then he’s going to think I’m not a team player or disagree with his decision. Boo! :(

    1. Emmie*

      Oh wow! Telling all ten at once? I cannot imagine being the one person receiving all of that energy and questions. I think he should’ve done them one on one with you present. Gosh.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Back in March, I was part of a largeish RIF. 15 people from my department. Through a twist of vacation fate, I found out the night before everyone else, but the remaining people were told it was a meeting, given the news that our positions were being outsourced, and then everyone got funneled to an HR person to go over the severance etc.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      HR doing it is really common.

      You’d have been more upset if he insisted on being there and still made you do it, like the OP wants.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, it doesn’t seem at all weird to me to have a manager or HR person give the bad news, but it’s usually going to be weird when the president is in the room but not doing it.

      1. HR Manager*

        Yea but all these comments are making me think that it might not be the best idea for HR to do it. Apparently people appreciate more if it’s coming straight from the decision maker (CEO, President etc). I guess I should’ve gently pushed back.

        1. JamieS*

          I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I think the main issue isn’t someone other than the decision maker telling employees but rather someone else doing it while the decision maker is right there.

          Imagine going to work tomorrow and being told by Regina that Topher has decided to lay you off while Topher just sits there in silence. Tough pill to swallow .

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        I think sometimes there can be benefits in having both your manager and HR be present – I remember at a meeting about what was happening with a restructure and potential layoffs at Exjob, the HR person who was meant to be present along with Grandboss was suddenly taken ill half way through the day, meaning we had no HR person at the meeting. There were quite a lot of questions people asked that Grandboss couldn’t answer and they had to wait until HR could be contacted and asked, and then fed back to us, which was a bit frustrating.

  19. Kinder and Gentler Manager*

    OP 2, I have had two people irk for me who tried to negotiate raises within their first six months. Neither of those people work for me anymore – one I let go, and one left for another job, which frankly, was a relief.

    Unless your additional responsibility is significant enough it would also lead to a title bump, that could very well be just part of “work”. Very few jobs entail the same responsibility, the same projects, the same routine, the same workload throughout the duration of the job. Within your first three months, you could still be in the “ramping up and onboarding” phase.

    There is also a definite line between advocating for yourself and your abilities and not being able to understand or successfully navigate the corporate world. Asking for a raise that short into the job could come across as a whole slew of not good.

    1. Michele*

      Agreed. I have noticed that because new employees are working hard they think that means they are getting more done than they are. The fact is, though, they are just getting up to speed. It is extremely unlikely that when someone is hired, they know all of the responsibilities on day one. We start people out with training and easier projects and move them to more complicated tasks as they complete the easier ones. It is about a year before anyone is going full steam, even though they are working very hard.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This is an important (and totally true) point. Looking back on my jobs that required substantive expertise, it took 3–9 months just to make it past the learning curve and really get good at what I was doing… even if it was a job I’d had before at a different employer. Although I could certainly process more things after being there for a while experience, in the beginning it felt like I had so much on my plate when really the hard part was the learning curve and load management.

    2. a Gen X manager*

      Over the years I’ve taken pay cuts for new jobs three times (one of which was significant) and have found that as long as the move makes sense with your long-term plan (and you’re willing to work hard) then the money will follow (and without requesting it). In all three cases I worked my way back (and beyond) where I was before the pay cut within 18 months and in all three situations it was the right career move. I definitely understand that not everyone can afford to do this, but for me the sacrifices I made to make less for a period of time was well worth the opportunities the situations offered.

      Incidentally, in the past 5 months I’ve given two key employees (one fairly new and one long-term employee) significant wage adjustments (12 & 14% + regular annual raise of 4%) to better compensate them based on their contributions and value to the organization. I hope OP’s manager will be able to do the same.

      1. MC*

        OP #2 here – that’s what’s happened to me too. I’ve never had to ask for a raise, they were just given to me. The pay cut I took came with a significantly shorter commute, that was the trade-off. I’m very happy here, so suggesting I look for another job is preposterous. I might just do what I’ve always done: sit and wait. But it sounds so…. defeatist.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Why defeatist? Ostensibly if you ask for a raise later, you have a higher likelihood of getting it (and you’d still be getting a raise), whereas asking too soon is less likely to result in success and may make it a little harder down the road.

      2. Kinder and Gentler Manager*

        I am definitely the kind of manager who expects at least some sort of increase in responsibility/task/automation before I give the title and raise bump. I have no idea if that’s good or bad, but it has worked for me and my employees so far!

    3. LQ*

      I also think about when I’ve started some jobs that were…slightly more nebulous. (The job I have now, the good one before it.) There was a little bit of an element of what are you good at? What can you excel at? What will you take off someone else’s plate? The shifting around of work seems to be fairly common in some jobs when new people come on board (here certainly) and so that means sometimes it isn’t completely clear what the person will end up doing, and sometimes it isn’t exactly what the person before did.

      We have a new guy we hired and he’s picking up some of the stuff I work on (which I’m thrilled to bits about). He could have alternately picked up some of the stuff my coworker that used to be here worked on. So yeah, the job isn’t exactly what it was when he was hired, but it is a flavor of it.

      If we are all teapot specialists then you don’t get to ask for a raise when your job is work on teapots and you end up doing more handles than spouts because you are better at handles, or the handles guy leaves right after you start, or the team has fallen behind in handles. (Assuming they are basically all the samish job, which often they are.)

  20. Michele*

    OP#1. We recently had layoffs for the first time in the company history. There was a lot of resentment because HR did it. The employees and the managers considered it disrespectful that they were being told by a stranger from HR instead of being allowed to have a conversation with someone they had known for years.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s often assigned to HR because they’re more likely to stick to the right messaging and not inadvertently cause problems with what they say, whereas managers who have personal relationships with people are more likely to.

      That doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go but it’s common. (And really, when it’s a large company with tons of managers who would be handling it otherwise — and all the variations of problems that potentially opens up — it can make sense.)

  21. NW Mossy*

    OP2, one other point to bear in mind about the advice to wait a year is that you often don’t have a complete picture of what the job truly is until then. The majority of jobs have an annual cycle between busy periods and slow periods, and if you haven’t been there a year yet, there may be big chunks of the job you’ve yet to see if they don’t recur daily/weekly/monthly. It’s very hard for a manager to justify fighting for an increase for you if they’ve not seen you do key components of the gig yet.

    1. SignalLost*

      This is a great point. Every permanent job I worked had chartable seasonal variations – if we want books on shelves for Christmas, we need the final draft by February or March, in academia the first week of every quarter is a madhouse (though fall quarter is the worst), etc. If you haven’t seen a full year, I would wonder what you’ll decide you should have when the midden hits the windmill in six months, or whatever your job’s busy season is. (The only exception I can think of right off the top of my head is if you are a tax accountant in the US who performed spectacularly over Feb-April.)

  22. The Supreme Troll*

    For OP#2, I think it would be appropriate to ask for a raise now if, and only if, the job responsibilities have increased so drastically that it is very obvious that the job has totally changed from what you were hire for (and you pretty much know this for a fact). This is somewhat difficult to determine, though, and you would have get the feel for that from your co-workers and maybe from your boss’s boss.

    You should probably be just a little more patient here, and see if you are getting feedback from your co-workers or superiors that your job duties haves drastically increased and become much more difficult.

  23. FD*

    #2- While Alison is right that you can’t ask for a raise so soon, you can lay the groundwork. Identify what the most important parts of your job are to your boss. Make sure you exceed their expectations. For example, does your boss like to see chocolate teapot bids turned around within 48 hours? Make it a priority to do that and then shoot her an email to let her know the bid is out.

    Generally, the groundwork for a raise is laid months in advance of actually asking for it, and it starts with really understanding what matters.

  24. Fictional Butt*

    #2– You said your employer knows you took a 16% pay cut for this job. Did you negotiate your salary when you got the offer? In addition to what other commenters have said, I think it could look pretty bad to ask for a raise just 3 months after accepting a lower salary. It might come off as a weird negotiating tactic, like you accepted a lower salary so they’d give you the job and then decided to ask for more money once they had already invested in bringing you on board. It might cause the company to question whether you are actually planning on staying if you don’t get a raise immediately (or even if you get a raise that doesn’t bring you up to your desired salary).

  25. Jessesgirl72*

    Op2: When your company hired you, they told you what they thought your monetary worth was to them. You say they knew you were taking a pay cut, but I will point out that you also knew, and accepted it, for whatever reasons. 90 days is not long enough to change their opinion of your worth unless you have done some pretty extraordinary things. Being competent at the job they hired you to do and being assigned a new project is not extraordinary.

    If you regret accepting the pay cut, and assuming your 11 year career in HR involves longer stints, if you can’t wait another 9 months for a pay increase, your best bet is probably to start looking for a job that pays what you need it to pay.

  26. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Re: #1, Obviously the answer is to have George Clooney fly in to deliver the news.

  27. Bea*

    When we take a job, there’s no way to ever fully explain every duty that will ever fall into your lap. So just because it wasn’t in the initial job interview and outline doesn’t mean it’s a duty that would necessitate a raise in salary.

    I just got a big stupid census report dropped on me a few months after starting. It’s annoying and out of left field but reasonable to expect me to complete the thing. It was the government who sent us the request so it’s not like my boss would have thought to mention it specifically. Along with other tasks that are company specific and as a bookkeeper I haven’t needed to do before.

    I’ve been given raises very quickly before when my prior boss did want me to do more. Those tasks were things he handled but due to health declining, he asked me to take on buying for him. Something that I did willingly and he told me straight out that “I’ll give you X amount more because this is not part of your job right now.” It wasn’t a project or anything that was irregular but a task that he was otherwise responsible for. So it made sense.

    I’d give it much more time and if the cut back on salary is hurting you, I’d look for supplemental employment rather than risking your standing in a new company.

    1. Whats In A Name*

      I think the option to look for a 2nd job to supplement is great advice here

  28. Anonymous for this*

    I once worked at a branch of an organization that didn’t have an in-house H.R. department. When there were (not unexpected) mass layoffs, the big grand boss send three department heads from headquarters (a.k.a.: the goon squad) to handle layoffs. They were abrupt and efficient.

    I really think that in that situation, it would have been better handled by the branch managers, even if those branch managers were not responsible for the decision, just because the branch managers already had a relationship with the employees.

  29. Noah*

    “As an HR professional, I think that extending a job offer and ending an employment relationship are two sides of the same coin, and the employee’s direct supervisor is the best person to communicate the facts in either scenario.”

    It’s normal to receive your job offer from your direct supervisor? I’ve literally never received a job offer that way. It’s always come from an HR person (or a recruiter, who get the offer from an HR person).

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