my team is flipping out over a thank-you lunch, my new job told me they hired someone else instead, and more

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

1. My team is flipping out and thinks a colleague didn’t deserve to attend a thank-you lunch

My workplace holds an annual conference/event for all of the employees (250+ people). There is a committee in charge of planning and all the logistics. A few people who were on the committee had retired or left for jobs at other places, and the committee was a bit short-staffed. One of the employees in my division, “Meghan,” was asked to join and she accepted (being on the committee is completely voluntary).

Meghan was only on the committee for one month before the event. Everyone else had been on the committee for a full 12 months before the event. The event was a success. Everyone enjoyed it and the directors and members of the C-suite were especially impressed. The CEO held a lunch for the committee to thank them and celebrate the success at a very exclusive restaurant (all paid for by the company).

Meghan went to each of the committee members individually and said that if they weren’t comfortable with her attending the lunch because she was only on the committee for one month prior, she would understand. She was clear she didn’t want to seem like she was stealing the glory from all the work they did before her. Every member individually confirmed it was fine for her to attend. They also confirmed it again at the debriefing meeting they had after the event.

However, after the meeting the committee members (for reasons unknown) are shunning and talking badly of Meghan. They think she should have declined the lunch anyway. The manager of our division is included in this. He has called Meghan delusional for not realizing she “overstepped” after he himself told her to attend. She deferred praise at the lunch because she was only on the committee for a month. There are emails where people told her to come. The committee members saying all kinds of nasty things about her. The majority of the members work in my division. I’m not a manager or supervisor, I’m a lead so I have no authority to tell people to stop. They all think she should have known they were being polite when they told her to go.

It has gotten really bad here. The snipping and vitriol is out of control. I don’t know what to do or where to go since my manager is in on it and he leads our division. Meghan is confused and upset by all this negativity directed at her.

You work with really petty people, and your manager in particular sucks. Even if Meghan hadn’t asked people if she could attend, it would be ridiculous for them to be sniping at her like this — she was on the committee, and it’s reasonable that she attended. And it’s not like she’s taking anything away from them by being there — it’s a lunch, not a pile of money that she’s grabbing an unfair share of. And then throw in that she asked them if it would be appropriate to attend (thus displaying some sensitivity to her shorter tenure) and they all told her yes, and they’re still sniping at her? Over a lunch? They’re being remarkably small-minded and unpleasant.

But it doesn’t sound like you’re in a position to do a lot here since your manager is part of the problem. You can tell your manager and others that you think the reaction to Meghan is unwarranted and point out that she specifically checked with people before attending (and point out that it’s just a lunch — she didn’t steal part of their Grammy or something), and you can push back when you hear people say unkind things, and you can make a point of being kind and supportive to Meghan … and you can take note that you work with people with terrible judgment, and factor that into future decisions. But I think your question is about how to stop this, and it doesn’t sound like you have the power to do that.

2. When I showed up for my first day of work, they told me they’d hired someone else instead

I’m hoping you can help me understand a situation I was in recently. I am a graduate who has been searching for a job for a while. A couple of weeks ago, I landed a great interview with a seemingly good company in my field. The interview went well, and I was asked to come back for a second. That went well also, and the hiring manager (I’ll call her Jane) said they had decided to hire me on a probationary period to see how I do, which I agreed to. Jane also told me that they were hiring for this position because the employee who normally filled it was out on maternity leave, and they did not know when/if she was coming back. So, Jane warned me that I may be out of a job if the former employee decides to return, but I just accepted that as well.

Anyway, the following Monday was to be my first day on the job and I arrived early. When I got there, though, Jane informed me that, unbeknownst to her, someone else in the office (a higher level executive) had already interviewed and hired someone for the position that I supposedly got. And that person was already there. Jane apologized again and said they wouldn’t be needing me after all, so the only thing I could do was leave.

Well, of course there is nothing for me to do now except continue my job search. But I am still very new to all of this, and I don’t have a lot of experience in working a “real” job (only retail). Is this kind of thing common practice for most companies? I understand that no job is secure and they can hire whoever they want, but should I always expect something like this? I am still reeling from embarrassment because my mom told everyone about the “fantastic job” I just landed, and I had to tell everybody that I didn’t get it after all.

No, that’s not at all normal. That’s very, very abnormal — and horribly cavalier of Jane. She could have put you in a situation where you had quit a different job in order to take this one, and it’s lucky that didn’t happen. But this is not the kind of thing you generally need to worry about happening.

3. I’m on a PIP — can I get off it and ask about a promotion?

After being in a nonprofit support role for around two years, I was put on a PIP in November. I attribute a lot of it to being at a satellite office and having a manager who prefers to work from home, which made communication on projects and expectations not the best they could be. I’ve also been pretty vocal about wanting a promotion since about a year in.

I’ve done all of the hard deadlines on the PIP agreement we created, as well as actively trying to integrate the soft deadlines and suggestions (i.e., timely feedback). I know a PIP is usually step one in degradation of trust and doesn’t create a good working environment. However, is there a way to formally remove the PIP and continue to push conversations about promotional opportunities? What is the average timeline that PIPs stay active? In the PIP agreement where we mapped out the action items for improvement, the HR person added language saying that lack of improvement within three months could result in further punishment and/or termination.

A good PIP (performance improvement plan) will have a clear timeline by which improvements must be made and when the manager and employee will reassess the person’s performance and decide whether and how to move forward. It sounds like the timeline in yours might be three months — but PIPs can be all sorts of lengths. Some are as short as two weeks. Some can be as long as six months. If you’re not clear on yours, you can ask something like, “Is there a specific timeline for when you’d like to reassess how things are going in my work?”

But a PIP is a statement that your employer has serious concerns about your performance; it’s generally the last step before firing you. That means that this isn’t the time to push for promotions — they’re thinking about whether or not to fire you, so promotion isn’t anywhere on their radar right now, and you will look very out of touch with that reality if you bring it up (so much so that it could be a strike against them keeping you on at all).

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Everyone is going to overhear me resigning

I have a question about how to quit. I’m leaving my first post-college job in about a month, and I’m really glad I started reading your blog recently because I was otherwise planning on giving a very long notice period (I’m leaving when my lease ends) and your words convinced me not to!

At any rate, I know giving notice should be face-to-face, but my boss is in a different location than I am. I know the next best situation would be over the phone, but I’m in the middle of a very small office and both of my coworkers (who are far senior to me, but not technically my manager) would probably hear the conversation. Is that something I should be sensitive to? If it matters at all, we also share an office space with a different organization, and they would definitely hear me quitting (and subsequently ask me about it, since we’re sociable), but my coworkers at my organization might not hear me, at least until they hear my conversation with folks from the other organization! I’m sure this has a really simple answer, but I haven’t seen any examples of other people quitting, so I’m not quite sure the best way to approach it.

Yeah, ideally this is a call you’d make in private. It’s not that it’s outrageously sensitive, but it would be a little odd to nonchalantly deliver that news within earshot of a bunch of coworkers. Ideally you’d make the call from a cell phone and do it somewhere else — the stairwell, outside your building, a coffeeshop, or so forth. If you think it’s likely you’ll need to wait for your boss to call you back (and thus you can’t just hang out in the stairwell waiting for that to happen), it’s also okay to say when she first calls, “I want to step out in the stairwell for this call, so give me just a moment to duck out.”

5. Should I invite coworkers to my wedding?

I recently moved to a new team/job at work (six months ago) and I absolutely love them. They have gone above and beyond to help me learn my new job and truly could not have been nicer. I feel really close to them and would love to have them there on my special day. My fiancé thinks it would be weird to have coworkers there since I’ve never hung out with them outside of work (they’re all older than me, with families). Would it be weird to invite them? This is a local wedding so no one would be required to travel or even get a hotel.

It’s really up to you and your fiance! There’s no reason you can’t invite them if you want them there, and some people do indeed invite coworkers to their wedding. The one caveat I’d give is to make sure that people don’t feel like they’re obligated to attend, but that’s true of any wedding invitation.

{ 568 comments… read them below }

  1. justcourt*


    Good luck getting people to serve on that committee in the future. God forbid someone miss a committee meeting meeting or something and then eat 100% of their thank you lunch when they’re clearly only entitled to eat 90% of their lunch.

    1. Borne*

      They seem to have a union mentality about this, almost like the co-worker didn’t have enough seniority to be worthy of attending the lunch.

        1. LadyL*

          This type of thing happens all the time where I’m from, albeit on a lesser scale. The issue is, some people believe in an unspoken social code, where one ought to just know the correct way to behave and must conform to that. Directly denying someone something/hurting their feelings/stating something negative is against this code, so when you’re directly asked something like “is it cool if I come?” you *must* reply “Of course!” even if you feel otherwise. Then you resent the asker for putting you in this position, and you may even interpret asking as a malicious thing.

          It’s called “ask vs. guess culture” if you want to google to learn more. It can be cultural, regional, or workplace based, but it’s a really rough thing.

          I myself an an “asker,” but I come from the Midwest which is predominately a “guess culture,” so I feel for Meghan and the OP. I find guess culture incredibly frustrating, but I have found that talking about it helps. Before hearing that phrase I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe what was going on when I encountered situations like OPs. A lot of guess culture people feel bullied by askers because they don’t feel like saying “no,” is ever an option, so once I realized that it helped when I made it a point to demonstrate how comfortable I was hearing “no,” or asking things in a sideways way where they could say no without it feeling so direct. The biggest helper though was moving to a different part of the US, so maybe the real advice is Meghan should look for a job at a company with a better culture fit…

          1. Anony*

            I wonder if the OP could point out that by holding attending the lunch against Meghan after she explicitly asked if it would be appropriate and everyone said yes sends the message that that they cannot be taken at their word and will likely lead to people declining optional events because they don’t know if they are really being invited.

          2. Beancounter in Texas*

            I find, like you, that phrasing my question in a way that gives permission to say no helps the other person admit their true feelings, because they realize my feelings won’t be hurt.

            If one is truly being polite to Meghan by saying she’s welcome when the person doesn’t feel that way, should stuff it after the fact. Meghan did no wrong here.

          3. Spider*

            …once I realized that it helped when I made it a point to demonstrate how comfortable I was hearing “no,” or asking things in a sideways way where they could say no without it feeling so direct.

            Same — I always frame my questions with both the “yes” and “no” option (like, “Is it cool if I come too, or would you rather go by yourself?”), so people will feel more comfortable saying “no” if they want to (and I’ll know that if they say “yes,” then they probably mean it), and it gives them the language to use to say “no” if doing that is hard for them.

            1. SarcasticFringehead*

              That’s something I worked on a lot when I was a writing tutor – our goal was always first and foremost to help the client express themselves, but it can be very easy for someone who’s unsure about their writing to get steamrolled by someone they see as being an authority in the area. Whenever I made a suggestion, I would always ask, “would you like to do something like that, or leave it as-is?” or similar, so if they wanted to leave it as-is, the answer was right there in the question.

          4. Observer*

            Even in a guess culture, though, this is over the top. Her SUPERVISOR is calling her “delusional”. That’s just bizarre.

          5. 30 Years in the Biz*

            Thank you for the explanation. I just Googled “ask vs. guess culture”. So interesting!

          6. Oranges*

            I’m from MN the ultimate USA guess culture and even I find this over the top. I could see where this could be “reasonable” if I squint sideways and make a TON of out-there assumptions about Meghan and the company.

            The co-workers are ALL guess culture
            Meghan is an ask culture
            Meghan doesn’t know about the cultural differences
            Meghan is very very bad at reading a soft no.

            What’s more likely is that they knew that it would seem petty of them to tell Meghan “no” so they said yes and then are pissed when she, you know, took them at their word. Then they doubled down on it by stating Meghan should be a mind reader. This is waaaay more likely. They didn’t want to say “yes” but also didn’t want to seem “petty” by saying no. Now they ARE being petty so…. shrug. Good luck.

            1. Sounded like a good idea*

              I’m also from Minnesota and I can honestly say if Meghan asked me (if I were her coworker on the committee) whether it would be ok to attend the lunch, I would have told her yes, attend. Even if in my mind I was a petty person thinking “How dare Miss One-Month think she deserves to go to our lunch” – I’d still say yes with a smile. And I know from experience I have had coworkers who would had also said yes and then bad mouthed her for attending. There is no way in my Minnesota “Nice” upbringing can I am imagine saying “no don’t come to this lunch” when asked directly. It pains me to think of it.
              I think she had every right to go and everyone is being petty. Because I can also almost guarantee that if she DIDN’T notice, the same people would have been judging her for that.
              Her manager should have nipped this in the bud immediately.
              This sounds like a nasty office culture that can let any perceived faux pas fester into icky gossip.

              1. Oranges*

                I’m betting in your scenario that after you said “yes (even though I meant no)” to her direct ask you’d still slap a smile on and continue to be polite if she showed up and not do a reenactment of Mean Girls.

              2. Oranges*

                PS. You might also have given her the “soft” no. Eg: “I know you did a ton of work and I really appreciate it however in this office culture going to that lunch will cause Doreen and Lucinda to react negatively because they’ll think you’re “stealing their thunder”. Or whatever plausible excuse you can come up with. Then probably “but because you did do so much let me get you a gift card for [insert store here]”.

                1. Sarah M*

                  Exactly. Even in direct/”ask” culture, there’s an expectation to be polite when saying “no” the vast majority of the time. We *all* have to learn to come up with socially acceptable ways of doing it. It’s Adulting 101. As is: Not Viciously Backstabbing ___ when they take our “yes, you can go to the lunch” at face value.

          7. Kelsi*

            But like…I come from (and am heavily influenced by) a guess culture, and this is wayyyy out of the norm. It’s not a minor passive-aggressive reaction to something they “should” know but were just clueless about. It’s insane pettiness over something no reasonable person (even from guess culture) would think was out of line.

          8. Snargulfuss*

            As a member of the committee – for however small a period of time – she deserved to go to the lunch. For me the idea of ask vs guess culture is irrelevant. Meghan did the committee a favor by stepping in when there was a need and now she’s being punished for it, even though she demonstrated sensitivity that she hadn’t done as much work as the rest of the committee. What a bunch of petty people!

          9. Kate 2*

            I really wouldn’t call this “guess” culture. It isn’t like any guess culture I’ve ever seen or heard of. In guess culture you aren’t really supposed to ask at all, but there is no expectation of lying when asked.

            For example you wouldn’t ask your family members to donate to a charity marathon you were doing, you’d just mention to them that you were doing a charity marathon and were going to be raising money for it. Then they can donate or not.

            The whole underlying theory of guess culture is “asking without asking”, so no one is put on the spot of having to ask and maybe be rejected or of having to be asked and reject someone(‘s request).

            Really guess culture, at least the ones I’ve seen would mean Jennifer saying to members or in a meeting that she feels she shouldn’t attend because she was only on the committee for 1 month. And then the members would either say “No, no you should go” or change the subject (subtly telling her she shouldn’t go by not disagreeing)/agree and say you think “other” committee members would prefer that.

          10. Annoyed*

            Or…they could just grow up and not expect people to “just know” that they are lying to their face.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Actually, she did: “seem to have a union mentality about this” and I agree with Mike C. This has nothing to do with unions and everything to do with people being childish.

            1. Borne*

              One can have a union mentality without there actually being a union.

              Mentality is a way of thinking.

              Example of union mentality is thinking number of years/months on the job/project is important rather than merit/effort.

              1. Observer*

                This really has nothing to do with a “union mindset”. The problem here is not that they think that time on the job is more important than effort or accomplishment. The problem is that they are exclusionary, hypocritical and just plain old MEAN.

          2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

            ‘a union mentality’ does sound like the poster was making a reference to unions, I’ll be honest.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            “a union mentality about this, almost like the co-worker didn’t have enough seniority to be worthy”

            Right there in black and white.

          4. teclatrans*

            I thinknthed reply was nested under the wrong person, since “union mentality ” seems pretty clear. And, agreed that it’s a leap from seniority to union.

      1. Liz*

        Military wives can be just as bad. An officer’s wife may invite an enlisted’s wife to something, but that doesn’t mean she’s actually invited.

        1. nunya*

          I’m a lousy guesser. I’d never even have asked. I would just assume being on the committee, even for a week counted. They’d be talking about me for decades.

          Now, I really have to wonder. A retired General built a home. Many. Stars. First he built a big barn, with living quarters, big deck, and a huge water feature, to stay in while the house was being built. My husband did a lot of work on that barn and that pond.

          They had a big barbecue, they invited the neighbors and the companies that worked on the house or the barn or pretty much did anything. The CEO and wife, the office manager and wife, the CEO’s EA and husband, DH’s immediate superior and wife, then DH and me. The CEO said we should come, the board member who was related to the general’s wife said we should come. Since DH was the guy on a ladder doing the actual work, does that mean the general’s wife was automatically pissed?

    2. Willis*

      Lol….”Yes, I would love to start with a salad, but unfortunately I missed the June meeting, so I’ll have to pass.”

      But seriously, these people are the worst. Meghan volunteered, and helped for a month, so of course she should be thanked. But if the others were going to be so greedy about the lunch/attention, they should at least have the nerve to answer honestly when Meghan asked if she should attend. Sorry, OP, that you’re not in a better position to address this!

      1. LeRainDrop*

        I love this comment. It perfectly encapsulates my thoughts. It’s like the committee peeps are retaliating against Meghan for her willingness to volunteer and step in to help when they were short-handed — ridiculous!

        1. Jesca*

          “It’s like the committee peeps are retaliating against Meghan for her willingness to volunteer and step in to help when they were short-handed”
          That is what bothers me the most! She went in last minute to help with something because THEY needed her help! In my mind, you should always thank those that stepped in last minute to help anyway! They didn’t have to.

          It is so weird to me how people get about breaching some sort of ambiguous social etiquette where the rules to being gracious are on all sides and the outcome of whether anyone breaches it is … well … nothing. No one is hurt by a new group member joining a lunch, and everything is to be gained by making this person feel welcome by … welcoming them!!!

          This behavior is bizarre. It is obvious the reason why this has gotten so out of control is because the manager is pushing it. I’d keep a wide distance from this manager, OP. Normally people don’t just react over the top, apologetically irrational to one minor situation and then not others. Normally, it is systemic. Also, I am always leery of those who like to participate in bullying.

          1. AthenaC*

            Few things bug me more than this scenario:

            A: Is it okay with you if I do X? I was invited by someone senior to you (translation: you have no official standing to tell me no) but I want to be sensitive to the optics / your feelings, so I thought I would ask.

            B: Oh of course!! Go right ahead!

            A: Does the Thing

            B: Well, they should have KNOWN that I was just being polite!! (insert angry talk here)

            I mean, I get that there are cultures where that sort of “just being polite” is normal, but it’s past time for that particular ritual to die, especially in professional contexts where you depend on people to tell you bluntly what they mean.

            Or maybe I’m just biased because I am very dense when it comes to interpersonal things and I depend on people to bluntly tell me what they mean.

            1. Jesca*

              Yes, it is important too. But what is the most important is the complete over reaction to it all. It shows a broader trend of illogical, irrational, pot-stirring, drama loving, mean-ass people. Different etiquette aside, there is no reason to react to breaching it in this manner. And no should ever feel like if they did that everyone would then turn around and act like you wore the wrong t-shirt on the first day of 8th grade!

              1. Life is Good*

                I agree. I’m guessing that this organization is way more dysfunctional than this one incident. This kind of stuff doesn’t just suddenly crop up.

            2. Allison*

              I absolutely hate when people insist something is fine, when it actually is not fine, and then they punish you for somehow not knowing it wasn’t actually fine. Don’t expect people to be mind readers! And even if you think something is “common sense,” if a person asks for clarification you should be honest about what you want.

            3. MK*

              I am not sure that’s the most important issue. Frankly, if a coworker came to me with this, even if I thought they shouldn’t be included in the lunch, I doubt I would find a polite way to frame it in the moment and may well have vaguely agreed. Especially since a senior manager had seen fit to invite the coworker, so saying their presence isn’t appropriate would be critisizing their decision. And we don’t know that the response was “Oh of course!! Go right ahead!” rather than, say, “Well….of course, if the CEO invitied you, there is no reason for you to refuse…I guess”. The coworkers may well have been surprised/shamed into not voicing objections and Meghan might have not caught their negative tone.

              The main point is the overreaction. At worst, this is a faux-pas on Meghan’s part, not anything that merits such intense hostility and pettiness.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Well this isn’t a faux pas on Meghan’s part because she’s not a mind reader. If none of the coworkers saw fit to be politely honest with her , then it’s on them to not get upset that she attended. Her going doesn’t violate any etiquette rules, it’s not a strange request, and it’s not an inherently offensive thing she should know better than to ask about. So if she asked if it was ok and they said yes, that’s on them.

                1. MK*

                  I don’t actually think it’s a faux-pas either. But coming up with a politely honest way to say “no, I don’t think you should come to lunch with us, because you only did a fraction of the work” would not be easy for a lot of people; and there are cases (though this isn’t one of them) where a person really should know better than to ask something, exactly because they are putting the other person in a difficult spot by the question.

                  The person I blame the most is the manager. After all, she was in the best position to do something about this, like point out to whoever issued the invitation that they shouldn’t include Meghan or tell her it’s not a good idea to go, no matter what the other members were saying.

              2. oldbiddy*

                I don’t even think that it’s a minor faux-pas on Meghan’s part. She helped out, was invited to the lunch, asked the other committee members if it was ok, and they said it was. They probably would’ve gotten just as snippy if she didn’t show up.
                I suspect the committee must’ve been a bit of a clique and anything Meghan did wouldn’t be quite right with them.

              3. Nita*

                I see your point… but once a decision is made, it’s not a good look to complain about having made it. If I invited someone to a work event out of politeness, they’re still invited and I won’t be going around the office for days clutching my pearls because they had the nerve to attend.

                Never mind that Meghan was not invited just “out of politeness,” or that it’s only a lunch, not some kind of Medal of Honor…

              4. JS*

                If the coworker was invited by a senior manager you have no right to tell them they couldn’t come even if they asked you. They should be shamed into not voicing objections. If anything Megan asking them should have been key to them thinking “Well at least she recognizes she played a much smaller role than everyone else and isn’t trying to steal credit.”

                This is in no way any fault of Megan.

                1. MK*

                  Well, no. If the coworkers had “no right” to tell Meghan she couldn’t come, she had no right to ask them either; that was my point about questions one shouldn’t ask. If I seriously had no leaway to tell the coworker not to come and the coworker knew this, I wouldn’t think she recognises her smaller role, I would think she is a manipulative jerk for putting me in a position where I would have to give her the answer she wanted, or else go against management’s decision.

              5. LadyL*

                What you are describing is “ask vs guess culture,” if anyone wants to google it to learn more (everyone should google it). The basic gist is some people are askers: you don’t know until you ask, take what they’re told at face value. Some are guessers: saying “no” to someone is rude, so it’s not ok to just put someone in the hot seat like that, you gotta get the answer via more subtle social cues. Big generalizations there, so definitely google it.

                It’s a big cultural divide that never gets talked about, and I think it’s one of the biggest contributors to negative interpersonal relationships. Everyone thinks they way they do it is the way everyone else thinks too, precisely because we don’t talk about this.

                -an asker living in a guess region

                1. Oranges*

                  As a guesser living in a guess culture, seconding this. It will make my life so much easier because then I won’t have to listen to you complaining about our social ways (and defending those ways if I feel up to it).

              6. Artemesia*

                I don’t see how attending an event at work TO WHICH YOU ARE INVITED can be considered a faux pas.

                1. Managed Chaos*

                  If she hadn’t attended, they probably would have been offended that she thinks she’s “too good” to have lunch with them or some such nonsense.

              7. chomps84*

                Yeah, people will feel uncomfortable saying no, but that’s because saying no to this is ridiculous. Especially since she was invited by the CEO (presumably-I’m not sure if each person got an individual invitation or if it was just sent to the group email list or whatever). But even if she wasn’t, she helped out and people are being petty to not want her there. That’s way too much scorekeeping.

              8. Kelsi*

                Yeah, like…if they felt coerced into saying yes, then why did they feel so okay making such a big scene about it after the fact? If I didn’t feel like I could say no about something (because, say, the CEO was involved) I also wouldn’t feel like I could make such a public petty display of my displeasure.

            4. LizB*

              For me, B doesn’t even really have to be blunt about it — they can give me a soft No. “I think it would look weird to the rest of the team” or “in past years people in your position haven’t done X even when invited” would work fine, those to me clearly mean “don’t do it”. What B can’t do is give me an enthusiastic Yes and expect me to interpret it as a No. That’s just utterly bizarre.

              1. AthenaC*

                Oh, see – even a soft No is something I historically breeze right by because I’m naturally just. that. clueless. Now, I’ve gotten better over the years because after suffering the consequences of offending large swaths of people, I’ve trained myself to notice those soft No’s. Most of the time. But there’s still plenty of times where I start to breeze right by the soft No, catch myself mid-stream, and then ask the direct question to make sure the thing I thought I heard was the soft No that I think it might be.

            5. boo*

              Also, so what if they were “just being polite” when saying yes. Why the *expletive* can’t they continue to “JUST BE POLITE”?

              I mean, they did it once…

            6. Oranges*

              See, I put it like this since I’m from a very… “You should have known” culture. IF someone doesn’t get that my acceptance was a polite “yes (but really no)” then that’s on me. I will know they need more directness in the future AND I can’t fume about them “not knowing I was being polite”.

            7. JM60*

              I really, really hate this false sense of ‘politeness’. If the answer really is no, misleading them by saying yes isn’t very polite. It’s misleading.

              I think this idea that saying no to someone is rude, even when no is the correct answer, needs to go. It’s possible to politely say no.

              1. Specialk9*

                Those people weren’t being polite, they’re all glassbowls.

                But your assertion that your way is the bestest is pretty culturally closeminded. You don’t like guess culture, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong and has to change.

      2. MLB*

        And IMO, her asking if it was cool with the other committee members to attend was unnecessary. She was part of the committee, and it doesn’t matter for how long.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Agreed, but I think this speaks to Meghan’s awareness of the committee’s dynamics. She probably picked up a vibe of exclusionary behavior or some such, and sure enough…

          1. Bostonian*

            Yep. I’m guessing these people were openly petty about a lot of things, and Meghan picked up on that. As an outsider, it seems obvious to me that she should go to the “thank you” lunch, but she must’ve known how they were and how they would react…

          2. Else*

            I bet you’re right about that – even if it wasn’t obvious before, she must have picked up a sort of standoffishness from them. What a bunch of jerks! I’d guess that the queen bee or boss toad of that group dislikes her and ginned up the reaction against her after she asked – there’s usually one dominant nasty in any group of nasties. In this case, probably but not certainly that manager. Or whoever’s been there the longest.

        2. ClownBaby*

          Completely agree. We started someone on the same day as our End Of the Year Thank You Luncheon past December. You can bet we told her to attend. Her coworkers even gave her some of their raffle tickets that they paid for with their own money.

          This is just making me think back to my high school field hockey team. We made it to the state championships and the school had a pep rally for us. The lead scorer was mad she didn’t get any special recognition. You can bet when we lost that championship game she blamed the defense. If the conference hadn’t been a success, I bet the more tenured committee members would have blamed Meghan.

          1. CMFDF*

            I started a new job at a school during Faculty Appreciation Week.

            The PTO gifted me a Starbucks gift card on my second day. Like literally, my first day, when I got there, the secretary asked, “do you like Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks better?” since she wanted to make sure I got a gift I would use, so she could tell the woman organizing it. I was encouraged to come to the luncheon celebrating the school staff on day 3. It was lovely, and I felt a little uncomfortable to be included in the celebration since I didn’t even know all my coworkers names yet, but it was better than the alternative, obviously, and I can’t imagine treating people differently.

            In this situation, it’s not like it was a bonus or something huge. It was lunch. And it’s not like they ordered exactly enough for everyone minus Meghan, but she showed up anyway, so she was literally taking food away from other people. She was invited because she should have been.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              She was invited because she should have been.

              Hell yes. This really bothered me when I read the letter. She helped them for an entire freaking month. They should really be grateful!

          2. Elizabeth H.*

            At the bookstore I used to work at, the custom was that you got a gift certificate to the store for the number of years old you were turning and a card signed by employees that was passed around by being handed down through our mail boxes that were all in the same place. I happened to start just a couple weeks before my 17th birthday. I was a little embarrassed that I was being given a card when I hadn’t even been working there very long, but it was so nice to be included and people wrote nice birthday comments like “Glad to have you with our team!” in my card. I ended up working there for 8 years and I’m still close with my former co-workers despite not having worked there since 2011! So there’s a right way to do this.

    3. Candi*

      Oh, they’ll be able to get the snippy ones to serve again. It sounds like it’ll get very cliquish very quickly at this rate.

      I wonder how bad it has to get before grandboss needs to be pulled in. (Since manager’s involved.)

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        Definitely agree with the cliquish-ness. In terms of concrete advice, I’d echo Allison in shutting down any conversation around this topic and making your opinion clear. These kinds of snipe-feats gain momentum from the constant reinforcement of peers. Each time you say, “I think you’re treating Meghan unfairly, now onto project X…” or “From my perspective, Meghan helped you guys during the most difficult time of this event – the last month – and everything went really well. You were lucky to have her. Now, about those reports for January…”

        That being said, be prepared to be ostracized alongside Meghan if you do this. I’d highly recommend it – I think the guilt and anxiety that comes from not speaking up is debilitating, but with a cliquish group, they are unlikely to actually change their minds when confronted with their pettiness. They will likely instead blame you for your opinions and lump you in with “greedy Meghan.” That being said, every time you voice your opinion, it cuts into their momentum.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I have to say this would make me start job hunting. What an awful way to treat someone. There’s ask vs guess culture and then there’s just being horrible.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This isn’t even ask vs. guess culture. Probably if Meghan hadn’t attended the lunch, they’d be tearing her apart over that.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yep! It’s heavily based on cultures where there’s a higher value placed on being extremely polite — “Oh no, please, you go first!” “No, not at all, I insist you do!” versus cultures where that’s less implicit. Think of the Midwest (known for being a guess culture) versus New England (ask culture).

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              What part are you thinking of? Cause where I grew up in Rhode Island definitely was.

            2. Specialk9*

              Boston is ask culture! I’m often startled by how much so. Though admittedly I hang out with a lot of Jews, and our whole culture has a lot of NYC to it. But the Bostonian Jews are so much more direct in communication than the southern Jews I know.

          1. Kate 2*

            Yes, for example New York is very much a guess culture. Well except for New York City, but you can say that about everything New York State vs New York City! ; )

        2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          Ask culture is where you just ask people what they want and they tell you. Guess culture is where you have to guess what the right action is, and asking directly is considered rude. It’s not just national or ethnic cultures, it happens in smaller social groups like families (and inside families! I have friends who went nuts growing up as an Ask person in a Guess family.)

          1. Kathryn T.*

            The key to the whole thing is that for Ask people, “no” is a perfectly legitimate answer to any question, while for Guess people, it’s rude to tell someone “no” if they’ve gone to the trouble of asking. So the etiquette burden then falls on the asked to make sure that the answer is likely to be “yes” before they ask.

            These are broad-brush generalizations, and of course exceptions exist even in the most die-hard adherents. I’m a strong Ask person, and there are still questions that I think are egregious even if I can answer “no.” Like when my father in law wanted to stay at our house for a month when we don’t have a bed for him — he’d have to sleep on the couch in the living room, and he goes to bed at 8:30 and gets up at 4 am while we go to bed at 11 and get up at 7. NO!

          2. palomar*

            YUP. I’m an Ask person raised by a Guess person, and the Guess tendencies get even more firmly engrained when they’re elderly (and especially thorny when they’re starting to get senile). It’s enough to make a person need therapy 2x a week.

          3. Julia the Survivor*

            Sorry I’m late to this discussion. I didn’t know there were names for these dynamics Ask and Guess.
            As a person who survived verbal and emotional abuse growing up, I can’t tolerate Guess Culture. To me it seems like emotional abuse.
            “You ask what I want and I lie to you – then you act on what I said, and I get an excuse to hurt you!”
            is how it has always seemed to me.
            For the nth time I’m so glad I moved to the big city. Everything is so much more straightforward and respectful here! Even when people get annoyed and yell at me, it’s honest, they’re saying what they mean, and we can move forward. :)

            1. Kate 2*

              Actually as I and other posters have said that’s not really guess culture. Outright lying when asked is not a part of guess culture. That’s a personal issue the lying person has. The whole point of guess culture is never being asked or having to answer. If you are asked though we answer honestly.

            2. Doreen*

              “Ask” vs Guess” isn’t about Guessers lying when they are asked. It’s the difference between asking to stay at your house for 2 weeks while I’m visiting your city vs. mentioning that I will be in your city and leaving it to you to invite me or not as you choose. It’s the difference between asking my cousin if I can respond two weeks late to her wedding invitation vs saying “I’m so sorry , I have to decline since I don’t know which day my daughter is graduating yet. ” and leaving her to tell me I can respond late if she chooses to. I haven’t asked for anything and the other person is therefore never put in the position of saying ” No, I don’t like having houseguests” or ” No, I really need to know by the RSVP date”

            3. Specialk9*

              That’s not guess culture, that’s abuse turning guess culture into a weapon in order to be abusive. Abusers can also turn ask culture into a weapon. The root of both is abusers wanting to hurt you and keep you off balance and preferably second guessing yourself.

              Real guess culture is more about restraining oneself from putting the other in an uncomfortable position, and has a deep empathy at its heart.

              (For the record, I *hate* operating in a guess culture. I’d rather have my arm gnawed off by squirrels. But I can see it in a positive light.)

              If you haven’t already, check out Lundy Bancroft’s books on abuse.

        3. Parenthetically*

          It’s only the best thing ever. Search “metafilter” “ask culture” and enjoy the new insights into ALLLLL your most awkward, frustrating, infuriating interactions! :D

      2. Wintermute*

        It would make me start looking too, not because this is a huge, huge deal but precisely BECAUSE it is such a weirdly small deal for people to be generating such hostility over.

        It’s very clear a few things to me. A) The co-workers are insensitive, sniping, back-biting little vipers. B) They love to stick their nose into other people’s business and assume ill intent C) You cannot trust what you are told around there D) Some people may be just the type that thrive on drama, and are looking to create it, sustain it and generally inflame situations for their own amusement E) I could be shunned for any reason, or no good reason at all, even if I’d tried to be sensitive, even if I tried to do the right thing, even if I was well within norms.

        That kind of “some days you’re in, some days you’re out”, “I’ll tell you it’s fine but hold it against you forever”, loyalty-testing BS was old by the time I was in high school, literally.

        That statement is USUALLY hyperbole but no, these coworkers really, legitimately and without hyperbole are acting like a bunch of especially petty 10th graders.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          And the fact that OP’s own manager is taking part in this high school nonsense is even worse. No one in that office can be trusted.

          1. Wintermute*

            This is an excellent point. The manager should shut this penny-ante middle school lunch table stuff down hard, not play along like queen of the mean girls/king of the in-guys.

            Instead they’re proving themselves a such a large and majestic loon they belong on Canadian coinage.

            That doesn’t bode well for what happens if you have a serious complaint or actual interpersonal issue and you need someone wearing their “manager” hat not their “drama club” hat.

            1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

              “Instead they’re proving themselves a such a large and majestic loon they belong on Canadian coinage.”
              I love this so much.

            2. Thursday Next*

              Is the “loon” metaphor a Canadian saying? I’ve read a similar comment on a previous AAM post. I love it—and it’s completely apt for some of the people we read about here.

              1. Wintermute*

                it’s derived from “lunatic” but I prefer it because it conveys the SENSE of “insanity” but “lunatic” was a term for a magical/mystical condition of being affected by the moon, or an informal term not a mental health condition or medical term, so it doesn’t have the ableist connotations of using synonymous words like “crazy”, “insane”, “psycho”, and so on when you mean ” way out of normal acceptable behavior”.

                Plus softening it to “Loon” makes it even less tied to actual mental disorder, because behaving like a loon means a lot of loud honking, frenzied flapping and leaving waste products (literal, social or stress-wise) all over in your wake.

                1. Reba*

                  It is not derived from “lunatic,” but from the birds. They have a kind of wacky, scrambling way of taking off into flight, and perhaps it also has to with their lonely cry (which is quite beautiful!)

                2. Trout 'Waver*

                  To expand on what Reba said, loony is derived from lunatic, but loon isn’t. Loon comes from a Scandinavian word for the same animal that was added to the English language in the 1600s.

                3. Wintermute*

                  Huh, I didn’t know that! But that makes me feel even better about the fact “Behaving like a loon” is generally my go-to because as I mentioned any other way of saying the same thing (crazy, insane, psycho, mental, nuts, etc) carries ugly assumptions with it.

              2. Loon from Canada*

                Actually the reference to the Canadian coinage is with regard to the fact that the Loon (a bird) is on the one dollar coin.

                1. Thursday Next*

                  Right—I know about the coin. I meant the “so majestic it belongs on a Canadian coin/painting” bit. Sorry I wasn’t clear!

              3. Else*

                The Canadian aspect is because there’s a loon – a waterbird, which is both beautiful and weird – on one of their coins. People call the coins loonies, or did. Don’t know if that’s current slang.

                1. oranges & lemons*

                  Yes, as we Canadians are a particularly majestic people, certain denominations of our national currency rejoice in the names of “loonie” and “toonie.”

              4. saby*

                I’m Canadian and have never heard it before! Indeed it took me a moment to “get” it because only one of our coins has a loon on it (and they all have the face of, um, Her Majesty, which is unfortunately where my brain went for a sec when I saw “majestic” + “Canadian coinage”)

                1. Wintermute*

                  As far as I can tell that particular quip is my own invention, a play on “behaving like a loon” meaning acting outside the norms of behavior, and the Loonie coin.

          2. K.*

            Exactly. That tells me that there’s no escape from such petty nonsense, and I don’t have time for that. Like Wintermute says, that stuff was old in high school. I’d throw up my hands, write them all off as petty folks with nothing better to do than foster unnecessary drama, and start looking.

      3. sunshyne84*

        Same, never mind the fact she was asked to help out in the first place. Why did they invite her to help out that late in the game anyway if they were going to turn around and not expect her to come to the dinner? None of this makes sense and I think LW has every right to voice her opinion of the situation regardless of rank.

        This scenario reminds me of when a cousin brought her boyfriend home and her mom had cooked and asked him if he wanted some and he said yes. Then after her left she was trashing him talking about he was supposed to decline. That was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard!

        1. Nita*

          Yep. If they didn’t want her anywhere near their precious committee, they should not have asked her to help. Incidentally, did they? Or did someone in top management have her join against their wishes, and this is where the back-biting is coming from?

          Anyway, so juvenile, high school wants them back. It’s too bad OP doesn’t have the seniority to shut this down as a manager, but I hope they do say something. I’m also curious how long it’s been since the event and dinner… it sounds like it’s been a while, the talk is not dying down, and it’s time someone took this up with HR. Unless, of course, some of the committee *is* in HR.

      4. overeducated*

        Agreed. It seems like a sign of some pretty deep communication and trust issues that won’t be limited to just one lunch.

    5. Artemesia*

      No kidding. I can honestly not imagine this scenario. She was on the committee, of course she came to the frigging luncheon. The only thing I can imagine is that her asking repeatedly about attending set the frame for them to question whether she should attend. Or some individual jerk got everyone else amped up. She needs to get out of there.

      1. MK*

        An individual jerk with so much authority is an issue in iteself. And even if they thought it would have been more appropriate for her to decline the invitation, her not doing so hardly merits this level of spite. It’s one thing to think it wasn’t appropriate of her to attend, another to act as if she committed fraud to get there.

    6. Pollygrammer*

      Was this lunch filet of unicorn with a side salad made of cash? I can’t imagine getting so insanely vicious about it otherwise.

      1. Engineer Woman*

        And Meghan’s attendance meant that the other committee members got less unicorn and less cash.

        Seriously – it’s a company provided lunch. Whether one more person attends doesn’t make the other participants “lose out” on anything. Or am I missing something?

        1. SignalLost*

          You’re not. This is just bananas. Unless Meghan was the office fish-microwaves and everyone hated her anyway, this is all weird and disproportionate, and I have to wonder if manager started it or got in very early and people think it’s better to be on his side, because … it’s lunch. Meghan presumably didn’t take her lunch from off other people’s plates, so they lose nothing by her attending. (And if she is disliked should have no bearing on this but I can’t figure out any other reason for such bonkers groupthink.)

    7. Tuesday Next*

      How unbelievably rude. After they ASKED her to join because they needed help! Incredibly petty. Please let Meghan know that they are completely out of line here.

    8. WM*

      Can’t agree more. The committee loses members and becomes short staffed, they specifically ask Meghan to volunteer at the last minute (1 month before an event that needs 12 months of planning, apparently??) and she does, then they walk all over her. I hope the rest of the company is appropriately cautioned against supporting this clique of petty jerks. I wouldn’t volunteer to help them unless I’d seen some good evidence they’ve changed their ways.

      1. anon scientist*

        Also, sometimes last minute organizing members contribute more than people who have been on the committee the whole time. Even if Meghan was only involved for one month, there’s a good chance she did more than someone else on the committee and deserved to be at the lunch just as much (or more) than those people!

          1. NoGovtMule*

            Right – “A few people who were on the committee had retired or left for jobs at other places…”. I wonder if they were invited to the lunch. Smacks of “Meghan isn’t good enough to replace Wakeen, Sansa, et al.”

            1. sap*

              Which is probably technically true, because Meghan would have to be magic to be good enough to replace SEVERAL PEOPLE AT ONCE and do all of those people’s tasks perfectly.

        1. sssssssssss*

          Yes, that’s what I was thinking too. Just before the event there’s so much to do. She would have been very likely quite busy getting up to speed, attending extra meetings, prepping for what sounds like a big event (for 250+ employees). How could her time and contributions not be worthy of coming to lunch?

          And think about that: how could they even tell her “No, you can’t come to lunch, you haven’t been here long enough?” That in itself would be incredibly rude.

          This situation is very odd, hurtful and silly.

        2. Julia*

          I mean, I once had to rescue an entire event with three days notice, when the organizing person had been working on it for weeks, possibly months. (She just wasn’t very good at it and never asked for help until everything was a giant emergency.)

        3. Amy*

          I’m on what sounds like a similar committee at my job. We do different events all year but it’s always the few weeks before and day of that are the bulk of the work. The meeting a few months out are just planning and ideas.

        4. boo*

          Yeah, and also… a month isn’t actually that short a time to work on something, especially if she was filling in for two or more people!

          A determined opossum could give birth to two litters in that time. Meghan can at least have a lunch.

    9. INTP*

      Yep, and I feel like there’s a LOT going on here besides the luncheon. In a group of reasonable people, there would be no question that all committee members get to go to the committee lunch – it’s not like it affects the others in any way, I presume they didn’t have to share their food with her! For Meghan to even think to ask everyone whether they felt uncomfortable with her presence, there was already a weird and unwelcoming vibe to her. The reaction to her attending when they told her to is just the weirdest part of a bizarre dynamic.

    10. ouinne*

      If she had bowed out I am betting they’d’ve complained about that, too. Some people just like complaining.

  2. AcademiaNut*

    At my workplace, it’s fairly common to see an email announcing an upcoming wedding, and a note that if anyone wants to come, reply, and they’ll be sent an invitation. This makes it pretty clear that you’re welcome, but there isn’t a sense of obligation.

    1. Doks*

      As someone who is currently planning a wedding – this gives me goosebumps. What if all 44 people in my workplace reply yes? With their partners? And kids? My wedding is only 120 people as it is…
      That said, for people who have more leeway in invites, I think it’s a really nice idea.

      1. Cyberwulf*

        Where I live, if people are inviting co-workers to a wedding it’s perfectly acceptable to invite them to the after-party only (e.g. drinks and dancing in the evening after the meal). But you don’t have to invite co-workers at all and it would be rude of them to expect an invitation.

      2. A.M.*

        Probably a different country. For example, in most of Europe, you have a courthouse wedding, which is very informal and everyone can come (or have a quick celebration outside after the ceremony). A church wedding and reception would be separate (possibly a separate day even) and would require a formal invitation.

      3. Else*

        I invited them to mine that way – but it wasn’t a fancy wedding. My actual wedding had seven people on top of a mountain, and one was a baby in a backpack. They were invited to the picnic reception/family reunion/park party we had months later.

    2. Millennial Lawyer*

      Oh my goodness! I’m so curious what kind of office/location you’re in, because here in my U.S. city, weddings are at least 100-130/pp on the low end. You’d have to be really rich to invite everyone in your office!

    3. Sydney Bristow*

      This is what my husband’s office is like too. I was terrified that everyone would come because we didn’t have that kind of space! Our wedding was on the other side of the country though and his boss and 1 coworker he’s very close to were the only ones who came. A bunch of his coworkers gave us a very nice wedding shower though. It all worked out really well.

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        Oh and for context, this was 3.5 years ago and we work in NYC and got married on the west coast of the US. His office is really big too.

    4. Turquoisecow*

      Ok so I was unemployed when I got married (the business had gone bankrupt and shut down) and invited a handful of coworkers I’d considered friends. If I invited the entire office, that would have been supremely expensive. It would have been kind of insane to invite even just my department. I think inviting everyone at the company only works if you have a small company.

      (Also, I didn’t like a lot of those people. No way was I gonna invite that woman who always snapped at me when I asked her questions. Or some people who seemed nice but I didn’t talk to often, or ever.)

    5. Mona Lisa*

      When I got married, I invited only my immediate team/department, which was a very manageable three people. Since I worked at a very large university, this seemed to be a helpful dividing line that I could point to if anyone asked (though no one did).

  3. Christy*

    #3, I would encourage you to look at the situation from your boss’s perspective. Your boss found you to have such significant problems with performing at an acceptable level that she put you on a PIP. Like Alison says, that’s huge. And if your manager thinks that you are struggling to this extent (and she does, otherwise you wouldn’t be on a PIP) then why would she think that you should be promoted? Your performance isn’t even indicating that you can satisfactorily do your current job—how could it indicate that you could do a more advanced job?

    I hope I’m not sounding snarky. I’m genuinely trying to encourage the shift in perspective.

    1. Someone else*

      Yes, or to put it another way: meeting all the goals and deadlines in the PIP on time or even a little early is equivalent to you are now doing exactly what is normally expected of your role, and previously, when not meeting those goals and deadlines or performing up to the level established in the PIP, LW3, you were failing to adequately perform the role. Successfully completing all that the PIP requires puts one back at neutral, out of the negative. You’d need to be off the PIP and doing even better than it demanded to even consider a promotion, and there’s just no way for your track record to even establish that without a bunch of time passing after the PIP is over.

      1. Em Too*

        Honestly? It may not even be back to neutral, if neutral is normal expectations. Passing the PIP just means you’ve hit the level at which it’s not quite worth firing you and hiring someone else. Most people are probably performing significantly above that.

        1. Snark*

          Yep, this. It might even just mean “this person has addressed the most serious issues and has demonstrated that they have the capacity to perform adequately in the role.” When the PIP ends, you’re still somewhat on probation, even if informally; you’d have to demonstrate sustained, fundamental improvement for some time to show that you’re worth a promotion.

        2. INTP*

          Yep. I would say that when you get taken off of the PIP (by meeting all requirements, not by asking to be taken off), the clock starts back at zero on your promotion. Basically, you need to wait as long to start asking about promotions as if you had just started your job on that day, because that’s the day that you returned to the minimum acceptable level of performance. That means probably get off the PIP, get to the point where you are receiving “exceeds expectations” ratings at your performance review, and then you can ask about a promotion, and it will probably be at least 1-2 years before it’s appropriate.

          1. Artemesia*

            If s/he has a performance review 6 mos down the road, a very ginger query as to a path for promotion, ‘what do I need to do to become considered at some time in the future’ at most. And then only if s/he gets a glowing review. Anything short of that and say nothing except ‘what can I do to be more effective’ for at least a year.

            As Alison points out PIP means ‘we are considering firing you’ and completing a PIP only means, you have minimally performed such that it is too much trouble to actual fire you. Completing a PIP is not excelling — not that you can’t or won’t excel in the future.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I agree – passing the PIP means your performance is adequate. To be considered for a raise or promotion I think you need to be performing above average.

        I think it would be reasonable for you to ask for a meeting with your boss to review the PIP and make sure that your perception that you’e met the requirements and are working on improving the softer skills are the same as hers, and, if so, to ask about formally recording that the PIP has been completed, but I think you then need to focus on continuing to improve those softer skills / expectations, and maintaining the improvement in the other areas, so you are consistently performing well, beofre you even think about raising the issue of any promotion.

        Do you have formal performance reviews? If so, at your next review you could ask for further feedback and ask what you would need to do / change to be considered for a promotion in future. If you don’t have a formal review process then I’d suggest asking for feedback from your manager, maybe 3-4 months after they confirm that you have completed your PIP, specifically asking for feedback about how well she feels you are performing, whether she feels you have improved on the areas of weakness that led to the PIP and , *if all of the responses are positive* ask about what further steps would be needed for you to be considered for a promotion, which areas of your performance would need to further improve and whether there are specific skills or areas of knowledge you would need in order to be considered.

        I think bringing it up sooner, or where there are still areas where your manager wants you to improve, makes you look as though you haven’t understood your current role or the expectations of you, and that is likely to mean that your boss is not only very unlikely to promote you but will also have further doubts about you in your current role, as it suggests that your understanding of what is expected is not good!

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Honestly, I don’t even think three months after the PIP ends is an appropriate time for OP to start talking promotions with the manager – you were on the verge of being fired for subpar performance. It’s incredibly tone-deaf. Exceed the expectations set out in your PIP, OP, continue to do so after it ends, and if you’re still performing at that same level in a year or more, then broach that topic.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I guess it depends a bit on how any intermediate conversations go.

            I wasn’t seeing it as asking for a promotion at that more, but more having a conversation about what types of thing they would look for, what being on track for any promotion looks like, as something to work for in future – maybe because I’m influenced by the fact that our template for annual appraisals includes talking about what the employees long and short term goals are, so it’s normal for the conversation to include discussions about what someone needs to be working on now, to be putting them in a position where they might be considered for promotion within the next year – 2 years.

            I imagine it also depends a lot of the workplace itself – if it’s normal to move fairly quickly and to be promoted early on in your time with the organisation then that will make a difference. I don’t know whether OP asking about promotions in her first year was normal for her org,. and that people do often more quickly, or whether that would have been out of place even if she was performing well.

            But would definitely see that kind of time period as ‘don’t even think of mentioning it any earlier than that’, not , ‘it’s fine to ask for a promotion that soon’,

          2. Wintermute*

            At my place of employment it wouldn’t be out of line to CAREFULLY bring it up in the sense of “okay, so we had a miscalibration on expectations which I overcame, now I’m looking to move my performance from ‘good enough not to be fired’ to ‘fully meeting expectations and contributing to the team in meaningful ways’. and my goal for the next year is to go beyond that into ‘exceeding my expectations and being a real asset to the group’, because I’d like to align myself for an *eventual* promotion one day. What can I do to make sure I’m on the right trajectory to exceed my expectations? what skills, hard and soft, should I look at developing? What areas for improvement need my focus?”

            But even at my very development-oriented workplace the ‘eventual promotion one day’ would be better left unsaid, or sotto vocce as an aside.

            Few bosses will hold having a 5-year plan against you, especially in the context of you going “okay I understand I pulled out of a nose dive but I’m looking to turn that into a sustained slow climb. where should I focus my efforts?”

            I would carry the analogy a step further, anyone who’s played any flight sims knows, you don’t make a hard dive, pull out at the last second and then try to climb as high as you started– you bled kinetic energy on that dive and you’ll never get back to where you started let alone higher than you started without stalling out and risking a flameout.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Yes, this. Once your PIP is completed, it would probably be okay to say “I see now that I didn’t understand my role, or the performance level you expected from me and having everything laid out in the PIP was very helpful. Now that I’ve righted me wrongs, could you let me know what kind of performance you’ll need to see for me to EVENTUALLY be considered for a promotion?”

            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Yep, and I like the language you used, Wintermute, because it really focuses not on the promotion but on the necessary performance. That’s really where the LW’s mind should be, now and going forward.

            3. Anon lady*

              I suspect that some managers would find it tone-deaf if a PIP employee came to them with any sort of 5-year plan/long-term improvement discussion. With some managers this can be easily misconstrued as you not taking the immediate need for significant improvement seriously.

              By this point, they’re not necessarily invested in your long-term performance (because they have little faith in it) so much as they are in you getting to the next day or week with minimal adequacy. If you’re on a PIP there’s a good chance that you’ve discussed where you need to improve… just do that. Initiating a further discussion about development looks like a refusal to listen.

              1. Wintermute*

                That’s a good point, I did intend for this conversation to happen AFTER successful completion of the PIP and a little bit beyond, at your next review after you’ve gotten yourself off the bad list, at least.

                1. Anon lady*

                  That’s a good idea, I can see that discussion being okay if one waits until the PIP is a distant memory.

                  In addition to that, I think it’s good to have some indication that your manager thinks you can perform at an above-average level consistently. If the PIP returns you to a baseline of just being mediocre, it still won’t be a welcome conversation.

      3. LKW*

        This – passing the PIP means you are performing adequately, not exceptionally. I think once you pass the pip, wait several months and then talk to your manager about what she needs to see from you to perform exceptionally and then ask her to consider giving you opportunities to show that.

        1. INTP*

          Based on the history of the OP being “vocal” about asking for promotions, I’d suggest he wait even longer – at least a year, and ideally until he starts getting feedback and reviews that he is performing “above expectations.” They know that he wants a promotion, and if he continues to give the impression that he will never be satisfied with his current job because he wants a promotion so badly, that might tip the scales towards deciding not to keep him. At best, it will annoy people and look tone-deaf and like he doesn’t take the performance issues seriously.

          1. Artemesia*

            Excellent point. Loudly demanding promotions when perceived to be inadequate has probably set a perception of the OP as a weak employee who is tone deaf; the only way to overcome that is to not be demanding but be focused on excelling. And not bringing up the promotion idea for at least a year is probably wise in that context. Focus on ‘what can I do to excel at this job’ rather than ‘how can I get promoted out of this job.’

            1. a1*

              “Being vocal” about promotions is not the same as “loudly demanding” them. I’m not sure where that assumption is coming from. It can mean simply asking what it takes to get promoted. And maybe asking too often, but that’s not the same as “loudly demanding”.

              1. a1*

                It can also mean saying “I’d love to work my way up the ladder here”, which again isn’t “loudly demanding” anything. And that also means, if these things have happened – expressing desire for promotion, regardless of method – why was no negative feedback given then?

                1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

                  If I’m honest the vibe I’m getting from the LW is they don’t seem very tuned in to the realities of their performance. And since the OP is silent on previous conversations we don’t know if there was or wasn’t direct feedback given.

                2. Anon lady*

                  If you’re not doing well at your job, you probably shouldn’t even voice sentiments like “I’d love to work my way up the ladder here”. It’s not loudly demanding, but it’s tone-deaf enough to convince a manager that you have poor judgement.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I wondered this too. OP, think of it this way: getting up to speed with the PIP is like getting back to zero, whether or not you think that should be fair. So if you’ve met what’s in it, you’re at zero – that’s not the right place to be before trying to get a promotion. You’re at risk of seeming like you haven’t taken seriously the fact that your manager isn’t happy.

      1. eplawyer*

        HR put in very clear language that your performance is well below adequate. You will be fired if the PIP is not met. The fact that you are considering asking for the PIP to be removed and you be promoted shows you are not getting this fact. Your job is in jeopardy here. You need to not just meet the PIP deadlines, you need to recognize that you are not doing the job for which you were hired.

        If you came to me and asked that the PIP be removed so you could be considered for a promotion, I would solve your problem quite easily. You would be terminated. I would not have someone who does not get how serious the situation is.

        That was a bit blunt, but I wanted to be clear.

        1. The Supreme Troll*

          You’re right: it was extremely blunt, though, not a bit blunt. I certainly would never want to work for a manager who would immediately jump to that reaction, just because their employee might be clueless on how promotions are earned. There is actually a middle ground before jumping to a firing, and a reasonable manager would go that route first.

          1. Jesmlet*

            I think every employee knows they need to be doing well in order to get a promotion. If someone lacks the self-awareness to know that barely meeting PIP is not nearly in the same neighborhood as deserves a promotion, they are not someone I’d want on my team. They’re already one step away from being fired, and then having the gall to continue to push for a promotion, something they were doing while still not performing adequately in the past? The PIP is the middle ground. I don’t blame eplawyer for wanting to fire them. No one needs that level of delusion around them.

            1. AMPG*

              Yes, absolutely. I once coached a direct report through a PIP, only to have her file a written response to her end-of-year evaluation because she got “Meets Most Expectations” instead of “Fully Meets Expectations” as her “grade” for the year. Um, I spent three months working with you to bring you up to standard – how could that ever be considered “Fully Meets Expectations” for the year? Self-awareness was already an issue with this employee, and this absolutely did not help her reputation with management.

              1. WorkingMom*

                Agreed. Apologies if this has been mentioned and I missed it – but getting put on a PIP also means that your manager is acknowledging that previous discussions about performance improvement (day to day feedback, reviewing a completed project or task and reviewing things you should have done, or should not have done, etc) didn’t work. This means that OP’s manager is recognizing that previous efforts to improve performance were either not acknowledged by OP, or not accomplished.

                A PIP is quite serious – an employee on a PIP can work back to meeting expectations and eventually exceeding them in the future. In my personal experience though (sadly), those who get on a PIP tend to repeat the same mistakes down the road and tend to have a pattern of getting through a PIP, working at expectations for a period of time, and then reverting into bad habits eventually, leading to another PIP, and so on.

          2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

            Someone on a PIP is in no place to be asking for anything, except the fair chance to complete the PIP terms and be reinstated as an employee in good standing.

            Someone asking for a PIP to be resolved+ a promotion is telling me there is a fundamental lack of understanding of where they are. The OP notes they understand the language in the PIP that they could be terminated if not successful. I’m not sure what a manager is supposed to do with an employee that has been told they are one step away from termination but expects a promotion?

            How can that even be a thought?

          3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            I agree with Jesmlet. The middle ground before jumping to a firing is called a PIP. The manager has had multiple conversations with OP about their performance, and OP still doesn’t seem to understand that 1) they are underperforming, and 2) that there is a connection between performance and being promoted. There’s only so many times you can underline the same word before you have to conclude that someone can’t, or won’t, read it, and “you get promoted when you perform exceptionally well over time” is not so esoteric a concept that it takes a lot of diagramming.

            I fully hope that OP takes their PIP seriously, improves dramatically, and gets promoted! In a year or two! But if I had a staffer on a PIP who started talking to me about promotion _during_ their PIP, or immediately afterward, it would be hard for that person to ever recover from it. I just have a hard time imagining ever promoting someone like that.

          4. Leenie*

            There wouldn’t be anything immediate about it though. This has been going on for some time, and the LW is clearly already in last straw territory.

      2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        It really sounds like OP doesn’t understand the severity of the situation. In my experience, a PIP is the first step of a termination. Now that doesn’t mean that people don’t successfully get through them, but I think it’s not the norm. Even if successfully completing the terms of a PIP, generally speaking those employees are at higher risk for separation than other employees. Think about it, if a layoff situation occurs, who will likely be at the top of that list; Employee A- who was on a PIP last year or Employee B- who has consistently met expectations. The very last list an employee with a PIP in their background will be on is a promotion list (barring a lot of time and perhaps a management change).

        The absolute last thing this person should be thinking about is a promotion. The only thing this employee should be focused on is job performance and meeting the terms of the PIP followed by close second of job searching.

    3. Snark*

      The totally off base expectation that promotion discussions are going to be appropriate this year might just be not knowing how PIPs work, but what struck me was OP3’s use of abstracted, distancing language when describing the issue that led to the PIP in the first place.

      “I attribute a lot of it to being at a satellite office and having a manager who prefers to work from home, which made communication on projects and expectations not the best they could be.”

      OP3: this is not a “regrettable events occurred” kind of situation, my friend. It wasn’t just one of those situations where, hey, satellite office, manager works from home, communication problems, what do? It was a situation where, details not provided, you – you personally – failed to communicate (adequately? often? at all?) about projects and expectations, to the point that your job performance was so off their next step was firing you. Not firing the communication, not firing the unfortunate circumstances, firing YOU for poor performance. I suspect whatever it was, was pretty serious – missed milestones, deliverable nowhere near what they asked for, other people frantically redoing stuff…..? Fortunately they were prepared to give you just three months to save your own job by demonstrating a willingness to improve to some minimally acceptable level to save your job. Not to “rock star” level, just to “okay, this person can improve, we can hold off on firing them for now.” Do you get, now, how serious this is? Do you own it? Because it wasn’t sounding like you did.

      In any case, as others have noted, many managers would stare at you incredulously and contemplate firing you on the spot if you asked for a promotion, of all things, at this point. Do not ask for a promotion at this time; it would be very, very off base. You don’t ask for one for….at least six months, most likely a year, in which your performance not only meets but exceeds expectations, in which these communications issues that nearly got you fired do not recur, preferably after a glowing performance review. Promotions mean “you are a high performer, your value to this organization has increased, and we want to give you additional and more complex duties.” None of those apply right now; your value has diminished and you’re having issues discharging your current duties. Right now, you work your ass off and prove that their decision to give you a chance rather than just fire and replace you was a good idea.

      1. Natalie*

        This maybe just be a function of where I’ve worked, but I’d say LW should wait 1 year minimum but probably longer. The two years LW has been working there don’t really count since their performance was poor enough to warrant a PIP. You need enough time to pass that “oh, you’re the person that nearly got fired” is not the first thing that comes to your manager’s mind when you meet with them to ask about a promotion.

          1. Jesca*

            Yeah definitely a year. I think if you are on a PIP, you should look at it like you are starting behind even your first day at a new company. You have to not only prove yourself, but also disprove a lot as well since your employer now knows you have issues in some areas. A year I think is totally minimum. Maybe even a year and half as average.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          My former company was the same way – you couldn’t transfer to another division or even think about a promotion for at least a year after ending a PIP.

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          At least a year makes sense to me. In my experience, getting a promotion means you slowly take on some additional or complex responsibilities. It wouldn’t make sense to start that testing/transitioning so soon.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        “…what struck me was OP3’s use of abstracted, distancing language when describing the issue that led to the PIP in the first place.”

        Yes, this struck me, too. OP makes it sound like she really had no control over anything because her manager works from home. Sure, she could have a manager that has terrible communication skills and doesn’t respond to emails, call, etc., but I get the sense that she’s blaming the WFH situation for the fact that she maybe wasn’t making the effort to keep her manager in the loop as much as she should.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          IF the real problem is the relationship between the OP and their manager and IF there is someone else the OP has a strong relationship with AND there’s a different position that would be under a different manager and a better fit, the OP MIGHT think about having a conversation about that with someone — but only if it’s a lateral move, not a promotion.

          1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

            Even that will be a tough task. Many employers have a ‘no transfer’ rule if not meeting current role expectations.

          2. BPT*

            If the real problem was a poor manager though, it’s still a bad enough relationship that ended up with OP being put on a PIP. I think if that’s the case, the best course of action is to start looking for new jobs, because an employee’s PIP is not going to make a better manager.

            So I think there’s only two options for OP here: if the relationship with the manager is salvageable (and the PIP was actually because of OP’s work), then OP should put their head down, work as hard as possible to get off the PIP, and then continue to improve and exceed expectations for the next year. If the problem is a bad manager, still put your head down, work as hard as you can, but start looking for jobs to move on. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to look for new jobs anyway if this one is not a good fit.)

            1. AMPG*

              Right. I was let go after being put on a PIP that I generally thought was a CYA move done just to comply with procedures. I personally didn’t think my performance warranted the PIP, but I also recognized that I was a horrible match for the company and vice versa, and had been looking to get out before the PIP happened. Bottom line: even if a PIP isn’t really your fault, it’s telling you what your management values. If you’re not going to see eye to eye on some of these basic things, cut your losses and get out.

        2. AC*

          I recently had a colleague who was put on a PIP quite unfairly from my point of view – his manager seemed to be on a bit of a power trip. Plenty of other people at our company have performed at much lower levels without any reprimand, and in his case, I think any struggles he was having were more due to being new in the work force and inadequate training rather than skill, attitude, or “fit.”

          He managed to survive the PIP without getting fired. But I still in a million years would never recommend he ask for a promotion, and I have actually been actively encouraging him to look for a new job. Being put on a PIP is the most official way upper management has to tell you that you are not up to snuff, short of firing you. Maybe you could turn that around years down the line, but I think the odds are slim.

      3. Alli525*

        Agreed – it seems like OP3 didn’t agree with the premise of the PIP in the first place… and “first step in the degradation of trust” is pretty telling that she’s not aware of how poorly her manager may view her, since a PIP is, like, the next-to-last step in that degradation.

      4. hbc*

        Yeah, even if this is a legitimate 100% failure on the side of management, it still ain’t going to happen. Rightly or wrongly, they see the failure as something the OP did, so there needs to be a track record of meeting these newly/finally explained expectations before there’s any talk of promotion.

      5. [insert witty user name here]*

        Agree with all of this and wanted to add that it sounds like OP thinks they are entitled to a promotion just by virtue of the fact that they’ve been in the job 2 years. OP – please adjust your thinking. All of these comments might come across as harsh, but please note that they are all very similar, which points to: your thinking does not align with workplace norms. It’s a good thing you’re asking the questions you’re asking; it makes me hope you are open to suggestions, coaching, and feedback. Please read these comments carefully and realize that they are all intended to help you get in the right frame of mind so you can be successful – and eventually work towards a promotion. And it’s just that – working towards a promotion, not just being handed one because you’ve been there a while.

        1. Jesca*

          I am kind of wondering if the OPs previous requests didn’t help contribute to being put on a PIP in the first place. If their performance/attitude/ expectations were so far off course, then I am sure asking for a promotion prior to the PIP didn’t help the situation either. It represents (truthfully or not) a disconnect from the actual situation, and I think the employer is reacting to that perceived disconnect as much as the performance issues. That alone would make me suggest to the OP to wait AT LEAST a year and half to bring up anything along the lines of promotion. I would also highly recommend that OP, after the PIP is completed, ask how they can start to exceed expectations and not bring up a promotion. This is the best way to remove the idea the OP has a disconnect problem.

          1. Jesmlet*

            Exactly. Performing poorly + “being vocal” about a promotion = lack of self-awareness. OP needs to be off the PIP (at her manager’s discretion, not at her request) and performing above average for at least a year or two without even mention of a promotion before I’d consider it as her manager. Your superiors need to think of you as capable of doing more organically. Shoving the idea down their throats is not going to work.

            1. a1*

              Being vocal doesn’t mean demanding one though. It can just be asking what it takes to get a promotion. More like “I am interested in advancement here, what do I need to do to make that happen?” And if they were asking that before the PIP, you’d think they would have received feedback about their poor performance before the PIP.

              1. Jesmlet*

                You’re right, I’m probably extrapolating from the tone of the letter and the “continue to push conversations” etc. line later on which doesn’t necessarily mean OP was being pushy before. I do think that my initial read is the more likely scenario though. Being “pretty vocal about wanting a promotion” doesn’t really sound like asking how to get one, it sounds more like declaring you should get one.

                Either way, if your question is “how do I get a promotion?” and they respond with “try being semi-competent at your current job first”, the mismatch is not a good indicator.

            2. Artemesia*

              I once counseled a support staff person about things we needed in the operation that were not getting done that if she stepped up would secure her job. She was an annoying person who only typed for one very productive superior who oddly didn’t type his own work but still wrote in longhand. When he left for another job, she really had almost nothing to do, so I pointed out that there was kind of a hiring freeze and yet we had X Y and Z desperate needs that if she could perform those would guarantee she would be retained. Her response was ‘well if I am being expected to do all this new work then I should be getting a raise.’ She was gone in 6 weeks. Literally all she had to do was grab one of those tasks and throw herself into it and we would have figured out how to keep her on board as we could not really replace her or hire to those positions. Sometimes people are just clueless about the reality in which they function.

              1. SusanIvanova*

                When Coworker Coffeecup finally got fired, I went through his bug list and knocked out a dozen of them in one morning just to prove how much he earned his name (I could do more than he did on top of my own work by drinking an extra coffee.)

                Our manager was out on extended sick leave so he missed out on the aftermath, but we caught up recently: turns out one part of his PIP was to do at least one bug fix per day. Yes, all he had to do was pick one bug that would take 5 minutes to fix – 30 minutes if you had absolutely no knowledge of the system – and he couldn’t even manage that.

      6. Daisy*

        I would add to this that since PIPs are usually a last-ditch effort to get the employee to meet requirements, OP3’s manager likely made several attempts to communicate expectations in a less formal way. That OP3 missed these is concerning.

        OP3, for each element of the PIP, I suggest thinking really hard about how your boss communicated their expectations and why you missed them. The truth is that PIPs are a ton of work for the manager and are done when other attempts to get the employee to improve have failed. What were those attempts and why did you miss them?

        For now, I suggest putting the idea of a promotion away for at least a year and working hard to sustain an acceptable level of performance. In many jobs, backsliding on something after a PIP is complete is grounds for immediate termination without further warning.

      7. Oranges*

        OP, listen to what Snark says. It is truth. You sound like you don’t understand how close you’ve come to being fired. Very close is the answer. PIPs are a pain to do from the company’s view point. The only reason you’re not fired right now is that the cost of filling your role with a new person is higher than putting you on a PIP.

        Rambling Story Time Again:
        You’re out driving and get into an accident and total your used car. The amount that it would take to repair is almost exactly the amount the car is worth. Now with the cash that the insurance company gave you for the car there are two options: You can repair your car knowing exactly what’s currently wrong with it and you’re okay with a salvage title OR you could try to get a different used car. Either way you’re rolling the dice.

        If you repair your car: the accident didn’t make any other hidden damages that will need to get repaired.

        If you get a new used car for around the same price: that the car you buy won’t have any issues of its own.

        Right now you are the car that got totaled. Your company is betting that any other car they buy will have it’s own issues but if you continue to run badly the scales will tip the other way and they’ll stop throwing good money after bad.

      8. myswtghst*

        The language really stood out to me too. On the off chance this is the 1-in-a-million situation where it really is about a terrible manager plus bad communication plus disconnected HR leading to a PIP, this doesn’t seem like a place I’d want to be promoted, let alone continue working. And in the much more likely situation that OP really isn’t picking up on the seriousness of the situation AND is not taking not any ownership for their performance, OP needs to demonstrate understanding and ownership (and a lot of improvement) before thinking about a promotion, let alone asking for one.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          While I do think the majority are correct in their summations of the problem: that is, the OP doesn’t have a clue, I do think it’s worth asking whether the OP is being thrown under the bus because the manager doesn’t communicate clearly. The problem here is that we don’t have any evidence to examine.

          But the OP might have evidence, which would probably look like a bunch of emails which had never been answered, a bunch of phone calls which had never been returned, and a bunch of attempts to follow-up after meetings in which nothing had been decided… The OP might take this evidence to a neutral third party, after printing it out and sanitizing it, and see what an experienced person thinks. Perhaps the OP could ask, “How much of this is my fault, and how much of this is the manager’s fault?”

          I think it’s likely that the experienced person will say, “Hey OP, you don’t have a clue.” On the other hand, if the experienced third party does agree that there has been substantial fault on the manager’s part, then the OP might consider getting another job ASAP, because even if the manager’s level of “fault” is only 30 percent, I’d have to wonder what else the manager hadn’t been doing; clearly the OP is inexperienced, at least in an office environment, and the manager should have been treating the OP like a newbie and doing some teaching, training, and possibly even a little orientation to the office norms which the OP clearly doesn’t understand.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I agree.

      I’m a manager, and if I had enough concerns about someone’s performance to put them on a PIP, there’s absolutely no way I’d consider them for a promotion once it was done. And if they asked I’d have serious concerns about their judgment and sense of reality.

      I’d say OP needs to be off the PIP and be a strong performer for at least a year before even thinking about a promotion. And even then, I’d probably give her extra scrutiny because of the past PIP.

    5. Queen Esmerelda*

      This sounds like an SNL skit on millennials in the workplace–think they should be getting regular promotions no matter what. As the employee is being escorted out by security, you can hear him wail “What about my new title?”

        1. Alli525*

          Thank you. Really, really tired of millennial slagging (and ageism in general, but I’m a millennial).

          1. Artemesia*

            As an old fart, slightly older than the boomers, I don’t want to hear it about us Olds either. Yeah there are generational norms and there are also huge individual differences in how people function with authority and managers need to be aware of working with different people, but let’s not get so caught up in avocado toast that we don’t notice that lots of things have changed in the world of work that makes like far more difficult for today’s employee compared to the things that made life difficult 50 years ago.

            1. Karen D*

              My experience is that every generation has slackers and stars. Though I will say that I have found the young people getting into my (beleaguered) industry right now to be consistently above average.They know their chances of retiring from this industry are slim, but they believe in the mission … so here they are, working their millennial derrieres off. I have nothing but respect and awe for the leap of faith each of them has taken.

              That said, where can I go to get caught up in avocado toast? Because that stuff is DELICIOUS.

        2. Purplesaurus*

          Agreed, and I imagine many perceptions of millennials are informed by the very media younger generations are faulted for supposedly preferring, versus any actual personal interaction with them.

        3. Minerva McGonagall*

          I could be wrong, but I interpreted Queen E’s comment as pointing out how parody-like this sounds. IE, this is the one millennial who doesn’t get it (because they are young, not because they are a millennial) who gives all the rest a bad reputation, not an actual representation of the average millennial.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            I don’t think you’re wrong (I read it the same way, to be honest) but I think it does put us in derail territory, since “millennials in the office” is a pretty hot-button topic.

    6. Kathlynn*

      Yeah, I think that the only time you *might* be able to pull off asking for a promotion is if it were almost a completely different job, with different job skills required (example: your current role is customer facing and your struggling with it, but you have a strong history of say great organizational skills, and a job opens as a inventory manager.).

      1. Snark*

        Even then, not unless it was a purely lateral move to an equivalent but different role. You don’t get promoted right off a PIP.

    7. g*

      It sounds like the LW sees the PIP was caused by miscommunication and poor working environment rather than personal performance issues:

      “I attribute a lot of it to being at a satellite office and having a manager who prefers to work from home, which made communication on projects and expectations not the best they could be. I’ve also been pretty vocal about wanting a promotion since about a year in. I’ve done all of the hard deadlines on the PIP agreement we created, as well as actively trying to integrate the soft deadlines and suggestions”

      But if the problem really was miscommunication due to working environment then a reasonable company would have focused on that rather than creating a PIP. So either the LW was more at fault than she’s admitting, or she’s not really at fault but the company is blaming her anyway. Sadly, in either case asking for promotion isn’t a good idea. It seems unlikely they put her on a PIP just as a formality but are actually happy with her, but from the letter it sounds like that’s how she sees it.

    8. Koko*

      I was struck by LW’s comment that a PIP “doesn’t create a good working environment,” which gave the impression that she might not have had the PIP explained to her very well. I’m not quite sure what she meant by it, but to the extent that a PIP is associated with a poor working environment, that’s due to the poor performance that precipitated the PIP, not the PIP itself. The PIP can only improve the environment, assuming she successfully completes it.

  4. MK*

    #1, this reaction might make some sense, if Meghan had derived some long term benefit from being in the committee one month, but simply for a lunch?

    1. Tuesday Next*

      I’m wondering what they expected her to do. Show up one-12th of the way through? Eat a quarter of a portion of dessert? Sit on the floor?

      1. Snark*

        Nope. Just telepathically divine that despite being told to come, that coming was not actually appropriate (in this bonkers-ass definition of propriety) and sit it out entirely.

      2. MK*

        They expected her to decline the invitation, stating that she wasn’t on the committy long enought to merit the “reward” of the lunch. Which I think might have been the right thing to do, if the reward was something like being moved out of the open space into a private office or getting an increase in PTO or even sharing in a bonus awarded to the commitee as a whole, because then she would have taken an office instead of a coworker who might have contibuted to the company more, have part of her workload passed to the coworkers who would cover for her or decrease the money coming to the other members. But her presense at this meal has zero effect on anyone else.

    2. Garrett*

      My thing is too, the month before a major event is probably the busiest time due to last-minute details and making sure it all comes together. She even deferred praise at the lunch. This is ridiculous. I am angry for Meghan.

      1. MK*

        A lot of people are saying that, but in my mind it’s not even the issue. Say that the event was exceptionally well-organised and everything was in place six weeks before the event. And/or that Meghan only had to take care of some minor issues and didn’t have to spent much time and energy on this. Or that she was not as helpfull as the others expected/needed. The reaction to her attending the celebratory lunch is still out of all proportion.

        1. Garrett*

          Agreed. It’s ridiculous regardless if she did nothing but sit there in a meeting. They whole think just makes my blood boil.

  5. Serendipity*

    LW #2
    If they’re so disorganised about something as significant as a new hire – to the point that they didn’t even know that two people had been hired for the same position – I would hate to think eat working there would be like.

    This is absolutely not normal, and I think you were the lucky one here

    1. Ozma the Grouch*

      Yes, this is most definitely one of those times in your life OP, that even though it may have stung in the moment, you are SO much better off in the long run. This is not the company you want to work for or the people you want to work with. They handled this poorly. This is not normal.

      1. Karen D*

        I have to say – I WAS in this situation when I started at my present company, under slightly different circumstances. They had two openings, and through lack of communication hired three people.

        I was the second of the three hired but because I had negotiated a later start date to finish a project, I was the last to show up, and for a day or so I was thinking I got caught in a horrible game of musical chairs.

        Fortunately, the boss at the time decided that one person on another team was carrying too heavy a workl0ad, split her duties, created a new position and put me in it. So it worked out well for me. More than a decade later I’m still here.

    2. LKW*

      I also think you dodged a bullet. What you went through is not normal. If they weren’t sure the person on leave was returning – it should have been a temp position with possibility of permanence. That a senior executive would go ahead and hire someone without discussing it with anyone – that’s the kind of behavior that makes life miserable day to day; senior management doesn’t consider sharing their vision, decisions, direction with anyone below them so the troops have no idea if they’re meeting goals.

      1. K.*

        This struck me too, the maternity leave thing. Was this job advertised as a permanent full-time job with benefits? There’s always a possibility that a person who goes on parental leave might not come back, but if a person is on parental leave, their position should be advertised as a temp/contract gig, and if the parent decides not to come back they deal with it then. I did a maternity leave fill-in about six years ago and it was a contract gig through an agency (the person in the role did come back, and then ultimately quit a few years later when she had her second child – I stay in touch with people from that company).

        The whole thing sounds really disorganized, and OP is better off.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I was hired this way for six weeks at an old job when someone went on mat leave, but that is exactly how my old boss put it. It’s for six weeks, Elphaba is coming back, you know how to do things. There were no surprises. If she had decided not to come back, it’s conceivable they could have asked me to stay.

    3. Serin*

      Also, if Jane didn’t think it worthwhile to call and let you know that you no longer needed to show up because you were no longer being hired, then what else doesn’t she think you need advance notice on? “Oh … I forgot to mention. Someone above me decided your position is a volunteer one, so you won’t be getting paid. Sorry about the last three months.”

      Jane’s behavior mystifies me the most. I can sort of see a company accidentally filling the same position twice because they’re disorganized, or having a vice president or board member who likes to get down into the trenches and meddle and mess up normal processes, but why on earth would you not immediately inform the candidate that it had happened?

      1. Kate*

        We don’t know the timeframe though. ‘Already there’ could mean the other person started a week before, or that they arrived 3 minutes before OP the same day (so Jane had equally little notice)

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          This is a good point, and even more disturbing. What if they weren’t “already there”? Is this job first come first serve? If OP had arrived first, would they have the job? Conversely, was there time to contact OP to inform them that someone else had been hired?

          How bizarre! OP, I am so, so sorry this happened to you and I wish you the best of luck with your job search!

          1. SusanIvanova*

            The level of dysfunction implies that the higher-up would’ve said “Who’s this person? I hired Fergus for this spot!” and poor OP would be booted out.

      2. Anna Held*

        Yep, dodged a bullet. And don’t forget to leave a review on Glassdoor! This is on them, not you.

      3. Sharon*

        This scenario actually happened to me a couple months ago: a job offer was rescinded because the company “accidentally” offered the single role to multiple people. Fortunately I had not yet put in notice to my current job!

        Being fresh in the job market, I see this sort of thing as typical of the way business treats candidates these days. For whatever mystical reasons, the company did not make the mental switch between thinking of the OP as a candidate and thinking of her as part of the team, therefore she didn’t warrant any further consideration until she was physically in front of the hiring manager. (Things are really, REALLY bad out there. So bad that I’m thanking my lucky stars that my current job is showing strong signs of improving, so I can throw in the towel on the job search. I’m done being treated like trash by companies.)

      4. GreyjoyGardens*

        There’s no good scenario here. Either Jane didn’t know because it wasn’t communicated to her – which is a red flag of poor communication and autocratic bosses. Or, Jane knew and didn’t tell the OP and made OP think they got the job, which is a red flag for Jane being a flake (at best) or actively a toxic person (at worst).

    4. GreyjoyGardens*

      I agree! You dodged a bullet not getting this job, because if a company is this disorganized about hiring, they aren’t going to sweat the smaller stuff, and this means a toxic job/workplace.

      “Oops, forgot to tell you, we already hired someone! Tee-hee, sorry! Go home!” is not acceptable at any workplace.

      It’s a good thing you didn’t quit a job you already had to take this one!

    5. Jareth*

      Same thing happened to me!
      I was working a part-time temp gig (making hilariously high pay, btw) and applying for jobs. I interviewed at a college admin department, had several next-round emails and phone calls, and was offered the job. Sweet! Permanent full-time status is mine! I told my temp gig organizers and they gave me a nice slice of farewell cake.

      The Very Day the manager was supposed to send me the paperwork to sign, they decided to bring in a college work-study student. (No hate on work-study, I was one all thru college.) Want to know how I found out? I refreshed my email all day waiting for the paperwork, and had to call the manager at 4:30pm! No apology, not even a tone of ‘hey, maybe we shoulda notified the person who was supposed to start TOMORROW’.

      My friend worked with the manager in question and got a department transfer asap. The manager did this every time they hired someone, and was in general an awful coworker.

    6. Klew*

      I had a version of this happen to me. When I got to the office on my first day I was informed, after sitting around for 45 minutes waiting for something to happen, that they had decided not to hire someone from outside the company after all and would be moving a current employee into that position.

      I was not …thrilled.

      The worst part: I was having a horrible poison ivy reaction on my calves (Seriously HORRIBLE. It looked like I had been burned) and I had struggled into pantyhose for this bullshit. And it was summer. Two of the worst pantyhose situations ever

  6. Candi*

    #2 -you might run into that kind of thing where nepotism and favoritism is strong and alive. And that higher executive’s actions have the whiff of nepotism to me. In any case, Jane should have been way more diplomatic -and on the phone to you as soon as she found out, unless it was something like five minutes before you hit the door.

    Best case scenario is this place is crazy disorganized. In any case, it sounds like you’ve dodged a bullet in not working there after all; this just doesn’t happen at a place that has all its cards together.

    #5 -Only piece of advice I have is, when you sit down with your fiance to talk about it, be prepared to listen. That means undisturbed time and being in the mindset to discuss openly, not argue why you’re right and they’re wrong. Get it all out on the table, reasons pro and con, then decide what to do. You don’t want to be “right” in your decision, both of you want to make the correct decision for your lives.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      2. Yes, I got the feeling that the new employee was a close relative and/or friend of the senior executive. Also, whenever I have seen adverts for jobs covering maternity leave, there is normally some period of time indicated. (e.g. 3/6/9/12 months) Then the job can be seen as a short term contract and if there is no possibility of it being extended you can start looking for something else before the end of your employment.

      5. If it is a church wedding, I have heard in the UK of people who were not invited to the wedding or reception (or had anything to do with the wedding party, apart from being members of the congregation), but went to the church to see the bride. There are even some people who have a “Wedding Spotting” hobby!

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      #5, this is a good point. If your fiance’s objections are more than just “it’d be strange,” like if they’re concerned about the cost, talk that out. Your coworkers will also not be offended if they aren’t invited to your wedding and it won’t damage your working relationships. Neither my husband nor I invited any coworkers to ours; I wish a bit now I had invited a few of the ones I’m close to, but it’s not a big deal (and I now have them over to play with our baby sometimes!).

      1. OP #5*

        OP #5 here! Its not a financial objection, inviting them would be well within the budget. Fiance just thinks its strange because he’s not close with his coworkers. But good point to find out if the objections go deeper than “it’d be strange.” Thanks!

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          We invited my husband’s coworkers but not any of mine because he is closer with his than I am. It doesn’t have to be balanced! Assuming you aren’t only inviting mutual friends, I think if you consider your coworkers close enough to merit an invite and budget isn’t an issue, then there is no reason you shouldn’t invite them.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yes! It doesn’t have to be, “Well, you invited 12 people from work, so now I HAVE TO invite 12 people from work too, le sigh…” or “I don’t want to invite anyone from work, so you don’t GET TO invite anyone from work!” Invite exactly and only who you want.

          2. JustaTech*

            My husband invited current coworkers (who I also knew) and I invited former coworkers (because I had just changed jobs) and my CEO, because he’s (distant) family.
            My new coworkers were not miffed that I didn’t invite them, since I’d only known then a few months.

            I guess that’s all a way to say “it depends on you and your coworkers and you and your fiance”.

        2. SusanIvanova*

          If he’s not close with them then they probably won’t know any of the other guests either, which wouldn’t be much fun for them. That happened to my team once – new coworker got married just before she started then had the “reception” a few months later, and insisted that we all come. It wasn’t like we didn’t know her at all, but we didn’t know anyone else there and it ended up terribly uncomfortable for us. We just stuck together then left as soon as it was polite.

    3. RVA Cat*

      This. It sounds like OP#2 escaped a buzzing hive of Evil Bees.
      Also, her mom should be the one having to spread the news to all the people she bragged to. It sounds like the OP was (wisely) being more low-key.

      1. Candi*

        Seriously. I know parents are proud of kids’ accomplishments, even when they’re adults, but respect the kids’ wishes!

        My son won his school district’s high school Martin Luther King, Jr., Day essay contest. He wanted it low key, so I told exactly eight people.

        Unfortunately, his English teacher either didn’t get or didn’t listen to the memo. She sent the news off to everyone. He was so embarrassed. :( And she justified it as totally a good thing to boot.

        1. Else*

          She probably wanted (perhaps subconsciously, maybe) to brag on herself by bragging on him – he wrote the essay, but SHE was his teacher.

        2. Artemesia*

          It is pretty much SOP for schools to make a big public announcement of this sort of thing and if they have an email newsletter or whatever to showcase it there. Public awards are public.

  7. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 I’m so sorry this happened to you. It is absolutely not normal or to be expected in every job. Nor is it a reflection on you, as hard as it must have been having to tell people it fell through (which is wording I have pinched from Alison that you could also use when talking about it to anyone else). If it’s any consolation, they sound really disorganised and working there would probably have sucked. Good luck in your search.

    1. Casca*

      Seconding all of this!
      They were terrible to you and it’s not normal or ok
      Good luck with the job search

    2. JRTB*

      Yep, this company definitely sucks. In my opinion, a form of severance/“oops, we messed up” pay would go a long way to try to make things right.

    3. LeRainDrop*

      I agree with Ramona’s characterization here. It’s not that the LW didn’t get the job — I mean, she DID get the job — but rather precisely that it “fell through.” I’m sure it must feel really sucky to have this happen to you, OP, but I agree with the others that you clearly dodged the bullet of a very disorganized workplace.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yep. It’s an awful thing to happen, but the silver lining is, you aren’t working in a place that does such awful things.

  8. Jessica*

    Also to #1, the fact that this committee bothered to add a person for the last month of a 12-month job, and recruited Megan to join, suggests that she did make a difference. Or at least it suggests that more help was needed; we don’t know what they thought of her performance, but none of the criticism seems focused on that. If they were so short that they really needed Megan’s help for that month in order to get the event off the ground, they should appreciate her!

  9. jd*


    I’ve worked on similar committees and *so* *much* *work* has been part of the last month right before the event that anyone joining in that timeframe (especially to step in after someone else has dropped out) deserves a SPECIAL thank you, not snippy pettiness. WOW. I’m sorry you can’t do much for Meghan officially, but please let her know you support her.

    1. cncx*

      same here. i’ve been the person who steps in the last month and i guarantee i did my fair share.

      usually the last person in is the one cleaning up and making sure people don’t forget the little details and when anything goes wrong it they get blamed for “not knowing” too.

      i feel bad for meghan and op.

    2. copy run start*

      I agree. In my experience, most of the time and effort is put in during the last month of planning an event. The early stages were more for reviewing what was good/bad about last year and what large-scale changes might be made, what the budget would look like, and reserving a venue. Implementation is always the hard part.

    3. Purplesaurus*

      I’m sorry you can’t do much for Meghan officially, but please let her know you support her.

      Maybe form a job searching committee with her.

    4. GRA*

      Event planner here – I so agree with this! The last month, and especially the week before and day of, are when events really have the most work. At my office this is when it’s all hands on deck! If Meghan was “only” on the committee for the last month, I can’t imagine she didn’t do her fair share of work, and she definitely deserved to be at the luncheon. She definitely does NOT deserve to be treated the way her co-committee members are behaving. How petty on their part.

    5. Bostonian*

      Yeah. My hope is that these people are petty enough to have moved on to the next outrage and completely forget about the Meghan thing within a week or two.

  10. Someone else*

    LW1, I think about it this way: in Major League Baseball, if you played for a team that won the World Series in the season they won it, even if you didn’t actually play a single game during the WS, even if you were no longer on the team by the time they won (traded earlier in the year), you would still get a ring as a member of that winning team.
    OK so Meghan was only on the committee for 1/12 of the season, but she was there during the home stretch, so unless for some reason they found her work after joining the committee more of a hindrance than a help (and it does not at all sound like this is the case), the snippy rest of the committee, every single one of them who lied to her face and said it was fine and didn’t have the guts to have the awkward moment acknowledging their own petty feelings to her face when she was giving them an easy excuse to exclude her anyway, and then decided to bitch and moan about it after the fact behind her back? They’re all assholes. They weren’t being polite when they told her to go. They’re delusional if they think so.

    I don’t know if it’d help at all to throw the World Series analogy at any of your colleagues, if that might resonate at all with them, but since it doesn’t seem like you have the power to actually stop them, if you wanted to try to disagree with their sniping outloud without getting too into it about the specifics of this particular project…maybe the baseball metaphor might land with one of them. Other than that, I’m sorry you work with jerks.

    1. JamieS*

      Former members of a team get a WS ring if the team they used to be on wins? I thought only people who were currently on the team roster at the time of the World Series got a ring. I know this isn’t the point of your post but this is really surprising news to me.

        1. TheNotoriousMCG*

          Though, could it hit a nerve in the wrong direction? Like ‘See! That’s my point! She’s friggin Jandel Gustave!’ Wouldn’t be a great direction to take this in

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            The point is to promote the mentality that every single person in the clubhouse is on the team together. Otherwise, you’d get people saying that you have to be on the team X days before you’re really on the team.

      1. Antilles*

        Yes. If you were part of the team, you a get a ring. It’s this way in all pro sports – as a really ironic example, when the Cavs/Warriors met in the NBA Finals a couple years ago, Anderson Varejao had started the season and played about half the year for the Cavs, then was traded and ended up with the Warriors…so he would get a championship ring no matter who won the NBA Finals.
        That said, I’m guessing that for most players, they’d only actually *feel* like champs if they were actually on the roster when the team won, in the locker room for the trophy presentation, etc. Kind of like when an officeworker’s company wins an award for a project that you had nothing whatsoever to do with – you’re happy for the people you know who got it, but it’s hard to be personally proud of it.

    2. BlueWolf*

      Another sports (NFL) example, Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the New England Patriots to the San Francisco 49ers before the playoffs, but he still gets a $50,000 bonus for the Patriots making it to the playoffs because he was on the team for part of the season, even though he is no longer on the team. Echoing what you said, I think in LW1’s situation it is even more appropriate that she should get to take part in the thank you lunch because she was there for the “home stretch”. It can’t have been easy joining a team for the last month when they were all working together for the previous 11 months. These people are being horribly petty.

  11. neverjaunty*

    OP #1 when people are this petty and vicious, and it’s not only ignored by by management but actively encouraged, it starts to sound less like an overblown grievance and more like a culture where the majority bonds by singling out and then picking on a scapegoat – note how this wasn’t over anything wrong Meghan did, but was almost deliberately setting her up. And if Meghan gets sick of their crappy behavior and leaves, eventually they’ll pick another one.

    In a culture like that, you can either go over their heads to senior management (if you think senior management would be responsive enough to clean out the viper nest) or get out ASAP. But when it’s this many people and your manager is involved, there’s not much you can do to either 1) fix their toxicity or 2) avoid becoming their next target.

    1. Wintermute*


      I was having trouble putting my finger on exactly why this struck me as exceptionally highschool-like behavior and THIS this is exactly it. Meghan thought she was stepping into a a job and a role on a committee, instead she found herself cast as “girl who still is into *last month’s fad*” in a special command performance of “why I hated middle school”. She came for the career, she got Pogs instead.

      1. Snark*

        I’m going to marvel at the perfection of “she came for the career, she got Pogs instead” all day.

    2. Purplesaurus*

      I had missed that OP’s own manager was a participant. Ugh. Sniping at Meghan probably isn’t the first time they’ve had their guns out either, but maybe just the first time OP’s noticed it.

  12. MilkMoon (UK)*

    LW5: Here in the UK at least, weddings generally have two parts – so you have your day guests (there for the whole thing) who are your family and friends, then evening guests for the party-party bit which includes people you couldn’t or didn’t want to invite to your actual ceremony & wedding breakfast. In my experience coworkers are invited as evening guests if you want to invite them at all. So there could be a compromise there if that’s an option?

    My coworkers keep joking that they’re coming to mine as a team building day. They know I love working with them but I keep a strict line between coworkers and my actual life these days (‘family’-type small workplace turned super toxic situation a few years ago).

    1. Al Lo*

      My experience growing up was almost the reverse of that — the ceremony was more open and the reception was by invitation only. In my church community, in particular, couples would often put an open invitation to the ceremony into the weekly bulletin, but the reception was by invitation.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That’s a requirement for many congregations if you want to get married in the church. The ceremony itself is a service which is open to the congregation, the reception afterward is your own affair. If you want to hold a private function (ie, “that’s a pretty church, can we get married here?”), then you need to go somewhere off site.

        1. Someone else*

          I’ve also commonly seen it not as a requirement of the church but more in a “we want to invite you to share the celebration with us, but receptions are mad expensive yo” so some people get invited to the part of the wedding that doesn’t have a cost per headcount. That’s usually the ceremony and not the reception.

          1. Al Lo*

            Yeah, that’s the way I’ve always seen it. Not a requirement, but an invitation to the community.

        2. MK*

          I don’t know if it’s a requirement so much as a feature of the venue. A church (in my country at least) is a public place; if it’s open, you cannot stop anyone from going in, no matter what ceremony is being held. Not unlike having your wedding at a park or the beach; unless they are private property, anyone can come to watch (though of course most people don’t lurk around starngers’ weddings).

          1. TL -*

            Churches are definitely not public property in the USA; the church owns the property and it is private. (though many, of course, have an open door policy.)

            1. Nancy*

              Huh. That is yet another thing I did not know about the US. *adds to ever-growing list of cultural differences*

              1. Else*

                It’s because we don’t (officially) have any state sponsored religion. Weirdly enough, I think this might be partially why so much of our culture is so twisted up about what our Constitution means by separation of church and state. They’re all so busy trying to make THEIRS be the top one.

            2. MK*

              Oh, they aren’t public property here either; the church usually owns the property. The difference, I think, is that the church belongs to a category of public legal entities that are enjoy a lot of the priviledges of the state and have corresponding obligations.

          2. Parenthetically*

            It was like that in Germany — many of the churches we visited were tourist destinations and couldn’t be fully closed even for a wedding.

        3. MilkMoon (UK)*

          This is interesting. Technically anyone can come to the church service – and the congregation will know about it as an announcement is made, at least for our CofE wedding, for three consecutive Sundays before the wedding itself (known as the reading of the Banns) – but most people wouldn’t, as although it’s a public building the feeling is that it’s a private event. A lifelong friend of my mum’s for example has said she plans to pop down just to see me as a bride and congratulate me outside afterward, but I’ve specifically said she’s welcome to come in to the ceremony if she’d like to.

          So here the structure is ceremony, then the wedding breakfast for your day guests (the daytime reception and formal meal – the bit where the cost per head matters!), followed by a party (disco) in the evening.

          From my research it seems to me that in the US the couple often foot most-of if not the whole bill for alcohol/drinks in the evening too? Which would explain the discrepancy – here there’s generally just a bar and people buy their own drinks, which makes the evening party the cheapest part of the day so it’s more open.

          1. Al Lo*

            I think that’s exactly the discrepancy. There are people that you want to celebrate with or who want to acknowledge the day that would push the per-head price up, so they’re invited to the flat-rate part of the day. It sounds like it just differs as to what part of the day that is!

          2. Doreen*

            It’s not so much that the US couple foots the bill for alcohol/drinks in the evening, “too”. It’s that at least in certain parts of the US, there either isn’t a third event or that event takes place immediately after the ceremony. I’ve heard that some churches/areas have a tradition of a cake and punch type reception on church grounds immediately after the ceremony open to all who attended the ceremony ( and then possibly a formal meal at a venue afterward) ,but weddings in my area generally consist of a ceremony and reception and there is not a third event for the bride and groom to invite people to. A group of guests might go to a bar after the reception ends, but it’s a spontaneous thing organized by the guests not organized in advance by the couple.

            1. copy run start*

              Yes, there are typically only two pieces in the US. The wedding is typically no food or just refreshments if it’s a long one. Sometimes the reception is immediately afterward at the church, and sometimes it’s elsewhere with a time lag (for travel and clothing changes and photos of the happy couple). The reception is the spendy part because it is usually expected to be a formal meal.

              1. Ani are you okay*

                And increasingly the reception and ceremony take place at the same location (e.g., both at a hotel rather than church ceremony followed by hotel reception) so there is not so much that option to invite people to the ceremony only.

    2. Marzipan*

      Mmm, I was going to say this about the UK, too. I’ve been to the ‘evening do’ of several colleagues’ weddings but wouldn’t have expected to be invited to the ceremony/wedding breakfast. (Obviously I don’t *expect* an invitation to either but, but you know what I mean).

      It’s at least partly a cost thing – the main bit of most weddings may have involved venue hire with limited capacity, and often a silver service meal that’s fairly expensive per person; whereas the evening is often more of a buffet and disco kind of thing. So, it’s common for family and close friends to be invited to the first bit, where the evening is thrown open to a wider circle.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yeah… to me it seems odd to be jnvited to the wedding and not the evening party… ok, you’ve seen us married, now bugger off til we have some fun!

        Generally it’s been size of registry office that’s dictated small guest list for ceremony.

      2. Rookie Manager*

        UK here too… its all budget and logistics dependant. 3 options for guests:
        1) attend ceremony, breakfast, evening
        2) attend ceremony and evening
        3) attend evening.

        One of the weddings in the diary this year is a 2. My friend said to a group of us that thet cannot afford to invite us + partners to the meal. Obviously we are invited at night and we are very welcome to attend the ceremony too but she understands if we can’t. Group response was ‘of course that is fine – we’ll come and watch the wedding, go for a group meal and see you at night.

        There is also option 4 for chuch/public weddings, just rock up for the ceremony. There are some older ladies who will attendevery wedding in their church for fun/nosiness.

        1. MilkMoon (UK)*

          Yes I don’t mind if I get an old lady or two chillin’ at the back of my ceremony – anyone who loves weddings that much is quite welcome.

        2. Bagpuss*

          I disagree a little with your list – specifically with your No 2.

          I think that the basis ‘rule’ is that once someone is there, they get to stay, so:
          1. if you invite them to the ceremony, they also come to the reception and any evening party,
          2.if you invite them to the reception (but not the ceremony) they then stay on (if they want)for the evening party.
          3. If you have a separate , less formal evening party after the reception then you can invite people to that who weren’t invited to the earlier pats of the day.

          But it would be generally be considered very rude to invite someone to the ceremony and then (in effect) tell them to leave until the evening party, while others went to a formal reception. (people do do it, of course, but it is not

          If a couple are getting married in church then there is nothing to stop anyone who wishes coming to the ceremony, as church services are public, but if you actively invite someone then it’s not OK to then ask them to leave for the next part of the celebration

          1. Boy oh boy*

            British here. I agree. I’d be rather offended if I was invited to the Ceremony, NOT invited to the meal, and invited to the Evening party (to pay for my own drinks). It feels like I’m on the ‘B’ list of guests. Good enough to hit up for a gift, but not good enough for you to actually pay for my food and wine!

            It would be very strange to be omitted while the ‘priority’ guests had their meal while I hung around for hours. If I’d travelled for hours and got gussied up in a nice dress, etc. I would feel slighted.

            I would also miss the speeches, cake cutting and other traditions that take place at the catered meal.

            If that works for some people and the ‘B list’ really don’t care, that’s fine… but I wouldn’t recommend it.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              Yep. If you’re having 3 parts, then it’s fine to say “having a party after all the formalities” then yeah, you’re b-list for that, but it’s understandable and not insulting. “Come for ceremony then leave” is off, whether you are invited for the split-shift or not.

            2. Kate*

              I’ve been to a wedding with the ‘B list’ who didn’t come to the meal, and it’s a good way to get a load of completely slaughtered people turning up to the disco because they’ve spent the intervening hours in the pub.

              1. copy run start*

                Just had a great mental images of literal zombies turning up to dance in finery! Thanks for the laugh!

            3. Zoe Karvounopsina*

              I was, in fact, invited to the ceremony and the evening bit when my cousin got married, and had to fend for myself for the hours in the middle.

              I didn’t feel super welcome.

            4. Stryke*

              Yes, this does feel like a gift grab to me. At least where I’m from, people don’t show up to weddings empty-handed. So I spend money on an outfit, travel and a gift for you, and then have to buy my own drinks later in the evening and I don’t even get a meal in exchange? I definitely understand not being able to afford a big reception (my own wedding had only 80 guests because that’s all we could afford), but that just meant we invited less people to the ceremony as well.

              1. MK*

                The implication is that, if you are not a close enough friend to be included in the reception, you are not expected to go out of your way either. In my country it’s common to invite some people to the ceremony only and the expectations are low-key for them as well: they don’t have to RSPV, you know they probably won’t come if they have to travel or the weather is bad or another obligation come up. They are not expected to bring a gift, unless they want to.

                For an event like that I wouldn’t buy an outfit or go to the hairdresser’s, I would wear something I already owned. And I would only go if it was convenient.

            5. Rookie Manager*

              Oooft! The B list is not popular then!

              I see it differently, which is just as well I suppose. For some weddings my presence is B list. There are family members and lifelong friends that are more important to have at the full day. However my friend has still invited us to watch the ceremony because that is the *actual* wedding and we are happy for her.

              It would be different at a destination hotel wedding but as everyone is leaving the church anyway it is fine.

      3. Millennial Lawyer*

        I like that better. In the U.S., especially in a major city like I am in, if you’re having a wedding it’s between 100-200 person so to invite someone is a substantial investment in your relationship with that person. There’s no free/casual event.

      4. Koko*

        Yes, whereas in the US the fancy expensive meal is part of the reception. In either case people are basically limiting the number of meals they have to pay for.

    3. TL -*

      It’s much less common in the USA – or at least the parts I was in – to split the wedding like that; some people do have a small private ceremony and then a bigger party later but it’s usually much later (ie, we’re getting married now and having the party when we can afford it.) It probably wouldn’t read as terribly odd to invite coworkers, ect.. to the party part but not the wedding part, especially if you want an intimate wedding.

      I do agree with Akcipitrokulo – it would strike me as rude to be invited to the wedding but not the reception (we like you enough for you to witness our marriage; just not enough to pay for you to be at our party is a strange message to send!)

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        Yeah I think it’s just a cultural discrepancy. British weddings basically have two parties – a day reception with formal meal (where it’s a cost per head), followed by an evening party/disco where guests will buy their own drinks from the bar, so it’s more open as it’s the cheapest part of the day.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Well, *some* British weddings, anyway.

          It’s also fairly common for people to just have a wedding + reception, and not to have a separate evening do – I think the difference with the US is that having an ‘evening do’ which is less formal than the reception and has a larger guest list is not uncommon, and it isn’t rude to invite people only to that part of the day. My experience is that if there is an evening do, there will often be a buffet or snacks served, and that there may be a cash bar, or the couple may have paid for drinks.

          (I personally would take money in the expectation i might have to buy my own drinks, if I was only invited to an evening reception, but I can only think of one wedding I’ve been to where I needed it, the others all had drinks provided and paid for by the couple)

          My personal experience has been that about 50% of the weddings I’ve been to over the past 5 years have had an evening do with additional guests, so it is common but definitely not universal to have a larger evening party as well as a formal reception.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yeah – main point is don’t ask people to come along but to leave before you feed/water them!

      2. BPT*

        Yes – if this is in the US, PLEASE don’t have two tiers of guests. It’s considered extremely rude. The only exception is if you purposefully have a very small ceremony (like 10% of the total invited guests, usually just immediate family), and then have the rest all invited for the full reception. But you shouldn’t invite people to the ceremony and not the reception, and you should not invite different groups to different parts of the reception. It’s basically saying “I want you here to give me a gift/have a great dance party/up my numbers/make it seem like a big party, but I don’t want to pay for your dinner.”

        1. tigerlily*

          That’t not actually true for lots of parts of the US. It is for some, but not others, and it’s a bad idea to sweepingly generalize the whole of the US.

        2. Mona Lisa*

          The only place where I’ve seen/heard this work in the US is in certain churches where it’s the practice to invite the entire congregation to the ceremony with the knowledge that only certain members might be invited to the reception. This is very much a “know your crowd” situation; if it’s common for you and your people, you probably wouldn’t be asking if it’s an OK thing to do.

          1. puzzld*

            My friend tells a story of a wedding she went to in Wisconsin. Invited for the wedding and reception. Got to the reception, seated at a table where each place had a teaspoon of nuts and one wedding mint. Got to watch the head table be fed a full meal. B&G cut the cake, enough for the head table and everyone else was served a cupcake… If you wanted anything to drink, even water, there was a bar next door.

          2. BPT*

            Generally in those cases you’re still expected to host those that attended for a reception, usually a punch/cake reception in the fellowship hall. A reception is by definition a thank you to those who attended the service.

        3. I hate weddings*

          Go ahead and have as many tiers of guests as you want. It’s your day.
          I’d think that the invites would increase as the tiers became more informal and cheaper but hey it’s your day. Get married in a gimp suit if you like.

          1. BPT*

            One of the worst things about the wedding industry is the “it’s your day, do whatever you want” mentality. Your wedding is not an excuse to be rude. Just because it’s “your day” doesn’t mean it’s still not rude when you solely invite someone to come to a later part of a reception where you don’t feed them or provide them drinks solely to get a present. I mean you can always do what you want, even if it’s not your wedding day, but that doesn’t mean you won’t face consequences for being rude.

          2. TL -*

            I think that’s a great way to start your married life with a whole lot of social friction.
            Which, hey, do whatever floats your boat, but that wouldn’t be my preference.

    4. Artemesia*

      In the US it would be rude to have multiple levels of parties like they do routinely in the UK. You don’t have A list and B list guests and there is no culture here of the late night party after the regular dinner reception etc. No one would be insulted in the UK to be invited to the after party but in the US you would likely be.

  13. Gen*

    #2 I once saw that happen in government roles, out of several hundred who interviewed about thirty of us got jobs only to arrive on the day to be told that they were already filled, or didn’t exist in the promised format- no part-time only full-time or ‘student holiday’ roles that only ran in term time. I was lucky to be unemployed and flexible because I still managed to take A role, even though it wasn’t the one on my offer letter, but some of the rejected new starters had left existing jobs to find they had no job they could accept. To add insult to injury the department actually ran the unemployment benefit system and told those people they’d have no right to claim any help because they’d willingly left their former roles for these nonexistent jobs.

    I am so sorry this happened to you but try to look at it as a bullet dodged, that place sounds terribly disorganised and as embarrassing as it was to not get the job it would probably have been worse actually working there. In my case the job was a nightmare and the organisation continued to be terrible the whole time (and four months after since they made me redundant but forgot to discontinue my job so they acrually tried to disapline me for not attending a job I didn’t have any more).

    1. MakesThings*

      Oh my god. Was there also a guy shaped like a cockroach in that office?
      Did anyone sue? Did anyone complain?

    2. Natalie*

      To add insult to injury the department actually ran the unemployment benefit system and told those people they’d have no right to claim any help because they’d willingly left their former roles for these nonexistent jobs.

      Just noting this for anyone else who may be in this situation in the future, this varies by state. In my state you would be eligible for unemployment as long as the new job fell through within 30 days.

    3. Fake old Converse shoes*

      Yes, I witnessed it in a government office too. The new hires signed their contract and other paperwork on Friday, on Saturday a memo came flagging the hiring as irregular and the office was forced to rollback. Not everyone could be reached, and next Monday many showed up for a job that didn’t exist anymore.

  14. Jules*

    My mind is still boggling from the first letter. Was Meghan supposed to magically infer that they were testing her and expecting her not show up for a celebratory lunch? Like how dare she bask in the glow of the committee’s success. What an awful way to learn that your colleagues are petty, rude, and really untrustworthy.

    1. sap*

      Yeah, I’m pretty boggled by this as well. Like… Why do they even *care* that she came to the lunch? They still got lunch? Does Meghan have a really severe dietary issue such that instead of going to the restaurant everyone wanted they ended up at Jean’s House of Horrible Plain White Rice? I literally can’t imagine a scenario where I would care if someone joined a project celebration lunch that wasn’t on the project, even if I hated the person.

      1. Xarcady*

        I’m wondering if the committee is really a clique. They invited Meghan to help them when they needed her help, but don’t want her hanging around, expecting to be on the committee next year, because she isn’t part of their little, special group.

        So they invite her, take advantage of her work, and then find something, in this case her attendance at a lunch she was invited to, to make a big issue of, in the hopes that Meghan will drop off the committee and leave them to be their own, very special snowflake committee.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Ooh, this is a great observation. “We just let her on the homecoming committee because one of the other popular kids had mono! Where does SHE get off thinking she gets to hang out with us now?!

    2. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      It’s a great way to find out your colleagues are in the lead for the Passive-Aggressive Workplace award of 2018

      1. Clever Name*

        Yes. This is the epitome of passive-aggressiveness. My PA ex-husband had the gall to tell me that I “never listened to him” while we were married. Well, yeah, it’s hard to feel heard when you never actually speak up.

  15. Kerr*

    #1: What is wrong with these people? Given that Meghan went around asking to make sure she was OK to attend, I wonder if the other committee members had already snubbed her, or were giving off a cliquish/toxic vibe. Because that isn’t a thing people normally need to do.

    1. sunshyne84*

      Right, it is kind of odd that she would ask in the first place. Who knows how they treated her in that one month, but then again she was asked to help! I can’t figure this out.

    2. Elbe*

      I agree. I was surprised that she did this, also. I suspect that they were already being rude and diminishing her contributions prior to the lunch.

      But if they didn’t need her, why bother to ask her to join for a month? No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. This poor woman volunteered her time to a group that was short handed and got nothing but grief (and one lunch) for it.

  16. Natalie Bro*

    I am wondering… In Germany it would be possible to sue the company for damages because it is likeky that you won’t get a new job right away. If it is clear that an oral contract about that position was made, it is possible to get as high as three salaries as damage.

    Is there no such thing possible in America?

    1. TL -*

      No. We don’t have contracts and most states are at-will, meaning you can quit or be fired at any point for any (non-discriminatory) reason.

      1. Else*

        And it’s very very hard to prove discrimination without either multiple witnesses or a recording of explicit statements in most places. In some states (like mine), it’s almost impossible.

      2. JM60*

        I believe all 50 states are at will states. Unless your employer has agreed to a contract in which they agree to not fire you without cause, employers in America can fire you for any reason except a few cases banned by law (illegal discrimination, firing in violation of FMLA, etc.).

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Some states have oral contracts. But almost all are “at will” which means they can end things the next day. It depends on what was promised.

    3. C.*

      You can in very rare situations where there’s been detrimental reliance (employer made promise, hiree relied on that promise at some expense to themselves), but to even get to court OP would have needed to have spent serious money (like, moved and rented a new place or bought a house) due to the offer. And as people mentioned above, some jurisdictions say at-will implies even when the employment hasn’t actually started.

  17. Casca*

    I was thinking it was overkill of her to ask every single member because of course it’s appropriate to appreciate her volunteering for a month!
    Can’t believe these people :(
    Hope Meghan leaves and finds somewhere kinder

      1. TL -*

        It’s also possible they all responded with, “Well, I’m okay with it but you should ask Jan/check with everybody…” hoping that she would get the message that it’s not really okay without having to actually be adults about it.

      2. Sarah G*

        Everything about this scenario is so outlandish that it seems like there must be more to it. I’d be curious to know if these people regularly are as jerky as this? Or maybe Meghan did something else that rubbed people the wrong waym that OP isn’t aware of? I’d be curious what kinds of “nasty things” they’re saying about her — is it only things having to do with her attending the lunch? I mean, I’m not questioning the OP’s take on things, but the whole thing is just so….bizarre…that it would be interesting if the OP could provide some additional context.

        1. Liane*

          People–using the term loosely–who are this loud, dramatic and jerky over a stupid lunch, would have been shouting “Meghan was mean to us!!!!!!!!” from the rooftops (possibly literally) for the entire month if that was true. Bullies and jerks can’t deal with receiving even a fraction of what they dish out.

          1. Lilo*

            I wonder if toxic groupthink is a pattern at this company. Or if they are all following the lead of one jerk.

      3. Steph*

        It also strikes me that Meghan asking everyone “is it ok for me to attend the lunch?” kind of backs everyone into a corner where they had no real option but to say yes. Having said that, once they said yes they then should have but the bullet and dealt with her being there.
        The seemingly unreasonable amount of vitriol now being directed towards her does make me wonder if there is more going on than just her attending lunch – it does make me wonder if it was actually her performance in the committee that was the real problem.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Backing them into a corner? Hmm. One of the people she asked was her manager.

          If I ask my manager if I can do something, I kind of expect her to use her words and say no if the answer is no.

          I also don’t buy the idea that asking someone a question forces them to say yes. If you don’t say no, or I’ll think about it, because you are bad at using your words, that’s on you. Understandable, but on you.

          1. sap*

            Yeah, I ask people questions when I will accept “no” as an answer. When I won’t, I make statements of intent.

            I understand that some people have trouble saying no, even when asked. And that must be very difficult!

            But also, in my experience, the reasonable people who have this problem will DEFLECT answering the question rather than lying and saying yes. Which none of #1’s coworkers did. So, even if there’s “more going on here,” it sounds like the “more” is from the coworkers, not from Meghan.

          2. Antilles*

            Never say “yes” unless you’re fully prepared for the other person to take your response as face value.

          3. Jennifer*

            Well, if you got raised Guess Culture (as I did), it’s like if someone asks, it is not socially acceptable to say “no” to much of anything. I know it sounds insane.

            But that said, it’d be a manager’s job to say no or otherwise indicate “technically yes, but with this crowd I’d highly advise you not to go.”

        2. Nico m*

          Well so what if it “backs them into a corner”! If someone is embarrassed to say No, maybe that’s a big hint that the No is Wrong.

        3. Marthooh*

          It struck me that Meghan didn’t need to ask anyone but the manager about the lunch thing. You can say everyone else was “backed into a corner”, but not him. And of course it wasn’t “delusional” of Meghan to assume that her boss would tell her the actual appropriate thing to do!

          There may be something more at issue here, but the manager is, for sure, way out of line.

        4. anonagain*

          It’s seems strange to me to speculate about whether Meghan backed them into a corner or talk about her performance on the committee.

          She didn’t lay claim to anyone’s first born child. She was invited to lunch and she went.

          It was a few hours of their lives and food that has long since been flushed down the toilet.

          It’s not a big deal no matter what Meghan did and she doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. And the OP doesn’t deserve the stress of this nasty environment. Good luck to both of them.

      4. Canadian Natasha*

        Perhaps there was a reason (other than the stated ones) why several people quit the committee!

    1. Sylvan*

      I agree. She really did a lot of work to manage the emotions of a lot of people over a really tiny issue! Her attendance at a lunch! It’s wild that all of this drama happened; it’s also wild that she apparently expected it enough to try to avoid it.

  18. Pollygrammer*

    #5–IMHO, a wedding invite for someone you’ve never seen socially outside of work would be strange. And it ~could~ seem like a gift-grab. But you know your environment and your coworkers best, you do you!

    1. MLB*

      I agree. I only invited a handful of my co-workers to our wedding (and they were actually former co-workers since I left in between the time I was engaged and got married). And they were people that I still keep in touch with today.

  19. Observer*

    #3 You’ve gotten some good comments on the issue of where a PIP puts you in terms of being eligible for a promotion.

    A couple of things struck me. Firstly, you say “I know a PIP is usually step one in degradation of trust.” That’s not quite right. A PIP is not step ONE. It’s generally step X-1, where X = trust is so far gone, that you are going to be fired.

    The other thing that struck me is how you characterize the reason(s) for your PIP. Now I don’t know if your manager is any good or not. But, unless your organization is really dysfunctional, you didn’t get put on a PIP because you had a less than effective manager. You got put on a PIP for failing to perform your job to acceptable standards.

    It’s important that you understand this. You are not going to advance, whether at this or any other organization, unless you recognize and accept your responsibility for your behavior and performance.

    1. TL -*

      It’s possible that OP is in a terribly managed position where there are communication problems (one of my friends was put on a PIP because her performance suffered in all the areas where she got no training); or that it’s a combination of the two – my first job and only PIP was a combination of a few unideal things on the manager side and me needing to learn a lot about being a good employee! But I got better at my job and communicated what I needed more clearly – and the further out I got from the job, the more I realized how many of the issues were indeed coming from me!

      But OP, if they’re well managed enough to communicate with you clearly and put you on a PIP, they’re probably well-managed enough that you’re playing a large role in this and need to work on things on your end. And if they’re not, then you’d need to look for a new job – a promotion with this company won’t be in the cards for a while.

      1. JamieS*

        It’s very possible that part of the problem is OP hasn’t been able to get the needed support which caused their performance to suffer. However given the obvious disconnect between where OP’s currently at (potentially on verge of being fired) and where they think they’re at (in line for a promotion) I’m going to make an educated guess the manager isn’t the primary issue even if the manager also has some shortcomings.

        1. TL -*

          Yeah, I do think you’re right and the OP is probably misreading the situation a lot. But just in case there really are serious problems with management, it’s still important to note you’re most likely not getting that promotion.

      2. Frioploy*

        I think that if the OP had been terribly managed we’d have details rather than an odd passive statement and they’d be asking “ how do I best exit an unfair PIP”?

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      Eh. I was promoted with a 15% raise a few months after a PIP. Manager who put me on the PIP was terrible and didn’t like me.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        You’re the exception to the rule. It’s best not to give OP the impression that she too might be when that’s very rarely the case.

      2. Lilo*

        Definitely not the norm. At my org there are clear objective stats for justifying a PIP and you can’t just put someone on it.

      3. Lucas B*

        That’s very unusual. In my org, it would take at least a year of consistently excellent work after coming off a PIP before you would be considered for a promotion. Bringing it up before that would be a clear sign that you did not understand just how badly you had screwed up, just how close you were to being fired, and just how much you needed to do to recover your reputation in the org.

      4. anon for this*

        This is unusual. I’m glad this worked out for you, but to others reading, be aware this is not normal.

        Unfortunately, something similar also happened on my team. Someone had been doing a mediocre job (and by mediocre, I mean this person was super lazy and clearly was not understanding the job – or trying to. Only reason things that fell through the cracks didn’t end up affecting our program were because I was able to step in in time – or if they did affect the program, they got explained away and swept under the rug with no consequence to employee – or even a firm “talking to”). I, and others, let our manager (who also was a WFH situation) know repeatedly. Issues came up with the employee’s timecard. None of this went through HR (manager does anything to avoid “confrontation”). Employee got another job offer a couple months later and was given a matching offer to stay.

        It made me so mad I also went out and got another offer and got a $15K raise* (I was really close to taking the other job but have many other non-tangible benefits at current company). Good job, company. You just screwed yourself out of almost $25K. I would not have bothered to get a competing offer had you not just given a lazy employee a raise.

        Moral of the story: rewarding bad employees is HORRIBLE for morale and you will lose good employees over it. (and yes, I fully realize that this kerfuffle is also on the shoulders of manager, not just employee)

        *yes, this is awful practice. This happens too often at my company. I don’t like it, but I’m not above playing the game to get to where I deserve to be, salary wise. And I was very confident they wouldn’t want to lose me. I was also fully prepared to take the other job (and only interviewed for it knowing I would be OK taking it – I had several other interviews I turned down when I learned a little more about the job).

      5. Observer*

        That’s a fairly uncommon situation. And nothing that the OP describes really sounds like the kind of situation you are in.

        The OP makes it pretty clear that there are some concrete and measurable issue, and some that are not so easily measured, but still important. It’s also clear that the OP has dripped the ball on communications in ways that they didn’t need to. Should that manager have been more proactive? Possibly. But clearly there were ways for the OP to communicate better than they did. Yet, they are putting it on the manager.

  20. Sylvan*

    #2: Very strange. Don’t worry about this happening again. It’s just… very strange.

    I know telling people you didn’t have the job after all was awkward, but imagine the embarrassment of being the employer who did that to someone. Jeez.

    #3: Nothing to add to Alison’s advice, really, but you need to prioritize getting through the PIP and planning what you might do if this job doesn’t work out (I hope that it will! It’s just always good to have a backup plan, you know?) before you make any plans about promotions.

  21. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1… she was invited. She accepted. End of story, and your colleagues are behaving very badly.

    OP5 – only thing that really occurs is follow same rules as you do for kids parties – either invite a couple of close friends or invite everyone (and here I’d go for everyone or noone).

  22. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    #5, the only other caveat I’d give is that if you invite anyone, invite either everyone (or some logical subset like your entire immediate team) or very, very few people (like 1 of the 8 people on your team) – not two-thirds of your team, or everyone but Nerys, or anything of that sort – down that road lies hurt feelings.

    1. Al Lo*

      It’s like the kids’ birthday party rule: Either invite everyone in the class or invite <50% of the class. That way there can't be a minority of people uninvited.

    2. Wendy Ann*

      That’s the rule that’s tripping me up with my guest list. Office of 6 people, 5 on the same team, 1 of a different team. If I just invite “my team” she’s the only one in the office not invited. Technically I should invite her so she’s not left out…but I don’t like her and I don’t want her at my wedding. My hope is that by the time I have to decide, she will have found a new job.

  23. Phoenix Programmer*

    Is megan obese? There is no indication of this in the letter but I have experienced similar campaigns against me joining potlucks, lunches, etc. that make perfect sense for me to join….

    Regardless these people are awful. Mentally note their behavior and distance yourself from them.

    1. Thursday Next*

      I’m sorry you’ve had to work with such terrible people. Their behavior was beyond inappropriate.

      1. Queen Anon*

        Yet sadly common if one is an obese woman. Discrimination against obese wonen, especially in the workplace is pervasive, acceptable in society, and often unspoken. (And denied if it’s pointed out.)

    2. Else*

      WHAT?! That’s a thing that happens??? Every now and then, I hear about something new to me that people do, and I realize that there are yet more ways for people to be jerks than I ever realized were possible. I’d think if anything, they’d make the stereotypical assumption that obese people might have some extra skill/knowledge about food and WANT to invite them deliberately, out of greedy self-interest.

    3. BPT*

      I mean there’s really nothing to suggest that here, and OP didn’t mention that there was a clear reason she was being shunned, other than she had only been on the committee a short while. It’s also possible that she’s very conventionally good looking and that people are jealous and are shunning her because of that, or that she’s much smarter than everyone and they don’t like that, or that she’s generally annoying and people don’t like her for that reason, or she volunteered on the committee and then slacked off doing other work. There’s a million reasons that people “wage campaigns” against others they don’t like; I don’t think it helps to focus in on speculating on one reason.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Unfortunately it’s so commonly an issue when food is involved, unlike your other examples, I felt the need to bring it up.

            1. sap*

              There are a lot of food-related shunning causes that have nothing to do with weight.

              For instance, I weigh about as much as a twelve-year-old, and experience food-related shunning among one group of people that I unfortunately need to continue spending time with because I have a medical condition that causes me to eat at about 1/4 normal speed. Many people experience allergy-related food shunning.

              Fat-shaming is unacceptable and terrible and also not the one form of shaming thats uniquely manifested in food-related contexts.

    4. SoCalHR*

      excuse me whaaaattt???? If Megan being obese is the reason they don’t want her there, I think even LESS of the coworkers than I do now.

  24. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    #2, it’s possible it wasn’t really Jane’s fault but due to disfunction higher up. In either case, it sounds like a bullet dodged, though it still sucks to be jobless AND have to explain to people what happened. I hope the “everybody” your mom told is a sympathetic bunch. I know I would only have sympathy for a friend, no blame, if they had this experience!

    1. Observer*

      Well, it’s certainly a sign of dysfunction. But, even if it wasn’t Jane’s fault, she still didn’t handle it at all well. It’s kind of hard to believe that she didn’t know about this in time to call the OP and tell her not to come in.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Exactly. Even if it wasn’t Jane’s *fault* that someone else got hired, it was her *responsibility* to tell the LW that someone else got the job, as soon as Jane found out. Even if it was that morning, most people have cell phones by now so Jane could call or text.

        If it was news to Jane, then communication is bad and grandbosses are autocratic. If it was *not* news to Jane, then Jane is a flake. Either way it’s a bad sign.

    2. Ten*

      <blockquote.I hope the “everybody” your mom told is a sympathetic bunch. I know I would only have sympathy for a friend, no blame, if they had this experience!
      Same here! What a terrible thing for a company to do. They don’t deserve you, OP2!

    3. SoCalHR*

      The thought that it was Jane’s fault wouldn’t even cross my mind. This reeks of a detached higher up’s stepping in or a sign that Jane didn’t have as much authority as she thought (i.e. was she REALLY the “hiring” manager, or just the person who would be supervising the role?). And the fact that Jane may not have really known what happened until the day of doesn’t surprise me as well – maybe I’ve just worked in too many dysfunctional offices, but none of this points to Jane’s error/choice in my opinion – I bet SHE was also super frustrated by the situation.

      1. Observer*

        Sure, this reeks of dysfunction up and down the ladder. But, there is no way Jane is free of responsibility. As others noted, the least she could have done was to call the OP and let he know what happened, and them a trip.

        1. SoCalHR*

          one possible (not that far-fetched) scenario:
          Jane’s office hours are 8-5, like everyone else in that office. New hire is supposed to arrive at 8, so she gets in a bit early to be ready for her. Upon Jane’s arrival at say, 7:45a, she either 1) encounters the upper manager and/or other new hire where she is advised of the situation or 2) checks her email and sees one from last night at 8:59p advising her of the new hire. Figuring the employee would already be on their way, maybe she thought it was better news to deliver in person than over the phone when she knew someone was in the car.
          so there is at least ONE way that Jane is free of responsibility.

  25. Drama Llama*

    #3: Your employer is already considering firing you. If you ask for a promotion now it’s not going to go down well.

    The way to get off a PIP and get promoted is to demonstrate strong performance over time. There’s no other shortcut.

    If one of our employees on a PIP asked to be promoted, that would almost certainly be the last straw that results in termination.

    1. The Supreme Troll*

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but if the PIP came about only because of a poor communication issue with her boss (I’m trying to take the OP at her word here), then that might be something that could have been almost immediately corrected (again taking the OP at her word here, and it would be impossible to immediately fix a problem that comes because of missing skills). So the OP might feel that she deserves the promotion because she corrected the “glitch” and has the skills for the higher level job.

      However, no, it is still not a good idea to ask about a promotional opportunity while on a PIP (or even soon after coming off one). It does show cluelessness, but I wouldn’t immediately jump to firing an employee over that statement.

  26. Bryce*

    #2 it’s not unheard of, but it’s definitely not common and not something you should accept as normal. Either the boss overstepped Jane because of nepotism/favoritism, Jane had been trying to “step up” and take care of something that wasn’t her job (I wouldn’t expect it to get that far if so but weirder things have happened), or the place is just so disorganized (either all the time or due to the maternity leave surprising folks) that they both tried to handle it. Or something I haven’t thought of, I’m not an expert.

    In any case, take it as a dodged bullet, no mark against you, and take a bit of self-confidence from being a desirable hire in any case. The job search can be stressful, so try to take some good vibes from this one, and a good story once you’re far enough past it.

  27. Caledonia*

    On post 1, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Meghan was looking for a new job. The atmosphere cannot be good right now.

  28. Jazzed*

    #2 Shouldn’t the OP be paid for 4 hours for having showed up? Or at least a few minutes… I’m not sure what the law here is.

    1. fposte*

      It sounds like she didn’t do any work that would require her to be paid. Unfortunately, the mere fact of commuting in isn’t sufficient to require compensation.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        > Unfortunately, the mere fact of commuting in isn’t sufficient to require compensation.

        It would be if she’d been hired for a temp job. If you show up, they have to pay you for half a day. (At least, here in California.)

        And I think that if some unions might give that kind of protection.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, interesting. It looks like a few other jurisdictions have this as well (I’m seeing Oregon and Rhode Island, for instance) and that it’s colloquially known as “show up pay.” I can’t tell from what I’m seeing if it’s sometimes specifically for non-exempt or shift workers, but that’s still a lot more than I had known about.

          So thanks for the tip, Jennifer!

    2. Bea*

      She would have to have a contract for this, such as through a union or a temp agency. Otherwise she was just turned away having done nothing that would have been on the clock.

  29. Bagpuss*

    Poor Meghan. LW1, I understand that you can’t directly address the issue because you are not senior to the people behaving this way, but I think you can push back a little 0 if they may comments to you or when you are there you could, I think, push back a bit – the whole “why would you say that?” or “But why wouldn’t she be expected to attend, given that she served on the committee?” or “But why would anyone tell her to go if they didn’t mean it, and how could she be expected to guess they were lying to her?”

    I think if you have a manager you trust you could also raise it and say you are concerned that Meghan appears to be being bullied because she took her own manager at his word.

    And finally, if you are friendly with Meghan and she talks to you about it, you could suggest that she goes to whoever is senior to her boss, if you think they might be receptive.

    1. Thursday Next*

      +1 I especially like the last sentence in paragraph 1; it lays out the ludicrousness of the situation.

      LW, it can be really hard to be a bystander to viciousness that you’re powerless to stop. This is demoralizing in its own right.

      1. Stormy*

        Yes, that is excellent. If Meghan avoided the lunch, wouldn’t they be mad at her for assuming they were liars instead of taking them at their word? There is no way for this woman to win here.

    2. Reba*

      I would refine this to say, perhaps not engage on debating the merits of the lunch issue itself, but just indicate your support for Meghan. “I like Meghan, she was so great to work with on X.” “Well, my experience is that Meghan is smart and brings a lot to our team.”

    3. Elbe*

      “…she took her own manager at his word”

      This is perfect phrasing. If the LW does enter a conversation about this, this is how they should word it. It’s insane to expect your report to do the exact opposite of what you tell them.

  30. Cyberwulf*

    LW1, if you feel able to, speak up in the moment when people are sniping. That’s what I would do.

    I would also cease any communication with these people that isn’t work-related. No teabreaks with them, no lunch with them, I would give to no collections taken up for them. And if they asked me why I’d say “you’re sniping at Megan over a lunch you said she could attend, and I find your behavior childish and unprofessional”.

    1. neverjaunty*

      One of these people is the LW’s manager. Shunning then pointedly and calling them childish is not going to make them see the error of their ways, but it’ll let them know who else to bully.

      LW isn’t going to be able to address this long-term except possibly by getting higher-ups involved.

      1. Cyberwulf*

        I said that’s what *I* would do. There’s no need to be pointed, either. Pointed would be replying to “Going for lunch?” with “Are you going to bitch and moan for months if I join you?”

        I have gotten up from lunch and left because my manager joined the table after leaving a colleague in the lurch. I have rowed far, far back on non-work-related discussions with a colleague who lied to the big boss about me. I remain professional when we’re at work but there is no socialising. Their behavior disgusted me and they are not people I want to be friends with.

        1. AKchic*

          I’m 100% with you here. If it isn’t a necessary function of the job, why bother? Be polite, but don’t be sociable. You’re there to do a job with these vipers, but you’re not there to be their friend, and look at what they do to people who are nice to them and *help* them when they are in a lurch. They are best handled with a 10 foot pole and given nothing to use against you.

  31. Em Too*

    OP3 your phrasing is coming over as weirdly combative to me. You say ‘pretty vocal’/’push conversations’ around promotion. It’s fine to make it clear you’d be interested in a promotion but sounds like you’ve done that. So focus on showing the skills that are needed, first in your current grade, and then the ones for the next grade up. Promotions are seldom awarded on the basis of who’s been bugging the manager about it most frequently. And the PIP – that shouldn’t create a poor working environment unless you are reacting badly to it. It’s setting out where you need to develop, and you have improved, so it’s doing its job. If you think now you have a worse relationship with manager/colleagues, you probably should think through why and how you can improve that.

    1. Em Too*

      Oh, and ‘further punishment’! Why are you talking about punishment? A PIP isn’t punishment, it’s more like fair warning.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Oh, I missed that on the first read – LW3 – did your manager use the term ‘punishment’ or did they talk about ‘further steps’ or something like that? Because a PIP isn’t punishment, it’s a way of making it clear to you that your performance is not good enough and setting out what you need to do to get up to the level where you are performing your job at an acceptable level.

        It’s entirely appropriate for a manager to make clear that if you don’t / can’t make the necessary improvements then the employer will take further steps up to and including termination.

        Of course, if your manager is talking about ‘punishment’ then that is concerning but the other advice you’ve had here about focusing on getting to the point where you are (as a minimum ) meeting your manager’s expectation is still good.

  32. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

    LW1. Meghan should immediately resign from the committee. After the way she has been treated it is going to be interesting to see if anyone else is interested in replacing her.

    1. Chris*

      I work in an office similar to the one LW1 described, and I suspect that if Meghan resigns at least one person who is currently complaining about her will happily try for her spot.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It sounds like the people who are complaining are already on the committee though. The whole reason they needed Meghan to step in was because they had people fall off and were understaffed.

        1. OtterB*

          And if this is the way the committee functions, it’s not hard to figure out why people had resigned from it during the year.

  33. Katie the Fed*

    Harsh truth: If I’ve put you on a PIP, I’ve already decided that I’m probably going to fire you. You MIGHT bring up your performance enough that I’ll change my mind (and that’s great), but 99% of the time I’m just doing it for documentation purposes because the chances are slim that you’ll sustain the level of improvement I need for the job.

    So you’re probably literally the last person who I’d consider for a promotion at that point. :/

    1. Esme Squalor*

      Agreed. If I genuinely want to see a performance improvement, I’ll be giving you informal feedback and asking to see changes as part of our regular check-ins. If things have escalated to a PIP, I’m just going through the formalities of documenting because I want you gone. I don’t know the letter writer’s workplace, but the PIP is typically the last step in a manager’s long and frustrated series of efforts to get you to improve.

    2. Oranges*

      Basically a PIP equals “I need to threaten your job in order for you to actually do said job”. Yeah, if that’s the amount of effort I have to put into getting you to do your job? It’s a no go.

      1. Rebeck*

        For you, yes: but I had a grandboss who insisted that PIP forms were used by her entire department as day to day workplan documentation. Until I began to read here, I assumed that everyone always had a Performance Improvement Plan because everybody at that workplace did: not because anyone was in danger of being fired, but because that’s how she wanted all her team to do their performance management paperwork.

  34. Lilo*

    I will say that, if someone I was supervising on a PIP was bugging me about a promotion, it would not reflect well on them. I would think they didn’t understand the multiple conversations I have with someone on a PIP about the seriousness of the issues. People in my org mist often go on PIPs for quality issues and I do a lot of in depth review and training. It is a LOT of hard work from me but I feel good when it works out. Now, people on PIPs have gone on to be promoted, but it was after a serious change in performance and years of consistent good performance. Asking for a promotion while on a PIP will likely make your supervisor want to hang her head against her desk.

    1. Bea*

      This is where I land as well.
      If you truly want to move up, you master your first job and show you’re ready to be promoted. Right now is where you put everything out of mind except fighting for your job. Then when you’re off PIP you continue to bust your butt to show you learned and are ready to keep up the performance. No back tracking or falling back into bad habits etc

  35. Rebecca*

    OP#1 – I hope you can give Meghan a good reference when she applies for another job. I can’t imagine how miserable this situation is for her. I’d also love an update on what happens when she resigns from the committee. For people to tell her to her face, oh, it’s perfectly OK for you to go to lunch with us, and then act like this is reprehensible.

  36. SKS*

    #2, Just want to point out that retail IS a real job. I worked retail for a long time and always did real work and received a real paycheck.

        1. Esme Squalor*

          I didn’t think it was arrogant, especially coming from someone who has always worked retail. I think OP was trying to be self-effacing, and wasn’t thinking about the aspersions she may accidentally be casting in other retail workers.

    1. Reba*

      Yes, and if the retail places actually hired you when they said they would (and paid you when they said they would) they are more “real” than this one!

      OP #2, I totally get what you mean by “‘real’ job” but don’t discount your experience–or others’–too much! Good luck!

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. I’m reading between the lines that the OP has been hearing this from her mother. OP, please head on over to for some good scripts for setting boundaries with your parents. There are so many young adults in your same situatino.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I get where you’re coming from. I only ever worked retail before my ill-fated adventure in recruitment and it’s very much a real job, however I’m sure the OP didn’t mean anything negative by it.

      I remember being incredibly frustrated after university not able to get the types of jobs that people told me I would be getting if I went to university and got my degree. Retail is hard and rewarding and very much a real job but it’s not why most young people go to university so I can also understand OPs frustration at not having what they see as relevant experience on their CV.

      That being said, OP. What happened to you was 100% not normal. Don’t feel that this reflects badly on you, because it doesn’t. This is all on the company. If I were you, I’d explain what happened to your mother because I guarantee that she will be 100% horrified and will happily cover your behind with the people that she told so you don’t have to. But you really shouldn’t feel ashamed of this. You accepted that job in good faith, they reneged on their end.

      This does show however that you are interviewing well if you received a job offer (even from a clearly disorganised mess of a place). So keep at it and you’ll soon look back on this as a funny, can-you-believe-this-happened, story to tell at parties.

    3. Bye Academia*

      Yes, but Alison asks us not nitpick the language of the letter writers. The norms in retail are very different so it’s reasonable to distinguish between retail jobs and office jobs. This scenario has happened to me before in retail, and my understanding is that it’s pretty common due to the changing nature of the schedule. I got hired, and when I showed up for my first day of training, they told me they didn’t have hours for me after all and I was unhired.

    4. Erin*

      +1 millions of productive people provide for themselves in the retail industry and make successful careers out of it. If you subtract student loan payments from the wages of a teacher, I technically make more in retail.

    5. Nita*

      To me it sounds like OP was trying to say that in some retail or service jobs, the hiring process can be less formal and it’s easier for this to happen. I’ve actually had it happen to me in a food prep job, where the interview was basically the boss asking “What’s your experience with this? You’re hired, come in on Monday.” Except in my case there was enough work that both people that showed up, got hired.

  37. terabitz*

    OP #2, I really feel for you there. I had a similar situation a couple of years ago, except I was told my services weren’t needed over the phone four days before my scheduled start date (on a Sunday nonetheless). This was at a center for the big smiling online retailer who had so much marketing that they were hiring seasonal full-time. I went to their hiring event and got as far as the drug screening, and my orientation date was set for the longest of time, and work schedule too!

    They were still running TV and radio ads that they were hiring seasonal/full-time as much as a week after I was told my services were not needed period.

  38. Natalie*

    LW #3, I notice you say you’ve been pushing for a promotion since you finished your first year. That seems really unusual to me and likely out of touch with your workplace culture. In my experience getting promoted that fast is really unusual – most people are just getting good at their jobs by a year. In fact, the only time I’ve witnessed it was someone hired by their mentor, who made a lateral move to Open Position 1, and the manager immediately went to work getting approval to the creation of Position 2. Given that you’re on a PIP, something like this is probably not your situation.

    Which leads to my question – did you ever actually want this job? Have you been engaged fully with the position they hired you for, or just trying to get out of it? Being checked out of your job, especially at the beginning, sounds like the exact recipe for nearly being fired two years in.

    If any of this sounds familiar, I would spent a little time thinking whether you can commit to the job you actually have for a while, probably at least 2 years given your history there. It’s okay if that answer is no – sometimes we take jobs we shouldn’t have – but in that case you should start looking for a job you actually want at another organization. And make sure you’re looking for jobs that you actually want + are at the level you qualify for. Financial desperation aside, as a general rule don’t take a job just because you think you’ll get promoted quickly and won’t have to do it anymore.

    1. saby*

      This is what struck me as well. OP, it sounds like you find your current duties beneath what you think you should be doing, and therefore aren’t taking the job seriously enough (and possibly feeling superior to your manager due to their poor communication skills and therefore not taking them seriously enough either). You may fully believe you are able to do the job you want to be promoted to, but unfortunately, these decisions are supposed to be made based on the competence you have actually demonstrated, and not the potential you think you have. If you really want that promotion you should focus your efforts on exceeding expectations in your current role.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      You make an excellent point and one I was going to make after rereading the letter. If OP was talking promotion almost as soon as she got in the door, that was probably the first red flag her manager received that indicated OP may not be serious about the job she was hired for. OP could have been doing well for the role she wanted, but not so much in her actual position, and that could explain what she means when she said there was miscommunication between her and the boss which led to the PIP.

    3. Jaybeetee*

      Well it can also depend on the industry. Where I am, a “promotion a year”, up to a certain point, isn’t that unusual. Once you hit a certain level of seniority though, that tends to taper off and you really do have to hustle to get the higher-level positions. Basically, you can get from “entry” to “mid-level” pretty easily, but “mid-level” to “high-level” is harder.

      That said, if OP is in one of those industries, hasn’t been promoted, AND has been put on a PIP…she’s probably no doing so well and needs to examine herself more.

      1. Natalie*

        Sure, it will definitely vary. People I’ve known in those “promotion a year” industries don’t usually have to be really vocal about it, though, I think that’s the part that’s making me assume she’s not in that type of industry.

  39. MissDissplaced*

    #1 I am shocked at the pettiness and backbiting of these committee members, and especially the manager. Meghan doesn’t deserve that, and more so that she asked before the dinner knowing she only helped a month (a shorter time) but was told it eas fine. These people are acting like some real assholes over a dinner.

    #2 No this is not normal hiring practice. It may have been out of Jane’s hands, and that does sometimes happen the person hiring gets overrided, but she should have called you before you came to work on the first day. In hindsight, you are probably better off as they were only going to hire you on a “trial” basis anyway. Hiring on “trial” is rather suspect in itself, I would not accept it, but given the maternity leave, it may have been genuine.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      In regards to #2, you make a good point about the trial basis. I missed that in the letter.

      Hiring on trial sucks. I was hired on a three-month trial basis with the promise of a full time contract at the end of it and my boss kept me on a rolling three-month contract that he would always forget to renew until the week before so I was left in limbo.

    2. Jaybeetee*

      Pretty well every time I’ve taken a “temp-to-perm” position, it’s blown up in my face in literally less than a week. In both cases, I’d left jobs for the new jobs (usually either temping or other really low-level work at the time so it wasn’t that big a deal to quit). only for the bosses to decide “it wasn’t working out” within about 3-4 days (in one of the cases, I’d barely done any actual work – I’d mostly been shadowing when that happened). It became clear in both cases that they were basically doing the “temp-to-perm” in lieu of *actually screening for a good candidate*.

  40. Stormy*

    LW #5 You mention that these coworkers are older and have families. Are you prepared to have a significant number of children you don’t know at your wedding? They will probably be bored, and may act out, depending on age. This may be no big deal to you, but in my small family of mostly only children, it was a big deal. My bosses’ four children acted like wild animals, and disrupted the ceremony. It was incredibly awkward, and my parents were spitting fire.

    Again, not necessarily your issue, and there are workarounds, but it’s an additional layer of complication to consider.

      1. Marthooh*

        Well, you can try to have an adults-only wedding, and good luck to you. Many people will either feel insulted that you don’t “like children”, or else take for granted that their own little darlings should be the exception.

        1. Stryke*

          My sister-in-law had a successful “no kids under 12” wedding. It was FANCY so I think people understood, or at the very least they kept their mouths shut and didn’t bring their kids.

        2. Observer*

          This just sounds weird to me. Maybe I’ve been very lucky, but I’ve never seen this – not at the weddings where I’ve invited coworkers, or the weddings of others where business associates / co-workers showed up.

        3. overeducated*

          Or just send their regrets and not come if they can’t find childcare or don’t want to leave their kids! People don’t always take offense at things, sometimes they just don’t come, just like some people can’t make long distance or holiday week weddings. One of my friends in grad school invited all the other grad students to her spring break wedding because she didn’t want to leave anyone out, but it was so far away in her home town that literally none of us could go…we’re still great friends.

          That said, I think adult only weddings are more of a thing in certain social groups than others. I’ve never been invited to one, but my coworker says her wedding and most of her friends’ have been adults only. (Her social group is at a generally higher income level, have kids later, and live in a higher COL area than most of my friends who’ve gotten married, so those may all be factors.)

          1. Observer*

            The thing is that even in a wedding that’s not adults only people don’t necessarily assume that their kids are welcome. Most people get that when you send an invitation to X and Y Smith, it doesn’t mean their kids as well, unless it’s family of really close friends.

            I’m in a community where “adults only” weddings are almost unheard of. Yet, I don’t remember the last time I was at a wedding where the kids were not part of the family – usually the immediate family.

            1. Stryke*

              As I noted below, my family apparently believes if you invite the parents, you are automatically including the kids. I was very careful to write ONLY the invited parties’ names on the envelopes, but nope, that means everyone who lives in this house gets to go! It made me wonder how often my parents dragged me to something I wasn’t actually invited to and I felt retroactively embarrassed.

              1. Observer*

                Sure, there are people like that. But it’s a mistake to think that everyone is like that. And, of all people, coworkers would be the least likely to do something like this. With family it can seem to make sense that when you invite Jones Parents, even by name, you really mean Jones Family, because the kids really are related, too. But coworkers are a different story.

        4. Triumphant Fox*

          We had an adults-only wedding, but my family is huge, so I think people understood. One cousin brought her (4 year old) daughter because her husband couldn’t make it without letting us know, but other than that, only including the parents names on the invitation and then letting our parents know that children weren’t welcome helped. People asked my parents and my in-laws before they asked us, and some people weren’t able to come – but we still had nearly 200 people. It would have probably been at least 260 with kids and a lot of venues can’t handle 200+. I was clear with my immediate family – if you want to invite all of these people, we won’t have room for all of my cousins children. If you want the children, it will be literally only family. They agreed adults-only made the most sense.

          We were scarred by a wedding just before ours where the ceremony was in a ballroom with amazing acoustics. A child started screaming at the start of the vows and the mom would not take him/her out. Finally, after at least 10 minutes, the mother of the groom asked her to take the screaming child out, and the mom took him/her to the entrance of the room- which was somehow even louder. The couple had wanted an adults-only wedding, too, but made an exception for this family. They were LIVID and I felt so bad that that is what people remember about their ceremony.

          1. Stryke*

            Ha, I invited my cousin and his wife who I hadn’t seen in 10+ years because my mom asked me too. So I sent them an invitation. Two weeks before the wedding, my mom told me how excited my cousin’s children were to come. I said, “Hang on a minute… they weren’t invited. It was just Joe and Jane.” And my mom was completely bewildered. In her mind, if you invite the parents, the kids are automatically included. My cousins had already spent money buying their kids new clothes, and “luckily” I had six people decide the night before the wedding they didn’t actually want to come (after RSVPing yes, after the headcount was given to the caterer, after the money had been spent), so we had the room for the two kids. They were delightfully well-behaved, so it all worked out, but that’s when I learned my family has no idea how invitations work.

        5. Thursday Next*

          This is unnecessarily negative. LW, there’s no reason to think your invited guests won’t respect the terms of your invitation regarding children. Just be clear in communicating your wishes.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Let’s also remember that OPs spouse-to-be has also said it’s a weird thing to do, which sounds like they’re not 100% on board with having these people at the wedding. Maybe get to know these people first outside of work, see if you actually enjoy their company outside of the office, and take a friendship from there. No need to invite them to your wedding when you don’t know how they behave in the world.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Okay, but there’s no reason to assume the coworkers are going to be the (only) ones who bring unruly kids. Unless you’re saying the issue is that the OP might be afraid to not invite the boss’s kids?

    3. overeducated*

      One of my nephews danced so hard at my wedding reception he made himself throw up. I think he was probably around seven or eight at the time. The dancing was hilarious and totally worth it, but his parents cleaned up the mess quietly so I didn’t find out about the puking until after. Kids!

  41. John Rohan*

    LW#2: It’s possible that the reason Jane was so cavalier about it and wanted you to leave so quickly was that she made a mistake, and she didn’t want that executive to find out that she had erroneously promised the job to someone else. She probably wanted you to leave before that executive found out about the situation and she would have to answer some awkward questions.

    I would have asked to speak to that executive, and if this was refused, I would have later sent him/her an email informing them about what happened. One bright side here is that the job was likely going to be temporary anyway.

    1. Observer*

      What would you have expected to accomplish by that? As it is, the OP didn’t get the job, but hasn’t done any harm. Trying to speak to the executive would not have gotten them the job anyway, and it could have made them look bad – making a scene tends to come off as not a very good look, and this is what it would look like.

      1. John Rohan*

        What would he have to lose?

        And it’s possible the executive would honor the agreement and find another position for him. That makes it worth it.

        1. Observer*

          The odds of any executive honoring a verbal agreement with someone who didn’t hve the authority to make the agreement is about nil.

          And creating a scene will almost certainly create a bad impression. And not everyone in the place is necessarily a loon on the one hand, and on the other hand you don’t know who you are likely to meet up with again.

          So there is a real risk for no real payoff.

          1. John Rohan*

            I didn’t say he should “create a scene”, just let him know. The executive may not be aware this happened, and if that was the case, he would probably like to know.

            1. Observer*

              Sending an email is one thing. Telling the hiring manager that you want to speak the CEO or whoever, is a different story and is not likely to end well.

          2. John Rohan*

            Or I’ll put it another way. If I was the executive, I would want to know that this happened. Not only is it not right, but it reflects badly on the company.

          3. MassMatt*

            How do you conclude the recruiter/HR person in the story “didn’t have the authority to make the agreement”? It sounds like the executive made a hiring decision on his own outside the usual channels without informing HR.

            In any case it’s a big screw-up and someone higher up (whether that executive or not) should be made aware. And make an entry on Glassdoor! People should be aware of these sorts of things when researching companies.

            1. Observer*

              How do you conclude the recruiter/HR person in the story “didn’t have the authority to make the agreement”?

              There are two possibilities here. Jane had the authority but was over-ridden by an executive. In which, the executive is a jerk and there is no reason to think that they suddenly going to have a change of heart because some “kid” who was promised a job asked to speak to them. If the OP were someone with connections or was in a position to affect the executive, it would be different. But people who abuse their power don’t change their minds because a powerless person asked them to.

              The other possibility is that Jane did not have the authority to make this hire. In which case, even a decent executive is not likely to change the decision and hire the OP.

              In any case it’s a big screw-up and someone higher up (whether that executive or not) should be made aware.

              Sure. But even assuming that they don’t know about this particular mess, I would be surprised if much happened as a result, unless there is already someone there who recognizes the dysfunction of the place. Because, regardless of whether Jane was authorized to make the hire or not, there is something seriously amiss in the management of the place.

  42. overly produced bears*

    oh my god, #1, that’s my absolute nightmare. I’m not the greatest at social situations, so if I’d sought EVERY SINGLE PERSON out individually to ask them an etiquette question, and then found out that ALL OF THEM had lied to me and expected me to read their minds… cue breathing into paper bag times.

    Can you tell Meghan that you’d offer to be a coworker-reference if she needs it? Because this sounds like a terrible environment and one that’s likely going to workplace-PTSD her for many jobs still to come.

  43. Bibliovore*

    Alison is spot on. Another management perspective.

    I started a new position as a departmental manager.
    Betsy handed me the paperwork to be promoted into the next employee class the first week in position.
    I point out that I would need to evaluate her present work but I had heard great things and it sounds like we should put a three month review on the schedule, then at six months we can push above me for the promotion having documented the work out of her class.

    Betsy not only did not meet expectations, within 3 months she demonstrated that she was not completing the basic tasks of her position in a timely manner. Cue the time suck of the PIP that she felt was unfair, a punishment, and basically not such a big deal.

    Her failing to meet expectations was due to my being out of the office (part of my job description) bad communication (pick up the mail daily, file this paperwork, post a weekly schedule, create this spreadsheet with this information by Friday) consistent lateness, and not following written directions.

    Betsy was shocked when given her notice. Do not be Betsy. If you don’t want to do the tasks of this present job, do them well for 6 months and get a different job with this good reference

  44. soon 2be former fed*

    I am a baby boomer and I hate ageism of any type. My DD is a millennial and she s great as are her friends. Generational differences are not that great, it’s more individual differences that matter.

  45. Rusty Shackelford*

    #1, I wonder if being on this committee is prestigious enough that people felt Meghan had accepted just to grab some glory, without doing 11/12ths of the work? And that maybe she didn’t actually do much, or anything, during that month? And that a higher-up was the one who asked her to join the committee, not knowing that she’s a known slacker and suck-up? But no one was going to protest or complain because she’s known to be a favorite? And that her asking about the lunch consisted of going to each committee member and saying “I know I wasn’t on the committee long, but obviously I should still go to the lunch, right?” Because that’s the only way their behavior makes sense.

    Or it could just be that they’re all arseholes.

    1. Marthooh*

      Her manager is an arsehole for sure because if it happened like this, he should have said “No, don’t annoy people even more by going to the lunch thingy.”

    2. Femme d'Afrique*

      I suppose all of those are possibilities, but I honestly can’t wrap my mind around grown people getting *this* annoyed about a LUNCH.

      I did wonder if maybe they (1) didn’t have the authority to decline Meghan’s addition to the committee (“We don’t need anyone else, thanks”) which might have led to a situation where (2) they made Meghan feel deliberately excluded from day one, which in turn led her to take the (seemingly extraordinary) route of checking with *all of them* whether it was ok for her to attend.

      But still… it’s lunch.

    3. neverjaunty*

      How does it make sense, under any circumstances, for her manager to participate in this sniping?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It doesn’t. Not for a good manager, anyway. But with a combination of a bad manager and a certain amount of dislike toward Meghan and a set of circumstances that turns everyone against her…

        Do you ever watch Mythbusters? They used to do this thing where, if they couldn’t prove a myth was true under the given circumstances (i.e., your eyeballs will pop out if you try to stifle a sneeze), they’d then see if they could make it happen under *any* circumstances (i.e., if we can create a sneeze that’s 10X the ferocity of a normal human sneeze, will your eyeballs pop out if you try to stifle it?*) and I guess that’s what I was going for. Like, this is crazy. But could it be explained by a certain set of circumstances?

        Anyway. That’s looking for zebras, when this is probably just a horse. But it just makes so little sense that EVERY person on that committee is an arsehole, along with her manager, that you have to wonder what else could be contributing.

        *This is made up. As far as I know, they did not attempt this particular experiment.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It makes plenty of sense; people who aren’t jerks get driven out or learn to keep their heads down.

          I get what you’re saying, but this isn’t a chemistry experiment; it’s people being people.

          1. Oranges*

            Personally I like to see how much you have to twist things in order for the co-workers NOT to be complete assholes because that way you can see how much this is not okay. It’s a thought experiment that I find valuable as long as you know you’re deliberately looking for zebras.

        2. Rob aka Mediancat*

          I wouldn’t say it’s a horse. I’d say they’re all certain PARTS of horses, though.

    4. SoCalHR*

      Yeah, this is where there is a missing link for me in the original letter…it SOUNDED like everything was fine pre-lunch. Megan entered the team well and did her part for the month she was on the committee (and the month before/at an event can be the highest volume of work). If that is the case, this reaction blows my mind. Especially since she went around and asked (that shows her awareness/consideration of the situation). So it makes me think something was amiss before the lunch – not that it excuses the childish behavior, but it would add some context.

  46. Tertia*

    LW #1: I doubt it will do any good, but the next time it comes up, you might ask the complainer to a) enumerate the circumstances under which the complainer would decline the CEO’s request for their attendance at an event and b) explain how they would go about communicating their refusal to attend to the CEO. That may or may not bring home the ridiculousness of the complaint.

    1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      That’s what I was about to post. In my org, one doesn’t just say no to goodwill from the CEO.

      We had a situation where an employee on the team was invited to a fancy dinner by the C-suite as a longevity recognition (25+ year employees). It was a last minute event that was scheduled on top of an already planned annual team event. Now the employee in questions doesn’t like public recognition or notice. To put it in perspective, she normally doesn’t attend any function in the office. (She has started attending very low key team events, but sparingly and quietly). In this instance she declined the fancy recognition dinner and attended the mini golf and beer team event.

      I felt so bad for her, suddenly she was smack dab in the middle of controversy. There were very powerful noses out of joint because she had declined. My boss was ‘talked to’ to allow her to skip the team event to go to the dinner. My boss had to explain that; A- it was the employees choice, B- The employee hates recognition, and C-Maybe if they hadn’t sprung this on everyone the day before it might have turned out different.

      I spoke to the employee and said the choice was all hers and that she shouldn’t feel pressured by anyone. But oh boy that was a bruhaha.

    2. AKchic*

      Oh boy… this so reminds me of my last employer. I loved them, but sometimes, drama. We had a 40th anniversary dinner and a party. I was invited to both since I had been at the company for so long and was so well-known with the board members and other people within the community blah blah blah (plus I could help clean up, oh how fun, right?).
      When I left, I gave a lot of notice (my boss was on maternity leave, I knew they’d need to hire someone, retraining, etc.). I hate parties. I avoid most of them. They tried pulling a surprise party. Having been there so long, I knew everyone’s routine. I knew what they were doing and went along with it, but I made sure to take my anti-anxiety meds beforehand. If I’d refused, I know there would have been issues. You don’t spurn the goodwill of CEOs and board members. You never know when knowing them may come in handy.

  47. CatCat*

    OP#2, I’m so sorry that happened to you. It’s totally abnormal. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Jane and her ilk should be completely mortified for treating you so badly. I agree with others that this is actually a bullet dodged.

    You control the narrative on some very bad facts for the company. I wouldn’t be softening this language when telling people who ask about it. It didn’t vaguely “fall through,” the company is totally incompetent when it comes to something as routine and basic as hiring. I wouldn’t hesitate to call out the company’s awful behavior in social circles.

    So when someone asks, “It’s pretty shocking, but when I showed up for my first day at [Company], the hiring manager told me that someone else had hired another applicant so I wasn’t needed after all. Can you imagine? I couldn’t believe how cavalier the company is with people’s livelihoods. Talk about dysfunctional. At the end of the day, bullet dodged!”

    1. fposte*

      I’d leave out all the middle sentences and maybe everything after the first. Let the event stand for itself. The more that gets poured on, the more it seems like the event needs amping up to be significant, but it doesn’t. Nobody’s going to hear the bald facts and think “My, what a functional business.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I agree. This is one of those instances where the facts speak for themselves, with no commentary needed.

  48. soon 2be former fed*

    A better response to No. 1’s inquiry would have been to tell her to do whatever she was comfortable with, attend or not. I don’t think she thought she would be told not to come, that would be rude. I also think she felt something was up in that culture that perhaps she should ask. It would not have occured to me to ask this, I was on the committee, sure I’m supposed to attend, there was no requirement to be on the committee for the entire duration of its existence. That said, folks should behave like adults and move on. Methinks they just don’t like the woman who asked.

    1. SallytooShort*

      >I don’t think she thought she would be told not to come, that would be rude.

      Yes, the people in this corporation are clearly terrified of coming off as rude…

      1. Sarah M*

        Which is massively ironic, since the constant sniping about it ever since is much, much worse (in terms of rudeness). I grew up in an extremely passive-aggressive culture (Hawaii). It was such a relief to live in the more direct culture of the Northeast, even though it took years for me to get the hang of it. I loathe this kind of behavior now. SMDH.

    1. CatCat*

      I’d do it (and have done it once when I got ghosted after a second interview), but I’m years into my career and have a solid professional reputation in a geographic area with a lot of employers in my field. I could see how someone starting out might worry about putting a negative review, even if it’s accurate, or someone else in an area where there may be only a small number of employers.

    2. SallytooShort*

      I’d hold off on that. The circumstances are so specific that they’ll know who it was. And she’s too early in her career to burn any bridges. Even bridges that lead directly to hot dumpster fires.

      Once she gets a job in her field then yeah it couldn’t hurt.

  49. Elbe*

    #1 is absolutely insane. It’s pathetic for grown adults to be this petty over something that doesn’t really affect them one way or another. I suspect that it’s just a toxic culture and that they were just looking for a new target. If it hadn’t been this it would have been something else.

    I guarantee that Meghan is looking for another job right now, so the LW should offer to be a reference if they are in a place to do so.

  50. Jam Today*

    #1 is such a weird letter I don’t really have a response to it other than Meghan needs to find a new job, because she is surrounded by mean people who aren’t mean because life has worn them down, they’re mean because they enjoy it. She needs to stay far, far away from people like that and OP I would recommend you do the same. Being surrounded by unkind-b0rdering-on-hateful people all day, every day, really does a number on your mental health and ultimately physical health as the stress of managing your response to their malice wears you out. I learned this lesson the hard way.

  51. Not a Morning Person*

    For #1, I’d be tempted to tell them that perhaps they should consider counseling since it seems like Meghan’s participation in the lunch has affected them so deeply. Maybe counseling can help them recover so they can lead a life of quiet despair instead of anguished wailing over the injustice of it all. And I would also offer to pray for them. But maybe that’s just me…

  52. NW Mossy*

    As a manager, I’m wincing at the thought of an employee on the PIP coming to me to talk promotion. It’s like trying to drive to Hawaii – it’s just not going to be a thing under current reality-based conditions, and it doesn’t speak well of the judgment of the person asking.

    So let’s look at the short-term desire to get off the PIP, because that’s the first order of business. To do that, two things need to happen:

    1. You demonstrate the capability and the willingness to meet all the baseline expectations of the position. Not some of them. Not just the ones you like or the ones that feel most important to you. Every single one, regardless of how silly you think it is. If the expectation is that you organize your files by color, your questions are about making sure you’re clear on your Pantones, not about how alphabetical would really be so much better. The expectations are not subject to being changed or influenced by you; proceed as if they are fixed in place.

    2. You demonstrate that you can consistently incorporate feedback into your approach to your work and use it as a tool to improve your performance. Failure to take feedback is a primary reason people end up on PIPs in the first place, because that shows the manager that less consequence-heavy means of improving your performance are not getting the job done.

    So how do you incorporate feedback? You handle it like you handle the weather – you get the weather report, you dress accordingly, and you modify your activities to account for the conditions. You treat the feedback as if it’s a reasonable thing that you respond to in a reasonable manner.

    If you want to keep your job, you generally should not treat feedback as if it’s the subject matter for a high school debate competition. Your boss isn’t sitting there waiting for you to make some principled argument so they can say “Of course, you’re so right, never mind, you’re doing fabulously!” They’re using feedback to tell you what they need from you in the performance of your job. If you fight them on it, you’re saying, “Not only am I not doing what you need me to do, I have no intention of starting to do what you need me to do any time in the foreseeable future.”

    If you can accomplish both of those steps consistently for a period last at least a couple of performance cycles, then you can start floating very tiny trial balloons about promotion. For now, focus on your immediate task at hand – otherwise, promotion’s going to be a question for you to confront at your next job, because you likely won’t have this one anymore.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      If you want to keep your job, you generally should not treat feedback as if it’s the subject matter for a high school debate competition.

      Another candidate for an AAM-themed sampler!

    2. Bibliovore*

      I couldn’t put my finger on why that PIP that I was administering made me so crazy. Every single meeting was this “If you fight them on it, you’re saying, “Not only am I not doing what you need me to do, I have no intention of starting to do what you need me to do any time in the foreseeable future.”

  53. Scott D*

    I was in an unusual situation at work in that I reported directly to the top manager, while most others had one, or even two, managers in between her and them. For the start of the New Year, my manager invited all of her direct reports to lunch, including me. Everyone else at the table was a high level manager so I was a bit unsure if I should have declined, or said something, etc.

    HOWEVER, everyone was wonderful to me. We didn’t talk too much about work–just chit chat about hobbies, family, etc. No one REMOTELY suggested that I shouldn’t have been there because I’m not a high level manager. No one said anything nasty about me afterward and continued treating me respectfully as they always have.

    IMO, this is how it should be. Even if someone only worked on something for a short time, such as a new employee who comes in at the tail end of a project, they SHOULD be included in any type of reward lunch, as they were part of the team.

    Sorry, LW, but your company sounds HORRIBLE and I agree this was an extremely petty thing to do.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      You are absolutely right, and I’m glad you had such a positive experience! I would have been similarly nervous.

  54. Elbe*

    #2 makes me angry on behalf of the LW.

    Something very similar happened to a friend of mine. She was interviewing for a position with NY-based publisher while she was located on the west coast. They flew her in for an interview, it went well, and they offered her the position. Jobs in journalism are scarce, so she was super excited.

    The day she planned on giving notice to her current employer, the hiring manager informed her that the CEO (who had given him hiring power) had swooped in to cancel her employment because the CEO had someone they wanted to place in the position.

    It was incredibly lucky that she had delayed giving notice until the last minute or else she would have been jobless in a tough market. The CEO (who stepped down few months later) behaved in an entirely unprofessional way. The poor hiring manager was very embarrassed and apologetic, but the whole situation was a mess.

  55. MassMatt*

    #3 I managed someone on a PIP, his performance was terrible by any measure, The PIP was for 6 months, and was a huge time sink for me, requiring I spend inordinate time coaching him. He survived the PIP and days later asked for a raise, citing his completion of the PIP as an “accomplishment”, and also complaining he hadn’t gotten a raise (which at this job were generally cost of living) in 3 years. Well yes, that is because your performance has been subpar and previous managers have not wanted to deal with it. The conversation did not go well. Not to mention, the company had a “no promotion or transfer within 12 months of a transfer or PIP” rule, which is common.

    And I remember working retail (yes, it’s a real job) and a coworker who just started made all sorts of noise about wanting to be a store manager. This person was careless, unreliable, and rude to customers. I remember he once told a customer “quiet, I’m on the phone!”—and it was a personal call! Disconnect between his expectations and performance were extreme.

    Don’t be like these people, OP #3. Perhaps communication has been poor (that the PIP might not have a time period would support that conclusion) but being on a PIP means you need to focus on the basics of meeting the minimum expectations of doing your job. Exceed thos expectations for a year or more before you inquire about advancement.

  56. Bookworm*

    #2: That’s awful! But as others have said: you dodged a bullet. If that’s how they handled hiring, can you imagine what it’d be like to work there?

    Closest I had was a VM letting me know I didn’t get the job, so it was good I had not answered the phone (I do not know what possessed the person who made the call to actually say that out loud but whatever). I’d be mad as anything if I had actually *shown up* only to be told they gave the job to someone else. Sheesh.

    It’s probably fairly unusual, but it’s always in the realm of possibility. Sorry that happened to you.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Closest I had was a VM letting me know I didn’t get the job, so it was good I had not answered the phone (I do not know what possessed the person who made the call to actually say that out loud but whatever)

      It took me a minute to understand this. The person who called you said “it’s good you didn’t answer the phone?” That’s unbelievable.

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        I think it was awkwardly stated, but I think I understand what they were trying to say.

        Some people wouldn’t want to get that news live via the phone. I have to believe most people feel bad about giving this information and if it wasn’t someone who has done it before it’s easy to see how it could get garbled and be presented badly.

  57. AKchic*

    Letter 1 – Even as someone who isn’t in charge, you do have ways of bringing the matter up and flipping it back on everyone participating. You can bring it up to the CEOs who hosted the thank-you lunch. Don’t you think they’d like to know that their invitation to Meghan was considered ill-advised and that Meghan is being systemically punished by the other guests/coworkers, but by at least one supervisor to boot?

    Or, you could play the curious bystander.
    “Gee, she helps you out last minute because you needed it, she is acutely aware that she hadn’t been there the whole time and asks your permission (which totally wasn’t required since you didn’t do the inviting, the big bosses did, so who’s really in charge here?), and you all tell her she can go, but she is expected to read your minds… Um… mixed messages much? And then you punish her for doing what you said she could do, when she didn’t have to ask you in the first place since she was invited by the people who sign our checks? And you’re still punishing her like junior high bullies? Wow. I wonder what HR would think. I really hope she is documenting all of this.”

    I feel bad for Meghan. She didn’t do anything wrong and is being punished for helping.

    1. Borne*

      I think it might be a good idea for LW1 to have a discreet chat with the CEO. S/he will probably be appalled to hear how childishly they are behaving and tell them to cut it out immediately.
      The CEO could just say: “It has been brought to my attention that Meghan is being bullied for joining in the thank you lunch.”

  58. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

    LW #3, I think it’s way too soon to ask about a promotion specifically (for all the reasons mentioned above by commenters), but you can have a conversation that is similar that may help. You’ve even got a good place to start. Something like this (tweek as needed):

    “Boss, after starting this PIP I realize that my understanding of what’s needed in this role and yours were different. I’m working through this PIP to get my performance to what’s required. I wanted to talk to you about that–I know the PIP is the basic standard of what’s needed in this job. What do you expect from an exceptional employee? What can I do in this role to really become an asset, not just acceptable? I really want to hear your feedback because I want to excel at this job.”

    Then listen! The stuff your boss tells you here is what you’ll need to do for the promotion anyway, and you won’t have to have that conversation. At your next eval you talk about meeting some of these and what else you can do, then the one after that (likely a year or more out) where you’ve been excelling for a bit, you talk about promotion.

    Also, Natalie above made a good point. Similarly, if you are seeing this job is a stepping stone or you don’t really want it, you may want to bail now, because this is probably a two-year effort before you can seriously think about getting promoted.

    I’ll post a link to the exact comment in a reply.

  59. LawBee*

    LW #1 – ugh, poor Meghan. That sounds TERRIBLE. Your coworkers are the worst. I hope you are able to stand up for her; she’ll definitely appreciate it.

    LW #3 – I am really glad you wrote in.

  60. Stellaaaaa*

    OP3 sounds like one of those employees who has been repeatedly told that her performance is lacking, and yet would be genuinely surprised if she were let go. We’ve seen lots of letters about this from the management perspective. This is what the employee side looks like. OP, if your supervisor tells you something is wrong with your performance, believe her.

  61. DJ*

    LW#2 really horrible and unprofessional. Jane should have contacted you well before you were to start the job to let you know you didn’t get it.

  62. soon 2be former fed*

    I appreciate your snark, but there is direct to your face rude, and indirect group-baaed bullying rude. People will participate in group rudeness when they will not behave that way one on one. I wish co-worker had not asked, as it wasn’t a decision for others to make and it was naive to expect an honest face to face answer. That said, this workplace tolerates bullying and is dysfunctional and I would get the hell out. Petty and extreme behavior here.

    1. soon 2be former fed*

      This didn’t nest properly. It was a response to a comment to my comment posted above. Sorry.

    2. SallytooShort*

      People are directing vitriol to her face according to the letter. This isn’t all behind her back.

  63. Observer*

    #1 In my head I’m responding to the manager who claims that Meghan is delusional by raising my eyebrows and saying “You thing someone is delusional to think you are telling the truth? That’s good to know.” And if you don’t mind totally torching your relationship with the manager, you might want to try that. In real life, a discreet word with the CEO or someone in the C-Suite is probably the best you can do. The only thing that might be even better is if the CEO or C-suite has a really AE, because these types of people can be REALLY effective at dealing with all kinds of nonsense, either directly or by pulling the right strings.

    1. AKchic*

      oh yes yes yes yes. I so badly want to see this played out. However, I’m in a dramatic mood today.

  64. Brisvegan*

    A lot of people have talked about OP3 needing to work for some time at a high level of achievement after the PIP before discussing promotion. However, I noticed something else in OP3’s letter that I wanted to comment on.

    OP3 says “I’ve done all of the hard deadlines on the PIP agreement we created, as well as actively trying to integrate the soft deadlines and suggestions (i.e., timely feedback).”

    OP3, from this, I get the sense that you are probably good at meeting clear, concrete task goals. That is important in any job. That will be 1/2 of what you can point to in seeking promotions or new positions.

    However, you might not be realising the importance of “soft deadlines and suggestions (i.e., timely feedback).” These can be the make or break issues that lead to promotion or firing. These unmeasurable, less concrete thing might actually be the important part of the PIP, in many cases. You indicate in your letter that you are not actually meeting these goals (only trying to integrate them). In a PIP, you have to think of Yoda, “do or not do, there is no try.”

    People who think in task-oriented ways thing jobs are about achieving a task on time, eg in my industry (tertiary education), teach x hour plus write y articles per year. They ignore important stuff that leads to promotion, like the fact that being pleasant and approachable to students helps them to get great student evaluations (with excellent teaching generally), giving students timely marks with lots of helpful feedback, helping out at promotional events, being a pleasant, engaged, proactive coworker, creating external connections with the community and generally showing willingness to go above and beyond. In another industry, this might look like writing x lines of code, but failing to be an approachable coworker who helps fix bugs, fails to answer emails or who microwaves fish.

    Task oriented people tend to devalue the critical importance of these soft skills. Unfortunately, it is the soft skills that make the difference in many situations between competent grunt worker (gets tasks done on time, probably to a good or even excellent standard, likely to be left only doing the task work) and person who gets promoted (does good or excellent task work, but also has soft skills that will let them lead others/represent the organisation externally/appear to be proactive and able to come up with new ideas that mesh with senior management goals due to their excellent communication and ability to take on board feedback etc).

    Promotions are not a reward for doing your tasks to a reasonable standard. Promotions come when management can imagine you doing the next job up the ladder. Soft skills may be integral to that next rung. Alternatively, soft skills let management get to know you, so they can see that you will be pleasant to work with if you are one rung closer to the manager.

    I would strongly urge you to recalibrate your perception of your PIP for the part that you described as “the soft deadlines and suggestions (i.e., timely feedback).” It doesn’t have a hard deadline or measurements, but might actually be as or more important than getting particular tasks done to a particular measurement. This might not be just a suggestion, ie thing you could either do or ignore. It might actually be something your manager sees as very important. Not doing it might get you fired. If you want a promotion in the future, you HAVE to do those things very well.

    Good luck coming out of your PIP and getting future promotions.

  65. buttercup*

    Re: team flipping out over lunch – this is probably the most bizarre letter I have ever read on AAM, just because I truly don’t understand the motivations of the team members. Like, what is there to get mad about? I don’t get it.

  66. LW3*

    Letter writer # 3 here: Thank you for all the comments.

    Today has been interesting. After reading through and trying to honestly receive this feedback, I came into work with the HR staff in our office. I was taken out by the director and…they announced they were letting my manager go. While I am still processing (both this change and the feedback from this community), I am realizing I didn’t fully paint the picture of how I got here. I do, however, now have some valuable insight from everyone that will help in this role and future positions. Thank you.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      Wow. It sounds like we need an update! (And I commented above, probably after you made the post above.)

  67. Insufferable Bureaucrat*

    #2 has happened to me! It was a summer retail job at Big Department Store. I interviewed, manager called me a couple days later to offer me the job and told me to show up at certain day and time for the paperwork and training. When I showed up she was on vacation and nobody had any idea who I was. They had me start on the computer training module while they figured out what was going on only to come back about a half hour later to tell me to stop immediately, the job wasn’t actually open and the manager shouldn’t have hired me. They seemed pretty upset that I had seen a half hour of their training without being authorized, like yeah this 17 year old is actually a corporate spy trying to scope out their “this is how you fold clothes and put them on a shelf” video. Totally bizarre.

    1. Insufferable Bureaucrat*

      Have to add that the manager who hired me by mistake called me after she got back from vacation to apologize profusely, so at least that

  68. Jenny*

    OP #3 I’m alarmed by the idea of someone asking for a promotion when they’ve just been on a PIP (!), but I’m also concerned by “I’ve also been pretty vocal about wanting a promotion since about a year in.” In most jobs, that’s way too early to start asking about a promotion, and would seem very, very out of touch (especially if you’re bringing it up on an ongoing basis). I would guess that your manager might not be thrilled about that to begin with, and asking again and right after being on a PIP would make it worse. I would really encourage you to drop the promotion talk and focus on getting off the PIP and excelling at the job you’re doing now, and maybe in another year or so, asking about a promotion could be back on the table.

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